My Light and My Salvation – Seek His Face

Pope St. John Paul II reading Psalm 27.

Dominus Illuminatio Mea” – “the Lord is my light” are the first words of Psalm 27…

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Is the darkened state of the world wearing you down? You are not alone – the whole of humanity seems to be in the same miserable boat – fearing enemies around every corner. Jesus reminds us that “Fear is useless, what is needed is trust.” (Luke 8:50)

Pope St. John Paul II, “the light of Poland,” certainly lived through some very dark times, yet he never lost his faith, his hope, or his joy. He found profound inspiration, and comfort, in Psalm 27. From the time of King David, the psalms have been a source of comfort to souls living through the darkness of trials down through the centuries. The very meaning of the word “comfort” is “with strength.” It is the strength that comes from trusting in God, knowing that in spite of the odds, God will bring about our rescue.

When evildoers come at me to devour my flesh,

These my enemies and foes themselves stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me, my heart does not fear;

Though war be waged against me, even then do I trust.”

Divine Mercy

We may “visit Him in His temple.” But, our bodies are also a temple; a temple of the Holy Spirit. We may seek God’s Face within the temple of our souls, “with shouts of joy, songs and praise,” in faith, hope, and trust. Jesus, I trust in You!

One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek:

To dwell in the LORD’s house all the days of my life,

To gaze on the LORD’s beauty, to visit his temple.

For God will hide me in his shelter in time of trouble,

Will conceal me in the cover of His tent;

and set me high upon a rock.

Even now my head is held high above my enemies on every side!

I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;

I will sing and chant praise to the LORD.

“Illumina Domine Vultum Tuam Super Nos — Mane Nobiscum, Domine!” “Lord, let the light of Your Face shine upon us — Remain with us, Lord!”

As Bl. Carlo Acutis once said, “Sadness is looking at oneself, happiness is looking at God. Conversion is nothing but a movement of the eyes.” To seek God’s Face is to be in His life-giving presence. He will hear His children when they call. He does not abandon them to their enemies. His gaze is always upon us; we need only to turn the gaze of our hearts toward Him. He will not reject us, because He is love and mercy itself! He will guide us, defend us, save us…if only we “believe, take courage,” are “stouthearted,” and “wait”…for Him!

The Holy Face of Jesus, a miracle “written in light” on the Veil of Manoppello. (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

Hear my voice, LORD, when I call;

have mercy on me and answer me.

‘Come,’ says my heart, ‘Seek God’s face’;

your face, LORD, do I seek!

Do not hide your face from me;

do not repel your servant in anger.

You are my help; do not cast me off;

do not forsake me, God my savior!

Even if my father and mother forsake me,

the LORD will take me in.”

LORD, show me your way;

lead me on a level path because of my enemies;

Do not abandon me to the will of my foes;

malicious and lying witnesses have risen against me.

But I believe I shall enjoy the LORD’s goodness

in the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD, take courage;

be stouthearted, wait for the LORD!

–Psalm 27
St. Pope John Paul II “In the Eucharist, the Face of Christ is turned towards us.”

“Your life must be woven around the Eucharist. Direct your eyes to Him, who is the Light; bring your hearts very close to His Divine Heart; Ask Him for the grace to know Him, for the charity to love Him, for the Courage to serve Him. Seek Him longingly.”

— St. Teresa of Calcutta

“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 Divine Light on the Face of Christ

“Now this is the message that we have heard from Him and proclaim to you; God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.”

(John 1:5)
The Holy Veil of Manoppello, a miracle of light. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

In 2012 I first made a pilgrimage to the Basilica Shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Italy, to see for myself the ancient, mysterious relic that is the veil of the Holy Face. I took no pictures at that time as it was my sole intention to pray, and not be distracted by snapping photos. At the time, it was a sacrifice. But God blessed the small sacrifice with an unforgettable experience of prayer. Fortunately for me, and by God’s Providence, Paul Badde, who is an art historian, journalist, and champion of the Holy Face, had taken thousands upon thousands of amazing photos which he has generously permitted me to share over the years. I come back to them again and again to ponder this mysterious miracle of light which causes the Face of Jesus Christ to appear on the gossamer-thin transparent veil. Why has Our Lord chosen to show Himself by means of light?

