Reparation to the Sacred Heart
Fr. Raoul Plus, S. J.

Section III: The Practice of Reparation
3. Effective Reparation

Love shows itself in transports of the heart, and these God requires of us. But it shows itself also in willing and generous actions. To say that you love is a good thing; and we must do so in order to compensate for all those who blaspheme or neglect to give expression to their love. But it is better still to give proofs of one's love, proofs which authenticate the transports of the heart. An excellent way of making reparation is to offer to God all the good actions of the day in compensation for the evil deeds that are done in the world.

The will of God is shown to us in several ways; sometimes by means of circumstances: bereavements, sickness, trials; sometimes by way of commandments, whether made known to us by the legitimate authority under which we are placed, or through the voice of conscience. In all these ways reparation may be made. To accept the providential conditions in which we are placed, especially when these call for the exercise of great virtue, is an excellent way of making reparation. One whose work is irksome can show courage and perseverance in carrying out his daily task, without undertaking any supplementary acts of affective reparation. In this simple way he can accumulate a great store of merit and satisfaction.

The souls that God specially marks with the stigmata of suffering are chosen out by Him particularly for the work of reparation. Usually it is not for their special benefit that God gives them the cross; He expects them to offer the bitterness of their suffering to pay the debt of justice accumulated by the sins of others. All are called upon to complete Christ's mission of redemption, to fill up what is wanting of his sufferings, but those to whom suffering comes unbidden are specially equipped to fulfil this great office. So in a leaflet published by P
ère Mateo we read the following: "Christians who are sick, suffering souls, aching hearts, the world is following the path of unbridled sensuality. You can stop thousands of souls that are hurrying down the fatal slope, you can be apostles by the crucifixion of your bodies and the torment of your souls. Purify, make reparation, save."

The idea of using suffering as a means of reparation was one of the chief motives of the foundation of the Union catholique des malades. One of its initiators, Louis Peyrot, wrote of a Swiss sanatorium: "Sufferers seem to be of two kinds. There are those who are expiating their own sins, and these are in the greater number. They had to be cut off from their sensual and animal life; like a weed which had to be removed because it was taking the nourishment from the tree and causing it to dry up and die. But there are others, the elect, who have few sins to expiate; they suffer for others. God has chosen them to carry His Cross with Him, the Cross that benefits the whole of humanity. These souls, as St. Paul says, 'fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ.' This is their Calvary and they suffer for the sake of their country and for the whole human race." This apostolate of reparation by suffering has organizations in France, Holland and America.

But besides physical sufferings that may be offered there are also moral sufferings: temptations, dryness of spirit, interior sufferings of all kinds. All this may serve as material for the holocaust.

Then there are all the acts of loyalty involved in the observance of the commandments, in subjection
to one's rule of life, in docility to the inspirations of Divine grace.

How many opportunities for sacrifice occur during a day; to be able to smile at everyone and everything, to do one's duty thoroughly and with a joyful heart, to be patient with those who, though dear to us, may be rather boring at times, and to bear with those who are unkind or discourteous to us, to raise ourselves by our spiritual intention above our present task, however unpleasant or irksome it may be, to help our neighbour without appearing to do so, to sacrifice ourselves for him, to be faithful in our religious duties in spite of everything.  . . . And when we think that all this can be offered to make compensation to our Lord for those who do not love Him, do we not feel that we would like to invite all souls to make use of this great means of sanctification and salvation?

How can we plan a day with a view to making reparation? In the first place, it is more a question of intention than of actual practice. Before attempting works of supererogation the important thing is to do the ordinary things of life well, offering them at least implicitly
-----to offer them explicitly is not necessary, and might perhaps tire the mind too much-----with a view to reparation. We are considering for the moment one who lives in the world. It is easy to make the application to one who lives in religion.

Rise punctually to the minute. Here is a first sacrifice which we may offer to God, and which should not be wasted. We may offer it, perhaps, to expiate the sins that have been committed during the night just past. From the first moment of waking offer yourself in a sacrificial spirit in union with Jesus to make reparation for all the sins that may be committed during the day. If it is opportune to use at this moment one of the instruments of discipline of which we shall speak later, do so in union with Christ crucified in a spirit of generosity and courage. Waste no time in making your toilet, giving no thought to vanity or sensuality therein; preserve a holy modesty in reparation for all sins of impurity, and observe simplicity in your dress to compensate for the immodesty of many modern fashions. Devote a quarter of an hour to prayer and meditation (or half an hour or an hour according to your rule of life) in union with Christ in His Agony. This does not mean that you need always think of the Garden of Gethsemane. But whatever be the theme of your meditation, let it be made in union with the sacrifice of Christ, unless the attraction of grace be in some other direction. In any case offer this time spent in prayer in compensation for those who never raise their hearts to God.

