Feast of the Holy Face – Homily of Cardinal Tagle

Cardinal Tagle elevates the Eucharist at a Solemn Mass in honor of the Feast of the Holy Face of Manoppello, Italy (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)
Cardinal Tagle delivers homily at the Basilica Sanctuary of the Holy Face (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

Homily, Solemn Eucharistic Celebration

Basilica of the Holy Face, Manoppello
21 May 2017
Sixth Sunday of Easter [Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; I Peter 3:15-18, John 14:15-21]
+ Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We thank our God, who, always filled with love and benevolence towards us, has gathered us as one family of faith for the solemn celebration of the Holy Face of Manoppello. I bring you warm greetings and wishes of peace from the Philippines, where the devotion to the Holy Face is alive, vibrant and widespread. Celebrating the Eucharist with you on this sixth Sunday of Easter gives me great joy. 

In the Gospel that we just listened to, Jesus told His disciples, “In a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me, because I live and you will live.” These words are fulfilled now in our assembly, in our hearing. We see Jesus’ Face now. We can see Him because He is alive, He is in our midst now. And seeing His Face, we do not die, contrary to the fear of the people of old that seeing the Face of God would mean death for them. On the contrary, seeing Jesus’ Holy Face we draw the life and energy which comes from Him. This is a profound blessing granted to us, now. This gives us a foretaste of eternal life, where we hope to behold the Face of God in eternal contemplation and adoration. Seeing Jesus, we live!

How could it be possible for us to see Jesus? As sinners, we do not have the merit nor the right to see His Face. But we see Him and we live! How could this happen? The answer comes from Jesus in the Gospel of today, “Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.” Strictly speaking, we do not see the Face of Jesus. It is more accurate to say that He reveals His Face to us. He shows His Face, and so we see. This is pure grace. This is pure and total love on the part of Jesus. He manifests His Face, His true self, for no other reason than for the love He has for us. Allow me to share with you three points useful for reflection.

First, when Jesus shows His Face to us, He does not look at His own Face. He looks at us.  Even our daily experience, when we show our face to other people, we look at them, not at ourselves. This is love: in showing my face I become someone who sees others, who hears others, who understands others, who feels for others. Showing one’s face means that I spend less time looking at my own face, my activities, my needs, my comfort or wellbeing, my interests, and instead that I devote more time to looking at the face of others, of those who suffer. This is the love that the Holy Face of Jesus shows us. He is interested in us, He is for us, He looks at us more than He looks at Himself. The devotees of the Holy Face must be like Him. Is our gaze directed only at ourselves, our immediate group, those closest us us or are we learning from Jesus who penetrates the hearts of others with His loving gaze?

Second, the Face of Jesus, a loving and other-centered face is also a face that speaks. Even when our lips do not utter “audible” words, our face can speak “visible” words. He said in the Gospel, “If you love Me, you will keep My Commandments.” His Face is not only seen but heard. Jesus’ Face is the human face of the Word of God, now heard and seen especially in His Commandments. In our time, people look at rules as something negative. But the Commandments of the Lord are not burdens to make our life more difficult, not tools to destroy our freedom, not mechanisms of condemnation of our weak and fragile persona. His Commandments are paths to peace, liberty and forgiveness. In Jesus’ Face we see the person who fulfilled the commandment to love God above all and one’s neighbor as oneself. His Commandments are visible in Him who told us, “Come to Me…Take My yoke upon your shoulders and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. My yoke, in Face, is easy and My burden light” (Matthew 11:28-30). The devotees of the Holy Face are called to listen attentively to Jesus who is the visible Word of peace, of freedom, of forgiveness and of love.  

Finally, what we have seen and heard, we must share with others. In the first reading, Philip proclaimed in Samaria the Jesus that he had seen and heard. His preaching was accompanied by visible signs of healing and liberation. The Face of Jesus was seen and heard in Philip’s testimony. In the second reading, Peter tells those who are undergoing trials and persecution to be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that is in them. The answer is simple: Jesus! He is our sure hope. His love for us and triumph over death is the reason why we have hope. But Peter reminds us to proclaim our hope with gentleness and respect, with a clear conscience and integrity of life, with readiness to suffer for doing good rather than for doing evil. In other words, we best proclaim Jesus if others see and hear Jesus in us.

We see the Face of Jesus because He reveals His Face to us, the Face of the loving God. His is the Face of God turned towards us and not centered on Himself. His is the Face of the One who fulfilled the commandment of love. As we see and hear His Face may our faces be transformed into His Holy Face. Through the testimony of our faces, may the suffering people of the world know that Jesus sees them, listens to them, cares for them and loves them. Amen.

