Give Testimony to the World

Baptism of Christ, Pietro Perugino

“Now I have seen and testified that He is the Son of God.” (JN 1:34)

Christmas has passed, festivities done, the tree taken down and decorations put away. Ho hum. Back to everyday life?  After having seen the face of the Christ Child, would the Shepherds and Magi have returned to their homes and gone about as usual? No. Seeking the Face of Jesus would have transformed their lives. To “seek the Face of God” in this life would mean seeking His Face through prayer, by reading the Scriptures, seeking Him in our neighbor, and in His Eucharistic Presence. It should transform our lives, moving our hearts to testify, and bear witness to the all the earth that Jesus is the Son of God.

The Second Sunday after Epiphany is also known as “Omnis Terra” Sunday, meaning “All the Earth.” From the words of Psalm 65, “Omnis terra adore te, Deus, et psallat tipi.”

“All the earth adore you; they sing of you, sing of your name!”

Omnis Terra Procession of Pope Innocent II in 1208 carrying “the Veronica” Face of Christ (from “Liber Regulae Sancti Spiritus in Saxia” manuscript 1350)

 The “Omnis Terra” (All the Earth) procession in honor of the Holy Face  had its beginning in 1208 when Pope Innocent III processed with the Veil of the Holy Face which was known as the crown treasure of the popes. Pope Innocent III made the procession walking barefoot, from St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to Spirito Santo church and hospital, giving alms to the poor and the sick along the way.

Archbishop Ganswain holding the replica of the Holy Veil of Manoppello at Spirito Santo in Rome for the Year of Mercy.

The beautiful tradition was renewed in Rome for the Year of Mercy to honor Jesus Christ who is the “Face of Mercy” by a procession on “Omnis Terra.” A replica was carried of the “Vera Icon” known as the “true image” of the Face of Christ. The original image remained at the Basilica Shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Italy,  at that time. The Holy Face of Manoppello is believed to be the cloth which covered the Face of Christ at his burial, and left a miraculous image at the Resurrection.

“Blessed the people who know you, Lord, who walk in the radiance of your Face.”

(Psalm 89:16)

 

This Veil of the Face of Christ is the same relic visited by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006   when he made a pilgrimage to the the Veil of the Holy Face shortly after being made pope in 2005. He said at that time:

Pope Benedict XVI gazes at the Veil of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Photo:Paul Badde/EWTN

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. (Link)

 

 

 

Kurt Cardinal Koch contemplates the Holy Veil of Manoppello. The Veil is sheer and delicate, yet the Face is visible. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

The celebration of Omnis Terra has been continued by a feast and procession each year at the Basilica Sanctuary of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Italy.  This year’s main celebrant for the “Omnis Terra” Solemn Mass at the Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face will be Kurt Cardinal Koch of Switzerland. He has been a cardinal since November 2010 and President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity since 1 July 2010. He was the bishop of Basel from 1996 until 2010.

On January 19, 2020, after a pontifical ceremony, the cardinal will bless the entire earth (urbi et orbi) with the holy relic of the Face of Jesus while giving the Aaronic blessing:

“May the Lord bless and keep you; may He make His Face shine upon you and be merciful to you; may He turn His Countenance toward you and give you His Peace!”  (Num. 6:22-27)

Kurt Cardinal Koch blesses the world with the Holy Face of Manoppello on Omnis Terra. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN
detail of Face of Jesus on the Holy Veil from the precious manuscript “Liber Regulae Sancti Spiritus in Saxia”

More details on the Omnis Terra event may be found in this article by Antonio Bini on the Holy Face of Manoppello Blogspot.

Let all the earth worship and praise You, O God; may it sing in praise of Your Name, O Most High. Shout joyfully to the Lord all the earth; sing a psalm in honor of His Name, praise Him with magnificence!  

–Omnis Terra Introit

Holy Veil of Manoppello, photo: Patricia Enk

 

 

 

May God’s Face Shine Upon Us in 2020

May God have pity on us and bless us;
may He let his Face shine upon us.  
So may Your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, Your salvation. (Ps. 67:1)

Mary shows us her Son — From the shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello, Photo: Paul Badde

The Feast of Mary, Mother of God

In God’s beautiful design, the Christmas liturgy continues at the beginning of the New Year by drawing us to the Face of Christ with three holy feast days. All three are tied together by a common, yet golden thread–A mother, sharing her precious Son with us, so we may see His Face.

