Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Monsignor Arthur Calkins


by Monsignor Arthur Burton Calkins

The theology and practice of "reparation" as it relates to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has been rather largely and unfortunately ignored in most theological circles since the Second Vatican Council. All too often it has been relegated to the category of "pre-conciliar pious devotions" by theologians and sometimes even by religious communities which were originally founded with reparation as one of their fundamental ends. Not a few theorists today would claim that the idea of reparation, as it was once known and practiced in the Church until the time of the Second Vatican Council, has been appropriately replaced by the "option for the poor" or some other form of apostolic outreach.[2]

While on the one hand I am convinced that the solemn teaching of Pope Pius XI in his masterful encyclical on the theology of reparation, Miserentissimus Redemptor of 8 May 1928, remains normative for the Church on this matter,[3] on the other hand I believe that it is entirely possible to illustrate that our present Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, has continued to affirm, to build upon and to develop the doctrine of his predecessor Pope Pius XI. I have felt myself challenged to undertake this study particularly by the very informative and fascinating doctoral thesis of Robert A. Stackpole, Consoling the Heart of Jesus: A History of the Notion and its Practice, especially as found in the Ascetical and Mystical Tradition of the Church.[4] While I remain genuinely grateful to Dr. Stackpole for the vast amount of material which he has assembled, assimilated and made available to researchers, I believe that some of his tentative conclusions and positions, specifically those regarding the foundational value of the teaching of Miserentissimus Redemptor and of the contribution of Pope John Paul II to the theology of reparation, may be further reassessed and supplemented. I intend to do this explicitly in the course of this study.

John Paul II's Magisterium on the Heart of Jesus

First of all, it should be acknowledged that Pope John Paul II has bequeathed to the Church a remarkably rich patrimony of teaching on the Sacred Heart of Jesus which continues unabated. For instance, he has devoted numerous discourses in whole or in part to the Heart of Jesus, he has given three series of Angelus addresses covering all thirty-three petitions in the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,<[5] he made fascinating allusions to the Heart of Jesus in his first two encyclicals, Redemptor Hominis[6] and Dives in Misericordia,[7] and is particularly fond of emphasizing #22 of Gaudium et Spes as a reference to the Heart of Christ which is contained in the Council documents.[8] He also wrote a notable Message for the Centenary of the Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus to the entire Church on 11 June 1999.

It must further be recognized that, since the Pope's teaching continues unabated, there exist no comprehensive analyses of all of it. Of necessity, that would not be possible until after the conclusion of the pontificate. Nonetheless there have been a number of helpful studies on John Paul II's teaching on the Sacred Heart of Jesus which provide important insights and orientations. One thinks of El Corazón de Jesús en la enseñanza de Juan Pablo II (1978-1988) with the presentation by Father Roger Vekemans, S.J.[9] which includes papal texts as well as studies by Jesuit Fathers Mendizábal, Pozo and Glotin; of the helpful commentary on texts from the first part of the pontificate offered by Dr. Timothy O'Donnell in his study Heart of the Redeemer and on the illuminating analysis on the Pope's contributions to the theology of the Heart of Jesus by Father Bertrand de Margerie, S.J.[11] I have also authored a study of Pope John Paul II's Magisterium on the Hearts of Jesus and Mary[12] and have dealt with the Pope's theology and anthropology of the Heart of Jesus as this sheds light on his theology of Marian consecration in my book Totus Tuus.[13]

With specific reference to John Paul II's teaching on the theology of reparation as it pertains to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, one should be aware of the commentary on the Holy Father's letter of 5 October 1986 addressed to Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., Superior General of the Jesuits, by two distinguished Jesuit theologians, Fathers Édouard Glotin[14] and Bertrand de Margerie[15] and by Dr. Robert A. Stackpole's analysis of a few papal texts dealing with the consolation of the Heart of Christ.[16] Even what I am about to present here will necessarily be restricted, but I hope that it will shed further light on how Pope John Paul II continues to bring forth treasures both old and new (cf. Mt. 13:52), confirming the teaching of his predecessors while enriching it with his own unique perspectives and providing a remarkably vast panorama on theocentric and Christocentric reparation.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus as the Source of Reparation

Virtually every Pope since Pius XI has followed him in emphasizing that our primary response to the love of God manifested in the Heart of Jesus is the twofold work of consecration and reparation. In his magisterial encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor Pope Pius XI explicitly called the entire Church to embrace the practice of reparation. Here is the way he put it: Whereas the primary object of consecration is that the creature should repay the love of the Creator by loving him in return, yet from this another naturally follows -- that is, to make amends for the insults offered to the Divine Love by oblivion and neglect, and by the sins and offenses of mankind. This duty is commonly called by the name of "reparation."[17]

Now, while the clear thrust of the encyclical is to delineate the theology and practice of reparation to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,[18] this cannot be dissociated from the even more primary reparation offered by Christ to the Father on Calvary. Father de Margerie in the course of his very valuable analysis of Miserentissimus Redemptor[19] distinguishes between what he refers to as objective and subjective reparation[20] or between theocentric and christocentric reparation.[21] He refers to the reparation offered by Christ to the Father as objective or theocentric and that offered by believers to Christ as subjective or christocentric.[22]

This first and most fundamental way in which reparation is understood theologically may also be described as the atonement, expiation, propitiation or satisfaction which Christ has made for us to the Father in his redemptive sacrifice. Each of these words emphasizes with a slightly different accent the profound truth that once man fell into sin he was incapable of "making up" for the offense which he had caused to God and the disorder which he had introduced into the universe.[23] Only Jesus could repair the damage done by sin and make the reparation owed to God in justice. The Catechism of the Catholic Church neatly synthesizes this concept thus:

It is the love "to the end" (Jn. 13:1) that confers on Christ's sacrifice its value as redemption and reparation, as atonement and satisfaction. He knew and loved us all when he offered his life. Now "the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died" (2 Cor. 5:14). No man, not even the holiest, was ever able to take on himself the sins of all men and to offer himself as a sacrifice for all. The existence in Christ of the divine Person of the Son, who at once surpasses and embraces all human persons and constitutes himself as the Head of all mankind, makes possible his redemptive sacrifice for all.[24]

The most fundamental reparation, then, is the reparation made to the Father by Christ on the Cross and renewed on our altars. This is also quite clearly brought out in Pius XI's encyclical:

We can, nay we must, add our own praise and satisfaction to the praise and satisfaction which Christ gave to God in the name of sinners. It should be remembered, however, that the expiatory value of our acts depends solely upon the bloody sacrifice of Christ, a sacrifice which is renewed unceasingly in an unbloody manner on our altars, for "one is the Victim, one and the same is he who now offers through the ministry of his priests, the same who offered himself on the cross, the manner only of the offering being different."[25] For this reason, with the august sacrifice of the Eucharist must be united the immolation of the ministers and also of the rest of the faithful, so that they too may offer themselves "a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God" (Rom. 12:1).[26]

Further, in Miserentissimus Redemptor Pius XI points out that in the revelations to Saint Margaret Mary the Heart of Jesus is manifested as "aflame with love and accompanied by the emblems of his Passion" [insignia passionis præferens ac flammas amoris ostentans] in order to indicate at one and the same time the "infinite malice of sin" [infinitam peccati malitiam] and the "infinite love of our Repairer" [Reparatoris caritatem infinitam].[27] Unfortunately, the precise terminology of Pius XI, meant to illustrate the Heart of Jesus as symbolizing the reparative love offered by Jesus to the Father for our sins, is rendered in English translations of the encyclical as the "infinite love of our Redeemer" or the "infinite charity of our Redeemer". This rendition was no doubt out of fear on the part of the translators that to speak of Jesus as "Repairer" or "Offerer of reparation" would be unduly awkward, but it does, nonetheless obscure the Pope's clear intention to indicate the Heart of Jesus as symbolizing Christ's work of offering the Father perfect reparation. The Pope emphasizes this concept yet again when he says that Christ "rightly desires to have us as his companions in the work of expiation" [expiationis suæ socios].[28]

Finally, the concept of the reparation offered by the Heart of Jesus to the Father is magnificently summed up in the Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus which Pius XI appended to his encyclical and which he mandated to be recited publicly every year on the Feast of the Sacred Heart.[29] Interestingly, this prayer is addressed to Jesus, but after enumerating many of the sins and outrages by which the Heart of Jesus is offended, it puts these words on the lips of the faithful:

Would, O divine Jesus, we were able to wash away such abominations with our blood. We now offer, in reparation for these violations of Thy divine honour, the satisfaction Thou didst once make to Thy eternal Father on the cross and which Thou dost continue to renew daily on our altars; we offer it in union with the acts of atonement of Thy Virgin Mother and all the Saints and of the pious faithful on earth [Interea ad violatum divinum honorem resarciendum, quam Tu olim Patri in cruce satisfactionem obtulisti quamque cotidie in altaribus renovare pergis, hanc eandem nos tibi præstamus, cum Virginis Matris, omnium Sanctorum, piorum quoque fidelium expiationibus coniunctam].[30]

What I have tried to outline above Father Bertrand de Margerie, S.J. has beautifully summarized thus:

For Bonaventure, the work of Christ consisted in repairing wounded humanity: "Reparatio fontalis Christi": Christ is the first Repairer, the source of all reparation. The reparation accomplished by Christ makes ours possible. The primordial reparation of Christ is an invitation for the response of man in view of bringing all things under one Head, that is, in view of the recapitulation of the universe, in view of putting man back in his proper position in the eternal economy of the wisdom and love of God. The pierced Heart of Christ sums up all that the only Son has done for the love of men and of the Father. We need not seek any other source outside that of the reparative love of Christ.[31]

John Paul II's Teaching on the Heart of Jesus as the Source of Reparation

Perhaps one of the Pope's most striking references to the Heart of Christ as epitomizing his work of redemption was in the extraordinarily rich homily which he gave at Fatima on 13 May 1982. In that homily, which illustrates the profound Christological foundation for Marian consecration, he said:

The Immaculate Heart of Mary opened with the words "Woman, behold, your son!" is spiritually united with the heart of her Son opened by the soldier's spear. Mary's heart was opened by the same love for man and for the world with which Christ loved man and the world, offering Himself for them on the cross, until the soldier's spear struck that blow.

Consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means drawing near, through the Mother's intercession, to the very Fountain of life that sprang from Golgotha. This Fountain pours forth unceasingly redemption and grace. In it reparation is made continually for the sins of the world. It is a ceaseless source of new life and holiness.

Consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of the Mother means returning beneath the cross of the Son. It means consecrating this world to the pierced heart of the Savior, bringing it back to the very source of redemption.[32]

Here the Pope provides a marvelous vision of the Heart of Jesus as a "fountain" which at one and the same time ceaselessly pours out redemption and grace even as it continually makes reparation for the sins of the world. It is a portrayal thoroughly grounded in the patristic and medieval exegesis of John 19:34 which also evokes the images so dear to the subsequent mystical tradition.[33] It is a depiction which shares in the perspective of Saint John's Gospel which focuses simultaneously on Christ as suffering and in glory. [34] The "fountain unceasingly pouring forth redemption and grace" may also be a graceful allusion to the vision of Sister Lúcia of Jesus and of the Immaculate Heart, O.C.D. which took place at Tuy, Spain on 13 June 1929. On that occasion Sister Lúcia saw Jesus on the cross with blood flowing from his face and his wounded side and under his left arm "large letters, as if of crystal clear water which ran down upon the altar, formed these words: 'Grace and Mercy'." [35]

He returned to this theme a year later in writing to the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima:

But cheered on by hope, which is based on the great certitude of Christ dead and risen, of the Paschal Christ, who is the definitive Incarnation and the living sign of Mercy, of that love which shows itself perennially stronger than sin (cf. Dives in Misericordia, 8), my prayer ‑‑ with the prayer of the pilgrims of Fatima, certainly -‑­ continues unceasingly to this Fount of life, from which flow uninterruptedly redemption and grace, ever stronger than evil. And uniting myself to our Redeemer Jesus Christ and to his consecration for the world and for men, since only in the divine Heart is our expiation reclothed with the power to achieve pardon and to attain to reparation and reconciliation, I invite all to pray with the Pope and ‑‑ if I may be permitted ‑‑ also for the Pope. [36]

The divine Heart of Jesus is presented here as the "Fount of life from which grace and redemption flow uninterruptedly" and the source of expiation, reparation and reconciliation. In this text there is an obvious reference to what the Holy Father had said at Fatima the year before which is confirmed in a footnote, but there may also be two more subtle allusions, of particular interest in the Portuguese milieu. The first may be to Sister Lúcia's vision of 13 June 1929 once again. The second, consisting in the reference to the "Divine Heart" rather than to the "Sacred Heart", may be a graceful allusion to Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart Droste zu Vischering (1863-1899) who was the human agent responsible for Leo XIII's consecration of the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1899 and who died in Porto, Portugal that same year. [37]

On yet another occasion, without making an explicit verbal identification of "the fount of redemption" with the Heart of Christ, the Pope referred to his renewed Act of Entrustment to the Immaculate Heart of Mary of 25 March 1984 as a drawing nearer of the world, through the Mother of Christ and Our Mother, to the source of life, poured out on Golgotha: it was a bringing back of the world to the same fount of Redemption. [38]

There is no doubt about the point of reference as the Heart of Jesus, however, because a footnote to the text refers us back to the above-cited passage in the homily pronounced in Fatima two years earlier. Here the allusion to the reparative dimension is more subtle, but not lacking. The language of "pouring out" quite clearly refers to the sacrificial pouring out of the blood of the victim. In an allusive way the Heart of Jesus is presented once again as the symbol of reparation to God and redemption for men.

In his Holy Thursday Letter to Priests of 13 April 1987 the Holy Father places heavy emphasis on the oppression which Jesus experiences in his heart:

If despite everything, he prays that "this chalice pass from him", he thus reveals before God and mankind all the weight of the task he has to assume: to substitute himself for all of us in the expiation of sin. He also shows the immensity of the suffering which fills his human heart ... Before the Father he remains in all the truth of his humanity, the truth of a human heart oppressed by a suffering which is about to reach its tragic conclusion: "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death" (Mk. 14:34). [39]

Only in his human nature can the Son of God take upon himself the sins of all of his brothers and sisters. Only thus can he substitute himself for us and expiate for our sins -- and his human heart becomes the obvious symbol of this substitution and expiation.

The Pope devoted his Angelus address of 10 September 1989 to meditating on the invocation, "Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins, have mercy on us":

Dear brothers and sisters, the invocation from the Litany of the Sacred Heart reminds us that Jesus, according to the words of the Apostle Paul, "was put to death for our sins" (Rom. 4:25); indeed, even though he had not committed sin, "God made him into sin on our behalf" (2 Cor. 5:21). Upon the heart of Christ the weight of the sin of the world weighed heavily.

In him was fulfilled perfectly the figure of the "paschal lamb", the victim offered to God so that, in the sign of its blood, the firstborn of the Hebrews might be saved (cf. Ex. 12:21-27). Rightly, therefore, John the Baptist recognizes in him the true "Lamb of God" (Jn. 1:29): the innocent lamb who took upon himself the sin of the world in order to immerse it in the saving waters of the Jordan (cf. Mt. 3:13-16 and parallels); the meek lamb "led to the slaughter, like a sheep that is silent before its shearers" (Is. 53:7), so that the haughty word of evil men might be confounded by his divine silence.

Jesus is the willing victim because he offered himself "freely to his passion" (Roman Missal, Eucharistic Prayer II), the victim of expiation for the sins of mankind (cf. Lev. 1:5; Heb. 10:5-10), which he purged in the fire of his love.

Jesus is the eternal victim. Risen from the dead and glorified at the right hand of the Father, he preserves in his immortal body the marks of the wounds of his nailed hands and feet, of his pierced heart (cf. Jn. 20:27; Lk. 24:39-40) and presents them to the Father in his incessant prayer of intercession on our behalf (cf. Heb. 7:25; Rom. 8:34). [40]

Jesus' human heart is a most expressive symbol of his victimhood. Scripture and the liturgy see him as the "paschal lamb", the "Lamb of God", the "innocent lamb led to slaughter". Even now in glory he remains the "eternal victim". His five glorious wounds, the trophies of his victory over sin and death, are not only an eloquent witness to his victimhood, but become in the liturgy of heaven the signs of his on-going priestly intercession. From the very fact that this meditation is offered as a reflection on "Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins, have mercy on us", it is clear that the Holy Father is directing us to focus on the wound of the heart as the most representative of all of Christ's wounds, the single most expressive indication of his eternal victimhood. This also follows from and confirms the teaching of the Servant of God Pope Pius XII in his monumental encyclical on the Sacred Heart Haurietis Aquas in which he states that there are two principle reasons that the Church renders the highest form of worship to the Heart of the Redeemer:

The first, which applies also to the other sacred members of the Body of Jesus Christ, rests on that principle whereby we recognize that His Heart, the noblest part of human nature [eius Cor, utpote nobilissimam humanæ naturæ partem], is hypostatically united to the Person of the divine Word. ...

The other reason ... arises from the fact that His Heart, more than all the other members of His body, is the natural sign and symbol of His boundless love for the human race [Cor eius, magis quam cetera omnia eius corporis membra, immensæ eius caritatis erga hominum genus naturalis index seu symbolus est].[41]

John Paul II's Teaching on Our Union with the Reparation offered by the Heart of Jesus

As we have already seen above, the most fundamental reparation is the reparation made to the Father by Christ on the Cross and renewed on our altars and this is powerfully synthesized in the symbol of the Heart of Christ, "propitiation for our sins". This is a truth which we find presented in the teaching of Pope John Paul II with notable consistency. For instance, in his Angelus address of 27 June 1982 he said:

Reciting the Litany ‑‑ and in general venerating the Divine Heart ‑‑ we learn the mystery of Redemption in all its divine and human depth.

At the same time we become sensitive to the need for reparation. Christ opens his Heart to us that we may join him in his reparation for the salvation of the world. The language of the pierced Heart speaks the whole truth about his Gospel and about Easter.

Let us always try to understand this language better. Let us learn it.[42]

The Pope, for his part, wants to sensitize all of the faithful to this need to join Christ "in his reparation for the salvation of the world". Here is how he did so in his extraordinarily rich Angelus address of 30 June 1991:

The mystery of the redemption, which is brought about through the Cross, always remains alive in the Church who is conscious that each of her children must bear his share of suffering in order, together with Christ, to make reparation for the sins of the world. She, therefore, announces to humanity the riches of the Heart of Christ and invites all to draw near with full confidence to the throne of grace in order to find timely help there (cf. Heb. 4:16); she asks Christians also to share the infinite charity of the Redeemer and to participate in his work for the salvation of the world.

How many Christians, touched by this invitation, have offered and continue to offer themselves, in union with Christ, as victims for the salvation of their brothers and sisters and in their own flesh make up that which is lacking in his sufferings on behalf of his body which is the Church (cf. Col. 1:24)! Their example, as shown throughout the entire history of the Church, is still valid and encouraging.

May this brief reference to the primacy of the Heart of Jesus in the economy of salvation lead us to a better understanding of the obligation of reparation for the offenses committed against God. Contemplation of the Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy, impels us toward the greater degree of love that is expressed in sharing the suffering and in commitment to expiation.

The Virgin Mary, present at the foot of the Cross, is for all of us the supreme model because of her direct participation in the passion of Christ, from whose pierced heart saving grace is poured out upon the world .[43]

There are many points to ponder in this marvelous text. The most fundamental one, of course, is the emphasis on the need for all the children of the Church to make reparation in union with Christ for the sins of the world. Indeed, the Holy Father speaks of "the obligation of reparation".

Supporting this thesis, however, are a number of other important principles. Chief among these is Paul's emphatic declaration about his making up "what is lacking in Christ's sufferings for the sake of his body which is the Church" (cf. Col. 1:24), which, according to the Pope, has become an imperative for all the children of the Church. The reference to Colossians 1:24, which he analyzed at length in his Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris of 11 February 1984, recurs frequently in the Pope's discourses and writings. Paul's affirmation is immediately fleshed out as the Pope evokes recognition of the "many Christians" who "have offered and continue to offer themselves, in union with Christ, as victims for the salvation of their brothers and sisters". Here, in effect, he confirms the doctrine of the communion of saints with particular emphasis on those who have come to be known as "victim souls". And this allusion is crowned by mention of her who is "the supreme model" of these victim souls "because of her direct participation in the passion of Christ". In this graceful termination of his Angelus address John Paul II follows closely the evocation of Mary as Reparatrix by which his predecessor Pius XI concluded his great encyclical on reparation, Miserentissimus Redemptor, as well as the Act of Reparation which he appended to it.[44]

"How many Christians, touched by this invitation, have offered and continue to offer themselves, in union with Christ, as victims!" we heard the Holy Father exclaim in the above cited text. Now let us see how readily he appropriates the teachings of saints, blesseds and venerables in presenting the "obligation" of Christians of offering themselves in union with the Heart of Christ in reparation for the sins of their brethren and for their salvation.

Our first example comes from the spirituality of Blessed Annibale Maria Di Francia (1851-1927), the Sicilian founder of the Rogationist Fathers of the Heart of Jesus and the Daughters of Divine Zeal. In his letter of 16 May 1997 to Father Pietro Cifuni, Superior General of the Rogationist Fathers, the Holy Father wrote:

Bl. Annibale Maria Di Francia, docile to the divine Master's teachings and inwardly guided by the impulse of the Spirit, highlighted the conditions and characteristics of that prayer which make it an ecclesial work "par excellence", yielding abundant fruit for the Church and for the world.

The first condition is to put the Blessed Eucharist at the centre of personal and community life, in order to learn from it how to pray and love according to the Heart of Christ, indeed, to unite the offering of his own life with the offering Christ makes of his, continuing to intercede with the Father on our behalf (cf. Heb. 7:25; 9:24). ...

The third condition on which the founder insisted is intimate association with the suffering of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the practice of meditation and the generous acceptance, day after day, of exterior and interior suffering, one's own and that of others, especially that endured by Holy Church, the Bride of Christ.[45]

Prayer, according to Blessed Annibale Maria and Pope John Paul II, becomes "an ecclesial work 'par excellence'" when united with Christ's self-offering, when intimately associated "with the suffering of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus".

In addressing pilgrims who came to Rome for the canonization of Saint Teresa Eustochio Verzeri (1801-1852), foundress of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and propagator of the devotion to the Heart of Jesus in nineteenth century Italy by means of her institute and her writings, the Pope said:

In her spiritual path she [St. Teresa Verzeri] was particularly attracted by the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which she offered to the devotion of her sisters exhorting them to an obedient, generous and gentle religious life. The souls who want to follow Jesus, she loved to repeat, should imitate him in everything, especially participating in his redemptive passion, after the example of Mary. To a spiritual daughter, she wrote: "You would also like to be with Christ on Tabor, but look at the Virgin Mary, she is not on Tabor, she is only at the foot of the cross: believe, my dear, that the greatest grace that God can give you is that of suffering with him and for his love" (Lettere, part IV, vol. VII, n. 49).[46]

Here we find once again the accent placed by the Saint and the Holy Father on Mary as our model in reparation, in participating in Christ's redemptive passion.