Holy Face “Il Volto Santo” of Manoppello, photo: Paul Badde

My grateful thanks to Paul Badde/EWTN for sharing his beautiful photos and to Raymond Frost for the English translation of Cardinal Tagle’s inspiring homily.

 “what we have seen and heard we must share with others”–Cardinal Tagle

More on Cardinal Tagle’s visit to Manoppello “The Face of Truth” by Antonio Bini may be read (here).

Feast of the Holy Face and May Procession in Manoppello

Rector of the Basilica Shrine of the Holy Face, Padre Carmine Cucinelli and Cardinal Tagle of the Philippines, together with the faithful, in solemn procession of the Holy Face (Photo by Antonio Bini)
Holy Face of Manoppello, photo: Patricia Enk

Sunday, May 21st, was a day of great celebration and joy, commemorating the arrival of the Holy Veil, bearing a miraculous image of the Face of Jesus, to Manoppello, Italy, centuries ago. The town of Manoppello welcomed Cardinal Tagle of the Philippines, who presided at the Solemn Mass and Procession of the Veil of the Holy Face from the Basilica Shrine to San Nicholas Church in the city center.  The Veil is to be brought back to the Sanctuary Basilica the next day.

The recorded history tells of the arrival, in May, of the Veil in Mannoppello, “in around 1506,” in the hands of a mysterious stranger who was thought to have been a holy angel, who gave the precious relic to a local doctor, who later gave it to the local Capuchins for safe-keeping. (The history of the arrival of the Veil may be read here).

Solemn Procession celebrating the Feast of the Holy Face in Manoppello (photo by Antonio Bini)

Thank you to Raymond Frost at Holy Face of Manoppello blogspot (here) for the news and beautiful photos of Antonio Bini, who will have more to report on the celebrations. (More here)

Padre Cucinelli, Sr. Blandina and Cardinal Tagle in prayer

Fatima – The Blessing Fulfilled in Mary

“With Mary’s protection, may we be for our world sentinels of the dawn, contemplating the true Face of Jesus the Saviour, resplendent at Easter. Thus may we rediscover the young and beautiful face of the Church, which shines forth when she is missionary, welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means and rich in love.”–Pope Francis, canonization Mass of Jacinta & Francisco -homily

Pope Francis gave this address to the pilgrims at Fatima at the Rosary Procession and Vigil, teaching us to seek the Face of God with Mary, who, as “no other creature…basked in the light of the Face of God”:  

Pope Francis at Fatima Vigil

Dear Pilgrims to Mary and with Mary!

Thank you for your welcome and for joining me on this pilgrimage of hope and peace. Even now, I want to assure all of you who are united with me, here or elsewhere, that you have a special place in my heart. I feel that Jesus has entrusted you to me (cf. Jn 21:15-17), and I embrace all of you and commend you to Jesus, “especially those most in need” – as Our Lady taught us to pray (Apparition of July, 1917). May she, the loving and solicitous Mother of the needy, obtain for them the Lord’s blessing! On each of the destitute and outcast robbed of the present, on each of the excluded and abandoned denied a future, on each of the orphans and victims of injustice refused a past, may there descend the blessing of God, incarnate in Jesus Christ.

“The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Num 6:24-26).

This blessing was fulfilled in the Virgin Mary. No other creature ever basked in the light of God’s face as did Mary; she in turn gave a human face to the Son of the eternal Father. Now we can contemplate her in the succession of joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious moments of her life, which we revisit in our recitation of the rosary.

With Christ and Mary, we abide in God. Indeed, “if we want to be Christian, we must be Marian; in a word, we have to acknowledge the essential, vital and providential relationship uniting Our Lady to Jesus, a relationship that opens before us the way leading to him” (PAUL VI, Address at the Shine of Our Lady of Bonaria, Cagliari, 24 April 1970). Each time we recite the rosary, in this holy place or anywhere else, the Gospel enters anew into the life of individuals, families, peoples and the entire world.

Pilgrims with Mary… But which Mary? A teacher of the spiritual life, the first to follow Jesus on the “narrow way” of the cross by giving us an example, or a Lady “unapproachable” and impossible to imitate? A woman “blessed because she believed” always and everywhere in God’s words (cf. Lk 1:42.45), or a “plaster statue” from whom we beg favours at little cost? The Virgin Mary of the Gospel, venerated by the Church at prayer, or a Mary of our own making: one who restrains the arm of a vengeful God; one sweeter than Jesus the ruthless judge; one more merciful than the Lamb slain for us?

What does it mean to be “a Veronica?”

