“Now a war broke out in Heaven. Michael and his Angels fought against the dragon and his angels.” (Rev. 12:7)
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. “God created man in His image; in the divine image he created him; male and female He created them.” (Gen. 1:27) It is believed that it was revealed to the angels that God would become a man and not an angel. Then, 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
There is a strong association between St. Michael and the devotion to the Face of Christ. For many centuries St. Michael was depicted with the Sudarium Veil of the Face of Jesus. 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 [to the Holy Face of Jesus], 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.”
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 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!
There is a hard battle being fought all around us in the Heavens and on earth. We would do well, therefore, to imitate St. Michael, Prince of the Heavenly Hosts, who humbly chose as his weapons to adore the Holy Face and invoke the Holy Name of God!
“When will the veil be lifted for me as well? Although I see and feel to a certain extent how very thin is the veil separating me from the Lord, I long to see Him face to face; but let everything be done according to Your will.”
“O King of Glory, though You hide Your beauty, yet the eye of my soul rends the veil”
“I cast upon the Tabernacle the gaze of my soul, a gaze of faithfulness. As for You, You are ever the same, while within my soul a change takes place. I trust the time will come when You unveil Your Countenance, and Your child will again see Your sweet Face…I am listening and waiting for Your coming, O only Treasure of my heart!” –St. Faustina
“Be blessed, merciful God, Eternal Love, / You are above the heavens, the sapphires, the firmaments, / The hosts of pure spirits sings You praises, / With its eternal hymn: Thrice Holy.
And, gazing upon You, face to face, O God, / I see that You could have called other creatures before them, / Therefore they humble themselves before You in great humility, / For well they see that this grace comes solely from Your mercy.”
Daisy Neves in front of her Beloved Holy Face of Jesus
Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN
“We have no need of wings to go and search for Him, but have only to find a place where we can be alone and look upon Him present within us.”
So said St. Teresa of Jesus, and yet even this Doctor of the Church recommended having an image of Jesus before us to come to the aid of our human weakness. “Never set aside the Sacred Humanity of Christ,” she said. We cannot come to the Father except through Him. Intimacy with Jesus draws us into the life of the Trinity. “If we can, we should occupy ourselves in looking at Him Who is looking at us; keep Him company; talk with Him; pray to Him; humble ourselves before Him; have our delight in Him.” This mutual gaze of love, which is prayer, bears fruit in the soul and a burning desire to share in some way the love of Christ with others — to make Him known and loved. Such was the desire of Daisy Neves.
Daisy, first glimpsed the Holy Face of Manoppello in 2006, in a newspaper photo of Pope Benedict XVI in prayer before the holy relic. She made up her mind then that she must see it. Five years later, at Easter in 2011, she found herself face to face before the Holy Veil bearing the Face of Jesus. Her heart was moved to such a degree that she placed all her money in the collection before returning home to America.
From that moment on, she told everyone she met about the Veil with the Face of Jesus in Manoppello, Italy. Daisy travelled the world, in spite of illness and obstacles, and she relentlessly sought whatever means she could to share the love of Jesus made manifest by the veil of His Holy Face. Daisy has now entered into Eternal Life. But by the fruit of her deep love and devotion, she brought the image of Holy Face to basilicas, churches, and orphanages. Through her efforts, replicas of the Holy Veil have been enthroned in many churches throughout the world, drawing many souls to contemplate in prayer and experience, as she did, the merciful loving gaze of her beloved Jesus. May she gaze on God’s Face for all eternity. Daisy Neves, Requiescat in Pace!
O Lord Jesus, we believe most firmly in You, we love You. You are the Eternal Son of God and the Son Incarnate of the Blessed Virgin Mary. You are the Lord and Absolute Ruler of all creation. We acknowledge You, therefore, as the Universal Sovereign of all creatures. You are the Lord and Supreme Ruler of all mankind, and we, in acknowledging this Your dominion, consecrate ourselves to You now and forever. Loving Jesus, we place our family under the protection of Your Holy Face, and of Your Virgin Mother Mary most sorrowful. We promise to be faithful to You for the rest of our lives and to observe with fidelity Your Holy Commandments. We will never deny before men, You and Your Divine rights over us and all mankind. Grant us the grace to never sin again; nevertheless, should we fail, O Divine Saviour, have mercy on us and restore us to Your grace. Radiate Your Divine Countenance upon us and bless us now and forever. Embrace us at the hour of our death in Your Kingdom for all eternity, through the intercession of Your Blessed Mother, of all Your Saints who behold You in Heaven, and the just who glorify You on earth. O Jesus, be mindful of us forever and never forsake us; protect our family. O Mother of Sorrows, by the eternal glory which you enjoy in Heaven, through the merits of your bitter anguish in the Sacred Passion of your Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, obtain for us the grace that the Precious Blood shed by Jesus for the redemption of our souls, be not shed for us in vain. We love you, O Mary. Embrace us and bless us, O Mother. Protect us in life and in death. Amen.
