Choose Your Weapon for Battle – The Rosary

Is there anyone who doubts that a spiritual battle between light and darkness is raging in the Church and in the world? The last words of G.K. Chesterton as he lay dying come to mind: “The issue is now quite clear. It is between light and darkness and everyone must choose his side.” The weapon of choice for the saints of the Church is, of course, the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Contemplating the Face of Christ with Mary

When he placed the New Millennium under “the Radiant sign of the Face of Christ” Pope St. John Paul II wrote:

“To contemplate the Face of Christ, and to contemplate it with Mary, is the ‘program’ which I have set before the Church at the dawn of the third millennium…It is the Church’s task to reflect the light of Christ in every historical period, to make His Face shine also before new generations of the new millennium. Our witness, however, would be hopelessly inadequate if we ourselves had not first contemplated His Face.” 

The Rosary is a traditional Christian prayer directed to the contemplation of Christ’s Face. “Without contemplation, the Rosary is a body without a soul,” says Pope St. John Paul II, “and runs the risk of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas, in violation of the admonition of Christ.”

Contemplation is a gift, a grace, from God. It is a communion in which God transforms a soul into His likeness. To put it more simply, as St. Teresa of Jesus says, contemplation is “a close sharing between friends…taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.”  Contemplation is not something beyond our reach however–we have an incomparable model in Mary; the eyes of her heart were always turned toward His Face. To dispose our souls to receive this great gift of God we need only reach for a Rosary and pray it with humility, listening attentively in the Spirit together with Mary, in silent love–that veil of mystery–to the Father’s voice. When we contemplate the scenes or mysteries of the Rosary in union with Mary, the Rosary becomes an unceasing praise of God; a way to learn from her about her son, Jesus, to discover His secrets and understand His message for us.

To recite the Rosary, which can be called a compendium of the Gospel, Pope St. John Paul II says, “is to contemplate the Face of Christ in union with, and at the school of, His Most Holy Mother…Against the background of the words of the Ave Maria the principal events of the life of Jesus Christ pass before the eyes of the soul. They take shape in the complete seriesIMG_0915-1 of the joyful, [luminous,] sorrowful and glorious mysteries, and they put us in living communion with Jesus through–we might say through the heart of his Mother…The Rosary belongs among the finest and most praiseworthy traditions of Christian contemplation…To look upon the Face of Christ, to recognize its mystery amid the daily events and sufferings of His human life, and then to grasp the divine splendor definitively revealed in the Risen Lord, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father; this is the task of every follower of Christ and therefore the task of each one of us. In contemplating Christ’s Face we become open to receiving the mystery of Trinitarian life, experiencing ever anew the love of the Father and delighting in the joy of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul’s words can then be applied to us ‘Beholding the glory of the Lord, we are being changed into His likeness, from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.’” (Rosarium Virginus Mariae) 

"The contemplation of Christ's Face cannot stop at the image of the Crucified One. He is the Risen One!"~St. Pope John Paul II
“The contemplation of Christ’s Face cannot stop at the image of the Crucified One. He is the Risen One!”~ Pope St. John Paul II (Holy Face of Manoppello (Photo: Patricia Enk)

The entire month of October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary and October 7th is celebrated as the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The feast, originally named for Our Lady of Victory, commemorated the stunning victory, against all odds, obtained by Our Lady in the Battle of Lepanto through the prayer of the Rosary–which saved Christendom on October 7th, in 1571. By keeping our eyes fixed on the Face of Jesus as we pray the Rosary, together with Mary, through her maternal intercession, we too may obtain great victories through the heart of her Son Jesus, who obtained for all mankind the greatest victory over sin and death by His Resurrection.

