Hearts of Jesus and Mary- Monsignor Arthur Calkins
THE TEACHING OF POPE JOHN PAUL II ON THE SACRED HEART
OF JESUS AND THE THEOLOGY OF REPARATION
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.
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,
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
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
he made fascinating allusions to the Heart of Jesus in his first two
encyclicals, Redemptor Hominis
and Dives in Misericordia,
and is particularly fond of emphasizing #22 of Gaudium et Spes
as a reference to the Heart of Christ which is contained in the
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.
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.
I have also authored a study of Pope John Paul II's Magisterium on
the Hearts of Jesus and Mary
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.
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
and Bertrand de Margerie
and by Dr. Robert A. Stackpole's analysis of a few papal texts
dealing with the consolation of the Heart of Christ.
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."
Now, while the clear thrust of the encyclical is to delineate the
theology and practice of reparation to the Most Sacred Heart
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
distinguishes between what he refers to as objective and subjective
or between theocentric and christocentric reparation.
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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].
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
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.
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].
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.
John Paul II's Teaching on the Heart of Jesus as the Source of
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.
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.
It is a depiction which shares in the perspective of Saint John's
Gospel which focuses simultaneously on Christ as suffering and in
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
He returned to this theme a year later in writing to the Bishop of
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. 
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. 
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. 
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). 
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). 
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
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].
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
Let us always try to understand this language better.
Let us learn it.
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
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 .
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.
"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.
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).
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".
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
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
"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
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.
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.
Finally, let us note her profound intuition about the unique place
of Mary in the life of oblation and immolation,
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 --
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."
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.
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,
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,
it is quite remarkable that this encyclical makes explicit reference
to Saint Margaret Mary four times
and offers an unabashed theological rationale for the entreaty which
was communicated to her by the Lord. To
my knowledge, this is unparalleled in the history of the papal
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.
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?"
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,"
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
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
and was fully compatible with the Catholic theological tradition on
the threefold human knowledge of Christ.
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.
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
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.
Here the Servant of God was distinguishing between the human
knowledge of Christ insofar as it derived directly from the beatific
and that which was directly infused for the sake of his mission.
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
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
while the other held that it derives from his infused knowledge.
Both of these positions seem entirely compatible with the teaching
of Pope Pius XI and within the parameters of the teaching of the
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
Thirdly, not only has this doctrine never been rejected by the
magisterium, but it has been reaffirmed in various ways as we will
John Paul II's Teaching on the Reparation We Offer to the Heart of
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.
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.
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.
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
and that from Mystici Corporis which speaks of Christ's
seeing and loving each of us by virtue of the beatific vision.
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
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
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).
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?"
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
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
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.
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."
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
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".
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
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.
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
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.
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
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 .
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
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.
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".
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"?
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.
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.
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
and as "The Little Divine Beggar of Christmas".
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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,
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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".
Father de Margerie, only too aware of this tendency, offers these
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".
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.
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.
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
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!".
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
He quoted it again during the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum on 2
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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.
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".
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",
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.
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
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
Jesu et Mariæ
AAS Acta Apostolicæ Sedis
(1909 -- ).
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
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,
HA Haurietis Aquas
revised translation by Francis Larkin, SS.CC. (Orlando, FL: Sacred
Heart Publications Center, 1974).
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Doctrinale du Culte au Coeur de Jésus t. 1: Premières
lumière(s) sur l'amour (Paris: Éditions Mame, 1992).
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).
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OR L'Osservatore Romano ,
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ORE L'Osservatore Romano ,
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Plus Raoul Plus, S.J., Reparation:
Its History, Doctrine and Practice (New York: Benziger
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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).
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).
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.
Glotin, "L'expérience," 228.
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.
ad Lauream in Facultate S. Theologiæ apud Pontificiam Universitatem
S. Thomæ, Romæ 2001.
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).
& 9. Cf. comments of de Margerie in HD 2:202-206.
Cf. commentary of de Margerie in HD 2:206-208.
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].
Corazón de Jesús en la enseñanza de Juan Pablo II (1978-1988):
Antología de textos - Estudios
(Madrid: Instituto Internacional del Corazón de Jesús, 1990).
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.
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.
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)
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.
176-178, 375-376, 388.
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.
Latin subtitle of this document is de communi expiatione
Sacratissimo Cordi Iesu debita.
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".
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.
20 (1928) 170-171 [Plus 97-98].
20 (1928) 172.
20 (1928) 174 [Plus 101-102].
20 (1928) 177.
20 (1928) 179, 185.
2:59 [my trans.].
V/2 (1982) 1573; 1582 [ORE 734:3]. Emphasis my own.
Ignace de la Potterie, S.J., La passion de Jésus selon l'évangile
de Jean (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1986) 9-16; 186-196.
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.
VI/1 (1983) 966 [my trans.]. Emphasis my own.
Totus Tuus 82-85.
VII/2 (1984) 1684 [ORE 869:4].
X/1 (1987) 1309, 1320 [ORE 983:21].
XII/2 (1989) 498-499 [ORE 1107:1]. Emphasis my own.
48 (1956) 316; D-H #3922 [HA #21, 22]. Emphasis my
V/2 (1982) 2413 [ORE 741:2]. Emphasis my own.
