The great “Missionary of the Holy Face,” Blessed Mother Maria Pierina De Michele, was asked by Our Lord to have a Feast of the Holy Face, which was to be preceded by a novena. (The Feast was approved in 1958 by Pope Pius XII, who formally declared the Feast of the Holy Face on “Shrove Tuesday” (The Tuesday which precedes Ash Wednesday.)
Bl. Mother Maria Pierina inspired her Daughters of the Immaculate Conception to make a novena with all the fervor of their hearts, uniting themselves to Jesus in grief and suffering, in the Garden of Gethsemane. She exhorted her nuns to honor the Face of Jesus by giving Him “a kiss of love.”
“Honor the Holy Face of our dear Jesus, sorrowful for the sins of men–ours–everyones–but specially for those who should be His intimate friends…Let us gaze profoundly at that Divine Face–speak heart to heart–and we will share His most bitter griefs–and He will say, ‘Console Me, you at least who say you love Me–in order to be all Mine.'” –Bl. Mother Pierina de Micheli, “Missionary of the Holy Face”
Daily Preparatory Prayer
(to be said each day as you console the Holy Face)
O Most Holy and Blessed Trinity, through the intercession of Holy Mary, whose soul was pierced through by a sword of sorrow at the sight of the passion of her Divine Son, we ask your help in making a perfect Novena of reparation with Jesus, united with His sorrows, love and total abandonment.
We now implore all the Angels and Saints to intercede for us as we pray this Holy Novena to the Most Holy Face of Jesus and for the glory of the most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Psalm 51: 3-4
Have mercy on me, O God in your goodness, in your great tenderness wipe away my faults; wash me clean of my guilt, purify me from my sin.
O most Holy Face of Jesus, look with tenderness on us who are sinners. You are a merciful God, full of love and compassion. Keep us pure of heart, so that we may see Thee always. Mary, our mother, intercede for us. Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Through the merits of your precious blood and your Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, …Pardon and mercy.
Prayer to Our Almighty Father
Almighty Father, come into our hearts, and so fill us with your love that forsaking all evil desires, we may embrace you, our only good. Show us, O Lord our God, what you are to us. Say to our souls, I am your salvation, speak so that we may hear. Our hearts are before you; open our ears; let us hasten after your voice. Hide not your Face from us, we beseech you, O Lord. Open our hearts so that you may enter in. Repair our ruined mansions, that you may dwell therein. Hear us, O Heavenly Father, for the sake of your only Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (St. Augustine)
Pray one (1) Our Father, three (3) Hail Mary’s, one (1) Glory Be.
O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (3 times)
“Behold, O God, our protector, and look upon the Face of Thy Christ!”
“It is the Church’s task to reflect the light of Christ in every historical period, to make His Face shine also before the 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 Holy Face Novena will begin on Sunday, February 7th, and will be posted here for each day.
The Feast of the Holy Face for 2021 will be on February 16th –“Shrove Tuesday” — the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
“Do you see how I suffer? Yet, very few understand me. Those who say they love me are very ungrateful! I have given my HEART as the sensible object of my great LOVE to men and I give my FACE as the sensible object of my sorrow for the sins of men. I wish that it be venerated by a special Feast on Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. I wish that the feast be preceded by a novena in which the faithful make reparation with Me, joining together and sharing in my sorrow.” –Words of Our Lord to Bl. Mother Maria Pierina de Micheli
There are many saints and blesseds associated with the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, too many to mention — but, the Face of Christ was the foundation of their prayer life. St. Teresa of Avila, Discalced Carmelite foundress, wrote, “Never set aside the Sacred Humanity of Christ.” We cannot come to the Father except through Him.
Sr. Marie St. Pierre was also a Carmelite nun, of Tours, France, in the 1800s. She received communications from Our Lord, who asked for a devotion to His Holy Face and a Work of Reparation: the offering His Holy Face to the Father in reparation for the sins of blasphemy, sacrilege, the crimes of atheistic communism, the profanation of the Holy Name, and the Holy Day of Sunday. The sins against the first three if the Ten Commandments are the greatest sins against God. The damage done by our sins to our relationship with God are reflected in the Face of of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. For this reason, devotion and reparation to the Holy Face is fitting in order to make amends for what we have done to Him.
Our Lord said to her, “I have taken upon my Head all the sins of mankind, so that my members may be spared. Therefore, offer my Face to the Father, this is the means of appeasing Him.”
“My daughter, I give you my Face and my Heart, I give you my Blood, and I open my wounds to you; draw from them and pour it out. Buy without money, my Blood that is the price of souls. Oh! What grief for my Heart to see the remedies which have cost me so dearly, scorned. Ask from my Father as many souls as the number of drops of Blood that I shed during my Passion.”