In his address of 14 June 1985 to the General Chapter of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians), the Holy Father recalled the figure of their founder, the Venerable Léon-Jean Dehon (1843-1925) who was profoundly committed to proclaiming and living the theology of reparation. Here is how the Holy Father expressed himself:

In the spirituality of Father Dehon the foundation and center of your institute is the worship and devotion to the Heart of Jesus. That ought to orient both theological reflection and ascetical formation, as well as pastoral and missionary activity . It could be recalled that he was always before the dramatic and sublime scene of Calvary described by John the Evangelist: "But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water" (Jn. 19:33‑34).

Recalling to himself the message and the apparitions of Paray-le‑Monial, Father Dehon saw in the pierced side the Heart of Jesus, symbol of the love of God toward men, from which flows sanctifying grace, the Sacraments, the Church and from that Heart, blood‑stained and crowned with thorns, he drew his apostolic zeal and his profound spirit of Eucharistic piety and reparation. In the last copy‑book of his famous "diary", by now an elderly and sick man, he noted: "I assist at the perpetual Mass of heaven: Jesus offers himself to the Father, the Lamb immolated from the beginning; the Heart of Jesus victim of love for the glory of God and the salvation of men".[47]

It was Father Dehon's special charism to integrate his passion to propagate the Church's social teaching with his profound attraction to reparation to and in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Hence the Holy Father wished to stress that the founder's reparative spirit "ought to orient both theological reflection and ascetical formation, as well as pastoral and missionary activity" in his institute. But, obviously, such an exhortation is capable of a much broader application; it need not be limited to the sons of Father Dehon.

What is to be noted particularly, however, is the beautiful passage which the Holy Father cites from Father Dehon's last notebook about how he assisted "at the perpetual Mass of heaven". Clearly, in his failing health and in the weakening of his forces, he offered himself in union with "the Heart of Jesus victim of love for the glory of God and the salvation of men".

Assistance "at the perpetual Mass of heaven" is an evocative way of linking the perfect sacrifice of Jesus, presented eternally to the Father, with the sacrifice of the Mass on earth. This was a particular hallmark of the spirituality of Blessed Marie of Jésus Deluil-Martiny (1841-1884), bequeathed to the Daughters of the Heart of Jesus, the community of cloistered religious which she founded. At her beatification on 22 October 1989 the Holy Father spoke thus of her:

"Here I am, I come to do your will" (Heb. 10:9). These words from the Letter to the Hebrews attributed to Christ show what Marie Deluil-Martiny was called to accomplish throughout her life. At a very early age she was touched by "Jesus' injured love" and by the all too frequent rejection of God in society. At the same time she discovered the greatness of the gift which Jesus made to the Father to save mankind, the wealth of love which radiates from his Heart, the fruitfulness of the blood and water which flowed from his open side. She was convinced that it was necessary to participate in the redemptive suffering of Christ, in a spirit of reparation for the sins of the world. Mary of Jesus offered herself to the Lord, at the price of trial and in a constant purification. She could truly say, "I have a passion for Jesus ... His life in mine; my life in him" (1884).

At a very young age Marie was able to share with her neighbours her ardent desire to live the Saviour's oblation through ardent participation in the Sacrifice of the Mass. When she founded the Daughters of the Heart of Jesus, she put Eucharistic adoration at the centre of their religious life. Deeply understanding Christ's sacrifice, she wanted people to unite themselves continually to the offering of the Blood of Christ to the Blessed Trinity. With a correct understanding of the Eucharist, she included among the directives of the Institute both a "continual thanksgiving" to the Heart of Jesus for his benefits and mercy and "pressing supplication to obtain the coming of Jesus' Kingdom into the world". Among her intentions she gave special place to priests, their holiness and fidelity.

At the service of this demanding spirituality, Mary of Jesus instituted a simple and austere form of religious life, based on the rhythm of the Divine Office, imbued with adoration, and in which the consecrated life was a true gift of self so that Christ's love might be known and honoured. One day she wrote: "My heart is full of great things, namely, oblation, immolation, communion ... O God, if the sacrifice of my poor life can serve to spread this secret of love, take it" (Diary, 23 October 1874). When her life was violently ended, she was ready to offer herself with Christ.

Mary of Jesus contemplated the Mother of the Saviour at the foot of the Cross and present in the heart of the Church at its birth. The Virgin Mary was her true model. With Mary, the foundress of the Daughters of the Heart of Jesus prays and keeps watch so that God's children do not cease proclaiming to the world the wonders of his love. [48]

Within the limits allotted at the beatification of seven martyrs and another religious, the Holy Father managed to sketch a number of the salient features of the spirituality of Blessed Mary of Jesus and her institute. She had a profound intuitive grasp of the self-offering of Jesus, symbolized in his Sacred Heart, the necessity of participating "in the redemptive suffering of Christ, in a spirit of reparation for the sins of the world", of living "the Saviour's oblation through ardent participation in the Sacrifice of the Mass", of the great value of all the members of the Body of Christ uniting "themselves continually to the offering of the Blood of Christ to the Blessed Trinity". Her life of "oblation, immolation and communion" in union with the Heart of Jesus was crowned by assassination at the hand of an anarchist.[49]

Finally, let us note her profound intuition about the unique place of Mary in the life of oblation and immolation,[50] appropriately underscored by the Pope, a characteristic which she shares with other saints and blesseds of her era, each one of whom provides unique insights into Mary's coredemptive role vis-à-vis Jesus and the Church.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus as the Object of Reparation (Cor Iesu -- Saturatum Opprobriis)

Thus far we have been exploring how the teaching of Pope John Paul II testifies to and illuminates the Church's belief in Jesus' work of reparation in the perfect sacrifice which he offered on Calvary and renews in the Mass and how his pierced Heart is the most perfect symbol of that reparation. The Pope's homily at Fatima on 13 May 1982 put it succinctly, poetically and accurately: The pierced Heart of Jesus is a "Fountain" which "pours forth unceasingly redemption and grace. In it reparation is made continually for the sins of the world."[51] Now we wish to turn our attention to the Heart of Jesus as the object of our reparation or to what is sometimes referred to as our "consoling the Heart of Christ". This more recent emphasis in the history of spirituality is a direct result of the revelations made by the Lord to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), a humble Visitation nun at the Monastery of Paray-le-Monial.[52]

While it is certainly true, as Father Édouard Glotin, S.J. points out in a recent and very insightful study, that there had been a gradual process of "reading the Passion in the Heart of Jesus" in the course of the centuries before Margaret Mary,[53] nonetheless, it cannot be denied that hers was the pivotal role in transmitting the appeal of the Heart of Jesus for consolation to the heart of the Church. If this was her providential role in the plan of God, we can also say that the most solemn and authoritative transmission of this appeal on the part of the Church's magisterium thus far has been Pope Pius XI's classic encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor. In fact, given the Church's well-known circumspection with regard to private revelations,[54] it is quite remarkable that this encyclical makes explicit reference to Saint Margaret Mary four times[55] and offers an unabashed theological rationale for the entreaty which was communicated to her by the Lord.[56] To my knowledge, this is unparalleled in the history of the papal magisterium.

We have already explored some significant principles from Miserentissimus Redemptor. Let us now consider its most fundamental thrust. After having expounded the dogmatic basis for devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and outlined the practices of consecration to it and the need for reparation, Pius XI quotes what has come to be known as the "great revelation" which was made to Saint Margaret Mary in June of 1675:

Behold this Heart that has so loved men and loaded them with benefits, but in return for its infinite love, far from finding any gratitude, has met only with neglect, indifference and insult, and these sometimes from souls that owe him a special duty of love.[57]

Following this, the Pope considered the practice of the "communion of reparation" and the "holy hour" as particular means of responding to this loving plaint of Christ.

All of this was prelude to the following theological question: "But how can these rites of expiation bring solace now, when Christ is already reigning in the beatitude of heaven?"[58] As a preliminary response Pius XI first cited a very apposite quotation from St. Augustine: "Give me one who loves, and he will understand what I say,"[59] and then gave the following reply:

If, then, in foreseeing the sins of the future the soul of Jesus became sorrowful unto death, it cannot be doubted that he already felt some comfort when he foresaw our reparation , when "there appeared to him an Angel from heaven" (Lk. 22:43) bearing consolation to his heart overcome with sorrow and anguish. Hence even now in a mysterious, but true, manner we may and should comfort the Sacred Heart, continually wounded by the sins of ungrateful men.[60]

The possibility of our offering "retroactive" reparation or consolation to the Heart of Jesus is something that had long been held in the Catholic mystical tradition[61] and was fully compatible with the Catholic theological tradition on the threefold human knowledge of Christ.[62] It was only in the next pontificate, however, that the Servant of God Pius XII in his encyclical letter Mystici Corporis offered an explicit corroboration on the magisterial level of what his predecessor had already taught:

The loving knowledge with which the divine Redeemer has pursued us from the first moment of his incarnation is such as completely to surpass all the searchings of the human mind; for by means of the beatific vision, which he enjoyed from the time when he was received into the womb of the Mother of God, he has for ever and continuously had present to him all the members of his mystical Body, and embraced them with his saving love.[63]

While it is true that Pius XI did not explicitly refer to Christ's beatific vision in the citation from Miserentissimus Redemptor given above, it seems the most obvious and direct way to understand his statement about Christ's foreknowledge of our sins and of our acts of reparation. His successor's assertion in Mystici Corporis provided an excellent hermeneutic key to illuminate what he had already taught. It should also be noted that Pius XII offered a further precision on this matter in his great Sacred Heart encyclical Haurietis Aquas by stating that the "Heart of the Incarnate Word"

is the symbol of that burning love which, infused into His soul, enriches the human will of Christ and enlightens and governs its acts by the most perfect knowledge derived both from the beatific vision and that which is directly infused.[64]

Here the Servant of God was distinguishing between the human knowledge of Christ insofar as it derived directly from the beatific vision[65] and that which was directly infused for the sake of his mission.[66] The distinction between these two modes of knowing in Christ was based on the traditional doctrine of the threefold human knowledge of Christ which was given classic form in the teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas.[67]

With regard to the interpretation of what Pius XI stated in Miserentissimus Redemptor about Christ's foreknowledge of our sins and also of our loving acts of reparation, two schools of thought developed. One held that this foreknowledge derives directly from Christ's beatific vision[68] while the other held that it derives from his infused knowledge.[69] Both of these positions seem entirely compatible with the teaching of Pope Pius XI and within the parameters of the teaching of the papal magisterium.[70]

Unfortunately it must be acknowledged that, since at least the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council -- although not as a result of it -- there has been a consistent rejection on the part of many theologians of the Church's traditional belief in the threefold human knowledge of Christ and, in particular, of his possessing the beatific vision in his earthly life.[71] The primary reason for this rejection seems to be the assumption that the classical doctrine on the human knowledge of Christ is incompatible with contemporary psychological theory.[72] Such an assumption is particularly regrettable since in this area everything depends on what psychological theory a given theologian chooses to base himself. A theory that dominates in the field today may be abandoned tomorrow. Because of the instability which has been injected into the postconciliar theological scene as a result of this rejection and because the papal magisterium has not made any subsequent pronouncements on the level of those made by Pius XI and Pius XII, there has been a tendency on the part of some to assume that the teaching of these popes is no longer binding.[73]

I believe that such reasoning is clearly unacceptable for several reasons. First, because, if a tenet of the faith has been continually taught and held with moral unanimity by pastors and theologians for a long period in the Church,[74] it simply cannot be jettisoned, even if no longer supported by a consensus of theologians. Otherwise there is no absolute truth; everything is reduced to relativism on the basis of what is theologically fashionable and we know that fashions by their very nature change from one day to the next. Secondly, it is not necessary for every pope to restate all Catholic doctrine. "An authentic exercise of the ordinary papal magisterium need not be repeated on the same subject" as Stackpole rightly states.[75] Thirdly, not only has this doctrine never been rejected by the magisterium, but it has been reaffirmed in various ways as we will now see.

