Digging Deeper to Reflect Christ’s Image

On March 29, 2016, I was driving from Louisiana to Hanceville, Alabama to pay my respects to a woman whom I had never met in my life, yet to whom I owed a great debt of gratitude. Everything that was most important to me was the result of this woman’s determination, suffering, and perseverance for the love of Jesus.

Mother Angelica born into Eternal life, Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016.

Born on April 20, 1923, Rita Antoinette Rizzo had a tough road ahead of her. Little Rita’s father had abandoned her family, forcing her mother and four brothers to move in with her grandparents, who owned a saloon. The neighborhood wasn’t exactly ideal for a child growing up; mob figures and prostitutes were part of the landscape in Canton, Ohio, at that time. She suffered greatly not only from poverty but poor health. Rita’s parents hadn’t been particularly religious either. But the Italian community had faith, and by God’s grace, Jesus gradually drew Rita closer.

Rita was what you would call “a tough cookie,” a hardheaded, hot tempered, wise-cracking kid. And to make a long story short; no-one expected that wise-cracking kid to become a contemplative nun and the foundress of a Poor Clare Monastery in the mostly Protestant south, or that she would start a world-wide Catholic television network, or that she would build a “Temple,” the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament at the request of the Child Jesus.

“The Saints determined, at some point in their lives, to follow Jesus. A vacuum deep in their souls began to be filled, for they found the Pearl of great price. They all changed their lives, some their state in life, but they did not get rid of their weaknesses. They fought harder, conquered more often, and grew like Jesus, in grace and wisdom before God and men.”

–Mother Angelica

How did something so unimaginable come about? There is no doubt Mother Angelica would point to the Eucharist as her answer. It was from the Blessed Sacrament that she drew her inspiration, her strength and courage to accomplish all that she had done. It was never easy, but she knew how to dig deep when things got tough.

“Sometimes, when the cross just seems too heavy and you can’t seem to carry it any longer, go to church to the Blessed Sacrament, if you can, or just in your living room, tell the Lord: I thirst for Your Love, for Your Understanding. Give me strength. Give me courage.”

–Mother Angelica

“In our life as Contemplatives, we may never see the fruit of all the prayers and penance we do.  It isn’t easy at first, but after a while as you dig deeper into your interior and Jesus comes along with light–it dawns on you, as it must, that the only thing that the Eternal Father wants from you and from me is to become transformed in Love.  Then, the Divine Image of His Son will be so clear in us that when He looks at us, He will see no one but Jesus.” 

— Mother Angelica

To be transformed in Love is also to share in Christ’s thirst for souls, an unquenchable desire to bring souls to Jesus. And that Mother Angelica did – millions of souls – from all over the globe, she drew souls to Jesus through contemplation of His Eucharistic Face, and as a result, her soul grew “brighter and brighter,” reflecting His Image.

“We all have some aspect of Our Lord’s life that we’re attracted to. And if we’re attracted to it, Is that all, to reflect like a mirror? No. We grow brighter and brighter. For what reason? To be turned into the image we reflect.”

— Mother Angelica

A few weeks ago, I returned to visit Mother’s Angelica’s tomb. The words of St. Paul are inscribed upon it:

“And we, with our unveiled faces reflecting like mirrors the brightness of the Lord, all grow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the image that we reflect; this is the work of the Lord Who is Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 3:18

Thank you, Mother Angelica, for restoring my faith. May you gaze on God’s Face for all eternity.

Holy Face Novena and the Feast of The Holy Face on Mardi Gras

St. Veronica, model of reparation to The Holy Face
St. Veronica, model of reparation to The Holy Face

The Holy Face Novena will begin this year on Sunday, February 8th, and end on Tuesday, February 17th (Mardi Gras Tuesday before Ash Wednesday).  Pope Pius XII instituted this Feast Day in 1958.  Below are two novenas that may be said, a short novena by Ven. Leo DuPont and the longer “Alpha-Omega Novena” by Bl. Mother Pierina De Michelli.

The Discalced Carmelite Secular Order in New Orleans invite the faithful to celebrate a Tri-duum of prayer before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament each evening for three days leading to the Feast of the Holy Face on Mardi Gras night.  Prayers are offered in reparation to the Face of Christ, primarily for sins against the the first three commandments, which are against God Himself . . . although I dare say that during Mardi Gras in New Orleans, ALL the commandments are broken, and often!

