Mass of the Roses in honor of St. Therese of The Child Jesus and The Holy Face

Happy Feast of St. Therese! painting by Brenda Burke
Happy Feast of St. Therese!
painting by Brenda Burke

October 1st marks the feast day of St. Therese of The Child Jesus and The Holy Face.  But, on Sunday, October 4th, Therese will be honored once again at the annual “Mass of the Roses” held at the Discalced Carmelite Monastery on River Road in Covington, Louisiana.  Friends, family and religious come together for the Holy Eucharist and joyful celebration of the life and example  of St. Therese. (More details below.) Of course, there are many, many children present and a “Shower of Roses from Heaven” fall, just as St. Therese has promised!

Mass of the Roses from 2014: Fr. Vic Messina presiding
Mass of the Roses from 2014: Fr. Vic Messina presiding

Children come in procession for "the blessing of the roses." Children gather for the “blessing of the roses.”

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.” 

"Holy Face of Tours"
“Holy Face of Tours”

St. Therese’ sister Celine (Sr. Genevieve of the Holy Face), also wrote that “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.” 

— St. Therese of The Child Jesus and The Holy Face

This year’s Mass of Roses this year is exceptional because it will not only be in honor of St. Therese but also in honor of the 5th Centenary of the birth of the foundress of the Discalced Carmelites, St. Teresa of Avila. Shuttle service from off-site parking to the Monastery will be available beginning a 8:15 am.  At 9:00 am  there will be a flute prelude by Sr. Grace.  Holy Eucharist will be celebrated at 9:30 am with Fr. Ephrem Arcement, OSB as the main celebrant.  Immediately following Mass, the children are very welcome to join in procession, carrying roses to the altar  to be blessed and distributed.  10:30 am wonderful refreshments will be served thanks to many gracious sponsors.  Hand-made items, as well as cookies, pies and bread from the Sister’s kitchen will be for sale as well as a variety of religious article, books and gifts. A  children’s area will be set up for face-painting, artwork and other fun activities.

St. Therese of The Child Jesus and The Holy Face Icon by Patricia Enk
St. Therese of The Child Jesus and The Holy Face Icon by Patricia Enk

A special table will also be set up for Holy Face books, Chaplets, Images and Medals.  For the past few years I’ve done an icon of St. Therese for silent auction.  This is a photo of last year’s icon.  (I don’t have a photo of this years icon as I’m still “taking it down to the wire” with last minute touches.)

If you are in the neighborhood, I hope you can join us!

“Your Face is my only wealth, I ask nothing more.  Hiding myself in it unceasingly, I will resemble You, Jesus.  Leave in me, the Divine Impress of Your features filled with sweetness, and soon I’ll become holy.  I shall draw hearts to You.” — St. Therese of The Child Jesus and The Holy Face





St. Padre Pio’s visit to the Holy Face

St. Padre Pio
St. Padre Pio

“I never cease to implore blessings for you from Jesus, and to beg the Lord to transform you totally in Him.  How beautiful His Face, how sweet His eyes and what a good thing it is to stay close to Him…”–St. Padre Pio O.F.M.Cap

St. Padre Pio, a Friar Minor Capuchin priest and mystic, was well-known for his many spiritual gifts such as the stigmata, bi-location, and for his ability to read the hearts of penitents who came to him in confession.  During his life St. Padre Pio suffered as Our Lord did, not only through physical pain, but by humiliations, calumny, slander and mistrust that deeply wounded his heart, in this he shared in the suffering of the Face of Christ.

He wrote in his meditations on The Agony of Jesus of the Face of Jesus, the “Innocent Lamb,” “His Face covered with sadness and at the same time with love:”

“He [Jesus] seems to be at the extremity of suffering… He is prostrate with His Face to the ground before the majesty of His Father.  The Sacred Face of Him Who enjoys through the hypostatic union the beatific vision of the Divine Glory accorded to both Angels and Saints in Heaven, lies disfigured on the ground.  My God!  My Jesus!  Art Thou not the God of Heaven and earth, equal in all things to Thy Father, Who humiliates Thee to the point of losing even the semblance of man?   …It is to repair and expiate for my haughtiness, that Thou bowest down thus before Thy Father.”

Servant of God, Padre Domenico da Cese, friend and fellow Capuchin of St. Padre Pio
Servant of God, Padre Domenico da Cese, fellow Capuchin and friend of St. Padre Pio

It is no wonder then, in the extremity of his own suffering, St. Padre Pio’s last case of bi-location was before the relic of the Holy Face of Jesus at the shrine of “Il Volto Santo” in Manoppello, Italy, 200 km north of San Giovanni Rotundo, where Padre Pio lay dying.  His friend and fellow Friar Minor Capuchin, the Servant of God, Padre Domenico da Cese, was at that time the rector of the shrine.  Padre Domenico gave testimony that at the dawn of the last day of St. Padre Pio’s earthly life, he unlocked the doors of the shrine of the Holy Face and was astounded to find Padre Pio in prayer, in the choir behind the altar before the Sacred Image of the Face of Jesus.  St. Padre Pio spoke then to Padre Domenico saying, “I do not trust myself any more.  I am coming to an end.  Pray for me.  Good bye until we meet in Paradise.”  24 hours later St. Padre Pio died in his cell in San Giovanni.

