On that cold morning of Tuesday, December 8, 1874, the lowest ranking of the parish vicars who had only arrived on November 3, 1871, rises to the pulpit of the Basilica of Saint-Quentin to give the sermon on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius IX.
Leo Dehon gives this sermon to explain the meaning of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. He stresses the exemption from original sin of the Mother of Jesus, and finds in it a welcome means to ensure the maternal protection of Mary in “turbulent and challenging times”.
We find here a presentation that tries, above all, to give a strong concept of the Church. Before us we have Dehon’s explanation and support of the convictions that this dogma bears in itself against the so-called “errors” of its time. Here, you can sense Dehon’s defense of a Church that is wounded by a convulsive and violent revolutionary period, and fiercely closes itself to the ideas that have been brought against it from souls and society.
To love Our Lady is the way to return to Christ as the center and effective meaning of all things. Of this, Lourdes is the clearest point of reference. It is an opportunity to encounter the thoughts and feelings of Dehon in the midst of a world both loved and resistant to a return to a lost order of things.
However, let us end with the final invitation of Dehon to his parishioners: “Confiance donc, mes frères! Ayez confiance sans vous endormir dans la sécurité; priez et agissez “. [Have confidence, my brothers and sisters! Have confidence without becoming complacent. Pray and Act.]