What is the soul’s deepest longing? The answer to that question is another question: what do you seek? Do you seek truth, love, or joy? Peace? Endless fulfillment? Beauty? The desire for all these things are good, but our weak human nature usually seeks them in all the wrong places, when there is only one place where all may be found, that is, in God. The real search begins when we begin to seek God’s Face.
In his Confessions, St. Augustine told of his search in his youth for love, joy, beauty, et cetera… but “looking in all the wrong places” he turned to sexual immorality, living with a woman for thirteen years — which only left his restless heart deeply unsatisfied. He then sought to quench his desires intellectually, which led to strange religions and philosophies. But when he heard St. Ambrose speak in Milan, and thanks also to the persevering prayers of his mother, St. Monica, God’s grace moved his heart to recognize what was true and beautiful. But he still found it difficult to give up his sinful life.
One day in a garden, still struggling with his passions, St. Augustine heard the voice of a child repeating, “take and read, take and read.” He looked around but no one was there, but there was a Bible laying open beside him. Picking it up, he read the words from Romans 13:13-14 “…not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”
St. Augustine was at a turning point. “What” he sought became “Whom” — Jesus Christ. By seeking the Face of God in His Word, he began his transformation in Christ, eventually becoming a Bishop and Doctor of the Church. His life of prayer, praise, and contemplation of the Blessed Trinity led to the fulfillment of the longing of his heart, which is the longing of every heart — to see the Face of God and find there all truth, beauty, goodness, love, joy, peace, and endless fulfillment in HIM.
Prayer of St. Augustine
“My Lord and my God, my only hope, hear my prayer so that I may not give in to discouragement and cease to seek you. May I desire always to see your face. Give me strength for the search. You who caused me to find you and gave the hope of a more perfect knowledge of you. I place before you my steadfastness, that you may preserve it, and my weakness, that you may heal it. I place before you my knowledge, and my ignorance. If you open the door to me, welcome the one who enters. If you have closed the gate, open it to the one who calls. Make me always remember you, understand you, and love you. Increase those gifts in me until I am completely changed.
When we come up into your presence, these many things we talk about now without understanding them will cease, and you alone will remain everything in everyone, and then we will sing as one an eternal hymn of praise and we too will become one with you.”
The Apostles “with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary, the Mother of Jesus.” (Acts 1:14)
As an infant is inseparable from its mother, so the infant Church was inseparable from Mary, the loving Mother of the Church. An infant must be loved and nurtured in order to learn, grow, and mature, taking its first steps while holding tightly to the hands of its mother.
Mary, conceived without sin, was already filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and therefore she is a perfect reflection of the Face of God. So, the Apostles looked to Mary, “Full of Grace,” as their model perfectly formed in the image of God, as they prayed for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
This is the work of the Holy Spirit of Love– to sanctify our souls, shining upon us the radiance of His light, transforming us into the image of God, as we gaze on God’s Face in prayer.
“All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image, from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18)
In Mary, the Holy Spirit manifests the Son of the Father…filled with the Holy Spirit she makes the Word of God, Jesus Christ, visible in order to make Him known to us. Like all good mothers, our Mother Mary will obtain all the good gifts that her children will need from her Spouse, the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. The Holy Spirit then perfects the soul with the first fruits of eternal glory: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity — so we may more closely resemble Jesus Christ.
Let us remain “with one accord in prayer” with Mary, as the Apostles did, for it is “through Mary the Holy Spirit begins to bring men, the objects of God’s merciful love, into communion with Christ.” (CCC 725)
To Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit
Daughter of the Most High, Mother of God, faithful Spouse of the Holy Spirit — yet also Mary of Nazareth, Joseph’s wife, my mother– hear my prayer for grace, O Full of Grace. Pray your Spouse the Holy Spirit to come upon me — to shelter from all ill, to strengthen me to do what is right, to teach me all truth. Pray him come to me, and abide with me, and be within me a fountain springing up unto eternal life. May he sustain me in sorrow, sanctify me in life, and receive me at the hour of my death. Holy Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the Church, pray for us.
There is a day of great celebration and joy, in Manoppello, Italy each May, commemorating the arrival, centuries ago, of the Holy Veil bearing a miraculous image of the Face of Jesus. “Il Volto Santo,” the Veil of the Holy Face, is carried in a solemn procession from the Basilica Shrine to San Nicholas Church in the city center.
