Mass of The Roses 2018

Fr. Ephrem Arcement, OSB 2015
St. Therese by Brenda Burke

The Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Covington, Louisiana will again celebrate the solemn Feast Day of St. Therese of the Holy Face and the Child Jesus, also known as “the Little Flower,” with their annual “Mass of the Roses” on Sunday, October 7, 2018.  St. Therese,  was a French Discalced Carmelite Nun who died of tuberculosis at the age of 24.  She became a Saint and Doctor of the Church, inspiring others by her “Little Way” of doing small things with great love to attain holiness. She promised that when she died “a shower of roses” would fall from Heaven in the graces obtained through her intercession. (Her Feast Day is October 1st, however the Mass of Roses is celebrated on the first Sunday of October – this year it falls on October 7th.)

Fr. Jorge Cabrera-Marrero, OCD blesses the children’s roses (Photo:Patricia Enk)

The “Mass of the Roses.” will open at 9:00 a.m. with a flute prelude by Sr. Grace, OCD.  The Holy Eucharist will be celebrated at 9:30 am with Rev. Stephen Sanchez, OCD, as the main celebrant and homilist.  Immediately following Mass, the children are invited to join in procession, carrying roses to the altar  to be blessed and distributed.

Photo: Patricia Enk

Photo: Patricia Enk
Children come in procession for “the blessing of the roses.”
“St. Therese doll” handmade by the Carmelite nuns

Many gifts, food, and handmade items may be purchased; the proceeds will help the Carmelite nuns meet their financial needs for the year. Delicious refreshments will be served after the Mass, thanks to many gracious sponsors and volunteers.  Hand-made items by the sisters, as well as cookies, pies and bread from the Sister’s kitchen will be for sale as well as a variety of religious articles, books and gifts. A  children’s area will be set up for face-painting, artwork and other fun activities. Holy Face booklets, Chaplets, and medals will also be available.

Mass of the Roses 2014 – Fr. Vic Messina

Although, St. Therese is more commonly known for her way of “Spiritual Childhood” and devotion to The Child Jesus, her sister, Mother Agnes gave this testimony for St. Therese’ beatification:

“Devotion to the Holy Face was the Servant of God’s special attraction.  As tender as was her devotion to the Child Jesus, it cannot be compared to her devotion to the Holy Face.”  

Icon of St. Therese (2017) – Patricia Enk

St. Therese’ sister Celine (Sr. Genevieve of the Holy Face), also wrote: “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.”

 

Prayer of St. Therese to The Holy Face

“O adorable Face of Jesus, sole beauty which ravishes my heart, vouchsafe to impress on my soul Your divine likeness so that it may not be possible for You to look at Your spouse without beholding Yourself!  O my Beloved, for love of You I am content not to see here on earth the sweetness of Your glance, nor to feel the ineffable kiss of Your sacred lips, but I beg of You to inflame me with Your love so that it may consume me quickly and that soon I may behold Your glorious countenance in Heaven.” 

For more information on the “Mass of the Roses” (click here)

St. Therese reminds us to pray for vocations to the priesthood (Photo: Patricia Enk

 

Also… below are wonderful photos by Paul Badde of St. Therese’s relics visiting the Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Italy, on November 4th, 2006:

St. Therese reliquary covered with rose petals. Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello. Nov. 4, 2006 (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)
Relics of St. Therese at the altar of the shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello, November 4, 2006 (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

The Death of the Church?

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

“Christianity has died many times and risen again, for it has a God who knew the way out of a grave.” — G.K. Chesterton

Servant of God, Padre Domenico da Cese

The former Rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese, firmly believed with all his heart that, like the Shroud of Turin, the Holy Veil of Manoppello was one of the many burial cloths in Jesus’s tomb — the holy sudarium which covered the Face of Jesus in death–and also miraculously bears witness to His Resurrection.  An incredible claim, to be sure, but one for which Padre Domenico offered his own suffering and death.

Since the pilgrimage by Pope Benedictict XVI to the shrine in 2006, the veil of the Face of Christ has become more widely known after having been hidden away in the Abruzzo Mountains for centuries. Other pilgrims who have seen and pondered the “Il Volto Santo” have contemplated the significance of this particular image of the Face of Jesus, and it’s message for the Church and the world. The Face on the Holy Veil is unique above all images of the Face of Christ in many ways, but especially for the fact that it records, in a miraculous way, on byssus silk, not only the Passion of Jesus, but the first breath of His Resurrection.  Therein, I believe, lies the message of this holy image for our tumultuous times.

