by St. Therese of the Holy Face and the Child Jesus
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!
Your 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.
With the blissful vision blest, my God, of Thee. Amen”
–Last line of Hymn “Adoro te devote” by St. Thomas Aquinas
“While they were eating, He took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘Take it; this is my body.’” (Mk 14)
How few truly believe the words of Jesus when He said, “This is my Body.” God wills that the glory of Jesus’s Face be veiled under the humble appearance of bread, so we will not fear to approach Him. Acknowledging ourselves to be sinners, we repeat the words of the centurion as we come in faith to the altar, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof…” (Mt. 8:8)
Because our faith is weak, St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe recommends an even better way to approach Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; he says that one should never fail to remember Mary’s presence. She who was conceived without sin in order to receive the Son of God into her womb, will help prepare us to receive Him. Although Mary’s eyes sought and contemplated the Holy Face of her son Jesus from His infancy to His Ascension, like us Mary would have to look upon the Eucharist with eyes of faith. “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” (John 20:29) So, we should invoke Mary, who is “most blessed” and unite ourselves to her, and she will help us receive Him with love and devotion, to know Him better, adore Him more, to increase in us the virtues of faith, hope, and love, until the time when the Eucharistic Veil is lifted–then, together with Mary, Our Mother, we will behold the glory of His Holy Face forever in Heaven.
“I need nothing in this world in order to be happy. I only need to see Jesus in heaven, Whom I now see and adore on the altar with the eyes of faith.” – St. Dominic Savio
St. Elizabeth of The Trinity, Discalced Carmelite nun
O My God, Trinity whom I adore, help me to forget myself entirely that I may be established in You as still and as peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing trouble my peace or make me leave You, O my unchanging One, but may each minute carry me further into the depths of Your Mystery. Give peace to my soul, make it Your heaven, Your beloved dwelling and Your resting place. May I never leave you there alone but be wholly present, my faith wholly vigilant, wholly adoring, and wholly surrendered to Your creative action. O my beloved Christ, crucified by love, I wish to be a bride for Your Heart; I wish to cover You with glory; I wish to love You…even unto death! …
“Those in love try to see each other. People in love have eyes only for their love. That’s logical isn’t it? The human heart feels this need. I would be lying if I denied my eagerness to contemplate the Face of Jesus Christ. ‘ Vultum tuum, Domine, requiram.’ I will seek your Countenance, O Lord”–St. Jose Maria Escriva
The desire to seek the face of a loved one is written in the human heart by God, who loves each soul as though it were the only one on earth. God in turn, longs for us to return His love, like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, searching the horizon each day for the sight of his lost son. Visit any airport terminal and you will find someone standing with eyes riveted on the arrival gates with anxious anticipation for the familiar face of a loved one to appear, followed by great joy when their hope is fulfilled.
Jesus waits for us, with great longing, but do we have the same longing to see Him? It would be the greatest tragedy if we simply walk past Him because we didn’t recognize Him. Why is it so difficult to keep our focus on seeking the Face of the One who loves us most? The reason may be that we see His Face “only dimly.” Every day a million distractions prevent us from recognizing Jesus, and divert us from seeking the Face of the One who should be our “All in All.”
“At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully as I am known. So Faith, Hope, and Love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is Love.” (1 Cor: 12-13)
Jesus tells us, “Seek and you will find.” To seek the Face of God requires an exercise of the virtue of Hope united with Faith and Love to come to know Him. We can seek Him not only by spending more time in prayer which is the source of our love, but also in recognizing His loving presence in Scripture, in the Eucharist and in our neighbor. One way to exercise the virtue of Hope, in Faith and Love is to repeat often the words of King David:“Come,” says my heart, “seek God’s Face”; your Face, LORD, do I seek! Do not hide Your Face from me!” (Psalm 27:8-9) …and to remember that He “Only has eyes for you!” Though we may forget to seek God, He never ceases to seek us so we may find life and happiness in Him. His love is blind, though sins have marred our souls, He seeks only to beautify and fill with virtue each individual soul, created in His image and likeness, so that by His gaze, He may find there the original truth and beauty – a reflection of His Face.
I Only Have Eyes for You
My love must be a kind of blind love,
I can’t see anyone but you.
Are the stars out tonight?
I don’t know if it’s cloudy or bright.
I only have eyes for you, dear.
