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.)

 

Mary’s “Fiat” for the sake of her children

The Annunciation by Fra Angelico

“My Mother honors every consecration made to her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, and even if one should forget that one uttered such a prayer, My Mother does not forget it. She remains faithful to her own children, even when they are distracted by the world and turn away from her brightness shining like a star over the stormy seas of life.”— In Sinu Jesu, When Heart Speaks to Heart

Anyone who has recited a “Hail Mary” as a child, or placed flowers (they may have been dandelions, no matter to her) before a plaster statue of the Blessed Mother, or treasured a little holy card with her image, or childhood rosary–that person, most likely at tumultuous time of darkness in their life, will turn to seek the face of their Mother Mary in prayer. Though the rosary may have been tossed in a drawer for decades, and for years we never gave her much of a thought, our Mother did not forget us or cease to pray for us.

Detail from Annunciation by Fra Angelico

The joyful scene of the Annunciation, with the Angel Gabriel’s awaiting Mary’s consent to become the Mother of the Redeemer, has hidden within it the shadow of the cross, and that cross is us. God willed that Mary not only become the Mother of Jesus, but our Mother as well.  At the Incarnation of the Word, Jesus was united to all of humanity, the Church His mystical body and Jesus, Mary’s Son, our head.  When John, the beloved disciple stood at the foot of the Cross with Mary, Jesus willed to give Mary to us as our Mother, “Women, behold your son,” then to John, “behold your Mother.” And Mary, who never for a moment turned from the Face of God, seeking only His Divine Will, had a choice.  With total self-emptying and humility, at both the Annunciation and at Christ’s Passion, and with the greatest love that is humanly possible, knowing this total self-giving would mean great suffering and sacrifice, Mary said “Fiat,” “Let it be done unto me according to Thy word.”  So when Mary looks at our faces, she sees the Face of her son, Jesus.  There is no division in her Immaculate Heart.  She will never forget us.  Let us never forget her and pray for those who do not know Our Mother’s great love.

The Deposition of Christ by Fra Angelico
“Where the Word of God became flesh” The Grotto in Nazareth–the heart of Christianity. Photo by Paul Badde
The stairway leading to the Grotto, from above. Photo by Paul Badde

St. Joseph: An excess of love!

St. Joseph Altar in Louisiana

Where I live, in Louisiana, Catholics have a beautiful tradition of making St. Joseph’s altars to honor the great foster-father of Jesus on his feast day.  The hard work and preparations involved are only exceeded by the love that impels persons to try to express, in some way, that great love–and for many that way is with food.  The variety and colors delight the eyes, the flavors delight the taste.  The symbolism of the forms is rich and deep.  It is almost too much to take in.

St. Joseph

St. Joseph had much to “take in” as well–to take Mary, a virgin, as his spouse. That she would be the Mother of the Redeemer and that he, Joseph, would become the foster-father of Jesus, his own Savior. It is excessive! Over whelming! How must St. Joseph have felt to look into the Face of little Jesus and be reminded of the excess of the love of the Father? That same loving Father invites us to the feast He has prepared for us through His Son Jesus–if only we begin by turning to gaze at His Face.

 

Lenten Reflection on the Face of Christ in “Silence”

“In Shusaku Endo’s Silence, Rodrigues’s devotion to the Face of Christ becomes the key to understanding his particular path to Calvary….”

Japanese “fumie” of Jesus Christ

While the release of Martin Scorsese’s film “Silence” stirred up much discussion and controversy about this story of Jesuit missionaries under persecution in Japan, very few have noted the deep significance of the Face of Christ in Shusaku Endo’s original novel.  This article–The Face of Christ: Shusaka Endo’s Silence, by Lauren Enk Mann at Imaginative Conservative explains the pivotal role the Face of Christ plays in the spiritual journey of the central character. The novel “Silence” may also be a good Lenten reflection on suffering, the Passion and humility that we are each meant to share with Christ, as well as a path to self-knowledge, by reflecting upon our own weaknesses in the light of His Face.  