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“I dare to summon the whole Church bravely to cross this new threshold, to put into the deep…so that now as in the past the great engagement of the Gospel and culture may show to the world ‘the glory of God on the Face of Christ’ (2 Cor 4:6). May the Lord bless all those who work for this aim.”  ~Pope St. John Paul II

 

St. Francis Relics

Altar in front of the tomb of St. Francis of Assisi (Photo:Patricia Enk)

Within the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi is a precious relic: a small, crumpled piece of yellowed parchment with the writing of St. Francis, now displayed in a silver reliquary. It was written on Mount La Verna after St. Francis had received the stigmata. The first biographer of St. Francis, Bl. Thomas of Celano wrote that for a long time St. Francis’s friend, Brother Leo, had greatly desired to have some memorial from the words of Our Lord written by St. Francis:

“One day Blessed Francis called him, saying, ‘Bring me paper and ink, for I wish to write the words of God and His praises which I have been meditating in my heart.’ What he asked for being straightway brought, he writes with his own hand the praises of God and the words which he [his companion] wished, and lastly a blessing of the brother, saying: ‘Take this sheet for thyself and until the day of thy death guard it carefully.’ All temptation was at once driven away; the letter is kept and worked wonders for the time to come.” Brother Leo kept it faithfully; folding it in four, he carried it in his pocket and guarded it jealously for a good forty-six years.  The text in the middle, written in black, and marked with a large “Tau” cross is in Francis’s own handwriting, he writes the praises of God* and grants to Brother Leo the blessing from the Book of Numbers 6: 22-27 which later became known as “the Blessing of St. Francis.”

St. Francis of Assisi

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in his homily for the World Day of Peace, 2013, spoke of this blessing from the Book of Numbers:

“The blessing repeats the three times Holy Name of God, a Name not to be spoken, and each time linked to two words indicating an action in favor of man. Peace is the summit of these six actions of God in our favor, His most sublime gift, in which He turns toward us the splendor of His Face.”

This is the same, great blessing that St. Francis desired to impart to his friend, Brother Leo:

“May the Lord bless and keep you; may He make His Face shine upon you and be merciful to you; may He turn His Countenance toward you and give you His Peace!”  (Num. 6:22-27)

The Blessing of St. Francis in reliquary

*(St. Francis’s “Praises of God” are now now quite faded, but, this much can be still read: “Thou art holy, Lord God, who alone workest wonders. Thou art strong. Thou art great. Thou art most high. Thou art the Almighty King, Thou, holy Father, King of heaven and earth. Thou art the Lord God Triune and One; all good. Thou art good, all good, highest good, Lord God living and true. Thou art charity, love. Thou art wisdom. Thou art humility. Thou art patience. Thou art security. Thou art quietude. Thou art joy and gladness. Thou…”  That is all that has been preserved.) 

Il Transito di San Francisco Photo: Paul Badde

 

In the Relic Chapel of the Basilica of St. Francis, in addition to St. Francis’s patched and tattered tunic and other precious relics, there is a display case which contains a beautifully embroidered silken veil and a small plaque with the name: “Jacoba Settesoli.” The plaque reads: “Like Jesus on his way to Calvary, Francis also had a Veronica.” (Veronica is the woman, tradition tells us, who wiped the Face of Jesus. She is the model of those who make reparation to the Face of Christ.)

Frate Jacopa de Settesoli

Lady Jacoba was a noblewoman and widow, with two children from Rome, who became a follower of St. Francis. After having heard him preach she sought his guidance on how to be charitable.  When Francis traveled to Rome, he would stay with Lady Jacoba as her guest and she cared for him when he was sick. She gave some of her property in Trastevere to the brothers, which they used to care for lepers.  She gave up her life of comfort in order to help the poor.  Woman were not normally permitted to be in company of the brothers, however, St. Francis made an exception in her case, jokingly referring to her as “Brother Jacoba.”

As Francis lay dying he sent an urgent letter by messenger to Lady Jacoba: “Brother Jacoba, the servant of the Most High, health in the Lord and communion in the Holy Ghost.  Dearest, I want you to know that the blessed Lord has done the grace of revealing that the end of my life is nigh.  So, if you want to find me still alive, hurry to Santa Maria degli Angeli as soon as you receive this letter.”  He went on to request that she bring a gray cloth to wrap his body in, candles for burial, and almond cookies that she had made for him in Rome when he was sick. Before the messenger arrived in Rome, Lady Jacoba had already anticipated St. Francis’s needs by the light of the  Holy Spirit and was on her way to Francis’s deathbed.