Mardi Gras "king"
Mardi Gras “king”

There are isolated “family” areas for Mardi Gras, children’s parades, “King Cakes” parties, and crawfish boils which are a happy family tradition for some but, unfortunately, these are few and far between. For the most part, the loud, raucous, pressing crowds lining the streets at the Mardi Gras parades fight with one another over cheap trash that is usually thrown out the next day.  The parades are probably the tamest part of Mardi Gras; some of what goes with it can be very ugly and is best left unsaid.  Personally, I’d rather spend a quiet evening with the King of Kings.

Miraculous "Limpias Crucifix"
Miraculous “Limpias Crucifix”

Three years ago I worked up the courage to ask my pastor if our parish could have an evening of prayer and adoration for the Feast of the Holy Face and to my surprise he said, “yes.”  This year will be our third year.  The Blessed Sacrament is exposed, and for three hours, we have prayers, (we say most prayers listed in the “prayers” tab above) interspersed with periods of silence and Sacred Music.   I’ve encouraged people to bring their personal favorite painting or picture of the Holy Face.  They are all beautiful without exception! Confession is available throughout the evening, which is a wonderful preparation for Ash Wednesday.

If you cannot go to Adoration, or say the prayers on that evening, please, at least look lovingly at a picture of Our Lord and recite a short prayer, such as “The Golden Arrow,” “May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and ineffable Name of God, be forever praised, blessed, adored, loved and glorified, in heaven, on earth, and in the hells, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen. “ (In Reparation for blasphemy) and recall the words of Our Lord to Bl. Mother Pierina De Michelli, “I firmly wish that my face reflecting the intimate pains of my soul, the suffering and love of my heart, be more honored! Whoever gazes upon me already consoles me.”

Novena Prayers

Holy Face of Tours
Holy Face of Tours

Shorter Holy Face Novena by “The Holy Man of Tours” Ven. Leo DuPont

O Lord Jesus Christ, in presenting ourselves before Thy Adorable Face, to ask of Thee the graces of which we stand most in need, we beseech Thee, above all, to give us that interior disposition of never refusing at any time to do what Thou require of us by Thy holy commandments and Thy Divine inspirations.

O good Jesus, who has said: “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you,” give us, O Lord, that faith which obtains all, or supply in us what may be deficient.  Grant us, by the pure effect of Thy charity and for Thy eternal glory, the graces which we need and which we hope to receive from Thy infinite mercy, particularly (here mention the favor desired).

Be merciful to us, O God, and reject not our prayers when, amid our afflictions, we call upon Thy holy Name and seek with love and confidence Thy adorable Face.

We thank Thee, O Lord, for all Thy benefits, and we entreat Thee to engrave in our hearts feelings of love and gratitude, putting upon our lips songs of thanksgiving to Thy eternal praise.  Amen.

“All those who attracted by my love, and venerating my countenance, shall receive, by virtue  of my humanity, a brilliant and vivid impression of my divinity.  This splendor shall enlighten the depths of their souls, so that in eternal glory the celestial court shall marvel at the marked likeness of their features with my divine countenance.” (Our Lord to St. Gertrude)


Alpha-Omega Holy Face of Novena Prayers and Consecration

(This was recited by Bl. Pierina De Michelli and her order of The Immaculate Conception Nuns, with all the love and reverence that  they could offer.)

Shroud of Turin
Shroud of Turin

Daily Preparatory Prayer

(to be said each day as you console the Holy Face)

O Most Holy and Blessed Trinity, through the intercession of Holy Mary, whose soul was pierced through by a sword of sorrow at the sight of the passion of her Divine Son, we ask your help in making a perfect Novena of reparation with Jesus, united with His sorrows, love and total abandonment.

We now implore all the Angels and Saints to intercede for us as we pray this Holy Novena to the Most Holy Face of Jesus and for the glory of the most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

First Day

Psalm 51: 3-4

Have mercy on me, O God in your goodness, in your great tenderness wipe away my faults; wash me clean of my guilt, purify me from my sin.

O most Holy Face of Jesus, look with tenderness on us who are sinners.  You are a merciful God, full of love and compassion.  Keep us pure of heart, so that we may see Thee always.  Mary, our mother, intercede for us.  Saint Joseph, pray for us.

