“Love desires to see God”

 “The church is like Mary awaiting a birth. Like her, we should say of Jesus and mean with our hearts: Come! I want to see your face!”–Pope Francis

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“A love that desires to see God may not have reasonableness on it’s side, but it is evidence of filial love.

(Please see update below-Prayers needed)

Love desires to see God.  So says St. Peter Chrysologus:  “When God saw the world falling to ruin because of fear, He immediately acted to call it back to Himself with love…” By an invitation of grace, love and compassion God called Noah, Abraham, Jacob and Moses–and a “flame of love” was enkindled in their hearts, “it’s intoxication overflowed into men’s senses. Wounded by love, they longed to look upon God with their bodily eyes, yet how could our narrow human vision apprehend God, whom the whole world cannot contain?” St. Chrysologus writes, It is intolerable for love not to see the object of it’s longing!” No matter what good the saints did to merit a reward, they could not see the Lord.  A love that desires to see God may not have reasonableness on it’s side, but it is evidence of filial love.  It gave Moses the temerity to say: If I have found favor in your eyes, show me Your Face. It inspired the psalmist to make the same prayer: Show me Your Face.  Even the pagans made their images for this purpose: they wanted to see what they mistakenly revered.”  (from sermon of St. Peter Chrysologus)

God Himself initiates the longing to see His Face, extending this grace to all who are willing to accept it, which is why the Blessed Virgin Mary “Full of Grace” had the greatest, deepest longing to see the Face of God–more than any creature on earth.  In the third week of Advent, the Church celebrates this longing to see God’s Face, together with Mary, with a Triduum (three days of prayer) and a Feast–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 Triduum begins on December 15th and continues until the feast day which is on December 18th.  (The prayer, found below, for the Triduum and Feast Day may also be prayed on the days leading up to Christmas.)

There are two very important aspects of Advent mentioned in this prayer that should not be overlooked as they are necessary for us to prepare our hearts for Jesus on Christmas Day: preparation and penance (that “Jesus may find no obstacle in our hearts.”) Sometimes the greatest obstacle to opening our hearts to God is our own self-love.  Let us have confidence in Mary’s intercession to help us overcome this self-love, “removing all obstacles” to her Son so that we will be prepared to receive Him Christmas morning and share her joy in the redemptive love shining on the Face of Jesus.

Prayer for the Triduum and Feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Longing to See His Face

IMG_1179“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.)

UPDATE:  In your charity, please pray for the soul of Archbishop Edmond Farhat, who died in Rome on December 17. He said this in his homily January 17, 2016 about the Holy Face of Manoppello:

Archbishop Edmond Y. Farhat giving blessing with Holy Face.
Archbishop Edmond Y. Farhat giving blessing with Holy Face.

“It is not an object of another time; it is the icon of the eternal face, the face of goodness and of friendship, of mercy and of peace. The face that speaks, that examines, that asks, that awaits a response. It seems to say: ‘Look at me, you who are tired. Come to me and I will give you rest.’…” We fix our gaze on the Holy Face and we will be transformed by God’s mercy. The sign is not an end in itself; the sign is a pointer on the way of the return, the return to the Father.”  

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.  Through the mercy of God may he rest in peace and may he gaze upon Your Face this day.  Amen. 

 

 

Advent: Waiting with Mary to see God’s Face

“I will wait for the Lord who hath hid His Face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for Him.” (Isaiah 8)

Virgin in Prayer Artist: Sassoferrato 1640-50
Virgin in Prayer
Artist: Sassoferrato
1640-50

Is there anyone who enjoys waiting? Our human nature rebels against all forms of it: there is the mundane waiting we must endure in lines, in traffic, at ball games, practices, and in doctor’s offices; the anxious waiting for phone calls, for results, or for the end of sufferings; the joyful waiting for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and other celebrations.  Then there is the heavy combination of all three types of waiting–which is of a mother waiting for the birth of her child.

Our weak human nature does not like to wait. We want to “get there” right away, to “know” right away, for something to be “done” right away.  Waiting requires patience and most of humanity has very little. But wait we must, and since everything in life is permitted by God solely for our good, waiting must be very good for us since we spend so much of our lives doing it.

If waiting is indeed good for us, then it is certain that the evil one will do everything possible to trip us up as he did with the children of Israel while they were waiting, waiting, waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments.  When God was telling Moses, “I am the Lord, thy God: thou shall not have strange Gods before me,” the devil was tempting them to pride; the Israelite’s did not want to endure waiting to see the Face of God so they fashioned an idol, the “work of their own hands.” Here lies the temptation for us all in what should be a grace-filled period of time: distraction in turning the eyes of our soul away from the Face of God and toward the false faces or idols of the world–bright, sparkly, enticing and all around us. How can we resist falling into the traps of idolatry?

Our Lady of Guadalupe
Our Lady of Guadalupe

The ultimate good is to see the Face of God and therefore Mary must have waited like no one has ever waited before!  Mary, for the love of God, waited in patience, humility, faith, charity, in hope, and in supreme fortitude. She did this by fixing the eyes of her soul on Jesus, her Redeemer and God–Whose Face she could not yet see within her womb.  Mary’s uncomplaining acceptance of God’s Will–to seek His Face and only His Face–bore the most sublime fruit in Mary’s soul of divine PEACE, which the world can never take away.  So, this Advent and in all times of waiting, wait with Mary, and her reward will also be ours…to see the Face of her Son!

