A friend just emailed me about an old devotional booklet which I recall with fondness:
It has many beautiful prayers in it that are designed to aid an individual or a group in offering reparation to the divine justice for the outrages committed against God, the Most Holy Eucharist, and the Church.
Reparation is a requirement of justice. It’s one of the reasons why our secular justice system has a whole range of penalties and punishments for different offenses and crimes that people might commit: to restore order, to repair scandal, to reform the offender. It’s one of the reasons that we do penance for our sins – beyond the token penance that we receive in the confessional and the few days a year when the Church requires us to fast or abstain.
Yet there are some who offend God quite outrageously (to say nothing of the scandal they give to others), whether realizing it or not, and they will never make reparation to him for their offenses. The recent news of the “black mass” at Harvard is one example. In our Christian charity we can take that burden upon ourselves, offering prayers and works to God in reparation for these grave offenses. And that is what many people are mobilizing to do in this specific case: I’ve seen news of different Holy Hours of Reparation that are being organized in response to this scheduled “black mass”.
Let’s take a more mundane example. Some people whom we have contact with swear a lot; in other words, it’s not just the occasional linguistic slip-up, but a habitual way of speaking. Their foul language sometimes involves the name of God, Jesus Christ, Mary, or the saints. It is grossly offensive to many; not just to a devout Catholic. And it is a terrible habit, though certainly not the worst thing that anyone can do. Nevertheless, it offends God and others. When we hear them speaking foully, we can say a quick prayer to the Lord. “Dear Jesus forgive them.” – “Blessed be God; Blessed be his holy Name!” – “Blessed be the Name of the Lord.” – “Lord help them.” – or something along those lines. And that little prayer is a consolation to the Lord, and it is a plea for the grace of conversion for the offending individual. It also helps us to grow in love of God and neighbor, having a sincere concern for the well-being of others.
Reparation can and should be a way of life for us. It is part of any authentic Catholic spirituality. And, lest we forget, it is hardly just about what others are doing. We ourselves sin every day, and so many times each day. We have a lot to repair for on our own account. So we continue in our prayers and devotions, in our works of penance and charity, taking advantage of the special gifts that the Lord offers us through his Church, and keeping a greater love of God as our goal. Love covers a multitude of sins, as scripture tells us.
I recommend the above booklet, “Holy Hour of Reparation”, particularly if you are in the habit of making a regular holy hour, or are part of a prayer group that might like to use it on occasion. It is a bit “old timey”, but the prayers are very beautiful and substantial. There are many grave offenses committed against the Blessed Sacrament around the world; there are many affronts against God and religion; there is persecution of Christians and the Church. Whether using the above booklet or pursuing other prayers and works of charity, let us all try to be more aware of our role in repairing for these offenses, and certainly for our own.