As St. John wrote: “God is light,” and so it is fitting that God, who has revealed to us His human face in Jesus Christ, has left us this precious gift of a true icon of His Holy Face written in light – the Holy Veil of Manoppello. God knows our human weaknesses; the need to see and touch. He gives us lights to illumine our minds and hearts: the light of reason, of grace, and in heaven He will illumine our souls completely by the light of glory – the Beatific Vision – when we will see Him face to face. All these lights are the same Divine Light emanating from the Face of God. God has made us in His image and likeness, we have a capacity to know and love Him. We are made to resemble Him by knowing and loving Him, to participate in the Divine Light that shines into our souls when we turn to His Face, and to reflect that light to others.

“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
Face becomes visible on the Holy Veil of Manoppello. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

To “behold His Face as in a mirror…” This is how I saw the Holy Veil of Manoppello as I knelt before it prayer. In that miraculous mirror the Face of Jesus turned toward me. When you love someone you want to see them more and more, but like Peter, James, and John on the mountain of the Transfiguration, we must descend the mountain and obey Jesus’s command to “Follow me” to the Cross. Though we are following, we can remain “turned to His Face,” where God perfects us by His Divine Gaze. We do this by prayer, reading the Scriptures, by living the Beatitudes, which is Jesus’s “self-portrait.” We remain under His gaze as we contemplate His Face in the Eucharist, in His images, especially as they relate to His Passion, or as we encounter Jesus in the poor, sick, and needy — in Jesus’s words, “Love God, and love our neighbor.” And here is the heart of this devotion to the Holy Face; it is charity. God has created us with a deep longing to see Him, and charity, is the means He has given us. This is what the light shimmering on the Holy Veil of the Face of Jesus says to me — Love is the light by which you will see God’s Face.

Update: Please take a look at Raymond Frost’s Manoppello Blogspot to read an special article by Paul Badde which is tremendously helpful in understanding the origins, and presence of the Holy Veil in Manoppello, Italy: “The Latest Transformations of Devotions to the Holy Sudarium of Manoppello” by Paul Badde.

Below is a video taken by Agatha and Angelo Rytz of the Transfiguaration celebration in Manoppello, including the Solemn Mass, procession and fireworks:

St. Elijah and Contemplation

Seeking the Face of God in Prayer

Icon of St. Elijah written by Patricia Enk

There he came to a cave, where he took shelter. Then the Lord said: “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord willl be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord–but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake–but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire–but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, “Elijah, why are you here?” He replied, “I have been most jealous for the Lord, the God of Hosts.” (1 Kings 19)

Fixing our eyes on God

Pope St. Gregory explains why Elijah is described as standing at the mouth of the cave (“where we direct our mental gaze, there we may be said to stand.”) and veiling his face when he heard the voice of the Lord speaking to him: “…as soon as the voice of heavenly understanding enters the mind through the grace of contemplation, the whole man is no longer within the cave, for his soul is no longer taken up with matters of the flesh: intent on leaving the bounds of mortality, he stands at the cave’s mouth.”

Humility and Detachment – the keys to contemplation

“But if a man stands at the mouth of the cave and hears the word of God with his heart’s ear, he must veil his face. For when heavenly grace leads us to the understanding of higher things, the rarer the heights to which we are raised, the more we should abase ourselves in our own estimation by humility: we must not try to know ‘more than is fitting; we must know as it befits us to know.’ Otherwise, through over-familiarity with the invisible, we wish going astray; and we might perhaps look for material light in what is immaterial. For to cover the face while listening with the ear means hearing with our mind the voice of Him who is within us, yet averting the eyes of the heart from every bodily appearance. If we do this, there will be no risk of our spirit interpreting as something corporeal that which is everywhere in its entirety and everywhere  uncircumscribed…while our feet stand within the walls of His holy Church, let us keep our eyes turned toward the door; let us mentally turn our backs on the corruption of this temporal life; let us keep our hearts facing toward the freedom of our heavenly fatherland.”

