Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C.S.Lewis is a book I taught for years at several colleges and universities, as well as in home schooling situations.
I have been obsessed with this story and love it, considering it Lewis' masterpiece.
I am not going into all the details of the plot, but will refer merely to two of the main characters, Psyche and Orual. By the way, I have written on this book before on this blog way back before 2009 and some of my older readers may remember my comments.
For me, the most important two elements of the novel are these: first, that Pysche must do penance for disobedience, for not trusting in Cupid, and for giving in to manipulation and lies.
Second, Psyche's reparation made it possible for Orual to have an excellent life, but as she is so full of pride, denial and ingratitude, she must be brought to see her sins and that fact that Pysche did all the work of reparation so that Orual could be successful and loved.
Such is reparation in Christian terms applied to the ancient myth. Perhaps my constant returning to this book both in my private reading and in teaching (my students loved this book on the whole, btw) is connected to my now realized call to do reparation for whomever or whatever God calls me.
Orual thought her love for Pysche was pure, but it was not. However, Psyche's love for Orual was pure. She got nothing in return for her labors until the very end of the journey.
That is the point. Reparative love must be purified, completely unselfish love.
That Psyche loved Orual purely allowed her to complete the tasks, to do the reparation necessary to save Orual.
In the end, Orual realizes that she, although ugly from birth physically, is truly beautiful to the gods, as Psyche is beautiful.
Of course, allegorically, we know that Psyche is the soul of Orual.
Love and reparation create something new in a soul. This newness may be a portal, and opening wherein grace can flow, heal, deliver.
Obviously, Christ has done the work, but He calls us in that mysterious manner to share in His sufferings for a particular person or group or situation.
When one becomes joined to Christ in suffering, only love transcends the pain, and it does, bringing a peace, and, as St. Therese the Little Flower writes, "unfelt joy".
to be continued...