John Paul II's Teaching on the Reparation We Offer to the Heart of Jesus

A. Preliminary Considerations

Before we begin to consider the explicit texts of Pope John Paul II, which assume and support the classical doctrine on Christ's beatific and infused knowledge as enunciated by Pope Pius XII, let us take note of some very significant statements which provide a doctrinal basis for what we will subsequently consider.

First, if John Paul II has not used the classical language of "beatific" and "infused" knowledge in teaching about Christ's human knowledge and consciousness, neither has he avoided the issue. In an illuminating discourse which he gave at his general audience of 30 November 1988 on Jesus' cry from the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?", the Pope commented:

Dominant in his mind Jesus has the clear vision of God and the certainty of his union with the Father . But in the sphere bordering on the senses, and therefore more subject to the impressions, emotions and influences of the internal and external experiences of pain, Jesus' human soul is reduced to a wasteland, and he no longer feels the "presence" of the Father, but he undergoes the tragic experience of the most complete desolation. ...

In the sphere of feelings and affection this sense of the absence and abandonment by God was the most acute pain for the soul of Jesus who drew his strength and joy from union with the Father. This pain rendered more intense all the other sufferings. That lack of interior consolation was his greatest agony.[76]

If the Pope does not use the technical language of "beatific vision" here, one can hardly doubt that he is referring to it. In effect, he is presenting the classical doctrine from a psychological perspective which at once respects the teaching of the previous magisterium while striving to penetrate into the human experience of Christ's dereliction during his agony and on the cross. At the same time, however, he is quite clear that no human explanation of this intense suffering of Christ in his passion can ever do more than lead us to the threshold of the mystery:

On Jesus' lips the "why" addressed to God was also more effective in expressing a pained bewilderment at that suffering which had no merely human explanation, but which was a mystery of which the Father alone possessed the key.[77]

This is an extremely important insight. No human analysis, neither the most profound theological penetration of an Aquinas or a Bonaventure nor the mystic insight of a Teresa of Avila or a Thérèse of Lisieux can bring us to more than the brink of the mystery. And this, I humbly believe, is the great failing of so many modern theologians, who are not satisfied to lead us to the brink of the mystery, but think that they can somehow explain it. This has direct bearing on their refusal to accept the Church's traditional doctrine on the human knowledge of Christ, explicitly his infused knowledge and beatific vision, and their misleading others into believing that the whole theological, mystical and magisterial tradition which has developed on this matter in the course of two thousands years is mistaken.

Another background factor to be kept in mind is that one of the great achievements of John Paul II's pontificate for solidifying Catholic doctrine has been the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which contains a text bearing specifically on Christ's vision of us during his life and passion and touching on the theology of the Heart of Jesus:

Jesus knew and loved us each and all during his life, his agony and his Passion, and gave himself up for each one of us : "The Son of God ... loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). He has loved us all with a human heart. For this reason the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation (Cf. Jn. 19:34) "is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that ... love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings" without exception.[78]

The footnote appended to the end of this important passage refers us to the two fundamental texts of Pius XII which we have already considered above, that from Haurietis Aquas which speaks of the beatific and infused knowledge of Christ[79] and that from Mystici Corporis which speaks of Christ's seeing and loving each of us by virtue of the beatific vision.[80] Dr. Stackpole, commenting on the bearing of this text on the theology of reparation to the Heart of Jesus, states that it does not "explicitly require us to believe that the earthly Jesus enjoyed universal beatific and/or universal infused knowledge in his human soul".[81] Evidently he is putting all of the emphasis here on the difference between "explicitly" and "implicitly" because it seems hard to grasp how this passage, in the light of the two Denzinger references, does not require us to believe "that the earthly Jesus enjoyed universal beatific and/or universal infused knowledge in his human soul". Further, if this teaching is not directly from the ordinary magisterium of Pope John Paul II, there can be no doubt that he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church, from which it comes, with the full weight of his pontifical authority.

A third highly significant background factor which needs to be taken into consideration in order to grasp John Paul's teaching on the reparation which we offer to the Heart of Jesus is this lengthy, but dense and very important passage from the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte of 6 January 2001:

In contemplating Christ's face, we confront the most paradoxical aspect of his mystery, as it emerges in his last hour, on the Cross. The mystery within the mystery, before which we cannot but prostrate ourselves in adoration.

The intensity of the episode of the agony in the Garden of Olives passes before our eyes. Oppressed by foreknowledge of the trials that await him, and alone before the Father, Jesus cries out to him in his habitual and affectionate expression of trust: "Abba, Father". He asks him to take away, if possible, the cup of suffering (cf. Mk. 14:36). But the Father seems not to want to heed the Son's cry. In order to bring man back to the Father's face, Jesus not only had to take on the face of man, but he had to burden himself with the "face" of sin. "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21).

We shall never exhaust the depths of this mystery . All the harshness of the paradox can be heard in Jesus' seemingly desperate cry of pain on the Cross: "'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' " (Mk. 15:34). Is it possible to imagine a greater agony, a more impenetrable darkness? In reality, the anguished "why" addressed to the Father in the opening words of the Twenty-second Psalm expresses all the realism of unspeakable pain; but it is also illumined by the meaning of that entire prayer, in which the Psalmist brings together suffering and trust, in a moving blend of emotions. In fact the Psalm continues: "In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you set them free ... Do not leave me alone in my distress, come close, there is none else to help" (Ps. 22:5, 12).

Jesus' cry on the Cross, dear Brothers and Sisters, is not the cry of anguish of a man without hope, but the prayer of the Son who offers his life to the Father in love, for the salvation of all. At the very moment when he identifies with our sin, "abandoned" by the Father, he "abandons" himself into the hands of the Father. His eyes remain fixed on the Father. Precisely because of the knowledge and experience of the Father which he alone has, even at this moment of darkness he sees clearly the gravity of sin and suffers because of it. He alone, who sees the Father and rejoices fully in him, can understand completely what it means to resist the Father's love by sin. More than an experience of physical pain, his Passion is an agonizing suffering of the soul. Theological tradition has not failed to ask how Jesus could possibly experience at one and the same time his profound unity with the Father, by its very nature a source of joy and happiness, and an agony that goes all the way to his final cry of abandonment. The simultaneous presence of these two seemingly irreconcilable aspects is rooted in the fathomless depths of the hypostatic union.

Faced with this mystery, we are greatly helped not only by theological investigation but also by that great heritage which is the "lived theology" of the saints . The saints offer us precious insights which enable us to understand more easily the intuition of faith, thanks to the special enlightenment which some of them have received from the Holy Spirit, or even through their personal experience of those terrible states of trial which the mystical tradition describes as the "dark night". Not infrequently the saints have undergone something akin to Jesus' experience on the Cross in the paradoxical blending of bliss and pain. In the Dialogue of Divine Providence, God the Father shows Catherine of Siena how joy and suffering can be present together in holy souls: "Thus the soul is blissful and afflicted: afflicted on account of the sins of its neighbour, blissful on account of the union and the affection of charity which it has inwardly received. These souls imitate the spotless Lamb, my Only-begotten Son, who on the Cross was both blissful and afflicted". In the same way, Thérèse of Lisieux lived her agony in communion with the agony of Jesus, "experiencing" in herself the very paradox of Jesus's own bliss and anguish: "In the Garden of Olives our Lord was blessed with all the joys of the Trinity, yet his dying was no less harsh. It is a mystery, but I assure you that, on the basis of what I myself am feeling, I can understand something of it". What an illuminating testimony! Moreover, the accounts given by the Evangelists themselves provide a basis for this intuition on the part of the Church of Christ's consciousness when they record that, even in the depths of his pain, he died imploring forgiveness for his executioners (cf. Lk. 23:34) and expressing to the Father his ultimate filial abandonment: "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit" (Lk. 23:46).[82]

The first very important point made by the Pope and consistently repeated in various ways is that in approaching the question of Christ's human consciousness during his agony and passion we are dealing with a profound mystery of the faith, indeed, he calls it "the mystery within the mystery" and says that before it "we cannot but prostrate ourselves in adoration".

Secondly, his teaching about Jesus' enjoyment of the beatific vision, even in the bitter experience of his passion, is unmistakable. He says that Jesus' "eyes remain fixed on the Father" and is emphatic about "the knowledge and experience of the Father which he alone has, even at this moment of darkness". With this affirmation he ratifies and synthesizes the theological, mystical and magisterial tradition of which he is the heir.

Thirdly, Pius XI had broached the question of how we can offer consolation to Christ now for what he suffered then in these terms: "But how can these rites of expiation bring solace now, when Christ is already reigning in the beatitude of heaven?"[83] John Paul II presents an analogous query in this way:

Theological tradition has not failed to ask how Jesus could possibly experience at one and the same time his profound unity with the Father, by its very nature a source of joy and happiness, and an agony that goes all the way to his final cry of abandonment.

Now it is true that John Paul II does not present the theological question with the specific finality of seeking to know how our "retroactive" reparation could bring consolation to Jesus in his passion; his is the even more fundamental question of how Jesus could experience "at one and the same time his profound unity with the Father" and an unspeakable agony. His answer i.e., that

"The simultaneous presence of these two seemingly irreconcilable aspects is rooted in the fathomless depths of the hypostatic union", in no way invalidates the response of Pius XI in Miserentissimus Redemptor, but further confirms it.

Fourthly, even though the depths of the hypostatic union are truly fathomless, as the Pope insists, they can nonetheless be illuminated by what he refers to as the“lived theology” of the saints. If it is possible for the saints to experience profound desolation in their souls without losing the experience of God's presence in their spirits,[84] a fortiori such is possible in the God-man, the Saint of saints. He offers examples of this by citing from two great mystics and Doctors of the Church, Catherine of Siena and Thérèse of Lisieux. In the case of the latter Father François-Marie Léthel, O.C.D. illustrates how Thérèse was convinced not only that Jesus looked upon her with love from the beginning of his earthly existence and during his passion, but also how she constantly sought to respond to his love with her love and thus to offer him consolation in his suffering.[85] In this way she illustrates and unites in her person the teaching of John Paul II and Pius XI.