Through the merits of your precious blood and your Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, …Pardon and mercy.

Prayer to Our Almighty Father

Almighty Father, come into our hearts, and so fill us with your love that forsaking all evil desires, we may embrace you, our only good.  Show us, O Lord our God, what you are to us.  Say to our souls, I am your salvation, speak so that we may hear.  Our hearts are before you; open our ears; let us hasten after your voice.  Hide not your Face from us, we beseech you, O Lord.  Open our hearts so that you may enter in.  Repair our ruined mansions, that you may dwell therein.  Hear us, O Heavenly Father, for the sake of your only Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen. (St. Augustine)

Pray one (1) Our Father, three (3) Hail Mary’s, one (1) Glory Be.

O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (3 times)

Second Day

Psalm 51: 5-6

My offenses truly I know them; My sin is always before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned; What is evil in your sight I have done.

Most Holy Face of Jesus, we are truly sorry that we have hurt you so much by constantly doing what is wrong; and for all the good works we have failed to do.  Immaculate Heart of Mary, Saint Joseph, intercede for us, help us to console the Most Holy Face of Jesus.  Pray that we may share in the tremendous love Thou hast for one another, and for the most Holy and Blessed Trinity.  Amen.

Through the merits of your precious blood and your Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, …Pardon and mercy.

Prayer to The Holy Spirit

Come, Holy Spirit, Sanctifier, all powerful God of love, Thou who didst fill the Virgin Mary with grace, Thou who didst wonderfully transform the hearts of the apostles, Thou who didst endow all Thy martyrs with a miraculous heroism, come and sanctify us, illumine our minds, strengthen our wills, purify our consciences, rectify our judgments, set our hearts on fire and preserve us from the misfortune of resisting Thine inspirations.  We consecrate to Thee our understanding, our heart and our will, our whole being for time and for eternity.  May our understanding be always submissive to Thy heavenly inspirations and to the teachings of Thy Holy Catholic Church, of which Thou art the infallible guide; may our heart be ever inflamed with love of God and neighbor; may our will be ever conformed to the divine will, and may our whole life be a faithful imitation of the life and virtues of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and Thee be honor and glory forever.  Amen.

Pray one (1) Our Father, three (3) Hail Mary’s, one (1) Glory Be.

O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (3 times)

Third Day

Psalm 51: 6-7

You are just when you pass sentence on me, blameless when you give judgement.  You know I was born guilty, a sinner from the moment of conception.

Prayer of Pope Pius IX

O Jesus! Cast upon us a look of mercy; turn your Face towards each of us as you did to Veronica; not that we may see it with our bodily eyes; for this we do not deserve, but turn it towards our hearts, so that, remembering you, we may ever draw from this fountain of strength the vigor necessary to sustain the combats of life.  Amen. our Mother, and St. Joseph, pray for us.

Through the merits of your precious blood and your Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, …Pardon and mercy.

Prayer of St. Francis

All highest, glorious God, cast your light into the darkness of our hearts, give us true faith, firm hope, perfect charity and profound humility, so that with wisdom, courage and perception, O Lord, we may do what is truly your holy will.  Amen.

To the Angels and Saints

We salute you, through the Holy Face and Sacred Heart of Jesus,  all you holy Angels and Saints of God.  We rejoice in your glory, and we give thanks to our Lord for all the benefits which He has showered upon you; we praise Him, and glorify Him, and offer you for an increase of your joy and honor, the most Holy Face and gentle Heart of Jesus.  Pray that we may become formed according to the heart of God.  Amen.

Pray one (1) Our Father, three (3) Hail Mary’s, one (1) Glory Be.

O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (3 times)

Fourth Day

Psalm 51: 8-9

Indeed you love truth in the heart; then in the secret of my heart teach me Wisdom.  O purify me, then I shall be clean; O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow. 

O Lord Jesus, who has said, learn of me for I am meek and gentle of heart, and who did manifest upon The Holy Face the sentiments of Thy divine heart, grant that we may love to come frequently and meditate upon Thy divine features.  We may read there Thy gentleness and Thy humility, and learn how to form our hearts in the practice of these two virtues which Thou desires to see shine in Thy servants.  Mary our Mother and St. Joseph, pray for us.

