Saint John Henry Newman’s motto, Heart Speaks to Heart, is utterly characteristic of his realisation that love, symbolised by the heart, is the basis for true communication. Perhaps he was thinking of the empathetic form of authentic human communication, but he would have known from his own life of prayer that a loving friendship with God is the template for all human relationships.
Newman’s motto echoes throughout a book I have just been reading: In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart: The Journal of a Priest at Prayer. First published by Angelico Press in 2016, and distributed by Gracewing since 2018. It is the private record of interior locutions given to a Benedictine monk by Jesus, heard in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, between 2007 and 2016.
Given that these mystical experiences are part of private revelation, I should add that the book has received a nihil obstat and imprimatur and that the passages I have read reflect the same intimacy and sense of veracity in well-known revelations by the saints. Indeed, I was reminded of Christ’s words to St Margaret Mary Alacoque – especially as this book’s message is the urgent need for “priests who will adore for priests who do not adore, priests who will make reparation for priests who do not make reparation for themselves or for others.”
This first communication to the anonymous Benedictine (it appears he is from a small Irish monastery in County Meath) seems appropriate for our times. Indeed, the book has been the basis of some of the Letters of the Vatican observer, Robert Moynihan. Moynihan has interviewed Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, whose disclosures of the Vatican cover-up concerning corrupt members of the hierarchy, particularly the disgraced former cardinal, Theodore McCarrick, have caused consternation and forced him to live in hiding for the time being. Viganò, speaking of In Sinu Jesu, told Moynihan that it had moved him a great deal and that “I have found the book consoling and interesting in the light of our present situation in the Church”.
Those who have read Viganò’s original disclosures would have been struck by his emphasis on how the salvation of one’s immortal soul is at stake in these sexual scandals of the priesthood. Viganò also told Moynihan that to him it seemed “providential that, precisely at a time when the holiness of priests is under such attack, a book like this should appear.”
Though written principally for priests by a brother priest, the book can be read by anyone who feels gloomy at the scandals of the Church in our time. Above all, it is a reminder that it is only through prayer that such anxieties and worries will be dispelled – by the only person who has the power to console us, Christ himself. The locutions and communications make entire spiritual sense, prompting all Catholics to pray more for their priests, especially, as the anonymous monk writes, “for the spiritual redemption of priests in bondage to evil, the spiritual illumination of priests who live in darkness, the spiritual healing of wounded priests.”
Other passages that have stayed with me are Jesus’ words, “It is My Heart that waits for you in the tabernacle…I am the one who understands every man’s loneliness, especially the loneliness of My priests”; “I want you to go to confession weekly. So many priests…fail to avail themselves of this sacrament of My mercy”; “Live in the presence of My Immaculate Mother”; and “Pray for priests who are dying. Pray for those who will meet a sudden death.”
In other words, we are reminded that to be a priest today is a particularly lonely vocation; that we all need regular confession; that Our Lady has a special love for priests; and that we need to be prepared for death – and for our encounter with Our Lord.