St. Francis’s biographer, Bl. Thomas Celano, wrote that Lady Jacoba brought not only the gray cloth, the candles, and the almond cookies, but also a pillow for his head, and a“sindomen pro facie” (a veil to cover his face in death, which was displayed in the Relic Chapel). So, St. Francis, an alter Christus who bore the stigmata, also had his “Veronica” in Lady Jacoba, who brought him consolation in his passion.

St. Francis, Pray for us!

Assisi Photo: Patricia Enk
Assisi
Photo: Patricia Enk

Mass of The Roses 2018

Fr. Ephrem Arcement, OSB 2015
St. Therese by Brenda Burke

The Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Covington, Louisiana will again celebrate the solemn Feast Day of St. Therese of the Holy Face and the Child Jesus, also known as “the Little Flower,” with their annual “Mass of the Roses” on Sunday, October 7, 2018.  St. Therese,  was a French Discalced Carmelite Nun who died of tuberculosis at the age of 24.  She became a Saint and Doctor of the Church, inspiring others by her “Little Way” of doing small things with great love to attain holiness. She promised that when she died “a shower of roses” would fall from Heaven in the graces obtained through her intercession. (Her Feast Day is October 1st, however the Mass of Roses is celebrated on the first Sunday of October – this year it falls on October 7th.)

Fr. Jorge Cabrera-Marrero, OCD blesses the children’s roses (Photo:Patricia Enk)

The “Mass of the Roses.” will open at 9:00 a.m. with a flute prelude by Sr. Grace, OCD.  The Holy Eucharist will be celebrated at 9:30 am with Rev. Stephen Sanchez, OCD, as the main celebrant and homilist.  Immediately following Mass, the children are invited to join in procession, carrying roses to the altar  to be blessed and distributed.

Photo: Patricia Enk

Photo: Patricia Enk
Children come in procession for “the blessing of the roses.”
“St. Therese doll” handmade by the Carmelite nuns

Many gifts, food, and handmade items may be purchased; the proceeds will help the Carmelite nuns meet their financial needs for the year. Delicious refreshments will be served after the Mass, thanks to many gracious sponsors and volunteers.  Hand-made items by the sisters, as well as cookies, pies and bread from the Sister’s kitchen will be for sale as well as a variety of religious articles, books and gifts. A  children’s area will be set up for face-painting, artwork and other fun activities. Holy Face booklets, Chaplets, and medals will also be available.

Mass of the Roses 2014 – Fr. Vic Messina

Although, St. Therese is more commonly known for her way of “Spiritual Childhood” and devotion to The Child Jesus, her sister, Mother Agnes gave this testimony for St. Therese’ beatification:

“Devotion to the Holy Face was the Servant of God’s special attraction.  As tender as was her devotion to the Child Jesus, it cannot be compared to her devotion to the Holy Face.”  

Icon of St. Therese (2017) – Patricia Enk

St. Therese’ sister Celine (Sr. Genevieve of the Holy Face), also wrote: “Devotion to the Holy Face was, for Therese, the crown and complement of her love for the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord.  The Blessed Face was the mirror wherein she beheld the Heart and Soul of her Well-Beloved.  Just as the picture of a loved one serves to bring the whole person before us, so in the Holy Face of Christ Therese beheld the entire Humanity of Jesus.  We can say unequivocally that this devotion was the burning inspiration of the Saint’s life… Her devotion to the Holy Face transcended, or more accurately, embraced, all the other attractions of her spiritual life.”

 

Prayer of St. Therese to The Holy Face

“O adorable Face of Jesus, sole beauty which ravishes my heart, vouchsafe to impress on my soul Your divine likeness so that it may not be possible for You to look at Your spouse without beholding Yourself!  O my Beloved, for love of You I am content not to see here on earth the sweetness of Your glance, nor to feel the ineffable kiss of Your sacred lips, but I beg of You to inflame me with Your love so that it may consume me quickly and that soon I may behold Your glorious countenance in Heaven.” 

For more information on the “Mass of the Roses” (click here)

St. Therese reminds us to pray for vocations to the priesthood (Photo: Patricia Enk

 

Also… below are wonderful photos by Paul Badde of St. Therese’s relics visiting the Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Italy, on November 4th, 2006:

St. Therese reliquary covered with rose petals. Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello. Nov. 4, 2006 (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)
Relics of St. Therese at the altar of the shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello, November 4, 2006 (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

The Death of the Church?

