Radiant Transformation in Love

Holy Spirit Window in Loreto, Italy

The life of a Christian should be the faithful reproduction of Jesus in their soul — this radiant transformation is the work of love of the Holy Spirit. “Those whom He had foreknown He has also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” (Rom 8:29) He who loves will resemble the thing loved.

St. Cyril of Alexandria wrote:

After Christ had completed his mission on earth, it still remained necessary for us to become sharers in the divine nature of the Word. We had to give up our own life and be so transformed that we would begin to live an entirely new kind of life that would be pleasing to God. This was something we could do only by sharing in the Holy Spirit… He so transforms them that they begin to live a completely new kind of life.  

 St. Paul writes: “But we all with unveiled faces, reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His very image from glory to glory.” (2 Cor 3:18)

Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit

In his beautiful work  The Sanctifier, Archbishop Luis M. Martinez wrote about how this transformation, or mystical reproduction, of Jesus is brought about in souls. Archbishop Martinez writes: “because God gives a wonderful mark of unity to all His works…a most perfect unity shines forth from them because they are the fruit of wisdom. This divine contrast of unity and variety stamps the works of God with sublime and unutterable beauty.” Jesus is reproduced in the soul of a Christian in the same way in which He was brought into the world — The way is founded in love, caused by love and leads to love. — “Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit… of the Virgin Mary. That is the way Jesus is always conceived. That is the way He is reproduced in souls. He is always the fruit of heaven and earth. Two artisans must concur in the work that is at once God’s masterpiece and humanity’s supreme product: the Holy Spirit and the most holy Virgin Mary. Two sanctifiers are necessary to souls, the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, for they are the only ones who can reproduce Christ.”

Archbishop Martinez explains further – the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Virgin Mary each sanctify in different ways. The first Sanctifier sanctifies us by His essence because He is the love of God, who is infinite sanctity. And Mary’s part is her cooperation as the indispensable instrument in God’s design. “From Mary’s maternal relation to the human body of Christ is derived her relation to His Mystical Body, which is being formed through all the centuries until the end of time, when it will be lifted up in the heavens, beautiful, splendid, complete and glorious.” The action of the Holy Spirit and the cooperation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is profound, necessary, and constant. Mary is the most perfect, pure, and faithful reflection of the Face of God, which makes her the most perfect disciple, and model of virtues to all Christians. The virtues are the means of sanctification; the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Mary, as our mother, has the most efficacious influence in obtaining the gifts and graces for our souls from her Spouse, the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. The Holy Spirit then perfects the soul with the first fruits of eternal glory: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity — so we may more closely resemble Jesus Christ.

Divine Guest of our souls
(photo: Patricia Enk)

This is the work of the Holy Spirit of Love– to sanctify our souls, shining upon us the radiance of His light, transforming us into the image of God. Holy Spirit wants to dwell in us and convert our bodies into His temple, as He did in the Virgin Mary to bring grace, mercy, and peace. “Love is not a passing visitor who pays us a call and then goes away. He establishes in us his permanent dwelling and lives in intimate union with our souls as their eternal Guest.”  (The Sanctifier) As Jesus promised on the last night of His mortal life: “And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever, the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you shall know Him because He will dwell with you and be in you.” (Jn 14: 16-17) 

 

To Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit

Daughter of the Most High, Mother of God, faithful Spouse of the Holy Spirit — yet also Mary of Nazareth, Joseph’s wife, my mother– hear my prayer for grace, O Full of Grace. Pray your Spouse the Holy Spirit to come upon me — to shelter from all ill, to strengthen me to do what is right, to teach me all truth. Pray him come to me, and abide with me, and be within me a fountain springing up unto eternal life. May he sustain me in sorrow, sanctify me in life, and receive me at the hour of my death. Holy Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the Church, pray for us. 

Excellent EWTN Video of talk by Dr. Scott Hahn: “Hail Holy Queen: Scripture and the Mystery of Mary —

 

 

 

  

 

Annual Tradition Altered for Celebration of May Feast in Manoppello

Holy Face Veil of Manoppello, photo: Patricia Enk

 

Basilica of Il Volto Santo in Manoppello, Italy Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

This year the annual May feast of the Holy Face, commemorating the arrival of the Holy Veil in Manoppello, will alter the traditional  procession due to precautions taken for the virus.

Translated from an Italian news article by Walter Teti

The procession which traditionally took place in two phases between the first Sunday of May and the following Monday, will coincide this year with the reopening of the churches and celebrations, set by the Government in Italy for Monday. Until last year, the celebrations included two days: on Sunday the monstrance of the sacred icon was brought in procession from the Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face to the parish church of San Nicola in the historic center of Manoppello where it would remain all night. The following day, always in procession, the relic was brought back to the church of the Holy Face.

On this occasion, however, a limited number of people may participate in religious services, with limited access to the Church, while the ban on processions remains. The mayor Giorgio De Luca and the parish priest of the Basilica of the Holy Face, Father Carmine Cucinelli, are organizing to adapt the rite to health and prevention standards, trying to keep the tradition.

The program, however, provides that the “Holy Face on Monday morning at 9:00”, explains the public relations officer Antonio Bini, “is brought by the rector Father Carmine, together with other confreres, on board an uncovered car, driven by a local young man who offered his availability to the church of San Nicola, tracing the tradition that says that the veil would have been delivered to Dr. Leonelli in the 16th century by by an anonymous pilgrim. The celebration of Mass will follow at 10 am presided over by the archbishop of the diocese Chieti-Vasto, Archbishop Bruno Forte.

Rose petals tossed before the Holy Face of Manoppello. photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

A very limited number of 68 devotees can access the church. The function can be followed through the piped music. At the end of the Mass, the Holy Face will be brought back to the Basilica through Corso Santarelli…the citizens will participate in the passage of the Holy Face …with the display of drapes and embroidered blankets on the balconies, from which rose petals are thrown…there will be only the usual blessing in all directions.

“They are saddened by the conditions to be observed for the celebration of the party,” explained the mayor, “but both for the extremely urgent situation and for the protection of public health, I urge citizens to avoid any form of assembly and to respect the provisions that will be indicated, ” for which the police will operate, with the collaboration of the volunteers of the Civil Protection.

For Father Carmine it is already a gift that “the rite of the feast can be maintained, in full compliance with the rules for containing the spread of the virus. “I thank the Archbishop for his presence, which once again demonstrates closeness to the Holy Face. He also assured that the celebration of the Mass could be followed, by those who wish, from Italy and from abroad; through the live streaming broadcast on the official Facebook page of the Basilica del Volto Santo. It is to be hoped that the feast of the transfiguration de Gesu, which falls annually on August 6 may be carried out with the return to normal.”