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

The Catholic Church has been mortally wounded by scandal upon scandal recently, and may be only just at the beginning of its death throes. But, this would not be the first death of the Faith, as author G.K.Chesterton pointed out nearly a century ago. Lauren Enk Mann has written an excellent essay on Catholic World Report, The Sixth Death of the Church, which gives us reason for hope–if.  If we are prepared as a Church to take courage and suffer together with Christ in His Passion in order to share in His Resurrection.

“Lord, show me your way; lead me on a level path because of my enemies…Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!” (Pslam 27:11-14)

The Sixth Death of the Church

The Church’s “summer of shame” has devastated the faithful. The McCarrick revelations, the Pennsylvania grand jury, and the Viganò testimony have sent reverberations of scandal right through the highest clerical ranks. Catholics in the pews feel betrayed and abandoned, in solidarity with the victims who have suffered so much. Each new day has brought to light fresh wounds, and it seems as if the Church is hemorrhaging, bleeding to death from the inside out.

Thinking on this critical state, I recalled a passage from G. K. Chesterton’s 1925 classic book The Everlasting Man that seems to hold the key to hope. I flipped through my copy and found what I was looking for in his penultimate chapter, titled “The Five Deaths of the Faith”.

“Christianity has died many times and risen again,” he writes, “for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave…” (click here to continue reading The Sixth Death of the Church on Catholic World Report)

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Holy Face of Manoppelllo (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

 

If you would like to learn more about the Veil of Manoppello –  Paul Badde’s new bookThe Holy Veil of Manoppello: The Human Face of God may now be pre-ordered on Amazon. The book is set to be released in October, 2018.

Cardinal Robert Sarah wrote: “Here in Manoppello we meet the face of God face to face, and when we look at Him, His gaze cleanses and heals us, God be blessed.”

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Holy Veil of Manoppello, photo: Patricia Enk

So also is the resurrection of the dead.
It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible.
It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious.
It is sown weak; it is raised powerful.
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one…

…Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one,
we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one. (1 Cor. 15)

 

Unmasking the Devil – The Dawn of Victory

Truth is painful, sometimes horribly painful, to the innocent as well as the guilty. It is felt in the tremendous suffering it has caused in the Body of Christ by scandal. But, in spite of the pain, an old saying comes to mind; “Tell the truth and shame the devil.” The time of telling truth is here, because where Jesus, the Truth, is present — evil is unmasked.

“Arise, O Lord, and let Thy enemies be scattered, and let those who hate Thee flee from before Thy Face!” (Psalm 67, and prayer of the Little Chaplet of the Holy Face)

As the evil in the Church is exposed, Satan’s ugly face is exposed with it.  To the faithful this suffering may feel like utter defeat, but in reality it is the dawn of victory.  Many seemingly unanswered prayers of the little, unknown, and powerless souls, who for years upon years have had no one to hear them but God, are now being answered. It can be extremely discouraging to pray in emptiness — to pray day after day, year after year, and see nothing change — but don’t stop praying! Never stop praying!  It is not futile, as the devil would like you to believe.

Each time you pray the Rosary — contemplating the Face of Jesus in the Gospels together with His Mother Mary — Jesus’s Face shines in the world!  Each time you pray the  Little Chaplet of the Holy Face,  “For the triumph of the Church and the downfall of its enemies,” you not only wipe the Face of Jesus, as did St. Veronica, in reparation for the blasphemy and sacrilege which has occurred, but at the same time the devil is driven away “like smoke is driven away!” When you pray the  St. Michael  prayer, his angelic voice rings through the heavens, “Who is like God?!” and Satan is cast down into hell!

St. Michael, Old St. Patrick’s New Orleans (photo: Patricia Enk)

Sr. Marie St. Pierre, the Discalced Carmelite nun who received revelations about devotion to the Holy Face, understood well the relationship between the Holy Face of Jesus and His Holy Name.  To do battle against the enemies of the Church, the weapon she chose was the Holy Name:

“May God arise and let His enemies be scattered, and let those who hate Him flee before His Holy 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!”