A final factor to be kept in mind is that John Paul II is conscious of being the inheritor and custodian of the magisterium of his predecessors on the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He has manifested this on numerous occasions such as at the audience which he gave to the Superior General of the Jesuits and the National Secretaries of the Apostleship of Prayer on 12 April 1985. In his address to that group he referred to the duty of reparation to the Heart of Christ inculcated by Pius XI in his encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor and also recalled

my great predecessor, Paul VI who, in the Apostolic Letter Investigabiles Divitias, stressed the centrality of the devotion to the Heart of Jesus: "Since the Ecumenical Council strongly recommends the pious exercises of the Christian people ... especially when they are accomplished in accordance with the Apostolic See, this form of devotion seems to be above all other devotions. In fact ... it is a cult that consists essentially in the adoration and reparation due to Christ Our Lord and it is founded principally on the august Eucharistic Mystery from which ‑‑ like the other liturgical actions ‑‑ derive the sanctification of people and the glorification of God, in Christ, to which converge, as to their end, all the Church's activities."[86]

Let us simply note here that John Paul II explicitly quoted his predecessor Paul VI on the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus as consisting "essentially in the adoration and reparation due to Christ Our Lord". In this assertion Paul VI was following in the footsteps of his predecessor Pius XII who wrote in Haurietis Aquas of the efforts of Saint Margaret Mary to establish the devotion to the Sacred Heart which is to "be distinguished from other forms of Christian piety by the special qualities of love and reparation"[87] In this statement he was deliberately echoing what his predecessor Pius XI had declared in Miserentissimus Redemptor:

To all these acts of devotion, and particularly to this most fruitful act of consecration, confirmed by the institution of the feast of Christ the King, another should be added, of which We desire to speak to you, Venerable Brethren, at greater length: We mean the act of expiation or reparation, as it is called, offered to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. For whereas the primary object of consecration is that the creature should repay the love of the Creator by loving him in return, yet from this another naturally follows -- that is, to make amends for the insults offered to the Divine Love by oblivion and neglect, and by the sins and offences of mankind. This duty is commonly called by the name of "reparation".[88]

In the same address of 12 April 1985 to the National Secretaries of the Apostleship of Prayer cited above the Pope went on further to emphasize that

The various editions of the "Sacred Heart Messengers", the organ of the Apostleship of Prayer, have been and are a great and precious instrument for the diffusion in all languages of the spirituality of "consecration" and "reparation", essential for an authentic living of the mystery of the Heart of Christ.[89]

Commenting on that address, Father Édouard Glotin, S.J. points out that the Pope made no less than five references in it to "consecration and reparation" as fundamental components of the spirituality promoted by the Apostleship of Prayer which he praised so highly.[90]

Pope John Paul II made a recent confirmation of his role of continuing to promote devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the line of the magisterium of his predecessors in his Message of 11 June 1999 for the Centenary of the Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

The value of what took place on 11 June 1899 was authoritatively confirmed in the writings of my predecessors, who offered doctrinal clarifications on the devotion to the Sacred Heart and mandated the periodic renewal of the act of consecration. Among these I am pleased to recall the holy successor of Leo XIII, Pope Pius X, who directed in 1906 that it [the consecration] be renewed every year; Pope Pius XI of revered memory, who recalled it in his Encyclicals Quas Primas, in the context of the Holy Year of 1925, and in Miserentissimus Redemptor; his successor, the Servant of God Pius XII, who treated it in his Encyclicals Summi Pontificatus and Haurietis Aquas. The Servant of God Paul VI, then, in the light of the Second Vatican Council, wished to make reference to it in his Apostolic Epistle Investigabiles divitias and in his Letter Diserti Interpretes addressed on 25 May 1965 to Major Superiors of Institutes named after the Heart of Jesus.

I too have not failed on several occasions to invite my Brothers in the Episcopate, priests, religious and the faithful to cultivate in their lives the most genuine forms of devotion to the Heart of Christ.[91]

There can be no reasonable doubt, then, that John Paul II has any intention of distancing himself from the teaching of his predecessors on consecration and reparation to the Heart of Jesus as being the most constitutive characteristics and genuine forms of this devotion or that of the possibility of "consoling" the Heart of Christ in his agony as authoritatively taught by Pius XI in Miserentissimus Redemptor.

B. John Paul on Consoling the Heart of Jesus

In his very first Angelus address devoted to the Heart of Jesus the Pope made these remarks:

The Heart of the Redeemer vivifies the whole Church and draws men who have opened their hearts to the "unfathomable riches" of this one Heart.

By means of today's meeting and by means of the Angelus of this last Sunday of the month of June, I wish, in a special way, to unite spiritually with all those whose human hearts are inspired by this Divine Heart. This family is a large one. Not a few Congregations, Associations and Communities develop in the Church and, in a programmatic way, draw the vital energy of their activity from the Heart of Christ.

This spiritual bond always leads to a great awakening of apostolic zeal. Adorers of the Divine Heart become men with a sensitive conscience. And when it is granted to them to have relations with the Heart of our Lord and Master, in them also there then springs up the need of atonement for the sins of the world, for the indifference of so many hearts and their negligences.

How necessary this host of watchful hearts is in the Church in order that the Love of the Divine Heart may not remain isolated and unrequited! Among this host special mention deserves to go to all those who offer their sufferings as living victims in union with the Heart of Christ, pierced on the cross. Thus transformed with love, human suffering becomes a particular leaven of Christ's work of salvation in the Church .[92]

What is to be noted here in particular is how easily the Pope moves from the concept of making atonement to the Divine Heart for sins, indifferences and negligences, of responding with a watchful heart so "that the Love of the Divine Heart may not remain isolated and unrequited" to that of suffering "as living victims in union with the Heart of Christ". In other words he passes effortlessly from the concept of reparation to the Heart of Jesus to that of the reparation offered by the Heart of Jesus to the Father. This, in fact, illustrates how fully he is in consonance with the whole tradition which is represented in the "lived theology" of the saints.

In his Angelus address of 8 June 1980 he spoke of "two moments of my recent visit to Paris, which are particularly engraved in my heart", the first being his visit to the Chapel of the miraculous medal apparitions on the Rue du Bac, then:

The following Sunday, almost at midnight, the visit to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Montmartre, in which ceaseless adoration of the Blessed Sacrament has been going on for almost a century, without a break, day and night. And without a break there are men who pray, who worship, who, in the spirit of St. Margaret Mary, offer atonement to that Heart, which so dearly loved the world, and man in this world, and which is outraged and forgotten so much by it.[93]

Without hesitation, just as his predecessors Pius XI and Pius XII had done, he embraced the spirituality of reparation as it comes from the Visitandine saint of Paray-le-Monial.

Perhaps John Paul II's most striking exposition on the theology of reparation to the Heart of Jesus occurs in his second encyclical Dives in Misericordia. In that encyclical he stated that "The Church seems in a particular way to profess the mercy of God and to venerate it when she directs herself to the Heart of Christ".[94] The most evocative passage of that encyclical which touches upon our theme, however, is one that does not mention the Heart of Christ directly or use the term "reparation" and yet, whether it was originally intended to do so or not, it illuminates and expands upon this theme with extraordinary eloquence:

The events of Good Friday and, even before that, in prayer in Gethsemane, introduce a fundamental change into the whole course of the revelation of love and mercy in the messianic mission of Christ. The one who "went about doing good and healing" (Acts 10:38) and "curing every sickness and disease" (Mt. 9:35) now Himself seems to merit the greatest mercy and to appeal for mercy, when He is arrested, abused, condemned, scourged, crowned with thorns, when He is nailed to the cross and dies amidst agonizing torments. It is then that He particularly deserves mercy from the people to whom He has done good, and He does not receive it . ...

In the eschatological fulfillment mercy will be revealed as love, while in the temporal phase, in human history, which is at the same time the history of sin and death, love must be revealed above all as mercy and must also be actualized as mercy. Christ's messianic program, the program of mercy, becomes the program of His people, the program of the Church. At its very center there is always the cross, for it is in the cross that the revelation of merciful love attains its culmination. Until "the former things pass away" (cf. Rev. 21:4), the cross will remain the point of reference for other words too of the Revelation of John: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me" (Rev. 3:20). In a special way, God also reveals His mercy when He invites man to have "mercy" on His only Son, the crucified one.

Christ, precisely as the crucified one, is the Word that does not pass away (cf. Mt. 24:35), and He is the one who stands at the door and knocks at the heart of every man (cf. Rev. 3:20), without restricting his freedom, but instead seeking to draw from this very freedom love, which is not only an act of solidarity with the suffering Son of Man, but also a kind of "mercy" shown by each one of us to the Son of the eternal Father. In the whole of this messianic program of Christ, in the whole revelation of mercy through the cross, could man's dignity be more highly respected and ennobled, for, in obtaining mercy, he is in a sense the one who at the same time "shows mercy"?[95]

Father Glotin recognized the relevance of this marvelous text for our topic and spoke of it in terms of an admirabile commercium, of our begging for mercy from Christ and his from us.[96] Father de Margerie commented on this passage that

Here John Paul II consolidates the great perspectives of the previous magisterium in an original manner: the Heart of the Repairer is the object of our reparation full of compassion.[97]

What the Pope presents is, indeed, a rather audacious idea: that Jesus deserves our mercy, especially in Gethsemane and on Calvary and that we can show mercy to him by our reparative love. But the idea is no more audacious than the Incarnation itself by which the Eternal Son wills to make himself equal to us and shows us our dignity by begging mercy from us. This was a concept easily grasped by Saint Thérèse of Lisieux who well understood the audacity of divine love and the response which it elicits and who thus wrote of Jesus as begging for her love[98] and as "The Little Divine Beggar of Christmas".[99]

The practice of the "holy hour" and the communion of reparation on the First Friday of the month flow directly from the revelations made to Saint Margaret Mary and were underscored as fundamental components of the practice of reparation by Pius XI in Miserentissimus Redemptor[100] and by John Paul II in his letter of 5 October 1986 on the promotion of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus addressed to Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus,[101] as well as on numerous other occasions.

The canonization of Saint Claude La Colombière on 31 May 1992 provided the Holy Father an appropriate occasion to explain the historical origin of the practice of the communion of reparation. In his homily on that occasion he said of the new saint:

He received from her [Saint Margaret Mary] the message which would have great repercussions: "Behold the Heart which has so loved men that it spared nothing to exhaust and consume itself in testimony of its love" (Retraites, n 135). The Lord asked that a feast be established to honour his Heart and that a "reparation of honour" be made to him in Eucharistic communion. Margaret Mary passed on to "the faithful servant and perfect friend" whom she recognized in Fr. La Colombière, the mission of "establishing this devotion and of giving this pleasure to my divine Heart" (ibid.). Claude, in the years left to him, interiorized these "infinite riches". His spiritual life then developed in the perspective of the "reparation" and "infinite mercy" so underscored at Paray. He gave himself completely to the Sacred Heart "ever burning with love". ...

The call to "reparation", characteristic of Paray-le-Monial, can be variously understood, but essentially it is a matter of sinners, which all human beings are, returning to the Lord, touched by his love, and offering a more intense fidelity in the future, a life aflame with charity. If there is solidarity in sin, there is also solidarity in salvation. The offering of each is made for the good of all. Following the example of Claude La Colombière, the faithful understand that such a spiritual attitude can only be the action of Christ in them, shown through Eucharistic communion: to receive in their hearts the Heart of Christ and to be united to the sacrifice which he alone can offer worthily to the Father.[102]

Once again we note how easily the Pope moves from the "reparation of honor" to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament to the reparation which he offers to the Father. Indeed, the reparation which we offer to Jesus can never be understood in a limited sense, but must always ultimately include our reparation in union with his perfect sacrifice.