The moon may be high
but I can’t see a thing in the sky.
I only have eyes for you.
I don’t know if we’re in a garden
or on a crowded avenue.
You are here and so am I,
Maybe millions of people go by,
but they all disappear from view
and I only have eyes for you.
(By songwriters Al Dubin and Harry Warren)
“Truly, truly, I tell you the truth. Whoever will invoke the Holy Spirit, he will seek me and he will find me, and it is through the Spirit that he will find me.” ~Our Lord to Sr. Miriam of Jesus Crucified.
The Annual Feast of the Holy Face of Manoppello and Procession was celebrated on May 20, 2018. A beautiful account of the day, written by Antonio Bini, together with many wonderful photo’s may be found here on theHolyFace of Manoppello Blogspot.
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has asked the faithful to join him on May 1st in praying the rosary for peace, especially in Syria, and to pray the rosary each day in May with peace as the intention. So, for the beautiful month of May, dedicated to Our Mother Mary, I hope you will not mind this re-post from Oct. 7. 2017, “To Bring Peace to the World.” Please join in the Holy Father’s intention in praying the Rosary…peace is within our reach!
(Please include in your rosary intentions: “Protect Ireland from abortion” Peace in the womb)
“To Bring Peace to the World”
“Do not be afraid, I will not harm you. I come from heaven…Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the conversion of sinners? Then you are going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.” –The words of Our Lady to the three shepherd children of Fatima.
One hundred years ago, on May 13th, 1917, the Blessed Mother appeared to three children in Portugal with a message from Heaven for the world. She requested that the children, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, come on the 13th of the month for the next six months. Our Lady told the children that Jesus wanted to use the children to make His mother known and loved, and to establish devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary throughout the world. In each apparition, the Blessed Mother asked that the Rosary be prayed every day “to bring peace to the world.” In her last visit on October 13th, 1917, she told the children, “I am the Lady of the Rosary.”
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.”
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.”
Contemplation is a gift, a grace, from God. It is a communion in which God transforms a soul into His likeness. To put it more simply, as St. Teresa of Jesus says, contemplation is “a close sharing between friends…taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.” Contemplation is not something beyond our reach however–we have an incomparable model in Mary; the eyes of her heart were always turned toward His Face. To dispose our souls to receive this great gift of God we need only reach for a Rosary and pray it with humility, listening attentively in the Spirit together with Mary, in silent love–that veil of mystery–to the Father’s voice. When we contemplate the scenes or mysteries of the Rosary in union with Mary, the Rosary becomes an unceasing praise of God; a way to learn from her about her son, Jesus, to discover His secrets and understand His message for us.
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)
By keeping our eyes fixed on the Face of Jesus as we pray the Rosary, together with Mary, through her maternal intercession, we may obtain great victories through the heart of her Son Jesus, who obtained for all mankind the greatest victory over sin and death by His Resurrection.
“I dare to summon the whole Church bravely to cross this new threshold, to put into the deep…so that now as in the past the great engagement of the Gospel and culture may show to the world ‘the glory of God on the Face of Christ’ (2 Cor 4:6). May the Lord bless all those who work for this aim.” ~Pope St. John Paul II
–St. Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament, Apostle of Divine Mercy
On October 11, 1933, Saint Marie Faustina Kowalska was struggling “with great difficulty” to remain at prayer during a Holy Hour; she felt nothing, her mind seemed dimmed, she couldn’t understand the simplest form of prayer, and unlike most of us, this made her determined to stay another hour. During the second hour her sufferings increased, together with great dryness and discouragement. Rather than call it quits, she heroically resolved to remain for a third hour, by sheer will. Kneeling with her arms outstretched, she took off her ring and asked Jesus to look at it as the sign of their eternal union and her perpetual vows. After a while, her heart was inundated with a wave of love. Jesus suddenly stood before her stripped of His clothing as in His Passion. “His body completely covered with wounds, His eyes flooded with tears and blood, His Face disfigured and covered with spittle.” The Lord then said to St. Faustina, “The Bride must resemble her Betrothed.”She says she understood these words to their very depth. Her likeness to Jesus must be through suffering and humility. Jesus said to her, “See what love of human souls has done to Me. My daughter, in your heart I find everything that so great a number of souls refuses Me, Your heart is My repose. I often wait with great graces until towards the end of prayer.” Her faithfulness to prayer was rewarded with a powerful reminder that she must resemble Jesus, her spouse.
