A Reflection on Heart Speaks to Heart
Fr. John Ernesto Ma. Cordero, MMHC
Henri Nouwen, a well-known spiritual author wrote a book on Gospel meditations entitled “Heart Speaks to Heart.” That title can be traced to the motto of the famous 19th Century Catholic convert, Cardinal John Henry Newman, who had also borrowed the expression from St. Francis of Sales. This beautiful expression of intimacy in prayer is probably why our founder, Leticia Albert, chose it as the title of the MMHC Prayer Book.
Cor ad cor loquitur; heart speaks to heart. This phrase evokes a rich image of two hearts in conversation which points to an ideal representation of prayer. It does not evoke a picture of a lonely voice desperately crying out from the abyss; neither is it one of a dominating God talking down to a submissive child. It is a dialogue of two hearts on a journey of mystery and enlightenment, of surrender and renewal.
Does this imagery of two intimately conversing hearts resonate within us? Do we identify with it? It is possible that for some of us, we find comfort in praying with a rosary and a prayer book. That is perfectly fine, but do we allow our hearts to wander, not in distraction, but in a journey of reflection in the midst of these prayers. This is the month of the Rosary and we have one of the greatest gifts of contemplation with those beads. The Rosary is primarily a contemplative prayer. The rhythm it creates should allow us to let our consciousness dwell on the mysteries we are asked to consider. I would like to encourage you to pray the Rosary alone in a slow pace. I don’t think there is a prize for whoever finishes the fifty Hail Mary’s like a sprinter on a track. However, imagine the richness we can claim if we journey through the prayers in a spirit of conversation with the said mysteries.
The same can be said with prayer books. God is not our third-grade reading teacher who wants us to finish our required readings. If that is how we envision our prayers, then we might look at it as another chore which we would be happy to ditch. There is a practice that was taught to us whenever we prayed our Liturgy of the Hours during our novitiate. The Liturgy of the Hours is the official prayer of the Church divided in seven parts. The essence of this prayer is composed of psalms and canticles from scripture together with a reading (or in the case of Matins – the Office of the Readings - two). When we were novices, we were given time to pause after each reading so that we can, in the words of Francis Bacon, chew on it. We are even encouraged to write our thoughts and reflections that can be springboards for future prayer and contemplation. Lately, I have rediscovered this practice and it allows me to bring my heart to converse with the text and in turn bring it in to dialogue with the heart of God.
It is a conversation of hearts that genuine conversations happen. It is in the dialogue of hearts that our faith has life. It is this living faith that can be communicated. It is the soul of our catechesis, the light to our creeds. Without a friendship characterized by our hearts speaking with the heart of God, how can we make more friends for God?