Reparation to the Sacred Heart
Fr. Raoul Plus, S. J.
Section I: The History of Reparation
1. The Desire of Our Lord
THAT it is the desire of our Lord that men should make reparation to Him is abundantly clear from the revelations which He made to Saint Margaret Mary. Seventy apparitions of the Sacred Heart were vouchsafed to the favoured Sister of the Visitation of Paray-le-Monial, and many of them are concerned with this subject. From the very beginning of her religious life our Lord had explained to her with what great love He had delivered Himself up to save the human race and to restore to mankind the Divine life lost through Original Sin, and how ill the human race had treated Him in return. Sin abounds, and Jesus begs for a little love. He asks her whether she would be willing to suffer all the pains that sinners would deserve to suffer, and He tells her that she is to devote herself to the work of saving these ungrateful wretches. But how was she, a contemplative, to do this work?
The answer came: "It is only by the sacrifice of a victim that the Divine justice can be appeased."
"What is it, then," she asked, "that so outrages the Divine justice?"
"Sin," came the answer, "especially secret sins." She asks no further, and without more ado professes her willingness to suffer, that she may be like Him Whom she loves. "My daughter," Christ asks again, "wilt thou give Me thy heart so that My suffering love, spurned by the world, may find repose?"
"See," He said on another occasion, "how sinners treat Me with contempt." It was of a sacrilegious Communion that He spoke, and He showed her what a terrible thing it was. At other times it was not for sacrilegious Communions but for tepid reception of the Eucharist that she was asked to offer her love in compensation; or at Carnival; for the shocking excesses that are often committed at that time. Then there was the lack of correspondence to grace, all the resistance to Divine love; in a certain monastery he showed her five religious whose fervour was diminishing; in her own monastery there was a waning generosity; at another time she is asked to offer herself for the whole community.
But it is especially for the sins of the "chosen ones" that our Lord asks Margaret Mary to offer her tender reparation. He returns to this again and again. "One day," she relates, ''as I was rising from bed I seemed to hear a voice saying: 'The Lord is weary of waiting. He will go into His barns to winnow his corn and separate the good grain from the bad.' As I was about to turn away I heard the voice again: 'My chosen people is persecuting Me in secret and they have outraged my justice.' Showing me His loving Heart, all torn and pierced with wounds, 'Behold,' said He, 'the wounds that I receive from My chosen people. Others are content to strike My body; these attack My Heart. . . . My love will at length give place to My just wrath. . . . They are religious only in name."
"During this time," adds the Saint, "I was unceasingly asking of God a real conversion for all these souls against whom the Divine justice was incensed, offering to Him the merits of my Saviour in satisfaction for the insults committed against Him; offering myself also to His Divine goodness to suffer all the pains that He might wish . . . rather than see the loss of these souls that had cost Him so dear." "On another occasion," the Saint tells us, "our Lord showed Himself to me covered with wounds, His body all bleeding and His Heart torn with grief; He seemed overcome with fatigue. I threw myself at His feet, filled with a great fear, and I dared not say a word to Him. He said to me : 'Behold to what I am reduced by My chosen people whom I had called to appease My justice, and they persecute Me in secret. If they do not mend their ways I will punish them severely; I will withdraw the good, and the rest I will devote to My just wrath, which will flame up against them.' . . . I cannot say how I suffered to hear these words."
On another occasion, after Holy Communion, He appeared to her in the guise of the "Ecce Homo " and said to her: "If you only knew who have placed Me in this state. . . . Five persons consecrated to my service." "I offered Him my heart," says the Saint, "the heart that He had given me, that He might have rest. In His fatigue He came to me, when I had a moment's leisure, bidding me kiss His wounds to alleviate the pain." It was often during her thanksgiving after Holy Communion that Margaret Mary was called upon by our Lord to undertake the hard task of reparation: "One day, after Holy Communion, He showed me a rough crown made of nineteen very sharp thorns which pierced His Divine head; this caused me such grief that I could not speak for weeping. He said He had come to me that I might take out these thorns which had been thrust into Him by a faithless spouse. 'She pierces My head with a thorn,' He said, 'every time that she prefers herself to Me by an act of pride.' I knew not how to take out the thorns; and so I had this sight continually before my eyes, which made me suffer very bitterly. My Superior told me to ask our Lord how to take them out; He said that I might do it by an equal number of acts of humility done in memory of His humiliations. . . . I asked the Superior to offer to our Lord the acts of humility of the Community, and this pleased Him very much; for three days later he showed me three thorns of which He was almost relieved; but the rest remained for a long time afterwards."
As if this earnest request were not enough, our Lord repeated His invitation again and again. The Saint was ready enough to fulfill the desires of her Divine Master. It was not for her sake, but for ours, that His prayer was so insistent. "While before the Blessed Sacrament one day during the Octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi (1675), I received from God some extraordinary graces of His love. . . . Showing me His Heart He said: 'Behold this Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, has emptied itself and died to show them its love; and in return I receive for the most part only ingratitude in the insults, the acts of irreverence, the sacrileges and the coldness that men show towards Me in this Sacrament. But what hurts me more is that the hearts which are consecrated to me treat me so.' " And our Lord asked her to compensate for all this.
The apparition which reassumes all the others is thus described by the Saint. It was a day of Exposition: Our Lord appeared "resplendent in glory, with His five wounds shining like so many suns. . . . From His sacred Humanity flames proceeded in every direction, and especially from His breast, which was like a furnace." His breast opened and there appeared "His loving and lovable Heart which was the living source from which these flames proceeded." . . . The Saviour manifested to the prostrate girl "the inexplicable wonders of His pure love, and the excess to which He had carried His love for men." But unfortunately in return He received from men nothing but "ingratitude and disdain." This was more painful to Him than all that He had suffered during His Passion. "In like manner," He added, "if they would but give Me a little love in return I would count as little all that I have done for them, and would even, were it possible, do more; but they meet all my efforts to do them good with coldness and disdain."
Surely such unrequited love calls for a love to restore the balance. Our Lord opens His heart on the subject to His beloved servant. "You at least," he says, "please make up for their ingratitude as far as you are able." And as poor Margaret Mary protests that she is weak, He says: "See, this will make up your deficiencies "; and He showed her His Heart, from which came forth so burning a flame that she felt that she was consumed by it. Unable to bear it any longer she asks Him to take pity on her: "I will be your strength," He replied.
These famous scenes deserve to be remembered in their entirety; but I will call attention only to two points. A great love has won salvation for us; this love is disdained, and we must make compensation. This infinite love calls for love in return; and the creature refuses to give it. Hence souls of good will must love "enough for two," first for themselves and then for those who refuse to love.
Here we have in its simplest form, and derived from history itself, from real facts, the true and proper notion of reparation. It may be put in three words: I; they; you. I; my love has not spared itself. They; I have come into their house, and they have shown me the door; they take no more notice of me than as if I were not there. You; you at least make up for their deficiencies, compensate for their ingratitude as far as you are able. The whole of reparation, therefore, can be expressed in those three words: "I, they, you." They are like a cry of distress on the lips of our afflicted Master; and they echo in the heart of the sympathetic disciple, now with a note of mortal sadness, now as a triumphant invitation to an unstinted generosity, to a love that knows no bounds.
That the sin and ingratitude which called for reparation have particular reference to the Eucharist may be seen from the fact that our Lord Himself appears on the altar in the Mass as a Victim, also , from His frequent requests that reparation should be made for the sacrileges and the indifference with which He meets in this Sacrament, and finally from the explicit request of the Saviour-----to which we shall return later-----that men should compensate Him , by means of the Eucharist. In fact our Lord says that in connection with this Sacrament there is much sin and ingratitude: "In answer to all My efforts for their good I receive only coldness and rebuffs." He speaks also of "ingratitude" and "disdain."
Ingratitude means certainly the sins of "the good." "Disdain" and "insults," are rather the sins of the wicked. Both are abundant, today as in the time of Margaret Mary. Everywhere we see the sins of the wicked: hatred of religion, the fury of persecution, immorality, injustice, cruelty, the mad love of pleasure.
Think of the hatred of religion shown in Mexico or among the Bolshevists: the Church persecuted, her members arraigned and sometimes put to death. Think of the many countries in which the attack upon Christ, though less bloodthirsty, is no less determined: godless legislation, immorality, conscienceless judges, literature that sows the seeds of immorality broadcast without any check from authority or objection from the public; philosophy and science vying with each other in the work of perverting men's minds; children's souls at the mercy of teachers whose avowed object is to inculcate class hatred; and this without any protest from the constituted authorities. "We have today to create a generation of hatred. Like the tick of the clock that marks the seconds as they pass, this is the refrain that must echo in the minds of the children of the poor, and prepare them for revolt: 'Rich, poor, rich, poor, rich, poor. . . .' Like drops of water these words will inevitably one day fill the vials of wrath and make them overflow."
And, dominating this cry of hate, there is the universal mania for pleasure in every rank of society, from the joys of the lowest cinema or
dancing hall to the more exquisite but more insidious delights of the great casinos and theatres.