UPDATE:  Homily of Archbishop Bruno Forte – Translation by Raymond Frost

May 18, 2020

Eucharistic celebration in the Parish Church of Manoppello Before the Holy Face

Archbishop Bruno Forte’s homily

Today’s Eucharistic celebration is an act of praise to God for the gift of the precious sudarium of the crucified Lord, preserved in the Basilica of the Holy Face, present among us today on the occasion of the annual feast of the third Sunday of May, which commemorates the arrival of the relic in Manoppello. This thanksgiving, moreover, takes place on the centenary of the birth of Karol Wojtyla, St. John Paul II, who on this date in 1920 came into the world in Wadowice, Poland. The mystery proclaimed by the Word of God from the liturgy of Easter time is thus united to the double mystery we are celebrating, the luminous one linked to the Face of the Savior and the one depicted by the figure of this great Saint, who was a loving witness to the Redeemer, springing from a union with Him that I would not hesitate to define as mystical, whose depths I could perceive throughout the entire week that I spent with him, when I had the grace to preach the spiritual exercises for him in 2004, which he intensely and faithfully followed, and which were also the last of His earthly life.

The reading from the Acts of the Apostles (16:11-15) demonstrates the exquisite attention that the Apostle Paul pays to human relations: in addition to his efforts to visit the communities he founded to see the brethren in person, the consideration he shows towards women, to whom he turns with great freedom to announce to them the good news, is striking,  not hesitating to accept the invitation of Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, a believer in God, to go as a guest in her household. We could say that Paul’s attention to faces is revealed here,  that is, to people in their unique and concrete stories: if we were to ask ourselves from whom a fervent Hebrew such as Saul had learned to pay so much attention to faces, especially to female ones, traditionally neglected by the rather masculine culture of his time, we could only answer that he had learned it from his mystical contemplation of the One he had met on the way to Damascus and who, speaking to him one on one, had said to him: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4). The vision became in the heart of the fervent persecutor a precise question: “Who are you, O Lord?”, to which he received the revealing answer: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting!” (v. 5). The role of the Face of Jesus, expressed in appearance and in voice, is decisive for the vocation of the one who will become the great Apostle of the peoples, as Ananias will confirm to him, “the Lord sent me to you, that Jesus who appeared to you on the way you were traveling” (v. 17): from our personal encounter with  the  Face of  Christ, our lives are transformed, even transfigured, to become with the grace from on high lives of apostles, stories of humility, charity and holiness in the service of the Gospel.From the encounter with the Face of the Lord comes conversion and mission.

The text taken from the Gospel according to John (15:26-16:4), then, makes us understand who makes possible this meeting so personal and transformative with Christ, leaping over the chasm of the centuries that separate us from the days of His flesh: it is the Spirit, the Paraclete that Jesus sends from the Father, the Spirit of truth that testifies to Him and makes it possible for us to bear witness, if we abide with Himand remainunited to Him. Once again, the Face of the Savior reaches us with absolute concreteness in the strength of His Spirit, and looking at us and calling us makes us able to love as He asks and to become witnesses of this love at the cost of one’s life, as so often the persecutions of Christians have shown in the history of humanity. Not only, therefore, does the Face of the Beloved send forth the disciple, but it is also the source of the strength that reaches out to him and that makes possible the otherwise impossible ability to bear witness, completely and without fear, to Him who is risen, The Face that sends us forth by His voice is the same Face that looks at us, accompanies us, supports us and awaits us in the infinite beauty of the final encounter in beauty and joy, which will never know sunset.  From theHolyFace ofJesus, contemplated and loved, comes the strength of our missionary passion and fidelity stronger than any trial..

The Face of Jesus was also for St. John Paul II the source of his vocation and mission and the strength to bring these to completion in the absolute fidelity of his whole life: in the two long dialogues that I had with him during the exercises of 2004, the Pope recounted to me – among many other beautiful things  –  a phrase, which in my opinion shows in a tangible way the mystical union that He lived with Christ. Speaking of the challenges faced in serving the Church and bringing to the world the good news of salvation that does not disappoint, John Paul II paused for a moment, and then added with a particularly expressive face, as if marked by memories, these words: “The Pope must suffer”. He emphasized that “must” with a particular intensity, which instinctively reminded me of Jesus’ phrase addressed to the disciples of Emmaus: “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Didn’t Christ have to undergo this suffering in order to enter into his glory?” (Lk 24:25-26). It is the law of love, the need to pay with one’s life the price of the gift of self for the sake of others, summed up, for example, in the words of Paul and Barnabas, reported by the Acts of the Apostles: “After preaching the gospel in that city and making a considerable number of disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples and urging them to remain steadfast in the faith because, they said, it is necessary to go through many tribulations to enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:21-22) As with the Apostle, so for St. John Paul II, the strength to endure so many trials can only come from the Lord Jesus, from His Face radiating light, love, and courage: “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

It is also the holy Pope himself who reveals to us this mystical secret of his life: he does so,  certainly,with the discretionand modesty of those who speak of the unspeakable, but also with the conviction of those who have had a true and profound experience of loving and dialoguing knowledge and contemplation of the Face of the Lord. In a prayer recited during his pastoral visit to the Archdiocese of Lucca (September 23-24, 1989), a city where a wooden crucifix revered as the Holy Face (Volto Santo) of Christ is preserved, St. John Paul II pronounced words which reveal profound depths of faith and mystical union, and which we can address with humility and love to the Holy Face imprinted on the sudarium, venerated in this place:  “Lord Jesus, crucified and risen, image of the glory of the Father, Holy Face who looks at us and scrutinizes us, merciful and meek, to call us to conversion and invite us to the fullness of love, we adore you and we thank you. In your luminous Face, we learn how we are loved and how we are to love; where freedom and reconciliation are found; how to become builders of the peace that radiates from you and leads to you. In your glorified Face we learn to overcome all forms of selfishness, to hope against all hope, to choose the works of life against the actions of death. Give us the grace to place you at the center of our lives; to remain faithful, amidst the perils and changes of the world, to our Christian vocation; to announce to the peoples the power of the Cross and the Word that saves; to be alert and hard working, attentive to the least of the brethren; to grasp the signs of true liberation, which has begun and will be fulfilled in you. Lord, grant your Church to stand, like the Virgin Mother, at your glorious Cross and at the crosses of all men to bring consolation, hope, and comfort to them. MaytheSpirit you have given us bring to maturity your work of salvation, so that all creatures, freed from the constraints of death, may contemplate in the glory of the Father your Holy Face, which luminously shines for ever and ever. Amen.