St. Therese of Lisieux, who read the revelations of Our Lord to Sr. Marie St. Pierre taught the novices under her care to recite these two aspirations of Sr. Marie St. Pierre every day: At the elevation of the Host, “Most Holy Father, look upon the Face of your Jesus, and make as many elect as there are sinners.” and at the elevation of the chalice, “O Divine Blood of Jesus, water our earth, and cause the elect to spring up!”
“The Reparation is a Work destined to save society.” Pope Pius IX
“All who will undertake this work and who will truly devote themselves to it will not die the eternal death. I will defend their cause before my Father and I will give them the kingdom of Heaven.”
“This work is the essence of charity!” — Our Lord to Sr. Marie St. Pierre
It is interesting to note that the drawing of the Face of Christ, known as the Holy Face of Tours, that is most often associated with Sr. Marie St. Pierre, OCD, actually came to the Carmelite Monastery of Tours only after her death. In 1851, the Prioress of the Tours Carmel, had received two facsimile copies, obtained from Rome, from the Benedictine nuns of Arras, who, in the tradition of St. Gertrude, also had a devotion to the Holy Face.
But there was another treasured painting of the Holy Face that already existed in the monastery when Sr. Marie St. Pierre entered Carmel:
“The Carmelites possess a very interesting historical picture worthy of veneration; a beautiful image of Our Lord, the original of which, it is said, is preserved at Gênes, and is regarded by pious tradition as the true portrait of our Lord Jesus Christ that He, Himself, sent to King Abgare. A small number of copies of the picture have been taken, and are to be seen in Spain.”
— from the Life of Sr. Marie St. Pierre 1884
I am continuing to research what the original Holy Face painting of the Tours monastery looked like, and where it may be today. (Perhaps French readers, or other Carmelites may know and could help?) Below is an historic 8th century painting of King Abgare receiving what became known as the Holy Face of Edessa, or the Mandylion. The “true image” depicted the Face of the living Christ on a sheer veil or cloth – a human face of a man who has suffered, with traces of wounds, bruises, and swelling visible, especially on the left cheek. His wavy hair is long and parted with a small, short lock of curls at the center. His open eyes are peaceful and looking slightly to one side. His mouth is partially open. The image was reported to have been miraculous, not only in appearance, but also as an instrument of healing.
Devotion to the Holy Face is so much more that venerating images of the Face of Christ. It is seeking God’s Face in the Gospels, in His Eucharistic Face, in our neighbor, and through the eyes of Mary — contemplating with her, the Face of Jesus in the mysteries of the Rosary:
“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…To contemplate Christ involves being able to recognize Him wherever He manifests Himself, in His many forms of presence, but above all, in the living Sacrament of His Body and Blood.”
Beginning at 0.53 Omnis Terra in Manoppello, Italy on Vaticano
On Sunday, January 17, at 11 am, the Holy Face Basilica in Manoppello, Italy held the Eucharistic Celebration and solemn blessing on the occasion of the feast Omnis Terra. In honor of the procession that Pope Innocent III began in 1208, processing the Sacred Veil of the Holy Face in Rome, from Saint Peter’s Basilica to that of Santo Spirito of Sassia.
Omnis Terra, Latin for “All the Earth,” is the name given to the Second Sunday in Ordinary time., The Gospel is a revelation of His glory is the cause for all the earth rejoicing, giving praise.
Gospel Jn 1:35-42
John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —, “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.
Homily of Celebrant Archbishop Ganswein – copyright EWTN
Basilica of the Volto Santo
Manoppello, Sunday, January 17, 2021
Dear brothers in the priestly ministry,
dear representatives of the civil authorities,
dear sisters and brothers in the Lord.
“As [John] watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God,’” we heard earlier in the Gospel. We can also say the same words here with John the Evangelist every day in view of the face of Christ in the Volto Santo.
Omnis terra is the name of today’s Sunday in the liturgical calendar, after the Latin words of Psalm 65 at the beginning of this Holy Mass: Omnis terra adoret te, Deus, et psallat tibi! That means in English, “Let all the earth worship you and praise you, o God; may it sing in praise of your name.” We have gathered here today, too, for this ancient praise of God by all the earth, in the Pontifical Basilica of the Volto Santo.
The occasion for this feast day is the memory of the same Sunday of the year 1208, when Pope Innocent III carried this true image of the Lord, which we see and venerate here above the main altar, as humbly as a mendicant monk from the old Basilica of St. Peter in Rome to the sick of the capital, as well as the sick pilgrims from all over Europe, to the nearby Hospital of the Holy Spirit. The most powerful and power-conscious pope of the Middle Ages brought the archetype of the merciful God barefoot to the sick and dying!
