At a February 22, 2007 meeting of the Roman clergy with Pope Benedict XVI, Don Alberto Pacini, Rector of the Basilica of Sant’Anastasia, spoke of perpetual Eucharistic Adoration and asked the Holy Father to explain the meaning and value of Eucharistic reparation, specifically with reference to sacrilegious thefts and satanic sects. For a fruitful reflection on the Holy Father’s response, read it together with Pope Pius XI’s treatment of the same subject in the encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor :
Eucharistic Reparation, A Difficult Topic
We are not speaking now about Eucharistic Adoration in general, which has truly penetrated our hearts and is penetrating the hearts of the people. You have asked this specific question about Eucharistic reparation. This has become a difficult topic. I remember, when I was young, that on the Feast of the Sacred Heart we prayed using a beautiful prayer by Leo XIII and then one by Pius XI in which reparation had a special place, precisely in reference, already at that time, to sacrilegious acts for which reparation had to be made.
The Reparation of Christ
I think we should get to the bottom of it, going back to the Lord himself who offered reparation for the sins of the world, and try to atone for them: let us say, try to balance the plus of evil and the plus of goodness. We must not, therefore, leave this great negative plus on the scales of the world but must give at least an equal weight to goodness.
The Weight of Infinite Love
This fundamental idea is based on what Christ did. As far as we can understand it, this is the sense of the Eucharistic sacrifice. To counter the great weight of evil that exists in the world and pulls the world downwards, the Lord places another, greater weight, that of the infinite love that enters this world. This is the most important point: God is always the absolute good, but this absolute good actually entered history: Christ makes himself present here and suffers evil to the very end, thereby creating a counterweight of absolute value. Even if we see only empirically the proportions of the plus of evil, they are exceeded by the immense plus of good, of the suffering of the Son of God.
Reparation is Necessary
In this sense there is reparation, which is necessary. I think that today it is a little difficult to understand these things. If we see the weight of evil in the world which is constantly increasing, which seems indisputably to have the upper hand in history, one might — as St Augustine said in a meditation — truly despair.
Christ’s Great Plus of Love
But we see that there is an even greater plus in the fact that God himself entered history, he made himself share in history and suffered to the very end. This is the meaning of reparation. This plus of the Lord is an appeal to us to be on his side, to enter into this great plus of love and make it present, even with our weakness. We know that this plus was needed for us too, because there is evil in our lives as well. We all survive thanks to the plus of the Lord. However, he gives us this gift so that, as the Letter to the Colossians says, we can associate in his abundance and, let us say, effectively increase this abundance during our time in history.
The Blood of Christ in the Balance
I think that theology ought to do more to enable people to understand this reality of reparation better. In history, there were also some erroneous ideas. In the past few days I have been reading the theological discourses of St Gregory Nazianzus, who at a certain moment speaks of this aspect and asks: For whom did the Lord offer his Blood? He states, the Father did not desire the Blood of the Son, the Father is not cruel, it is not necessary to attribute this to the Father’s will, but history wanted it, the needs and imbalances of history desired it; it was necessary to enter into these imbalances and recreate true balance here. This is very enlightening.
Entering Into the Plus of Love
But it seems to me that we have not sufficiently mastered the language to make this fact understood to ourselves, and subsequently, also to others. We should not offer to a cruel God the blood of God. But God himself, with his love, must enter into the suffering of history, not only to create a balance, but also a plus of love which is stronger than the abundance of the existing evil. This is what the Lord invites us to do.
A Typically Catholic Reality
It seems to me a typically Catholic reality. Luther said: we cannot add anything. And this is true. And then he said: our acts thus do not count for anything. And this is not true, because the Lord’s generosity is revealed precisely in his invitation to us to enter and also gives value to our being with him.
Associated With the Plus of the Lord
We must learn all this better and also be aware of the greatness and generosity of the Lord and the greatness of our vocation. The Lord wants to associate us with his great plus. If we begin to understand it, we will be glad that the Lord invites us to do this. It will be a great joy to be taken seriously by the Lord’s love.