In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart and the Communion of Saints
At friends’ recommendations, I recently picked up In Sinu Jesu, a spiritual memoir of a contemporary Benedictine monk. I was encouraged to read it in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, so it has been traveling with me to the CoMo chapel a few afternoons every week since the beginning of the month (how propitious a sign that I began to read the journal on October 3rd, which happens to be its first dated entry!).
There are many beautiful themes throughout this work: solitude, mercy, responsibility, reparation, and responsiveness. The anonymous author receives and records intimations from Christ Himself and allows Christ to clarify that it is He who takes the initiative in our relationship with Him: He reiterates, “I am speaking to you now because you need to hear My voice. You need to feel that I am close. It is My Heart that speaks to you.”
These conversations between a man and God in 2007 move receptive hearts. Faustina-like diary-writing is so vulnerable to doubt and dismissal; the short passages are so susceptible to skimming. But anyone who has nestled into St. Faustina’s diary can tell you about their enjoyment of intimacy with a great saint and the Sacred Heart she knows so well. The friendship of saints, so foreign to our busyness and our senses, opens the door to a most holy place.
But before introducing us to the saints, In Sinu Jesu draws us into solitude. The monk says that the words he received from the Lord placed him in “the silence of the love that unites.” Perhaps the love that unites is silent because it is pregnant with emotion; the silence is a thin veil between us and the fullness of the joyous song in His Heart. Or maybe the love that unites is silent because it is a sacrifice—it is His death as well as His Resurrection. What noise could suffice to explain? Or maybe the love that unites is silent because there is no love without vulnerability, and nothing is more vulnerable than silence. Look at the Cross—His limbs are bared to the storm. His breath is held in expectation behind the door of the tabernacle. And lastly, the love that unites may be silent because when we are together in perfect unity, what is there left to be expressed? In Adoration this silence resembles relationship much more than isolation.
When we flee the Lord’s company, we deny ourselves the greatest friendship of all and the companionship of the saints. The monk penning In Sinu Jesu shares that Christ tells him about certain saints who have taken him under their wing, some unfamiliar to the living Church. These individuals, Christ hopes, will become dear to us:
“I never wanted to leave you alone on earth; this is why I have always surrounded you with My saints. I wanted, and want still, that you should find in them a true friendship, a friendship that is all pure, a friendship that does not disappoint. Through the saints and by their ceaseless intercession for you before My Face, you will, at length, come to Me in glory. Do not cease invoking My saints and teach others to seek from them the help they need in the trials of this life on earth. In heaven, the saints will be glad for having helped you make your way to Me in glory.”
This powerful affirmation of intercessory prayer teaches us about the role we the living Church share with the saints who have gone before us. Of course, they are before His Face in a different sense than we can be; we don’t get to see the resurrected human form of Christ. But sitting with the Blessed Sacrament I realized I was before the Face of the same Christ that is shining on the saints in Heaven. I realized we were occupying the same space in front of Him. I imagined some holy man or woman being as close to Christ in His human body as I was to His Eucharistic form. That saints know my name and hope for me to join them one day is enough to bring me to tears on a busy Tuesday afternoon.
This monk and the entire communion of saints buoy us into Heaven with their prayer, where we expect to see them face to face. Their faith imitates the vulnerability of Christ Himself, and their intercession, His mercy: “I am not there [in the tabernacle] for my own sake. I am there to feed you and to fill you with the joys of my presence.” Urgency underlines this text’s call to prayer and remembrance of Christ and the communion of saints.
But then the monk listens as Christ asks him to intercede on the behalf of others as his friends the saints do for him. Christ urges him to offer a Mass for a soul in Purgatory: “Do not put this off. I want to deliver him.” The prayer of priests for the faithful is particularly potent, but in a limited sense we are all called to priestly duty and responsibility: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (1 Peter 2:9). As such, we should recognize with humility that we often take our friendships—especially that with our Lord—for granted. “You could have come sooner,” he reminds us gently. “I was waiting for you. I am always waiting for you.” It would be enough for Him to be our God, but He is also our Friend.
Lizzie is a junior studying in the Program of Liberal Studies, theology, and Constitutional Studies. She’s thrilled to have made it 900 words without mentioning “those little covid guys.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.