We begin on January 1, with the Feast of Mary, Mother of God, who teaches us how to contemplate the Face of her Son by seeing the reflection of His beauty and goodness in her face. On the Solemnity of the Mother of God, Pope Francis said,  “Begin the year recalling God’s goodness in the maternal face of Mary.” We see Jesus more clearly through His Mother’s eyes, especially when we pray the Rosary

The first reading for this feast day is the priestly blessing on God’s chosen people from the book of Numbers:

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)

May Our Lord grant us His blessing in the New Year through intercession the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. As the Incarnation of the Son of God came into the world by the power of the Holy Spirit, at Mary’s “Fiat,” through her prayers, may we obtain the grace to contemplate His Holy Face, and receive God’s greatest gift of peace.

The next holy feast, on January 3 is…

The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus

In sacred scripture the Angel Gabriel revealed the Holy Name of the Savior of mankind to the Blessed Virgin Mary: “You shall call His name Jesus.”

When Jesus was named,  Satan was disarmed!

Mary, Mother of the Most Blessed Sacrament

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI teaches us, The expression “name of God” means God as He Who is present among men.  His name, is the concrete sign of His Existence. The Hebrew term, “panim”, which means “face” means to see The Face of God, or the presence of God.  “Panim” is a term that describes relationships. The Hebrew word “shem” meaning “name” is also a term of relationship.  “Panim” is also the Hebrew word for “Face of God” and the same word is used for “Bread of the Presence” or “Bread of the Face.” (Exodus 25:30) The “Bread of Presence” mentioned in Exodus was not the actual Face of God, but the earthly sign of His Face. The Eucharist, instituted by Christ, however, is the actual Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus. When we are gazing at the Eucharist, the sign of God’s love for us, in Adoration, we see His Holy Face veiled in the appearance of bread, and in doing so, we give honor to His Holy Name.

Who had a more tender relationship of love with Jesus than his mother Mary? Who spoke His name more lovingly? God has a Face and a Name — It is Jesus Christ, our Redeemer!  The Blessed Mother invites us to rejoice in the splendor of His Face, and contemplate the mystery of His Holy Name by entering into a relationship with her Son Jesus, especially in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.

To rejoice in the splendor of His Face means penetrating the mystery of  His name made known to us in Jesus, understanding something of His interior life and of His will, so that we can live according to His plan for humanity.  Jesus lets us know the hidden Face of The Father through His human Face; by the gift of The Holy Spirit poured into our hearts. This, is the foundation of our peace, which nothing can take from us.” –Pope Benedict XVI

Blessed the Lord, O my soul, and let all that is within thee bless His Holy Name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and never forget all He hath done for thee. (Ps. ci. i,2)

And the third great holy day drawing us to adore the Holy Face is…

Adoration of the Magi, Giotto, 1302

The Feast of the Epiphany

 The Epiphany is closely linked to the Holy Face, as the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen and mother, presents her Son, the King of Kings, to the Magi–because the Epiphany is the feast on which Jesus Christ first shows Himself to the world represented by the Magi–and He shows Himself through a human face, the face of an infant. On the feast of the Epiphany, we ask God to shine His Face upon us, to reveal His Face to us once more as we come before Him in adoration, so that, like the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may also reflect the light of His Face to the world.

“May the Lord grant that in the new millennium, the Church will grow ever more in holiness, that she may become in history a true epiphany of the merciful and glorious Face of Christ the Lord.”   — Pope St. John Paul II at the Closing of the Holy Door, January 6, 2001

Face of the Child Jesus by Fra Angelico

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A Little Litany by G. K. Chesterton

When God turned back eternity and was young,
Ancient of Days, grown little for your mirth
(As under the low arch the land is bright)
Peered through you, gate of heaven – and saw the earth.

Or shutting out his shining skies awhile
Built you about him for a house of gold
To see in pictured walls his storied world
Return upon him as a tale is told.

Or found his mirror there; the only glass
That would not break with that unbearable light
Till in a corner of the high dark house
God looked on God, as ghosts meet in the night.

Star of his morning; that unfallen star
In the strange starry overturn of space
When earth and sky changed places for an hour
And heaven looked upwards in a human face.

Or young on your strong knees and lifted up
Wisdom cried out, whose voice is in the street,
And more than twilight of twiformed cherubim
Made of his throne indeed a mercy-seat.

Or risen from play at your pale raiment’s hem
God, grown adventurous from all time’s repose,
Of your tall body climbed the ivory tower
And kissed upon your mouth the mystic rose

.Madonna and Child from the Robert Lehman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art

“Our Lady, in whose face – more than any other creature – we can recognize the features of the Incarnate Word.” –Pope Benedict XVI