Monday, 27 February 2012

Lent, reparation and expiation

Reading St. Mary Margaret's accounts of her experiences and reflecting on the devotion to the Sacred Heart which spread out from Paray-le-Monial, we are reminded of how central the ideas of reparation and expiation are in our relationship to the Heart of Jesus.  Taking a teilhardian perspective on the Sacred Heart does not mean that we should ignore these aspects of the devotion- but rather put them into a more cosmic or universal perspective.   We only have to read some of Teilhard's prayers to the Sacred Heart to see that reparation and expiation  were part of his devotion: his view was, however, that they should not overshadow or over-sentimentalise the Sacred Heart.    In the Scared Heart we are shown the great truth of our faith: that God is love and that this love is made incarnate in Jesus.   And, Jesus loves us as individuals and wants us to be complete as individuals - but that this can only come about when we are one with him, as HE is one with His  Father.   God loves us with a human heart.  Reflecting upon this over the past few days so many memories stirred in my mind of the times when some kindness or love that I might have done was met with ingratitude, or worse.   The feeling you experience is one of being hurt.   Equally, the times when I have been ungrateful for an act of kindness and love from someone else must have also caused people the same sense of hurt.  What is it that the song says: 'we always hurt the ones we love, the ones we shouldn't hurt at all.' ?    And yet that is what we do time after time.  When we do this we have to make amends, and some how wash away and cleanse  that injury- otherwise it will fester and become a sore and eat like a cancer into our relationship.  God loves us in a way we can understand: with a human heart.  It seems to me that Lent is a time to face up to the hurt we have inflicted - individually and collectively- on the loving heart of Christ.   In any relationship which has been wounded or damaged, the admission that we are sorry and that we will make amends is necessary for that relationship to be repaired.  Lent is a time to reflect on our relationship with a God who loves us with an almighty fire, and yet we remain, in the words of another song ( A fine romance)  as 'cold as yesterday's mashed potatoes'.   Lent is a period to repent of our indifference and coldness and allow our hearts to be open to the fire of God's love.  But to do that we have to ask for the mercy of God and be sorry and make amends.  In Lent we have to starve the self, and starve our sins.

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