When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom. Job 1:5
I gave a talk on reparation this morning at my parish. I am including the video and the transcript.
Before I begin this talk, I will just say, I am not a theologian. I do not really feel qualified to speak on this topic and if I am honest, when I signed myself up to do so, it was in the hopes of finding another speaker. Most of what I know I learned from reading scripture, frequenting the sacraments, reading the lives of Saints and from my own progression in the prayer life. I hope I am able to impart the importance of reparation and why we need to do it.
In order to talk about reparation, I first wanted to talk about what scripture refers to as the “unforgivable sin.” It is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Let me read the passage to you;
In the Gospel of Matthew 12:31-32 Jesus tells us;
“Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is known as a rejection of God’s mercy. I used to think this was a “one and done” sin and I prayed that I would never do this one thing that I didn’t really understand that would leave me unforgiven. But I realized one day, I have actually committed this sin many times in my past. Because, as I said, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is a rejection of mercy, it is when we remain in our pride thinking we aren’t wrong, or even our despair thinking God cannot forgive us in our mortal sin and we refuse God’s forgiveness. In my distant past I used to not confess all my mortal sin, even if I went to confession – and very often I just didn’t go to confession at all. I tried to hide from God the really bad, I was more despairing, which I now see as a twisted form of my own pride. I thought in hiding from God I could save myself or sometimes even that God could not possibly repair what I had broken. There were also occasions I simply thought I was right and God was wrong which is just straight up pride. Because of this rejection of forgiveness we cannot have the Spirit dwelling within us. It is a blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. What Jesus is saying in this passage is, I can forgive you anything, but if you refuse to come to me, I cannot forgive. Unconfessed sin cannot be absolved. When we sit in unconfessed mortal sin, we lose divine indwelling. In our pride we don’t want to be forgiven, for we think we are right or we think we can’t be forgiven. This means we live our lives in the darkness of sin. However, so long as we are breathing, we can always convert and change and repent, and we will be forgiven. Don’t ever think the repentant heart won’t be forgiven. God is waiting and seeking for us to receive the Holy Spirit. But If we go to our death this way, which is to say, if we go to our death in the pride of mortal sin, it gains us hell, which is our own choice. Remember mortal sin is grave sin, we know it is grave, and we give our full consent. It is willful separation from God. Purgatory is for those who accept mercy, who are albeit, still imperfect. Heaven is for those made perfect, “as the heavenly father is perfect.” Being made perfect is all about mercy. Mercy is all about Charity.
So now I want to take you back to the beginning when God created. God, who scripture tells us, is love, who is infinitely good, created us. Not because He had to, but because He is infinite goodness and love. Love is always creative and beautiful. Love gives.
Adam and Eve were afforded the gift to live in union with the will of God. This unity, was peaceful, perfect, harmonious, it knew no evil. Everything was held in the infinite goodness of God, the Trinity. So going back to the garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve fell, when they chose to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil, the council of Trent defines this as a grievous sin. They knew it and defied the command of God, and they gave their full consent to it. But something else happened too. God came looking for them. Where are you ? He asks. Who told you that you were naked? – He continued. Then he straight up asked them if they did what He asked them not to do. Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat? Are we to believe that God didn’t already know? Of course he knew. He is God. What was happening in this exchange then? I have often pondered, what if they just had said yes and said they were sorry? This was an opportunity to receive the mercy of God. God already knew all that had happened, but he wanted them to tell him. Instead of admitting they were wrong and asking for mercy, they began the blame game. Eve blamed the serpent. Adam blamed Eve. Neither turned to God and just admitted their weakness. They justified themselves in their mortal transgression putting a wall of separation of their choosing between themselves and God. They tried to hide from God. You don’t have to be an atheist to be doing this in your own life, as I said, I in the past, hid my sin from God, and refused to ask for His mercy. In Adam and Eve’s case, as in my own, you can be sure that God knew their weakness for He is their creator. But in choosing to not ask for mercy, they blasphemed the Spirit that had dwelt within them. Union was disrupted. God’s love still held and holds everything together, for without it we would cease to exist, but it was no longer heart to heart. A veil separated the union that once was. And it was an infinite offense, this rejection of mercy, because it was an offense against the infinite goodness of God, which they had known fully in a way that we do not know it. This rift in unity was created with a far reaching consequence, one that is as infinite as the goodness it offended. The offense against the Holy Spirit travels from generation to generation, it is the mark of original sin and the concupiscence that accompanies it. For those of you who don’t know what concupiscence is; it is the tendency of human beings towards sin.