In receiving the pilgrims who had come for Saint Claude's canonization on the following day, the Holy Father spoke of the "munus suavissimum" which he himself received from the Lord, to spread and preach the mystery of his Sacred Heart. It is the whole Society which continues to have this charge, as I myself had the joy of confirming for you at Paray-le-Monial, near the tomb of St. Claude.[103]

He further outlined how the practice of reparation is a fundamental dimension of the Apostleship of Prayer, which is entrusted to the Society of Jesus as a concrete way of carrying out this munus suavissimum:

Justly, therefore, the movement of the "Apostolate of Prayer" has these three ideals and goals: the proclamation of and witness to the infinite treasures of the Heart of Jesus, who wants only to love his creatures and be loved; the constant sense of Jesus' true presence in the Eucharist, maintaining a deep, lively Eucharistic devotion through Mass, Communion, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament; The commitment to reparation -- including sacrifice and suffering, which Jesus himself expressed a desire for in his message to Margaret Mary. Thus St. Claude La Colombière once wrote to a person whom he was directing: "I do not recognize devotion unless there is mortification" (Letters, no. 74).[104]

Pope John Paul II has not limited himself to encouraging the Jesuits to carry out their special mandate. He also carries it out himself. Here is an example of how he did this during his pastoral visit to the Roman parish of the Sacred Heart at Pontemammolo on 9 November 1986:

Jesus, appearing to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, wanted to manifest his infinite love for humanity, and his desire to be loved. You should then make it your duty to love Jesus Christ totally and constantly: you are drawn to this love by devotion to the Sacred Heart and by the light derived from an important religious culture; I recommend to you then the consecration of your families to the Heart of Jesus and the practice of the First Fridays of the month. I most ardently wish that your parish be a centre of fervent spirituality. Work with commitment and with confidence to make the Sacred Heart of Jesus reign in every family of your parish![105]

On the occasion of the beatification of Blessed Maria Bernardina Jab eq \O(l,/)onska and Blessed Maria Kar eq \O(l,/)owska which took place on 6 June 1997 in Poland on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus the Pope commented on the Gospel passage about the piercing of the Heart of Jesus [Jn. 19:37] which had just been read:

This Gospel passage is at the foundation of the whole tradition of devotion to the Divine Heart . It developed in a special way from the 17th century onwards, in connection with the revelations to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French mystic. Our own century testifies to an intense development of devotion to the Heart of Jesus, attested to by the magnificent "Litany of the Sacred Heart" and linked to it, "The Act of Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart" with the added "Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart". All this has profoundly pervaded our Polish piety; it has become part of the life of many of the faithful who feel the need to make reparation to the Heart of Jesus for the sins of humanity and also of individual nations, families and people.[106]

While in Poland for another celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus the Pope made this moving exhortation:

Dear brothers and sisters, let us contemplate the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is the source of life, since by means of it victory over death was achieved. It is also the source of holiness, since in it sin -- the enemy of man's holiness, the enemy of his spiritual development -- is defeated. The Heart of the Lord Jesus is the starting-point of the holiness of each one of us. From the Heart of the Lord Jesus, let us learn the love of God and understanding of the mystery of sin -- mysterium iniquitatis.

Let us make acts of reparation to the Divine Heart for the sins committed by us and by our fellow men. Let us make reparation for rejecting God's goodness and love.[107]

Our final example of the Pope's exhortations to offer reparation or to console the Divine Heart come from the beatification of Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto which took place in Fatima on 13 May 2000. These descriptions and entreaties, which closely follow the message of Fatima, envision retroactive reparation offered to Jesus as being at the same time effective for the salvation of sinners. Here is an excerpt of the Holy Father's homily that day:

According to the divine plan, "a woman clothed with the sun" (Rv. 12:1) came down from heaven to this earth to visit the privileged children of the Father. She speaks to them with a mother's voice and heart: she asks them to offer themselves as victims of reparation, saying that she was ready to lead them safely to God. ...

But God told only Francisco "how sad" he was, as he said. One night his father heard him sobbing and asked him why he was crying; his son answered: "I was thinking of Jesus who is so sad because of the sins that are committed against him". He was motivated by one desire -- so expressive of how children think -- "to console Jesus and make him happy". ...

Francisco bore without complaining the great sufferings caused by the illness from which he died. It all seemed to him so little to console Jesus: he died with a smile on his lips. Little Francisco had a great desire to atone for the offences of sinners by striving to be good and by offering his sacrifices and prayers. The life of Jacinta, his younger sister by almost two years, was motivated by these same sentiments. ...

My last words are for the children: dear boys and girls, I see so many of you dressed like Francisco and Jacinta. You look very nice! But in a little while or tomorrow you will take these clothes off and ... the little shepherds will disappear. They should not disappear, should they?! Our Lady needs you all to console Jesus, who is sad because of the bad things done to him; he needs your prayers and your sacrifices for sinners.[108]

Here the Holy Father did not resort to theological explanations of how it is possible to console Jesus now that he is in glory. That had already been done in Miserentissimus Redemptor. For him it was enough to present the message. He knew, as did his predecessor Pius XI, that those who love would understand.[109]

Reparation to the Heart of Jesus in Service to Our Neighbor
(Cor Iesu -- Patiens et Multæ Misericordiæ)

In his letter of 5 October 1986 on the promotion of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus addressed to Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus, the Pope made this striking remark:

In the Heart of Christ, man's heart learns to know the genuine and unique meaning of his life and of his destiny, to understand the value of an authentically Christian life, to keep himself from certain perversions of the human heart, and to unite the filial love for God and the love of neighbour. The true reparation asked by the Heart of the Saviour will come when the civilization of the Heart of Christ can be built upon the ruins heaped up by hatred and violence.[110]

Now, it is easy to take these words of the Pope and to turn them into a totally horizontal perspective, insisting that the real commitment to reparation to the Heart of Jesus in our day must be the restoration of "the image of God in man".[111] Father de Margerie, only too aware of this tendency, offers these precious insights:

As L. M. Mendizabal observes, this interpretation of reparation has sometimes been badly understood, in a totally "horizontal" sense, as if the Pope had said: "The true reparation does not consist in a painful expiation of the sins of the world, but in establishing peace and well-being in the world." They forget the declaration made two weeks before this letter, on the occasion of an international symposium: "The consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is practiced essentially by a life of grace, of purity, of prayer, of penance that is joined to the fulfillment of all the duties of a Christian, and of reparation for our sins and the sins of the world".[112]

Actually, the declaration of the Pope to the Society of Jesus means that in the eyes of the Lord the order violated by violence and hatred will only be able to be restored in the world by supernatural love for neighbor and it is this restoration, this recovery of loving justice which constitutes the essence of reparation. Prayer, penance, the carrying out of the duty of one's state in life should be lived in the horizon of the establishment of a civilization of love in order to accomplish the complete social reparation which the Heart of Jesus desires.[113]

Father de Margerie is absolutely right that the Pope's words must not be taken in a merely horizontal perspective, but within the larger context of his entire magisterium. In fact, this horizontal perspective is not lacking even in Miserentissimus Redemptor:

It should be remembered that the expiatory Passion of Jesus Christ is renewed and, in a manner, continued in his mystical body -- the Church. To use once more the words of St. Augustine: "Christ suffered all that he had to suffer, and to the number of his sufferings nothing is wanting. Hence the Passion is complete; but in the Head only. There still remained the sufferings of Christ to be completed in his body.” Jesus Christ himself taught the same truth when to Saul, "as yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples" he said: "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest." By these words he clearly meant that persecutions directed against the Church are a grievous attack upon her divine Head. Christ then, as he still suffers in his mystical body, rightly desires to have us as his companions in the work of expiation. In this manner he desires us to be united with him, because, since we are "the body of Christ and members of member," what the head suffers the members should suffer with it.[114]

If Pius XI saw this kind of reparation primarily in terms of persecutions directed against the Church, John Paul II has further expanded this outlook, as we shall now see.

His illustrations in this area come largely from the "lived theology" of the saints. In this instance he was speaking to the 1979 General Chapter of the Priests of the Sacred Heart founded by the Venerable Léon-Jean Dehon who made reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus a principal end of his institute while at the same time working strenuously to promote and apply the social teaching of the Church:

You are ‑‑ and must always be ‑‑ "Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus". This is what your Founder, the Servant of God Father Léon‑Jean Dehon, wanted you to be, when he set up a Congregation entirely dedicated to the love and atonement of the Sacred Heart ...

"The spirit of the Congregation", Father Dehon wrote to his sons in a Circular Letter, "is ardent love for the Sacred Heart, faithful imitation of its virtues, above all, humility, zeal, gentleness, and the spirit of sacrifice; and indefatigable zeal in bringing forth for it friends and atoners, who will console it with their own love." These are words that sum up admirably the whole programme of your Institute, and they keep intact their strong emotional charge and their perfect relevance today ...

Reproduce in your hearts ‑‑ according to Father Dehon's happy expression ‑‑ the "holiness of the Heart of Jesus!".[115]

Here there is a beautiful and subtle progression. The Priests of the Sacred Heart are to be imbued with a spirit of "love and atonement" so that in their active apostolate they may bring forth friends and atoners of the Heart of Christ, who will console it with their own love. Thus their apostolic work, according to the mind of the founder, is also an act of reparation offered to the Heart of Christ.

Here is an excerpt from a homily at a beatification which stresses the reparative vocation of one of the new blesseds:

The power of the message of charity was understood by Mary Margaret Caiani [1863-1921] through contemplation of Christ and his pierced heart. ... She taught her spiritual daughters, the Minim Sisters of the Sacred Heart, to serve their neighbour with the intention of making reparation for the offenses committed against Christ's love and always to be inspired by his love in the exercise of their charity. ...

In meditating on the suffering and the mystery of the pierced Heart of Christ, Mary Margaret Caiani was able to understand that it was necessary to "make reparation", that is, to compensate by her deeper awareness of the precept of charity, for humanity's lack of understanding of God's infinite and merciful love. Among the basic counsels she gave her sisters, there is this: "You will console our sweet Jesus and make reparation for the many injuries inflicted upon his most loving heart" (cf. Circular letter of 27 December 1918).[116]

Service of neighbor with the intention of making reparation is presented here as a particular charism of the Minim Sisters of the Sacred Heart, but it requires no genius to see that this is something that can be practiced by every serious Catholic who formulates the intention of consoling Jesus in his charitable outreach to his neighbor.

The Pope illustated this reparatory intention again in a discourse to the Little Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus founded by Blessed Anna Michelotti (1843-1888):

As your foundress liked to recommend: "Do not say 'I go to the sick', but 'I go to console the heart of the suffering Jesus'. If you go with this spirit of faith, be calm and certain that you are serving them well" (Parole vissute, p. 43).[117]

It is precisely this concept of consoling the Heart of Jesus by identifying with the neighbor in need that enables us to understand a series of evocative quotations from one of the Pensées of Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) which the Pope has been making since 1993. Here is the first one which comes from the Pope's homily at the ecumenical Prayer Vigil in Assisi on 9 January 1993 which was held to pray for an end to the fratricidal wars then raging in the ex-Yugoslavia:

That was the first aim of this Vigil: that all men and women in Europe who are open to religious values might feel the wounds of war as if they were inflicted on their own flesh -- anguish, loneliness, powerlessness, grief, pain and death. Perhaps even despair. We thus became more firmly convinced that these evils are something weighing on our shoulders, oppressing our hearts. In the face of such a tragedy we cannot remain indifferent; we cannot sleep. We must, in fact, watch and pray, like the Lord Jesus in the Garden of Olives, when he took upon himself our sins even to the point of sweating blood (cf. Lk. 22:44). Indeed, Christ, "is in agony even to the end of the world" (Pascal, Pensées, 736). And we desire to accompany him, tonight, by watching and by praying.[118]

Here, quite clearly the context is one of keeping vigil and suffering with Christ who suffers with the members of his mystical body. The Heart of Jesus is not explicitly mentioned nor is the concept of reparation or consolation, but the reference to the Agony in the Garden calls them readily to mind.

