Why Reparation To The Immaculate Heart of Mary?
The Church has dedicated the month of August 2019 to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Prof Michael Ogunu suggests various ways in which to make the devotion meaningful.
A major theme in the message of Our Lady of Fatima is the notion of making “reparation” to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Reparation can be defined as making amends for damage done to another. To make reparation, according to the common meaning of the word, is to compensate for a wrong, an injustice, or suffering caused to someone, whether through one’s own fault or through the fault of another — or even through the fault of no one at all.
Reparation is a theological concept closely connected with those of atonement and satisfaction, and thus belongs to some of the deepest mysteries of the Christian faith.
It is the teaching of that faith that the human is a creature who has fallen from an original state of justice in which he was created, and that through the incarnation, passion and death of the Son of God, man has been redeemed and restored again, in a certain degree, to the original condition.
Although God might have condoned men’s offences gratuitously if he had chosen to do so, in his providence he did not do this; he judged it better to demand satisfaction for the injuries which man had done him. It is better for man’s education that his wrong-doings should entail the necessity of making satisfaction.
This satisfaction has made the sufferings, passion and death of Jesus Christ, made man for us. By voluntary submission to his passion and death on the cross, Jesus Christ atoned for our disobedience and sin.
We are restored to grace through the merits of Christ’s death, and that grace enables us to add our prayers, labours, and trials to those of Our Lord “and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ” (Col 1:24).
We can thus make some sort of reparation to the justice of God for our own offences against him, and by virtue of the Communion of the Saints, the oneness and solidarity of the mystical Body of Christ, we can also make satisfaction and reparation for the sins of others.
Why reparation to Mary?
Why reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary? What have we done against her? How do our sins have any connection with Mary?
Reparation is made to the Immaculate Heart of Mary because of her participation in the mystery of redemption.
She participated in the act of buying the world back for God because she is the mother of the Redeemer; she prepared the Redeemer for his mission, and she united herself spiritually with the Redeemer in his act of expiation.
Consequently whatever affected her son affected Mary. All that Christ suffered, Mary felt in her heart.
Starting from the day of his birth, when he felt the chill of the cave on his tender skin, until the day that the same skin was stretched out on the cross, Mary endured with her son the cost of redemption.
Mary shared in her son’s dolorous passion. The words of the famous Lenten hymn, the “Stabat Mater” (At the Cross Her Station Keeping), sung during the Stations of the Cross, are a poignant reminder of Our Lady’s share in her son’s passion.
Every sin, mortal or venial, hampers the effects of the redemptive merits of Christ. In other words, it frustrates the divine plan of redemption in so far as those acts of sin are concerned. And just as the Sacred Heart of Jesus is injured by such offences of man, so, too, is the heart of Mary.
Besides suffering from every offence against God of whatever kind, Mary is the object of certain offences: committed directly against herself.
Among the horrendous offences committed against her are: blasphemy against her Immaculate Conception (some deny that she was conceived without original sin and say that there is nothing special about her), blasphemy against her virginity and refusal to acknowledge her divine maternity.
Other sins against the Immaculate Heart of Mary include instilling into the hearts of children indifference, scorn and even hatred against Mary, and profaning her revered images.
How to make reparation
How do we make reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary?
We can make reparation by doing the following things, among others, with the specific intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart.
- Offer Holy Mass in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
- Daily recitation of the Rosary for the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
- Saying the Prayers (Acts) of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary contained in Catholic prayer books.
- Performing acts of penance and mortification; that is, denying ourselves of some lawful pleasures.
- Fasting and abstinence, especially on Wednesdays and Saturdays (some do so on bread and water).
- Practising the Five First Saturdays Devotion of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
This consists of going to confession, receiving Holy Communion (in a state of grace), praying the five decades of the Rosary and keeping Our Lady company for 15 minutes meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, all with the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the First Saturdays of five consecutive months.
- Faithful fulfilment of our daily duties as required by our state of life.
- Imitating the Blessed Virgin Mary by practising her virtues which include humility, purity, obedience (submission to God’s will in all things), charity and prayerfulness.
- Placing a picture or statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in a special place of honour in our homes or community and consecrating ourselves and our families/members of our community to her Immaculate Heart.
Message from Our Lady
In the second apparition to the three shepherd children of Fatima—Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta—the Mother of God herself told Lucia:
“Jesus wishes to make use of you to make me known and loved. He wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. To those who embrace it, I promise salvation. And these souls will be beloved by God like flowers placed by me to adorn his throne.”
Like Sr Lucia, let us practise and promote devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary through acts of reparation and consecration to the Immaculate Heart.
Prof Michael Ogunu is the president of the executive board of the World Apostolate of Fatima for Africa and coordinator of the Fatima Apostolate in Africa. He is also the author of the book Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary: Practices and Prayers, published in 2018. To Order, click here