Before that, this precious veil icon had been kept hidden for a long time. With this step, the image came out into the open and became publicly known for the first time in the entire Catholic universal Church — on this Sunday in winter, which even then, in January 1208, began with the same words from the psalm as today: omnis terra.
But that Pope Innocent III at that time carried the holy face, together with his canons, not to the scholars and nobles of the city, but to the sick and the poor of Rome, we must especially remember today, January 17, 2021, when the expression omnis terra — “all the earth” — has taken on a startling reality as perhaps never before! For all the world is suddenly threatened by an invisible virus, all continents, all skin colors, nations and religions — truly all the people of this earth, young and old! All the world suddenly fears disease and death together, from Tierra del Fuego to Vladivostok. When was the expression omnis terra ever more timely and burning!
Therefore, it was for me a sacred duty as well as a great joy to come today, despite all the coronavirus obstacles, from Rome to Manoppello, where at present no pilgrims can come because of the pandemic. I had to come to bring the Volto Santo, at least through the medium of the moving images of television, to as many sick and lonely people as possible!
That is why I now also remember with gratitude the day five years ago today when Fr. Carmine Cucinelli invited me and the memorable Archbishop Edmund Farhat from Lebanon to celebrate the divine mysteries with a copy of the Volto Santo in the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia in Rome on January 17, 2016. For Father Carmine, as rector of the Basilica in Manopello at that time, had come up with the idea of introducing a third annual feast for the veneration of the Volto Santo during the “Jubilee of Mercy” that Pope Francis had proclaimed for the year 2016. And the Sunday omnis terra, in memory of the pioneering initiative of Innocent III in the distant year 1208, was simply the most suitable for this.
But I also remember, as if it were yesterday, how I was able to accompany Pope Benedict XVI on his “private pilgrimage” here on September 1, 2006, when he had decided, despite much resistance, to visit and venerate the Volto Santo in Manoppello as the first Pope in over 400 years, shortly before visiting his Bavarian homeland. And now it seems to me almost like divine providence that at that time he had chosen the same passage from the Gospel of John that we have just heard, in order to put into the following wordshis thoughts on this historic encounterbefore the Cappuchin friars and faithful gathered here with the holy veil:
During my pause for prayer just now, I was thinking of the first two Apostles who, urged by John the Baptist, followed Jesus to the banks of the Jordan River […]. The Evangelist recounts that Jesus turned around and asked them: “What do you seek?” And they answered him, “Rabbi […] where are you staying?” And he said to them, “Come and see.” That very same day, the two who were following him had an unforgettable experience which prompted them to say: “We have found the Messiah.” The One whom a few hours earlier they had thought of as a simple “rabbi” had acquired a very precise identity: the identity of Christ who had been awaited for centuries. But, in fact, what a long journey still lay ahead of those disciples! They could not even imagine how profound the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth could be or how unfathomable, inscrutable, his “Face” would prove, so that even after living with Jesus for three years, Philip, who was one of them, was to hear him say at the Last Supper: “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip?” And then the words that sum up the novelty of Jesus’ revelation: “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”
Thus far Benedict XVI on September 1, 2006.
If we take his word, and this word of the Lord, quite seriously, we see the Father also here, where the Son reveals his essence to us forever, and where we see: He lives – as Savior and Redeemer.
Pope Benedict had not come barefoot like Pope Innocent, but by helicopter from Castel Gandolfo to Manoppello at the invitation of Archbishop Bruno Forte, and I still remember very vividly every moment of that meeting, as well as May 15, 2009, when Benedict XVI visited the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, from which the veil of the Volto Santo — as well as the Shroud of Turin — originates as incomparable news of the resurrection of Christ from the dead. It cannot be otherwise. After the spectacular visit of Pope Paul VI on January 4, 1964, the empty tomb of Christ in Jerusalem has also been visited by Pope John Paul II in March 2000 and Pope Francis in May 2014. Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage to Manoppello on September 1, 2006, on the other hand, can only be compared to the procession through which Pope Innocent III made known the “True Icon,” popularly known as “Veronica,” in Western Christendom more than 800 years ago. Pope Benedict, however, on September 1, 2006, brought the personal and “human face of God” back to the Church and to all the world. He came all alone and not in the entourage of his advisors or the canons of Saint Peter. And he came shyly and reservedly, as is his way, and only for contemplation and prayer. A celebration of the Eucharist or a public blessing with the Volto Santo was not thought of at that time. But then thousands of pilgrims followed him here, who in his footsteps carried the sentence from the Gospel of John around the whole world: “Come and see!”
