What is the supreme expression of love for us, for fallen, sinful mankind? Reparation. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross is the supreme act of charity. And this loving act is an act of atonement and reparation for the injustice that had been committed.
Charity with respect to sin and the sinner is expressed in atonement: for someone who loves and has the misfortune of having offended the beloved can continue to speak about love only if this injustice has been atoned for and the obstacle to love has been removed. This is precisely the central message of Fatima.
Already during the apparition of the angel this theme was expressly mentioned: first the angel asks the children to pray in reparation, and in the second apparition he asks them to make sacrifices, and in the third he introduces them to the greatest act of atonement, the only one worthy of God: the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
The Angel’s Prayer is a prayer of reparation for our “offenses, sacrileges and indifference”. During the third apparition, as the children were receiving the mystical Communion, the angel said directly: “Eat the Body and drink the Blood of Jesus Christ, who is terribly offended by ungrateful men. Atone for their crimes and console your God.”
On June 13, 1917, Mary showed the children her Heart, which was unceasingly pierced by thorns. “We understood that this was the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which was offended by the sins of mankind and demanded reparation.”
The result of this vision for the three children was an intimate knowledge and a deep love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary. “From that day on we felt in our hearts a much more ardent love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”
And how did the children express this love? Precisely in acts of atonement and reparation. Love wants to make reparation for the evil that is committed against Mary. Reparation is the annihilation of the wrong that has been done, the restoration of wholeness, the healing of the injured heart.
But this reparation is not only an act of heroic and pure love for God and the Immaculata; it is also the summit of true love of neighbor. The latter consists of wishing our neighbor what is best, loving him as Christ loved him, and consequently desiring his happiness, his salvation and doing everything possible so that he attains this salvation.
But as we are all sinners, the act of love towards our brethren is reparation for their sins and the request that God might let His mercy shine upon him.
Christ Himself explained this purpose of the devotion to Sr. Lucia: “My daughter, the reason why the Immaculate Heart of Mary inspired Me to request this little act of reparation was to stir up My mercy with regard to this reparation, so as to forgive souls that have had the misfortune of offending it. But you, through your prayers and sacrifices, seek unceasingly to fan the flames of My mercy for these poor souls.”
In Fatima, in our time, when “charity grows cold” in many people, God once again fans the flames of the love that is most fitting for us poor sinners: reparation!
And just as a son can sooner tolerate being insulted himself than listening to someone revile his beloved mother, so Christ is infinitely pleased with reparation for the sins that are committed against His most Blessed Mother.
And if our love for Mary is enkindled in this way, then Mary can unite herself completely with us and lead us to the summit of love for God and neighbor.