Paul Badde has written another fine article, “Veronica’s Heart or The True Canvas of God” which first appeared in the Italian Monthly Tempi. In the article Paul explores the roots of Pope St. John Paul II’s deep devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, which led to his dedicating the millennium to the Face of Christ, as well as the connection to the rediscovery of the Veil of Manoppello, Italy — believed to be “the Veronica” or the true image of the Face of Christ.
The fact that Pope St. John Paul II and both his successors Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis strongly emphasized devotion to the Face of Christ is something that should cause every Christian to ask themselves “why?” What is its importance for the Church, and for each individual to seek the “true Face of Christ?” Raymond Frost, who writes the Holy Face of Manoppello Blog has translated Paul’s article into English. It is certainly worth a read… click here to read…
“How fair you are, O Virgin Mary! Your face is resplendent with grace.” –Carmelite Proper
Virgin Mary is she who more than any other contemplated God in the human Face of Jesus. She saw Him as a newborn when, wrapped in swaddling clothes, He was placed in a manger; she saw Him when, just after His death, they took Him down from the Cross, wrapped Him in linen and placed Him in the sepulcher. Inside her was impressed the image of her martyred Son; but this image was then transfigured in the light of the Resurrection. Thus, in Mary’s heart, was carried the mystery of the Face of Christ, a mystery of death and glory. From her we can always learn how to look upon Jesus, with a gaze of love and faith, to recognize in that human countenance, the Face of God.” –Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Seeking the Face of Christ through Mary
In the icon of “Queen Beauty and Mother of Carmel,” the Infant Jesus tenderly invites us to look at the face of His Mother, “resplendent with grace.” What makes the Virgin Mary’s face “resplendent with grace?” It is the light of the Face of Christ – just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, the face of Mary reflects the light of the true sun, Jesus Christ.
Mary is “The glory of Jerusalem, the joy of Israel, the highest honor of our race,” (Judith 15:9) because she sought the face of God, His holy will and pleasure, in all things. Just as it is possible for the moon to shine even in the brightness of day, Mary gives more beauty to the heavens, more glory to God than any other creature on earth. And when the dark night of faith is upon us and the sun is hidden from our view, Mary is there to enlighten our path and show us the way to her Son, until “In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1: 78-79)
At the present moment, although the world is filled with darkness, we can turn to her for help in seeking His Face and leading souls to Him. Even pebbles on a path on the ground can reflect the light of the moon at night; and so the children of Mary by following her example, “to seek the Face of God in all things,” can guide others through the darkness by reflecting the light of the Face of Christ as does Mary.
It is Jesus Himself who desires that we turn to the face of His Mother. He created her with all the perfection and beauty that would be fitting for the Mother of God. Her soul, holy, immaculate and unstained by sin, is the perfect mirror in which He reflects His Face. He holds her up to us as the model for all His disciples as He did in Luke’s Gospel: “While He was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to Him, ‘Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.’” This singular praise of Mary from the woman in the crowd was not enough for her Son. And so Jesus replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” (Luke 11:27) Mary is thus thrice blessed, first, in being chosen to be the Mother of God, second, in that Mary heard the word of God and third, because she kept His word in her heart.
Mary holds out to us her Scapular, a sacramental sign of being clothed in her own garment, to place over our shoulders, so that we may imitate her in faith, hope, charity and all the virtues that adorn her soul. By contemplating the Face of Jesus always, together with Mary, we can do our part in making His Face shine upon our world as well.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel
O most beautiful flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, blessed Mother of Christ, Immaculate Virgin, we praise and honor you as our Queen and Mother.
Help us to persevere in constant prayer for the needs of our world and share with you in the work of redemption. Be with us, Holy Virgin, and guide us on our way, as we journey together in faith, hope and love to your Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord.
“For her God is infinite joy. This is the new hymn of Christian love that rises spontaneously from the soul of this young Chilean girl, in whose glorified face we can sense that grace of her transformation in Christ.”
–Pope St. John Paul II, canonization homily for St. Teresa of the Andes in 1993
“Look at Him!”
“Jesus alone is beautiful; he is my only joy. I call for him, I cry after him, I search for him within my heart. I long for Jesus to grind me interiorly [like wheat] so that I may become a pure host where he can find his rest.
I want to be athirst with love so that other souls may possess this love. I would die to creatures and to myself, so that he may live in me. Is there anything good, beautiful or true that we can think of that would not be in Jesus? Wisdom, from which nothing would be secret. Power, for which nothing would be impossible. Justice, which made him take on flesh in order to make satisfaction for sin. Providence, which always watches over and sustains us. Mercy, which never ceases to pardon. Goodness, which forgets the offenses of his creatures. Love, which unites all the tenderness of a mother, of a brother, of a spouse, and which, drawing him out of the abyss of his greatness, binds him closely to his creatures.
