Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies

Missale Romanum 1970 - MR' 70

As we have now entered June, the month traditionally designated for devotion to Our Lord’s Sacred Heart, we turn to the classic Collect for the feast of the Sacred Heart, which occurs on the Friday after the Second Sunday after Pentecost. The Latin Collect is the same in both forms of the Roman Rite. The following is the 2010 ICEL translation of this prayer in the MR’70:

“O God, who in the Heart of your Son, wounded by our sins, bestow on us in mercy the boundless treasures of Your love, grant, we pray, that, in paying Him the homage of our devotion we may also offer worthy reparation. Through our Lord, etc. Amen.”

The technical (and more literal) term underlying the English word “reparation” here is satisfaction, which literally means “to make or do enough.” Our Collect is asking God that, while we show devoted love for Jesus, thanking Him for his infinite love for us, we may also undertake due penance for our sins. When we understand the concrete and destructive reality of sin- especially when we consider what it did to Jesus (i.e., His pierced Heart, “wounded by our sins”)- we can then see how satisfaction is integral to the Christian life, and even come to love it, when we see its divine origin and ultimate purpose.

Perhaps the best place to begin is Catechism of the Catholic Church nos. 1459-60, which explain the reality of satisfaction:

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: “[Penance].....can consist of prayer, an offering, works of mercy, service of neighbor, voluntary selfdenial, 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...” 

Sin can both weaken and destroy charity, i.e., love, both for God and neighbor (cf. Catechism nos. 1861-3; 1472-3). Even when we are in the state of grace, the effect of our venial sins entails the weakening and damaging of our charity, to our dismay. From this, it is quite plain why we need a continual influx of God’s grace in the Sacraments and in daily prayer. A simple examination of conscience, as well as a quick scan of the daily news makes these truths manifestly clear. Everyone needs the grace that Christ alone offers in his Church. Only the Son of God makes up sufficiently and super-abundantly for the deprivation in charity caused by human sin, reconciling man to the Father in Himself by His sacrificial Death (cf. Catechism nos. 614-15). This does not mean, however, that there is nothing left for us to do for our own sanctification, as is clear from the Catechism excerpts printed above. Holiness is nothing less than “the perfection of charity” and therefore, it demands “renunciation and spiritual battle” on our part (cf. Catechism nos. 2013, 14; 1264). 

Satisfaction, then, is about making up for the concrete deprivations of charity toward God and neighbor caused by our sins. In technical terms, it is about expiating the temporal punishment which is intrinsic to sin itself (cf. Catechism nos. 1472-3, 1863). Satisfaction is a dynamic participation, then, in Christ’s creative and restorative work of perfecting the image of God in man. Put plainly, it’s all about love - better, deeper, and more perfect love for God and neighborand so, it can, and should be, embraced as a “grace” (cf. Catechism nos. 2014, 1473).  


(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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