Church history will record this forever. And for this, the civil authorities of the city of Manoppello already gave him the keys of your City at the Vatican on November 3, 2010, in the presence of Archbishop Bruno Forte. For this I thank you again with all my heart, as well as all the friars of the Capuchin Order and all the citizens of Manoppello, and today I thank you again especially and personally for the precious privilege of celebrating the Holy Eucharist here with you for all the sick and suffering of all the earth, under the merciful gaze of Christ: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world!”
The essence of the devotion to the Holy Face is to give honor and glory to God’s Holy Name, and make reparation to God for blasphemy, atheism, idolatry, and the profanation of the Holy Name and the Holy Day of Sunday. Jesus said, “I am in my Father, and my Father is in Me” (John 14:11). The merit of a person lies in his character, but the glory of his reputation rests on his good name. The Holy Name of God expresses the Divinity, and contains all the perfections of the Creator. Those who blaspheme and reject God’s love insult God directly. Because Jesus became man at the Incarnation, it is He who has suffered in His Holy Face all the outrages committed by blasphemers in the name of His Father. God has chosen the most universally understood realities to reach our souls, the most simple and human symbols — the heart and the face. The only perfect offering that can be made to God to atone for these terrible insults and rejection of God is the Holy Face of His Son Jesus, which reflects all the love of His Eucharistic Heart.
We have seen great crowds fill the streets this year for various protests and political demonstrations to honor this cause or that with the religious-like fervor of pagan cults. But few have filled the streets in procession for the honor and glory of Our God and Creator.
A choice is set before us: The false faces of idol worship or seeking the Face of the one true God. For those who choose idols, we have the warning of the prophets:
“One day they will invoke the Lord, but He will not answer them, and on that day He will hide His Face from them because of the evil of their conduct.”
But those who choose to contemplate the Face of Christ will be transformed into His Image:
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
(2 Cor 3:18)
God has a face and a name. The expression “name of God” means God as He Who is present among men. “His name,” Pope Benedict XVI says, “is the concrete sign of His Existence.” When we praise His Name, we are rejoicing in the splendor of His Face. Benedict wrote:
“To rejoice in the splendor of His Face means penetrating the mystery of His Name made known to us in Jesus, understanding something of His Interior life and of His will, so that we can live according to His plan for humanity. Jesus lets us know the hidden Face of the Father through His human Face; by the gift of the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts.”
Those who choose God have a reason for all the earth to rejoice!
If you would like to participate remotely on this beautiful occasion, the celebration on Sunday, January 17 at 11 am in the Basilica Minor of the Holy Face of Manoppello will be live streamed live on the Sanctuary, and may also be viewed at a later time: Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/basilicavoltosanto
Let all the earth worship and praise You, O God; may it sing in praise of Your Name, O Most High. Shout joyfully to the Lord all the earth; sing a psalm in honor of His Name, praise Him with magnificence!
–Omnis Terra Introit
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 ForteArchbishop of Chieti – Vasto (Italy)
May God have pity on us and bless us; may He let his Face shine upon us. So may Your way be known upon earth; among all nations, Your salvation. (Ps. 67:1)
“Our Lady, in whose face – more than any other creature – we can recognize the features of the Incarnate Word.” –Pope Benedict XVI
The Feast of Mary, Mother of God
In God’s beautiful design, the Christmas liturgy continues at the beginning of the New Year by drawing us to the Face of Christ with three holy feast days. All three are tied together by a common, yet golden thread–A mother, sharing her precious Son with us, so we may see His Face.
We begin on January 1, with the Feast of Mary, Mother of God, who teaches us how to contemplate the Face of her Son by seeing the reflection of His beauty and goodness in her face. On the Solemnity of the Mother of God, Pope Francis said, “Begin the year recalling God’s goodness in the maternal face of Mary.” We see Jesus more clearly through His Mother’s eyes, especially when we pray the Rosary.
The first reading for this feast day is the priestly blessing on God’s chosen people from the book of Numbers:
The LORD said to Moses:
“Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:
This is how you shall bless the Israelites.
Say to them:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites,
and I will bless them.” (Num 6:22-27)
May Our Lord grant us His blessing in the New Year through intercession the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. As the Incarnation of the Son of God came into the world by the power of the Holy Spirit, at Mary’s “Fiat,” through her prayers, may we obtain the grace to contemplate His Holy Face, andreceive God’s greatest gift of peace.
The next holy feast, on January 3 is…
The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus
In sacred scripture the Angel Gabriel revealed the Holy Name of the Savior of mankind to the Blessed Virgin Mary: “You shall call His name Jesus.”
When Jesus was named, Satan was disarmed!