“The Rediscovered  Face of Jesus” — A beautiful Italian documentary on the history of the Holy Face Veil of Manoppello.

 

Click here for Video in Polish, English, Spanish and German

Website for the Basilica Shrine of Il Volto Santo click (here)

For religious articles from Il Volto Santo Shrine click (here)

“Sentinels of the Dawn” With Mary

Holy Face Veil of Manoppello
(photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

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“May the Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his Face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Num 6:24-26).

 

“This blessing was fulfilled in the Virgin Mary. No other creature ever basked in the light of God’s face as did Mary; she in turn gave a human face to the Son of the eternal Father. Now we can contemplate with her in the succession of joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious moments of her life, which we revisit in our recitation of the rosary.” — Pope Francis

When he placed the New Millennium under “the Radiant sign of the Face of Christ” Pope St. John Paul II wrote: “To contemplate the Face of Christ, and to contemplate it with Mary, is the ‘program’ which I have set before the Church at the dawn of the third millennium…It is the Church’s task to reflect the light of Christ in every historical period, to make His Face shine also before new generations of the new millennium. Our witness, however, would be hopelessly inadequate if we ourselves had not first contemplated His Face.”

Pope St. John Paul II

The Rosary is a traditional Christian prayer directed to the contemplation of Christ’s Face. “Without contemplation, the Rosary is a body without a soul,” says Pope St. John Paul II, “and runs the risk of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas, in violation of the admonition of Christ.” To recite the Rosary, which can be called a compendium of the Gospel, Pope St. John Paul II says, “is to contemplate the Face of Christ in union with, and at the school of, His Most Holy Mother…Against the background of the words of the Ave Maria the principal events of the life of Jesus Christ pass before the eyes of the soul. They take shape in the complete series of the joyful, [luminous,] sorrowful and glorious mysteries, and they put us in living communion with Jesus through–we might say through the heart of his Mother…The Rosary belongs among the finest and most praiseworthy traditions of Christian contemplation…To look upon the Face of Christ, to recognize its mystery amid the daily events and sufferings of His human life, and then to grasp the divine splendor definitively revealed in the Risen Lord, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father; this is the task of every follower of Christ and therefore the task of each one of us. In contemplating Christ’s Face we become open to receiving the mystery of Trinitarian life, experiencing ever anew the love of the Father and delighting in the joy of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul’s words can then be applied to us:

‘Beholding the glory of the Lord, we are being changed into His likeness, from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.’” (Rosarium Virginus Mariae)

“With Mary’s protection, may we be for our world sentinels of the dawn, contemplating the true Face of Jesus the Savior, resplendent at Easter.” –Pope Francis


Prayer to the Holy Face for the liberation from the coronavirus

Lord Jesus, Savior of the world, hope that will never disappoint us, have mercy on us and deliver us from all evil! Please overcome the scourge of this virus which is spreading, heal the sick, preserve the healthy, support those who work for the health of all. Show us your face of mercy and save us in your great love. We ask you through the intercession of Mary, Your Mother and ours, who faithfully accompanies us. You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen. 
+ Bruno Forte
Archbishop of Chieti – Vasto (Italy)

Suffering with Jesus Christ

“Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His footsteps.” (1 Peter 2:21) 

The Divine Prisoner, Holy Face of Manoppello
photo: Patricia Enk

Suffering– it is part of the human condition, and it also human nature to avoid it whenever possible. Even among those rare souls who “suffer well” by following Christ’s example, suffering can be a seemingly unending trial that wears one down. Illness and suffering “can lead to anguish, self-absorption, sometimes even despair and revolt against God.” (CCC 1501)  In times of suffering people could turn to distractions, inward on themselves, or turn their eyes to the Face of Jesus Christ.  It is He who suffers, and no one has suffered more than Him. When He took our human flesh at the Incarnation, He accepted all the suffering of humanity, though completely innocent, to redeem us from our sin.

How do we follow in Christ’s footsteps when we are faced with suffering?

“‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.’ 

When He was insulted, He returned no insult, when He suffered, He did not threaten; instead, He handed Himself over to the One who judges justly. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the Cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.” (1 Peter 2: 22-25)

For many though, their suffering may not be a physical one. There is another terrible suffering, experienced worldwide: the separation from our loved ones. And even more painful, the suffering of being separated from “The Loved One,” Jesus, in the sacraments. Again, it is Christ who suffers most, in the Eucharist, isolated in every tabernacle throughout the world.

Perhaps this isolation from loved ones is a warning from Our Loving God of what happens when we turn away from the Face of God by unrepented mortal sin. The result is a painful separation from the love of God for all eternity, which is the suffering of Hell.

What can one do “to suffer with Christ” by staying alone at home? As a Discalced Carmelite nun, St. Edith Stein, contemplated a life of separation from the rest of the world in the cloister. She wrote, “Whoever enters Carmel is not lost to their own, but is theirs fully for the first time; It is our vocation to stand before God for all.”  In quarantine each of us may suffer with Jesus by seeking His Christ’s Face with hearts of prayer, as the Blessed Virgin Mary did at the foot of the Cross – “to stand before God for all.”

“For whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil lips,  from speaking deceit, must turn from evil and do good, seek peace and follow after it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears turned to their prayer, but the Face of the Lord is against evildoers.”  (1 Peter 3:10-12)

Sr. Petra-Maria gazes at the Holy Face Veil of Manoppello (Photo: Patricia Enk)

Prayer to the Holy Face for the liberation from the coronavirus

Lord Jesus, Savior of the world, hope that will never disappoint us, have mercy on us and deliver us from all evil! Please overcome the scourge of this virus which is spreading, heal the sick, preserve the healthy, support those who work for the health of all. Show us your face of mercy and save us in your great love. We ask you through the intercession of Mary, Your Mother and ours, who faithfully accompanies us. You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen. 
+ Bruno Forte
Archbishop of Chieti – Vasto (Italy)

Overcoming the Trial

“Contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary our Mother will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial,” — Pope Francis 

Painting of the Blessed Mother and the Child Jesus by Margaret Farr

 

LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
to the Faithful for the Month of May 2020

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The month of May is approaching, a time when the People of God express with particular intensity their love and devotion for the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is traditional in this month to pray the Rosary at home within the family. The restrictions of the pandemic have made us come to appreciate all the more this “family” aspect, also from a spiritual point of view.