Almighty, ever-living God, your prophet Elijah, our Father, lived always in your presence and was jealous for the honor due to your name. May we, your servants, always seek your Face and bear witness to your love. We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. 

— Pope St. Gregory

Proof of Love

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

The first thing I noticed, the very first time that I saw the Holy Face of Manoppello, was Jesus’s eyes filled with love and His Face covered with blood. The Precious Blood on His Holy Face from the strikes, blows, and thorns, and from His beard cruelly torn and ripped out. Like the image of the Holy Face on the Shroud of Turin, the sight affected me very deeply. Here is the proof of His love on His Face, and the “price of our salvation.”

“You were not redeemed with corruptible things as of gold or silver… but with the Precious Blood of Christ, as of a lamb unspotted and undefiled.”

(1 Peter 1:18)

What should be the response of the soul to our God who has given such costly proof of His love? The answer is: our devotion. Fr. John Hardon, S.J. wrote, “Devotion is a composite of three elements: It is first, veneration, it is secondly, invocation, and it is thirdly, imitation.” Veneration, he says, is “a composite of knowledge, love, and adoration.” By veneration we understand when we gaze on His Face what our sins have done. When a man’s name is reviled it is reflected on his face. The indignities suffered by Our Lord in His Passion represent the sins against the first three Commandments. Blasphemy, the disrespect of God and sacred things, atheism, and the profanation of the Holy Name and the Holy Day of Sunday are the greatest sins against God and are reflected in the Holy Face of Jesus Christ, stained, bloody, bruised, covered with filth, dirt, and spittle. As we look upon His Face, we are moved to console Him. “Whoever gazes on Me, already consoles Me.” — Our Lord to Bl. Mother Maria Pierina De Micheli

Next, devotion is manifested through invocations and prayers by which we give God the praise that is due Him, making reparation, and asking God’s help.

“Who is like God?” St. Michael holding high the Face of Jesus (Sculpture by Cody Swanson, which stands at the side of Old St. Patricks Catholic Church in New Orleans.) Photo: Patricia Enk
Ryan Matherne, OCDS, prepares for Holy Face Devotions

Devotional invocations and prayers may of course be private, but it should also, in some way, be public — because the sins against Our Lord were public. Although Holy Face Devotions had been held since the Discalced Carmelite nuns had founded their first monastery here in New Orleans, the regular public devotion had been interrupted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Ryan Matherne, President of the Secular Discalced Carmelites in New Orleans, moved by a strong desire to reinstate the public devotion to the Holy Face, led the way to making it possible for the devotions to be held for the first time since 2005 on Sunday, June 27th, 2021. They will continue to be held every fourth Sunday of the month, following the noon Mass at Old St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in New Orleans. Other new groups have sprung up here in the United States and around the world. Fr. Lawrence Carney, founder of the League of St. Martin, was also moved by his deep love and devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, and “in response to the growing crisis in the Church,” has been encouraging and organizing groups to hold public devotions.

“Oh Savior Jesus, who didst will that reparation should be as public and universal as had been the offense, penetrate us with the true spirit of reparation.  Give us the grace to love Thy Divine Face, to make it known and loved by the whole world, in order that it may be to us a source of light and means of salvation.  Amen. ” 

— Blessed Mother Maria Pierina De Micheli
Holy Face image at Sacred Heart side altar, Old St. Patrick’s Photo: Sally Vlosich, OCDS

Finally, as Fr. Hardon reminds us, devotion means imitation. We are able to show our love for Jesus by giving proof of our love through imitation of Jesus — in pain, humiliation, suffering, and by the shedding of His blood. “That is what the Church means when she has us say that when Christ offers Himself daily on the altar in the Sacrifice of the Mass, we are told to identify with that sacrifice. His and ours. He, the Head of the Mystical Body, can no longer suffer, but thank God, we can!” –Fr. John Hardon, S.J. We can offer any sufferings that will inevitably come to us in this life, in union with Jesus’s sacrifice, in imitation of Him, as a proof of our love, and in gratitude to the “Lamb who was slain for our salvation.”

