Happy New Year 2017! “May the Lord Bless and Keep You…”

Christ Blessing by Hans Memling
Christ Blessing by Hans Memling

“May the LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be merciful to you!
The LORD turn His Countenance towards you and
give you peace!“–Num 6:22-27

Peace is the fruit of devotion to the Face of Christ; it is, in fact, the greatest gift of God. Devotion to the Holy Face is not narrow; it is not limited to prayers or venerating images of the Face of Jesus.  Although these things are good in themselves and a means of orienting ourselves toward the Face of God, they are not enough. Devotion to the Holy Face is as high and as wide as the Cross of Christ–extending to each person made in the image and likeness of God and respecting their dignity. Pope Francis wrote in his message for the World Day of Peace,

“All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers.  In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to building nonviolent communities that care for our common home. Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an artisan of peace”.

We can become an “artisan of peace” by turning toward the Face of God in prayer, especially before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, from which we draw the strength to love our neighbor, respecting the Face of Jesus within them, even when it is marred by sin–or what St. Teresa of Calcutta called “the distressing disguise of Jesus.”

IMG_1070“Mary, Mother of the Holy Face, help us to have ‘hands innocent and a heart pure,’ hands illumined by the truth of love and hearts enraptured by divine beauty, that transformed by the encounter with Christ, we may gift ourselves to the poor and the suffering, whose faces reflect the hidden presence of your Son Jesus. Amen.” — Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Begin the year by recalling God’s goodness in the maternal face of Mary, in the maternal face of the Church, in the faces of our own mothers, protects us from the corrosive disease of being “spiritual orphans”.  –Pope Francis Jan. 1, 2017


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