These imprecations are often recited at the conclusion of the Little Chaplet of the Holy Face.

And because God wills not the death of a sinner, but that they be converted and live, she also prayed the words of Christ from the Cross:

“Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”

Yes, Christians must pray not only for those who have caused scandal but that “they be converted and live.” They themselves must also live the Beatitudes, and the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy.  To do this is to have the Face of Jesus Christ painted in our own souls so that we may give witness to Him by our lives.

Finally, “bless and do not curse.” Build up the wounded body of Christ with the greatest and most beautiful blessing of the Church:

“This is how they are to call down my name on the sons of Israel and I will bless them…

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 towards you and grant you His peace!” (Numbers 6:22-27)

This is “the most beautiful work under the sun” — devotion to the Face of Christ.  It is the means by which we can unmask the devil and make the Face of God shine in this darkened world.

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

 

Benedictines and the Holy Face

“Truly Seeking God” – Benedictines and the Face of Christ

“It is Your Face, O Lord, that I seek.” (Ps 26:8)

St. Benedict
St. Benedict, Feast Day July 11

In the Rule of his Order St. Benedict gives the key to discerning a true vocation in those seeking admittance to the Benedictine Order: “Let us examine whether the novice is truly seeking God.” (Ch. 58, Rule)  Since the Order’s inception, up to this day, the sons and daughters of St. Benedict have taken for their motto “Ora et Labora.” This “Prayer and Work” for many Benedictines is truly seeking the Face of God in the “prayer” of contemplation and the “work” of reparation to the Face of God covered with the blood, wounds, dust and spittle of  blasphemy–to stand, together with the Blessed Mother, before the endless crosses on which the Son of God continues to be crucified.  If there is a common thread among the holy men and women of the Order, it is woven through the veil of the Face of Christ.

But, they will tell you in their own words…

St. Gertrude by Migul Cabrera 1763
St. Gertrude by Miguel Cabrera 1763

St. Gertrude (1256-1302), while making reparation to the Adorable Face of Jesus, wounded and disfigured, said to Him, “Tell me, O Lord, the remedy that can soothe the suffering of Thy Divine Face!” Jesus replied: “If anyone meditates upon my sufferings with tenderness and compassion, his heart will be to Me as a soothing balm for these wounds.” Jesus gave St. Gertrude this promise: “All those who meditate frequently on my Divine Face, attracted by the desires of love, shall receive within them, through My Humanity, a bright ray of My Divinity, which shall enlighten their inmost souls so that they shall reflect the light of My Countenance in a special manner throughout eternity.”

St. Mechtilde (1240-1299) once exclaimed to her sisters, “Let us all, full of holy desire, hasten to venerate the sweetest Countenance of Our Lord, which will in Heaven be our all–all that a glorified soul can desire!” 

Bl. Columba Marmion
Bl. Columba Marmion

Blessed Columba Marmion O.S.B.(1858-1923) writes that our relationship with God hinge upon two things; our walking in the truth of our nature as creatures, who remain always in humble adoration before our Creator and our dignity as children of God.  “Our adoption as children supposes that we act always as loving children towards Our Heavenly Father, constantly seeking His good pleasure: Seek His Face evermore!  This Facies Dei, Face of God, is the smile of His loving approbation.  If you always keep the truth of this twofold relation, you will be more and more fixed in truth and in peace.”  “Look your Heavenly Father in the Face, and show him your soul in truth,” Bl. Marmion counsels, “…do not forget that He is God the Infinite!  The love of the creature, in order to be true, must be the love of adoration; the spirit of fear of the Lord.  If you keep the eye of your soul fixed on God alone, you will receive many graces.”  “It is good sometimes, when alone with God, to stretch out our hands and look at Him in faith showing Him the depths of our soul that His eye may penetrate into those abysses that are hidden in the recesses of the heart.  Then our prayer is pure and very powerful, for the child gazes into the Father’s Face, seeking His Face, that is to say His good pleasure:  “Seek ye the Lord, seek His Face EVERMORE!”

