A Test of 2,000 Years

(Photo: Randall Enk) Sculpture commemorating JPII visit to St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, 1976. Inscription reads: “The joy which accompanies the birth of the Messiah is seen to be the foundation and fulfillment of the joy at every child born into the world.” —The Gospel of Life — Pope John Paul II

“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through…”

— Cardinal Karol Wojtyla

Pope St. John Paul II spoke these stunning and prophetic words while he was yet a Cardinal, during his visit to the United States in 1976. He went on to say:

“I do not think that wide circles of the Christian community realize it fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine Providence; it is a trial which the whole Church, and the Polish Church in particular, must take up. It is a trial of not only our nation and the Church, but, in a sense, a test of 2,000 years of culture and Christian civilization with all its consequences for human dignity, individual rights, human rights and the rights of nations.”

— Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, 1976

His prophecy has proven to be true. Most of the Christian community did not see it coming in 1976. But Cardinal Wojtyla, who had lived under a Communist government in Poland, was able to recognize the signs that the historic confrontation was at our doorstep. The Polish Church has certainly taken up the fight for Christianity, as they have for a thousand years. But, elsewhere in the world two thousand years of culture and Christian civilization has been rapidly disappearing before our eyes. Who could deny it? The trial that he spoke of is already upon us, the clash between “the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel.”


It should be no small consolation that although we are in in the midst of this historic confrontation between light and darkness, we are assured that it “lies within the plans of divine Providence.” Therefore, even little souls need not fear, because, as David said to Goliath, “I come against you in the name of the LORD of hosts… the battle is the Lord’s, and He shall deliver you into our hands.” (1 Sam 17: 45-47)

“The issue is now quite clear. It is between light and darkness and everyone must choose his side.”

— G. K. Chesterton, as he lay dying, 1936.

In order to fight and persevere, we must first choose our side. The spiritual battle is being fought on so many fronts that the battle lines have been obscured. The foremost battle being fought is over life itself. It is grave evil of abortion, with over sixty-three million babies sacrificed in the name of “choice” since abortion was made legal in the United States. Yet, sadly, even Catholics will quarrel over that bloody fact, pointing to lesser evils occurring, that they deem equally important, as though that could ever justify perpetuating such an atrocity. The devil is busy doing what the devil does – sowing confusion and division, especially among Christians, and particularly within the Catholic Church where the worst harm can be done. Perhaps this is due to a rejection of authority, a lack of faith, trust, and humility, or the lack of willingness to suffer as Christ did. The remedy to the confusion and division is devotion to the Face of Christ – the contemplation of the splendor of the truth shining on the Face of Christ to bring light to our darkened world, and to reconcile us with the Father.

Mourning over the dead body of Christ, Joan Mates, 1492 (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

“In contemplating Christ’s face, we confront the most paradoxical aspect of His mystery, as it emerges in His last hour, on the Cross. The mystery within the mystery, before which we cannot but prostate ourselves in adoration….In order to bring man back to the Father’s face, Jesus not only had to take on the face of man, but He also had to burden Himself with the ‘face’ of sin. ‘For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.'” (2 Cor 5:21)

— Pope St. John Paul II, Novo Millenio Ineunte

Like David, we may not have the power, armor, or strength to take down the enemies of God, whether they are within ourselves or the world. David put His trust in the Name of the Lord, as he picked up his sling and “five smooth stones from the wadi” (1 Sam 17:40). It only took one stone to bring Goliath down. We take up the “trial” as we take up our rosary beads, contemplating the Face of Christ with Mary as we pray the mysteries, giving honor and glory to His Holy Name. When we contemplate the Face of Christ by praying, and studying Scripture, we are being transformed by the Holy Spirit who restores God’s image in our souls, so we are prepared to evangelize by spreading the light on the Face of Christ to others. As we contemplate the Face of Jesus in the sick, suffering, and in those in need, we draw closer to His suffering Heart, and are able to extend compassion to our neighbor. As we contemplate and adore the Face (the Real Presence) of Jesus in the Eucharist, we cast away the false faces of idols, and are humbled before the Eucharistic Face of an all-powerful God who humbles Himself by remaining in the form of a small piece of bread out of love for us.

These are the simple means God has given us for the “test of 2,000 years of Christian culture and civilization with all its consequences for human dignity, individual rights, human rights, and the rights of nations” as prophesied by Pope St. John Paul II: God gives us His Name, His Face, and His own Mother. We can’t lose.

Heart to Heart, and Face to Face

“You know that I myself do not see the Sacred Heart as everybody else. I think that the heart of my Spouse is mine alone, just as mine is His alone, and I speak to Him then in the solitude of this delightful heart to heart, while waiting to contemplate Him one day face to face.” — St. Therese of the Holy Face and the Child Jesus

“For God so loved the world”

To the Sacred Heart of Jesus 

by St. Therese of the Holy Face and the Child Jesus

St. Therese of Lisieux

At the Holy Sepulcher, Mary Magdalene,
Searching for her Jesus, stooped down in tears.
The angels wanted to console her sorrow,
But nothing could calm her grief.
Bright angels, it was not you
Whom this fervent soul came searching for.
She wanted to see the Lord of the Angels,
To take him in her arms, to carry him far away.

Close by the tomb, the last one to stay,
She had come well before dawn.
Her God also came, veiling his light.
Mary could not vanquish him in love!
Showing her at first his Blessed Face,
Soon just one word sprang from his Heart.
Whispering the sweet name of: Mary,
Jesus gave back her peace, her happiness.