In his novel, The Beast on the Altar-----the title is but too well chosen-----Jean Rameau writes: "It is the duty of every decent man who desires the salvation of his country to muzzle this beast once more, this beast that has always existed, has always prowled round human society, but has never reared its head so high as now. Every sensible government in every age has done its best to chain it down; our governments, for the last half-century, seek only to give it greater freedom to roam the earth. All our modern laws seem conceived in order to glorify and strengthen it. All the old laws which bound and checked it have been rendered ineffective. The only rules enforced today are those which favour it, the only things allowed are those that do it honour. The books with the biggest sales are those that celebrate it, the works of art most admired are those that please it. Hundreds of speeches are delivered, hundreds of ceremonies are held, to do honour to the beast."
If you want more exact evidence, look at the papers and you will find these glorious figures. In the year of grace 1926 in a certain town the receipts of a certain gaming house were 51 million, 18 million more than in the previous year; in another place the receipts of the casinos rose in three years from 152 to 380 million; in a certain capital, immoral houses received 1,200,000 visitors in twelve months. Immoral publications thrive and are sold widely; and in one cinema it was proposed to charge 1200 francs a seat, with champagne obligatory at 200 francs a bottle, to see six licentious films. Nor can it be said that one place is much worse than another. What town or country, what capital of any nation can claim to have escaped the wave of immorality? Can London, Madrid, Paris or Vienna claim to be immune? This is not the time for hypocrisy, but for a humble and serious self-examination.
It is calculated that the human race spends 88,250 million francs on its pleasures in one year. Compare this with the miserable 100 million-----at the most----- that are garnered yearly by such works as the Association for the Propagation of the Faith and the Holy Childhood. Two dancers who wanted to go for a pleasure trip to a seaside place, scorning the ordinary means of transit, thought nothing of chartering a special train for the purpose; it cost them 23,000 francs. That sum would have given a month's holiday to hundreds of poor children. Such waste would be a crime, if it were not simply madness.
More culpable, because more willful, is the revolt of pride at the present day. "What we must chiefly safeguard," says one of the leaders of the movement, "what man has gained in spite of prejudice and at the cost of suffering and strife, is the idea that no truth is sacred, that is, that no truth is immune from man's investigation. The greatest thing in the world is the freedom of the spirit of man. Any truth that does not come from us is a lie; whenever we adhere to a statement our critical sense must be ever on the alert, and with all our affirmations and all our thoughts there must be mingled a secret reluctance. Nay, if the ideal of God were to become visible, if God Himself were to appear before the masses under visible form, the first duty of man would be to refuse obedience and to consider Him as an equal to be argued with, and not as a master to Whom he should submit."
That petty or wicked souls should reject the faith and live bad lives, our Divine Lord might expect, and doubtless it is not this that gives Him the greatest pain. What must be the sorrow that He suffers from the sins of "the good"; infidelities in Christian spouses, grave sins against His law in employees, workmen and servants, injustice and disregard of charity and equity in masters and employers; the absence of right-dealing and of mutual confidence in social relations; neglect of the warnings, "What you do to the least of My little ones you do unto Me," and " Seek ye first of all the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you." Still more painful to the Heart of our Saviour, we know, are the sins of His chosen ones, of souls that are consecrated to His service: carelessness in the administration of the Sacraments and especially in the offering of the Sacrifice, want of detachment on the part of those who have taken the vow of poverty, culpable liberties in those who have taken the vow of chastity, serious disobedience to authority in spite of the vow of obedience; perhaps still more regrettable falls, and consequent scandal.
Think how many sins may be committed on the face of the earth in one day; or in one night; in a night and a day, in one town, in one quarter, in one house, even in one soul. . . .
We can well understand the urgent invitation of our Lord that we should make reparation; that generous souls, in addition to what is already their duty, should give Him more love, over and above, to adjust the balance.
Suppose a child were so far to forget himself as to insult, or even to strike, his mother, would not his brothers and sisters seek by their loving attention to make her forget the unnatural ingratitude of her son, to give her extra love to make up for his neglect and insults?
And so our Lord raises up pure souls to compensate for hearts that are soiled with sin, virgins to make reparation for sinful unions, the spirit of sacrifice to compensate for illicit loves. Side by side with profane lives will be lives of holiness, side by side with faces that bear the imprint of debauch will be faces alight with Divine love; side by side with the numbers that crowd to corrupt cinemas and theatres will be the elect that press around the tabernacle. To check the victims of vice there will be martyrs of virtue, to compensate for the sins of those who seek only to partake of the joys of Satan, there will be souls who dream only of partaking of the Passion of Jesus Christ.
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