This mystery of likeness to God is tied to contemplative prayer, “a communion, in which the Holy Trinity conforms man, the image and likeness of God, to His likeness.” (CCC 2713) In contemplative prayer we seek Him whom our soul loves, with our attention fixed on Jesus, surrendering to the love of the Father. The interior life of prayer can be difficult, dry and empty; it requires pure abandonment to God when nothing is felt, resisting our natural inclination to self-love by desiring to enjoy consolation. St. Faustina writes, “Amid the greatest torments, I fix the gaze of my soul upon Jesus Crucified.” St. Faustina’s strength was in contemplation of the Face of Jesus reflecting all the pain and suffering of His Sacred Heart: “I have ever before my eyes His sorrowful Face, abused and disfigured, His divine Heart pierced for our sins and especially by the ingratitude of chosen souls.”
St. Faustina, the Apostle of Divine Mercy, had the mission of spreading His Mercy so that souls will come to know His unfathomable love, “to remove the veil of heaven so that earth will not doubt Your goodness.” She wrote, “Make of me, Jesus, a pure and agreeable offering before the Face of Your Father. Jesus, transform me, miserable and sinful as I am, into Your own self (for You can do all things), and give me to Your Eternal Father.” St. Faustina’s desire to see the Face of God increased although darkness filled her soul as though she were in exile. In spite of that suffering, she abandoned herself to the Will of God, remaining faithful in prayer. “When will the veil be lifted for me as well? Although I see and feel to a certain extent how very thin is the veil separating me from the Lord, I long to see Him face to face; but let everything be done according to Your will.”
St. Faustina sought solace by remaining patiently in prayer before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. “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 the time will come when You unveil Your Countenance, and Your child will again see Your sweet Face…I am listening and waiting for Your coming, O only Treasure of my heart!”
God who made us in His image and likeness dwells in us. His divine indwelling enables us to become who we truly are when we turn to Him with humility and perseverance in prayer. “With God, to gaze at is to love,” says St. John of the Cross, and we are transformed by what we gaze upon. The trouble for our human nature is that in difficulties we often forget to turn to His Face, as St. Teresa of Jesus has said, “O Lord, how true that all harm comes to us from not keeping our eyes fixed on You.” The divine goal of the grace of contemplative prayer, which flows from His mercy, is to resemble Jesus. St. Faustina wrote, “The Heavenly Father will recognize and glorify our soul to the extent that He sees in us a resemblance to His Son.”
“Be blessed, merciful God, Eternal Love, / You are above the heavens, the sapphires, the firmaments, / The hosts of pure spirits sings You praises, / With its eternal hymn: Thrice Holy.
And, gazing upon You, face to face, O God, / I see that You could have called other creatures before them, / Therefore they humble themselves before You in great humility, / For well they see that this grace comes solely from Your mercy.” –St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul
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)
It is a scripture tradition that a fact must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses; but are there witnesses to the Resurrection of Jesus? The answer is in the “cloths” found in Christ’s tomb which caused the disciple to “see and believe.”
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. 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 same man at the time of burial.
First Witness – 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.
“He went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there”
Second Witness – 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 absolutely stunning.
Third Witness – The Sudarium Veil of Manoppello, Italy, is perhaps the least known of the three burial “cloths.” The Veil bearing a miraculous image of the Face of Jesus, “not made by human hands,” was protected and hidden in an isolated church in the Abbruzzi Mountains for centuries. It seems, however, in recent years that Divine Providence has intervened to bring this third witness to light. It is believed not only to be the “cloth” that covered the Face of Jesus in death, but is also said to bear the image of the Face of Jesus at the moment of the Resurrection.
“The cloth that had covered his head”
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.
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.
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.
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.
“…and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.”
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
“Look at His adorable Face, His glazed and sunken eyes, His wounds. Look Jesus in the Face. There you will see how He loves us.”
–St. Therese of the Holy Face and the Child Jesus
“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 people, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom people hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.
Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, while we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed.” – Isaiah 53:2-5
“O Adorable Face of Jesus! Our souls understand Your language of love; we want to dry Your gentle Face and to console You for the forgetfulness of the wicked. In their eyes You are still as one hidden; they look upon You as an object of contempt…
O Face more beautiful than the lilies and roses of springtime! You are not hidden from our eyes…The Tears that veil Your divine look seem to us like precious Diamonds which we want to collect to buy the souls of our brothers and sisters with their infinite value.
