Forgiveness and Reparation (IV:2)

CHAPTER IV. What are the Instruments of Good Works
19 Jan. 20 May. 19 Sept.

22. Not to give way to anger.
23.  Not to harbour a desire of revenge.
24. Not to foster guile in one’s heart.
25. Not to make a feigned peace.
26. Not to forsake charity.
27. Not to swear, lest perchance one forswear oneself.
28. To utter truth from heart and mouth.
29. Not to render evil for evil.
30. To do no wrong to anyone yea, to bear patiently wrong done to oneself.
31. To love one’s enemies.
32. Not to render cursing for cursing, but rather blessing.
33. To bear persecution for justice’s sake.
34. Not to be proud.
35. Not given to wine.
36. Not a glutton.
37. Not drowsy.
38. Not slothful.
39. Not a murmurer.
40. Not a detractor.
41. To put one’s hope in God.
42. To attribute any good that one sees in oneself to God, and not to oneself.
43. But to recognise and always impute to oneself the evil that one doth.

Every offense against charity and unity is an offense against the Most Holy Eucharist, the Sacramentum Unitatis by which are united in charity with one another and with God as the Mystical Body of Christ. Every offense against charity and unity injure the Body of Christ as really as if one were to damage the Sacred Host. The 22nd through the 20th Instruments serve charity, strengthen unity, and repair the damages to charity and unity that we cause by our sins. The 31st to the 33rd Instruments are the concrete application of the Gospel:

But I say to you that hear: Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you. Bless them that curse you, and pray for them that calumniate you. (Luke 6:27-28)

Love, do good, bless, and pray. This is the newness of the Gospel: love carried to the point of reparation. Our Lord calls us out of the religion of keeping accounts, of exacting justice, of calculating how far it is right to go in love, and of measuring out pardon parsimoniously. It is not for us to judge who is worthy of mercy and who deserves justice. Our part is to bless and to pray those who calumniate us. The measure of our prayer and of our pardon is the measure of Our Lord’s gift of Himself to us in the Most Holy Eucharist. He does not give Himself up to a point. He does give us part of Himself and reserve the rest of Himself for another time or for one more worthy of His gift. He gives Himself entirely, and in giving Himself entirely, He supplies for all that we withhold, and for all our miserable human calculations.

You have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you not to resist evil: but if one strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other: and if a man will contend with thee in judgment, and take away thy coat, let go thy cloak also unto him. And whosoever will force thee one mile, go with him other two. Give to him that asketh of thee and from him that would borrow of thee turn not away. You have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thy enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you. (Matthew 5:38-44)

Many years ago, after hearing this very passage of the Gospel, I wrote the Act of Forgiveness and Reparation that I continue to pray and that many souls have found helpful. I think that most you know the prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ,
Who revealed the infinite mercy of Your Sacred Heart
 in saying: “Love your enemies
 and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44)
 and again, “Bless those who curse you,
pray for those who abuse you” (Lk 6:28),
 give me, I beseech You,
 grace to obey these commandments of yours,
 and to persevere in praying daily
 for those who, in any way,
 have abused, cursed, hurt, or rejected me.

I pray for those who hate me, 
for those who resent me
 and for those who have spoken ill of me.
 I beg you to bless them abundantly 
and to pour into their hearts
 such a profusion of healing mercies
 that in them and around them 
love will triumph over hatred, 
friendship over resentment,
 sweetness over bitterness, 
meekness over anger,
and peace over enmity.

I further ask you to extend these graces 
to their families and to all whom they hold dear.
 In particular, I pray today for N. (and N.).
 I present him/her/them
to Your Eucharistic Face, 
asking You to envelop him/her/them in Its healing radiance,
dispelling whatever shadows of sin
 may have darkened his/her/their mind(s)
or hardened his/her their heart(s)
in anger, hatred, or the refusal to forgive.

For my part,
 with deep sorrow I confess 
that I have sinned grievously against others, causing them pain and even endangering their souls. 
I pray you, O Merciful Jesus, to repair the evil I have done to others 
and to heal the hurt I have inflicted on them.
 In particular, I acknowledge my sins against N. (and N.)
imploring You to heal and repair the harm I have done him/her/them.
 I  ask you so to penetrate my heart 
with the charity of Your Pierced Heart
 that I will be able to forgive 
those who have offended me,
to love them sincerely,
 and to desire for them all that will contribute to their true happiness 
in this life and in the next.