These are the infinite marks for offending the goodness and mercy of God. It marks us in our minds, where Satan trains us to think, and in our hearts where sin takes over, and in our hands and feet, when we act on the disordered desires and sin. These are the wounds of Christ. And try as we may, before Christ came, our attempts at atonement fell short. Covenant after covenant was broken, as our human weaknesses always seem to get the best of us. Our rejection of God and his mercy playing out over and over in time. How could man possibly undo the offense of infinity? How can man undo this original blasphemy of the Spirit? How can this original unforgivable sin be forgiven? Fortunately for Adam and Eve, they did not go to their death that way and God was working in Salvation History. Fortunately for us God also has a plan, a plan that defeats sin and even death as we look forward to the resurrection of our glorified bodies.
God in His Divine providence, knew that only God Himself could atone for the infinite offense. Atonement is the reconstruction of the damaged relationship, a way if you will, for the Spirit to dwell within once again. So the second person of the Blessed Trinity came in the form of the Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sin. That is, He came to reconcile us to Himself. He did this through His death on the cross and His resurrection.
But is that the end of the story?
While what Jesus did on the cross, did atone, it did not complete the restoration of full union that Adam and Eve had before they fell. If it had, we would not still be battling the devil, we would not still be falling into sin, we would not still have wars and rumors of wars and hate of our fellow man. We would not need confession because we would have returned to the state that Adam and Eve were in originally before the fall. We would have already entered into what the Saints call transforming union.
God could have just simply returned us to that state of original justice, but He did not. God judged that there was a better way for us. It is a way that completely respects our free will and transforms us into people who love like He does. After all, it isn’t really love if we don’t choose it. God does not mandate love, he respects the choices we make. Love is only love if it is freely given and self sacrificing. So where does that leave us? Well, Jesus left us a way. He is the way, the truth and the life. It is the way of reparation. Reparation means that we unite our sacrifices to the cross of Christ to repair for our own sins and the sins of others. While Jesus does forgive us everything in Confession, there is still the consequence of the sin to deal with. For example, you can confess that you yelled at your spouse and Jesus forgives you, but repair with your spouse needs to be made to heal the residual effect of the sin. The spiritual consequence of having done it in the first place. There is work to be done on our part, we have to choose to partake in the redemption. He does not want to be the only one loving. He asks for us to become love too. And God’s love is self-sacrificing. Jesus Christ on the cross shows us how to love like God. To give absolutely everything of ourselves in love and to hold nothing back from God’s will in our lives. His human will was crucified, obedient to the Divine Will. What this means is he took our previously meager means of atonement, which was mainly animal sacrifice for sin, and offered Himself instead. This offering is infused with the power and glory of God through the Cross and Resurrection. Since God became man, mankind is now able to participate in a very unique and intimate way in the power of God’s merciful love through self-sacrifice which repairs with Christ. And so, God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. And a pathway for us to live in the Divine Will is made.
This way of reparation could not be made without the gift of the Immaculate Conception. God gave us a gift in His Mother who was preveniently saved by his Passion, Death and Resurrection. This means that the grace of His life, passion, death and resurrection was applied to her at her conception, before these things actually happened in time. He is God after all, He can work outside of time. And He did so with her, so as to show us the path of how to repair and be transformed into love.
We know too that her “Fiat”, her, “yes” to the Angel Gabriel enabled the Holy Spirit to come upon her and ushered in the Savior of the world. Her acceptance, no matter the consequence, of the will of God, to trust that God knew what He was doing even though it would put her in danger according to the rules of society, helped to save us, it was a cooperation in redemption. We see that she is truly full of grace to be able to say this yes, even while knowing evil and suffering in a way Adam and Eve would not have known. This makes her singular in our faith and it is why we honor her so much. She is the Mother of Mercy, a human person who knew not how to reject the mercy of God and had the grace of the Holy Spirit always dwelling within her. One of the titles of Mary is Our Lady of Ransom. In Jesus, time if someone could not pay a debt they were often thrown in prison until they could repay. You may ask, how can someone in prison repay? Well, it was their family who paid the debt to get them out of prison. The payment was called the Ransom. We see this story in Matthew 18, the story of the unmerciful servant. In spiritual terms, we repay when we forgive like God forgives, but this story reminds us too that we can pay, or repair, for our loved ones who are still in the prison of mortal sin. We can make payment, with Christ, for them, so that they turn towards God’s mercy. Our Lady and her title of Our Lady of Ransom, in her walk to the Cross, was helping to repay the debt for all of us. And we see in the relationship of Jesus and Mary how we too can partake in our own redemption.