Way of the Cross, 6th Station Our Lady of Grace Capuchin Friary, San Giovanni "Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus"
Way of the Cross, 6th Station, Our Lady of Grace Capuchin Friary, San Giovanni “Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus”

“If I know that someone is afflicted in body or in soul, what will I not do in the presence of the Lord to see him freed from these evils?  I should willingly take upon myself all his sufferings, if I could only free him from them.  I should surrender in his favor the fruits of these sufferings, if the Lord were to permit it.” — St. Padre Pio

Below are photos of the miraculous image “Il Volto Santo” that Padre Pio prayed before in his own agony.  This “living image” is very difficult to capture in a photograph because it is a changing image, one face, an infinite number of expressions but always a Face of Mercy and Peace.

"Il Volto Santo" The Holy Face of Manoppello. Photo by Paul Badde
“Il Volto Santo” The Holy Face of Manoppello. Photos by Paul Badde

Holy Face of Manoppello Photo by Paul Badde

Image of Manoppello Photo by Paul Badde

DSC09818Jesus makes Himself our mirror – “He who never meditates is like a person who never looks in the mirror, therefore, not knowing that he is untidy, he goes out looking disorderly.  The person who meditates and directs his thoughts to God, Who is the mirror of his soul, tries to know his faults, attempts to correct them, moderates his impulses, and puts his conscience in order.” — St. Padre Pio

Like St. Padre Pio let us “look into the mirror” and contemplate always the Face of Christ!





“Like dry weary land without water, so I gaze on You…” Psalm 63:1

Dead trees line the streets in California
Dead trees line the streets in California

The West is experiencing a severe drought; just how bad it was, was brought home to me when I visited the Los Angeles area this past week, after an absence of six years.  I had always been surprised by the lush greenery, flowers, flowering trees and palms that lined the freeways of “Tinsel Town.” That is all gone.  Streets, highways, homes and gardens now display signs that read “Brown is the new green.”  What was once lush, verdant and colorful is now dry as dust, brown, and dead. The West is suffering from a great thirst for water.  It is emblematic of its thirst for God.

“O God, you are my God, for you I long, for you my soul is thirsting, My body pines for you like dry, weary land without water…

It is no secret that Los Angeles is mecca of images, idolatry and false faces.  But on September 8th, the feast of the birth of the Blessed Mother, a replica of a miraculous image arrived in California, bearing the Face of Jesus Christ.  It had traveled all the way from a shrine in a small mountain village in Italy called Manoppello, accompanied by the rector of the Holy Face Sanctuary, Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, OFM Capuchin and Mr. Paul Badde, journalist and author of several books about the Holy Face of Manoppello, who were there to give talks about the Holy Face.  The first stop was the Carmelite Chapel of St. Joseph in Duarte, and the second stop, Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles.

Replica image of the Holy Face of Manoppello, Mass at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral Los Angeles.
Blessed Replica image of the Holy Face of Manoppello, Mass at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral Los Angeles.

Blessed Replica of the Holy Face of Manoppello, at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles

“… So I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and your glory.”  Ps. 63:1

Jesus our Great High Priest offering Himself in The Eucharist, viewed through the miraculous Veil of Manoppello in Italy. Photo: Paul Badde
Jesus our Great High Priest offering Himself in the Eucharist, viewed through the miraculous Veil of Manoppello in Italy. Photo: Paul Badde

It is significant, that this holy image should come to this place, at this time.  Images have great

Miraculous "Holy Face of Manoppello" in Italy Photo:Paul Badde
Miraculous “Holy Face of Manoppello” in Italy Photo:Paul Badde

impact on human beings, for good or evil, as everyone in Hollywood knows.  When God became Man at the Incarnation, He made His Face known to us.  As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has said, the Face of Christ is “the supreme revelation of Christ’s Mercy.”  Pope Francis, has declared an “Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy,” in a Bull of Indiction – THE FACE OF MERCY  from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2015 to the Feast of Christ, King of the Universe and Face of the Father’s Mercy” November 20th, 2016. The primary task of the Church, Pope Francis urges us,  is to be “a herald of mercy,” “especially at a moment full of great hopes and signs of contradiction… to introduce everyone to the great mystery of God’s mercy by contemplation of the Face of Christ.” 

As I departed Los Angeles, a rain shower fell.  It made all the news programs, it was so rare. It seemed to me that the arrival of His Holy Face to Los Angeles was bringing blessings and showering grace on the City of Angels.  The Face of Jesus is the antidote to the poison of sin and evil in the world.  He comes to give us “Living Water.”   Nothing less will quench our thirst.

Let us follow Pope Francis’ exhortation to contemplate the Face of Christ through discipleship, images of the Face of Christ and in the Eucharist, and be true “heralds of mercy” by spreading devotion to the Face of Christ.

