THE REPARATION IN THE LIFE OF MOTHER CLELIA
“When divine love takes possession of a heart, it awakens in it a great desire to see its God known, loved, and served. Such a soul anguishes and suffers for the offenses others commit toward His divine Heart, which is so full of love and tenderness for everyone. That soul becomes fully determined to win back those sinners who have abandoned Him.” (Mother Clelia)
Testimony from the Positio
Reparation is an essential but often misunderstood aspect of Sacred Heart spirituality. Jesus Christ, in his life, ministry, death, and resurrection, accomplished once and for all the full ‘repair’ of humanity’s broken union with God resulting from sin. We recognize in Jesus’ Paschal act of love his invitation to us to make reparation by “returning love for Love.”
The spirit of reparation permeated every aspect of Mother Clelia’s life: her acceptance of suffering, her prayer, her relationships with her sisters and all whom she met.
Contemplating the Heart of Christ, she drew from the fountain of his love and was ready to witness to that Love everywhere with her words and with her life. In this way, a Sister Apostle would become a repairer, whose primary aim was to restore the Reign of God in the world through her very life.
Reparation in Mother Clelia’s personal suffering and inner life
Mother Clelia implicitly understood reparation as a response of love to the One Who loves us and loved us to the last drop of His Blood and with His last breath. He gave His all, until there was nothing more to give. Love calls forth love! How can we not want to return love for Love? She knew that the Way of the Cross was the Way of Love for Jesus, for herself and for all who obey the command: “Take up your cross and follow me.”
Mother Clelia taught:
The entire life of Jesus Christ was a cross and a martyrdom. Ours must resemble it. The entire Christian and religious life must be a life of victimhood and sacrifice.
Remember, my daughter, that you should have no other aim than that of immolating yourself with your Spouse Jesus. The bride should not be greater than the bridegroom; thus, your duty is to follow Him wherever He goes, to help Him in everything He does and to want to be, like Jesus, a victim for the salvation of the members of the Masonic sects.
You could not give Jesus more certain proof of your esteem and your love than by making yourself like Him, since we tend to imitate those we esteem. This is precisely because love transforms the lover into the person loved. What a great honor for you to be loved by God, to live as His Divine Son lived, to speak, work, and suffer like Him.
In the Manuscript Directory (On Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus), Mother Clelia wrote of the Apostle:
She will offer herself as a victim of praise and reparation for the sins of all men. Doing this, nothing more will she desire than that supreme moment, when she can find herself in the Heart of Jesus, there to live with Him forever in the splendor of His Kingdom.
In her Diary: You wish to take me and all that I possess, O Jesus, you ask that I have nothing, neither that which I do, nor that which I suffer; I must leave everything to Your disposition for you to dispose of as you see fit…for the benefit of those souls whose conversion you desire. Here I am, O Lord, ready to fulfill with the aid of Your divine grace, all that you want and desire of me. You…promise to bestow your choicest blessings upon me…which will enable me to participate in the joy of co-redemption, sacrificing all that I have, all that I can do, and all that I am, for the good of poor souls, so that they will obtain sincere sorrow and repentance from Your merciful and Divine Heart.
Reparation in Mother Clelia’s life of prayer
Pray, daughters, for so many of your brothers who never pray!….Praise, bless, thank and love the Lord even for those who do not know and love Him!
These words of Mother Clelia to her spiritual daughters reveal the spirit of reparation that characterized her life of prayer and her relationship with God. They recall the sentiments of St. Bernard who asked, “How can Love not be loved?” Mother Clelia’s response is clear: Pray in place of those who do not pray, love God in their place, adore and glorify God in their place. Repair the loving Heart of God by offering to Him all His beloved. He wants them close to Him; He wants them united with Him. Offer them to Him.
Mother Clelia exhorted her Sisters to visit the Blessed Sacrament often during the day, telling them that these visits were to make up for the negligence of others in this regard. She exhorted them to pray for everyone… and to console the Heart of Jesus, repairing the ingratitude, indifference, and the blasphemies of those who are far from God. In this way both she and her Sisters became bearers of this message, a message which for today’s world is of fundamental importance when one thinks of how much God’s love is offended.
