Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: Reparation, An Actual Demand of Today
The more sterile the land, the greater is the call for labour. Morning and night we pray “Thy kingdom come,” and yet what is more self-evident than the fact that our wish is still unrealised? Who would dare assert that Gods kingdom has come? Is it not only too manifest that God’s kingdom has not come and that we see no signs whatever of its advent?
An author places on the lips of St. Joan of Arc some words which fittingly describe the sad state of things at the commencement of Charles VIs reign, words which can truthfully be said by us in our days : “Our Father, who art in Heaven, how far, far off is the hallowing of Thy Name, how far off the coming of Thy Kingdom! The world is worse than ever. If only we could see the sun of Justice rise. But, O God, forgive me for venturing to say it, Thy Kingdom seems to be going farther and farther away. Never has Thy Name been so blasphemed nor Thy Will treated with such contempt. Never has man been so disobedient. We have not yet enough saints upon earth; send us as many as we need, as many as are necessary to dishearten the enemy.”
Huysmans, in his admirable Introduction to the Life of St. Lydwine of Schiedam (d. 1433), gives an outline of the state of the world when God chose Lydwine for Himself. When skating one day she was knocked down and broke her ribs. Gangrene set in, and for thirty- eight years she endured intolerable sufferings both in soul and body. She was chosen by God to keep Satan thus in check, and to hinder the daily increase of his kingdom.
Has the world changed much since the times of St. Lydwine? In her days men killed one another. Our age can vie with that of those older barbarians. Nations were crumbling to dust in decrepitude and decadence, men were willing bond slaves of paid sophists and false shepherds without a conscience. Have we not seen this also? Money to bribe traitors was plentiful in those times. Is it not always at hand? There are philosophers in abundance, now as then, ready
to excuse the greatest atrocities.
Love of pleasure reigns universally. “In a few days, I shall be twenty-three. It is time to enjoy myself.” This motto has been practically followed by whole generations. Sin displays itself with such disconcerting cynicism and abundance. One hardly knows where to stop when giving examples.
Then behind these open vices are all the faults that are sheltered and hidden.
Alas! We lack Apostles. Twenty- seven centuries ago the prophet Amos uttered this strange prophecy under the sycamores of Bethel: ” Behold the days will come, saith the Lord, and I will send a famine into the land; not a famine of bread, not a thirst of water, but of hearing the word of the Lord. And they shall move from sea to sea … they shall go about seeking the word of the Lord and shall not find it” (viii. u). It is the same now; although Christ has come, the nations sit in the shadow of death.
A tribe in Central Madagascar had been deprived of their pastor. He was needed elsewhere, for there was a dearth of priests. This is what the deserted flock wrote to his Superior : “A terrible misfortune has happened to us. We are like men who have been suddenly plunged in utter darkness through the extinguishing of their torch. The torch of the Catholic Faith had shone upon us and made us supremely happy. Alas! How sad is our fate now ! Help us, Father, hear our cry of distress; we are like sheep without a shepherd, the sport of wolves. Send us back our priest.”
True devotedness to the cause that we espouse means a great deal. It entails the service of our mind and intelligence and above all of our heart. It means loving the cause we are eager to further so much, that we are prepared to sacrifice ourselves wholly together with our tastes, preferences, habits and inclinations and not merely a given portion of them. It means loving souls so ardently that we go in pursuit of them, without waiting for them to come to us, without looking for their love and gratitude in return, but devoting ourselves solely for the love of God and of souls. Such self-devotedness is by no means easy, and this is why the world in desolation clamours for it. The source of Divine grace is ever within reach, ready to gush forth in living streams and to cleanse men from sin, to purify conscience, give sight to the blind, heal the leper and the paralytic, but volunteers are needed, as at the Pool of Bethsaida, to bring God s help to succour the misery of humanity.
The world contains two classes of people: the few who, have eyes to see and intelligence to know what is passing around them, and who are so affected by the sight, that they are forced to give their assistance, and the others who,see and understand nothing, or if they by chance obtain some inkling of the truth, take no heed. In the midst of a world that is hurrying on to destruction, they think only of feasting at the restaurants of their times. In any case, they give no thought to the millions of unhappy beings around them, creatures who are enslaved by wretchedness, doubts and want of God.
As we are so accustomed to live in the midst of egoism which prevails and rules everywhere, we do not perceive the hatefulness of this vice. Those whom some special grace has enlightened in their darkness of unbelief outside the Church, and led them suddenly to the clairvoyance of faith in the Gospel, are full of astonishment and contempt for the ” nobodies ” who fill the world and want nothing beyond the vanities which satisfy their mean desires.
Consider two examples of a worldly life. A young girl lay on her deathbed and just as she was expiring she said to the nun, who was nursing her: ” Sister, my hands are empty.”