Mother Marie des Douluers, Foundress of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified
Mother Marie des Douluers, Foundress of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified

Mother Marie des Douleurs (1902-1983) Foundress of the Congregation of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified emphasizes the relationship between the Sacred Heart of Jesus and His Holy Face:  “We must discover on this Face the revelation of the secrets of His Heart.” She also points to the Holy Spirit, whose work it is to restore the image of God in our souls: “Devotion to the Holy Face is the particular aspect by which the Holy Spirit makes us learn all we need to know to become the saints that Jesus desires.  This devotion is of such central importance and so vital for us that we cannot live without it!”

Bl. Ildephonsus Cardinal Shuster, O.S.B.
Bl. Ildephonsus Cardinal Shuster, O.S.B.

Blessed Ildephonsus Cardinal Shuster, O.S.B.  (1880-1954) wrote, “The Face of Jesus in Heaven is the cause of joy to the angels, but on earth it is a token of pity for sinners.  We say to the Father Respice in faciem Christi tui, (Ps 83:10) (Look upon the Face of Thy Christ) but let us fix our own gaze on that Face of Jesus, lest we lose sight of it.  As the Eternal Father, when He beholds the Face of Jesus, is touched with compassion for the wretched children of Adam, so let us show a holy reverence for that Sacred Face and for those pure eyes that look on us so tenderly; let us take care that all our actions are worthy of the ineffable sanctity of that Divine regard.”

Last but not least, is the Servant of God, Ildebrando Gregori O.S.B. (1894-1985) founder of the women’s religious congregation the Benedictine Sisters of Reparation of the Holy Face. The devotion to the Holy Face was rooted and imprinted on his Congregation: “The title that sets you apart is Reparation of the Sacred Face of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the story of Jesus’ Passion that manifests itself, in a particular way, in the love which St. Benedict had for that Face. The Face of Jesus which was seen dripping blood, crowned with thorns, spat upon; His eyes were bruised, the broken eyebrows, broken lips. His Face, more beautiful than Paradise, appeared like the face of a leper. So Adorers of the Holy Face, Reparation of his wounds in the contemplation of prayer (Ora), in the service of the needy (Labora)… (adoration of the Face of Christ) is essential to make reparation, to create harmony with Christ Jesus who makes us love what the beloved loves, to want what He wants and rejecting what brings Him pain, injury, suffering.”

This apostle of devotion to the Face of Christ applied the Rule of St. Benedict to a work of   human and spiritual formation for the poorest and most abandoned children, victims of World War II, in whom he saw the suffering face of Jesus.  He later extended that work to include the elderly.  At the time he was Abbot General he met Blessed Mother Maria Pierina de Micheli, of the Daughters of the Immaculate Conception, to whom Our Lord gave the mission of the propagation of the Holy Face Medal.  He became her Spiritual father and director until the time of her death in 1945. Padre Gregori shared with Bl. Mother de Micheli the love, devotion and deep desire to make reparation to the Face of Jesus and to propagate the Holy Face Medal throughout the world.

Servant of God Idlebrando Gregori, OSB
Servant of God Idlebrando Gregori, OSB

 

“I wish that the Lord bless you as He blessed the holy pious women, that He will fill you with His holy Love.  His Blessed Face is your ideal, and will piously torment you with the desire to give Him love and praise, this is the perfect reparation. “–Servant of God Ildebrando Gregori OSB

The Precious Blood on the Face of Christ

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

“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)

Mankind is suffering, it seems, as though on a scale never before seen on earth, by countless acts of humiliation and degradation of human beings by other human beings: child abuse, slavery, human trafficking, pornography, abortion, euthanasia and countless other evils. Human beings have been stripped of their God-given dignity and intrinsic worth, which is derived from having been made in the image and likeness of God. This suffering is signified by the Precious Blood covering the Face of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Precious blood indeed, for it is a terrible thing to fall under the wrath of God. Precious blood, shed but not lost, given up by God to be gathered, every drop, by God and held for eternity: the boundless treasure by which self-made slaves are freed from the penalties sin demanded of the strong arm of God. Who else but God could stay the power of God’s justice? Precious Blood ‘because the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you, that you may make atonement with it upon your souls: and the blood may be for an expiation of the soul.'” (Leviticus 17:11)  “The Precious Blood is the key to the heavenly Paradise.”–from the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas on the Precious Blood 

So, let us offer to the Father, who loves each soul as though they were His only Son, this Precious Blood on the Divine Face of Christ, in expiation and atonement for the sins against humanity.  Contemplate the bloodied sorrowful Face of Jesus, crucified and then risen. It is a source of light, hope, and means of salvation for mankind…and by contemplating His Face, the image and glory of the Father, through the Holy Spirit, the dignity of mankind may be restored.