He quoted this Pensée in his Letter to Families of 2 February 1994[119] and in an address to university students that same year with particular reference to armed conflicts raging in the Holy Land and in other parts of the world.[120] He quoted it again during the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum on 2 April 1999:

The prophetic words of the Book of Isaiah resound in our hearts this evening, at the end of the Way of the Cross, here at the Colosseum, eloquent reminder of the suffering and martyrdom of many believers who paid with their blood for their faithfulness to the Gospel. They are words which echo the Passion of Jesus "in agony until the end of the world" (Paschal, Pensées, Le mystère de Jésus, 553).[121]

In this case he emphasized the suffering of the martyrs as an extension of the agony of Jesus in his mystical body, a suffering which brings consolation to the Heart of Jesus while continuing to apply the benefits of the redemption to the whole world. It is in this same sense that he made allusion to this thought without citing it explicitly regarding Saint Pio of Pietrelcina on the day after his beatification:

And what can be said of his life, an endless spiritual combat, sustained by the weapons of prayer, centred on the sacred daily acts of Confession and Mass? Holy Mass was the heart of his whole day, the almost anxious concern of all his hours, his moment of closest communion with Jesus, Priest and Victim. He felt called to share in Christ's agony which continues until the end of the world.[122]

Perhaps the example which best illustrates the call to reparation to the Heart of Christ in service to the neighbor in need is the final one which occurred in the address of the Holy Father to the General Chapter of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Dying on 5 January 2001:

What better witness can this trusting abandonment find than that of a life wholly consecrated to the service of God, known and loved in the Heart of his Son Jesus Christ, who "is in agony until the end of the world" (B. Pascal)? And how can this consecration be expressed other than in generous and faithful service to our brothers and sisters, especially the neediest, for love of whom Christ willingly drank the bitter cup of the Passion.[123]


I believe that this presentation establishes beyond any serious doubt that Pope John Paul II not only takes his proper place in the line of his distinguished predecessors who taught about the importance of the theology of reparation as it pertains to the Heart of Jesus, but has also further and notably developed this teaching.

I mentioned at the beginning of this study that I felt myself challenged to undertake it particularly by the very informative and fascinating doctoral thesis of Robert A. Stackpole. I also indicated my conviction that some of his tentative conclusions and positions, specifically those regarding the foundational value of the teaching of Miserentissimus Redemptor and of the contribution of Pope John Paul II to the theology of reparation, may be further reassessed and supplemented. While it is true that studies of other theological aspects not touched upon here (because not germane to this topic) would still be highly desirable in order to offer further supplementary data, it is now possible for me to respond to some of Dr. Stackpole's assertions.

At the end of his fifth and last chapter prior to his conclusion, he states:

All this is not to say that the reality of the retroactive consolation of the Heart of Jesus has been proven beyond all doubt. Without a psychological plausible theory behind it, it remains a difficult notion. But given the clear teaching of Pius XI, and the witness of several holy souls and eminent theologians, it is certainly a subject worthy of deeper theological exploration. Moreover, the faithful surely are not acting imprudently if they include the intention to console the Heart of Jesus in His agony and passion as part of their devotional life, in accordance with papal teaching and following the example of these great saints, blesseds, and venerable souls of the Church.[124]

In the light of my exposition I would say that this statement is entirely too hesitant and tentative. First of all I do not believe that the supposed lack of a "psychological plausible theory" can be put on a level such as to cast doubt on the authoritative teaching of the papal magisterium and the “lived theology” of the saints. Who decides what is psychologically acceptable? Theologians who dissent from the millennial tradition of the Church and its magisterium regarding the beatific vision in Christ the wayfarer? I'm afraid that Dr. Stackpole gives them disproportionate space and weight in his treatment and assessment. Secondly, I would respond with the words of Saint Augustine and Pius XI: "Give me one who loves, and he will understand what I say".[125] Thirdly, far more important than a psychological theory that would satisfy contemporary theologians is the recognition that we are dealing here with a mystery which must be approached with adoration, as Pope John Paul II insists. On this score alone I would give far greater weight to the testimony of saints and holy souls. Fourthly, I believe that the Holy Father has shown remarkable psychological acumen in the texts which I have cited above and goes a long way toward formulating a plausible psychological theory, even if this is not strictly the responsibility of the magisterium.

After quoting from Pope John Paul II's Message for the Centenary of the Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus with regard to "reparation" as "apostolic cooperation in the salvation of the world",[126] Dr. Stackpole makes a further comment:

Given the Holy Father's strong emphasis here upon the apostolic and missionary dimensions of the work of reparation -- aspects of reparation that were clearly underdeveloped in the teachings of Pius XI -- one can predict a continued, relative silence by the magisterium on the subject of "consoling" the Heart of Jesus. Until notable theologians can show that "consolation" has some authentic connection with the social and evangelistic dimensions of the work of reparation, dimensions which the magisterium has identified as an urgent need of the modern world, then, however much the intention of consoling the Heart of Jesus may be said in theory to be essential to this devotion, its pastoral importance, in the context of the modern world, would seem to be negligible.[127]

I believe that on the basis of my final section of "Reparation to the Heart of Jesus in Service to Our Neighbor" according to John Paul II, sufficient indications have been provided that the the Holy Father has not been silent on this issue, but, in fact, has developed it notably. Further, it should be pointed out that Pope John Paul II's ordinary magisterium[128] is of far more weight than the theories of theologians, even the most notable ones.

These comments are not in any way meant to indicate a lack of appreciation on my part for the notable work of classification which Dr. Stackpole has done and the enrichment which he has brought to this field of study which is at the same time a laboratory of prayer and Christian life. They are simply meant to open up further horizons on a subject that is truly infinite: the Heart of the God-man.

Laus Cordibus Jesu et Mariæ


AAS Acta Apostolicæ Sedis (1909 -- ).

Carlen III Claudia Carlen, I.H.M., The Papal Encyclicals 1903-1939 (Raleigh, NC: McGrath Publishing Co. "Consortium Books", 1981).

CCC Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994).

D‑H Heinrich Denzinger, S.I., Enchiridion Symbolorum Definitionum et Declarationum de Rebus Fidei et Morum: Edizione Bilingue (XXXVII) a cura di Peter Hünermann (Bologna: Edizioni Dehoniane, 2000).

HA Haurietis Aquas revised translation by Francis Larkin, SS.CC. (Orlando, FL: Sacred Heart Publications Center, 1974).

HD 1 Bertrand de Margerie, S.J., Histoire Doctrinale du Culte au Coeur de Jésus t. 1: Premières lumière(s) sur l'amour (Paris: Éditions Mame, 1992).

HD 2 Bertrand de Margerie, S.J., Histoire Doctrinale du Culte envers le Coeur de Jésus t. 2: L'amour devenu Lumière(s) (Paris: Éditions Saint-Paul, 1995).

Inseg Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, I (1978‑‑) (Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1979‑‑).

OR L'Osservatore Romano , daily edition in Italian.

ORE L'Osservatore Romano , weekly edition in English. First number = cumulative edition number; second number = page.

Plus Raoul Plus, S.J., Reparation: Its History, Doctrine and Practice (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1931).

ST Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiæ.

Stackpole Robert A. Stackpole, Consoling the Heart of Jesus: A History of the Notion and its Practice, especially as found in the Ascetical and Mystical Tradition of the Church (Romæ: Pontificia Studiorum Universitas a S. Thoma Aq. in Urbe, 2001).

TCF Jacques Dupuis, S.J. (ed.), The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church Originally Prepared by Josef Neuner, S.J. & Jacques Dupuis; Sixth Revised and Enlarged Edition (New York: Alba House, 1998).

[1]Cf. Édouard Glotin, S.J., "L'expérience spirituelle de la réparation" in Bernard Peyrous (ed.), Le Coeur du Christ pour un monde nouveau: Actes du congrès de Paray-le-Monial 13 au 15 octobre 1995 (Paris: Éditions de l'Emmanuel, 1998) 227.

[2]Cf. Glotin, "L'expérience," 228.

[3]Father Bertrand de Margerie, S.J. speaks of "the permanent importance of Miserentissimus Redemptor" in HD 2:55-56. See table of abbreviations at the end of this article.

[4]Dissertatio ad Lauream in Facultate S. Theologiæ apud Pontificiam Universitatem S. Thomæ, Romæ 2001.

[5]These were given in the summer months of 1985, 1986 and 1989 and were conveniently collected and published in their original Italian as Giovanni Paolo II, Le litanie del Sacro Cuore: Riflessioni a cura di don Angelo Bonetti (Milano: Edizioni Paoline, 1990) and in English as Pope John Paul II, Angelus Meditations on the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus ed. by Carl Moell, S.J. (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 1992).

[6]#8 & 9. Cf. comments of de Margerie in HD 2:202-206.

[7]#13. Cf. commentary of de Margerie in HD 2:206-208.

[8]Cf. also Inseg IX/2 (1986) [ORE 960:7]; Inseg XI/1 (1988) 344 [ORE 1025:6]; Inseg XI/1 (1988) 1367 [ORE 1044:6-7]; Inseg XII/1 (1989) 633 [ORE 1083:12].

[9]El Corazón de Jesús en la enseñanza de Juan Pablo II (1978-1988): Antología de textos - Estudios (Madrid: Instituto Internacional del Corazón de Jesús, 1990).

[10]Timothy T. O'Donnell, S.T.D., Heart of the Redeemer: An Apologia for the Contemporary and Perennial Value of the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Manassas, VA: Trinity Communications, 1989) 225-255.

[11]HD 2:201-222.

[12]Arthur Burton Calkins, "The Hearts of Jesus and Mary in the Magisterium of Pope John Paul II" in Acta Congressus Mariologici-Mariani Internationalis in Civitate Onubensi (Huelva - Hispania) Anno 1992 Celebrati IV: De Cultu Mariano Saeculo XX a Concilio Vaticano II usque ad Nostros Dies (Vatican City State: Pontificia Academia Mariana Internationalis, 1999) 147-167.

[13]Arthur Burton Calkins, Totus Tuus: John Paul II's Program of Marian Consecration and Entrustment. New Bedford, MA.: Academy of the Immaculate "Studies and Texts," No. 1, 1994 (second printing) 248-256.

[14]"La véritable réparation demandée par le Coeur du Sauveur" published in Réélaborer les Exercices ou se laisser recréer par l'Esprit, in C.I.S., Curia S.J., Rome, 1989, n. 2-3, pp. 54-63; Spanish translation in El Corazón de Jesús en la enseñanza de Juan Pablo II (1978-1988) 359-369; Italian translation in Édouard Glotin, S.J., Il Cuore Misericordioso di Gesù (Rome: Edizioni Dehoniane and Apostolato della Preghiera, 1993) 63-76.

[15]HD 2:216-218.

[16]Stackpole 176-178, 375-376, 388.

[17]AAS 20 (1928) 169 [Plus 95; unless otherwise indicated I will follow the translation given in Plus]. Pope Paul VI underscores the same fact in his Apostolic Letter Investigabiles Divitias Christi saying that the cultus of the Sacred Heart "consists essentially in the adoration and reparation due to Christ Our Lord" AAS 57 (1965) 300.

[18]The Latin subtitle of this document is de communi expiatione Sacratissimo Cordi Iesu debita.

[19]HD 2:55-107.

[20]HD 2:55.

[21]HD 2:98.

[22]It would seem that one could just as easily refer to theocentric reparation as "subjective" in the sense that Christ is its "subject" and refer to christocentric reparation as "objective" in the sense that Christ is its "object".

[23]Cf. Apostolic Constitution on the Revision of Indulgences Indulgentiarum Doctrina #2 in Austin Flannery, O.P., ed., Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1975) 63.

[24]CCC #616.

[25]D-H #1743.

[26]AAS 20 (1928) 170-171 [Plus 97-98].

[27]AAS 20 (1928) 172.

[28]AAS 20 (1928) 174 [Plus 101-102].

[29]AAS 20 (1928) 177.

[30]AAS 20 (1928) 179, 185.

[31]HD 2:59 [my trans.].

