On New Years Eve, beneath the shadow of the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, one of the most important places of pilgrimage in Europe, about 1,000 drunk and aggressive men of Arab or North African appearance, surrounded groups of young women in order to molest, rob and rape. The young women, who no doubt felt they were safe in the company of friends, were separated by the “men” (the cowardly vermin who attacked those who are weaker) whose primary objective was to perpetrate violence and sexual assault, and to degrade and dehumanize the young women. A video soon surfaced, which originated from the attackers themselves, bragging about their rape of “a virgin” by several of the “men,” some of whom spit upon her as she lay on the ground beaten and bleeding, covered in filth.
To add to the humiliation of the victims, the mayor pointed a finger of blame at the women of the city. The police were blamed for failing in their duty to defend and protect. The men of Germany were equally blamed for not protecting their woman. While politicians avoided blaming the actual perpetrators, there were actually those who would blame God for not protecting the innocent from the wicked.
But it is God Himself who suffers. He suffers in the young women, made in His image, who were assaulted and spit upon. It is God Himself who is blasphemed, either directly or indirectly by those who have malice toward Him, by acts of hatred carried out in the name of their religion.
“You are no God who loves evil; no sinner is your guest. The boastful shall not stand their ground before your Face. You hate all who do evil: you will destroy all who lie. The deceitful and bloodthirsty man the Lord detests.” (Psalm 5)
It is not a coincidence that the violence took place in the shadow of the Holy Cathedral. It is also no coincidence that the attack was upon women. Satan hates “the woman” who is Mary, the Mother of God and directs his attacks upon on all women. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers. He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” (Gen 3:15) “When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, it pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.” (Rev. 12:13) Thus, all women are the special object of his hatred, so we see in our culture a flood of pornography, abortion, and degradation of women, not only by degenerate men, but even by other women.
So, what is the answer to this violence and contempt expressed in blasphemy against other human beings made in God’s image, blasphemy which is ultimately against the Face of God? Wringing our hands over the news and at the culture that has permitted the evil is not the answer. We are not entirely helpless and we have the means in our power to fight against evil: the opposite of blasphemy would be praise of God, the sole object of our exalted esteem, honoring and extolling His Holy Name publicly, to make reparation before the Holy Face of Jesus, who became man and whose Face can be seen, in His images, in our neighbor and in the Eucharist. Blasphemy can also be countered by honoring and reverencing the Virgin Mary, as He has given her the greatest honor and dignity by choosing her to be the mother of His Son, Jesus.
On February 9th, 2016, the “Feast of The Holy Face” will be celebrated. My parish, along with many other Catholic parishes, will be having evenings of Prayer and Adoration on this day. This feast day coincides each year with “Mardi Gras Day,” the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. It is an opportunity to make reparation for blasphemy by coming before the Face of Jesus to honor Him. Beginning January 31st, I will post each day the Novena to the Holy Face leading up to the Feast of the Holy Face and Act of Consecration. Please join in the Novena or read the prayers of reparation (here) if you are able. They are powerful weapons against those who would spit in the Face of God!
Eternal Father, turn away Your angry gaze from our guilty people whose face has become unsightly in your eyes. Look instead upon the Face of Your Beloved Son, for this is the Face of Him in Whom You are well pleased. We now offer You this Holy Face, covered with shame and disfigured by bloody bruises in reparation for the crimes of our age in order to appease Your anger, justly provoked against us. Because Your divine Son, Our Redeemer, has taken upon His Head all the sins of His members, that they might be spared, we now beg of You, Eternal Father, to grant us Mercy. Amen.