The Resurrection – “The Cloth That Covered His Head”

Re-posting this from April 2020: “The Cloth That Covered His Head” About three of several burial cloths of Christ: the Shroud of Turin, the Cloth of Oviedo, and the precious byssus veil that was believed to cover the Face of Christ in the tomb – known as “Il Volto Santo” – The Holy Face of Manoppello. Possibly the very reason that St. John “Saw and believed.”

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

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

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

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

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

Sudarium of Oviedo

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The cloth that had covered his head”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Easter!

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

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

Prayer to the Holy Face for the liberation from the coronavirus

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

+ Bruno Forte
Archbishop of Chieti – Vasto (Italy)
+++
 

To learn more about the history of the Holy Face of Manoppello, click here to read “Four Stories, One Face.”

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

And a recent Vaticano episode:

May God have pity on us and bless us

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)

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“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, and receive 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!

Mary, Mother of the Most Blessed Sacrament

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…

Adoration of the Magi, Giotto, 1302

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

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The Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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.


The Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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.)

Virgin in Prayer Artist: Sassoferrato 1640-50
Advent

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

The Face of Christ Against Revolution

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…

Click here to continue to full article on Crisis.

Devotional prayers to the Holy Face may be found by clicking here.

“Arise, O Lord, and let your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate You flee from before Your Face!”

Holy Face Veil of Manoppello, Italy (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

O God, be gracious and bless us, and let your Face shed its light upon us. So will your ways be known upon earth, and all nations learn your saving help.

Psalm 67

A Light in Darkness – Pope St. John Paul II

“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. Pope John Paul II “In the Eucharist,
the Face of Christ is turned towards us.”

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)

What does it mean to be a Veronica? — more from Pope St. John Paul II / Veronica Veil, 1480, National Gallery, Washington

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.”

(2 Cor. 4:6)

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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

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:

LITTLE CHAPLET OF THE HOLY FACE

(The words of the Holy Face Chaplet derive from Psalm 67(68) – St. Athanasius relatesthat the devils, on being asked what verse in the whole Scripture they feared most, replied: “That Psalm which begins: ‘Let God arise, and His enemies be scattered.  Let those that hate Him flee from before His Face.’ “Then they are compelled to take flight.” The seven “Glory Be’s” which are recited within the Chaplet are in honor of the Seven Sorrows of Mary.)

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 blasphemysacrilege and indifferenceby which God is offendedand to entreat God for the triumph of His Church and conversion of its enemies.

All:  +In the Name of the Fatherand of the Sonand of the Holy SpiritAmen.

(On the first bead) 

Leader:  My Jesus mercy

R:  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

(On the next three beads)

Leader:  AriseO Lordand let Thy enemies be scattered.

R:  And let those that hate Thee, flee from before Thy Face!

In honor of all that Our Lord suffered in His Holy Face…

1 – Leader: O Jesus, who endured a kiss of betrayal from Judas as well as the strikes and blows on His Holy Face from sinners  ….Have Mercy on us!

Leader:  My Jesus mercy!   (Our Father” bead)

R:  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

(On the next six beads)

Leader: AriseO Lordand let Thy enemies be scattered.

R: And let those that hate Thee, flee from before Thy Face!

2 – Leader: O Jesus, whose ears were assaulted by the curses and blasphemies which issued from the lips of those whom He created in His love  ….Have Mercy on us!

Leader: My Jesus mercy!  (Our Father” bead)

R:  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

(On the next six beads)

Leader: AriseO Lordand let Thy enemies be scattered.

R: And let those that hate Thee, flee from before Thy Face!

3 – Leader: O Jesus, whose eyes were filled with tears and blood, then shamefully blindfolded by those who refused to look upon Jesus who is the Truth …Have Mercy on us!