The precious relic of the Holy Face of Jesus first appeared in Manoppello “around 1506,” in the hands of a mysterious stranger who was thought to have been a Holy Angel. This is the history:
The Story of the Arrival of the Veil of the Holy Face in Manoppello
In 1638, “a devout and well-respected man” named Don Antonio Fabritiis donated a precious Veil bearing the Face of Christ to the Capuchin monastery in the small, isolated mountain village of Manoppello, Italy. A document entitled Relazione Historica re-telling the local legend of the Veil was written by Capuchin Donato da Bomba and notarized in 1646 and then, certified by sixteen local witnesses. The story told of the arrival of the Veil in Mannoppello, “in around 1506,”(the date was vague) in the hands of a mysterious stranger who was thought to have been a holy angel. (Aside from the “angel,” the main characters in the story have been historically verified.)
The recorded story told was this: “There lived in Manoppello the very famous Giacomo Antonio Leonelli, doctor in medicine…one day when he was out in the public square just outside of the door of the Mother church of the town of Manoppello, St. Nicholas Bari, in honest conversation with other peers, and while they were speaking a pilgrim arrived unknown by anyone, with a very venerable religious appearance, who having greeted this beautiful circle of citizens, he said, with many terms of manners, and of humility to Dr. Giacomo Antonio Leonelli that he had to speak with him about a secret thing which would be very pleasing, useful and profitable for him. And thus, taking him aside just inside the doorway of the church of St. Nicholas Bari, gave him a parcel, and without unfolding it told him that he ought to hold this devotion very dear, because God would do him many favors, so that in things both temporal and spiritual he would always prosper.” So the doctor took the parcel and turning towards the holy water fount carefully opened it, and “seeing the Most Sacred Face of Our Lord Christ…he burst into most tender tears…and thanking God for such a gift…turned to the unknown pilgrim to thank him…but he did not see him anymore.” When the good doctor, “shaken” and “filled with wonder,” went outside to his friends and asked where the man went, his friends replied that they never saw him exit the church. They searched high and low but never found the mysterious pilgrim, “hence all judged that the man in the form of a pilgrim to be a heavenly Angel, or else a Saint from Paradise.”
The Holy Veil remained the property of the Leonelli family for nearly a century, until a family member in need of money sold the Veil to Don Antonio Fabritiis, who in turn gave it to the Capuchins in 1638. The Holy Veil, called the “Il Volto Santo,” was kept in a dimly lit side chapel until the church was renovated in 1960, when it was decided that the Veil should be moved to a more prominent place behind the altar.
What did the Face on the gossamer-thin Veil look like? Here are portions of a description that Capuchin Donato da Bomba gave of the Holy Face: “He has a rather long, well-proportioned face, with a venerable and majestic look. His hair, or locks are long with thin twisted curls–in particular at the top of the forehead about fifty hairs wind into a little corkscrew, distinct from each other and well arranged. His left cheek is swollen and bigger than the other because of a strong blow across the cheek. The lips are very swollen. His teeth show. It seems the Holy Face is made of living flesh, but flesh that is afflicted, emaciated, sad, sorrowful, pale and covered in bruises around the eyes and on the forehead. The eyes of Christ are similar to those of a dove…He is serene and tranquil.”
“Those who gaze on it are never satisfied with contemplating it, and wish to always have it before their eyes. And when they eventually leave it, with heavy sighs full of love, they are forced to leave Him their hearts, bathed in tears.” –Capuchin Donato da Bomba 1646
On September 1, 2006, another pilgrim (some also may say an “angelic pilgrim”) came to Manoppello to see for himself the Holy Face of Jesus on the Veil–Pope Benedict XVI, who has elevated the status of the Shrine to a Sanctuary Basilica. “Your Face O Lord I seek–seeking the Face of Jesus must be the longing of all Christians, indeed, we are ‘the generation’ which seeks His Face in our day, the Face of the ‘God of Jacob.’ If we persevere in our quest for the Face of the Lord, at the end of our earthly pilgrimage, He, Jesus, will be our eternal joy, our reward and glory forever.”–Pope Benedict XVI, September 1, 2006
The Face of Manoppello, which may be viewed from both sides, is described as “dark,” “light,” “bluish”, “golden” or it may even “vanish completely”…all are different, but, it is one Face!