An Austrian nobleman, as he lay dying, said : “When God asks me to render an account of my life, what shall I answer ? I can only say : Lord, I have killed hares and hares and hares, and nothing more.
It is really too insignificant,” and he spoke the truth. We are no partisans of Jansenism, no enemy of lawful amusements, but we condemn the terrible habit of looking at life from the sole point of view of how much pleasure it can be made to yield. There is something else to do.
But we have not yet touched bottom. Men might at least be contented with neglecting God as is the case with the majority, but some go further. For them, it does not suffice to ignore God, they are animated by a most virulent hatred of their Creator and of the Catholic Church.
Rene Bazin, writing during the War with his usual delicacy of expression, sets forth the anomaly of a crucifix which for years had occupied a place of honour in the schoolroom being found by some American soldiers in the school-mistress’s attic. The crucifix had been relegated to the rubbish heap! Surely such an act of vandalism helps to explain how a conversation such as the subjoined could take place. Two children were in the Museum at Cluny looking at a large crucifix:” Look, Madeleine,” said one, ” does not that man look wretched ?” ” Why does he hang down his head ?” ” He seems to be crying, don’t you think so?”
Yes, poor little ones, indeed He weeps; He weeps because you do not know Him. He sheds tears because some of your own family have prevented your knowing and loving Him.
Vile degraded men who insult God and deny His very existence, who leave Him on one side, are powerless to injure the Most High. Those who deny and insult must remain here below. Heaven is inaccessible to them. Earth, alas! is not and are we sure that these insults rising from our midst will not fall back in punishments upon us?
God is God; all those who would put out the stars and deny the supernatural are powerless; they cannot get rid of Him. God exists eternally. He, too, has His rights. God will not suffer man to treat Him as an outcast with impunity, as one who can be overlooked or got rid of; as one who can be disposed of by an eloquent discourse, a vote, or a stroke of the pen.
But if we cannot find enough volunteers to counterbalance all these insults, what may we not expect?
In the time of Abraham, two cities would have been spared if only ten just men had been found. And how greatly we need just men, how many more of them! Father Matheo Crawley, the well-known Peruvian missionary who has travelled all over France, has truly said, ” For every social evil, I have found not simply one work of reparation, but a whole series of them.”
If these good works are to flourish, we must have many, many souls of good will, souls eager to adopt a mode of life like that so aptly set forth in the subjoined passage:
“We must give up certain satisfactions and practise mortification because others are suffering, and do these things with the greatest sympathy, because we feel drawn to share their sufferings. We must deprive ourselves likewise of certain pleasures, because others indulge in them to excess. In this case, we wish to ransom or compensate for their immoderation. So far as our position and powers allow, we try to maintain a certain level in the life of men.”
Send us, O Lord, we beseech Thee, many of the just to make compensation for their brethren. May it please Thee to send us not merely faithful souls of the rank and file, but generous souls pledged to pay by their loyalty the ransom which Thy justice has asked for so long. Suffering alone will not suffice: we need suffering welcomed loving and penitent suffering. There are other urgent needs but these are the most imperative.But do yet more, dear Lord, raise up souls who, not content merely to accept suffering, seek and desire it as a means of restraining the power of evil. These are the souls who make reparation to the uttermost.
Cardinal Manning wrote: ” We do not live in the age of martyrs (but, who knows?), but in an age when each must have the will of a martyr.”
In a book written before the War, Daniel, the hero of the story, makes an excellent retort, which is likewise a rebuke, to a worldly young priest who was quoting with satisfaction the words of a bishop in China, who had witnessed many martyrdoms and speaking of them, said: ” In my young days, I longed for martyrdom, but I do not want it now.”
Daniel replied : ” Let me tell you that if there are in France a thousand Christians, a hundred, or even twenty ready to suffer in their bodies the stigmata of the Passion, these alone are the true disciples of Christ and you may recognise them by their readiness to shed their blood joyfully. The earth on which we stand has drunk in their blood greedily, it was the blood of Sanctinus, of Blandina and of Irenaeus. If France is to be born again, our blood too must be poured out.
Yes “our blood too must be poured out.” Not perhaps on the battlefield or in the arena, but it must be shed drop by drop in our daily striving after holiness, and for the restoration of humanity in Christ. It must be given drop by drop by the daily sacrifices often so trivial and yet meritorious of an existence spent wholly for God.
The most faithful of these zealous souls give all to God, making the complete sacrifice of their self-love with all its manifold reservations, of their most cherished attachments, of their most legitimate pleasures and joys. They give all for the joy of seeing God at last known, loved and served as He merits.
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This work is an abrigement of a Chapter from the book The Ideal of Reparation by Father Raoul Plus SJ or more details on how this work was abriged please visit the Audiobook page
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