The second person of the Blessed Trinity entered into the waters of the pure womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, he was birthed into the world, taking on our limited human nature. This Divine person, came through this grace filled human person to atone for our infinite offense. Her womb, the space where the Divine Person and Human Person meet. Her immaculate heart, the consolation for His sacred heart.
She had a sword pierce her heart as she walked the Passion of her Son. And as blood and water poured from His side, our church was birthed. She is an archetype of the church, and she is the Mother of the Church. Through the Immaculate Conception and the Cross, resurrection is made available to us and heaven is opened up, atonement is made. And we are invited of our own free will into this mystery of reparation that brings down God’s mercy upon us. We have a part to play in our own redemption, as well as in the redemption of the whole world. We must say “yes” to God, we must follow Jesus by taking up our cross and walking our own passion, which strips us of our self-seeking nature, and clothes us with the heavenly cloak of self-sacrificial love of God and neighbor. This reparation, this healing, it is available in all the Sacraments of the church. And at every Mass if only we have eyes to see.
It begins in the waters of baptism, We enter in, as if into the womb of the church, the bride of Christ. The words are proclaimed, “I baptize you” – this person who baptizes you, represents Christ (hence why we cannot say we, for it is one God in whom we believe) – from whom all saving comes – When the words, “In the name of the Father” are proclaimed our FIAT is made – the yes which conceives Divine Life within us– we are lifted up to heaven. The next words, “and of the Son” and we are taken down into our sin which is crucified and dies, and finally, “and of the Holy Spirit” and we are reborn into new life. The infinite offense of original sin is repaired for us. And the waters of Baptism bring us through Salvation History from the annunciation to the resurrection in one Sacramental act. It is why Baptism is necessary for Salvation.
The infinite consequence of original sin (and our particular sin up to that point) are atoned for and repaired by God.
But this is not the end. This begins the journey of our Christian life. To think this is the end, and now we are done with our journey would be a mistake.
We know that we are still affected by concupiscence – our tendency to sin. So the repair is made and we have full access to the Holy Spirit, but there is something left for us to do. The Sacramental life is a choosing daily to partake in the life of Christ. The grace of the sacraments help to reorder our desires. The end goal, the crushing of our concupiscence.
Mary had no concupiscence.
She did not just birth Him and leave and become sinful, she went all the way to the Cross with Him because her desires were ordered to goodness. The Cross crushes concupiscence in order that we be “made perfect as the heavenly father is perfect”. (Matthew 5:48)
It is why we “take up our cross and follow him.” God does not want to leave us with a disordered desire to sin, and He definitely does not want to leave us in our sin. So He made for us a way to freely choose life.
For the Blessed Virgin Mary, this is where the grace of God filled her, and she had total surrender and trust to the path. The path that led her to stand at the foot of the cross and still trust that God is good and His plan is better. A path where she helps Him redeem by being a vessel of grace that shows us what we were made for.
It is not enough that we simply are born again, we must not stay spiritual infants, but we must grow and mature, and be transformed into life giving love ourselves. Life giving Love wants to repair for what evil and darkness have wrought. This is because true life has no place for evil to dwell. We do not get to choose what is good and evil, that has already been done by God the Father. We do however get to choose whether or not we are going to participate in or promote or excuse evil. We get to choose to overcome evil through our own obedience to Our Heavenly Father, no matter how painful, or scary that obedience to God may seem to be.
A Christian who stops at baptism and gives in continually to concupiscence and sin, with no thought of following the will of God, is left as a frozen hearted soul.