Beauty which enraptures…what can you think of that would not be found in this Man-God? Are you perhaps afraid that the abyss of the greatness of God and that of your nothingness cannot be united? There is love in him. His passionate love made him take flesh in order that by seeing a Man-God, we would not be afraid to draw near hm. This passionate love made him become bread in order to assimilate our nothingness and make it disappear into his infinite being. This passionate love made him give his life by dying on the Cross. Are you perhaps afraid to draw near him? Look at him surrounded by little children. He caresses them, and presses them to his heart. Look at him in the midst of his faithful flock, bearing the faithless lamb on his shoulders.
Look at him at the tomb of Lazarus. And listen to what he says to Magdalene: ‘Much has been forgiven her, because she has loved much.’ What do you discover in these flashes from the Gospel except a heart that is good, gentle, tender, compassionate; in other words, the heart of God? He is my unending wealth, my bliss, my heaven.”
The book of Revelation of St. John unveils for its reader the beauty of the liturgy of the Mass. “A throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne:” “The Lord God.” (Rev. 4:2) It then shows the Lamb (Jesus Christ), “standing, as though it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6): Christ crucified and risen, the one high priest of the true sanctuary, the same one “who offers and is offered, who gives and is given.” (St. John Chrysostom) All in heaven and on Earth who take part in the service of the praise of God participate in the eternal liturgy whenever we celebrate the mystery of salvation. The sacramental celebration is woven with signs and symbols which are rich in meaning. “God speaks to man through visible creation. The material cosmos is so presented to man’s intelligence that he can read there traces of its Creator.” (CCC 1147) “…these perceptible realities can become means of expressing the action of God who sanctifies men, and the action of men who offer worship to God.” (CCC 1148)
We may not know or appreciate the meaning of these “signs and symbols” in the liturgy, but they are there all the same. For example, We may give little thought to the meaning of a simple action by the priest or deacon of handling or folding the altar linen or the corporal, but a German theologian, Klaus Berger, has recently made a stunning discovery which shines a bright light on the deep symbolism contained in this humble action. Mr. Berger, while doing research for an extensive commentary on Revelation by St. John, uncovered the surprising connection between the altar linens prescribed for the liturgy and the burial cloths of Christ mentioned in the Gospels. Mr. Berger then shared his amazing discovery, which reveals the key liturgical role of the cloths, with Paul Badde, who has written extensively on the sudaria or burial cloths of Jesus (The True Icon). Paul has written a truly fascinating article about the discovery for Catholic News Agency (German) The translation may be found on Raymond Frost’s Manoppello blogspot (click here for full article in English).
In the article Paul Badde explains the theological connection between the burial cloths which touched the Body and Blood of Jesus and the altar cloth and corporal, the white linen napkin on which are placed the vessels containing the Body and Blood of Christ during Mass. The corporal, which was to be made of pure linen, could only be touched reverently by the priest with his thumb and forefinger in the old rite.
The connection between these altar cloths used in the liturgy and the sudarium, or burial cloths of Jesus (Shroud of Turin and Veil of Manoppello) says Paul Badde, can be understood in reference to a vision of Pope Gregory I during a Mass when Jesus, appeared as the Man of Sorrows during the Consecration of the Eucharist, reflecting the true Presence of Christ. Pope St. Gregory the Great, “The Father of Christian Worship,” is renown for his exceptional efforts is revising the liturgy of his day.
The cloths used in the liturgy are rich in symbol and meaning which can aid us in our devotion. During the Mass we may not see Christ with our bodily eyes, but He is present. Knowing our weakness, in His infinite mercy He has left us His image to contemplate on the Shroud of Turin and the Veil of Manoppello so that we may call them to mind when gazing with faith on the simple linen cloths used in the Mass. The images make manifest the “cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1) mentioned in St. John’s Revelation: The Heavenly powers, all creation, the servants of the Old and New Covenants the new People of God especially the martyrs “slain for the word of God,” and the all-holy Mother of God (the Woman clothed with the sun with the moon at her feet), The Bride of the Lamb, and finally “a great multitude which no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes, and peoples and tongues.” (Rev.7:9)
“Illiterate men can contemplate in the lines of an image what they cannot learn by means of the written word.” – Pope St. Gregory the Great
“The beauty of the images moves me to contemplation, as a meadow delights the eyes and subtly infuses the soul with the glory of God.”–St. John Damascene
The word “veil” can have many meanings. A veil can cover the face, the head, or an object; it can cover, conceal, or separate. In ancient Jewish tradition a veil in the Holy of Holies in the Temple separated sinful man from the presence of God dwelling in the midst of His People. The holiness of God was not to be taken lightly. The blinding light of the purity and glory of the Face of God could not be looked upon by sinful eyes.
