Writing as a priest for more than 33 years and being also a Religious priest consecrated and given to Jesus through the Blessed Virgin Mary, I honestly believe that if priests can find time to read, meditate and pray over the book In Sinu Jesu their lives will be transformed.
In this brief article we will highlight the essential points and messages in this text with the purpose of encouraging priests—myself included—to fall in love with their priesthood by falling in love with our Model, Friend, and Guide, Jesus the High Priest and Savior of the world.
Incidentally, this book can of course be read and prayed over by lay-people—married people and any person of good-will. The net results will be a greater love and understanding of the Catholic Church and the essential role that priests play in the building up of the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church, the Universal Sacrament of salvation.
To facilitate the reading of this article, I will highlight ten of the most salient messages contained in this modern spiritual-gem. May you treasure them and find a place for them in the depths of your heart.
1. FRIENDSHIP WITH JESUS. At the Last Supper, which was the first Mass, on Holy Thursday in the Cenacle or Upper Room, Jesus left His Last Supper Discourse—Jn. 13-17. Among the sublime words of truth that issued from the Sacred Heart of Jesus were these simple words: “I call you FRIENDS….” A priest must be firmly convinced of Jesus’ ardent desire to enter into a friendship with him that is dynamic and strong—that is to say, that will grow stronger as the days, weeks, and years transpire. The priest is never alone because Jesus is at his side as his Best Friend. In Spanish, “El Amigo que nunca falla….” — The Friend that never fails!
2. FREQUENT VISITS AND CONVERSATIONS. A true friendship cannot subsist if there is little to no contact between the friends. Therefore, priests should have an earnest yearning and longing to spend time, in quality as well as length, with Jesus. In the words of the Psalmist: “As the deer yearns for the running streams, so my soul yearns for you, O Lord my God.” (Ps. 42:1)
3. PRIVILEGED PLACE OF ENCOUNTER: THE BLESSED SACRAMENT. True friends seek out propitious places for an encounter. In this encounter between the priest and His Friend, Jesus, the best place is in Church in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and if exposed so much the better. As the text repeats time and time again, the priest will find consolation, light, peace, and strength contemplating the Eucharistic Face of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Indeed, prayer is a Face to Face and Heart to Heart encounter and dialogue with Jesus.
4. ADORATION. Jesus so ardently yearns for priests who will come to adore Him. Friendship with Jesus must be ardent, frequent, and dynamic. However, we should never be oblivious to the fact that Jesus also is God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. As such He merits sublime praise, glory, and adoration. Two very appropriate short Eucharistic prayers are: “O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine” and “O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”
5. THANK HIM. Given that Jesus has given us so much, all that we have and all that we are, what necessarily follows is an attitude of gratitude, the urgent need to thank the Lord Jesus. Everything, except the sins that we have willfully chosen, are gratuitous gifts that Jesus has given to us. In the words of the Greek poet by Saint Paul in the Acts of the Apostles, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17: 28) By the way, the word Eucharist actually means thanksgiving. A grateful heart overflowing with noble sentiments of thanksgiving is very pleasing to God and is preparing the terrain for future abundant blessings.
6. REPARATION. Unfortunately, within the Church, and sad to say even within the priesthood, there exists coldness, apathy, indifference, and at times lukewarmness. Jesus came to cast fire on the earth, the fire of His love for the salvation of immortal souls. However, all too many hearts are both cold and indifferent. Many years ago when the Sacred Heart appeared to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque in the Paray le Monial convent in France, Jesus complained displaying His Sacred Heart from which flared out fire: “Behold the Heart that has loved so much and received only ingratitude and indifference in return. Console my Heart.” A true priest friend of Jesus will be drawn magnetically to the Tabernacle, to the Eucharistic Lord and offer prayers of sorrow, contrition, and reparation for such widespread coldness and indifference, sometimes even among the ranks of the clergy!
7. CAST YOUR CARES UPON THE LORD, FOR HE CARES FOR YOU. These words are taken from one of the Letters of the Apostle Saint Peter (1 Pt. 5:7). We all have problems, and some of us many, and at times very heavy ones. An essential part of true Friendship with Jesus is the honest and humble recognition that we all have problems that weigh down upon us. Jesus longs to hear us tell Him about these problems and He desires to help us with them. If kept to ourselves, these problems result in depression and deep sadness. May we take these words of Jesus to heart: “Come to me, all of you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Mt. 11: 28-30) A problem shared is half the weight!
8. TEMPTATIONS AND MORAL FAILURES—SINS! According to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, the most important title that can be given to Jesus is that of Savior. In other words, the primary reason for the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery—The Passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus—was to save us from our sins and eternal death. For priests to be truly good confessors to their penitents, they must first be good penitents and experience the infinite mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In Sinu Jesu invites the priest to strive to go to Confession on a weekly basis with another priest so as to cultivate delicacy of conscience and purity of heart! Saint Paul’s words have immense encouragement: “Where sin abounds, the grace of God abounds all the more.” (Rom. 5:20)
9. LOVE FOR THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS. Of course, the highest form of prayer that a priest can offer is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In this most sublime and august Sacrament, the priest unites most intimately with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Mystery of His Paschal Mystery, in Jesus’ Passion, death and Resurrection. All the fruits of Calvary that first Good Friday become a reality in every Mass that is celebrated. Upon receiving Holy Communion, the priest receives the total Jesus—His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. And in all truth, the priest receives a Spiritual Heart transplant in every Mass and Holy Communion. How great is our God and how loving He is to us, His children!
10. MARY, THE LOVING MOTHER OF PRIESTS. In Sinu Jesu is replete and abundant with references to the relationship between the priest and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The priest must get to know Mary, talk to Mary, confide in Mary, seek consolation and comfort in the Immaculate Heart of Mary, commend and entrust his life to Mary, consecrate his life and priesthood to Mary, and love Mary as his most tender and loving Mother, our life, our sweetness and our hope. (Hail Holy Queen). For this reason, In Sinu Jesu the Lord Jesus says He wants all priests to strive to imitate the beloved Apostle and Disciple Saint John, depicted on the front cover of the book itself. Indeed, it was to Saint John that Jesus entrusted His Mother Mary as He hung on the cross: “When Jesus saw his Mother there, and the disciple whom he loved, he said to her, ‘Woman. behold your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold your Mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (Jn. 19:26-27) Every priest must, in imitation of Saint John, have a filial and tender love for Mary, the Mother of all priests. In the midst of the sorrows, trials, sufferings and dark clouds in the life of the priest, Mary is the Morning Star, the Star of the Sea, the Mystical Rose, the Glimmer of Hope, the True Gate and Ladder to Heaven.
In conclusion, we invite all priests and lay-people to purchase, read, meditate and pray with the inspiring IN SINU JESU. We encourage all to pray for priests, support priests, encourage priests, offer sacrifices for priests and love your priests. The love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus passes through the heart of the priest!