Was there actually a St. Veronica?  It is an important question, and a very personal one to me, as Veronica was my chosen patron Saint for Confirmation as a child; the name is part of my own identity and life’s devotion to the Face of Jesus Christ. “Bernice Veronica” is a family name–both names referring to the Woman who wiped the Face of Jesus, commonly depicted in every Catholic church, at the Sixth Station of the Cross. Veronica is now also the name of one of my granddaughters. So, whether there is an actual person, a saint named “Veronica” who wiped the Face of Jesus, is a question that I have sought to know the truth about for most of my life. Did she exist? And what does it mean to be “a Veronica?”

Veronica’s Veil, Flemish 15th Century

“St. Veronica” 

The Catholic Church tells us that a veil bearing a miraculous image of the Face of Jesus has existed since the earliest centuries, recorded in history and in art. Explanations for the existence of such a veil were all different (see “Four Stories, One Face“). About the time this miraculous veil first appeared in Rome, in the Middle Ages, the name “Veronica” referred to the veil itself–“Veronica” meaning “vera” or true, and “icon” meaning image, or even more precisely, “to be present.” Those who gazed upon the veil bearing the true Face of Jesus stood in God’s presence. They were turned toward His Face.

Legends sprang up sometime later about a woman named “Veronica,” who was sometimes associated with the woman “Berenice” or “Bernice,” the bleeding woman who touches the hem of Jesus’s garment in the Gospel.  There is a version, written in 1191 by Robert de Boron, that tells of a woman named “Veronica” wiping sweat from the Face of Jesus. The stories are many and varied, but the legend that most people are familiar with today is traced to a version by Roger d’Argenteuil in the 1300s, which tells of a woman “Veronica,” associated with the sixth station of the Cross–the compassionate woman, wiping the Face of Jesus on the way to Calvary with a cloth, upon which He leaves an image of His Face.

“These pious traditions cannot be documented, but there is no reason why the belief that such an act of compassion did occur should not find expression in the veneration paid to one called Veronica.” The Catholic Encyclopedia   

 

Pope St. John Paul II expressed the answer to the question of Veronica most beautifully in his poem, “The Name:”

In the crowd walking towards the place

[of the Agony]–

did you open up a gap at some point or were you

[opening it] from the beginning?

And since when? You tell me, Veronica.

Your name was born in the very instant

in which your heart

became an effigy: the effigy of truth.

Your name was born from what you gazed upon.

–Karol Wojtyla

Miraculous Holy Face Veil Photo: Paul Badde (see “Manoppello Image” tab)

Since the detailed historical facts about the veil itself cannot be verified with absolute certainty in this life, the more important and answerable question is, “What does it mean to be a Veronica?”

“Your name was born from what you gazed upon.” 

When a soul performs an “act of compassion,” Jesus leaves His image on the “veil” of the soul. In other words, while contemplating the Face of Jesus in an image, in the Word of God in the Scriptures, in a person made in the image and likeness of God, or above all, in the Eucharist, the soul places itself in the Presence of God. When we are turned completely toward the Face of God, through a daily face-to-face encounter in prayer–by the power of the Holy Spirit–God gradually transforms the soul into the “True Image” of His Son, Jesus Christ. As Pope St. John Paul II says, our hearts must become an “effigy of truth,” a “true icon.” Then our name too will be born from what we gaze upon. It will be “Veronica.”

Way of the Cross, Sixth Station, Our Lady of Grace Capuchin Friary, San Giovanni Rotondo, “Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus”

 

 

The Treasure of Divine Mercy–the Face of God

St. Faustina “Apostle of Mercy”

St. Faustina Kowalska, “The Apostle of Mercy,” was known as a mystic and visionary. Her diary, Divine Mercy in My Soul, records the journey of her soul. Our Lord granted St. Faustina a deep understanding of the love and mercy of God which she was to share with the world.  

The greatest sign of God’s continuing mercy for the people of the world is His hidden Presence in the Eucharist. By turning to His Eucharistic Face, gazing at Jesus’s Face in silent contemplation, “a change takes place” in our souls, because He is also gazing at us. 