For this reason, I want to encourage everyone to rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary at home in the month of May. This can be done either as a group or individually; you can decide according to your own situations, making the most of both opportunities. The key to doing this is always simplicity, and it is easy also on the internet to find good models of prayers to follow.

I am also providing two prayers to Our Lady that you can recite at the end of the Rosary, and that I myself will pray in the month of May, in spiritual union with all of you. I include them with this letter so that they are available to everyone.

Dear brothers and sisters, contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary our Mother will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial. I keep all of you in my prayers, especially those suffering most greatly, and I ask you, please, to pray for me. I thank you, and with great affection I send you my blessing.

 

Rome, Saint John Lateran, 25 April 2020
Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist

FRANCIS

Salus Populi Romani

First Prayer

O Mary,
You shine continuously on our journey
as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who, at the foot of the cross,
were united with Jesus’ suffering,
and persevered in your faith.
“Protectress of the Roman people”,
you know our needs,
and we know that you will provide,
so that, as at Cana in Galilee,
joy and celebration may return
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the will of the Father
and to do what Jesus tells us.
For he took upon himself our suffering,
and burdened himself with our sorrows
to bring us, through the cross,
to the joy of the Resurrection.
Amen.
We fly to your protection,
O Holy Mother of God;
Do not despise our petitions 
in our necessities,
but deliver us always
from every danger,
O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.

 

Blessed Mother and Jesus, Basilica Shrine ion the Holy Face in Manoppello, Photo: Paul Badde

Second Prayer

“We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God”.

In the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety, we fly to you, Mother of God and our Mother, and seek refuge under your protection.

Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes towards us amid this coronavirus pandemic. Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply. Be close to those who are concerned for their loved ones who are sick and who, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, cannot be close to them. Fill with hope those who are troubled by the uncertainty of the future and the consequences for the economy and employment.

Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us to God, the Father of mercies, that this great suffering may end and that hope and peace may dawn anew. Plead with your divine Son, as you did at Cana, so that the families of the sick and the victims be comforted, and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust.

Protect those doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers who are on the frontline of this emergency, and are risking their lives to save others. Support their heroic effort and grant them strength, generosity and continued health.

Be close to those who assist the sick night and day, and to priests who, in their pastoral concern and fidelity to the Gospel, are trying to help and support everyone.

Blessed Virgin, illumine the minds of men and women engaged in scientific research, that they may find effective solutions to overcome this virus.

Support national leaders, that with wisdom, solicitude and generosity they may come to the aid of those lacking the basic necessities of life and may devise social and economic solutions inspired by farsightedness and solidarity.

Mary Most Holy, stir our consciences, so that the enormous funds invested in developing and stockpiling arms will instead be spent on promoting effective research on how to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.

Beloved Mother, help us realize that we are all members of one great family and to recognize the bond that unites us, so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity, we can help to alleviate countless situations of poverty and need. Make us strong in faith, persevering in service, constant in prayer.

Mary, Consolation of the afflicted, embrace all your children in distress and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand and free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its normal course.

To you, who shine on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope, do we entrust ourselves, O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.

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“O God, be gracious and bless us, and let Your Face shed its light upon us. So will your ways be known upon earth, and all nations learn your saving help.” (Psalm 67)

The byssus Veil of Manoppello, which is thought to be one of the burial cloths of Jesus, photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

Prayer to the Holy Face for the liberation from the coronavirus

Lord Jesus, Savior of the world, hope that will never disappoint us, have mercy on us and deliver us from all evil! Please overcome the scourge of this virus which is spreading, heal the sick, preserve the healthy, support those who work for the health of all. Show us your face of mercy and save us in your great love. We ask you through the intercession of Mary, Your Mother and ours, who faithfully accompanies us. You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

+ Bruno Forte
Archbishop of Chieti – Vasto (Italy)

The Face of the Father’s Mercy

Pope St. John Paul II

“At no time… especially at a moment as critical as our own — can the Church forget the prayer that is a cry for the mercy of God. …The Church has the right and duty to appeal to the God of mercy ‘with loud cries.'” (Pope St. John Paul II, Rich in Mercy, 15)

 

“This Mercy of God which has a concrete face, the Face of Jesus, the risen Christ.” –Pope Francis

Some may view this pandemic as “the end of the world” as we know it. Others see the opportunity turn toward the Face of God in prayer and draw closer to Him. We can be certain of one thing in this uncertain time and that is, that He loves us.  So, we can be secure in the knowledge that God’s mercy on mankind is not exhausted.  “The mystery of the Father’s love” is continually being revealed to us; it is found through the beauty and glory shining on the Face of Jesus Christ, His Son.

The Splendor of the Truth is Found on the Face of Christ

“…No one can escape from the fundamental questions:  What must I do? How do I distinguish good from evil?  The answer is only possible thanks to the splendor of the truth which shines forth deep within the human spirit, as the Psalmist bears witness: “There are many who say: ‘O that we might see some good!  Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord’” (Ps 4:6)

The light of God’s face shines in all its beauty on the countenance of Jesus Christ, “the image of the invisible God” (Cor 1:15), the “reflection of God’s glory” (Heb 1:3), “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14).  Christ is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). Consequently the decisive answer to every one of man’s questions, his religious and moral questions in particular, is given by Jesus Christ, or rather is Jesus Christ himself, as the Second Vatican Council recalls: “In fact, it is only in the mystery of the Word Incarnate that light is shed on the mystery of man.  For Adam, the first man, was a figure of the future man, namely, of Christ the Lord.  It is Christ, the last Adam, who fully discloses man to himself and unfolds his noble calling by revealing the mystery of the Father and the Father’s love”. –Pope St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor (1993)

In 2015, a Bull of Indiction, Misericordiae Vultus  (Face of Mercy) was issued, declaring a “Jubilee Year of Mercy.” The document, begun by Pope Benedict and completed by Pope Francis, is a a powerful reminder of our mission of mercy to a spiritually dark world. We each have a precious opportunity that God has given us at this particular time in history to be instruments of His mercy, and to plead “with loud cries” for God’s “mercy on us and on the whole world.”

“This is the opportune moment to change our lives!  This is the time to allow our hearts to be touched!”  Misericordiae Vultus (Face of Mercy)

"Jesus Christ is the Face of the Father's Mercy." -- Pope Francis
“Jesus Christ is the Face of the Father’s Mercy.” — Pope Francis

“Jesus Christ is the Face of the Father’s Mercy.  These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith.  Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching it’s culmination in Him…We need to constantly contemplate the mystery of mercy.  It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace.  Our salvation depends on it.  Mercy:  the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity.” “With our eyes fixed on Jesus and His merciful gaze, we experience the love of the Most Holy Trinity.  The mission Jesus received from the Father was that of revealing the mystery of Divine Love in its fullness. ‘God is love.’ (1 Jn 4:8,16)”

“Mercy is not contrary to justice but is the behavior of God toward the sinner…God does not deny justice. He rather envelops it and surpasses it with an even greater event in which we experience love as the foundation of true justice” (MV, 21).