But when God chose Mary to be the Mother of His Son He created her to be all-pure and sinless from the moment of her conception through the merits of her Son, Jesus. In Matthew 5:8 we read, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” What was to prevent Mary, the Immaculate Conception, who was free from all sin, from seeing the Face of God in all His glory even while she was still here on earth? The answer is, in a word, a veil.
When the Word of God became flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the Incarnation, Mary became His Tabernacle. Jesus’ human flesh was His veil: “by the new and living way he opened for us through the veil, that is His flesh” (Heb. 10:20). The Angel Gabriel told Mary that she would be the mother of the Son of God. But Mary, though “full of grace” and all-pure, would only gaze upon the human face of her child and upon the Face of her God through the veil of faith.
Elizabeth bore witness to Mary’s faith when “filled with the Holy Spirit” she greeted Mary with a loud cry: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?…“Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Lk. 1:45). As Pope St. John Paul II wrote in Redemptoris Mater, “Mary entrusted herself to God completely, with the full submission of intellect and will…this response of faith included both perfect cooperation with ‘the grace of God that precedes and assists’ and perfect openness to the action of the Holy Spirit, who constantly brings faith to completion by His gifts.”
In a truly heroic manner, in poverty and suffering, on her whole pilgrimage or journey towards God, Mary believed, in faith, though everything happening around her seemed to contradict God’s words to her: That “the Lord will give to him the throne of his father David.” And that “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Mary believed these invisible truths about her Son, even as Jesus, suffered and died, hanging on the Cross. What was visible on an earthly level did not reflect the heavenly reality. Mary did not necessarily see her Son radiant in glory or angels ministering to Him in His Passion. At the foot of the Cross she saw His bruised and bloodied suffering Face.
Pope St. John Paul II tells us in Redemptoris Mater that “faith is contact with the mystery of God. Every day Mary is in constant contact with the ineffable mystery of God made-man, a mystery that surpasses everything revealed in the Old Covenant… Mary is in contact with the truth about her Son only in faith and through faith!” Though all-pure, she could not see, except through faith. “Blessed is she who believed” is a key, he says, which unlocks for us the innermost reality of Mary. Mary’s all-pure eyes looked on the glory of her Son through a veil of faith, “a dark night,” to use the words of St. John of the Cross, that feeling of darkness or emptiness when a soul draws near to the brightness and glory of God. Pope St. John Paul II writes in Redemptoris Mater that Mary’s faith is: “a kind of a veil though which one has to draw near to the Invisible One and to live in intimacy with the mystery.”
In this earthly pilgrimage of faith a veil lies over our hearts, as St. Paul writes: “To this day, in fact…a veil lies over their hearts, but whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed… All of us, with unveiled face gazing 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. 4:15-16, 18) As members of the Church, we can “look at” Jesus through Mary’s eyes of faith, in the Eucharist, in our neighbor; believing in His Word and following her example in our pilgrimage towards the Father until that time when the “veil” of faith will be finally lifted.
“Blessed is she who believed!”
“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1)
“This is the opportune moment to change our lives! This is the time to allow our hearts to be touched!” — quotes from Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus
“Jesus Christ is the Face of the Father’s Mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith. Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching it’s culmination in Him…We need to constantly contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends on it. Mercy: the word reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity.” “With our eyes fixed on Jesus and His merciful gaze, we experience the love of the Most Holy Trinity. The mission Jesus received from the Father was that of revealing the mystery of Divine Love in its fullness. ‘God is love.'” (1Jn 4:8,16)
“…wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy.”
“Mercy is not contrary to justice but is the behavior of God toward the sinner…God does not deny justice. He rather envelops it and surpasses it with an even greater event in which we experience love as the foundation of true justice” (MV, 21). Jesus is the face of the mercy of God the Father: “God so loved the world […] [that] the world might be saved through him [the Son]” (Jn 3:16, 17)
We are called to be merciful to each other and seek the Face of Jesus in our neighbor. “It is my burning desire that, during this Jubilee, the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. It will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty. And let us enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy. Jesus introduces us to these works of mercy in His preaching so that know whether or not we are living as His disciples. Let us rediscover these corporal and spiritual works of mercy: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead. And let us not forget the spiritual works of mercy: to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offences, bear patiently those who do us ill, and pray for the living and the dead.”