Through the merits of your precious blood and your Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, …Pardon and mercy.

Prayer in Honor of the Sorrows of The Blessed Virgin

O Most Holy and afflicted Virgin, Queen of Martyrs!  Who stood beneath the Cross, witnessing the agony of your dying Son, look down with a mother’s tenderness and pity on us as we kneel before you to venerate your Sorrows and place our requests, with filial confidence, in the sanctuary of your wounded heart.  Present them on our behalf to Jesus, through the merits of His most sacred Passion and Death, together with your sufferings at the foot of the Cross, and through the united efficacy of both, obtain the favor which we humbly ask.  To whom shall we go in our wants and miseries if not to you.  O Mother of Mercy, who having so deeply drunk of the chalice of your Son, graciously alleviate the sufferings of those who still sigh in this land of exile.  Amen.

Prayer to the Souls in Purgatory

My Jesus, by the sorrows you suffered in your agony in the garden, in your scourging and crowning with thorns, in the way to Calvary,  in your crucifixion and death, have mercy on the souls in Purgatory, and specially on those that are most forsaken.  Deliver them from the dire torments they endure.  Call them and admit them to your most sweet embrace in Paradise.  Amen.

Pray one (1) Our Father, three (3) Hail Mary’s, one (1) Glory Be.

O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (3 times)

Fifth Day

Psalm 51: 10-11

Make me hear rejoicing and gladness, that the bones you have crushed may revive.  From my sins turn away your Face, and blot out all my guilt.

Holy Face of Jesus, Sacred Countenance  of God, how great is your patience with humankind, how infinite your forgiveness.  We are sinners, yet you love us.  This gives us courage, for the glory of your Holy Face and of the Blessed Trinity, hear and answer us.  Mary our Mother, intercede for us, St. Joseph, pray for us.

Through the merits of your precious blood and your Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, …Pardon and mercy.

Prayer to St. Joseph

Dear St. Joseph!  Adopt us as thy children, take charge of our salvation; watch over us day and night; preserve us from occasions of sin; obtain for us purity of body and soul, and the spirit of prayer, through thy intercession with Jesus, grant us a spirit of sacrifice, of humility and self-denial; obtain for us a burning love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and a sweet, tender love for Mary, our Mother.  St. Joseph, be with us in life, be with us in death and obtain for us a favorable judgement from Jesus, our merciful Saviour.  Amen.

Pray one (1) Our Father, three (3) Hail Mary’s, one (1) Glory Be.

O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (3 times)

Sixth Day

Psalm 51: 12-13

A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence not deprive me of your Holy Spirit.

May our hearts be cleansed, O Lord, by the in-pouring of the Holy Spirit, and may He render them fruitful by watering them with His heavenly dew.  Mary, the most chaste spouse of the Holy Spirit, intercede for us, St. Joseph, pray for us.

Through the merits of your precious blood and your Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, …Pardon and mercy.

Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel

O Victorious Prince, most humble guardian of the Church of God and of faithful souls, who with such charity and zeal took part in so many conflicts and gained such great victories over the enemy, for the conservation and protection of the honor and glory we all owe to God, as well as for the promotion of our salvation; come, we pray Thee, to our assistance, for we are continually besieged with such great perils by our enemies, the flesh, the world and the devil; and as Thou wast a leader for the people of God through the desert, so also be our faithful leader, and companion through the desert of this world, until Thou conduct us safely into the happy land of the living, in that blessed fatherland from which we are all exiles.  Amen.  (St. Aloysius)

Pray one (1) Our Father, three (3) Hail Mary’s, one (1) Glory Be.

O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (3 times)

Seventh Day

Psalm 51: 14-15

Give me again the joy of your help, with a spirit of fervor sustain me, that I may teach transgressors your ways and sinners may return to you.

Lord Jesus!  After contemplating Thy features, disfigured by grief, after meditating upon Thy passion with compunction and love, how can our hearts fail t be inflamed with a holy hatred of sin, which even now outrages Thy Adorable Face!  Lord suffer us not to be content with mere compassion, but give us grace so closely to follow Thee in this Calvary, so that the opprobrium destined for Thee may fall on us.  O Jesus, that thus we may have a share, small though it may be, in expiation of sin.  Amen.

Mary our Mother, intercede for us, St. Joseph, pray for us.