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI teaches us, The expression “name of God” means God as He Who is present among men. His name, is the concrete sign of His Existence. The Hebrew term, “panim”, which means “face” means to see The Face of God, or the presence of God. “Panim” is a term that describes relationships. The Hebrew word “shem” meaning “name” is also a term of relationship. “Panim” is also the Hebrew word for “Face of God” and the same word is used for “Bread of the Presence” or “Bread of the Face.” (Exodus 25:30) The “Bread of Presence” mentioned in Exodus was not the actual Face of God, but the earthly sign of His Face. The Eucharist, instituted by Christ, however, is the actual Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus. When we are gazing at the Eucharist, the sign of God’s love for us, in Adoration, we see His Holy Face veiled in the appearance of bread, and in doing so, we give honor to His Holy Name.
Who had a more tender relationship of love with Jesus than his mother Mary? Who spoke His name more lovingly? God has a Face and a Name — It is Jesus Christ, our Redeemer! The Blessed Mother invites us to rejoice in the splendor of His Face, and contemplate the mystery of His Holy Name by entering into a relationship with her Son Jesus, especially in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.
“To rejoice in the splendor of His Face means penetrating the mystery of His name made known to us in Jesus, understanding something of His interior life and of His will, so that we can live according to His plan for humanity. Jesus lets us know the hidden Face of The Father through His human Face; by the gift of The Holy Spirit poured into our hearts. This,is the foundation of our peace, which nothing can take from us.” –Pope Benedict XVI
Blessed the Lord, O my soul, and let all that is within thee bless His Holy Name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and never forget all He hath done for thee. (Ps. ci. i,2)
And the third great holy day drawing us to adore the Holy Face is…
The Feast of the Epiphany
The Epiphany is closely linked to the Holy Face, as the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen and mother, presents her Son, the King of Kings, to the Magi–because the Epiphany is the feast on which Jesus Christ first shows Himself to the world represented by the Magi–and He shows Himself through a human face, the face of an infant. On the feast of the Epiphany, we ask God to shine His Face upon us, to reveal His Face to us once more as we come before Him in adoration, so that, like the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may also reflect the light of His Face to the world.
“May the Lord grant that in the new millennium, the Church will grow ever more in holiness, that she may become in history a true epiphany of the merciful and glorious Face of Christ the Lord.” — Pope St. John Paul II at the Closing of the Holy Door, January 6, 2001
The world may seem cold and dark in many ways this year. It has been colder and darker before. Yet, this is the world that the Incarnate Word has chosen to be born into; with a burning love for humanity, He offers us His eternal love. But how cold is the human heart! And how few want to accept and return the love of the Divine Child. One look at His Face can convert the hardest heart. Let us welcome Him, so that the flames ofHis love may spread and grow throughout the world.
St. Robert Southwell was a young convert to the Catholic Church. Educated in Italy, he became a Catholic priest at a time of persecution in Protestant England. He travelled secretly to England, and there served the underground Church for six years before being captured, tortured, and held in the Tower of London. While he was imprisoned in the Tower he wrote one of the most beautiful Christmas poems ever written, “The Burning Babe.” His trial took place in 1595, and he was executed by being drawn and quartered. St. Robert Southwell was canonized in 1960 by Pope Paul VI.
The Burning Babe
by St. Robert Southwell, SJ, Martyr
As I in hoary winter's night stood shivering in the snow,
Surpris'd I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty Babe all burning bright did in the air appear;
Who, scorched with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed.
"Alas!" quoth he, "but newly born, in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I!
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns;
The fuel Justice layeth on, and Mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men's defiled souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood."
With this he vanish'd out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I called unto mind that it was Christmas day.
During Advent the Church celebrates the longing to see God’s Face, together with the Blessed Virgin Mary, with a Triduum (three days of prayer beginning on December 15) and a Feast (on December 18th)–It is called The Feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Longing to See His Face. (a bit of the history may be found here.) The prayer may also be continued until Christmas.
On the days leading up to Christmas we are invited to contemplate, together with Mary, the Divine Child within her womb, who is Our Savior. We too, through sanctifying grace, bear the supernatural image of God within us. Like Mary, we desire to become a peaceful sanctuary for the living God. We are called to be attentive, in prayer, to the faint stirrings of His presence in our hearts, which will fill us with a deep longing to see His Face as we pray:
Prayer for the Triduum and Feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Longing to See His Face
“Mary, your life with Jesus was one of the purest, most fervent, most perfect emotions of longing and most eager expectation of the Birth of the Divine Child! How great must have been that longing! You were longing to see the Face of God and to be happy in the vision. You were soon really to see the Face of God, the created image of divine perfection, the sight of which rejoices heaven and earth, from which all being derive life and joy; the Face whose features enraptured God from all eternity, the Face for which all ages expectantly yearned. You were to see this Face unveiled, in all the beauty and grace as the face of your own child.