Glory 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.
The Sudarium Veil of the Human Face of God
Since ancient times a veil bearing the image of the Face of Christ has been venerated in the Church. How did we come to recognize this face as the Human Face of Jesus Christ?
“When Simon Peter arrived after him [John], 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.” –John 20:6-7
Scripture goes on to say that “the disciple” John, who had arrived at the tomb first went in after St. Peter, “and he saw and believed.” (John 20: 8) What did St. John see that caused him to believe in the Resurrection? Perhaps the body was stolen. The cloths used to soak up the sacred blood? That would be expected. The cloth now known as the Shroud of Turin? The faint marks on the cloth could not be seen clearly, especially within a darkened tomb, and the image on the Shroud of Turin is that of Jesus in death. Perhaps what had caused St. John to believe was the “cloth that had covered his head,” revealing in a miraculous way the Face of the living and Risen Christ.
We can look at ancient mosaics and paintings and immediately recognize the Face of Jesus. But why this particular face, one that bears signs of the Passion yet at the same time is a living face?
Legends and traditions have varied through the centuries but the face is the same. The veil came to be known as “the Veronica,” Vera Icon, the true image. (See Four Stories, One Face)
Later, in the twelfth century legends sprang up about a woman who wiped the Face of Jesus on Calvary, who came to be known as “St. Veronica.” The story of St.Veronica points to the deepest truth about devotion to the Face of Christ — which is that each act of charity, every act of compassion, will leave the imprint of the Face of Jesus in our souls, transforming us into His own Image.
Pilgrims traveled great distances to see the relic veil of the “Veronica” at the Vatican. During the Sack of Rome, in 1527, it was rumored that the “Veronica” had been stolen, and another “Veil” had taken its place –it was not a sheer cloth on which the face of Jesus could be seen from both sides — but instead, it showed the face of Christ in death, with his eyes closed. The faithful, under pain of excommunication, were to return copies of the Veronica showing the living Face of Jesus. Devotion to the Face of Christ gradually dwindled. The “Veronica” was no longer shown publicly, except at a great distance. However, the Face as it had been seen on the original veil could still be seen in the artwork of churches across Europe.
Many centuries later, in 1849, a time of great crisis in the Church, Pope Pius IX asked that the darkened cloth, held at the Vatican be exposed for the faithful to pray and beg God’s mercy and help. After three days, the faithful were rewarded for their perseverance in prayer: a face, with eyes closed, appeared to glow for three hours on the greatly darkened cloth. This was known as the Epiphany Miracle. Copies were made at once by artists, and once again devotion to the Holy Face was renewed for a time. The Archconfraternity of the Holy Face was approved and prayers were offered before the Holy Face in reparation for blasphemy, sacrilege, the profanation of the Holy Name, and the Holy day of Sunday, as well as prayers for then end of atheistic communism, which was then just rearing its ugly head in the world.
St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face is most often associated with the “Holy Face of Tours,” the image which was promoted in France in her lifetime; in fact, the whole Martin family joined the Confraternity of the Holy Face.
“Jesus, Your ineffable image is the star which guides my steps. Ah, You know, Your sweet Face is for me Heaven on earth. My love discovers the charms of Your Face adorned with tears. I smile through my own tears when I contemplate your sorrows.”
“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.” ==St. Therese
After the death of St. Therese (in 1897), the first photographic negatives of the Shroud of Turin could be seen thanks to the photographer Secondo Pia in 1898.
The sister of St. Therese, Sr. Genevieve of the Holy Face (Celine), while marveling at the beautiful photographic negatives of the Face of Jesus on the Shroud of Turin, heard the voice of her sister St. Therese telling her,“Paint Him! Paint Him as He truly is!”
Sr. Genevieve, who was also an excellent artist, rendered a beautiful drawing of the Face on the Shroud of Turin, which won a silver medal in a Canadian exhibition.
But what happened to the “Vera Icon”, the true image, the recognizable living face of Jesus on a precious sheer veil, as portrayed in this artwork centuries before?
