Heart of Jesus, wounded for love of us, make me worthy to make reparation for all the wounds our sins have inflicted upon You.
1. We find in the hymn for First Vespers of the Feast of the Sacred Heart the following words: "Lo, the proud, insolent procession of our offences has wounded the innocent Heart of God." And even more realistically it continues: "The lance which the soldier wielded was directed by our sins" (Roman Breviary). These lines recall to our minds the words addressed by Jesus to St Margaret Mary: "Behold this Heart which has so loved men … but which, in return for its infinite love, finds only ingratitude; it meets only with forgetfulness, indifference and outrages, and all this at times even from souls bound closely to it by the bonds of a very special love." A soul that loves God cannot remain indifferent to these complaints; it wants to expiate, repair and console, having "the most powerful motives", as Pius XI teaches, "of justice and of love: of justice, in order to expiate the injury done to God by our sins … and of love, in order to compassionate the suffering Christ, patient and covered with opprobrium, and to bring Him insofar as our human weakness permits, some comfort in His sufferings" (Miserentissimus Redemptor). It is easy to understand that we must make reparation for our own sins, but sometimes we do not see as clearly that reparation should also aim at consoling the Heart of Jesus. "But indeed, can acts of expiation console Christ who now reigns happily in heaven?" asks Pius XI. "'Give me a lover and he will understand what I say'" (ibid), replies the great Pope in the words of St Augustine. In fact, a soul who lovingly penetrates the mystery of Jesus will realize that when, in Gethsamane, He saw all our sins, He also saw the good works we would do in order to comfort Him. What we do today with this intention consoled Him then in reality. This thought spurs us on to further acts of reparation, so that Jesus finds no reason to complain sorrowfully to us: "My Heart hath expected reproach and misery … I looked for one that would comfort Me, and I found none" (Mass of the Sacred Heart).
2. The idea of reparation brings to mind that of "victim of reparation" well-known to lovers of the Sacred Heart, and officially recognized by the Church in the Encyclical of Pius XI on reparation. This venerable document explains what should be done by one who intends to offer himself as a victim: "Such a one assuredly cannot but abhor and flee all sin as the greatest of evils. He will also offer himself wholly and entirely to the will of God and will strive to repair the injured divine Majesty by constant prayer, by voluntary penances and by patiently bearing all the misfortunes which may befall him; in a word, he will so organize his life that in all things it will be inspired by the spirit of atonement" (Miserentissimus Redemptor). This is far from the fantastic idea of victim which some souls adopt. Under the pretext of being obliged to take upon themselves extraordinary immolations, they avoid the reality of ordinary, daily life and imagine they are capable of enduring all kinds of suffering, whereas actually, they try to escape the sacrifices which present themselves every day. The idea of a victim of reparation offered by the doctrine of the Church is, on the contrary, something very serious, concrete and realistic. The victim soul should make reparation for sin; and it will accomplish this by always doing what is contrary to sin. Sin is an act of rebellion against God and His will, as manifested by the commandments and the arrangements of divine Providence. Therefore, to do what is contrary to sin will consist in a total adherence to God's will, by accepting it with our whole heart in all its manifestations, in spite of the repugnances we may feel. This, then, is the programme of a victim soul: not only to avoid sin, even the smallest one, but to embrace God's will in such a way that He can really do all that He wants with it. To this docility, the soul will add prayer and voluntary mortifications, which will have value only because they are offered by a heart entirely submissive to the divine will. And let us note that the first penitential act mentioned in the Encyclical is "the patient endurance" of the adversities of life.
"O God, why can I not bathe with my tears and blood all the places where Your Heart has been insulted? Why am I not permitted to make reparation for so many sacrileges and profanations? Why is it not given to me to be the mistress of the hearts of all men for a single moment, in order to atone, by the sacrifices I would make, for the neglect and folly of all those who have not wished to know You, or who, even knowing You, have loved You so little? But, O my adored Saviour, what covers me with confusion and what most grieves me is that I myself have been one of these ungrateful souls. You, my God, see the depths of my soul; You see how I suffer because of my ingratitude and the unworthy treatment I have given You. Behold me, O Lord, my heart broken with grief, humbled and prostrate, ready to accept from Your hand all that it pleases You to ask of me in reparation of so many outrages" (St Margaret Mary).
"You know, my God, that my one desire is to be a victim of Your Sacred Heart, wholly consumed as a holocaust in the fire of Your holy love. Your Heart will be the altar on which I shall be consumed by You, my dear Spouse, and You will be the Priest who will consume this victim by the fires of Your most Sacred Heart. But, O my God, how ashamed I am to see how guilty is this victim and how unworthy to have her sacrifice accepted by You! But I am confident that all will be consumed by this divine fire!
"By offering my whole self to You, I understand that I am giving You my free will, so that henceforth, You alone will be the Master of my heart and Your will alone will regulate my actions. Therefore, dispose of me always according to Your good pleasure; I am content with everything, since I wish to love You with a love that is patient, mortified, wholly abandoned to You, an active love, a strong, undivided love and, what is more important, a persevering love" (St Teresa Margaret of the Heart of Jesus, Spirituality of St Teresa Margaret of the Heart of Jesus).
A Reflection from Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen on Reparation