Holy Veil of Manoppello – said to be the image of the Resurrected Christ
Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

“Christianity has died many times and risen again, for it has a God who knew the way out of a grave.” — G.K. Chesterton

Servant of God, Padre Domenico da Cese

The former Rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese, firmly believed with all his heart that, like the Shroud of Turin, the Holy Veil of Manoppello was one of the many burial cloths in Jesus’s tomb — the holy sudarium which covered the Face of Jesus in death–and also miraculously bears witness to His Resurrection.  An incredible claim, to be sure, but one for which Padre Domenico offered his own suffering and death.

Since the pilgrimage by Pope Benedictict XVI to the shrine in 2006, the veil of the Face of Christ has become more widely known after having been hidden away in the Abruzzo Mountains for centuries. Other pilgrims who have seen and pondered the “Il Volto Santo” have contemplated the significance of this particular image of the Face of Jesus, and it’s message for the Church and the world. The Face on the Holy Veil is unique above all images of the Face of Christ in many ways, but especially for the fact that it records, in a miraculous way, on byssus silk, not only the Passion of Jesus, but the first breath of His Resurrection.  Therein, I believe, lies the message of this holy image for our tumultuous times.

“Il Volto Santo” The Holy Face of Manoppello. (Photo by Paul Badde/EWTN)

The Catholic Church has been mortally wounded by scandal upon scandal recently, and may be only just at the beginning of its death throes. But, this would not be the first death of the Faith, as author G.K.Chesterton pointed out nearly a century ago. Lauren Enk Mann has written an excellent essay on Catholic World Report, The Sixth Death of the Church, which gives us reason for hope–if.  If we are prepared as a Church to take courage and suffer together with Christ in His Passion in order to share in His Resurrection.

“Lord, show me your way; lead me on a level path because of my enemies…Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!” (Pslam 27:11-14)

The Sixth Death of the Church

The Church’s “summer of shame” has devastated the faithful. The McCarrick revelations, the Pennsylvania grand jury, and the Viganò testimony have sent reverberations of scandal right through the highest clerical ranks. Catholics in the pews feel betrayed and abandoned, in solidarity with the victims who have suffered so much. Each new day has brought to light fresh wounds, and it seems as if the Church is hemorrhaging, bleeding to death from the inside out.

Thinking on this critical state, I recalled a passage from G. K. Chesterton’s 1925 classic book The Everlasting Man that seems to hold the key to hope. I flipped through my copy and found what I was looking for in his penultimate chapter, titled “The Five Deaths of the Faith”.

“Christianity has died many times and risen again,” he writes, “for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave…” (click here to continue reading The Sixth Death of the Church on Catholic World Report)

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Holy Face of Manoppelllo (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

 

If you would like to learn more about the Veil of Manoppello –  Paul Badde’s new bookThe Holy Veil of Manoppello: The Human Face of God may now be pre-ordered on Amazon. The book is set to be released in October, 2018.

Cardinal Robert Sarah wrote: “Here in Manoppello we meet the face of God face to face, and when we look at Him, His gaze cleanses and heals us, God be blessed.”

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Holy Veil of Manoppello, photo: Patricia Enk

So also is the resurrection of the dead.
It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible.
It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious.
It is sown weak; it is raised powerful.
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one…

…Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one,
we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one. (1 Cor. 15)

 

The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness — Vultus Christi

Please click below to pray this beautiful Litany for the Clergy

A dear and esteemed friend of our monastery was inspired, while praying before the Most Blessed Sacrament, to write the following Litany for the Clergy. In praying through, one senses that it is evidence that, in every hour of the Church’s life, the Holy Ghost comes to the aid of our weakness, causing inspired prayers…

via The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness — Vultus Christi

“The Face of the Bride of Christ”

Our Lady of Sorrows

The Catholic Church recently has been rocked with a seismic shock which has rattled it to its foundation due to the clergy sex abuse scandals. In particular, the scandal of the former Cardinal McCarrick has moved the well-respected, former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Vigano, to act: troubled in conscience, and no longer able to keep silent in hopes that those in authority would remedy the evils that have beset the Church for decades, he felt compelled to bear witness.  The goal of his straight forward testimony was clear:

Our Lady of Czestochowa, her face slashed by the sword of an enemy of the Church.