Jesus is the face of the mercy of God the Father: “God so loved the world […] [that] the world might be saved through him [the Son]” (Jn 3:16, 17)

We are called to be merciful to each other and seek the Face of Jesus in our neighbor. “It is my burning desire that, during this Jubilee, the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  It will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty.  And let us enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy.  Jesus introduces us to these works of mercy in His preaching so that know whether or not we are living as His disciples.  Let us rediscover these corporal and spiritual works of mercy: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead.  And  let us not forget the spiritual works of mercy:  to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offences, bear patiently those who do us ill, and pray for the living and the dead.”

“Life is a pilgrimage, and the human being is a viator, a pilgrim travelling along the road, making his way to the desired destination.” Let us keep our faces turned toward the Merciful Face of Jesus while on our pilgrimage, and “introduce everyone to the great mystery of God’s Mercy by contemplating the Face of Christ.”(Misericordiae Vultus) 

 

For many of the quarantined, or for those dying in isolation, being deprived of the sacraments, especially of Jesus in the Eucharist, is a very painful suffering. Still, we can offer a “Spiritual Communion,” with a “gaze of faithfulness,” at His Holy Face — to express our love for Jesus — and beg those graces we need until, God willing, we may receive His Sacrament of Love again. Below is a beautiful prayer of St. Faustina, from her diary Divine Mercy in My Soul #1239

Holy Face of Jesus of Manoppello (photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

“O Living Host, O hidden Jesus.  You see the condition of my soul.  Of myself, I am unable to utter Your Holy Name.  I cannot bring forth from my heart the fire of love, but, kneeling at Your feet, I cast upon the Tabernacle the gaze of my soul, a gaze of faithfulness.  As for You, You are ever the same, while within my soul a change takes place.  I trust that the time will come when You will unveil Your Countenance, and Your child will again see Your sweet Face.  I am astonished, Jesus, that You can hide Yourself from me for so long and that You can restrain the enormous love You have for me.  In the dwelling of my heart, I am listening and waiting for Your coming, O only Treasure of my heart!  

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Holy Veil of Manoppello, Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

Prayer to the Holy Face for the liberation from the coronavirus

Lord Jesus, Savior of the world, hope that will never disappoint us, have mercy on us and deliver us from all evil! Please overcome the scourge of this virus which is spreading, heal the sick, preserve the healthy, support those who work for the health of all. Show us your face of mercy and save us in your great love. We ask you through the intercession of Mary, Your Mother and ours, who faithfully accompanies us. You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

+ Bruno Forte
Archbishop of Chieti – Vasto (Italy)
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The “A,B,C’s of mercy:”

Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.

Be Merciful to Others. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.

Completely Trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive.

 

 

“The Cloth That Covered His Head”

Holy Veil of Manoppello said to be the image of the Resurrected Christ
Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection, Eugene Burnand, 1898

So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.  (John 20: 1-9)

At the time of Jesus, the Jewish law required several “cloths” to be used for burial, and as many as six for someone who had died a violent death. Christian tradition has preserved six cloths as relics that are associated with the burial of Jesus – 1.) The Shroud of Turin, 2.) the Sudarium of Oviedo in Spain, 3.) The Sudarium Veil of Manoppello, 4.) The Sudarium of Kornelimunster in Germany, 5.) The SindonMunda of Aachen, Germany, 6.) The Cap of Cahors in France.

Three  of the cloths in particular stand out as extraordinary “witnesses” to the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus, and together they bear a powerful testimony to the truth of the Gospels. Each one bearing an imprint or image of the Face of Jesus. They are: The Sudarium of Oviedo, The Shroud of Turin, and the Sudarium Veil of Manoppello. The remarkable relationship between these three “cloths” leave little doubt that each came in contact with the face of the same man at the time of burial.

Sudarium of Oviedo

 The Sudarium of Oviedo directly touched Jesus’s head following His Crucifixion. Blood was considered sacred to the Jews, so this cloth was used to soak up the Precious Blood of Jesus, by wrapping it around Jesus’s Head, as He was taken down from the Cross. The largest bloodstains are from the nose, other stains are from the eyes and other parts of the face.  There is also an imprint on the sudarium of the hand of the person who held this cloth to Jesus’s Face to staunch the flow of blood. It takes one’s breath away to see that the bloodstains on the Sudarium of Oviedo, when overlaid with the Face on the Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium Veil of Manoppello, correspond perfectly. The blood type is AB, the same as on the Shroud of Turin.

Face on the Shroud of Turin by photographer Secondo Pia, 1898

“He went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there”

The Shroud of Turin; the sindone, or linen burial shroud, was believed to have been used to wrap the entire body of Christ. It is the most famous and studied of the three cloths. The faint but visible imprint on the Shroud of Turin gives witness to the violent torture of a man as described in the Passion and Death of Jesus in the Scripture. The world was amazed when Secondo Pia first photographed the Face on the Shroud in 1898; the negative of the photo incredibly became visible as a positive image. The Shroud of Turin caused an entire branch of science to be dedicated to its research called Sindonology. The most recent research was Atomic resolution studies that detected new biological evidences on the Shroud of Turin — the results of which are stunning.

The Sudarium Veil of the Face of Christ, Photo: Patricia Enk

 The Sudarium Veil of Manoppello, Italy, is perhaps the least known of the three burial “cloths.” The Veil bears the image of the living Face of Jesus. This “miracle of light,” “not made by human hands,” was protected and hidden in an isolated church in the Abbruzzi Mountains for centuries. It is believed to be the “cloth” that covered the Face of Jesus in death, showing traces of the Passion: Bruises, swelling, wounds from the Crown of Thorns, and plucked beard.  But, it is also believed to have recorded in light the Face of Jesus at the moment of His Resurrection. No, this is not a contradiction. Yes, the image changes. It shows suffering, but it also shows life!

“The cloth that had covered his head”

Funeral of Pope St. John Paul II, Archbishop Dziwisz covers the pope’s face with a veil.