By means of a permanent intention,
 I desire to renew this prayer 
in every offering of Your Holy Sacrifice.
 Let the light of Your Eucharistic Face 
shine in the hearts of all who harbour 
hatred or resentment toward me,
 to bring them healing and peace. 
Let Your Precious Blood
 triumph over evil 
in those against whom I have sinned
 and in those who have sinned against me,
so that, delivered from the shadows
 of this valley of tears,
 we may one day praise Your Mercy together
 in the sweetness of a boundless charity.

One who cannot or will not make this prayer—and by this, I mean the substance of the prayer, not the exact words of it—will remain paralysed in his monastic life. Nothing so blocks a man’s movement towards God as does unforgiveness. And nothing more effectively frees a man to go to God as does an act of forgiveness. Forgiveness, however, is but the first step. Forgiveness must be completed by reparation, and this in imitation of God Himself, who not only forgives us when we sin against him, but also repairs us, making whole what sin has shattered. He does this in so wonderful a way that the man who has been repaired by grace is stronger than before he was shattered by sin. Never forget this.

How do we make reparation? I remember something that came to me in prayer in 2018:

Reparation: this, I tell you, is the only way to undo the ravages of sin, of your own sins and of the sin that covers my world with filth and mortally poisons souls. I am here before you in the Sacrament of My Love as the Reparator sent by the Father to undo all that sin has wrought; to cleanse the whole world of sin in my Blood; and to restore to wholeness and to life souls damaged by sin and lying helpless in the shadow of death.

Bring all to Me in in this Sacrament where I wait to repair souls sullied and fragmented by sin, souls overwhelmed by bitterness, souls in whom the evil one has extinguished every spark of faith, of hope, and of charity. Bring all to Me. None of those whom you bring to Me will remain untouched by My grace. I give Myself into your hands to repair all that you cannot repair and to cleanse away the filth accumulated by generations, to take away the shame that is the heritage of all poor sinners in this valley of tears.

I want to repair for you. I want to repair all whom you bring to Me. For this was I wounded in My hands and My feet, and for this was My side opened by the soldier’s lance. The work of reparation, accomplished in My bitter Passion and consummated in My death on the Cross, is extended to every moment in time and to every place, and to every soul, by virtue of the Holy Sacrifice offered by My priests from the rising of the sun to its setting, and by the radiance of My sacramental presence, for virtue goes out from Me still to heal those who are afflicted by the torments of the devil, and laid low by maladies of the soul, and paralysed by habitual sin.

I am here before you as the One who repairs all that is shattered and who cleanses all that is sullied by sin. You, at least, come to Me, and in you I shall see and repair all who, in any way, have touched your life, and all those whose lives you have touched. And I shall repair and purify all those whom you represent before Me, especially My priests, for whom you have made the offering of your life.

It was given me once to understand that our souls bear something like the fingerprints of every person with whom we have ever had any contact, be it physical, or verbal, or emotional, or in any other way. The soul is like a pane of glass. When a soul goes before Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament, all of the impressions that mark it are exposed to the gaze of Our Lord. Most of you are young, but for myself, I am conscious of bearing the fingerprints of ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, and soon seventy years. When I go to adoration, I present to Our Lord every impression ever left on me by anyone, in any way, at any time. Our Lord, seeing this, accepts my presence in the light of His Eucharistic Face for all of those persons who have marked my life. Thus does this prayer of adoration become an efficacious act of reparation. The man who enters into the prayer of reparation will, by the same token, make use of the 41st to the 43rd Instruments:

41. To put one’s hope in God.
42. To attribute any good that one sees in oneself to God, and not to oneself.
43. But to recognise and always impute to oneself the evil that one doth.

All of this is but the teaching of the Gospel, of Saint Paul, and of the Desert Fathers. It is the teaching of our father Saint Benedict, and of all the saints through the ages. There is no other way of being a Christian. And there is no other way of being a monk.