“The Face of Christ is the supreme revelation of Christ’s Mercy.”–Pope Benedict XVI photo:Paul Badde

“O Living Host, O hidden Jesus.  You see the condition of my soul.  Of myself, I am unable to utter Your Holy Name.  I cannot bring forth from my heart the fire of love, but, kneeling at Your feet, I cast upon the Tabernacle the gaze of my soul, a gaze of faithfulness.  As for You, You are ever the same, while within my soul a change takes place.  I trust that the time will come when You will unveil Your Countenance, and Your child will again see Your sweet Face.  I am astonished, Jesus, that You can hide Yourself from me for so long and that You can restrain the enormous love You have for me.  In the dwelling of my heart, I am listening and waiting for Your coming, O only Treasure of my heart!  (1239 “Divine Mercy in My Soul”)

Divine Mercy in the waters of Baptism

It is through the Divine Mercy of God that souls, by turning continually toward His Holy Face, learn to live in His Presence.  Thus, we may reach the true treasure of all hearts, fulfilling the soul’s greatest desire, which is to see God face to Face.  

“During meditation, the Lord gave me knowledge of the joy of Heaven and of the Saints on our arrival there; they love God as the sole object of their love, but they also have a tender and heartfelt love for us.   It is from the Face of God that this joy flows out upon all, because we see Him face to Face.  His Face is so sweet that the soul falls anew into ecstasy” (1592, “Divine Mercy in My Soul”). 

St. Faustina, pray for us!

Important Update:  Raymond Frost at the Holy Face of Manoppello Blogspot reports that the most recent episode of Vaticano, EWTN’s weekly television program originating in Rome there is a most beautiful segment (“Traces of the Resurrection” starting at 23:40) on the Holy Face of Manoppello as one of the “clues” which demonstrates the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus.

He is Risen!!!

Alleluia!!!

“So Simon Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him he went into the tomb first, and he saw and believed.  For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” John 20

Holy Face of Manoppello, Italy Photo: Paul Badde

The Face of Humility

 

 

Hans Holbein der Altere

The Lord opens my ear that I may hear; And I have not rebelled, have not turned back.  I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard:  My Face I did not shield from buffets and spitting, The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame. (Isaiah 50: 4b-7)

 

What does it means to be a Christian?

“A Message to Those Who Kill Us” – Father Boules George gives a sermon during the Eve of Monday Pascha following the two bombings on Palm Sunday that took place at Saint George Coptic Orthodox Church in Tanta and Saint Mark Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria.

How Long, O Lord?

Like a lamb led to the slaughter, or a sheep before the shearers, He was silent and uttered no cry. (Is. 52)

The sufferings of this world are as numerous as its sins.  Each day brings more and more it seems; the weight of it crushing our souls.  The greatest evil, and the most difficult suffering to bear, is the suffering of the innocent.  

On April 5th, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley addressed the UN Security Council about the Assad regime’s chemical attacks against its own people in Syria.  She said, “Yesterday we awoke to pictures of children; foaming at the mouth, suffering convulsions, being carried in the arms of desperate parents.  We saw rows and rows of lifeless bodies, some still in diapers, some with visible scars of a chemical weapons attack.  Look at those pictures!  We cannot close our eyes to those pictures.”  A cry of helplessness rises in one’s heart, “How long, O Lord!”

“How long, O Lord, must I cry for help and you do not listen?  Or cry out to you ‘Violence!” and you do not intervene?  Why do you simply gaze at evil? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife and discord.” (Hab. 1: 1-3)

The suffering endured by the innocent is utterly incomprehensible. We could harden our hearts and turn away our face from what is happening–numb our minds, and anesthetize our unpleasant thoughts with distractions. Or we may fall to our knees and ask God the same question that atheists mockingly ask of Christians; the same question the prophet Habbakkuk asked of God in faith:

“Are you not from of old, O LORD, the holy God, immortal?   LORD, you have appointed them for judgment, O Rock, you have set them in place to punish! Your eyes are too pure to look upon wickedness, and the sight of evil you cannot endure.  Why, then, do you gaze on the faithless in silence while the wicked devour those more just than themselves?”  (Hab. 1:12-13)

“How long O Lord!” we will cry. And no answer is heard The response will be, as it was from the Lamb of God on the Cross–silence.  There are no other questions.

“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer.  You are yourself the answer.  Before Your Face questions die away.  What other answer would suffice?” –C.S. Lewis (Till We Have Faces)

Pieta by Carlo Cavelli

 

The Chaplet of the Holy Face

LITTLE CHAPLET OF THE HOLY FACE

There are many “Rosaries” or “Chaplets” in addition to the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The Little Chaplet of the Holy Face is a gem, which is not only very short, but also very powerful.  The words of the Chaplet derive from Psalm 67 (68 in some Bibles).  St. Athanasius relates that the devils, on being asked what verse in the whole Scripture they feared most, they replied, ‘That Psalm which  begins: “Arise, O Lord, and let Thy enemies be scattered.  Let those that hate Him  flee before His Face!’  Then they are compelled to take flight.” 

