The first thing I noticed, the very first time that I saw the Holy Face of Manoppello, was Jesus’s eyes filled with love and His Face covered with blood. The Precious Blood on His Holy Face from the strikes, blows, and thorns, and from His beard cruelly torn and ripped out. Like the image of the Holy Face on the Shroud of Turin, the sight affected me very deeply. Here is the proof of His love on His Face, and the “price of our salvation.”
“You were not redeemed with corruptible things as of gold or silver… but with the Precious Blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled.”(1 Peter 1:18)
What should be the response of the soul to our God who has given such costly proof of His love? The answer is: our devotion. Fr. John Hardon, S.J. wrote, “Devotion is a composite of three elements: It is first, veneration, it is secondly, invocation, and it is thirdly, imitation.” Veneration, he says, is “a composite of knowledge, love, and adoration.” By veneration we understand when we gaze on His Face what our sins have done. When a man’s name is reviled it is reflected on his face. The indignities suffered by Our Lord in His Passion represent the sins against the first three Commandments. Blasphemy, the disrespect of God and sacred things, atheism, and the profanation of the Holy Name and the Holy Day of Sunday are the greatest sins against God and are reflected in the Holy Face of Jesus Christ, stained, bloody, bruised, covered with filth, dirt, and spittle. As we look upon His Face, we are moved to console Him. “Whoever gazes on Me, already consoles Me.” — Our Lord to Bl. Mother Maria Pierina De Micheli
Next, devotion is manifested through invocations and prayers by which we give God the praise that is due Him, making reparation, and asking God’s help.
Devotional invocations and prayers may of course be private, but it should also, in some way, be public — because the sins against Our Lord were public. Although Holy Face Devotions had been held since the Discalced Carmelite nuns had founded their first monastery here in New Orleans, the regular public devotion had been interrupted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Ryan Matherne, President of the Secular Discalced Carmelites in New Orleans, moved by a strong desire to reinstate the public devotion to the Holy Face, led the way to making it possible for the devotions to be held for the first time since 2005 on Sunday, June 27th, 2021. They will continue to be held every fourth Sunday of the month, following the noon Mass at Old St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in New Orleans. Other new groups have sprung up here in the United States and around the world. Fr. Lawrence Carney, founder of the League of St. Martin, was also moved by his deep love and devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, and “in response to the growing crisis in the Church,” has been encouraging and organizing groups to hold public devotions.
“Oh Savior Jesus, who didst will that reparation should be as public and universal as had been the offense, penetrate us with the true spirit of reparation. Give us the grace to love Thy Divine Face, to make it known and loved by the whole world, in order that it may be to us a source of light and means of salvation. Amen. ”— Blessed Mother Maria Pierina De Micheli
Finally, as Fr. Hardon reminds us, devotion means imitation. We are able to show our love for Jesus by giving proof of our love through imitation of Jesus — in pain, humiliation, suffering, and by the shedding of His blood. “That is what the Church means when she has us say that when Christ offers Himself daily on the altar in the Sacrifice of the Mass, we are told to identify with that sacrifice. His and ours. He, the Head of the Mystical Body, can no longer suffer, but thank God, we can!” –Fr. John Hardon, S.J. We can offer any sufferings that will inevitably come to us in this life, in union with Jesus’s sacrifice, in imitation of Him, as a proof of our love, and in gratitude to the “Lamb who was slain for our salvation.”