Most just indeed it is, O Holy Mother of God, that we should unite in that ardent desire which you had to see Him, who had been concealed for nine months in your chaste womb; to know the features of this Son of the heavenly Father, who is also your own; to come to that blissful hour of His birth, which will give glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to men of good will. Yes, dear Mother, the time is fast approaching, though not fast enough to satisfy your desires and ours. Make us re-double our attention to the great mystery; complete our preparation by your powerful prayers for us, so that when the solemn hour has come, our Jesus may find no obstacle to His entrance into our hearts. Amen.” (Prayer by Rev. Lawrence Lovasik, S.V.D.)
I live my Advent in the womb of Mary.
And on one night when a great star swings free
from its high mooring and walks down the sky
to be the dot above the Christus i,
I shall be born of her by blessed grace.
I wait in Mary-darkness, faith's walled place,
with hope's expectance of nativity.
I knew for long she carried me and fed me,
guarded and loved me, though I could not see.
Bur only now, with inward jubilee,
I come upon earth's most amazing knowledge:
someone is hidden in the dark with me.
~Sr. Miriam of the Holy Spirit, OCD
Few people know that St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face wrote plays for “pious recreation” in the Carmel of Lisieux. During Christmas of 1896, a little less than a year before St. Therese died, she wrote a charming little play in the form of verse for her sisters in Carmel entitled “The Little Divine Beggar of Christmas.” In the play an angel comes bearing the little Christ Child in swaddling clothes, and pleading for the Incarnate Word who cannot yet speak. The holy angel invites the sisters to offer little Jesus not only their love, but also their “cares and sufferings,” which the angels, being pure spirits, cannot give Him. After placing the Infant Jesus in the crib, the angel offers to the Mother Prioress, and then to all the Carmelites, a basket of little notes. “Each takes one, haphazard, and without opening it gives it to the angel, who then sings the petition therein contained, — the gift which the Divine Child asks from each in turn.”
Each simple gift with spiritual significance is offered to the Christ Child to show their love: A gold throne…of your pure hearts’ holy fires, A star…the love and light of virtues — shedding welcoming radiance near and far, or Roses of penitence… tears for sinners, and so on. The particular gift for the Child Jesus that St. Therese took for herself was “The Reapers …to gather the harvest [of souls]…with fires of unquenchable love, and glad to suffer or to die for Him Who reigns above.”
There are twenty-six gifts in all, but my own favorite is the gift that encapsulates the two greatest devotions of St. Therese: the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.
Children like to have you place them, near a mirror clear and fair; Then they greet with childish rapture The bright face that they see there.
Come, then, to the favored stable, Let your soul like crystal glow. Let the Word, become an Infant, In your heart His likeness know!
Sister, be the living image, of your Spouse, — His mirror clear; All the beauty of your Jesus He would Love in you appear. (The Little Divine Beggar of Christmas Part II – 6, translation by S.L. Emory)
St. Therese’ sister Celine (Sr. Genevieve of the Holy Face), also wrote about the “mirror” that is the Face of Christ: “Devotion to the Holy Face was, for Therese, the crown and complement of her love for the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord. The Blessed Face was the mirror wherein she beheld the Heart and Soul of her Well-Beloved. Just as the picture of a loved one serves to bring the whole person before us, so in the Holy Face of Christ Therese beheld the entire Humanity of Jesus. We can say unequivocally that this devotion was the burning inspiration of the Saint’s life… Her devotion to the Holy Face transcended, or more accurately, embraced, all the other attractions of her spiritual life.”
St. John of the Cross writes that the soul “can only be satisfied with God’s Face.” So gaze on the Face of the Child Jesus this Advent, contemplate Him as a poor little beggar of your love, and allow Him to gaze on you, with all your imperfections. Because, as St. John of the Cross says, “When God looks He grants favors… virtues, perfections, and other spiritual riches.” Jesus said, “Let the little children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke18:16). When a soul comes to Jesus in child-like confidence and trust in His mercy — by contemplating “the Word, become an Infant” — His image will be reflected in our souls “as in a mirror,” and we may become His “living image” reflected back to Him. What gift will you give “The Divine Beggar” this Christmas?
The United States elections have made it clear; evil, revolutionary men are ready to destroy anything that is good to achieve their wicked will. This is a call, a plea, to take up arms and PRAY as never before — specifically, with devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. (This is not just a matter of merely saying some proscribed prayers, but is a devotion in every aspect of our lives.)