Precious Blood of Jesus, Save us!

Prayer of St. Therese

Eternal Father, since thou hast given me for my inheritance the adorable Face of thy Divine Son, I offer that Face to thee, and beg thee, in exchange for this coin of infinite value, to forget the ingratitude of souls dedicated to thee, and to pardon all poor sinners. 

O Jesus, who in thy bitter Passion became “the most abject of men, ‘a man of sorrows’, I venerate thy Sacred Face whereon once there did shine the beauty and sweetness of the Godhead; but now it has become for me as if it were the face of a leper! Nevertheless, under those disfigured features, I recognize thy infinite love and I am consumed with the desire to love thee and make thee loved by all men. The tears which well up abundantly in thy sacred eyes appear to me as so many precious pearls that I love to gather up, in order to purchase souls of poor sinners by means of their infinite value.

O Jesus, whose adorable Face ravishes my heart, I implore thee to fix deep within me thy Divine Image and to set me on fire with thy love, that I may be found worthy to come to the contemplation of thy glorious Face in Heaven. Amen.

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For the Healing of a Nation

“…and if my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek My Face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from Heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land.” (2 Chr. 7:4)

The Antidote: Look at the Face of Jesus!

The Brazen Serpent by Vouet, 1630

“And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.  For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3: 14-16)

It’s the stuff that nightmares are made of: We find ourselves lost and wandering through the wilderness trying to find our way home, and suddenly slithering poisonous serpents are everywhere –striking, biting, causing death. Only it isn’t a nightmare; the “fiery serpents” of sin are a spiritual reality that surrounds us in this life. As we journey toward Heaven, our true home, we are wounded and weakened by original sin, the bites of venial sins can weaken us more, the bite of a mortal sin can be deadly.  But there is an antidote for the venom: it is the contemplation of Face of Our Savior, Jesus Christ!

Face of Jesus from the miraculous Limpias Crucifix

“Look at Jesus. Place before your eyes His most Holy Humanity, contemplate Him in the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, in the Way of the Cross, in the scenes that the Gospels narrate for us, or in the Tabernacle…We cannot turn our gaze away from God, because we see the havoc that the enemy wreaks around us everyday. By himself, nobody is immune. ‘Vultum tuum, Domine, requiram’: Thy Face, Lord, do I seek; hide not Thy Face from me.’ Psalm 26 (In Conversation with God, Francis Fernandez)  

Graces flow from His Holy Face.  A soul who contemplates the Face of Christ can, in charity,  bring this healing remedy to others by encouraging them to look at Jesus’s Face, and by sharing this devotion many souls may be saved.

“When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to myself, says the Lord.” (John 12.32) 

 

“The Rosary belongs among the finest and most praiseworthy traditions of Christian contemplation…To look upon the Face of Christ”–Pope St. John Paul II ” “She shall crush his head.”

 

 

 

The Beauty of Mary

“Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee.” (Song of Solomon 4:7)

 

 

“From the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator,” “for the author of beauty created them.”  (Wisdom 13: 3, 5)

The spiritual beauty of God is reflected most perfectly in the woman He created to be His Mother.  No stain of sin would mar the beauty of His reflection in her soul. Never for one instant would she be under the power of the devil. “The Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits  of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.” (Dogma of the Immaculate Conception)  Mary herself proclaims, “My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” (Luke 1:47)

As the Immaculate Conception, Mary bears in herself the most perfect reflection of the face of God.  Pope St. John Paul II wrote, “The Blessed Virgin saw shining upon her, as no other creature, the face of the Father, rich in grace and mercy.”  What in Heaven and on earth could be more beautiful than the Mother of God?  It is God who has willed that Mary be beautiful, not only fair in face, but in the fullness of grace. Yet, beauty has a purpose, and that is to draw us by the beauty of the graces God has given her towards the Beatific Vision–the Face of God.  Mary has no greater desire than that we turn towards the Face of her Son, as she does, with eyes of love.

