Wednesday, 27 May 2015
Sister Saint-Pierre and the work of reparation : a brief history by the Very Rev. P. Janvier ... Translated by Miss Mary Hoffman Chapter 6. The Archconfraternity Of The Reparation.
THE 7th of March, 1847, our Lord said to his faithful servant : " Rejoice, my daughter ; the hour approaches when that most beautiful work under the sun is to appear." As the Sister was much troubled concerning the many obstacles to be overcome, the Divine Saviour said to her: " These obstacles are only the mist of a morning ushering in a fine day."
A question rises here regarding the Work of Reparation through the Holy Face. Without doubt the Redemption wrought upon the Cross is, and always will be, the masterpiece of Divine Wisdom and Divine Love; but the Reparation asked by the Saviour of Marie de Saint-Pierre is so intimately, connected with the Redemption of man, so identified with the expiation of Calvary, that we may truly consider it an application of the same; and thus, notwithstanding the feebleness and unworthiness of the instruments employed, it is in reality " the most beautiful of works, the most necessary for the needs of the age in which we live.'
The day, in fact, was fast approaching when this Work would be definitely established.
The Confraternity not having been instituted at Tours in the manner the Lord wished, the Holy Virgin of La Salette, the 19th of September, came herself in person to begin it. Sister Saint-Pierre had solicited the intervention of Mary, and Mary, our merciful Mother, announced it. " His grace," says Sister Saint-Pierre, " coming to no decision, I appealed to Mary. I clearly saw there was no hope but in her intercession; daily I recited the chaplet to obtain the establishment of the Work. I longed to proclaim it throughout France and make known to my country the misfortunes which threatened her. Oh! how I suffered in being the sole depositary of so important a thing!" " Holy Virgin," she again exclaimed, "appear in the world, make known to some one that which has been communicated to me concerning France." When the pious Sister heard that the august Queen of Heaven had spoken to the little shepherds of the Alps, Maximin and Melanie, in transports she cried: " O Virgin Mother of my God! I thank thee for having given me these two little shepherds as sounding trumpets to echo from the mountain to the ears of France all that has been revealed to me in solitude."
And again : " The voice of my dear little associates has been heard throughout the world. Let us pray, let us weep for our sins. The time is not far distant when France will be shaken to her foundations. But she will not be engulfed, if before the eyes of the Lord appears the Work of Reparation. She, who was to be utterly destroyed, will be only lightly chastised." In fact, in less than a year after—and perhaps to this we owe our continued existence—the Work was earnestly begun. Mgr. Parisis, Bishop of Langres, having heard of the projected "Work, took a lively interest in forwarding it as much as possible. His zeal for the Holy Name of God made him labor with much ardor for the establishment of the Association; his efforts were crowned with success. He wrote to Mgr. Morlot, Archbishop of Tours, who, still judging that it was not opportune to pronounce judgment, left the initiative of the Work to the Bishop of Langres, being all the more willing to do this as Langres was his (Mgr. Morlot's) birthplace.
A Confraternity of Reparation was then canonically established at St. Dizier in the church of St. Martin of Lanoue. Reverend M. l'Abbe Marche, its pastor, was sent to Rome to solicit, in behalf of the Association, the title of Arch confraternity, together with some indulgences. Pius IX. received the petitions with the most ardent enthusiasm, and it was on this occasion he made use of the words that have been so often quoted: " Reparation is a work destined to save society." He granted the requested indulgences, and by a brief dated July 30, 1847, raised the Association of Reparation established at St. Dizier to the dignity of an Archconfraternity, with the right of aggregating throughout the Catholic world similar associations ; and His Holiness requested that his name should be the first subscribed on the register of membership— a signal privilege, which was to be the seed of wonderful benedictions.
The Confraternity of the Reparation answered so well the need of our times, and was so evidently the work of God, that from its very commencement it spread like a fire among dry reeds.
Nevertheless it had for its centre only the second parish of a small town, in a. diocese far from the place where the communications had been made. Besides, the episcopal ordinance of Langres had made no mention of the cultus of the Holy Face indicated as the sensible object of the Reparation. Consequently, though the canonical erection of the Archconfraternity of the Reparation filled the pious Sister with joy, she yet said, "My heart is not entirely satisfied; for in this work the Church of Tours, the heritage of the great St. Martin, still remains inactive. When will it bring forth the fruit which has been conceived in its midst?"
She was not to see the fulfilment of this legitimate desire; her earthly pilgrimage was drawing to a close. Still the future welfare of her country was ever before her, and she ceased not most earnestly to pray for its salvation.
On the 2d of December our Lord appeared to her covered with wounds. u He made me," she says, "hear these sorrowful words : ' The Jews crucified me on Friday; hut the Christians crucify me on Sunday. Ask them in my name, at least for this diocese of Tours, the establishment of the Work of Reparation, in order that my friends may embalm my Wounds by pious expiations and obtain mercy for the guilty. My daughter, the storm is already threatening, but I shall keep my promise if my wishes be accomplished. Speak with humility and at the same time with holy liberty.'"