Go to Mass every day if possible; take an effective part in the Mass; understand that you are one with the Sovereign Priest Who offers it
-----Jesus Christ-----and with the Victim Who is offered-----likewise Jesus Christ-----and pour yourself out with faith and generosity into the chalice of sacrifice. Use, for example, the profound"and theologically exact expression of Cardinal Mercier: "I am the little drop of water which is absorbed into the wine in the chalice. And that wine becomes the blood of the Word Incarnate; and the Word Incarnate is essentially one of the Blessed Trinity. That little drop of water is carried off in the river of the life of the Blessed Trinity. Will this little drop of water ever be pure enough to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?"
Go to Communion too, if possible, every day. Holy Communion is an exchange between two victims.
Jesus, in His state of victimhood, gives Himself to the soul, and the soul desiring to be one with Jesus, gives itself to the Saviour as a victim. Let this union not be a matter only of a few moments, but let it be the inspiration of your whole day. Think often of God in the tabernacle, of the continual offering of Masses throughout the world; whenever a clock strikes, renew your expiatory offering in union with Jesus the Victim, Whose unceasing oblation ascends ever to His Father.

If an opportunity for self-sacrifice occurs during the day, do not let it slip. When it is a matter of self-denial think of the Sacred Host, in which every particle of bread is converted into the Body and Blood of Christ. If I resist the grace of God I am like a particle of bread that refuses to be changed into "Jesus Christ," and so I am not fulfilling my vocation, in accordance with which I should be able to say with St. Paul that "I live, yet now not I, but Christ liveth in me." If it is a matter of obedience think of the Sacred Host. The Cur
é d'Ars used to say, thinking of our Lord at the Altar: "I put Him on the right, and He remains on the right; I put Him on the left, and He remains on the left." Imitate this docility, not by being merely passive, but in a courageous spirit of reparation; to compensate for all those who refuse to give themselves to God and who live in a continual state of disobedience to Him.

Be exact in fulfilling all the duties of your state. Especially if you are so "fortunate " as to have a task that is irksome, be glad to have a more meritorious offering to make for souls and for God. If you have no fixed occupation draw up a programme for yourself, to avoid the dangers of caprice. If you are an employee and work for a salary, if perhaps you have to work very hard, accept your lot with resignation, or better still, with joy, regarding it as an opportunity to gain greater merit and to offer more efficacious satisfaction. Pay special attention to charity towards your neighbour. "Whatsoever you shall do to the least of my little ones, you do it unto Me." Practise charity in reparation for all the flagrant violations of charity and justice; better still, act towards others in a spirit of apostolate, to compensate for the selfishness of those who might do much for others but do nothing, and for the weakness of those who, having resolved or begun to work for others, have given it up.

At your meals be temperate and vigilant. In your conversation with others do not be too expansive. Cultivate silence. Let it be your rule not to speak when it would be better to be silent. Nine times out of ten you will not speak. It may be difficult, but it is an excellent sacrifice to offer to God. If possible, make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, at least on Fridays, and sometimes make the Stations of the Cross. In your devotion to our Lady have particular regard to her sufferings: the Mother of Sorrows. All your offerings in reparation you should make through her Heart.

If possible, too, do a little Spiritual Reading, and for preference chose some book or "Life" which deals with reparation.

In the list of the usual actions of the day there remain night prayers and the examination of conscience. Let these be carried out in the same spirit as the morning exercises; a thought for the sins which will be committed in the night to come, and for the Divine Master Who in Gethsemane saw them all in advance, to the great sorrow of His tender Heart. If during the day you have committed some fault, make a sincere act of sorrow for it; it has added to your Saviour's pain; be intensely sorry for this and resolve to devote yourself still more whole-heartedly in the future to the consoling and efficacious work of Reparation.

Give a glance, finally, to the subject of your meditation for the morrow, and then to bed. Go to bed at a fixed hour, to avoid caprice and to allow of regular rising in the morning. In communities, of course, this detail, like many others, is provided for; observe your rule in this matter.

So much for the daily life. Go to confession at regular intervals, and in this matter there could be no better practice than to make one's confession in expiation for all those who refuse God's forgiveness. Every month it is an excellent practice to make a day's retreat; this gives an opportunity to renew the spirit of generosity and self-sacrifice. This is true a fortiori of the annual retreat.

After we have done all that God requires of us there remains for those who wish the whole field of work of supererogation in which the spirit of reparation can find full expression. So we have those lives of sacrifice, whether in the cloister or in the world, presented to us by the example of many of the Saints.
These acts of self-immolation may take any of the three following forms: the vow of perfection, the vow of self-surrender, the vow of immolation.

