Reparation for Sin
by Father Paul A. Duffner
When the Mother of God appeared in Fatima, Portugal
in 1917 to Three (3) Small Children with a Plea for
Prayer and Penance, part of her
Message included the following Warning:
"Pray, Pray very much, make Sacrifices for Sinners, for many Souls go to
Hell because there is no one to offer Prayers and Sacrifices for them".
What Our Lady is asking for in this Plea is Reparation
on behalf of Sinners. She is asking that we do for them what
her Son did for us. Our Blessed Lord
took upon His Shoulders the Burden of our
Sins, and Paid the Price for them. We are not able to Shoulder
the Whole Burden, Pay the Whole Price for the Sins of others;
but what little we can do, when placed in the Hands of the Blessed Mother of us all, can accomplish much
towards lessening their Debt of Punishment, and Opening their Hearts to
the Healing and Strengthening Grace of God.
It is True that these Souls have Rejected the
Graces and Inspirations offered them by
God, but Our Lady implies that many of them can be
Saved by the Prayers and Sacrifices of Others, if among
her Children, some are Generous Enough to put themselves out for this purpose.
Eternal Death >>>>>>
In Recent Times, many have Contributed Generously to help Victims of Famine in various
parts of the World; but that was to Save them from Bodily
Death. The Death of the Soul -
the Rejection of God at the End of oneís Earthly Existence
(of which Our Lady speaks), is Eternal
Death. So we can see the Anguish of the
Mother of God at the Loss of
her Children, for whom her Son gave
His Life to Save.
Filling Up What is Wanting . . .
What Our Lady is asking for in the Plea expressed above, is simply that we do what
Saint Paul did time-and-again, namely, to "Fill up what is Wanting in the Sufferings of
Christ" i.e., in those Members of Christís Body who have turned away from
Him, and who will not turn back to Him unless other Members of
His Body win that Grace for them by their
Prayers and Sacrifices.
Those who remain unmoved by such a Plea from Our Blessed Mother, seem to say along
with Cain: "Am I my brotherís keeper?" (Genesis 4:9).
Keep in Mind that the Teaching of Our Savior on "Love of Neighbor"
is a Commandment, not merely a Counsel. Our Neighbor is not just the Person who lives Next Door,
but someone in Need; and Our Lady called our Attention to
many Souls in Dire Need, in Danger
of Eternal Punishment . . . Souls who are our Brothers and Sisters in
There is but One (1) Virtue of Charity, by which
we Love God and Neighbor; and we Love both with the same
Intensity of that Virtue. That means if our concern for others in Need is
Feeble, so is our Love of God. And remember Our
Lordís Warning that "The Measure you Measure with, will be Measured back to you". From
that, it follows that the more we Help those in Need - especially Dying
Sinners, the more we will be Sustained by the Grace of
God in that Crucial Moment. And finally, the
Lord reminds us - "What you do for the least of My
Brethren, you do it for Me"
Need we more Incentive, then, to earnestly try to Heed the Pleas of Our Lady for
Souls in Danger of Eternal Loss? The Thought perhaps comes . . .
"but what can I do; I can Pray for them, but what kinds of Sacrifices can I make for them?"
The Angel who appeared to the Three (3) Children at Fatima prior to the coming of
Our Lady, answered that question:
"Make everything you do a Sacrifice, and offer it to God as an Act of Reparation for
the Sins by which He is Offended, and in Supplication for the Conversion of Sinners".
The Decree on the Church in the Second Vatican Council also pointed out how
the Ordinary Routine of each day affords many opportunities for "Spiritual Sacrifices"
which give Glory to God, and Contribute to the
Salvation of Souls.
"The Laity, Dedicated to Christ and Anointed by the Holy Spirit, are Marvelously Called
and Equipped to produce in themselves ever more abundant Fruits of the Spirit. For all their Works, Prayers, Apostolic Endeavors,
their ordinary Married and Family Life, their Daily Labor, their Mental and Physical Relaxation, if carried out in the Spirit, and
even the Hardships of Life, if borne Patiently - all of these become Spiritual Sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus
Christ". (Lumen Gentium 34)
And recall too how David Prayed after he had
Sinned: "My Sacrifice, O God, is a Contrite Spirit; a Heart Contrite and Humbled, O God, You
will not Spurn" (Psalm 51). Every person in the State of Grace is frequently
performing such Acts as - Obedience to Lawful Authority, Fulfillment of Duty, Endurance of the Crosses
of Life, all of which, if done with a "Humble and Contrite Spirit", are as a
Sacrifice before God; for they involve the
Humble Submission of our Will to Godís, something
the Sinner Refuses. They have, therefore a Reparatory Value.
One can have a General Intention of placing in the Hands of Our Lady the
Fruits of all such Acts as regards Atonement, and in this way
make much of his day a continuous "Filling up what is Wanting in the Body of Christ".