Strangely, there are some who see the Blessed Mother not as a gift from God who leads us to her Son, but as an obstacle. They want to separate the Mother from the Son, even resorting to violence of smashing statues and slashing paintings of her, mistakenly thinking that somehow this could be pleasing to God, but it is only pleasing to the devil. It is blasphemy. When we separate ourselves from Mary, we separate ourselves from Christ. In The Everlasting Man G.K. Chesterton tells a story from his childhood, many years before he became a Catholic, which left a deep impression on his soul:

“When I was a boy a more Puritan generation objected to a statue upon my parish church representing the Virgin and Child. After much controversy, they compromised by taking away the Child. One would think that this was even more corrupted with Mariolatry, unless the mother was counted less dangerous when deprived of a sort of weapon. But the practical difficulty is also a parable. You cannot chip away the statue of a mother from all round that of a newborn child. You cannot suspend the new-born child in mid-air; indeed you cannot really have a statue of a newborn child at all. Similarly, you cannot suspend the idea of a newborn child in the void or think of him without thinking of his mother. You cannot visit the child without visiting the mother, you cannot in common human life approach the child except through the mother. If we are to think of Christ in this aspect at all, the other idea follows I as it is followed in history. We must either leave Christ out of Christmas, or Christmas out of Christ, or we must admit, if only as we admit it in an old picture, that those holy heads are too near together for the haloes not to mingle and cross.”

 

Jesus alone is “the Way” that leads to the Father, but Mary is the most beautiful image and likeness of Christ, which will lead us to Him. Dostoevsky once said that “Beauty will save the world!” Mary has a spiritual beauty to share with the world that attracts and expresses what is beyond words, in the depths of her heart, the love of a mother for her Savior and Son.

A Little Litany by G.K.Chesterton

Madonna and Child from the Robert Lehman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art
“Our Lady, in whose face – more than any other creature – we can recognize the features of the Incarnate Word.” –Pope Benedict XVI Madonna and Child from the Robert Lehman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art

When God turned back eternity and was young,
Ancient of Days, grown little for your mirth
(As under the low arch the land is bright)
Peered through you, gate of heaven – and saw the earth.

Or shutting out his shining skies awhile
Built you about him for a house of gold
To see in pictured walls his storied world
Return upon him as a tale is told.

Or found his mirror there; the only glass
That would not break with that unbearable light
Till in a corner of the high dark house
God looked on God, as ghosts meet in the night.

Star of his morning; that unfallen star
In the strange starry overturn of space
When earth and sky changed places for an hour
And heaven looked upwards in a human face.

Or young on your strong knees and lifted up
Wisdom cried out, whose voice is in the street,
And more than twilight of twiformed cherubim
Made of his throne indeed a mercy-seat.

Or risen from play at your pale raiment’s hem
God, grown adventurous from all time’s repose,
Of your tall body climbed the ivory tower
And kissed upon your mouth the mystic rose.

 

For post “Look Closely – Our Lady of Guadalupe – Not Made by Human Hands” click here.

Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe
“I am your merciful Mother.”

 

 

 

 

 

Great Favors through the Sacred Humanity of Christ

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

“Whoever lives in the presence of so good a friend and excellent a 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.”–St. Teresa of Jesus (Feast Day October 15)

(by Patricia Enk)

St. Teresa of Jesus, the foundress of the Discalced Carmelites, and Doctor of the Church tells us that when we pray we must be very careful never to set aside the sacred humanity of Jesus Christ. “Many, many times have I perceived this through experience. The Lord told it to me.  I have definitely seen that we must enter by this gate if we desire his sovereign Majesty to show his great secrets. A person should desire no other path, even if he be at the summit of contemplation; on this road he walks safely. This Lord of ours is the one through whom all blessings come to us. He will teach us these things. In beholding his life we find that he is the best example.”

Painting of Christ by Dirk Bouts that captivated St. Teresa

“Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near…As often as we think of Christ we should recall the love with which he bestowed on us so many favors, and the great things God showed in giving us a pledge like this of his love; for love begets love. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to waken ourselves to love. For if at some time the Lord should grant us the favor of impressing this love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall carry out our tasks quickly and without much effort.” 