[32]Inseg V/2 (1982) 1573; 1582 [ORE 734:3]. Emphasis my own.

[33]Cf. HD 1:63-150.

[34]Cf. Ignace de la Potterie, S.J., La passion de Jésus selon l'évangile de Jean (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1986) 9-16; 186-196.

[35]Louis Kondor, S.V.D. (Ed.), Fatima in Lucia's Own Words, Volume I trans. by Dominican Nuns of Perpetual Rosary (Fatima, Portugal: Postulation Centre, 1976) 200.

[36]Inseg VI/1 (1983) 966 [my trans.]. Emphasis my own.

[37]Cf. Totus Tuus 82-85.

[38]Inseg VII/2 (1984) 1684 [ORE 869:4].

[39]Inseg X/1 (1987) 1309, 1320 [ORE 983:21].

[40]Inseg XII/2 (1989) 498-499 [ORE 1107:1]. Emphasis my own.

[41]AAS 48 (1956) 316; D-H #3922 [HA #21, 22]. Emphasis my own.

[42]Inseg V/2 (1982) 2413 [ORE 741:2]. Emphasis my own.

[43]Inseg XIV/1 (1991) 1840-1841 [ORE 1198:10]. Emphasis my own.

[44]Cf. AAS 20 (1928) 178, 179 [Plus 106, 108].

[45]Inseg XX/1 (1997) 1196-1197 [ORE 1499:9].

[46]OR 11-12 giugno 2001, p. 9 [ORE 1697:3]. Emphasis my own.

[47]Inseg VIII/1 (1985) 1783 [my trans.]. Emphasis my own.

[48][Inseg XII/2 (1989) 993-994; ORE 1114:2]. Emphasis my own.

[49]Cf. L. Laplace, Immolation: Life of Mother Mary of Jesus trans. J. F. Newcomb (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1926); Lettres de Mère Marie de Jésus Deluil-Martiny (Paris: P. Lethielleux, 1965); Lettere di Madre Maria di Gesù Deluil-Martiny (Belluno: Tip. Piave, 1981); Henri Arnaud, Le Choix de l'Absolu (Marseille, 1990); Paolo Risso, La Mia Vita nel Tuo Cuore (Rome: Edizioni Dehoniane, 1996).

[50]Cf. René Laurentin, Marie, L'Église et Le Sacerdoce I: Essai sur le développement d'une idée religieuse (Paris: Nouvelles Éditions Latines, 1953) 442-463.

[51]Inseg V/2 (1982) 1573; 1582 [ORE 734:3].

[52]Cf. HD 1:177-195.

[53]Cf. Édouard Glotin, S.J., Le Coeur de Jésus: Approches anciennes et nouvelles (Namur, Belgium: Collection Vie Consacrée #16, 1997) 111-162.

[54]Cf. CCC #67.

[55]Cf. AAS 20 (1928) 166, 167, 173, 177 [Plus 92, 94, 100, 105].

[56]Cf. Stackpole 155.

[57]AAS 20 (1928) 173 [Plus 100]. The original French text is found in F.-L. Gauthey (ed.), Vie et Oeuvres de Sainte Marguerite-Marie Alacoque (Paris: Ancienne Librairie Poussielgue, 1920) II:103.

[58]AAS 20 (1928) 173. Here I am using the English translation provided in Carlen III:325.

[59]In Ioannis evangelium, tract. XXVI, 4; AAS 20 (1928) 173 [Carlen III:325].

[60]AAS 20 (1928) 174 [Plus 101]. Emphasis my own.

[61]Cf. Stackpole 71-149.

[62]For an excellent general exposition of the traditional teaching on Christ's acquired, infused and beatific human knowledge, cf. Bertrand de Margerie, S.J., The Human Knowledge of Christ (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1980).

[63]D-H #3812 [TCF #661]. Emphasis my own.

[64]AAS 48 (1956) 327-328; D-H #3924; [HA #56; TCF #665]. Emphasis my own.

[65]Instead of speaking of the "beatific vision" the CCC #473 speaks of "the intimate and immediate knowledge that the Son of God made man has of his Father", but it is arguable that this text is dealing with the same reality; cf. Stackpole 338-342.

[66]#473 of the CCC seems to allude to this kind of knowledge in stating that "The Son in his human knowledge also showed the divine penetration he had into the secret thoughts of human hearts".

[67]Cf. ST III, 9-12 and Stackpole 266-275. On the richness and depth of the tradition about the beatific vision in Christ, cf. Doctor Communis 36, N. 2-3 (maggio-dicembre 1983) which was a special number dedicated to this topic.

[68]The late Monsignor Antonio Piolanti was perhaps the most eminent representative of this position. Cf. his article "Compresenza dei dolori del Cuore di Cristo ai peccati degli uomini e ripercussione sullo stesso divin Cuore delle soddisfazioni dei giusti" in Bea, Rahner, Rondet, Schwendimann (eds.), Cor Jesu: Commentationes in Litteras Encyclicas Pii PP. XII "Haurietis Aquas" Vol, I: Pars Theologica (Rome: Casa Editrice Herder, 1959) 657-682. Cf. comments in Stackpole 288-290.

[69]Father de Margerie, S.J. holds strictly to this position; cf. HD 2:90-102. Stackpole presents summaries of the thought of a number of other distinguished theologians who took this position, pp. 283-288, 291-294.

[70]On the twentieth century papal magisterium in the human knowledge of Christ, cf. Stackpole 278-282.

[71]On the dissent which has been mounting on this subject, cf. Stackpole 294-315.

[72]Cf. Stackpole 302-315.

[73]Cf. Stackpole 345-350. On p. 345 Dr. Stackpole says: "It is ironic that just when the idea of retroactive consolation became fully articulated in the Church, its theological foundations began to crumble" primarily because of its incompatibility with modern psychological theories. I would rather say not that "its theological foundations began to crumble", but that "its support by theologians began to crumble".

[74]In the case of the virtually unanimous acceptance of this doctrine, cf. Stackpole 254-278.

[75]Stackpole 348. Cf. his summary of the teaching of the papal magisterium on the question of Christ's beatific and infused knowledge 278-283, 343-350. I find his concluding paragraph on p. 350 too weak and hesitant.

[76]Inseg XI/4 (1988) 1694-1695 [ORE 1067:1]. Emphasis my own.

[77]Inseg XI/4 (1988) 1693 [ORE 1067:1]. Emphasis my own.

[78]CCC #478. Emphasis my own.

[79]D-H #3924.

[80]D-H #3812.

[81]Stackpole 342.

[82]AAS 93 (2001) 282-284 [ORE 1675:V]. Emphasis my own.

[83]AAS 20 (1928) 173. Here I am using the English translation provided in Carlen III:325.

[84]Cf. Arthur Burton Calkins on the distinction between soul and spirit in "The Tripartite Biblical Vision of Man: a Key to the Christian Life," Doctor Communis XLIII (1990) 135-159.

[85]François-Marie Léthel, O.C.D., L'Amour de Jésus: La christologie de sainte Thérèse de l'Enfant-Jésus (Paris: Desclée, 1997) 211-250.

[86]Inseg VIII/1 (1985) 1028‑1029 [ORE 883:5]. Emphasis my own. The text of Investigabiles Divitias Christi cited is from AAS 57 (1965) 300-301.

[87]AAS 48 (1956) 339 [HA #95].

[88]AAS 20 (1928) 169 [Plus 95]. Emphasis my own.

[89]Inseg VIII/1 (1985) 1029; ORE 883:5]. Emphasis my own.

[90]Édouard Glotin, S.J., Il Cuore Misericordioso di Gesù (Rome: Edizioni Dehoniane; Edizioni Apostolato della Preghiera, 1993) 69.

[91]OR 12 giugno 1999, p. 5 [ORE 1597:1].

[92]Inseg II/1 (1979) 1617 [ORE 588:2]. Emphasis my own.

[93]Inseg III/1 (1980) 1710 [ORE 637:2]. Emphasis my own.

[94]Inseg III/2 (1980) 1520 [ORE 661:15].

[95]Inseg III/2 (1980) 1503-1504, 1508-1509 [ORE 661:12, 13]. Except for "appeal for mercy" in the first paragraph and "invites man to have 'mercy' on His only Son, the crucified one" at the end of the second paragraph, emphasis my own.

[96]Glotin, Le Coeur de Jésus 47-48.

[97]HD 2:207 [my trans.].

[98]Sainte Thérèse de l'Enfant-Jésus et de la Sainte-Face, Oeuvres Complètes (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, Desclée de Brouwer, 1992) 721.

[99]Oeuvres Complètes 873-874.

[100]AAS 20 (1928) 167, 173 [Plus 93, 100].

[101]Inseg IX/2 (1986) 844 [ORE 960:7].

[102]Inseg XV/1 (1992) 1662-1663 [ORE 1243:1]. Emphasis my own.

[103]Inseg XV/1 (1992) 1676 [ORE 1244:9].

[104]Inseg XV/1 (1992) 1675 [ORE 1244:9].

[105]Inseg IX/2 (1986) 1378 [ORE 967:14]. Emphasis my own.

[106]Inseg XX/1 (1997) 1424 [ORE 1496:8]. Emphasis my own.

[107]OR 23 giugno 1999, p. V-VI [ORE 1596:5, 6]. Emphasis in final paragraph my own.

[108]OR 17 maggio 2000, pp. II, III [ORE 1643:1, 3]. Emphasis my own.

[109]Cf. AAS 20 (1928) 173 [Carlen III:325].

[110]Inseg IX/2 (1986) 843 [ORE 960:7]. Emphasis my own.

[111]Cf. Glotin, Il Cuore Misericordioso 70.

[112]Inseg IX/2 (1986) 700; ORE 959:13].

[113]HD 2:217 [my trans.].

[114]AAS 20 (1928) 174 [Plus 101-102]. Emphasis my own.

[115]Inseg II/1 (1979) 1602 [ORE 591:8, 10]. Emphasis my own.

[116]Inseg XII/1 (1989) 901-902 [ORE 1088:5]. Emphasis my own.

[117]OR 3 dicembre 1999, p. 6 [ORE 1626:7]. Emphasis my own.

[118]Inseg XVI/1 (1993) 36-37 [ORE 1273:1]. Emphasis my own.

[119]Inseg XVII/1 (1994) 321 [ORE 1329:XI].

[120]Inseg XVII/1 (1994) 838 [ORE 1335:5].

[121]OR 4 aprile 1999, p. 5 [ORE 1586:5].

[122]OR 3-4 maggio 1999, p. 10 [ORE 1590:3].

[123]6 gennaio 2001, p. 5 [ORE 1677:4]. Emphasis my own.

[124]Stackpole 350.

[125]In Ioannis evangelium, tract. XXVI, 4; AAS 20 (1928) 173 [Carlen III:325].

[126]OR 12 giugno 1999, p. 5 [ORE 1597:2].

[127]Stackpole 376.

[128]Cf. Lumen Gentium #25; Totus Tuus 267-269.

Monsignor Arthur B. Calkins is a native of Erie, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. and was ordained a priest on 7 May 1970 for the Archdiocese of New Orleans where he served in various parishes as parochial vicar. He has a master’s degree in theology from the Catholic University of America, a licentiate in sacred theology with specialization in Mariology from the International Marian Research Institute in Dayton and a doctorate which he earned summa cum laude in the same field from the Pontifical Theological Faculty of St. Bonaventure (the Seraphicum) in Rome. He was named a corresponding member of the Pontifical International Marian Academy in 1985 and a corresponding member of the Pontifical Roman Theological Academy in 1995. He has been an official of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” since 1991 and was named a Chaplain of His Holiness with the title of Monsignor in 1997.

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