Breaking Through the Barrier
If we can think of the Straw that Breaks the Camelís Back, we can also think of the
Prayer or Sacrifice that Breaks
the Sinners Resistance to Godís Grace, causing him to Open-up to
the Merciful Heart of the Redeemer. If a
Dying Sinner can be brought to make a Sincere Act of Perfect
Contrition for his Sins - regardless of how Great or how Many,
God would Restore Grace to that Soul, and Change the
Debt of Eternal Punishment to one of Temporal Punishment, that
could be Satisfied in this Life or in Purgatory.
If we could be Responsible-for, or Notably Contribute-to (under God) - the
Salvation of just One (1) Soul,
winning for it the Grace of True Contrition by our
Prayers and Sacrifices, and Saving it from
Eternal Damnation, how Grateful that Soul would be to us for all
Eternity. And yet, it could be that one who is Generous in his Concern for
Souls in Need, as we have explained, could be Responsible for, or Contribute to the Salvation of
Thousands of Souls in the Course of a Lifetime.
How do we bear the Trials, the
Hardships of each day . . .
Grudgingly, or Wholeheartedly? No one welcomes
Suffering as such. Our Nature shrinks from it. But if seen in the
Light of Godís
Providence, and of the Cross which
Our Lord said His
Disciples must carry, and
if borne with Patience, -
it not only Pays in-part the Debt of Temporal
Punishment due to Sin, but helps to
Mellow our Rebellious and
and Form us in the Image of Christ.
An 8 minute homily by Father Leo Clifford
on your Cross and Suffering
As Father Joret, O.P. states: Grace is "A
Crucifying thing, inasmuch as it is an Inflowing of the very Grace which Jesus received in its Fullness and which led Him to the
Cross" (Dom. Life. p. 268). Our Human Nature recoils from the Cross, but as it is
Perfected by Grace, one more-and-more embraces it, to share in
Christís Redeeming Action for Souls.
Sharing Christ's Work of Redemption
Speaking of the Redeeming Sacrifice of
Christ, Saint Thomas Aquinas (whom we are taking as our Main Guide in this Reflection) wrote:
"He properly Atones for an Offense, who offers something which the Offended One Loves
Equally, or even more-than he Detested the Offense. But by Suffering out of Love and Obedience, Christ gave more to God than was
Required to Compensate for the Offense of the Whole Human Race"
However, just because Christ offered to the Father
sufficient Satisfaction to Atone for the Sins of the Whole Human Race, and
Merited sufficient Grace to enable Every Member of the Human Race to enter
Heaven, that does not mean that we are all Automatically Saved.
Regarding this Saint Thomas wrote:
"Christís Passion is a Universal Cause for the Forgiveness of Sin, yet it needs to be
Applied to each Individual Soul for the Cleansing of his Personal Sins . . . that is, He has Provided for our Redemption, so that
each of us could be Delivered from our Sins and Restored to Grace, just as if a Doctor were to prepare a Medicine by which all
Sickness could be Cured in the Future".
(Summa III,49,1, ad 3&4)
To share in the Graces Christ Merited for us, or to Win for others a Share in them,
we must use the means of Grace that He has Established: the
Sacraments, Prayer, Keeping the
Commandments, Bearing the Crosses of Life, Voluntary
Penance, etc. Strictly speaking, Christ needed no one (not even
His Mother) - in the Gaining of those Graces, nor in
their Distribution. But in His Merciful Plan, He chose to Associate
others with Him in this Great Mystery of
Salvation. Pope Pius XII refers to this in his
Encyclical on the Mystical Body: (n.44).
"In carrying out the Work of Redemption, Christ Wished to be Helped by the Members of
His Body. This is not because He is Indigent or Weak, but rather because He has Willed it for the Greater Glory of His Unspotted
Spouse. Dying on the Cross, He left to His Church the Immense Treasury of the Redemption; towards this the Church contributed nothing.
But in the Distribution of those Graces, not only does He want to Share that Task with the Church (His Members), but in a way He wants
it to be Due to Her Action. What a Deep Mystery this, that the Salvation of many, depends on the Prayers and Voluntary Penances which
Members of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ offer for this Intention".
He allows us to Share not only in the Fruits of the
Redemption, but in the Very Work of Redemption itself.
He depends on those who Know and Love Him, to Win needed
Graces for those who do not Know or Love Him.
Meriting & Atoning for Others
Every Good Act performed in the State of Grace is
in some-measure, Meritorious. Yet unless it is an Act of the Full Intensity of which we are capable,
it does not bring about an Immediate Increase of Grace. No one, however, can Merit Condignly
the Beginning of the Life of Grace either for himself, or for another, i.e. with a Strict Right to
that Reward. Only Christ "the Author
of Salvation" (Hebrews 2:10) can do that. Yet Man can Merit Congruously the State of
Grace for others, i.e. with a Merit based on Fittingness . . . the Fittingness that
God would hear the Request of a Friend. It may take, however, many
Good Acts . . . many Sacrifices . . .
many Rosaries . . . many
Years. And we can obtain Grace for others by our
Prayers, relying on the Mercy of God and on His Promise:
"Ask and it shall be given to you" (Matthew 7:7).