The storm of which the Saviour spoke was indeed at hand. Two months later it was to burst forth in all its fury. This the Divine Master clearly announced to his servant in a communication of the 13th of February.
"Our Lord," she says, "has made known to me in these words the terrible woes impending over us : ' The Church is threatened with a fearful tempest Pray, pray ! ' It is impossible," she adds, " to describe the touching and impressive accents with which this charitable Saviour said to me, ' Pray, pray!' "
This prediction was, indeed, verified in 1848, in the epoch usually called Days of February ', by an unexpected Revolution which hurled Louis Philippe from his throne, made France a Republic, and shook all Europe, particularly Rome, which Pius IX. was obliged to leave and seek refuge in Gaeta.
The soul of the Sister was in anguish. " Ah!" she cried, " the Lord has long asked of France a Work which would be for her a rainbow of mercy. Happily, the work has been inaugurated, and its influence is being felt; but it is yet too feeble to arrest the wrath of the Omnipotent. Ah! if it were but extended to all the dioceses I should be without uneasiness, for God is faithful to his promises." She adds : " Oh ! how I wish to make known to all the bishops this consoling truth, and entreat them in this great crisis to aid in the "Work of Reparation. I have always said it, and I again repeat it: It is this Work which is to disarm the justice of God and save France and the world! Happy if they know how to profit by this means of salvation !"
" Nothing," she further says, " is more efficacious to disarm the irritated justice of God than to offer him this Most Holy Face, which has taken upon its Head the thorns of our sins, and has exposed itself to the strokes of that same justice. It has cancelled our debts, it is our security ; whence our amiable Saviour has commanded me, notwithstanding my unworthiness, to keep myself constantly before the throne of his Father, offering him this Divine Face, the object of his complacency. And this tender Saviour has made me the consoling promise: ' Every time you offer my Face to my Father I will open my Mouth to demand mercy.'
The good Jesus has also promised to have pity on France. Let us, then, have great confidence; his all-powerful Name will be our buckler, and his Adorable Face our rampart. And he made me also understand that he wished this devotion to his Adorable Face rapidly and widely extended. O good Jesus! hide us in the secret of thy Holy Face, that it may be for us an impregnable tower, a fortress against the attacks of our enemies." One day after Holy Communion our Lord appeared in the interior of her soul as he is represented in the Ecce Homo. "He at first attracted my attention," she says, "'upon the contemplation of his Holy Face. Soon he directed it to the reed he held in his Hand, and presented it to me to combat the enemies of the Church, promising me they would feel my blows.
He made me understand that this feeble reed was the figure of my soul. Yes, I am only a feeble reed, but in the Hand of Jesus Christ, my Spouse, becoming most powerful against his adversaries, I shall say with faith and confidence: "O malice of the demon, vanish before the reed of Jesus Christ!'
"Eternal Father, I offer thee the Most Holy Face of Jesus. It is a mysterious coin of infinite value which alone can cancel our debts. Eternal Father, I offer thee the Most Holy Face of Jesus to appease thy wrath. Remember it has borne the thorns of our sins, and the blows of thy justice, of which it still bears the marks. Behold those Divine Wounds of whose voice I wish to be the echo; they incessantly cry, ' Mercy, mercy, mercy for sinners !'"
With these words she bowed her face to the earth, saying, " Lord, I merit only hell!" The Good Master answered: " I have applied to your soul the virtue of my Face, to restore therein the image of God. Those who will contemplate the wounds of my Face on earth shall one day contemplate it radiant with glory in heaven."
" At that moment," says the Sister, " I was on Thabor and would fain have repeated with the Apostle St. Peter : ' Lord, it is good to be here. Let us make three tabernacles for the three powers of my soul, that it may always enjoy this sweet repose which infinitely surpasses all the pleasures of earth.' But our Lord made me understand that his true spouses should prefer the heat of combat to the repose of contemplation, and should not shrink from throwing themselves into the conflict to defend his glory."
It was after these divine consolations that Marie de Saint-Pierre composed as by inspiration those beautiful invocations of the " Adorable Face of our Lord" improperly called the "Litany." They are jets of light, cries of love, a kind of spiritual poem to the glorification of the Holy Face, which she is pleased to consider under its different aspects—joyous, sorrowful, glorious, merciful, and terrible. At the end of her writings, in a hymn of thanksgiving, she particularly thanks our Lord "for having made her the gift of his Divine Face, so suitable to appease the justice of the celestial Father, and from which flows a precious Blood which assures us of eternal life." She adds: " O blessed, holy angels ! thank Jesus and Mary for me, who have heaped favors upon me, and draw me to heaven, in order that I may, notwithstanding my unworthiness, sing eternally with you a hymn of gratitude for all the graces I have received from my God, and, above all, for the Work of Reparation which his mercy has established in France."