The vow of perfection may be understood in two ways: either as the general undertaking never to refuse anything which is seen clearly to be pleasing to God (for the religious this will include the vow of the rule); or as the more definite undertaking, when given the choice between two good actions, always to choose that which pleases God more. The Church, while pointing out the difficulty of observing such promises, has praised more than one of her children for having made them, for example, St. Andrew Avellino. So also St. Teresa "on the advice of our Lord made the difficult vow always to do what she considered the most perfect." We are told the same of St. Chantal. These vows are not always made explicitly with a view to reparation; clearly, however, they are often animated by that spirit, and they can easily be adapted to it. History, moreover, tells us that the two persons who were most closely associated with the extension of the spirit of reparation, P. de la Colombiere and St. Margaret Mary, had both made this unreserved gift of themselves to God. Later, too, we find that souls devoted to reparation have made a similar vow; so for example P
ère Lyonnard, the saintly author of L'Apostolat de la souffrance, and founder of the Institut du Cœur Agonisant; so also Marie-Aimee de Jesus, the Carmelite who was called by God to expiate the errors of Renan and to write a History of Our Lord as a contrast to His Life of Christ.

Another form of complete self-sacrifice is the vow of self-surrender, by which one promises to put oneself entirely in the hands of God both for the past and for the future, and never to consent to a useless preoccupation regarding past sins, the trials of everyday life, or the prospects of the future. To this vow also it is easy to unite the intention of reparation.

Finally there is the vow of immolation. In some cases this is merely the vow of perfection made with the intention of expiation and reparation. So it was in the case of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus, and many others. Strictly speaking, this vow would be the undertaking to ask God to send, even outside the ordinary dispositions of Providence if He so wills, an additional number of bodily and spiritual sufferings, and even a premature or specially painful death. Speaking of this the Abb
é Sauve [1] writes: "Great prudence must be observed with regard to the vow of desiring sufferings. We find few examples of this vow in the lives of the Saints. To those who are inclined to such refinements of generosity, to those who, less generous, seek suffering through a transitory enthusiasm, I would say: 'You would do better first of all to study the doctrine of reparation, not merely in its subtleties, but in all its richness and grandeur.' "

It is quite right to insist upon prudence in this matter, so that such acts may be free from rashness or transitory sentimentality. Here is an example of an act of self-surrender drawn up, after the consent of her confessor, by a humble girl who was anxious to make reparation to the utmost of her power; it was during the Great War, which had already been raging for four years:

"Today, when the Church celebrates the Feast of Your Sacred Heart, Your little creature wants joyfully to make to You the sacrifice of the whole of her life. Until now she had sacrificed to you her tastes, her desires, her future, her will. Now she gives up to You the few years that remain of her life on earth; but on one condition, that during a few months
-----or weeks, or hours, or days; who knows?-----of illness she shall suffer as much as she would have suffered during a long life. She begs you to accept this sacrifice on behalf of the priests who are exposed to the danger of death on the battle-field. Crucify my miserable nature; make it suffer all that it is capable of suffering; do not spare it. I shall always be so happy to be able to prove to You my love and gratitude. Deign, my Love, to bless the offering which I make to You; do with it what You please; my only wish is to accomplish Your will. I ask Your grace always to be able to answer joyously Fiat or Deo gratias to all that You honour me by sending me."

It is impossible to do more than offer one's life. Some religious institutions include this complete gift of oneself in the programme of generous acts that they require or expect of their members. In this case the Church has approved the rule, and all is well. In the case of individuals, however, while there is no need to stifle generosity in its beginnings, it is important that when such an offering has been made there should be a corresponding precision in the fulfillment of the ordinary duties of life. Otherwise such an act of immolation may well open the way to illusions.

With these reservations, it must be recognized that there is a definite trend on the part of fervent souls in the direction of reparation; and this seems to be an indication of the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. The Church, moreover, within the limits dictated by prudence and wisdom, has given encouragement to this movement. Pius IX suggested to the Superior of a certain Order to invite generous souls to offer themselves as victims in expiation for sinners. Leo XIII, in his encyclical of 1884, exhorts those who live in monasteries to appease the Divine wrath by prayer, penance and the offering of their lives to God. Pius X praised the Association formed with this object. Benedict XV in I902, when he was only Secretary of State, writing to the author of the Life of M
ère Marie-Veronique, told him that the Sovereign Pontiff rejoiced at this example of a soul that aspired to become a victim, after the likeness of our Lord Himself.

1. In his preface to the Life of M
è re Marie-Veronique du Cœur de Jesus, by Père Prevot.