An explanation about the tradition of a face cloth for burial may be helpful in understanding its profound significance:  In the funeral rites for priests in some Eastern churches, the veil which was used to cover the chalice and paten were placed on the face of the deceased priest. (The cloth used to cover the chalice and paten had a particular liturgical symbolism linked to the Face of Christ as well.) It was done as a symbol of both the strength and protection of God, and also of the tomb of Christ–an expression of belief in the Resurrection. In Jewish burial custom, a deceased priest’s face would be anointed with oil and then covered with a white cloth, and would have been done for Jesus.

When Pope St. John Paul II was being laid in his coffin, Archbishops Marini and Stanley Dziwisz had the honor of placing a white silk veil over the face of the pope. Poignantly, the choir sang the words from Psalm 42, “My soul thirsts for God, the living God; when will I come and see the Face of the Lord?” Many wondered about the action of covering the pope’s face with a veil because this was the first time it had been done, but was at the request of Pope John Paul II, who had dedicated the millennium to the Face of Christ.

Byssus “Pinna Nobilis” fit for a King! Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

The cloth that would cover the Face of Christ would have to be made of a material fit for a King, a High Priest, and a God. Byssus, mentioned in the Bible forty times, also known as “sea-silk,” is more rare and precious than gold and it has an exceedingly fine texture which can be woven. Made from the long tough silky filaments of Pinna Nobilis mollusks that anchor them to the seabed, it is strong enough to resist the extreme hydrodynamic forces of the sea. Byssus has a shimmering, iridescent quality which reflects light. It is extremely delicate, yet strong at the same time. It resists water, weak acids, bases, ethers, and alcohols. Byssus cannot be painted, as it does not retain pigments, it can only be dyed; and then, only purple.  It can also last for more than 2000 years.

Kurt Cardinal Koch contemplates the Veil “not made by human hands” of Manoppello. Sheer and delicate, yet the Face is visible. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

The Sudarium Veil of Manoppello is also made of rare, precious, byssus silk.  The skill needed to weave a byssus veil as fine as the Veil of the Holy Face of Manoppello is exceedingly great.  Chiara Vigo, known as “the last woman who weaves byssus,” has said that neither she nor anyone alive today could duplicate the gossamer-thin veil, which is sheer enough to read a newspaper through.  The weave is so delicate, she says, that only the nimble fingers of a very skillful child could weave something so fine.

Miraculous Holy Face Veil Photo: Paul Badde (see “Manoppello Image” tab)

It is only through light that this shimmering image of the Face of Jesus may be seen, and at times appears as a “living image” as though it were reflected in a mirror, at other times the image completely disappears.  Although no camera can adequately capture the image, thanks to the many amazing photos of journalist Paul Badde, the changes that occur when viewing the veil may be better appreciated.  (Click here for more photos, and information about Paul Badde’s books and videos about the Holy Face.)

Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese (1915-1978) before the Veil of Manoppello

While the Face on the Shroud of Turin clearly shows the Face of Jesus in death with eyes closed, the Sudariam of Manoppello has eyes open–bearing witness to the Resurrection. That was the ardent belief of the former Rector of the Basilica Shrine of the Holy Face, Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese.  

There are many physiological reasons too for believing that the Face Cloth captures the first breath of the Resurrection. Sr. Blandina Paschalis Schlomer, who shares that belief, has provided meticulous research about the Veil in her book JESUS CHRIST, The Lamb and the Beautiful Shepherd, The Encounter with the Veil of Manoppello.  Sr. Blandina together with Fr. Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer, S.J., Professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, have each demonstrated that the Holy Face on the Veil of Manoppello is the proto-image of the earliest icons, and other works of art depicting the Face of Jesus.

As the first rays of light entered the tomb, John and Peter, upon entering, “saw and believed.”               Sudarium Veil of Manoppello, Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

 

“…and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.”  

Pope Benedict XVI, who came as a pilgrim to Manoppello on September 1, 2006, Fr. Heinrich Pfeiffer, S.J., Paul Badde, and Sr. Blandina Schlomer

What did St. John see in the tomb that would cause him to believe? A cloth of blood, such as the Oviedo? The Shroud of Turin? It is a miraculous image, but shows the Face of a dead man. A third witness was needed in order for the disciple to believe. It could only have been evidence of something as astounding as the Resurrection; proof that Jesus was alive!

It is human nature to want to see things for ourselves. Many pilgrims, humble and great, have felt called to make the journey to visit the miraculous relic. If it is God’s handiwork, and I believe that is true, then one can only wonder at its existence, and gaze in silent contemplation, giving thanks for this tremendous gift of God… so we too may “see and believe.”

“We cannot stop at the image of the Crucified One; He is the Risen One!” –Pope St. John Paul II

Holy Face of Jesus of Manoppello (photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

“”While we too seek other signs, other wonders, we do not realize that He is the real sign, God made flesh; He is the greatest miracle of the universe:  all the love of God hidden in a human heart, in a human face.”  ~ Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

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

“Show us, O Lord, we pray you, Your Face ever new; that mirror, mystery-laden, of God’s infinite mercy. Grant that we may contemplate it with the eyes of our mind and our hearts: the Son’s Face, radiance of the Father’s glory and the imprint of His Nature (cf. Hb 1:3), the human Face of God that has burst into history to reveal the horizons of eternity. The silent Face of Jesus, suffering and risen, when loved and accepted, changes our hearts and lives. “Your Face, Lord, do I seek, do not hide Your Face from me.” (Ps. 27:8ff) How many times through the centuries and millennia has resounded the ardent invocation of the Psalmist among the faithful! Lord, with faith, we too repeat the same invocation: “Man of suffering, as one from whom other hide their faces.” (Is. 53:3) Do not hide your Face from us!”  (Portion of a prayer in honor of the Holy Face of Manoppello by Pope Benedict XVI)

Happy Easter!

Jesus Christ has truly risen indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

The byssus Veil of Manoppello, which is thought to be one of the burial cloths of Jesus, photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

Prayer to the Holy Face for the liberation from the coronavirus

Lord Jesus, Savior of the world, hope that will never disappoint us, have mercy on us and deliver us from all evil! Please overcome the scourge of this virus which is spreading, heal the sick, preserve the healthy, support those who work for the health of all. Show us your face of mercy and save us in your great love. We ask you through the intercession of Mary, Your Mother and ours, who faithfully accompanies us. You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

+ Bruno Forte
Archbishop of Chieti – Vasto (Italy)
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To learn more about the history of the Holy Face of Manoppello, click here to read “Four Stories, One Face.”

Or watch this wonderful video below, “The Human Face of God.”