Holy Face of Manoppello, Italy Photo: Paul Badde
Holy Face of Manoppello, Italy Photo: Paul Badde

A special thanks to Mr. Paul Badde for allowing me to use his beautiful photos of The Holy Face of Manoppello!


Anniversary – Bl. Mother Teresa and The Merciful Face of Jesus

Re-post in honor of the Anniversary of Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s death September 5th

Mother Teresa source: Flicker
Mother Teresa
photo: Flicker

“Seeking the Face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and His hand in every happening; This is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world.  Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.”  –Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Many Catholic faithful are hoping and praying for the possible canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta during The Holy Year for Mercy. During the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy Pope Francis wants us to “Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and his merciful gaze, that we may experience the love of the Most Holy Trinity.”  He calls us to be merciful to others and reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as a way of awakening our conscience and enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel so that “we become merciful just as our heavenly Father is merciful.” (Lk 6:36)

Blessed Mother Teresa, by her heroic life’s witness of seeking the Face of Christ in the “distressing disguise of the poor,” perfectly exemplified how Christians can live the works of mercy. When someone would ask her what they could do to serve, she was known for taking the person’s hand and touching each finger, she would say, “You-did-it-to-me.” “I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me. Whatever you did to the least of my brethren, you did it to me.”

Blessed Mother Teresa’s example points out to us the primary task of the Church, which, as Pope Francis urges us, is to be a herald of mercy,” “especially at a moment full of great hopes and signs of contradiction, to introduce everyone to the great mystery of God’s mercy by contemplation of the Face of Christ.”

The greatest desire of Bl. Mother Teresa was “to satiate the thirst of Jesus by serving him in the poorest of the poor.” Though suffering spiritual darkness in her own soul, she allowed the blazing brilliance of Christ’s love to radiate through her face to others and she sought continually Jesus’ face in those she served. In photograph after photograph of Mother Teresa we can see her looking intensely into the faces of children, the poor, the sick and the dying, while tenderly caressing their faces, searching in their face for the face of her beloved, Jesus.  Pope Francis tells us, “We must embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison. “ (Mt 25:31) “To love God and neighbor is not something abstract, but profoundly concrete: it means seeing in every person the face of the Lord to be served, to serve him concretely. And you, dear brothers and sisters are the face of Jesus!”

Blessed Mother Teresa heroically carried out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy by being the Merciful Face of Christ to others and by seeing the Merciful Face of Christ in others. Pope Benedict XVI has characterized devotion to the Holy Face as having three separate components:

The first element is discipleship and orientation of one’s life towards an encounter with Jesus, to see Jesus in the face of those in need. In order to do this, believers first need to become better acquainted with Jesus through the Eucharist.  Mother Teresa’s whole being was directed toward this encounter with Jesus in the poor.

Image of Jesus crucified which hung in Mother Teresa's room. It was one of her last sights before dying.
Image of Jesus crucified which hung in Mother Teresa’s room. It was one of her last sights before dying.

The second element is relating to the Passion of Jesus, and the suffering expressed by the images of the wounded Face of Jesus, relating this to the Eucharistic experience. This image of Jesus Crucified hung on the wall of Mother Teresa’s room in Calcutta. It was one of her last sights before dying. She identified completely with the Crucified Jesus. “Jesus, I love with my whole heart, with my whole being, I have given Him all, even my sins, and He has espoused me to Himself in tenderness and love. Now and for life I am the spouse of my Crucified Spouse.”

The third element, the Eucharist, is woven between the other two. The eschatological element then builds on awakening to Christ by contemplating His face in the Eucharist. The Eucharist was central to Mother Teresa’s mission.  “Seek him in the tabernacle. Fix your eyes on Him who is the Light. Bring your hearts close to His Divine Heart and ask Him to grant you the grace of knowing Him.”  She insisted that each Missionary of Charity begin their day in prayerful silence before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus from Whom they drew the strength to serve the poor.

“Jesus gives us two faces,” Pope Francis says, “actually only one real face, that of God reflected in many faces, because in the face of each brother, especially the smallest, the most fragile, the defenseless and the needy, there is God’s own image.  And we must ask ourselves: when we meet one of these brothers, are we able to recognize the face of God in him?”  

If we hope one day to see the Face of God we must open our eyes to our neighbor.  Pope Benedict XVI has said, “closing our eyes to our neighbor also blinds us to God.”

Bl. Mother Teresa, pray for us, help to recognize the Face of Jesus and carry out the “Works of Mercy,” so that we too may contemplate “the Living Face of Christ’s Mercy.”

The Corporal Works of Mercy           The Spiritual Works of Mercy

Feed the Hungry                                              Teach the ignorant

Give Drink to the thirsty                                 Pray for the living and the dead

Clothe the naked                                              Correct sinners

Shelter the homeless                                       Counsel those in doubt

Comfort the prisoners                                     Console the sorrowful

Visit the sick                                                      Bear wrongs patiently

Bury the dead                                                    Forgive wrongs willingly