XIV/1 (1991) 1840-1841 [ORE 1198:10]. Emphasis my own.
AAS 20 (1928) 178, 179 [Plus 106, 108].
XX/1 (1997) 1196-1197 [ORE 1499:9].
11-12 giugno 2001, p. 9 [ORE 1697:3]. Emphasis my own.
VIII/1 (1985) 1783 [my trans.]. Emphasis my own.
XII/2 (1989) 993-994; ORE 1114:2]. Emphasis my own.
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
Piave, 1981); Henri Arnaud, Le Choix de l'Absolu (Marseille,
1990); Paolo Risso, La Mia Vita nel Tuo Cuore (Rome:
Edizioni Dehoniane, 1996).
René Laurentin, Marie, L'Église et Le Sacerdoce I: Essai
sur le développement d'une idée religieuse (Paris: Nouvelles
Éditions Latines, 1953) 442-463.
V/2 (1982) 1573; 1582 [ORE 734:3].
Édouard Glotin, S.J., Le Coeur de Jésus: Approches anciennes et
nouvelles (Namur, Belgium: Collection Vie Consacrée #16, 1997)
AAS 20 (1928) 166, 167, 173, 177 [Plus 92, 94, 100, 105].
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.
20 (1928) 173. Here I am using the English translation provided in
tract. XXVI, 4; AAS 20 (1928) 173 [Carlen III:325].
20 (1928) 174 [Plus 101]. Emphasis my own.
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).
#3812 [TCF #661]. Emphasis my own.
48 (1956) 327-328; D-H #3924; [HA #56; TCF
Emphasis my own.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
the twentieth century papal magisterium in the human knowledge of
Christ, cf. Stackpole 278-282.
the dissent which has been mounting on this subject, cf. Stackpole
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".
the case of the virtually unanimous acceptance of this doctrine, cf.
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
XI/4 (1988) 1694-1695 [ORE 1067:1]. Emphasis my own.
XI/4 (1988) 1693 [ORE 1067:1]. Emphasis my own.
#478. Emphasis my own.
93 (2001) 282-284 [ORE 1675:V]. Emphasis my own.
20 (1928) 173. Here I am using the English translation provided in
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.
Léthel, O.C.D., L'Amour de Jésus: La christologie de sainte
Thérèse de l'Enfant-Jésus (Paris: Desclée, 1997) 211-250.
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.
48 (1956) 339 [HA #95].
20 (1928) 169 [Plus 95]. Emphasis my own.
VIII/1 (1985) 1029; ORE 883:5]. Emphasis my own.
Glotin, S.J., Il Cuore Misericordioso di Gesù (Rome:
Edizioni Dehoniane; Edizioni Apostolato della Preghiera, 1993) 69.
12 giugno 1999, p. 5 [ORE 1597:1].
II/1 (1979) 1617 [ORE 588:2]. Emphasis my own.
III/1 (1980) 1710 [ORE 637:2]. Emphasis my own.
III/2 (1980) 1520 [ORE 661:15].
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.
Le Coeur de Jésus 47-48.
2:207 [my trans.].
Thérèse de l'Enfant-Jésus et de la Sainte-Face, Oeuvres Complètes
(Paris: Éditions du Cerf, Desclée de Brouwer, 1992) 721.
20 (1928) 167, 173 [Plus 93, 100].
IX/2 (1986) 844 [ORE 960:7].
XV/1 (1992) 1662-1663 [ORE 1243:1]. Emphasis my own.
XV/1 (1992) 1676 [ORE 1244:9].
XV/1 (1992) 1675 [ORE 1244:9].
IX/2 (1986) 1378 [ORE 967:14]. Emphasis my own.
XX/1 (1997) 1424 [ORE 1496:8]. Emphasis my own.
23 giugno 1999, p. V-VI [ORE 1596:5, 6]. Emphasis in final
paragraph my own.
17 maggio 2000, pp. II, III [ORE 1643:1, 3]. Emphasis my
AAS 20 (1928) 173 [Carlen III:325].
IX/2 (1986) 843 [ORE 960:7]. Emphasis my own.
Glotin, Il Cuore Misericordioso 70.
IX/2 (1986) 700; ORE 959:13].
2:217 [my trans.].
20 (1928) 174 [Plus 101-102]. Emphasis my own.
II/1 (1979) 1602 [ORE 591:8, 10]. Emphasis my own.
XII/1 (1989) 901-902 [ORE 1088:5]. Emphasis my own.
3 dicembre 1999, p. 6 [ORE 1626:7]. Emphasis my own.
XVI/1 (1993) 36-37 [ORE 1273:1]. Emphasis my own.
XVII/1 (1994) 321 [ORE 1329:XI].
XVII/1 (1994) 838 [ORE 1335:5].
4 aprile 1999, p. 5 [ORE 1586:5].
3-4 maggio 1999, p. 10 [ORE 1590:3].
gennaio 2001, p. 5 [ORE 1677:4]. Emphasis my own.
tract. XXVI, 4; AAS 20 (1928) 173 [Carlen III:325].
12 giugno 1999, p. 5 [ORE 1597:2].
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
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