A new book will be available in May about the life of the Servant of God Padre Domenico Da Cese, the holy Capuchin, and former Rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello. Padre Domenico spent countless hours praying before the Holy Veil which miraculously bears the image of the Face of Jesus. Like his friend and fellow Capuchin St. Padre Pio the humble Padre Domenico was a mystic and stigmatist who had extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit.
(For more about St. Padre Pio’s last case of bilocation and Padre Domenico click here.)
As a nine-year-old boy in 1915, Padre Domenico predicted the devastating Avenzzano earthquake in Italy. A 6.7 earthquake hit that region the next morning, killing more than 30,000 people, including two of his sisters and burying him and his father in the rubble of their church. A man he didn’t know pulled him from the rubble to safety, whose face he later recognized on his first visit as a friar to the Shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello. When Padre Domenico knelt before the “Il Volto Santo” or Face of Jesus, the miraculous veil, he exclaimed, “This is the man who saved me from the rubble!” He remained at the Shrine as Rector until the time of his death in 1978.
“When will the veil be lifted for me as well? Although I see and feel to a certain extent how very thin is the veil separating me from the Lord, I long to see Him face to face; but let everything be done according to Your will.”
“O King of Glory, though You hide Your beauty, yet the eye of my soul rends the veil”
“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 the time will come when You unveil Your Countenance, and Your child will again see Your sweet Face…I am listening and waiting for Your coming, O only Treasure of my heart!” –St. Faustina
“Be blessed, merciful God, Eternal Love, / You are above the heavens, the sapphires, the firmaments, / The hosts of pure spirits sings You praises, / With its eternal hymn: Thrice Holy.
And, gazing upon You, face to face, O God, / I see that You could have called other creatures before them, / Therefore they humble themselves before You in great humility, / For well they see that this grace comes solely from Your mercy.”
“Kept in a village church in the mountains of Italy is a veil bearing what some believe to be the image of the face of Jesus….”
Kathryn Jean Lopez, contributing editor to Angelus Magazine, and editor-at-large of National Review Online has written a fine article about the Veil of the Holy Face of Manoppello, and how devotion to the face of Jesus can make all the difference in our lives. With permission, it has been re-printed here:
A Window Into His Love
by Kathryn Jean Lopez/Angelus
There’s an altar dedicated to the Holy Face of Jesus at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, New York, where I find myself many days for Mass and prayer. It is one of the spots I am always drawn to. It has a cloth with an image of our Lord.
Despite being in the middle of everything — and maybe it’s all the more powerful because it is — there can be great quiet there, right on Fifth Avenue in one of the busiest cities in the world, and opportunities for deep prayer. I’m forever seeing piety from daily visitors, joggers, and tourists who appear to be seeking the face of God whenever the doors of the church are open.
This particular altar is definitely no exception. I’ll often see flowers left behind, a man kneeling, a woman lighting a candle. And I always feel like I am being drawn deeper into a love story — God’s love for us.
From the Holy Face, my route is largely the same every time I’m there on my way to the Blessed Sacrament chapel dedicated to Our Lady. I always stop at the sixth station on the wall and look at the depiction of the face of Jesus there.
I always try to get into the line of sight, between Jesus and Veronica. Veronica is so moved by the suffering of Christ in his passion that she walks up and gives him her veil to wipe his sweat and blood on, to give him a moment’s relief.
Sometimes I see someone working on the frontlines of love — whether it be family life, or supporting struggling families, or another more hidden or thankless ministry; sometimes it’s the priesthood, and I want to do the same.
Whatever church I’m in, truth be told, it does not have to be as grand as the cathedral in Manhattan or anywhere else — I’m always drawn to this station. I imagine myself looking at Jesus in his passion. Sometimes I’m pretty sure I can see him looking at me.
We make him suffer and he knows our suffering. We’re together every day. These two profound realities are how we can more consciously live our lives with God.
Lent is about remembering that, returning to him in love, knowing his presence. Seeing his face — most importantly in the Eucharist, especially after a good Confession — makes all the difference.
It often doesn’t take very long after leaving a church in a city to encounter his face again in the faces of others.
The other day it was the counterterrorism officer who was checking the outside of the cathedral with a dog who was sniffing everything that could be a potential hidden threat (the dirt and grass by the handicap ramp; the box that keeps the traffic light on the corner sidewalk running).