The Chaplet of the Holy Face honors the five senses by which Our Lord Jesus suffered in His Holy Face. It is also offered in reparation for blasphemy, sacrilege and indifference by which God is offended, and to entreat God for the triumph of His Church and conversion of its enemies.  

The Symbolism of the Holy Face Chaplet: The Chaplet consists of 39 beads. The Cross reminds us of the mystery of Our Redemption.  The 33 (“Hail Mary”, or small) beads represent the years of Our Lord’s mortal life on earth.  *The three beads near the Cross represent the public years of Jesus’s Life.  The remaining 30 (small) beads represent His hidden life.  Chaplet is divided into five groups of six in honor of His five senses.  The seven “Glory Be’s” which are said within the Chaplet represent the Seven Sorrows of Mary.  The method of reciting it is very simple.  (The short meditation before each group is helpful, but optional) The following form may be used individually or when praying with a group.  Perfect for Lent!

How to Recite the Chaplet of the Holy Face

Chaplet of the Holy Face

All:  +In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

(On the first bead) Leader:  My Jesus, mercy!

All:  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

(On each of the next three small beads)*

Leader:  Arise, O Lord, and let Thy enemies be scattered.

All:  And let those that hate Thee, flee from before Thy Face!

Left: The Holy Face of Manoppello / Right: Painting by Hans Holbein

Leader: (In honor of all our Lord suffered through the sense of touch in His Holy Face) O Jesus, who endured a kiss of betrayal from Judas as well as from the strikes and blows on His Holy Face from sinners….Have Mercy on us!

(First – On the next “Our Father” bead) Leader:  My Jesus, mercy!  

All:  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

(Repeated on each of the next six beads)

Leader: Arise, O Lord, and let Thy enemies be scattered.

All: And let those that hate Thee, flee from before Thy Face!

Mocking of Christ by Bloch

Leader: (In honor of all our Lord suffered through the sense of hearing) O Jesus, whose ears were assaulted by the curses and blasphemies which issued from the lips of those He created in His love….Have Mercy on us!

(Second – On the next “Our Father” bead) Leader:  My Jesus, mercy!  

All:  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

(Repeated on each of the next six beads)

Leader: Arise, O Lord, and let Thy enemies be scattered.

All: And let those that hate Thee, flee from before Thy Face!

Jesus Blindfolded & Mocked, by Fra Angelico

Leader: (In honor of all our Lord suffered through the sense of sight) O Jesus, whose eyes were filled with tears and blood, then shamefully blindfolded by those who refused to look upon the Him who is the Truth…Have Mercy on us!

(Third – On the next “Our Father” bead) Leader:  My Jesus, mercy!  

All:  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

(Repeated on each of the next six beads)

Leader:  Arise, O Lord, and let Thy enemies be scattered.

All:  And let those that hate Thee, flee from before Thy Face!

Holy Face of Manoppello, Italy Photo: Paul Badde

Leader: (In honor of all our Lord suffered through the sense of smell) O Jesus, who suffered in His sense of smell, when His Holy Face was defiled and disfigured, covered with spittle and filth….Have Mercy on us!

(Fourth – On the next “Our Father” bead) Leader:  My Jesus, mercy!  

All:  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

(Repeated on each of the next six beads)

Leader:  Arise, O Lord, and let Thy enemies be scattered.

All:   And let those that hate Thee, flee from before Thy Face!

The Man of Sorrows in the arms of the Virgin Mary, by Hans Memling

Leader: (In honor of all our Lord suffered through the sense of taste) O Jesus, whose adorable mouth was filled with vinegar and gall….Have Mercy on us!

(Fifth – On the next “Our Father” bead) Leader: My Jesus, mercy!  

All:  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

(Repeated on each of the next six beads)

Leader:  Arise, O Lord, and let Thy enemies be scattered.

All: And let those that hate Thee, flee from before Thy Face!

Holy Face on The Shroud of Turin

To conclude: On the Holy Face Medal, say:

Leader:  O God, our protector, look upon us.

All: And look upon the Face of Thy Christ.  Glory Be to the Father

Additional Prayers:

The Golden Arrow Prayer

“Holy Face of Tours”

MAY the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and ineffable Name of God, be forever praised, blessed, adored, loved and glorified, in heaven, on earth, and in the hells, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.

Jesus, may I seek your Face, may I learn to find it and to reflect it to others. May I learn how to see You in the ordinary happenings of my daily life.  Amen.

*(note: Some people prefer to say the prayers for these beads, in honor of Jesus’s public life, at the end, rather than the beginning of the Chaplet.  Either way is acceptable.)