From Your Adorable Mouth we have heard Your loving complaint. Since we know that the thirst which consumes You is a thirst for Love, we would wish to have an infinite Love to quench Your thirst…Beloved Bridegroom of our souls, if we had the love of all hearts, all that love would be for You! Then, heedless of our exile on the banks of Babylon, we will sing for your Ears the sweetest melodies. Since You are the true, the only Homeland of our hearts, we will not sing our songs in an alien land.
O Beloved Face of Jesus! As we await the everlasting day when we will contemplate Your infinite Glory, our one desire is to charm Your Divine Eyes by hiding our faces too so that here on earth no one can recognize us…O Jesus! Your Veiled Gaze is our Heaven!” –St. Therese of the Holy Face and the Child Jesus
UPDATE: EWTN will be airing THE HUMAN FACE OF GOD IN THE HOLY VEIL OF MANOPPELLO 03/28 at 4:30 pm Central time,
03/29 at 5:30 am Central Time, Paul Badde goes on-location in Italy to explore the Veil of Manoppello and its relation to other images of the Holy Face of Christ.
“And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3: 14-16)
It’s the stuff that nightmares are made of: We find ourselves lost and wandering through the wilderness trying to find our way home, and suddenly slithering poisonous serpents are everywhere –striking, biting, causing death. Only it isn’t a nightmare; the “fiery serpents” of sin are a spiritual reality that surrounds us in this life. As we journey toward Heaven, our true home, we are wounded and weakened by original sin, the bites of venial sins can weaken us more, the bite of a mortal sin can be deadly. But there is an antidote for the venom: it is the contemplation of Face of Our Savior, Jesus Christ!
“Look at Jesus. Place before your eyes His most Holy Humanity, contemplate Him in the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, in the Way of the Cross, in the scenes that the Gospels narrate for us, or in the Tabernacle…We cannot turn our gaze away from God, because we see the havoc that the enemy wreaks around us everyday. By himself, nobody is immune. ‘Vultum tuum, Domine, requiram’: Thy Face, Lord, do I seek; hide not Thy Face from me.’ Psalm 26 (In Conversation with God, Francis Fernandez)
Graces flow from His Holy Face. A soul who contemplates the Face of Christ can, in charity, bring this healing remedy to others by encouraging them to look at Jesus’s Face, and by sharing this devotion many souls may be saved.
“When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to myself, says the Lord.” (John 12.32)
“The most illustrious thing the Church has is that which she hides most.” ~Bossuet
His countless virtues made him worthy to be the foster father of the Son of God. He was the first man to see the human Face of God; the first man to hear the cry of the Word of God. Yet for centuries the most just and humble St. Joseph was fairly hidden in the Church. Not a word is spoken by St. Joseph in the Gospels. But as Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “His is a silence permeated by contemplation of the mystery of God, in an attitude of total availability to His divine wishes.”
It was St. Teresa of Avila who recognized St. Joseph as the model of contemplative prayer. She wrote: “Would that I could persuade all men to have devotion to this glorious Saint; for I know by long experience what blessings he can obtain for us from God.” Because St. Joseph was silent, he was attuned to hear the voice of God, although it was in darkness and obscurity. “Those who practice prayer,” says St. Teresa, “should have a tremendous devotion to him always.”
“Joseph, the honest man, seeks God. Joseph, the selfless man, finds God. Joseph, the hidden man, delights in God’s presence.” –Second Panegyric on St. Joseph by Bossuet
St. Joseph, through continuous prayer, sought God’s Will in each present moment. St. Teresa writes that he is the master of the interior life. “In human life Joseph was Jesus’ master in their daily contact, full of refined affection, glad to deny himself in order to take better care of Jesus. Isn’t that reason enough for us to consider this just man, this holy patriarch, in whom the faith of the old covenant bears fruit, as master of interior life? Interior life is nothing but continual and direct conversation with Christ, so as to become one with Him. And Joseph can tell us many things about Jesus.” St. Joseph reveals those hidden graces in our daily lives; gifts from God that are available in each ordinary moment, as well as in trials and times of suffering. St. Joseph teaches us to live by faith as he did, before the presence of such a great mystery, by contemplating the human Face of God.