If I’m at St. Patrick’s, frequently the first people I see there are tourists taking selfies. “May they see Christ’s image in them!” I whisper in prayer — sometimes as a plea, because God would appear furthest from their minds, on the surface between Victoria’s Secret and NBA store bags (such is the neighborhood).
Most especially, Jesus’ face can be — and must be, for the sake of our souls and for the love of every man and woman and child on earth, which is how we love God in this mess of a world — seen in a man nesting on concrete, asking for spare change or a meal, desperate to be noticed, never mind loved.
In so many of the artistic depictions of the Holy Face of Jesus, both his love and our need are laid bare. (If you were to Google now, you will find plenty of them. I’m partial to El Greco, but I always am.) There’s something about artistic renditions of his face that always seem to capture the depths of love.
The human imagination captures something both of the truth of God and our longing for him. And as beautiful as so many of them are, they only begin to tell the story. They flow from the love of Jesus on the cross, a love that most of us have not even begun to fully truly appreciate.
There’s no requirement to believe the Shroud of Turin or the Veil of Manoppello are, in fact, evidence of the Lord’s death and resurrection. But they do seem yet more windows into his love for us, not just in the images themselves but in the possible physical evidence for the skeptical and notes of love for the faithful they so many pilgrims believe them to be.
As German journalist Paul Badde has laid out, the two of them, when brought together, show the exact same face — one a man who has died, and one of the same man with his eyes opened — and healed.
Badde has literally written the book on the Holy Face, which is preserved at a shrine in the mountain village of Manoppello, Italy. Ask him to talk about the face of Christ, and he will immediately be making plans to show you things.
If you can’t plan a day trip to Manoppello with the Holy Face, he will show you a replica in his apartment, and likely hand you a card with its image before you part ways.
He says it was the Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe who first brought the Holy Face of Jesus to his attention — because she always brings you to her Son. He’s since written of the Veil of Manoppello as an adventurous investigation.
He’s convinced this is the face of Jesus and that it is about the most important relic there is because of the deeper knowledge it draws us into, the reality of Jesus in our lives and in our world. God “didn’t become a book, he became a person. God became a person. Man.”
Badde is not the only evangelist for Manoppello. In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI took a pilgrimage to the shrine where it resides in the Abruzzo mountains.
He said at the time: “As the Psalms say, we are all ‘seeking the Face of the Lord.’ And this is also the meaning of my visit. Let us seek together to know the face of the Lord ever better, and in the face of the Lord let us find this impetus of love and peace, which also reveals to us the path of our life.”
The “Volto Santo” (“Holy Face”) has very much become a ministry for Badde. He believes it is critical in this age of disbelief to stop and look and consider the implications of a God who would live and die and be resurrected for love of us and to redeem us for our sins for eternity.
He fears that so many — even at high levels in the Church — don’t actually believe in the Resurrection. The Holy Face can change this, he believes. And he’s not only talking about people in the pews, but theologians and bishops, too.
Maybe that explains how scandals can happen — the weakness of belief, the rise of unbelief and outright hostility to real religious faith, even where it would be expected to be most solid. They think resurrection is “good preaching or … a living community.
“No, resurrection is real. Jesus was dead and he resurrected from the dead. He’s alive. From the dead to alive. … That’s so important. It’s so important against all the heresies about it, because all the heresies … at the foundation … are about not believing in the Resurrection anymore.”
He believes the veil bears witness to the reality of the Resurrection, which is why he is somewhat tenderly relentless about telling its story.
In his own reflection on the relic, Cardinal Robert Sarah says: “In Manoppello we encounter God face-to-face. It is such a moving place. One is so touched by the gentleness of Christ’s eyes, with their extraordinary penetrating and calming power. And when we let ourselves be seen by him, his gaze purifies and heals us. We can really sense how much Jesus has loved us — so much as to die for us. For true love is dying for the one you love.”
It’s hard to miss that when I ask Badde about the veil, his morning routine, and how he spends his days. All he can talk about is the love of God and the love he draws us into in the Eucharist and the eyes we see on the face on the veil.
When meditating on the Holy Face of Jesus, whether the Shroud of Turin, the Veil of Manoppello, your parish’s sixth station of the cross, or whatever image your Google search seeking his face lands you on, be drawn in to the truth of what we celebrate as “Good” on that last Friday before Easter year after year.
There’s no guarantee any one of us will live to see another Paschal Triduum — so don’t let Holy Week be reduced to a series of mere obligations and traditions.