O my God, one day, like Mary Magdalene,
I wanted to see you and come close to you.
I looked down over the immense plain
Where I sought the Master and King,
And I cried, seeing the pure wave,
The starry azure, the flower, and the bird:
“Bright nature, if I do not see God,
You are nothing to me but a vast tomb.

“I need a heart burning with tenderness,
Who will be my support forever,
Who loves everything in me, even my weakness…
And who never leaves me day or night. ”
I could find no creature
Who could always love me and never die.
I must have a God who takes on my nature
And becomes my brother and is able to suffer!

You heard me, only Friend whom I love.
To ravish my heart, you became man.
You shed your blood, what a supreme mystery!..
And you still live for me on the Altar.
If I cannot see the brilliance of your Face
Or hear your sweet voice,
O my God, I can live by your grace,
I can rest on your Sacred Heart!

O Heart of Jesus, treasure of tenderness,
You Yourself are my happiness, my only hope.
You who knew how to charm my tender youth,
Stay near me till the last night.
Lord, to you alone I’ve given my life,
And all my desires are well-known to you.
It’s in your ever-infinite goodness
That I want to lose myself, O Heart of Jesus!

Ah! I know well, all our righteousness
Is worthless in your sight.
To give value to my sacrifices,
I want to cast them into your Divine Heart.
You did not find your angels without blemish.
In the midst of lightning you gave your law!…
I hide myself in your Sacred Heart, Jesus.
I do not fear, my virtue is You!…

To be able to gaze on your glory,
I know we have to pass through fire.
So I, for my purgatory,
Choose your burning love, O heart of my God!
On leaving this life, my exiled soul
Would like to make an act of pure love,
And then, flying away to Heaven, its Homeland,
Enter straightaway into your Heart.

Stay With Us, O Lord!

Hand holding a Host viewed through the Face on Holy Veil of Manoppello in Italy. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

On the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, in 2001, Pope St. John Paul II wrote:

The invisible Face of Christ, the son of God, is manifest in His Body an Blood in the simplest and, at the same time, the most exalted way possible in this world.

The ecclesial community responds to people in every age who ask perplexed: “We wish to see Jesus” (Jn 12,21), by repeating what the Lord did for the disciples of Emmaus: He broke the bread. In the breaking of the bread, the eyes of those who seek Him with a sincere heart are opened. In the Eucharist, the intuition of the heart recognizes Jesus and His unmistakable love lived “to the end” (Jn 13,1). And in Him, in that gesture, it recognizes the Face of God!

— Pope St. John Paul II

In 1997, St. Pope John Paul II asked for an International Congress for studying the Holy Face Medal and Devotion to The Holy Face as a preparation for the Millennium, which he later placed under “The Radiant sign of The Face of Christ.” The front of the medal bears an image of the Holy Face from the Shroud of Turin and an inscription based on Psalm 66:2: “Illumina, Domine, vultum tuum super nos”,  “May, O Lord, the light of Thy countenance shine upon us.”  The other side of the medal, bears an image of a radiant Sacred Host, representing the Eucharistic Face of Christ, the monogram of the Holy Name (“IHS”), and the inscription “Mane nobiscum, Domine” or “Stay with us, O Lord,” which are the words of the disciples on the road to Emmaus when they recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread. The Holy Face medal is a tangible reminder of the “invisible face of Christ” made manifest in His Most Holy Body and Blood in the Blessed Sacrament.

Holy Face Medal design - front and reverse

The medal of the Holy Face of Jesus was made by Bl.Mother Marie Pierina De Micheli, following the request of Jesus and The Blessed Mother.  Mother Pierina, with the help of her spiritual Director received the permission of the Curia of Milan, Italy.

In 1936, Our Lord told Bl. Mother Pierina, “I will that My Face, which reflects the intimate pains of My Spirit, the suffering and the love of My Heart, be more honoured. He who meditates upon Me, consoles Me. Every time that My Face is contemplated, I will pour My love into the hearts of men and through My Holy Face will be obtained the salvation of many souls.”

The Blessed Mother also told  Sr. De Micheli, “This medal is a weapon of defense, a shield of courage, a guarantee of love and of mercy that Jesus wishes to give to the world in these times of sexuality and of hatred towards God and His Church. Diabolical snares are laid to tear the faith from the hearts of men, evil is spreading, the true apostles are few, a divine remedy is necessary and this remedy is the Holy Face of Jesus. 

St. Pope John Paul II “In the Eucharist, the Face of Christ is turned towards us.”

“Your Face, O Lord, I seek” (Ps. 27:8). The ancient longing of the Psalmist could receive no fulfilment greater and more surprising than the contemplation of the Face of Christ. God has truly blessed us in Him and has made “His Face to shine upon us” (Ps 67:1). At the same time, God and man that He is, He reveals to us also the true face of man, “fully revealing man to man himself” (Gaudium e spes, 22).

Gazing on the face of Christ, the Bride contemplates her treasure and her joy. ‘Dulcis Iesus memoria, dans vera cordis gaudia‘: how sweet is the memory of Jesus, the source of the heart’s true joy! Heartened by this experience, the Church today sets out once more on her journey, in order to proclaim Christ to the world at the dawn of the Third Millennium: he ‘is the same yesterday and today and forever’” (Heb 13:8).

— Pope St. John Paul II

““Illumina, Domine, vultum tuum super nos”,  “May, O Lord, the light of Thy countenance shine upon us — “Mane nobiscum, Domine” or “Stay with us, O Lord!” 

Adoro Te Devote by St. Thomas Aquinas
"Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with thy glory’s sight. Amen." 
--Last Stanza of "Adoro Te Devote"
The Virgin of the Host, by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres