Something for which the heart has its reasons

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Reparation to the Mother of God

As I continue to study and pray over the the writings of Catherine-Mectilde de Bar (1614-1698), I am obliged to seek help from above so as to understand them rightly, translate them faithfully, and transmit their essential message humbly, that is, without allowing my own prejudices or presuppositions to interfere with the process. I could easily pass over certain expressions of devotion, or acquiesce to them, without sufficiently grasping their meaning and their value. One such practice would be that of making reparation to the Mother of God.

In her Constitutions on the Rule of Saint Benedict, Chapter 20, Mother Mectilde writes:

They shall make their Communions on Saturday in honour of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, and of all her mysteries, especially that of her Immaculate Conception, and of her Divine Maternity. The love for the Most Holy Sacrament, which the Holy Spirit imprints in the hearts of those who offer themselves in sacrifice with our Divine Saviour, will also enkindle in them a zeal for the honour of His Most Holy Mother. For this reason, they will also, each one in turn, make honorable amendment at Holy Mass on her feast days and on all the Saturdays of the year, as indicated in the Ceremonial.

The Object of Universal Honour and Grateful Affection

How are we to understand the notion of reparation to the Mother of God? What is the theology behind such a practice? I would say, first of all, that it is fitting that the Immaculate Heart of Mary, overflowing with a most tender charity for the souls redeemed by her Divine Son, should be the object of universal honour and grateful affection. Mary is the New Eve, the Mother of the Living, immaculate and full of every perfection in view of her Divine Motherhood. The maternal solicitude of her most pure Heart, created sinless for the Only-Begotten Son of God, and as a fit dwelling-place for the Holy Ghost, extends to the vast multitude of those redeemed by the Blood of Jesus, the blessed fruit of her womb.

There is no man who has lived, or who is living, or who is yet to be born, who does not owe the Virgin Mary, the humble handmaid of the Lord, and the Mother of the Lamb, the filial honours of a grateful heart. To refuse Mary the unique place given her by God in his Holy Economy (the divine master-plan) is not only to scorn the priceless gift of a Virgin Mother; it is also to offend the munificent Creator and Giver of the gift. There is nothing sadder, nothing more tragic, even in purely human terms, than a mother by her children scorned.

I Want to Love You for All the Others

Consider a mother of many sons, utterly devoted to each one of them, who finds a response to her love only in the heart of her first-born. The last and littlest one of all, observing this, one day allows himself to be brought to the mother, having taken the hand of the eldest son. Inspired by love, and moved by a guileless candour, he says, "Mother, I want to love you for all the others, and I want to make up to you the love that my brothers refuse you or forget to give you."

Communion of Reparation

A matter of pious sentimentality? No -- a matter of the heart, and also of a humble submission to the plan of God, who wills that all generations should magnify the Mother of God, who, without loss to her virginity, gave birth to God the Word. Mother Mectilde understood the rightness of such an impulse of the heart towards the Heart of Mary, and she bequeathed to her spiritual progeny the practice of a communion of reparation, by which we, receiving the adorable mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ, present ourselves to His Virgin Mother, enriched with all that His Sacred Heart holds in her regard. Thus united to the First-Born, do we, the littlest of her sons, tell her that we would love her with such tenderness and gratitude as to make up for the indifference and ingratitude of our brothers. Thus would we console her maternal Heart that never stops loving the many who have for her not so much as a word, a glance, or even an affectionate thought.

The heart has its order, the mind its own, which uses principles and demonstrations. The heart has a different one. We do not prove that we ought to be loved by setting out in order the causes of love; that would be absurd. Jesus Christ and St Paul possess the order of charity, not the order of the mind, for they wished to humble, not to teach. (Pascal, Blaise. Pensées. Translated by A. J. Krailsheimer. New York: Penguin Books, 1995. Fragment 298, p. 94)

A Filial Affection, Childlike and Simple

Reparation to the Mother of God belongs to Pascal's order of charity. The little and the poor grasp the rightness of it intuitively, while the sophisticated, and those whose inflated reason blinds them to higher things, bristle at the thought of it. Let us, then, concede -- no, let us embrace the rightness of offering the Mother of God a filial affection so childlike and so simple that it will, in some way -- known ultimately to God alone, and to Mary's Immaculate Heart -- make up for the impiety of those who, in neglecting the Mother, or in dishonouring her privileges, offend Him who wills that all generations should call her blessed and full of grace.

In a World Waiting to Hear the Gospel of Christmas

We monks of Silverstream Priory have no reason to shrink from the 17th century practice of making reparation to the Sacred and Maternal Heart of Mary by receiving the adorable Body and Blood of her Son, and by offering her the filial sentiments of His most loving Heart, united sacramentally to our own. We understand that the practice of offering the Mother of God honourable amendment on Saturday and on her feasts, is authorized by those reasons of the heart, that the heart alone understands. In a world waiting to hear the Gospel of Christmas, there are many who deny the great things that the Almighty has done for the Virgin Mary; there are those who make light of her incomparable privileges and scorn her lowliness. Let there be, also, a few who, like the shepherds, approach the Virgin Mother and, in offering her homage of their simple manly hearts, bring to the grotto that gave shelter to her, to Saint Joseph, and to the Divine Child, the warmth of grateful love and affection .

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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