“Behind his closed eyelids he would pass through every scene in the life of Christ. From childhood the face of Christ had been for him the fulfillment of his every dream and ideal.… Even in its moments of terrible torture this face had never lost its beauty. Those soft, clear eyes which pierced to the very core of a man’s being were now fixed upon him. The face that could do no wrong, utter no word of insult….” (full article here)

Act of Consecration to the Holy Face

 “May the Lord grant that in the new millennium, the Church will grow ever more in holiness, that she may become in history a true epiphany of the merciful and glorious Face of Christ the Lord.” –Pope St. John Paul II

Illustration Godescalc Illuminated manuscript, commissioned by King Charlemagne in 781, may be the most important "missing link" in depictions of the Face of Christ from the Holy Sudarium. Photo:Paul Badde
Illustration from Godescalc Illuminated manuscript, commissioned by King Charlemagne in 781, which may be considered the most important “missing link” in depictions of the Face of Christ from the Holy Sudarium. Information and photo:Paul Badde

 

Act of Consecration to the Holy Face

Holy Face of Manoppello, photo: Patricia Enk
Holy Face of Manoppello,                   photo: Patricia Enk

O Lord Jesus, we believe most firmly in You, we love You.  You are the Eternal Son of God and the Son Incarnate of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  You are the Lord and Absolute Ruler of all creation.  We acknowledge You, therefore, as the Universal Sovereign of all creatures.  You are the Lord and Supreme Ruler of all mankind, and we, in acknowledging this Your dominion, consecrate ourselves to You now and forever.  Loving Jesus, we place our family under the protection of Your Holy Face, and of Your Virgin Mother Mary most sorrowful.  We promise to be faithful to You for the rest of our lives and to observe with fidelity Your Holy Commandments.  We will never deny before men, You and Your Divine rights over us and all mankind.  Grant us the grace to never sin again; nevertheless, should we fail, O Divine Saviour, have mercy on us and restore us to Your grace.  Radiate Your Divine Countenance upon us and bless us now and forever.  Embrace us at the hour of our death in Your Kingdom for all eternity, through the intercession of Your Blessed Mother, of all Your Saints who behold You in Heaven, and the just who glorify You on earth.  O Jesus, be mindful of us forever and never forsake us; protect our family.  O Mother of Sorrows, by the eternal glory which you enjoy in Heaven, through the merits of your bitter anguish in the Sacred Passion of your Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, obtain for us the grace that the Precious Blood shed by Jesus for the redemption of our souls, be not shed for us in vain.  We love you, O Mary.  Embrace us and bless us, O Mother.  Protect us in life and in death.  Amen. 

Glory 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.

Wishing you all a holy Lent under the gaze of the Holy Face of Jesus.

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

“All of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image.” (2 Cor 3:18)

Prayer for Priests

Bl. Mother Maria Pierina De Micheli
Bl. Mother Maria Pierina De Micheli

“Eternal Father, we offer Thee, with the hands of Mary, the Holy Face of Jesus, Thy Son, and the entire generous holocaust of all that we are, in reparation for so many sins that are committed, and, especially, for offenses against the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. We make this offering, in a particular way, so that Priests, by the holiness of their lives, may show the world the adorable features of the Divine Countenance shining with the light of truth and love, for the triumph of the Church, and for the spread of the Kingdom.” Bl. Mother Maria Pierina De Micheli, “Missionary of the Holy Face”

Prayer to the Holy Face by Pope St. John Paul II

St. Pope John Paul II "In the Eucharist, the Face of Christ is turned towards us."
St. Pope John Paul II
“In the Eucharist, the Face of Christ is turned towards us.”

Lord Jesus, Crucified and Risen; the image of the glory of the Father, Holy Face, which looks at us and searches for us, kind and merciful, You who call us to conversion and invite us for the fullness of love, we adore and bless You.  In Your Luminous Face, we learn to love and to be loved, to find freedom and reconciliation, to promote peace, which radiates from You and leads to You. 

In Your glorified Face we learn to overcome every form of egoism, to hope against hope, to choose works of life against the actions of death.  Give us grace to place you at the centre of our life, to remain faithful amidst dangers and the changes of the world, to our Christian vocation; to announce to all people the power of the Cross and the Word which saves; to be watchful and active, to attend the needs of the little ones; to understand the need of true liberation, which had its beginning in You and will have its end in You.

Lord, grant to Your Church to stand like Your Virgin Mother, at the glorious Cross, and at the crosses of all people to bring about consolation, hope and comfort.

May the Holy Spirit which You have granted, bring to maturation Your work of salvation, through Your Holy Face, which shines forever and ever.  Amen.

Mural by Dom Gregory DeWitt, St. Joseph Abbey, Louisiana
Mural by Dom Gregory DeWitt,               St. Joseph Abbey, Louisiana