"Mary and Eve" by Sr. Grace Remington, OCSD (link here)
“Mary and Eve” by Sr. Grace Remington, OCSD ( for print- link here)

 

 

 

 

Longing to see His Face — The Expectation of The Blessed Virgin Mary

Every expectant mother shares something with the Blessed Virgin Mary — the longing to see the face of her child.  The mother cannot yet kiss or caress her baby, she cannot hear the sound of a cry, or smell that baby-sweetness, so she waits in loving attentiveness for the stirring of the babe beneath her heart, that fills her with joy and knowledge of the baby’s presence within.

Virgin in Prayer Artist: Sassoferrato 1640-50
Virgin in Prayer
Artist: Sassoferrato
1640-50

During the 3rd week of Advent, on December 18th, in some places in the world the Church celebrates a beautifully contemplative feast which is called the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The feast has it’s origin in the year 656 in Spain and spread throughout the Middle Ages.  Because the ancient law of the Church prohibited the celebration of feasts during Lent, the Church transferred the Feast of the Annunciation from March 25th to the season of Advent.  The Tenth Council of Toledo assigned the feast to the 18th of December.  It was kept as a solemn octave, eight days leading to Christmas.  When the ancient laws regarding fasts were changed, the Annunciation was celebrated twice, on March 25th and December 18th.

On this day and 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:

“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.

This prayer may be prayed as a Triduum from December 15th to the Feast Day on December 18th, or continue to be prayed on the days leading up to Christmas. 

 

Happy Feast of The Expectation of The Blessed Virgin Mary

… Longing to See His Face!

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Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous deeds. And blessed forever be his glorious name; may the whole earth be filled with his glory.

Today we unite ourselves with The Blessed Virgin Mary, in her longing to see the Face of her Son and her God.  Below is an excerpt from The Feasts of Mary by Fr. Lawrence Lovasik, SVD:

“Mary, Mother of God, make my interior life of union with Jesus more like your own. After Holy Communion Jesus is with me as God and Man, with His Body and Blood, soul and divinity. Jesus is in me, too, through sanctifying grace, I bear within me the supernatural image of the Divine Sonship. He works in my soul by His grace. He forms Himself in me by supernatural principles, which He implants in my mind; by supernatural intentions and meritorious actions. He follows up in my heart also the aim that brought Him into your womb—He wishes to be born in me, to grow, rule, and reveal Himself. Thus my soul in sanctifying grace is always, in a spiritual manner, like your womb—a sanctuary of the living God!”

“I earnestly want to be filled with the dispositions in which you expected the coming of the Savior and thus prepare myself for His coming into my soul by faith and divine charity, as well as for His coming at the hour of my death and judgment. In union with you may my heart yield itself up to childlike confidence in Jesus so that the graces of His Nativity may be brought to my soul in abundance, and He may be born anew within my heart.”

Let us also remember to pray today for all expectant mothers and unborn babies.  O Jesus, whose Holy Face was formed and hidden for nine months in the womb of The Blessed Virgin Mary, your Mother, have mercy on us!  Happy Feast Day!

Advent: Longing to see His Face – The Expectation of The Blessed Virgin Mary

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Mary and Joseph, longing to see the Face of the Infant Jesus.

Although two weeks of Advent have already gone by, now is the perfect time to intensify our efforts not to give in to the constant noise and flashing images that the world sets before our eyes, but direct our gaze, together with Mary, in anticipation, toward Bethlehem.

You may not know that there is a little known Feast Day coming up on December 18th, which begins the octave leading up to Christmas. It is called the Feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, (longing to see His Face). The Feast has it’s origin in the year 656 in Spain and spread throughout the Middle Ages. Because of an ancient law of the Church which prohibited the celebration of feasts during Lent, the Church in Spain transferred the Feast of the Annunciation from March 25th to the season of Advent.  The Tenth Council of Toledo in 656 assigned the feast to the 18th of December.  It was kept as a solemn octave, eight days leading to Christmas. When the ancient laws regarding feasts were changed, the Annunciation was celebrated twice, on March 25th and December 18th.  In some places in Spain it is still celebrated on both days.

The following is  a portion of a meditation, which Rev. Lawrence Lovasik, S.V.D., offers for this feast, in a book called Our Lady’s Feast Days:

“Mary, Your life with Jesus was one of the purest, most fervent, most perfect emotions of love to God, whom you sheltered within yourself. How can I ever imagine the 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 beings derive life and joy; the Face whose features enraptured God from all eternity, the Face for which all ages had expectantly yearned. You were to see this Face unveiled, in all the beauty and grace of childhood as the face of your own child.”

The Triduum begins Dec. 15 – 17th and may be continued until Christmas.  The prayer for this beautiful Feast Day is as follows:

“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.”

There are two important aspects of Advent mentioned in this prayer that are necessary for us to prepare our hearts for Jesus on Christmas Day: preparation and penance (that Jesus may “find no obstacle in our hearts.”) Sometimes the greatest obstacle to Jesus entering our hearts is our own self-love.  Let us have confidence in Mary’s intercession to help us overcome this self-love, removing all obstacles to her Son, so that our hearts will be prepared to receive Him Christmas morning and experience with joy the redemptive love shining of the Face of the Infant Jesus.