“To restore the beauty of holiness to the face of the Bride of Christ, which is terribly disfigured by so many abominable crimes…”

He went on to relate his personal experience, of evil uncovered, and frustration that it has continued for so long. “…and if we truly want to free the Church from the fetid swamp into which she has fallen, we must have the courage to tear down the culture of secrecy and publicly confess the truths we have kept hidden. We must tear down the conspiracy of silence with which bishops and priests have protected themselves at the expense of their faithful, a conspiracy of silence that in the eyes of the world risks making the Church look like a sect, a conspiracy of silence not so dissimilar from the one that prevails in the mafia. “Whatever you have said in the dark…shall be proclaimed from the housetops.” (Lk:12:3)

“The first reaction to truth is hatred,” said Tertullian.  Not surprisingly, the attacks against Archbishop Vigano were mounted immediately.  Despite this, many bishops have attested to the personal integrity of the Archbishop, and have called for investigation to discover the truth.  But, make no mistake, it will be a battle that lasts until the end of time.
The filth that has so long marred the face of the Church, is at the same time an attack by Satan on “The Woman,”  Mary, who symbolizes the Church, holy and immaculate–the Bride of Christ.
As the truth is made known, the “smoke of Satan” that has entered the Church, will begin to clear, and the Bride of Christ will once again be fully revealed in all her beauty. But for now, it is time to hold fast to the truth, turning toward the Face of Christ in prayer, reparation, and perseverance in faith, hope and love.
One of our local pastors, who has been deeply aggrieved over the scandals that have come to light, turned to Our Lord in prayer.  He said that as he prayed the image of Our Lady of Sorrows came to his mind, over and over again. So, he has asked his parish to join him, in prayer and adoration, before the Blessed Sacrament on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows to make reparation for the evils in the Church. Public reparation such as this is a wonderful idea. Please pray for all our good priests and bishops who, like Christ, are suffering so much for the sins of other priests who betrayed their sacred vows.  And pray especially for all victims of these heinous crimes.

AN ACT OF REPARATION FOR BLASPHEMIES
AGAINST THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

The pure and immaculate infant Mary
Photo:Paul Badde/EWTN

“How fair you are, O Virgin Mary, Your face is resplendent with grace.”

“Our Lady in whose face – more than in any other creature – we can recognize the features of The Incarnate Word.” ~ Pope Benedict XVI

Most glorious Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, turn thine eyes in pity upon us, miserable sinners; we are sore afflicted by the many evils that surround us in this life, but especially do we feel our hearts break within us upon hearing the dreadful insults and blasphemies uttered against thee, O Virgin Immaculate, to which we are so frequently constrained to listen. O how these impious sayings offend the infinite Majesty of God and of His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ! How they provoke His indignation and give us cause to fear the terrible effects of His vengeance! Would that the sacrifice of our lives might avail to put an end to such outrages and blasphemies; were it so, how gladly we should make it, for we desire, O most holy Mother, to love thee and to honor thee with all our hearts, since this is the will of God. And just because we love thee, we will do all that is in our power to make thee honored and loved by all men. In the meantime, do thou, our merciful Mother, the supreme comforter of the afflicted, accept this our act of reparation which we offer thee for ourselves and for all our families, as well as for all who impiously blaspheme thee, not knowing what they say. Do thou obtain for them from Almighty God the grace of conversion, and thus render more manifest and more glorious thy kindness, thy power and thy great mercy. May they join with us in proclaiming thee “Blessed Among Women,” the Immaculate Virgin and most compassionate Mother of God.

Hail Mary (three times)

 

 

Unmasking the Devil – The Dawn of Victory

Truth is painful, sometimes horribly painful, to the innocent as well as the guilty. It is felt in the tremendous suffering it has caused in the Body of Christ by scandal. But, in spite of the pain, an old saying comes to mind; “Tell the truth and shame the devil.” The time of telling truth is here, because where Jesus, the Truth, is present — evil is unmasked.