Another image of the Face of Jesus fits the unique characteristics of the stolen miraculous “Veronica” veil of the Vatican — a sheer byssus veil with a living face — It is the Holy Veil of Manoppello. History throughout the centuries recorded what the original “True Icon” looked like.
Although the Veil of Manoppello had been hidden away for centuries in the mountain village of Manoppello, Italy, it has been recently “re-discovered.” (Paul Badde has written about this in The Human Face of God: the Holy Veil of Manoppello) Pilgrims throughout the world are now able to see this “miracle of light” on a sheer veil which reveals the Face of Jesus from both sides.
Like the Shroud of Turin, the image is “not made by human hands,” and shows no traces of pigment. The former Rector of the Shrine of the Holy Face, the Servant of God Padre Domenico da Cese, believed the Holy Veil of Manoppello to be the sudarium veil — “the cloth that had covered His Head.” The Veil shows not only traces of the Passion but is also said to have recorded the first moment of the Resurrection — something so amazing that it caused Sts. Peter and John to believe that Jesus had Ressurected from the dead!
“It is the Church’s task to reflect the light of Christ in every historical period, to make His Face shine 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
While there are many beautiful images of the Face of Christ, the great gift of the Holy Face of Manoppello has been made known to the world in our time to give us hope in His Mercy, and His Peace in the midst of trial — to shine the light of His Face upon us – bringing light to the darkness of our world. If you cannot go to Manoppello as a pilgrim, as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI did in 2006, you can enjoy these incredible, beautiful photos of the Holy Veil by Paul Badde:
Prayer to reproduce the Image of God in our souls
Our Lord told Sr. Marie St. Pierre, a Discalced Carmelite Nun, from France, that the image of His Holy Face is like a Divine stamp, which if applied to souls, through prayer, has the power of imprinting anew within them the Image of God.
I salute You! I adore you and I love you, O adorable face of my beloved Jesus, as the noble stamp of the Divinity! Completely surrendering my soul to You, I most humbly beg You to stamp this seal upon us all, so the image of God may once more be reproduced in our souls. Amen.
“All of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image.” (2Cor 3:18)
Catholic News Agency recently reported an increasing number of acts of desecration of Catholic churches in France. Tabernacles have been knocked down, the Eucharist scattered or destroyed, crosses torn down, altar cloths burnt…in other words: blasphemy.
When God became man at the Incarnation, He showed us His human face in Jesus Christ. Through the Face of Jesus we enter into relationship with God. He lets us know the hidden Face of the Father through His human Face, by the gift of the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts. Blasphemy is rejecting the tender love God offers to mankind, then attacking and spitting in His Face.
Because of this relationship between God and man — reflected in His Name and Face — sins committed against Him cause pain and suffering to His Sacred Heart, and are reflected in the Face of Christ. The manifestation of our sins on His Countenance come about through blasphemy, atheism, disrespect of God in sacred things, the profanation of Sunday, hatred of God’s Church. These crimes, committed by those who do not know God, pale in comparison to the most horrible and destructive blasphemy which has been committed by those who should be closest to the Heart of Jesus, within the Church, who have betrayed Him. All these indignities suffered by Our Lord in His Face represent the most serious sins, because they are against God Himself.
The damage done by our sins to our precious relationship with God, reflected in the Face of Jesus Christ, needs reparation. For this reason, devotion and reparation to the Holy Face and the Holy Name are fitting in order to make amends for what we have done to Him. If you would like to console Jesus, prayers of reparation may be found in the “Prayer tab” above. In addition, The Holy Face Novena for 2019 will be from Sunday, February 24 to Monday, March 4. The Feast of the Holy Face is then celebrated on “Shrove Tuesday” March 5, 2019 – the day before Ash Wednesday. The Novena prayers will be posted each day of the Novena on this website, or if you would like to receive each day’s novena prayer by e-mail, just click the “Follow” button.
“Do you see how I suffer? Yet, very few understand me. Those who say they love me are very ungrateful! I have given my HEART as the sensible object of my great LOVE to men and I give my FACE as the sensible object of my sorrow for the sins of men. I wish that it be venerated by a special Feast on Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. I wish that the feast be preceded by a novena in which the faithful make reparation with Me, joining together and sharing in my sorrow.” –Words of Our Lord to Bl. Mother Maria Pierina de Micheli
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.)
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.
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.
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.”
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)
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:
“Christianity has died many times and risen again, for it has a God who knew the way out of a grave.” — G.K. Chesterton
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.
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 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 bookThe Everlasting Manthat 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”.
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.”
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)
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.
“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.
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 (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!”
Blessed Columba MarmionO.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 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!”
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.
“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
“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.
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)