Christ giving His Blessing -Hans Memling

My beloved passing fair,

Love has drawn thy likeness, see,

In my inmost Heart, and there–

Lost or straying unaware–

Thou must seek thyself in me.

 

Well I know that thou shalt find

This thine image in my Heart,–

Pictured to the life, with art

So amazing, that thy mind

Sees thy very counterpart.

 

If by chance thou e’er shalt doubt

Where to turn in search of me,

Seek not all the world about;

Only this can find me out–

Thou must seek myself in thee.

 

In the mansions of thy mind

Is my dwelling-place; and more–

There I wander, unconfined,

Knocking loud if e’er I find

In thy thought a closed door.

 

Search for me without were vain,

Since, when thou hast need of me,

Only call me, and again

To thy side I haste amain;

Thou must seek myself in thee.

–St. Teresa of Jesus

Statue of Jesus Scourged
St. Teresa’s moment of conversion occurred while praying before this image.

 

St. Faustina Kowalska – The Joy of Heaven is the Face of God

Venice, Illustration for the Divine Comedy of Dante, 13th Century”

“During meditation, the Lord gave me knowledge of the joy of Heaven and of the Saints on our arrival there; they love God as the sole object of their love, but they also have a tender and heartfelt love for us.   It is from the Face of God that this joy flows out upon all, because we see Him face to Face.  His Face is so sweet that the soul falls anew into ecstasy” (1592, “Divine Mercy in My Soul”). 

St. Faustina “Apostle of Mercy”
Feast Day: October 5th

St. Faustina Kowalska, “The Apostle of Mercy,” was known as a mystic and visionary.  Our Lord granted her a deep understanding of the love and mercy of God which she was to share with the world through her diary, “Divine Mercy in My Soul.” The Face of Christ had a prominent place in her spiritual journey: 

Head of Christ, Petrus Christus ca. 1440 The Metropolitan Museum

“I have ever before my eyes His sorrowful Face, abused and disfigured.  His Divine Heart pierced by our sins and especially by the ingratitude of chosen souls.”   (Divine Mercy in my Soul, #487)

St.Faustina’s message of mercy was also intensely Eucharistic, recognizing the True Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. She offered Him continually to the Father to implore His Mercy for the salvation of the world: 

Host viewed through the Face of Jesus on the Veil of Manoppello in Italy. (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

“Eternal Father, I offer You the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins, and those of the whole world. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

The greatest sign of God’s continuing mercy for the people of the world is His hidden Presence in the Eucharist. By turning to His Eucharistic Face in prayer, St. Faustina says, “a change takes place” in our souls, because Jesus is also gazing at us.

“The Face of Christ is the supreme revelation of Christ’s Mercy.”–Pope Benedict XVI (photo:Paul Badde/EWTN)

“O Living Host, O hidden Jesus.  You see the condition of my soul.  Of myself, I am unable to utter Your Holy Name. I cannot bring forth from my heart the fire of love, but kneeling at Your feet, I cast upon the Tabernacle the gaze of my soul, a gaze of faithfulness.  As for You, You are ever the same, while within my soul a change takes place.  I trust that the time will come when You will unveil Your Countenance, and Your child will again see Your sweet Face.  I am astonished, Jesus, that You can hide Your self from me for so long and that You can restrain the enormous love You have for me.  In the dwelling of my heart, I am listening and waiting for Your coming, O only Treasure of my heart! (Divine Mercy in My Soul, #1146)

Holy Face Veil of Manoppello
(photo: Paul Badde)

By contemplating His Holy Face, and making Him the “Treasure” of our hearts, we are transformed by the Holy Spirit, who restores God’s image and likeness in our souls.  As St. Paul has written:

 “but whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed…All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:16, 18)

St. Faustina’s message of God’s Mercy is needed more with each passing day.  Let us continue to pray for God’s Mercy, and pray as well for all the people of the world to turn back to the Face of God, so all may share in the joy of Heaven one day–to see Him face to Face.