“Arise, O Lord, and let Thy enemies be scattered, and let those who hate Thee flee from before Thy Face!” (Psalm 67, and prayer of the Little Chaplet of the Holy Face)

As the evil in the Church is exposed, Satan’s ugly face is exposed with it.  To the faithful this suffering may feel like utter defeat, but in reality it is the dawn of victory.  Many seemingly unanswered prayers of the little, unknown, and powerless souls, who for years upon years have had no one to hear them but God, are now being answered. It can be extremely discouraging to pray in emptiness — to pray day after day, year after year, and see nothing change — but don’t stop praying! Never stop praying!  It is not futile, as the devil would like you to believe.

Each time you pray the Rosary — contemplating the Face of Jesus in the Gospels together with His Mother Mary — Jesus’s Face shines in the world!  Each time you pray the  Little Chaplet of the Holy Face,  “For the triumph of the Church and the downfall of its enemies,” you not only wipe the Face of Jesus, as did St. Veronica, in reparation for the blasphemy and sacrilege which has occurred, but at the same time the devil is driven away “like smoke is driven away!” When you pray the  St. Michael  prayer, his angelic voice rings through the heavens, “Who is like God?!” and Satan is cast down into hell!

St. Michael, Old St. Patrick’s New Orleans (photo: Patricia Enk)

Sr. Marie St. Pierre, the Discalced Carmelite nun who received revelations about devotion to the Holy Face, understood well the relationship between the Holy Face of Jesus and His Holy Name.  To do battle against the enemies of the Church, the weapon she chose was the Holy Name:

“May God arise and let His enemies be scattered, and let those who hate Him flee before His Holy Face!

May the thrice-holy Name of God overcome all their plans! 

May the Holy Name of the Living God split them up by disagreements!

May the terrible Name of the God of Eternity stamp out all their Godlessness!”

These imprecations are often recited at the conclusion of the Little Chaplet of the Holy Face.

And because God wills not the death of a sinner, but that they be converted and live, she also prayed the words of Christ from the Cross:

“Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”

Yes, Christians must pray not only for those who have caused scandal but that “they be converted and live.” They themselves must also live the Beatitudes, and the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy.  To do this is to have the Face of Jesus Christ painted in our own souls so that we may give witness to Him by our lives.

Finally, “bless and do not curse.” Build up the wounded body of Christ with the greatest and most beautiful blessing of the Church:

“This is how they are to call down my name on the sons of Israel and I will bless them…

May the Lord bless and keep you; May He make His Face shine upon you and be merciful to you; May He turn His Countenance towards you and grant you His peace!” (Numbers 6:22-27)

This is “the most beautiful work under the sun” — devotion to the Face of Christ.  It is the means by which we can unmask the devil and make the Face of God shine in this darkened world.

Holy Face of Jesus of Manoppello (photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

 

A Holy Priest – Holiness Begets Holiness

Fr. Willie Doyle S.J. Military Chaplain for the 8th Royal Irish Fusiliers WWI

In the midst of the latest gut-wrenching scandal in the Church it is good to remember that there have been holy priests, who loved  Christ and His Church, and were willing to lay down their lives for their flock. Such rare men did not spring out of nowhere, they were formed by holy families, schools, and good seminaries. They continued to be forged, as gold in a furnace, into the image of Christ through their perseverance in prayer, penance, and suffering.

EWTN recently aired an inspiring documentary “Bravery Under Fire” about the life of Fr. Willie Doyle, S.J., a self-sacrificial, holy priest who inspired many Saints who came after him.  Men who aspire to the priesthood would do well to learn something about his life because “Holiness Begets Holiness” …

If it is true that the goal of a Christian is not only to behold God’s Face one day in Heaven, but also to bring with us as many souls as possible in our lifetime, then Fr. Willie Doyle, S.J., was a true Christian.  Holiness begets holiness in others. Both St. Teresa of Calcutta and St. Josemaria Esciriva were each inspired by Fr. Doyle, a little-known Irish Jesuit priest, who in a powerful yet humble way guided each saint on the path to holiness. Fr. Willie was an Irish Military Chaplain, who was killed in action during one of the worst battles of World War I on August 16th, 1917, on the muddy, bloody battlefield of Ypres, after having run “all day hither and thither over the battlefield like an angel of mercy,” one hundred years ago. But his story is just beginning to come to come to light and inspire many, many other souls who are also seeking God’s Face.

