Every year towards the end of November the International Dehonian Theological Commission meets at the Generalate in Rome give an account of their activities and to plan its future. The Commission consists of five members, one from each continent, with the two members of the Centro Studi Dehoniani, Fr. Stefan Tertunte and Juan Jose Arnaiz, under the presidency of a member of the General Council, in this case, Fr. Artur Sanecki. As is normal for such meetings, the minutes of the meetings of the previous year are read and approved.
It had been decided last year that the committee meeting would also include a round-table discussion on theological issues that had been raised in the past year. 2017 was a year with a symposium (Charism and Devotions: Towards an inculturated Dehonian Identity: July 20 – 25) with all the members of the different theological commissions in the five continents in Yogyakarta. The symposium left a lot of interesting theological tid-bits for our discussion. discuss.
With the papers that were read at the Seminar in July there was a highly valued reflection made on the papers by Sr. Nicla Spezzati, an Italian theologian who works at the Congregation of Consecrated Life in Rome. In her conclusions she summarized in seven points what she thought was the spiritual and intellectual orientation of the Congregation. We have shared her vision at our Assembly in October. It was for most of us a somewhat surprising and uplifting view of the Congregation. The commission decided to spend some time to absorb its text. It then asked Fr. Joao Almeida from Taubate in Brazil to write an article about her conclusions for the Congregation. It will probably appear in one of the next issues of Dehoniana.
Also, as part of the theological discussion, Fr. Stefan Tertunte and John van den Hengel gave a reflection on Dehon’s meditations about the Sacred Heart. The devotion to the Sacred Heart is our central devotion. Fr. Dehon wrote seven books about the Sacred Heart. What is most surprizing about these books that all but one are meditations. The Theological Commission explored the possible implications of this use of meditation for our current understanding of the Sacred Heart. It is clear that for Dehon the devotion to the heart of Christ is a spiritual quest. He wanted his followers to enter mystically and spiritually into the love of God as revealed in the pierced side.
There was also a session on the latest book of Marcello Neri, Giustizia della Misericordia (Justice of Mercy) in which he speaks of Europe and Christianity in the context of Dehonian Spirituality. It is a highly dense book with an interesting, contemporary approach to Dehon. The members of the Commission have accepted to each tackle one of the issues of the book and write an article for Dehoniana. You will be hearing more about this book when the issue of Dehoniana appears.
Finally, the Commission held a lengthy discussion on the next Theological Seminar in 2020. The topic is not quite there yet and will be discussed in each of the continental commissions during this next year. There was a keen interest to examine how for Dehon the Sacred Heart was not only an entry or spiritual thrust into the personal, devotional sphere but also into the social sphere. As he wrote in the first issue of Le Regne: “It is necessary that the cult of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, begun in the mystical life of souls, descends and penetrates in the social life of peoples.” It was felt that this requires a better understanding. A decision will be made at the next meeting of the International Theological Commission next year.
The next meeting will be from November 29 to December 2, 2018.