“Write this: before I come as the Just Judge, I am coming first as the King of Mercy.” –Our Lord to St. Faustina

St. Faustina’s Prayer for Divine Mercy

O Greatly Merciful God, Infinite Goodness, today all mankind calls out from the abyss of its misery to Your mercy — to Your compassion, O God, and it is with its mighty voice of misery that it cries out:  Gracious God, do not reject the prayer of this earth’s exiles!  O Lord, Goodness beyond our understanding, Who are acquainted with our misery through and through and know that by our own power we cannot ascend to You, we implore You, anticipate us with Your grace and keep on increasing Your mercy in us, that we may faithfully do Your holy will all through our life and at death’s hour.  Let the omnipotence of Your mercy shield us from the darts of our salvation’s enemies, that we may with confidence, as Your children, await Your final coming — that day known to You alone.  And we expect to obtain everything promised us by Jesus in spite of all our wretchedness. For Jesus is our Hope: Through His merciful Heart as through an open gate we pass through to heaven.” (Divine Mercy in My Soul, #1570)

“Jesus Christ is the Face of the Father’s Mercy!”–Pope Francis

 

Who is like God?

“Who is like God?” St. Michael holds high the Face of Jesus (Sculpture by Cody Swanson, Photo: Patricia Enk)

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid? 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.” (Psalm 27:1-3)

It seems as though all hell is breaking loose, that every corner of the globe is filled with violence, disaster, and every kind of spiritual sickness.  Our relationship with God seems permanently broken, as so many souls reject, revile, or worse, are indifferent to their own Creator. Humanity is surrounded by a maelstrom of evil from which there seems to be no escape–at least that is what the devil wants us to believe and to despair of hope.  But we are not alone.  God has given us powerful defenders.

St. Michael, Old St. Patrick’s New Orleans (photo; Patricia Enk)

Mankind is in the midst of a battle, which has been fought since the beginning of Creation; between Christ’s Angels and the fallen angels or demons.  When God created the angels, they were tested before they could see Him face to face.  It is believed that it was revealed to them that God would become man and not an angel.  Lucifer, being a proud spirit, responded “Non Serviam” — I will not serve! St. Michael answered with the battlecry “Who is like God?” St. Michael and the Holy Angels have been given the authority from God by the power of His Holy Name to protect and defend God’s people against both human and diabolical enemies.

Devotion to the Face of Jesus is meant to repair mankind’s broken relationship with God, manifested in the world by the evil of blasphemy, sacrilege, and indifference.  This work of reparation honoring His Holy Face and His Name–which is the concrete sign of God’s existence and our relationship with Him–has been given the protection and help of the Holy Angels. Sr. Marie St. Pierre was a French Discalced Carmelite nun to whom Our Lord gave revelations of the Devotion to His Holy Face.  She wrote on November 18, 1843:

“One day during prayer, our Lord warned me in advance about the fury of Satan against the holy devotion, but He also consoled me, saying: ‘I give you My Name to be your light in the darkness and your strength in battle. Satan will do all in his power to crush this Work at its roots. But I assure you that the Holy Name of God will triumph, and it will be the Holy Angels who willl gain the victory in the conflict.” 

Engraving by Albercht Durer
Church of St. Michael/Sanctuary Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello (photo: Paul Badde)

St. Michael is named as the primary patron of devotion to the Holy Face.  This is reflected in many ancient works of art in churches where St. Michael or the Holy Angels are portrayed holding the Veil of the Face of Christ. A fascinating article was written recently by Gelsimo Del Guercio (here) about seven sanctuaries, dedicated to St. Michael, which are linked by a straight line called the “Sword of St. Michael.” The imaginary line “represents the blow with which St. Michael sent the devil to hell.”  I would like to add an eighth Sanctuary to the list: The church of the Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello. In God’s mysterious design this sanctuary, which contains a miraculous veil of the Face of Jesus, was named for St. Michael though no one who is alive today remembers why. The sanctuary, in Manoppello, Italy, falls at the center, on a map, of the legendary “Sword of St. Michael.”  St. Michael and the Holy Angels come to our aid and they are bearing His Holy Face!

“Who is like God?”

Holy Face of Manoppello, photo: Patricia Enk

“Come,” says my heart, “seek God’s face,” your face LORD, do I seek! Do not hide your face from me.” (Psalm 27:8-9)

St. Veronica column in St. Peter’s Basilica

“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 27:11-14) 

Venice, Illustration for the Divine Comedy of Dante, 13th Century”
St. Michael and the Holy Sudarium of the Face of Christ (1516 Durer – Metropolitan Museum)