Fr. Willie was beloved by all the men he served, ministering to exhausted soldiers of all faiths or none, with little or no sleep himself and at great personal sacrifice.  There was little food, and no relief, sometimes stretching many weeks.  He suffered along with the other soldiers from the cold, waist-deep mud that filled stagnant trenches, suffered gas-attacks and all the horrors of war.  Fr. Willie risked his own life at every moment, administering absolution, anointing with oil faces which were so smashed by shells that they were barely recognizable as men, and then burying the dead.  Once, though sick himself, he laid face down in the mud of a trench, in order that a sick doctor could get a little sleep by lying on Fr. Doyle’s back.  On the last day of his life he was seen running back and forth across the battlefields giving absolution to dying men, until finally being hit by a shell himself.

St. Teresa of Calcutta

But, surprisingly it wasn’t Fr. Doyle’s battlefield heroism that inspired Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who learned of this holy priest when she was a young nun, as recounted in the book about her life, Come Be My Light.  Nor were his great mortifications and ultimate self-sacrifice noted in the writings of St. Josemaria Escriva.  They were both inspired by something most people would consider inconsequential: the smallest sacrifice of giving up butter on his bread and sugar in his tea; sacrifices Fr. Doyle considered intolerable.

St. Josemaria Escriva

St. Josemaria wrote to a friend of an example that set him on the road to sainthood; known as “The Butter Battle.” “We were reading–you and I–the heroically ordinary life of that man of God. [Fr. Willie Doyle, S.J.] And we saw him fight whole months and years at breakfast time: today he won, tomorrow he was beaten…He [Fr. Doyle] noted: ‘Didn’t take butter…; did take butter!’ I have read quickly the life of Fr. Doyle: how well I understand the butter tragedy.” [For St. Josemaria, his own battle was the small sacrifice of not reading the newspapers.]

Fr. Doyle, who was born the same year as St. Therese of the Holy Face and the Child Jesus, was himself inspired by her “Little Way.” And he was determined to follow it, by “doing little things for God with great love”:

“Kneeling at the grave of the Little Flower, I gave myself into her hands to guide and to make me a saint.  I promised her to make it a rule of my whole life, every day without exception, to seek in all things my greater mortification, to give all and refuse nothing.  I have made this resolution with great confidence, because I realize how utterly it is beyond my strength; but I feel the Little Flower will get me the grace to keep it perfectly.”

St. Therese

He did not ask God for the courage to perform great acts of heroism, but instead begged earnestly for the grace to give up butter, sugar in his tea, salt and other little things. “How many deceive themselves,” Fr. Doyle wrote, “in thinking sanctity consists in the ‘holy follies’ of the saints! How many look upon holiness as something beyond their reach or capability, and think that it is to be found only in the performance of extraordinary actions.  Satisfied that they have not the strength for great austerities, the time for much prayer, or the courage for painful humiliations, they silence their conscience with the thought that great sanctity is not for them, that they have not been called to be saints.  With their eyes fixed on the heroic deeds of the few, they miss the daily little sacrifices God asks them to make; and while waiting for something great to prove their love, they lose the countless little opportunities of sanctification each day bears within its bosom.”

“Self-love,” wrote Fr. Doyle, “is our own greatest enemy.” Little things are of great importance to God.  It was through being “faithful to God in little things,” those small sacrifices, that he was prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, which is “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  Fr. Doyle knew better than anyone the value of making those small sacrifices of love that become mighty weapons in the hand of the Living God — and He will win the war!