We can also Help others by our Good Acts as regards the Satisfactory Value of them,
i.e. as regards Paying the Debt incurred by Sin. That an Act have
Satisfactory or Atonement Value (the State of Grace presupposed), it must have
Two (2) Conditions:
1) It must involve some Degree of Difficulty,
Hardship, Pain (Physical or Mental) ... some Degree of
Suffering . . . for it goes to Pay the Debt of Punishment.
The Reason for that is this: since the Sinner Chooses his own
Will and Rejects Godís Will, seeking some
Personal Satisfaction in Preference to due Reverence and Subjection to
God, seeking the Creature in Preference to the Creator, the Pleasure sought
Wrongly must be Repaired by Pain. Saint Thomas explains
this as follows:
"That a Guilty Person (a Sinner) be brought back within the Order of Justice, it is
necessary that the Will Suffer Privation in what he Desires; this is done by its being Punished whether by being made to Forego
the Good Things it would wish to have, or by the Infliction of the Evil Things which it shrinks from enduring".
2) The Difficult Act or
Incident must be borne Patiently. Again Saint Thomas:
"If the Scourges which are Inflicted by God on Account of Sin, become in some way an
Act of the Sufferer, they Acquire a Satisfactory Character. Now they become an Act of the Sufferer insofar as he Accepts them for
the Cleansing of his Sins, by taking advantage of them Patiently. If, however, he refuses to submit to them Patiently, they do not
become his Personal Act in any way, and are not of a Satisfactory Character".
Two Consoling Thoughts
There are Two (2) Things to remember with regard to
Reparation for Sin, for which we should be Eternally
1) Because Christ has offered
Infinite Satisfaction for the
Sins of Mankind, a Lighter Punishment is required of us than otherwise would be
necessary. Saint Thomas speaks of this:
"It is necessary that those who Sin after Baptism be likened unto Christ Suffering by
some Form of Punishment or Suffering which they endure in their own person; yet, by the Cooperation of Christís Satisfaction, much
Lighter Penalty suffices than one that is Proportional to the Sin".
(It is as if we owed a Debt of $100, and not
having the wherewith to Pay it, Our Savior
Paid $99 of it, but required that we
Pay the remaining $1. The Disproportion is even Greater than this Example, considering
the Infinite Malice of Grave Sin, and the
Infinite Dignity of the Person
Offended - even in Venial Sin.)
2) When one makes Atonement for another, less
Punishment is required than if the Sinner Himself paid the
Debt. Again Saint Thomas:
"As regards the Payment of the Debt (of Temporal Punishment), one man can Satisfy
for another, provided he be in the State of Charity (Grace), so that his works may Avail for Satisfaction. Nor is it necessary
that he who Satisfies for another should undergo Greater Punishment than the Principal would have to undergo . . . because
Punishment derives its Power of Satisfaction chiefly from Charity whereby a man bears it. And since Greater Charity is evidenced
by a man Satisfying for another than for himself, less Punishment is required of him who Satisfies for another, than of the
Principal . . . Nor is it necessary that the one for whom the Satisfaction is made be unable to make Satisfaction himself, for
even if he were able, he would be Released of his Debt when the other Satisfies in his stead".
Bishop Venancio, the former Administrator of the Diocese in which Our Lady appeared, when asked
to summarize the Fatima Message, answered: "Fatima is Reparation, Reparation, Reparation, and especially
Eucharistic Reparation". He added that this includes such things as Visits to the Blessed
Sacrament, Holy Hours and Vigils, but especially the Holy Sacrifice
of the Mass. This is true, for there, our Prayer, our
Sacrifices are Offered-up in Union with the Prayers
and Sacrifice of Jesus.
Too, Saint Thomas points out that since we are One (1) with
Christ, as Members of His Body, all that He
Endured on the Cross is ours to Offer to the
Father - as if we ourselves had undergone that Penalty
69.2). Therefore, when we cannot attend Mass,
a Most Efficacious Prayer of Reparation is the one taught to the Three (3)
Children at Fatima by the Angel, in which we offer Spiritually to the
Father the Same Offering (the Body and Blood of Christ) which the
Priest offers Sacramentally at Mass:
A Most Efficacious Prayer of Reparation
"Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly. I offer You the most
Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ present in all the Tabernacles of the World, in Reparation for the Outrages,
Sacrileges and Indifference by which He is Offended. By the Infinite Merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Immaculate Heart
of Mary, I beg of You the Conversion of Poor Sinners".