Gaze at the Lord in his passion, walk with him even to the gates of hell on Holy Saturday. Go to the empty tomb with Mary Magdalene in prayer. Make his love story for us the story of your life, because this is what he wants, this is our identity as Christians.
Look at him with love and let him look at you with just a touch of a taste of the enormity of his love for you. And you will see this more and more as everything. And you will see his face more and more in the world, just as others will be able to see his face in yours by how you look at them with love.
Manoppello is worth reading more about. But even if you don’t, remember the love with which the Lord looks down at you from the cross, remember the love with which he forgives and heals and makes you new again. Keep seeking his face.
Update: EWTN Bookmark Interview with Paul Badde by Doug Keck may now be viewed (scroll down for Youtube video)
What if you had discovered something that was beyond incredible–something that was, in fact, supernatural–drawing you more deeply in love with Jesus Christ? Would you be willing to suffer skepticism, mockery, and even hostility from others in order to share this treasure of love and mercy with the world? Well, something like that does exist: It is called the Veil of Manoppello, and Satan is enraged, because this fragile veil is turning souls toward the Face of God.
During Holy Week we will have an opportunity to learn more about the Holy Veil, and are invited to share this precious gift with others — EWTN will air The Human Face of God in the Holy Veil of Manoppello. And beginning on Easter Sunday, EWTN Bookmark with Doug Keck will interview Paul Badde about his recent book, The Holy Veil of Manoppello. (Details on days and times are listed below.) Though skeptics abound, those who have actually made the pilgrimage to see it with their own eyes have this to say about the miraculous relic of a veil displayed for all the world to “come and see” in the Sanctuary Basilica of Manoppello:
“The Face of Christ is the first, the noblest, and the most precious treasure of the whole of Christendom — more, of the whole earth.” –Archbishop Ganswein, prefect of the Pontifical Household
“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.” –Robert Cardinal Sarah
“The Face is the monstrance of the heart. In the Holy Face the heart of God becomes visible.”
–Joachim Cardinal Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne
“My visit to the Volto Santo of Manoppello was moving and profound. It took a very cherished idea and made it personal and real. I will always treasure the half-hour I had to pray privately before the holy image. It is alive; even the expression changes from different angles and with different lighting. It is like looking at a real human face, looking into the face of Jesus. The eyes, especially, are very alive and penetrating. My love for Jesus Christ has become much more personal now.” — Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone
Much remains hidden from the wise and prudent, that God however does reveal to lesser minds in the humility of Faith. Gazing into the most holy face of Jesus, as it was traced into the sudarium on his head, should give us new strength that our life may hold true in the eyes of God. For we believe and know that we will one day see God through and in Christ, the image of God, “face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12) –Gerhard Cardinal Müller
“I saw the Holy Face under the changing of the light, not only a Face of tenderness, but of welcoming. I saw a Face smiling at me, almost saying, “Welcome Luis Antonio!” It is a Face that speaks, it is alive, yes, it is the message, the Word is the Face, It is also a Face turned towards me, but I did not feel fear, fear in front of a judge, or of a face which condemns. A Face of Truth, and the Truth is love, love wins out over fear.”
“It is not an object of another time; it is the icon of the eternal Face, the Face of goodness and of friendship, of mercy and of peace. The Face that speaks, that examines, that asks, that awaits a response. It seems to say: ‘Look at me, you who are tired. Come to me and I will give you rest.’…We fix our gaze on the Holy Face and we will be transformed by God’s mercy. The sign is not an end in itself; the sign is a pointer on the way of the return, the return to the Father.” –Archbishop Edmond Y. Farhat
The Human Face of God in the Holy Veil of Manoppellowill air on EWTN:
Monday, April 15 at 8:00 am ET
Good Friday, April 19 at 2:00 am ET
Holy Saturday, April 20 at 10:30 am ET
I only wish this fascinating interview were longer! “It is much more easy to believe that God is dead than the living God and Resurrected Christ.” Paul’s comment hits the nail on the head about the current crisis of faith, and the deep significance of the meaning of the reappearance of this holy relic of the Face of Christ in Manoppello.
EWTN Bookmark with Doug Keck – Interview with author Paul Badde on his book The Holy Veil of Manoppello will air:
Easter Sunday, April 21 at 9:30 am ET
re-airing on Easter Monday, April 22 at 5:00 am and 5:00 pm ET, and the following Saturday, April 27 at 1:30 pm. It will also be broadcast on EWTN Radio (See local times)
Wishing you all a very blessed Holy Week and Easter!
