The term reparation lends itself to a variety of meanings in both the profane and religious contexts. It may signify the action of repairing or keeping in repair, and when so used by a theologian or religious writer it designates the whole work of restoring men to the friendship of god. This usage is close to the root meaning of the word, yet it is not as common as that in which reparation designates compensation for an injury. This is the usual meaning given reparation by theologians. In moral theology its use implies restitution for a personal injury for which the compensation cannot be measured exactly. In ascetical theology or devotional writing reparation designates the effort to make amends for insults given to God by sin, one's own or another's. In dogmatic theology the idea of reparation enters into the attempt to find a theological explanation of Redemption or, more specifically, to clarify the notion of satisfaction.
Related to Sin. In the history of dogma the concept of reparation is intimately bound to the notion of sin as a personal injury or insult to God (see sin, theology of). Adam had been constituted the moral head of the human race, and his sin not only alienated mankind from God but was also a personal injury or insult to God because it deprived Him of what is His by strict right. By sinning, Adam offered the supreme insult to God and accomplished the downfall of mankind. These effects of Adam's sin have, moreover, been compounded by the sins of his descendants.
Man is subject to the consequences of sin, which is a reality of his history. The first consequence of sin is guilt (called reatus culpae ), which separates man from God and makes him an enemy of his Creator. The second consequence is a penalty (reatus poenae ) for the injury done to God. Sin in the nature of things is enmity to God and must therefore be abandoned before one can be restored to His friendship. It also appears clear from the history of God's relationship to man that sin is followed by a penalty that must be paid (see e.g., Gn 3.16–19). That is to say, to obtain forgiveness reparation must be made; one must restore to God what he has deprived Him of and make amends for the insult done to Him (see, e.g., 2 Sm 24.10–25).
God's reaction to sin is often described in terms of anger and the punishment of sin as His revenge. One is face to face with a mystery that Scripture presents in metaphors. These anthropomorphic expressions are indispensable but are not meant to carry the whole burden of God's message. Misunderstanding of this has led to serious distortions of the idea of satisfaction and reparation for sin. The reformers, certain Catholic preachers, and popular spiritual writers taught that Jesus Christ became the object of the wrath of His Father and suffered the torments of the damned to satisfy retributive justice as a penal substitute for sinful man. In reaction to this distorted and exaggerated view of God's wrath, liberal Protestant theology has denied any idea of reparation.
The consideration of God's infinite holiness and His eternal immutability precludes the imperfections of retributive justice. God's love initiates all movements of reconciliation; it is not caused by them. In spite of this it is clear from the first pages of Genesis that sin is hateful to God and is punished. Even after sin was forgiven and the sinner turned again to God, punishment was often inflicted to expiate for the offense against God. The Old Testament especially points to a close connection between sin and a penalty (see Nm 16.25–35; 2 Chr 29.6–9; Ps 77 (78) and 108 (109); Jer 15.1–9).
Sin is a personal offense against God; it makes the sinner an enemy of God; it is the death of the soul and delivers the sinner into the slavery of Satan. Added to these effects, which follow upon sin, there is a debt of the sinner to God. Because the original state of friendship was completely gratuitous, its restoration when lost was completely beyond man's power. The initiative had to come from God. God planned the restoration in Jesus Christ, who for His part embraced His Father's will perfectly. Thus as the second Adam He restored all things in Himself and reversed the course of action taken by the first Adam. Further, whatever debts had been incurred were wiped out by the humble and obedient submission of Jesus to His Father's will in His Passion and death.
An Attempt to Explain. The introduction of the notion of reparation is an attempt to explain how the Passion and death of Christ effected man's Redemption. The organization and synthesis of this theology took place first in the Cur Deus Homo of St. anselm of canterbury. For him reparatory satisfaction became necessary from the fact of sin. While rejecting this note of necessity, Catholic theology has followed St. Anselm's lead in explaining the redemptive work of Christ. In the past there often was an overemphasis on the penal aspects of the material sufferings involved. The Son of God became the substitute of His fellow men as the object of the wrath of His Father. These ideas are not contained in St. Anselm nor in the works of the great scholastics, who adopted and modified his theory. Satisfaction is not punishment, nor is reparation found in the sufferings themselves but in the humility and love and obedience found in submission to the sufferings.
The Redemption is God's love in operation. The Son of God became the Son of Man to wipe out the decree against men by reversing the pride and disobedience of Adam in His humble and obedient death. In this there was vicarious satisfaction and reparation made possible by the Redeemer's identification and solidarity with the redeemed rather than by substitution. There is a judgment upon sin that Jesus Christ took upon Himself and removed from mankind. The themes of the Suffering Servant (Is ch. 53; Acts 8.32–35), the lamb of god (Jn 1.29; 1 Pt 1.19), obedience restoring what had been lost by the disobedience, all point to reparation. There is more to men's Redemption than reparation; however, there is an aspect of this saving work that can hardly be explained in any other way.
Duty. Reparation is a wider notion than that of expi ation in that its burden is not only the removal of sin and guilt and penalty, but the reestablishment of all things in Christ. The duty of reparation, then, is the obligation of a Christian to share in the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ, who, by His obedience to the will of His Father in Heaven, especially by the offering of His life on the cross, merited eternal salvation for all men. Every Christian is personally involved in Christ's sacrifice, for he is baptized in his death (Rom 6.3–4), and those who are spiritually alive through that death may not live only for themselves (2 Cor 5.15). St. Peter, therefore, offered the suffering Jesus as an example to be followed not only by the chosen few but by all who are Christians (1 Pt1.18–2.20).
This duty of sharing in the Savior's work of Redemption may be fulfilled in many ways. Such reparation is contained, actually or virtually, in the mere carrying out of the Commandments of God and of the Church. By reason of one's association in the priesthood of Christ by Baptism (see St. thomas aquinas, Summa Theologiae, 3a, 62.2), all of the day's actions can be merged with Christ's redemptive action. In this connection, recent popes have recommended the offering of the day's activities as a way to share in the reparation achieved by the Savior on the cross (e.g., Pius X, April 9, 1911, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 3:345; Pius XII, Sept. 27, 1956, ibid. 48:674–677, and May 19, 1957, ibid. 49:415). Also, attendance at Mass with the intention, even obscure, of being united to Christ's sacrifice is a special means for sharing in His work of reparation.
In modern times, especially by the renewal of the ancient devotion to the humanity of Christ (see sacred hu manity, devotion to), in the symbol of His love for man, the Sacred Heart, the Church has promoted among the faithful the practice of reparation. Many prayers of reparation, several acts of reparation, and the morning offering mentioned above have been richly indulgenced. Also, the canonization of saints, such as Rose of Lima, Thérèse of Lisieux, and Gabriel Possenti, who devoted their lives to reparation, has furthered this spirit.
See Also: resurrection of christ, 2; satisfaction of christ; soteriology; redemption.
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"Reparation." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/reparation
"Reparation." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 20, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/reparation