Crisis Magazine has a fine piece by James Barasel on the necessity of the devotion to the Holy Face in order to spiritually “take up arms” against the evils of revolution and communism. Please read and share it. The fate of the world hangs in the balance. Humanity is at a tipping point of good against evil. Let’s tip the scale on the side of good, asking God, our protector, not to look upon the sins of humanity, but upon the Holy Face of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ!
Crisis article A devotion to defend against ‘Revolutionary Men:
“Regardless of who wins the presidency, the more “centrist” wing of the Democratic Party has taken a substantial hit in the third Congressional election year in a row. Against all media expectations, Republicans picked up congressional seats. So did the Democrats’ radical, socialistic wing that is now trying to push Joe Biden to the left of his already extreme positions under the leadership of Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the latter’s accomplices in the so-called Squad. This after a summer of protests, riots, and calls to abolish police departments and even the prison system by a Marxist-led movement whose adherents marched through the streets giving the clenched fist communist salute and chant, “This is revolution.”
Revolution. That’s exactly what they want. It’s no longer a question of contracting or expanding welfare programs but of class warfare. Debate over whether law enforcement agencies have positive value has replaced that over whether racism is a marginal or a widespread problem within them. Gone are the days when the Left supported the Defense of Marriage Act, content with legal tolerance of homosexual behavior. Promises to reduce abortion while keeping it “safe, legal, and rare” have been replaced by calls for “abortion on demand and without apology.” It’s a complete inversion of reality. Good is treated as evil, and evil as good.
If calls for revolution now provoke fairly limited concern, their gravity is severe enough for them to have been the subject of heavenly warnings as long ago as the 1840s, when the private revelations that made the devotion to the Holy Face known to the Servant of God Sister Mary of Saint Peter called attention to the threat posed by “revolutionary men,” including communists, whom she called by name—this, before The Communist Manifesto was published…
“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
The Splendor of the Truth is Found on The Face of Christ
Obedience is not always easy. As a result of that mysterious original sin, committed at the prompting of Satan, the one who is “a liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44), man is constantly tempted to turn his gaze away from the living and true God in order to direct it toward idols (cf. 1 Thes 1:9), exchanging “the truth about God for a lie” (Rom 1:25). Man’s capacity to know the truth is also darkened, and his will to submit to it is weakened. Thus, giving himself over to relativism and scepticism (cf. Jn 18:38), he goes off in search of an illusory freedom apart from truth itself.
But, no darkness of error or of sin can totally take away from man the light of God the Creator. In the depths of his heart there always remains a yearning for absolute truth and a thirst to attain full knowledge of it. This is eloquently proved by man’s tireless search for knowledge in all fields. It is proved even more by his search for the meaning of life. The development of science and technology, this splendid testimony of the ultimate religious questions. Rather, it spurs us on to face the most painful and decisive of struggles, those of the heart and of the moral conscience…
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)
Prayer to the Holy Face by Pope John Paul II
Lord Jesus, Crucified and Risen; the image of the glory of the Father, Holy Face, which looks at us and searches for us, kind and merciful, You who call us to conversion and invite us for the fullness of love, we adore and bless you. In your luminous Face, we learn to love and to be loved, to find freedom and reconciliation, to promote peace, which radiates from you and leads to you.
In your glorified Face we learn to overcome every form of egoism, to hope against every hope, to choose works of life against the actions of death. Give us grace to place you at the centre of our life, to remain faithful amidst dangers and the changes of the world, to our Christian vocation; to announce to all people the power of the Cross and the Word which saves; to be watchful and active, to attend the needs of the little ones; to understand the need of true liberation, which had its beginning in you and will have its end in you.
Lord, grant to your Church to stand like your Virgin Mother, at the glorious Cross, and at the crosses of all people to bring about consolation, hope and comfort.
May the Holy Spirit which you have granted, bring to maturation your work of salvation, through your Holy Face, which shines forever and ever. Amen.
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the Face of Christ.”
These are dark times — Please pray the Chaplet of the Holy Face “for the triumph of the Church and the downfall of it’s enemies.”
The Chaplet of the Holy Face
There are many “Rosaries” or “Chaplets” in addition to the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Little Chaplet of the Holy Face is a gem, which is not only very short, but also very powerful. The words of the Chaplet derive from Psalm 67 (68 in some Bibles). St. Athanasius relates that the devils, on being asked what verse in the whole Scripture they feared most, they replied, ‘That Psalm which begins: “Arise, O Lord, and let Thy enemies be scattered. Let those that hate Him flee before His Face!’ Then they are compelled to take flight.”
The Chaplet of the Holy Face honors the five senses by which Our Lord Jesus suffered in His Holy Face. It is also offered in reparation for blasphemy, sacrilege and indifference by which God is offended, and to entreat God for the triumph of His Church and conversion of its enemies.