To paraphrase Martin Luther (Luther werks vol. 26) and yes this is actually the essence of what he stated, although not verbatim, he said we are like a pile of dung that Jesus covers with the purity of snow. This presupposes that what God made isn’t good. We become like frozen piles of poo. If you believe this, then no need for us to repair anything, in fact why bother at all? But for the Catholic, even if you are filled with the dung of sin, when we repent and accept mercy, God can then crush that dung into compost that becomes fertile soil in which abundant life can grow. To be Catholic is to follow in the footsteps of St John the Beloved Disciple, Mary Magdalene and most importantly our Mother Mary, all the way through the passion to the tomb.
This is why we need confession. Another sacrament. This is the one in which we hand our sin to Christ and continue the path to repair. When we go to confession, we are trying to purge our sin by naming it and nailing it to the cross – Confession crucifies our sin. It is the real sacramental grace of the Sacrament that will eventually help us overcome those sins. And by doing your penance you acknowledge the temporal damage that was done to your soul because of your sin. You partake in the repair for the sake of your own soul. You accept the mercy of God, grace grows and the spirit can make a home inside of your heart, or at least begin to do so.
There is another error in our world that also hinders us from this path of reparation. It seems to embrace the wrongheaded thought that suffering is worse than sin. All the while never realizing that sin begets more and worse suffering. When we wallow in our sin, in an effort to stop suffering, the joy filled abundant life is never found and we fill only with fleeting worldly pleasures that never truly satisfy. No amount of money, sex, food, shopping, work, status, or reputation, can ever truly satisfy what only God can fill. Oftentimes our emotions can get the best of us and what we feel becomes our radar for what is or is not sin. But the Catholic Church in her great Wisdom, has already given us the road map. And through the Authority of Christ, what she binds on earth is bound in heaven and what she looses on earth is loosed in heaven. So we don’t have to guess at or wonder whether or not a particular action is sinful or not. We know because the Church, who is Our Mother, has already instructed us in it. The Saints all knew this and they also knew suffering well. We do not see them shy away from suffering, in fact, if you read their writings, they praise and thank God for all that comes their way. They know God is good, despite their suffering because they know if they accept mercy, they grow in charity and the Spirit dwells within and love grows in them which in turn grows through them to their community. Saint Josephine Bakhita famously said, “”If I was to meet those slave raiders that abducted me and those who tortured me, I’d kneel down to them to kiss their hands, because, if it had not have been for them, I would not have become a Christian and religious woman.” This is a woman who KNOWS God. Can we say the same for ourselves? Can we thank God for our suffering, for our trials, both big and small? Or do we rage at the world when suffering comes our way? All things are held within God’s perfect will, which means all things are an opportunity to glorify God. Our pain and suffering, is a means by which we are able to imitate Christ on the cross, who triumphed over evil through obedience to God and love for humanity. What an honor to be able to love God that much and to truly love our neighbor, even when it is not easy to do so.
Saints seek to grow in virtue to help temper the desire borne of concupiscence. In the first stages of the Christian life, this is purgative, meaning that they are trying to get rid of and repair for their own sin. These Saints, they know something else, they know they are weak, and they know they are not their own Savior. They know as I stated at the beginning, that God’s power is made perfect in their weakness. This means once they accept the mercy of God, they do not wallow in guilt and shame, they are confident in the one who loves them. Scrupulosity is a way that Satan tries to steal our confidence in mercy and make us once again rely on ourselves instead of God. We must always remember who is really in control. We must surrender to God the journey he has placed before us, so that He can be the one that is glorified and we do not end up stealing His glory.
Saints hope to attain the “rejoicing in their suffering” that Saint Paul speaks of. Because they know that their suffering “makes up for what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.”
What is lacking in His sufferings is our free will’s choosing to help him repair for the offenses that have been made and to extend mercy, even to those who don’t deserve it. We can repair for ourselves, but we can also repair for others. If Jesus could extend mercy to the man who nailed His hands to the Cross, is there anyone you should not be able to forgive? They may reject your forgiveness, but you are freed from your chains when you forgive. If we choose to repair with him, the Body would heal much faster. Saint Paul knew true love inside of his heart, where the Holy Spirit dwelt, and in all of his sufferings, he continued to love. His suffering, united to Christ’s helped this man who wrote most of the New Testament, with Christ in him to bring healing to our world through the rise of Christendom.
