Reparation: An Important Practice of Our Consecration
When we belong completely to Mary, she can offer us to Jesus as her own: this is why she draws us to herself. Mary does not seek her own glory. She already has endless glory in Heaven. She is loved by God more than any other creature, and she enjoys the love and honor of countless angels and saints, whom she can command at will. If she requires our homage, it is only because this consoles and delights the Heart of her Son, for whom she will do anything.
Mary loves God so much that she does whatever it takes to bring souls to Him. If that means first attracting us by her goodness, tender compassion, and motherly love, all well and good. Once we are drawn irresistibly to her and surrender ourselves to her beautiful, loving Heart, and are thus willing to do anything to remain in her love, she is free to do with us as she pleases. So what she does is offer us to God as living sacrifices for the salvation of souls! For next to her love for God, the most important thing to our heavenly Mother is the salvation of her children. Offering sacrifices and reparation are ways to win grace for souls and to help keep them out of Hell, so if we have lovingly placed ourselves at Mary’s service, she will ask us to share in the difficult work of helping to save souls.
The offering of reparation is the fruit of our love. Jesus loved us so much that He gave his life for us, suffering unspeakable pain in order to atone for our sins. He said: “No one has greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn. 15:13). To offer reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the conversion of sinners is a way of “laying down our lives” for them, and for love of Jesus and Mary. The following are some messages concerning reparation to the Heart of Mary, received by Lucia (later Sister Lucia) at Fatima and elsewhere, after she became a nun.
Our Lady said at Fatima: “I shall come to the world to ask that Russia be consecrated to my Immaculate Heart, and I shall ask that on the First Saturday of every month Communions of reparation be made in atonement for the sins of the world.”
On December 10, 1925, Mary and the Child Jesus appeared to Lucia at a convent in Pontevedra, Spain. Our Lady rested her hand on Lucia’s shoulder, revealing her Heart encircled by thorns. The Child Jesus said: “Have compassion on the Heart of your most holy Mother, covered with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment, and there is no one to make an act of reparation…”
Our Lady spoke next, saying: “Look, my daughter, at my Heart, surrounded with thorns with which ungrateful men pierce it at every moment by their blasphemies and ingratitude. You at least try to console me and tell them that I promise to assist at the hour of death, with the graces necessary for salvation, all those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, shall confess, receive Holy Communion, recite five decades of the Rosary, and keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.”
Mary also told Sister Lucia: “There are so many souls whom the Justice of God condemns for sins committed against me, that I have come to ask for reparation: sacrifice yourself for this intention and pray…”
Why were five first Saturdays of reparation requested? It was in order to help atone for the five ways in which people offend the Immaculate Heart of Mary: Attacks upon Mary’s Immaculate Conception, attacks against her Perpetual Virginity, attacks upon her Divine Maternity and the refusal to accept her as the Mother of all mankind, publicly implanting in children’s hearts indifference, contempt, and even hatred of this Immaculate Mother, and, finally, insulting her directly in her sacred images.
Our Lady said that her Immaculate Heart was pierced as it were by thorns because of those who sin against her, especially through blasphemy and ingratitude, and that she wants us to console her for this pain in her Heart and thus to win grace for the sinners.
We might ask at this point how anyone in Heaven can suffer and at the same time abide in eternal happiness. This is a mystery, but it must be true, since Heaven has confirmed it, though it is still something we cannot easily comprehend. Blaise Pascal famously wrote: “Christ is in agony until the end of the world,” because He is one with the members of his Body who suffer on earth. Because He still relates to us in time, He experiences grief and pain over our sins, even though He once and for all nailed them to the Cross. Raissa Maritain wrote that there is “an unnamed perfection” in God that is analogous to human suffering. So this mysterious suffering out of love, even in Heaven, enhances the divine perfection rather than diminishing it.
Since Our Lady suffered so intensely and lovingly in union with Jesus on Golgotha, we can be sure that He has united her to Himself in Heaven in a similar way. Mary shares in all the divine perfections in the fullest way possible for one who remains a creature. She is, of course, supremely happy in Heaven in relation to God and all the angels and saints, but in relation to her sinful and suffering children, she will endure a mysterious kind of suffering until the last judgment and general resurrection. So even if the thorns piercing her Heart are symbolic representations, the reality to which they refer is not at all symbolic, but one that draws tears from the heavenly Mother, which are sometimes even manifested in her sacred images in this world.
Mother of our Peace
Even if we are called to suffer in order to join our heavenly Mother in sharing Jesus’ work of saving souls, we can remain in peace if we are united to her Heart. This mystery is beautifully explained in the following reflection by Dom Mark Daniel Kirby, OSB:
“There was never moment when the soul of the Blessed Virgin Mary was not established in peace. Her Immaculate Heart is a haven of peace for poor sinners, a refuge from the attacks of the enemy who seeks to destroy all peace in our souls and on the face of the earth… The closer we are to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the closer we are to peace, that is, the absence of sin. Sin is what disturbs true peace; sin is what destroys peace. If you would have peace, avoid sin, and should you fall into sin, confess it without delay, so that peace may be restored to your soul. Mary, being sinless from the first instant of her conception, is, of all creatures, the most peaceful. She is utterly tranquil and perfectly serene.
“God created the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be the single most peaceful place in the universe. Mary is the living temple prepared by God for God; her Heart is a sanctuary untouched by the violence and wickedness of a world seduced by Satan. Even when, as a mother full of pity for her wayward children, Mary presses sinners to her Heart, nothing of sin’s contagion taints her. The Immaculate is not soiled by the filth of her fallen children, even as she stoops to lift us out of the mire of our miseries.
“If you would be apt for the advent of the Lord, seek peace where it is to be found: in the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of God. The closer you are to Mary, the more will you experience a peace that the world cannot give. Mary will teach you to discern the things that make for peace and avoid those that threaten to destroy it.
“The peace of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is not diminished by suffering; it flourishes in the midst of thorns. The old Benedictine motif depicting the word PAX surrounded by a crown of thorns—pax inter spinas—is a kind of monogram of the Heart of the Mother of God. Did she not appear at Fatima with her Immaculate Heart surrounded by thorns?
“The inviolable peace of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was purchased at a great price, that is, with the Precious Blood of her Son, the immolated Lamb. If, in making our way to the sanctuary of the maternal Heart of Mary, we must pass through the thorns that encircle it, it is so that we might be associated with the redeeming Passion of her Son, and so that a few drops of our blood might be mingled with the torrent of that flood so copiously from His head, His hands, His feet, and His side.
“Those of you who have come to love the rosary know that it produces peace in the soul of one who perseveres in praying it. The rosary leads one directly into the refuge of Mary’s sinless heart, into a sanctuary of peace that cannot be threatened, troubled, or assailed by powers visible or invisible. Peace, being the absence of sin, is rightly in the giving of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. If you pray her rosary, she will give you her peace.” (http://vultus.stblogs.org/2013/01/mary-is-the-mother-of-our-peac.html)
To be continued…