From her childhood, Clelia felt intensely the pain of her father’s separation from the Church and offered her life and prayers for his conversion.
A witness states: From the moment Mother Clelia understood what sin was, she decided to offer her life for the conversion of sinners, first among them her father, who was a Freemason.
As Foundress, she continued to exemplify this burning desire that all souls return to that Heart, broken for love of us and yearning to be loved in return.
Another witness states:
The Servant of God was aflame with zeal for souls and concerned for their eternal salvation. She prayed constantly for sinners.
In her personal prayer, she was extravagant in expressing her love for Jesus and the desire that He be loved in return: O Most Precious Blood of Eternal Life,…I profoundly adore you, and I would wish, as far as it were possible, to repay you for the injuries and the rebukes you continually receive from human creatures, and especially from those who boldly curse you. And who would not bless this blood of infinite value? Who would not feel inflamed with love for Jesus who shed it?… O immense love which has given us this most saving balm! O priceless balm drawn from the fount of an immense love, deign that all hearts, all tongues may praise you, honor you and thank you now and always.
At the same time, Mother Clelia understood well that only united with the prayer of Jesus does our prayer become reparative: Unite your prayer to that of Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament and offer God the action of your divine Spouse Jesus, to make reparation for every defect…you have committed; unite your praise to that of Jesus and, uniting yourself to his holy intentions, offer them to the Divine Father in place of your own.
Mother Clelia persisted in this spirit of reparative prayer until her last days. Having returned to the Congregation after twelve years in exile, she spent her last two and a half years of earthly existence in a room in the Generalate adjacent to the Chapel balcony, enabling her to participate in the community prayers and to adore the Eucharist throughout the day. Her prayer, united to the heroic suffering of the final stage of her life, enfleshed her spirit of penance in reparation for priests and certainly for all those who had wandered far from the Heart of her beloved Jesus.
May my beloved Jesus, who has saved us by his Precious Blood, be forever blessed and thanked.
Reparation and Relationships in Mother Clelia’s Life
Mother Clelia recognized the broken heart of Christ in the sick, the poor, the suffering, and the needy, which moved her to tend to these members of the Body of Christ in ways that would help ease their suffering.
“Mother Clelia sought to console and relieve the suffering of all who came into contact with her.”
“Her charity toward the sick was exceptional. She was deeply pained by the suffering of others and procured every means to alleviate it.”
Perhaps even more nobly, Mother Clelia recognized in her mistreatment from her own Sisters and from the Church an opportunity to forgive and to extend mercy as an act of reparation. When the administrator of her father’s patrimony, “Father X,” (she refused to defame his reputation by divulging his name) used the money of the Congregation for his own purposes, leaving Mother Clelia and her Sisters bankrupt, when the Church removed her from leadership in the Congregation she had founded, and even when the actions of her own Sisters forced her into exile, Mother Clelia responded with tender love.
She did not misrepresent the truth of what happened, ready as she was to be the first to admit her failings and, consequently, to repent and seek to repair them. She was likewise no less ready to pardon those who caused her so much suffering, especially during the financial disaster. She offered to Christ a tender response of love toward the persons who had hurt her, in particular the priest who squandered her inheritance.
Mother Clelia’s love for the Sacred Heart sharpened her ability to focus on God alone, ignoring the distractions of blame, resentment, and self-pity. When she experienced hurt or when her heart was wounded by the ones she loved, she serenely turned to Jesus and united her suffering to His, finding in Him a support, a defense, and a comfort.
Mother Clelia lived for “God alone!” She was in love with God, lived for God. Her whole life was centered on love for the Heart of Jesus, on reparation. To Him and for Him she offered a heart full of love, providing balm to the wounded Heart of Christ—a true act of love and reparation. Her example teaches us all how to be so rooted in Love that our words and actions become sources of healing for a broken world.
For personal reflection:
1. Where do I see the broken Heart of Christ visible in my own life and relationships?
2. How might Mother Clelia’s example of “returning love for Love” help me?
3. To what concrete action of love and reparation might the Sacred Heart be inviting me?
4. How is the Way of the Cross a Way of Love for me?