Through the merits of your precious blood and your Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, …Pardon and mercy.

Prayer in Honor of Mary

Hail Mary, Daughter of God the Father!  Hail Mary, Mother of God the Son!  Hail Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit!  Hail Mary, Temple of The Most Holy Trinity!  Hail Mary, our mistress, our wealth, our mystic rose, Queen of our hearts, our Mother, our life, our sweetness and our dearest hope!  We are all thine, and all we have is thine.  O Virgin blessed above all things, may Thy soul be in us to magnify the Lord; may Thy spirit be in us to rejoice in God.  Place Thyself, O faithful Virgin, as a seal upon our hearts, that in Thee and through Thee we may be found faithful to God.  Grant, most gracious Virgin, that we may be numbered among those who Thou are pleased to love, to teach and to guide, to favor and to protect as Thy children.  Grant that with the help of Thy love, we may despise all earthly consolation and cling to heavenly things, until through the Holy Spirit, Thy faithful spouse and through Thee, His faithful spouse, Jesus Christ, Thy Son, be formed within us for the glory of the Father.  Amen.  (St. Louis De Montfort)

Pray one (1) Our Father, three (3) Hail Mary’s, one (1) Glory Be.

O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (3 times)

Eighth Day

Psalm 51: 16-17

O rescue me, God my helper, and my tongue shall ring out your goodness.  O Lord, ope my lips, and my mouth shall declare your praise.

Most merciful Face of Jesus, who in this vale of tears was so moved by our misfortunes to call yourself the healer of the sick, and the Good Shepherd of the souls gone astray, allow not satan to draw us away from you, but keep us always under your loving protection, together with all souls who endeavor to console you.

Mary our Mother, intercede for us, St. Joseph, pray for us.

Through the merits of your precious blood and your Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, …Pardon and mercy.

Prayer to St. Peter

O glorious St. Peter, who in return for thy lively and generous faith, thy profound and sincere humility and thy burning love, was honored by Jesus Christ with singular privileges, and in particular, with the leadership of the other apostles and the primacy of the whole church, of which thou was made the foundation stone, do thou obtain for us the grace of a lively faith, that shall not fear to profess itself openly in its entirety and in all of its manifestations, even to the shedding of blood, if occasion should demand it, and to the sacrifice of life itself in preference to surrender.  Obtain for us likewise a sincere loyalty to our Holy Mother the Church.  Grant that we may ever remain most closely and sincerely united to The Holy Father, who is the heir of they faith and of thy authority, the one true visible head of the Catholic Church.  Grant moreover, that we may follow, in all humility and meekness, the Church’s teaching and counsels and may be obedient to all her precepts, in order to be able here on earth to enjoy a peace that is sure and undisturbed, and to attain one day in heaven to everlasting happiness.  Amen.

Pray one (1) Our Father, three (3) Hail Mary’s, one (1) Glory Be.

O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (3 times)

Ninth Day

Psalm 51: 18-21

For in sacrifice you take no delight, burnt offering from me you would refuse, my sacrifice a contrite spirit.  A humbled, contrite heart you will not spurn.  In your goodness, show favor to Zion; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.  Then you will be pleased with lawful sacrifice, holocausts offered on your altar.

Sacred Face of our Lord and our God, what words can we say to express our gratitude?  How can we speak of our joy?  That you have deigned to hear us, that you have chosen to answer us in our hour of need.  We say this because we know that our prayers will be granted.  We know that you, in your loving kindness, listened to our pleading hearts, and will give, out of your fullness, the answer to our problems.

Mary our Mother, intercede for us, St. Joseph, pray for us.

Through the merits of your precious blood and your Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, …Pardon and mercy.

Prayer to the Holy Trinity

Most Holy Trinity, Godhead indivisible, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, our first beginning and our last end.  Since you have made us after your own image and likeness, grant that all the thoughts of our minds, all the words of our tongues, all the affections of our hearts and all our actions may be always conformed to your most Holy Will, so that that after having seen you here on earth in appearances and in a dark manner by the means of faith, we may come at last to contemplate you face to face, in the perfect possession of you forever in paradise.  Amen.

Pray one (1) Our Father, three (3) Hail Mary’s, one (1) Glory Be.

O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (3 times)

Act of Consecration

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 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.