Think of reparation and extension of mercy like this, If a child who falls and skins his knee, he is in pain and suffering but his body has the capability to heal that wound on its own. However, if mom comes along, she suffers pain too at seeing her child and because of her love for him, she cleans it, puts some Neosporin on it and bandages it. This will help heal much faster than if the dirt is left inside of it. His skinned knee is not her fault. And her attempt is miniscule in comparison to the healing ability of the body itself, but the love with which she does it, and the means she uses to help, do make a difference and she has partaken in repair. She desires only that her child get better, she is thinking outside of herself and her own ego and wills the good of her child, for his sake. For us, reparation is not an attempt at physical healing for our neighbor, although it could result in physical healing, but it is a spiritual repairing. Where we or our neighbor has offended God, as a member of the Body of Christ, we are able to pray, sacrifice, fast, and mortify ourselves as an offering of self-sacrificial love, where we die to ourselves in order for the mercy of God to be granted to that person, even though they may have done nothing to deserve God’s mercy. This repairing act of love is a participation in Christ’s crucifixion. We become instruments of the Crucified Christ on earth as he reigns in heaven. So often we want to imitate Christ’s loving acts of kindness, his service to the poor and needy, which are all good, but we are called to so much more, for Jesus tells us that the GREATEST act of love is to lay down ones life for one’s friends.
The Saint starts out in this purgative way, and know the goal is to be purified of all evil. Evil thoughts, evil words, evil actions. We can do our purgatory here. We can offer suffering for others here. This is the ultimate reparation, because it not only purifies our own soul, but it spreads outward to others, purifying the whole Body of Christ. It is a work that is done with your will, the action of your mind and body, and a heart that totally relies on the grace of God. And most importantly it is an act of humility. To self-reflect upon our own sinfulness, instead of always looking outward at others and pointing out their sinful ways, we are humbling ourselves before God, surrendering ourselves to Him, and begging for His mercy upon ourselves before we try to go around correcting our neighbor. This is why Jesus taught us that we must first take the log out of our own eye before we can notice the speck in our neighbors eye. Purging ourselves of our sinful habits does just this.
Imagine what the world would look like if we all were committed to purging ourselves from sin – it would look like the will of God, on earth as it is in heaven. This is what we pray for. But this path isn’t easy. It requires letting go of worldly desires and focusing on what God desires, even when it’s hard, even when it brings suffering. It means trusting in the power of God in and through our own work of redemption within our own souls and the ripple effect that will have on those around us. If we keep an eternal view we know suffering in this life is temporary compared to the heaven of no more tears.
For me in my life, it has taken me a long time to understand this. When I think of my past and all the things I have done, I can see how I fought so much against the plan of God for me. I thought I knew better.
I used to complain of the rules of the Church as if they were some kind of fun sucking rigidity that was meant to make my life miserable. I raged at God and at the church, all the while still proclaiming my belief and telling everyone I was Catholic.
I was double minded.
I believed I could disregard the commandments and still be a “good person.” I hated myself because I was stuck in the pride of my sin not realizing that what I needed was the mercy of God. I have to think that any grace I merited at all, was because of loved ones praying for me. Don’t ever stop praying for your loved ones. God can do amazing things with that. In my case, it wasn’t until a series of humbling events, a deep and severe depression and anxiety, and the murder of my friend, that I began to see that the world wasn’t better because of ME. These sufferings, though awful, brought me to my knees, where for the first time since I was a small child, I connected in real relationship with the God who loves me in prayer. I realized, in fact, I was a misery and I understood what the Saints meant when they said things like this, and I knew how far away I was from God. I still have a long way to go, but I am learning day by day to trust completely in my Savior.
I remember the first time I really saw that my thoughts, my words, and my actions, wished evil, they spoke evil, and they did evil. I am still on my journey with God, but the recognition of this is when the reparation finally begins. And when reparation begins, healing can truly begin.
I was illuminated about this because of prayer. A real and meaningful conversation with God. The way of the Christian is the way of prayer in real relationship with a real and living person.
Two of the first sins God showed me were my use of his name in vain, and that of using birth control. To be sure, in our society, neither of these things is considered a big deal, but both are evil. In my pride I had refused to see that.