And a recent Vaticano episode:

 

 

 

Mary’s Veil of Faith

Another Mary, Mary Magdalene embracing the Face of Jesus
Mary Magdalene embracing the Face of Jesus in Boticelli’s Deposition 

Mary’s Veil of Faith

O Jesus, hidden God, my heart perceives You, though veils hide You, You know that I love You. ~Prayer of St. Faustina Kowalska

 

The word “veil” can have many meanings. A veil can cover the face, the head, or an object; it can cover, conceal, or separate. In ancient Jewish tradition a veil in the Holy of Holies in the Temple separated sinful man from the presence of God dwelling in the midst of His People. The holiness of God was not to be taken lightly. The blinding light of the purity and glory of the Face of God could not be looked upon by sinful eyes.

But when God chose Mary to be the Mother of His Son He created her to be all-pure and sinless from the moment of her conception through the merits of her Son, Jesus. In Matthew 5:8 we read, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” What was to prevent Mary, the Immaculate Conception, who was free from all sin, from seeing the Face of God in all His glory even while she was still here on earth? The answer is, in a word, a veil.

The Virgin of the Grapes by Pierre Mignard

When the Word of God became flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the Incarnation, Mary became His Tabernacle. Jesus’ human flesh was His veil: “by the new and living way he opened for us through the veil, that is His flesh” (Heb. 10:20). The Angel Gabriel told Mary that she would be the mother of the Son of God.  But Mary, though “full of grace” and all-pure, would only gaze upon the human face of her child and upon the Face of her God through the veil of faith.

Elizabeth bore witness to Mary’s faith when “filled with the Holy Spirit” she greeted Mary with a loud cry: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?…“Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Lk. 1:45). As Pope St. John Paul II wrote in Redemptoris Mater, “Mary entrusted herself to God completely, with the full submission of intellect and will…this response of faith included both perfect cooperation with ‘the grace of God that precedes and assists’ and perfect openness to the action of the Holy Spirit, who constantly brings faith to completion by His gifts.”

The Man of Sorrows in the arms of the Virgin Mary, by Hans Memling

In a truly heroic manner, in poverty and suffering, on her whole pilgrimage or journey towards God, Mary believed, in faith, though everything happening around her seemed to contradict God’s words to her: That “the Lord will give to him the throne of his father David.” And that “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Mary believed these invisible truths about her Son, even as Jesus, suffered and died, hanging on the Cross. What was visible on an earthly level did not reflect the heavenly reality. Mary did not necessarily see her Son radiant in glory or angels ministering to Him in His Passion.  At the foot of the Cross she saw His bruised and bloodied suffering Face.

Our Lady of Sorrows

Pope St. John Paul II tells us in Redemptoris Mater that “faith is contact with the mystery of God. Every day Mary is in constant contact with the ineffable mystery of God made-man, a mystery that surpasses everything revealed in the Old Covenant… Mary is in contact with the truth about her Son only in faith and through faith!” Though all-pure, she could not see, except through faith. “Blessed is she who believed” is a key, he says, which unlocks for us the innermost reality of Mary. Mary’s all-pure eyes looked on the glory of her Son through a veil of faith, “a dark night,” to use the words of St. John of the Cross, that feeling of darkness or emptiness when a soul draws near to the brightness and glory of God. Pope St. John Paul II writes in Redemptoris Mater that Mary’s faith is: “a kind of a veil though which one has to draw near to the Invisible One and to live in intimacy with the mystery.”

Joan Mates, Mourning over the body of Christ

The stone rolled in front of tomb is also a sort of veil — seemingly impervious, unmovable, like the hardened hearts of souls closed off from God — yet hiding Our Crucified Lord within. When Mary stood in bitter desolation before the massive stone of the tomb, she knew that Jesus was dead. Still, her heart was full of hope. She heroically believed that her Son would rise again in glory. Mary’s faith was so strong that her heart believed what her eyes could not perceive. We too must believe, although Jesus may be silent and hidden completely from our eyes. If we had a little of Mary’s faith, through her intercession, even the heaviest stone could be rolled away by Our Lord, as though it were the lightest veil. Then,  the hardest of hearts could be changed, and her glorious Son would be revealed.

In this earthly pilgrimage of faith a veil lies over our hearts, as St. Paul writes: “To this day, in fact…a veil lies over their hearts, but whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed… All of us, with unveiled face gazing on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 4:15-16, 18) As members of the Church, we can “look at” Jesus through Mary’s eyes of faith, in the Eucharist, in our neighbor; believing in His Word and following her example in our pilgrimage towards the Father until that time when the “veil” of faith will be finally lifted.

Mary adored Jesus beneath the Eucharistic Veil of the appearance of bread.
The Virgin of the Host, by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

“Blessed is she who believed!”

“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1)

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The byssus Veil of Manoppello, which is thought to be one of the burial cloths of Jesus, photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

Prayer to the Holy Face for the liberation from the coronavirus

Lord Jesus, Savior of the world, hope that will never disappoint us, have mercy on us and deliver us from all evil! Please overcome the scourge of this virus which is spreading, heal the sick, preserve the healthy, support those who work for the health of all. Show us your face of mercy and save us in your great love. We ask you through the intercession of Mary, Your Mother and ours, who faithfully accompanies us. You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.
+ Bruno Forte
Archbishop of Chieti – Vasto (Italy)

Restoring the Image of God in Our Souls

+Prayer for liberation from the Coronavirus by Archbishop Bruno Forte click here.

“Il Volto Santo” The Holy Face of Manoppello. (Photo by Paul Badde/EWTN)

Contemplate the Face of Jesus in His Passion

“There was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him; nor appearance that would attract us to him. He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity. One of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.” (Isaiah 53:2-3)

(Detail) painting by Hans Holbein the elder.

The sins of humanity against the Face of God are related to the first three commandments: Idolatry, blasphemy, profanation of the Holy Name and of the Holy Day of Sunday. 

Mankind has turned from the Face of God and toward idols. We have turned away from the Face of God by blaspheming Him, destroying other human beings made in His image, and using God’s life-giving Name as a curse. We have rejected Him on the one day out of seven that He has given us to rest, and a spend time with Him. Like Jesus’s  tormentors in His Passion, humanity has blindfolded Jesus; striking Him, and spitting in His Face; while at the same time, refusing to look upon Him who is the Truth. 

While we cannot change the whole of humanity, we can begin with ourselves. God looks at our souls; broken, disfigured, and in various states of decay. When we “turn back to His Face,” the Divine Artist looks on us with love and restores His image in us.

Our Lord revealed the work of reparation, which is devotion to the Holy Face, “the most beautiful work under the sun,” to Sr. Marie St. Pierre, a Carmelite nun.  Jesus told her that the image of His Holy Face is like a Divine stamp, which, if applied to souls through prayer, has the power of imprinting anew within them the image of God.