The Symbolism of the Holy Face Chaplet: The Chaplet consists of 39 beads. The Cross reminds us of the mystery of Our Redemption. The 33 (“Hail Mary”, or small) beads represent the years of Our Lord’s mortal life on earth. *The three beads near the Cross represent the public years of Jesus’s Life. The remaining 30 (small) beads represent His hidden life. Chaplet is divided into five groups of six in honor of His five senses. The seven “Glory Be’s” which are said within the Chaplet represent the Seven Sorrows of Mary.
How to say the Chaplet of the Holy Face:
(The wordsoftheHoly Face ChapletderivefromPsalm 67(68) – St. Athanasiusrelatesthatthedevils, onbeingaskedwhatverseinthewholeScripturetheyfearedmost, replied: “ThatPsalm which begins: ‘LetGodarise, andHisenemiesbescattered. Let thosethathateHimfleefrombeforeHisFace.’ “Thentheyarecompelledtotakeflight.” The seven “Glory Be’s” which are recited within the Chaplet are in honor of the Seven Sorrows of Mary.)
TheChapletoftheHolyFacehonors the five senses by which Our Lord Jesus suffered in His HolyFace.It is also offered inreparationforblasphemy, sacrilegeandindifferencebywhichGodisoffended, andto entreatGodforthetriumphofHisChurch and conversion of its enemies.
R: And let those that hate Thee, flee from before Thy Face!
Leader: OGod, ourprotector, lookuponus.
R: And look upon the Face of Thy Christ.
Glory Be to the Father…
Additional prayers that may be said at the end of the Chaplet. We ask the Blessed Mother to place in the midst of the Church’s enemies all the instruments of the passion. A kingdom dividedagainst itself will fall, so may the enemies of the Church be divided.
May God arise and let His enemies be scattered, and let those that hate Thee, flee from before Thy Face!
May the thrice holy name of God overcome all their plans.
May the Holy Name of the Living God split them up by disagreements.
May the terrible name of the God of Eternity stamp out all their godlessness.
And because God wills not the death of a sinner, but that they may be converted and live, we pray — Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.
Vocal prayer… must be accompanied by reflection. A prayer in which a person is not aware of Whom he is speaking to, what he is asking, who it is who is asking and of Whom, I don’t call prayer — however much the lips may move.
St. Teresa of Avila
St. Teresa of Avila was well aware of our human frailty. She experienced it herself in many years of empty prayer before her conversion experience which was before an image of the suffering Face of Jesus.
We are not angels. We cannot see the Face of God in this life, so we need help to remember to whom we are speaking when we pray. St. Teresa wrote, “When we pray we must be careful never to set aside the sacred humanity of Jesus Christ.” Therefore, following her example, it is good to have an image of the Face of Christ before us when we pray as she did, to see with our eyes what Jesus suffered for our sake.
Whoever lives in the presence of so good a friend and excellent leader as is Jesus Christ can endure all things. Christ helps us and strengthens us and never fails; he is a true friend. And I see clearly that God desires that if we are going to please him and receive his great favors this must come about through the most sacred humanity of Christ, in whom he takes his delight.
The Majesty! How victorious! How joyful! Indeed, like one coming forth from a battle where He has gained a great kingdom! And all of that, plus Himself, He desires for you. Well, is it such a big thing that from time to time you turn your eyes to look upon one who gives you so much?
~ St. Teresa of Avila, feast day October 15th
This is also a reminder of why images of the Face of Jesus are so precious, and to be treated with so much reverence and love. In particular, the image “not made by human hands” — the Holy Face of Manoppello — is a great gift from God to all of humanity, so we may fix our eyes upon Him and be filled with His blessings.
In the photo above, hiding behind the Holy Face Veil, is a priest who has been the custodian of the Face of Christ for sixteen years, the rector of the Shrine, Padre Carmine Cucinelli. It is no little thing to be its custodian, like St. Joseph, as portrayed holding the relic of the Face of Jesus in the beautiful icon at the foot of the altar. The icon, a parting gift to Padre Cucinelli, was written by Sr. Blandina Schloemer, whose life’s work and devotion has been the Holy Face. Padre Cucinelli will be taking up a new post at the Capuchin Monastery of Giulianova — on the road which leads to the Holy House of Loreto, north of Manoppello, along the Adriatic. The Capuchins there take care of a sanctuary, where the Madonna dello Splendore appeared over 450 years ago. May God bless and reward him for his kindness to the pilgrims, who travelled to see the Holy Veil of Manoppello, and for making the “Il Volto Santo” known and loved throughout the world.