The Archconfraternity of the Mass of Reparation
St. Philip's Priory is the English centre of the Archconfraternity of the Mass of Reparation. Each week a Mass is offered for the aims and members of the Archconfraternity, using a beautiful chalice bestowed on the community by St. Pius Xth in 1907.
The life and acts of St. Norbert have bestowed upon him the great title of an Apostle of the Eucharistic Lord of All and devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar is an abiding characteristic of Norbertine life and spirituality.
Foundation of the Archconfraternity
The Archconfraternity of the Holy Mass of Reparation which is an association not only of lay people, but also of priests, was inspired by an humble cloistered nun of the Norbertine (Premonstratensian) Order, Sister Rose.
In studying the history of mankind, the relations between God and man, we soon notice this remarkable law, according to which, Divine Providence likes to work with humble means, which, in the eyes of men, are considered to be of no avail. Men choose those instruments which they think are the most adapted to the end in view. Divine Providence chooses, humanly speaking, the most ill-adapted, the most incapable ones in the eyes of men, but the most capable in God's eyes of confounding the proud and the great of the world. It is to make us understand that the work done is His, and that all the honour and glory (of it) ought to be given to HIM.
The humble Sister Rose was therefore chosen by Almighty God, to be the initial inspiration of this noble work of the Mass of Reparation. She died in 1882 in her convent at Bonlieu, France. Only a few years after her death, on the 27th April 1886, her noble work became an active association, and was canonically erected by the Bishop of Valence, and ultimately raised by Pontifical Brief on 24th of August of the same year, to the dignity of an Archconfraternity.
From this Norbertine Convent of Bonlieu, in the diocese of Valence, France, its activities soon spread over the world. Very soon the ancient Abbey of Tongerlo, Belgium, founded in 1130, was chosen to become a new seat of the Archconfraternity, and from there, through the zeal of Tongerlo's missionaries, it spread to one of the Abbey's new foundations in England, namely Crowle, Doncaster, Lincolnshire, where a saintly religious priest of the Order was appointed in August, 1872.
In Rev. Father Geudens, O.Praem., the Holy Mass of Reparation found a most zealous Apostle. He first established it in his little church dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament and St. Norbert, till his Lordship the Bishop of Nottingham, Dr. Bogshawe, came to erect it canonically for his diocese on 8th October, 1886. When in 1889, December 24th, a new foundation was opened, in Manchester, by the Rt. Rev. Abbot Heylen, who later became Lord Bishop of Namur and President of the International Eucharistic Congresses, Father Geudens, after 17 years of hard missionary work at Crowle, was appointed as Superior of this new mission Corpus Christi. He brought with him the work of his heart, the Holy Mass of Reparation, which, as soon as January 16th, 1890 (thus only three weeks after his arrival), was established canonically, as a Confraternity, by no less a person than his Lordship the Bishop of Salford, the Rt. Rev. Herbert Vaughan, later to be Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster.
In 1891 the Confraternity had already 7,000 members. It was due also to the support and the approbation of this Bishop that, only three years later, on the 5th March, 1893, the flourishing Confraternity was raised, by Pontifical Brief to the rank and dignity of an Archconfraternity. The field of its activities was first confined to England only. Then it was extended to Ireland and Scotland by a new Pontifical Brief of 20th July 1895. This happy event was mainly due to the influence and the patronage of His Eminence, Cardinal Logue, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, and also of His Grace, the Most Rev. Angus Macdonald, Archbishop of Edinburgh, who was in favour of this great work of Reparation. In 1908, this Archconfraternity was granted the privilege to recruit members in all countries, where there was not yet one existing. This privilege was renewed in 1920, and on the 27th April, 1923, a Pontifical Brief signed by His Holiness Pius XI, raised it to the dignity of "Arch confraternity Prima Primaria" without, however, restricting the privileges of Other Archconfraternities erected previously to this Brief.
To attain its end the Archconfraternity enrols members, zelators, honorary promoters, and benefactors and establishes local confraternities. To be enrolled as a member, nothing more is required than to forward one's Christian and surname, or religious name, to be registered on the official Register kept at St. Philip's Priory, Chelmsford, and to take upon oneself the duties of membership.
Obligation of a member consists of hearing a second Mass on a Sunday or Holyday of Obligation. Should this be too difficult, any other day of the week will suffice. If this also were inconvenient, then, a member can fulfil his/her obligation by a Holy Communion received with the intention of Reparation. With regard to priest members, they can discharge their obligation, by making a special memento of Reparation, when they celebrate Holy Mass on a day of precept. In this case, however, they are bound to offer one Holy Mass during the year for the intention of the Arch confraternity .
All members should know that (1) the . discharge of their obligation is in no way binding under sin, and (2) that there is no charge for the enrolment, although any donation is gratefully accepted (cheques payable 'Canons Regular of Prémontré), to meet expenses of postage and printing, and also, towards the weekly stipend of a Holy Mass of Reparation, offered every week at St. Philip's Priory.
To request membership please write to:
Director - Archconfraternity of the Mass of Reparation,
St. Philip's Priory,
178 New London Road,
Chelmsford CM2 0AR
or e-mail: reparation [at] praemonstratensis.co.uk
The Meaning of Reparation
In his introduction to a very illuminating book entitled, "The Idea of Reparation," the well known Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J., writes: 1. "Reparation means to restore, as for instance, in the case of a building which has crumbled down." 2. "If the object which suffered damage is no longer existing, then, reparation is used in the sense of compensation: the substitution of the equivalent." 3. If the injury is done to a person, no substitution of a material object can give adequate compensation, for this kind of damage belongs to a superior order, the moral order so that the equivalent to be substituted ought to belong to the same order. In this sense reparation will mean expiation,' which may be done by the delinquent himself, or by a third innocent party, accepted by and agreeable to the person offended." .
The Meaning of Holy Mass of Reparation
To this last order, or domain, of moral actions, belongs the Holy Mass of Reparation. But here, the injury is done to the infinite God, by one of His creatures who, deliberately and wilfully, refuse to fulfil their duty of contributing to God's external glory, by assisting at Holy Mass on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation. The nearest equivalent of a Holy Mass sinfully neglected, is another Mass freely heard by a third innocent party, in compensation for that loss of external glory caused to Almighty God by the offender. Although Almighty God is not bound to accept this noble act, still, knowing His infinite goodness, we have no reason to think that He will refuse to look kindly upon it. But, we cannot, of course, expect from His infinite goodness and justice, the remission of the guilt of the sin of the delinquent and of its punishment. For, this remission depends entirely upon the contrite disposition of the offender for the guilt of his own sin. So, Holy Mass of Reparation is, strictly speaking, a second Mass freely heard on a day of precept, or if this is impossible, during the week, in compensation for that loss of external glory which Almighty God suffers from those Catholics who, deliberately and wilfully neglect Holy Mass on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation and so deprive Him of some external glory due to Him in justice and charity .