Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies


For today’s meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider the Collect for the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Missale Romanum 1962 edition. Below is the English translation of this prayer in the Angelus Press edition of the Roman Catholic Daily Missal:

“O God, Who in the Heart of Thy Son, wounded by our sins, dost mercifully bestow on us infinite treasures of love: grant, we beseech Thee, that whilst we render It the devout homage of our affection, we may also fulfill our duty of worthy satisfaction. Through the same Our Lord, etc. Amen.”

The ascription clause in this Collect summarizes the meaning of St. John’s testimony at the foot of the Cross: “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water” (Jn. 19:34, RSV). This outflow of Blood and Water indicates to us so perfectly the efficacy and superabundance of God’s grace which utterly trumps human sin, especially by means of the Sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. As St. Paul proclaims, “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (cf. Rom. 5:20, RSV). Thus, our thankful adoration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is indeed adoration of Christ Himself, since His heart is the “chief sign” of His love for us (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 478). 

On the basis of the Good News enshrined in this ascription clause, then, the motive clause indicates that our devoted homage to the Sacred Heart reflects what St. John teaches in his First Epistle: “We love, because He first loved us” (cf. 1 Jn. 4:19, RSV). At the same time, this devotion is not only an expression of our thanksgiving, even if this is the primary motivation. In the petition, we ask God that He may help us worthily to fulfill our duty (officium) of satisfaction for our sins. Catechism nos. 1459-60 offers a sound explanation of this point:

1459 Many sins wrong our neighbor. One must do what is possible in order to repair the harm (e.g., return stolen goods, restore the reputation of someone slandered, pay compensation for injuries). Simple justice requires as much. But sin also injures and weakens the sinner himself, as well as his relationships with God and neighbor. Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused. Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must "make satisfaction for" or "expiate" his sins. This satisfaction is also called "penance."

1460 The penance the confessor imposes must take into account the penitent's personal situation and must seek his spiritual good. It must correspond as far as possible with the gravity and nature of the sins committed. It can consist of prayer, an offering, works of mercy, service of neighbor, voluntary self-denial, sacrifices, and above all the patient acceptance of the cross we must bear. Such penances help configure us to Christ, who alone expiated our sins once for all. They allow us to become co-heirs with the risen Christ, "provided we suffer with him." ‘

The satisfaction that we make for our sins, however, is not so much ours as though it were not done through Jesus Christ. We who can do nothing ourselves, as if just by ourselves, can do all things with the cooperation of "Him who strengthens" us. Thus man has nothing of which to boast, but all our boasting is in Christ . . . in whom we make satisfaction by bringing forth "fruits that befit repentance." These fruits have their efficacy from Him, by Him they are offered to the Father, and through Him they are accepted by the Father.’ [this inset paragraph is a quotation from the Council of Trent]  

(David Allen)

Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.


About Our Parish

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is Newton and Needham Massachusetts's oldest Roman Catholic Parish. Founded as Saint Mary's Parish in 1870 it was renamed "Mary Immaculate of Lourdes" when the new Church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. In addition to being a regular territorial parish of the Archdiocese of Boston it is also a "Mission Parish" since 2007 with a special apostolate for the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal).

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