As we continue to give special consideration during this Month of July to the Mystery of Christ’s Most Precious Blood as the Price of our Redemption, we do well to think on the concept of “atonement”. It is central to the religious faith of Christianity. Without it Christianity collapses in on itself and ends up—at best—as a merely ethical attitude towards life, rich in cultural patrimony to be sure but nonetheless incoherent at its core.

The Death of Jesus Christ by Roman crucifixion is first and foremost a theological Mystery, contradicting and confounding all human understanding. Any other insight we can derive about the human condition from the unjust putting-to-death of Jesus is secondary and incidental to the Mystery.

Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross was an Atonement for sin-guilt. It was a vicarious universal expiation, a satisfaction for all the sins of mankind. We can never repeat this enough: "Jesus Christ, though He was Himself innocent and just, free from any sin whatsoever, He became sin for us.” What a statement! “He became sin for us.”  

God became man in order to carry out an atoning sacrifice for the sin-guilt of all mankind. Jesus willingly sacrificed the life of His human nature to appease the Justice of God. His terrible death on that Cross was therefore a saving death—for us. He died there on Mount Calvary so that we would not have to die the eternal death. Simply put, without the Atonement there could be no supernatural life in Heaven for us. As with the people in the Bible before Christ, when you died you went down to Sheol, that is, to the netherworld, the place of the dead.

Without the Atonement, Divine Mercy would be only a fiction, a euphemism for a general amnesty covering up injustice, along the lines of the thief who exclaims, “I love committing crimes, God loves pardoning them—indeed things are admirably arranged!" 

With the Atonement, however, the scales of Justice have been balanced, and so therefore the Divine Mercy is offered to the presently guilty in the world for a time, in order that they may repent before their bodily death decides the matter once and for all. The last thing we ever need to worry about is sin going unpunished.  

On the site of the former Nazi concentration camp at Dachau there is a Carmel of nuns who dedicate their cloistered lives of prayer and sacrifice in atonement for the unspeakable crimes committed there between 1933-1945. This Carmel was established in the 1960s. It is dedicated to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus. Its mission?

All sufferings of the world should be incorporated in Jesus Christ, in this Jesus who conquered death by shedding His Blood on the Cross, and in whom alone all concentrated sufferings of all time can be reconciled and changed. The love of Jesus Christ shows the triumph over the infernal hatred of all times, a triumph of divine love in which all can participate already in faith. (“The Meaning of Praying Service of the Carmelites at Carmel Precious Blood, Dachau”)

(Fr. Higgins)

About Our Parish

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is Newton and Needham Massachusetts's oldest Roman Catholic Parish. Founded as Saint Mary's Parish in 1870 it was renamed "Mary Immaculate of Lourdes" when the new Church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. In addition to being a regular territorial parish of the Archdiocese of Boston it is also a "Mission Parish" since 2007 with a special apostolate for the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal).

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"If you are willing to serenely bear the trial of being displeasing to yourself, then you will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter."
- St. Therese of Lisieux (+1897)

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