I used the name of the God who loves me and wants to bless me as a curse, as a way to damn those who I didn’t like or agree with. Scripture tells me I will be held accountable for every careless word from my mouth. Jesus Christ have mercy on me, a sinner.
When it came to birth control, I had embraced the worldly view that children could be a burden, and the sacrifice which is part of the motherly life, well, I fought against it. I didn’t understand that my body was a gift and it’s natural processes didn’t need to be broken. We take what works perfectly and we break it. I didn’t understand the self sacrificial love that motherhood requires was actually something beautiful. I didn’t understand until God showed me. Scripture tells us of children, “happy the man whose quiver is full” (Psalm 127:5). Jesus Christ have mercy on me a sinner.
As time moved forward and God peeled back the veil I came to understand that if we truly want to be healed, God asks us to repair with Him. This reparation means listening to Holy Mother Church and all of her teachings, even the ones that seem hard. Obedience was the thing Satan couldn’t do. All of the Saints unanimously practiced obedience to the church and her teachings. If you struggle with a particular church teaching like I did, it is worth looking into why it is taught. For the why, is always about our healing and salvation. It isn’t some arbitrary rule, it is always about abundant life.
The church also left us the sacraments as a way towards transforming union, one that brings real peace in the world and not a false peace that leaves our hearts dark.
There’s a beautiful passage in the Gospel of John, Chapter 17:15-22 where Jesus is speaking to the Father on behalf of his disciples and he says;
I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.
“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us,[f] so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one..
I think we sometimes tend to think of this oneness Jesus speaks of as some kind of ecumenical agree to disagree, all get along, coexistence. But this passage – Jesus prays for them to be one as the Father and He are one. That isn’t some sort of worldly coexistence, that is Jesus wants you personally to be one with Him as He is with the Father. This is a divinization of your soul. And when you become divinized, true love lives in the world. This is being taken back to the garden. The Kingdom of God is at hand, in you. Your every breath is love, your every action is the Passion, the self-sacrificing love.
How do we get there? We make, as Our Lady of Fatima requested, reparation. Our first steps to repair is to actually allow ourselves to be healed of what sin has done to us by partaking regularly in the Sacraments. We must fully embrace our baptism, give our fiat, to God and seeking to do His will in all things. We must fully embrace our Confirmation – asking for the gifts of the Spirit to increase in us, for it is these gifts that will bear life-giving fruit for others.
We must go to confession when we sin and confess without justification. If we justify why we sin, Jesus cannot be our Justification because we are still trying to save ourselves instead of letting him be our Savior. Once we are in this state of grace, we must receive the Eucharist, asking and knowing that Jesus will purify us. This bread that we eat can purify our hearts if we allow it. When we receive Jesus, who is truly present in the Most Holy Eucharist, in a state of grace (which means we have have confessed all of our sins and have no other known sin on our hearts) we are able to be filled up completely with sanctifying grace, which heals, perfects, purifies, and makes holy all that it encounters. Who would not want to receive the Eucharist in a state of grace as often as they could. This is where the real work of holiness is done.
I want to pause here for a minute and state that we are so so far away from real purity. I used to scoff at the Saints who would proclaim their misery to God and I would think, “seriously Faustina?” That’s ridiculous, what could you possibly be doing that was so bad. That is until God started illuminating me on all the ways we are impure and showed me how His Mother was not.
I realized on day how I have a secondary thought that is all about me. For example, I was in the chapel praying alone one day, which is a good, but when someone came in, I thought, “oh, I hope I look reverent.” This thought, though not terrible, shows how self-centered I am. Mary was not like this. The thoughts would have been thoughts of God and of other. We’re far from that type of purity.
Mary bore zero ill will towards others. She, like her Son, wants for salvation for souls. Think about what you would have been like if all of your son’s friends abandoned Him at the cross. Would you be with them in the upper room praying? Or would you be angry and raging? She walks in Mercy.
This is the Immaculate Conception, it is who she is and how she identified to Saint Bernadette. She went to the Cross trusting God and forgiving like Jesus did and through His saving and His gift to her as making her Mediatrix of all grace, God wants to grow that Divine life within you, asking you to partake in the repair. SO that your FIAT can let God crucify the sin in you. Mary cooperated with the redeeming act of Jesus and we can partake in that too. We are one Mystical Body and Christ is the head.