This is Sr. Marie St. Pierre’s beautiful prayer to reproduce the image of God in our souls,

“I salute you!  I adore you and I love you, Oh adorable Face of my beloved Jesus, as the noble stamp of the Divinity!  Completely surrendering my soul to You, I most humbly beg You to stamp this seal upon us all, so that the image of God may once more be reproduced in our souls.  Amen.”

 

Miraculous Veil, the “Vera Icon” or True Image of the”Holy Face of Manoppello” in Italy Photo:Paul Badde/EWTN

“St. Veronica”

“St. Veronica,” refers to an unknown woman, not mentioned in the Bible, yet immortalized in every Catholic church at the Sixth Station of the Cross, for her act of compassion to Jesus who left the image of His Face on her veil.

Pope St. John Paul II wrote this beautiful meditation on St. Veronica in 2000, the same year in which he dedicated the millennium to the Face of Christ:

Sixth Station, St. Theresa Church, Ashburn, Virginia

“Veronica does not appear in the Gospels. Her name is not mentioned, even though the names of other women who accompanied Jesus do appear.
It is possible, therefore, that the name refers more to what the woman did. In fact, according to tradition, on the road to Calvary a woman pushed her way through the soldiers escorting Jesus and with a veil wiped the sweat and blood from the Lord’s face. That face remained imprinted on the veil, a faithful reflection, a “true icon”. This would be the reason for the name Veronica.
If this is so, the name which evokes the memory of what this woman did carries with it the deepest truth about her.

One day, Jesus drew the criticism of onlookers when he defended a sinful woman who had poured perfumed oil on his feet and dried them with her hair. To those who objected, he replied: “Why do you trouble this woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me . . . In pouring this ointment on my body she has done it to prepare me for burial” (Mt 26:10, 12). These words could likewise be applied to Veronica. Thus we see the profound eloquence of this event.

The Redeemer of the world presents Veronica with an authentic image of his face. The veil upon which the face of Christ remains imprinted becomes a message for us.
In a certain sense it says: This is how every act of goodness, every gesture of true love toward’s one’s neighbor, strengthens the likeness of the Redeemer of the world in the one who acts that way. Acts of love do not pass away. Every act of goodness, of understanding, of service leaves on people’s hearts an indelible imprint and makes us ever more like the One who “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (Phil 2:7). This is what shapes our identity and gives us our true name.”

This is the deep meaning and call to every Christian revealed in the presence of the unknown woman we call “St. Veronica”– each act of charity, every act of compassion will leave the imprint of the Face of Jesus in our souls, transforming us into His own Image.

Prayer of St. Alphonsus Liguori, from the Sixth Station of the Cross:

My most beloved Jesus, Thy Face was beautiful before, but in this journey it has lost all it’s beauty, and wounds and blood have disfigured it. Alas, my soul also was once beautiful, when it received Thy grace in Baptism; but I have disfigured it by my sins; Thou alone, my Redeemer, can restore it to its former beauty. Do this by Thy Passion, O Jesus.

When we turn to His Face, in prayer, and by acts love and service to our neighbor, He is beautifying and restoring our own souls.

The Holy Face of Manoppello- photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

 

The Shroud of Turin will be displayed via live stream on Holy Saturday: Information here.

Beautiful video also airing on EWTN — from Vaticano — “The Face of God:”

Fr. John Paul Mary, MFVA – homily April 3, 2020

 

“The Holy Face Is My Life. He is My Strength.”

Prayer for liberation from Coronavirus:

Saint Gaetano Catanoso, Pray for us!

“The Holy Face is my life. He is my Strength.” — S. Gaetano Catanoso

From a homily by Pope Benedict XVI:

Gaetano Catanoso was born on 14 February 1879 in Chorio di San Lorenzo, Reggio Calabria, Italy. His parents were wealthy landowners and exemplary Christians.

Gaetano was ordained a priest in 1902, and from 1904 to 1921 he served in the rural parish of Pentidattilo.

Fr Catanoso had a great devotion to The Holy Face of Jesus, and began “The Holy Face” Bulletin and established the “Confraternity of the Holy Face” in 1920. He once wrote:  “The Holy Face is my life. He is my strength”.

Versatility, openness to God’s will

On 2 February 1921, he was transferred to the large parish of Santa Maria de la Candelaria, where he remained until 1940. He was very versatile and his ability to peacefully and diligently serve in such contradictory parish realities earned him the reputation of holiness.

Because he was not conditioned by exterior factors, positive or negative, Fr Gaetano worked well in all situations and settings, striving always to deepen his union with Christ and to do God’s will for the good of those entrusted to his pastoral care. He desired nothing more than to serve at the country parish of Pentidattilo, and his appointment to Candelaria did not make him “puffed up”.

As parish priest of Candelaria, he drew people to Christ by reviving Eucharistic and Marian devotions. He opened institutions, promoted catechetical instruction and crusaded against blasphemy and the profanation of feast days.

Fr Gaetano felt it his duty as a priest to help children and youth who lacked role models and risked being corrupted, as well as abandoned older persons and priests who were isolated and without support. He even helped restore churches and Tabernacles left to decay.

In short, he saw the Face of Christ in all who suffered and would say: “Let us all work to defend and save the orphans, those who are abandoned. There are too many dangers and there is too much misery. With Jesus let us turn our gaze to the abandoned children and youth:  today, humanity is more morally sick than ever”.

Fr Catanoso often spent hours or entire days in prayer before the Tabernacle, and in the parish and beyond he promoted Eucharistic Adoration. He also set up so-called “flying-squads”, teams of priests willing to cooperate in the parishes by giving homilies and hearing confession on these occasions.

Spiritual assistance, Founder

From 1921 to 1950 he served as confessor at religious institutes and in the Reggio Calabria prison. He was also hospital chaplain and spiritual director of the Archiepiscopal Seminary.

In 1934, Fr Catanoso founded the “Congregation of the Daughters of St Veronica, Missionaries of the Holy Face”; its mission: constant prayer of reparation, humble service in worship, catechesis, assistance to children, youth, priests and the elderly. The first convent was opened in Riparo, Reggio Calabria.

When the Archbishop curtailed the activities of the Congregation, Fr Catanoso showed great docility in accepting this decision.

Finally, however, on 25 March 1958, the Constitutions he had written received diocesan approval.
Fr Catanoso died on 4 April 1963, after an exemplary life. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 4 May 1997.

Let the Holy Face be your life, and your strength!”

Limpias Crucifix