With her great reverence for the thirst of Jesus on the Cross, and the desire to seek His Face everywhere, it is possible that Mother Teresa may have found inspiration when she read the following passage in Fr. Doyle’s diary:

“The greatest thirst of Jesus on the Cross was His thirst for souls.  He saw then the graces and inspirations He would give me to save souls for Him… In what way shall I correspond and console my Savior?  I went on to ________ and once more had an opportunity of a quiet prayer before the life-sized crucifix in the church which I love so much.  I could not remain at His feet but I climbed  up until both my arms were around his neck.  The figure seemed almost to live, and I think I loved Him then, for it was borne upon me how abandoned and suffering and broken-hearted He was.  It seemed to console Him when I kissed His eyes and pallid cheeks and swollen lips, and as I clung to Him I knew He has won the victory, and I gave Him all He asked.” –Fr. William Doyle, S.J. 

 

“To Raise the Fallen” compiled and edited by Patrick Kenny

Last year was the one-hundredth anniversary of Fr. Willie’s death.  There is a new book available, on the inspiring life of Fr. Doyle, his writing and war letters compiled by Patrick Kenny, To Raise the Fallen, which may be found by clicking (here). If you are interested in reading more about the life of Fr. Doyle be sure to visit this wonderful blog dedicated to to Fr. Doyle: Remembering Fr. Willie Doyle, S.J.  

Remember “Holiness begets Holiness”…and please pray for Priests!

Transfiguration Procession in Manoppello

“Lord, God of Hosts bring us back; let Your Face shine on us and we shall be saved.” (Psalm 80:7) 

Banner bearing image of the Holy Veil draped in front of the Basilica Sanctuary of the Holy Face, Il Volto Santo.
Photo: Paul BAdde/EWTN

There are three celebrations each year in Manopello, Italy to honor the relic Veil of the Holy Face: “Omnis Terra” in January, the Feast of the Holy Face in May to commemorate the arrival of the Holy Veil in Manoppello, and also on the Feast of the Transfiguration.

Paul Badde’s latest book tells in a compelling way, the amazing history of this miraculous veil, and the deep significance of the processions. The Human Face of God; The Holy Veil of Manoppello, will be soon released in October, but may be pre-ordered now on Amazon. Paul has sent these beautiful photos of the most recent Transfiguration evening procession — the lights may be seen through the transparent veil but be sure to look closely, and you will also see the image of the Holy Face!

The lights lining the streets for the evening Transfiguration Procession shine through the sheer Veil of the Holy Face being carried in its reliquary frame. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN
Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN
Holy Veil of Manoppello. Look closely in the center of the frame where a portion of the Holy Face may be seen.
Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN
Evening Procession of the Holy Veil of Manoppello
Holy Face now more visible together with lights shining through the Veil near the bottom of the frame.
Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

“We process toward our heavenly home in the company of God.  Procession is the function of faith, which burns in our hearts and beams in our faces, and makes our voices tremulous with emotion as our ‘Lauda Sion’ bids defiance to an unbelieving world.” –Fr. Frederick W. Faber 

 

Transfigured

And He was Transfigured before them, and His Face shone like the sun… –Matthew 17:2

Transfiguration – Raphael

 

Please pray today for men and women in every vocation in life, that in seeking God’s Will, they may transfigured into the image of Christ, and become faithful witnesses to Him in the Church and in the world:

Good Father, in Christ Your Son You reveal to us Your love, You embrace us as Your children and You offer to us the possibility of discovering in Your Will the lines of our true face.

Father, help us to be holy as You are holy.  We pray You, never allow Your Church to lack holy ministers and apostles who, with the word and the sacraments, may open the way to the encounter with You. 

Merciful Father, give to lost humanity men and women who, through the witness of a life transfigured to the image of Your Son, may walk joyfully with their other brothers and sisters towards our heavenly homeland.

Our Father, with the voice of the Holy Spirit, and trusting in the maternal intercessions of Mary, we earnestly beseech You; send to your Church priests who will be courageous witnesses to Your infinite beauty.  Amen!

–Pope St. John Paul II, Prayer for Vocations

Holy Veil of Manoppello
Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN
Veil of Manoppello Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

” O God, you have scattered the darkness with your light and have poured your light into our hearts so that we might look upon the radiant Face of Jesus Christ, –Nourish in us the desire to contemplate your beloved Son. –Lord, in your light may we see light.” –from Divine Office

Holy Veil of Manoppello, photo: Patricia Enk