When a baby has just been born, the family and friends gather around to welcome the little one, and the first question that is almost always asked is–who does the baby look like? No doubt it was the same with the infant Jesus. Who did He most resemble? The answer, of course, is His Mother. Paradoxically, He resembles her, because she most resembles Him.
God chose Mary from all eternity to be the Mother of the Incarnate Word. She was created pure and perfect–a spotless image of God in her soul–a worthy Mother for the Son of God. Jesus, the only begotten of the Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit, took His human nature from her, while remaining one in the Trinity. Pope St. John Paul II reflected upon this mystery of the Incarnation:
“It is the Father’s plan to unite all things in Christ, then the whole of the universe is in some way touched by divine favor with which the Father looks upon Mary and makes her the Mother of His Son.”
As the moon reflects the light of the sun, we can see in Mary’s face the reflection of the face of her Son. If we remain close to Mary, the Mother of God, following her example in humility and virtue, perhaps the face of Jesus will also be recognized in us.
“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 Benedict XVI (Excerpt from his prayer in honor of his pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello.)
“Our Lady, in whose face–more than any other creature–we can recognize the features of the Incarnate Word.” –Pope Benedict XVI
“O pure and holy Virgin, how can I find words to praise your beauty? The highest heavens cannot contain God whom you carried in your womb.
Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” –Divine Office
+Peace and have a Blessed New Year!
The LORD said to Moses: “Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them: This is how you shall bless the Israelites. Say to them: The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace! So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them.” (Num 6: 22-27)
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. (Mt. 5:8)
O that birth forever blessèd, When the virgin, full of grace, By the Holy Ghost conceiving, Bore the Savior of our race; And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer, First revealed His sacred face, evermore and evermore!
As those who see light are in the light sharing its brilliance, so those who see God are in God sharing his glory, and the glory gives them life. To see God is to share in life.” ~St. Ireneaus
“In Thee God will manifest the splendor of His presence, for the whole world to see”~Baruch 4
Merry Christmas! May His Face shine upon you and your loved ones, today and always!
During Advent the Church celebrates the longing to see God’s Face, together with the Blessed Virgin Mary, with a Triduum (three days of prayer beginning on December 15) and a Feast (on December 18th)–It is calledThe Feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Longing to See His Face.(a bit of the history may be found here.) The prayer may also be continued until Christmas.
Prayer for the Triduum and Feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Longing to See His Face
“Mary, your life with Jesus was one of the purest, most fervent, most perfect emotions of longing and most eager expectation of the Birth of the Divine Child! How great must have been that longing! You were longing to see the Face of God and to be happy in the vision. You were soon really to see the Face of God, the created image of divine perfection, the sight of which rejoices heaven and earth, from which all being derive life and joy; the Face whose features enraptured God from all eternity, the Face for which all ages expectantly yearned. You were to see this Face unveiled, in all the beauty and grace as the face of your own child.
Most just indeed it is, O Holy Mother of God, that we should unite in that ardent desire which you had to see Him, who had been concealed for nine months in your chaste womb; to know the features of this Son of the heavenly Father, who is also your own; to come to that blissful hour of His birth, which will give glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to men of good will. Yes, dear Mother, the time is fast approaching, though not fast enough to satisfy your desires and ours. Make us re-double our attention to the great mystery; complete our preparation by your powerful prayers for us, so that when the solemn hour has come, our Jesus may find no obstacle to His entrance into our hearts. Amen.” (Prayer by Rev. Lawrence Lovasik, S.V.D.)
“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet,and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child…” (Rev. 12)
This story begins in a very dark place. It was time of sin, suffering, and death, when the Aztecs sacrificed human beings to an idol that required human blood. In other words, a time not so different from our own, when millions of unborn children are sacrificed on the altar of “choice” to the idol of death. It was in this dark period of history, in the sixteenth century, that the Blessed Virgin Mary intervened for humanity. She was sent by God to defeat the culture of death at that time in Mexico. Like the “Woman” in Revelation, “clothed in the sun, with moon at her feet,” on December 9, 1531, she appeared to a poor man of no importance or influence, one of Mary’s “little ones,” Juan Diego. The beautiful young woman, whose clothing indicated that she was pregnant, called him by name as a mother would, “Juanito” – “little Juan.” She spoke to Juan:
“I want you to know for certain, my dear son, that I am the perfect and always Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God from Whom all life comes, the Lord of all things, Creator of heaven and earth.”
The Blessed Mother then requested that Juan Diego go to his bishop and ask that a church be built in her honor, in which she would show —
“all my love, compassion and protection. I am your Mother full of mercy and love for you and all those who love me, trust in me, and have recourse to me. I will hear their complaints, and I will comfort their affliction, and their sufferings.”
However, when Juan repeated her words to Bishop Zumarraga, the bishop, fearing an illusion, was skeptical, and sent Juan away. But in his heart Bishop Zumarraga prayed, asking God for a sign of Castillian Roses, which only grew in the bishop’s native country of Spain.
She appeared again to Juan Diego and finally, early in the morning of December 12th, the Blessed Mother asked him to return to the bishop. She instructing him first to go to the top of Tepeyac Hill “and pick the flowers that you find there and bring them to me.” Although, it was too cold and dry for flowers to grow, Juan obediently climbed the hill and discovered beautiful, sweet-smelling roses growing there, which he gathered up into his tilma – a sort of working cloak made of cactus fiber. Our Lady then, with her own hands, carefully arranged the roses in his tilma. She told Juan to give them to the bishop as a sign that he should build the church.
After running all the way to the bishop’s residence, Juan was made to wait for hours by some servants, who, curious about what he held so closely in his tilma, tried to force Juan to show them. Finally, they informed the bishop that Juan was waiting, and Juan rushed to the bishop, who was meeting with other people in the room, and he unfolded his cloak. The roses, still covered with dew, tumbled to the floor, revealing on the tilma the beautiful image of the Blessed Mother. The bishop and the others fell to their knees.
The Indians, upon seeing the miraculous image, recognized the rich symbolismcontained within it as coming from heaven. Thus, they converted by the millions, and their religion of human sacrifice was ended.
The tilma miraculously exists to this day, though the cactus fiber should have disintegrated after forty years. In the past century, even when a load of dynamite was exploded just below it the blast severely damaged everything around it, but did not touch the image. There is no paint or pigment on the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is an “Acheiropoieta,” a Greek word meaning: “made without human hands.” Like other acheiropoieta, such as the Shroud of Turin, and the Veil of Manoppello, there is no scientific explanation for the image’s existence, except, that it was made by the hand of God, “the true God, from Whom all life comes, the Lord of all things, Creator of Heaven and earth.” Images such as these are ongoing miracles – tangible signs of God’s mercy and love. Let us ask Him then, through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to redeem this generation, mired in the deep darkness of sin, death, and idolatry, to bring Light and roses of life into the cold darkness — to save the lives of the unborn, and convert souls by turning them, once again, away from idols and back to the Face of her God.
By the presence of Mary, you made the desert bloom with flowers, –may the Blessed Virgin Mary’s love transform us into the image of Christ, her Son. Amen.