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Chapter 5



Trials and tribulations offer us
a chance to make reparation
for our past faults and sins.
On such occasions the Lord
comes to us like a physician
to heal the wounds left by our sins.
Tribulation is the divine medicine.
—St. Augustine



  Reparation is any action or suffering that makes up for the damage done by sin.  Sin hurts our own soul and the souls of others.  It also hurts our body and the bodies of others, either directly, through physical harm, or indirectly, through the wounded soul, for disorder in the soul causes disorder in the bodily senses, feelings and passions.  When united to Christ Crucified, all that we suffer or go through as a result of doing and accepting God’s will repairs the damage done by sin.  To one degree or another, it heals the soul, senses and emotions, both our own and that of others.  It helps restore the internal and external order.  Ultimately, it brings peace, for peace is “the tranquility of order.” (St. Augustine)  For those souls in glory, the resurrection of the body will make that peace complete in a supereminent manner.

Furthermore, sin is an offense against God.  We do not love Him as He deserves.  Only by sacrifice and suffering can we clean up our way of loving and make reparation for the selfishness of sin.  We do not suffer as much as we deserve, which would be hell for all eternity for sinning against His infinite majesty.  God’s mercy tempers His justice in that He allows the sacrifice and suffering of His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay most of the debt and to remove all of the guilt.  The guilt of our sin is forgiven, if we are truly repentant, by the power of Christ’s death and resurrection, but God still leaves to us a certain amount of suffering to be endured and actions to be performed in union with Christ our Lord, to purify our soul of sin, repair the damage done therefrom, and sanctify the Mystical Body of Christ.  “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and in my flesh I fill up what is still lacking in the sufferings of Christ, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” (Col. 1:24)  Although the sufferings of Christ, who is divine, were more than enough to pay off the debt of every sin that ever was or will be, yet He allows us to share in the work of our own sanctification and salvation as well as that of others, winning graces for them, by our suffering and sacrifice in union with Him. (Phil. 2:12)  In this we see that God respects our human dignity.  We are truly free and responsible for our own actions, which have real consequences for good or ill.  At the same time, God is very merciful to sinners who suffer from unfavorable circumstances or situations which they did not create, such as family history, weakness or ignorance.  “Where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more.” (Rom. 5:20)  Even if they are responsible for the mess that they are in, if they turn to the Lord in humility, He will free them eventually.  “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)  This is why only God really knows what it takes to set the record straight, heal our soul, and make us whole.

The penance that the priest gives you in Confession is only symbolic of the total reparation required by Divine Providence.  It shows your willingness to do God’s will and make things right, and opens your soul to the fullness of forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance / Confession).  After Confession, you are forgiven, but the damage done by sin still remains to some degree.  Divine Providence, what God allows or brings about, will provide all the means necessary (including Purgatory, if this life is not enough) for making reparation and doing penance for past sins and their effects.  There is justice in the universe.  Thank God, there is also mercy.


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