Leader: My Jesus mercy!    (Our Father” bead)

All:  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

(On next six beads)

Leader:  AriseO Lordand let Thy enemies be scattered.

R:  And let those that hate Thee, flee from before Thy Face!

4 – Leader: O Jesus, who suffered in His sense of smell, when His Holy Face was defiled and disfigured, covered with spittle and filth  ….Have Mercy on us!

Leader: My Jesus mercy(“Our Father” bead)

All:  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

(On the next six beads)

Leader:  AriseO Lordand let Thy enemies be scattered.

R:  And let those that hate Thee, flee from before Thy Face!

5 – Leader: O Jesus, whose adorable mouth was filled with vinegar and gall  ….Have Mercy on us!

Leader: My Jesus mercy(“Our Father” bead)

All:  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

(On the next six beads)

Leader: AriseO Lordand let Thy enemies be scattered.

R: And let those that hate Thee, flee from before Thy Face!

Conclusion

Leader: O Godour protectorlook upon us.

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 divided against 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.

The Golden Arrow Prayer

All:  MAY the most holymost sacredmost adorablemost incomprehensible andineffable Name of Godbe forever praisedblessedadoredloved and glorifiedin heavenon earthand in the hellsby all the creatures of Godand by theSacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the most Holy Sacrament of the AltarAmen.

Jesus, may I seek your Face, may I learn to find it and to reflect it to others. May I know how to discover you in the ordinary happenings of my daily life.  Amen.

May the Lord Bless and keep you! – The blessing of St. Francis

fullsizerender-22
Blessing of St. Francis to Brother Leo

Within the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi is a precious relic: a small, crumpled piece of yellowed parchment with the writing of St. Francis, now displayed in a silver reliquary. It was written on Mount La Verna after St. Francis had received the stigmata. The first biographer of St. Francis, Bl. Thomas of Celano wrote that for a long time St. Francis’s friend, Brother Leo, had greatly desired to have some memorial from the words of Our Lord written by St. Francis:

St. Francis of Assisi
St. Francis of Assisi

“One day Blessed Francis called him, saying, ‘Bring me paper and ink, for I wish to write the words of God and His praises which I have been meditating in my heart.’ What he asked for being straightway brought, he writes with his own hand the praises of God and the words which he [his companion] wished, and lastly a blessing of the brother, saying: ‘Take this sheet for thyself and until the day of thy death guard it carefully.’ All temptation was at once driven away; the letter is kept and worked wonders for the time to come.” Brother Leo kept it faithfully; folding it in four, he carried it in his pocket and guarded it jealously for a good forty-six years.  The text in the middle, written in black, and marked with a large “Tau” cross is in Francis’s own handwriting, he writes the praises of God* and grants to Brother Leo the blessing from the Book of Numbers 6: 22-27 which later became known as “the Blessing of St. Francis.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in his homily for the World Day of Peace, 2013, spoke of this blessing from the Book of Numbers which was for the priests and the people of Israel. “The blessing repeats the three times Holy Name of God, a Name not to be spoken, and each time linked to two words indicating an action in favor of man. Peace is the summit of these six actions of God in our favor, His most sublime gift, in which He turns toward us the splendor of His Face.”

The Shroud of Turin
The Shroud of Turin

This is the great blessing that St. Francis desired to impart to his friend, Brother Leo:

“May the Lord bless and keep you; may He make His Face shine upon you and be merciful to you; may He turn His Countenance toward you and give you His Peace!”  (Num. 6:22-27)

Amen!

 

*(St. Francis’s “Praises of God” are now now quite faded, but, this much can be still read: “Thou art holy, Lord God, who alone workest wonders. Thou art strong. Thou art great. Thou art most high. Thou art the Almighty King, Thou, holy Father, King of heaven and earth. Thou art the Lord God Triune and One; all good. Thou art good, all good, highest good, Lord God living and true. Thou art charity, love. Thou art wisdom. Thou art humility. Thou art patience. Thou art security. Thou art quietude. Thou art joy and gladness. Thou…”)

 

St. Francis Icon