Daisy Neves in front of her Beloved Holy Face of Jesus
Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN
“We have no need of wings to go and search for Him, but have only to find a place where we can be alone and look upon Him present within us.”
So said St. Teresa of Jesus, and yet even this Doctor of the Church recommended having an image of Jesus before us to come to the aid of our human weakness. “Never set aside the Sacred Humanity of Christ,” she said. We cannot come to the Father except through Him. Intimacy with Jesus draws us into the life of the Trinity. “If we can, we should occupy ourselves in looking at Him Who is looking at us; keep Him company; talk with Him; pray to Him; humble ourselves before Him; have our delight in Him.” This mutual gaze of love, which is prayer, bears fruit in the soul and a burning desire to share in some way the love of Christ with others — to make Him known and loved. Such was the desire of Daisy Neves.
Daisy, first glimpsed the Holy Face of Manoppello in 2006, in a newspaper photo of Pope Benedict XVI in prayer before the holy relic. She made up her mind then that she must see it. Five years later, at Easter in 2011, she found herself face to face before the Holy Veil bearing the Face of Jesus. Her heart was moved to such a degree that she placed all her money in the collection before returning home to America.
From that moment on, she told everyone she met about the Veil with the Face of Jesus in Manoppello, Italy. Daisy travelled the world, in spite of illness and obstacles, and she relentlessly sought whatever means she could to share the love of Jesus made manifest by the veil of His Holy Face. Daisy has now entered into Eternal Life. But by the fruit of her deep love and devotion, she brought the image of Holy Face to basilicas, churches, and orphanages. Through her efforts, replicas of the Holy Veil have been enthroned in many churches throughout the world, drawing many souls to contemplate in prayer and experience, as she did, the merciful loving gaze of her beloved Jesus. May she gaze on God’s Face for all eternity. Daisy Neves, Requiescat in Pace!
“Something new happens at The Incarnation, because now God’s Face can be seen: The Son of God was made man and He is given a Name, Jesus.”
“While we too seek other signs, other wonders, we do not realize that He is the real sign, God made flesh; He is the greatest miracle of the universe: all the love of God hidden in a human heart, in a human face!” — Pope Benedict XVI
“He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9)
“The most illustrious thing the Church has is that which she hides most.” ~Bossuet
His countless virtues made him worthy to be the foster father of the Son of God. He was the first man to see the human Face of God; the first man to hear the cry of the Word of God. Yet for centuries the most just and humble St. Joseph was fairly hidden in the Church. Not a word is spoken by St. Joseph in the Gospels. But as Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “His is a silence permeated by contemplation of the mystery of God, in an attitude of total availability to His divine wishes.”
It was St. Teresa of Avila who recognized St. Joseph as the model of contemplative prayer. She wrote: “Would that I could persuade all men to have devotion to this glorious Saint; for I know by long experience what blessings he can obtain for us from God.” Because St. Joseph was silent, he was attuned to hear the voice of God, although it was in darkness and obscurity. “Those who practice prayer,” says St. Teresa, “should have a tremendous devotion to him always.”
“Joseph, the honest man, seeks God. Joseph, the selfless man, finds God. Joseph, the hidden man, delights in God’s presence.” –Second Panegyric on St. Joseph by Bossuet
St. Joseph, through continuous prayer, sought God’s Will in each present moment. St. Teresa writes that he is the master of the interior life. “In human life Joseph was Jesus’ master in their daily contact, full of refined affection, glad to deny himself in order to take better care of Jesus. Isn’t that reason enough for us to consider this just man, this holy patriarch, in whom the faith of the old covenant bears fruit, as master of interior life? Interior life is nothing but continual and direct conversation with Christ, so as to become one with Him. And Joseph can tell us many things about Jesus.” St. Joseph reveals those hidden graces in our daily lives; gifts from God that are available in each ordinary moment, as well as in trials and times of suffering. St. Joseph teaches us to live by faith as he did, before the presence of such a great mystery, by contemplating the human Face of God with the eyes of faith.
“In the wonder of the Incarnation your Eternal Word has brought to the eyes of faith a new and radiant vision of your glory. In him we see our God made visible, and so are caught up in the love of the God we cannot see.” (from the Christmas liturgy of the Mass)