We must be ever more vigilant in these times. We must trust that those sins which we think we cannot stop, that God can give us the grace to stop. He can lift us higher. We cannot and do not lift ourselves up to holiness. Only God can sanctify us.
Eventually, if you stay on the path, God will draw you closer to him. Instead of always being angry at others for their sin, you too may start to see their weaknesses the way God does and offer to repair for them. What mother wouldn’t want to help her son repair damage that has been done?
Holy Mother church helps us do that.
Besides staying on the path of prayer and the Sacraments, any and all suffering that comes your way can be offered for others. In Father Bolster’s talk on mortification he said the acceptance and offering of the suffering that isn’t a suffering you choose, but is a suffering sent your way, is extremely efficacious. God is the one who knows best how to purify you. He is trying to teach us how to love unconditionally, the way He does, in the middle of whatever suffering we are in. He entered the suffering, he didn’t remove it, he purified in the middle of it.
I want to relay a story about suffering after my dad died. My mom has dementia. She and my dad were married almost 59 years before he died. But right now she doesn’t remember that he did die. But there are days when the remembering comes and I want to relay to you about one such day. On this particular day, She asked me if “my Mike” was gone. She called him her “main man” and she realized he was dead, and then came the body shaking sobbing. I climbed into bed with her. I held her as she asks me why I didn’t tell her (which I did), why I didn’t take her to the funeral (which I did). I lay there with her and we cry. It’s all I can do, hold her and cry with her. All I can do is love my mom in the middle of her suffering.
As I laid there in bed with her, I felt the Lord whisper, “there’s more grace in this one act of holding your mother than in anything else you have ever done.”
I knew that all the writings I have written, all the classes I have taught, all the retreats I have put on, paled in comparison to the minutes I laid in bed and held my mother. I was not able to fix any of what was happening, I was just in the suffering with her. This moment in time was an act of reparation. And though I have been known to complain about what I am living right now, in that moment I welcomed the suffering and asked God to let it continue because grace was flowing like a river. This is the grace and unconditional love that God has in store for us.
I look at this situation as a Passion, a cross I take up. It wasn’t controllable, it was just a mess that God was in with us, that I could choose to love through. And with Jesus, the yoke is easy and the burden is light, it is how I can keep going. If you really want to know how to love, meditate on the Passion of Christ. Almost all of the great Saints meditated on the Passion of Jesus, not as a morbid recalling, but as a way to die to self. As a way of recognizing the great mercy and love that the Father has for us.
There is a passage in scripture where God tells us, my ways are not your ways, and my thoughts are not your thoughts. I started praying for God to make my ways his ways, and my thoughts to be his thoughts. It is amazing how your perspective changes when this happens and how suffering can be viewed as purifying instead of something to be avoided at all costs. Gratitude becomes a way of life, you rise above enmity, and Thanksgiving is always on your lips. It is no wonder that the Eucharist means Thanksgiving.
Finally, as I conclude this talk on reparation, I must acknowledge the elephant in the room. The church herself, though Holy, has a mess of sinful men and women inside. Make no mistake, the Priest scandal is an attack on all of us. For if Satan can make us hate our Priests, he can keep us from the Sacraments. Keeping us from the Sacraments keeps us from mercy. Satan wants us to go to our death blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Pray for and repair for our Priests. Pray for our Priests to be made holy. Pray also for yourselves to be made holy.
If you want unity in the church, offer yourself as a holocaust of unity. That’s what Saint Catherine of Siena did. There is a reason that in the Apparitions at Fatima Penance and Reparation were the message. There’s a reason too, that within a few years of that message, Saint Faustina was receiving the one of Divine Mercy. These two messages are intimately connected. We must receive mercy to receive the Divine light. That Divine Light helps us repair for others, especially now with the world spiraling out of control.
Don’t keep living your life circling the drain of your sins in a perpetual cycle of adolescence. Pray to God like he is your best friend. Frequent the Sacraments. Read Scripture daily. Meditate on the Passion and Pray the Rosary of Our Lady and offer to repair by taking up your crosses and following him. And then trust God to do the work within your own heart that will make your heart beloved. And always remember the words of Divine Mercy, Jesus I trust in you.