“Life is a pilgrimage, and the human being is a viator, a pilgrim travelling along the road, making his way to the desired destination.” Let us keep our faces turned toward the Merciful Face of Jesus while on our pilgrimage, and “introduce everyone to the great mystery of God’s Mercy by contemplating the Face of Chirst.” (Misericordiae Vultus)
Prayer of Pope Francis for the Jubilee of Mercy
Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father, and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him. Show us Your Face and we will be saved. Your loving gaze freed Zaccheus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured Paradise to the repentant thief. Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that You spoke to the Samaritan woman: “If you only knew the gift of God!”
You are the visible Face of the invisible Father, of the God Who manifests His power above all by forgiveness and mercy: let the Church be Your visible Face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified. You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error: and forgiven by God.
Send Your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing, so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord, and Your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed, and restore sight to the blind.
We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy, You Who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.
Pope Francis also recommends we pray the Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen) so that Mary, our Mother of Mercy “may never tire of turning her merciful eyes towards us, and make us worthy to contemplate the Face of Mercy, her Son Jesus.”
The Salve Regina or “Hail, Holy Queen”
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears! Turn, then, O most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
At the Last Supper Jesus offers His deeply moving prayer to the Father for his disciples, the priests, which begins, “Father the hour has come…” (John 17) Jesus prays that the Father glorify Him and that He may be glorified in them (his priests) and that He keep them in His name that “they may become one as we are.” Jesus prays too, “for those who will believe in me through their word.”
“A priest is not a priest for himself,” St. John Vianney said, “he does not give himself absolution; he does not administer the Sacraments for himself. He is not for himself, he is for you.”
These men, like the first apostles, are fully human and share in the weakened condition of all of mankind since the fall of Adam. Yet they are called by God for the sanctification of God’s people. St. Paul writes:
“Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest, but rather the one who said to him: “You are my son; this day I have begotten you;” just as he says in another place: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” In the days when he was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, declared by God high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. (Heb. 5:1-10)
The faithful are entrusted to the priest’s care, who as a Good Shepherd, walks with them on the path which leads to Christ. Through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the priest brings the people to a true knowledge of the Father and the Son and “To the contemplation of the living and pulsating reality of the Trinity ‘faciem ad faciem’ (face to face).” (St. Pope John Paul II) “The Holy Spirit,” says St. Irenaeus, “the stairway of our ascent to God, draws the priest to the Father, stirring in his heart a burning desire to see God’s Face…the Paraclete illumines the priest about his own Person, that the priest may come to see the Spirit in his own heart and history.”
Whenever a priest administers the sacraments, says St. Pope John Paul II, “the priest lendsChrist his own face and voice:” “Do this in memory of Me.” (Luke 22:19) “Priests are called to show forth the Face of the Good Shepherd and therefore to have the Heart of Christ Himself.” (St. Pope John Paul II) Therefore, let us pray for all priests and bishops, that the Holy Spirit will strengthen them in all their gifts. St. Teresa of Avila once said, “When you see a priest you should say, ‘There is he who made me a child of God, and opened Heaven to me by Holy Baptism; he who purified me after I had sinned; who gives nourishment to my soul.'” St. Therese told her sister, Celine, “Let us live for souls, let us be apostles, let us save above all the souls of priests… let us pray and suffer for them and on the last day Jesus will be grateful!” [St. Therese of Lisieux, Letter 94]
The Priest is the Face of Christ to us!
Prayer for Priests
“Eternal Father, we offer Thee, with the hands of Mary, the Holy Face of Jesus, Thy Son, and the entire generous holocaust of all that we are, in reparation for so many sins that are committed, and, especially, for offenses against the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. We make this offering, in a particular way, so that Priests, by the holiness of their lives, may show the world the adorable features of the Divine Countenance shining with the light of truth and love, for the triumph of the Church, and for the spread of the Kingdom.” (Bl. Mother Maria Pierina De Micheli)
Torrential rains have caused heavy flooding here in Louisiana on March 11 &12. In your charity, please pray for all those who have been affected. The Benedictine St. Joseph’s Abbey & Seminary College in Covington, Louisiana, has suffered tremendous damage from the flood, but, praise God, no loss of life. The Monastery took in approximately two feet of water. This is a link to their Facebook page with updates on their condition since the flooding and efforts to help: (click here)
The terrible flooding has also devastated the FOCUSTV studio destroying much of their equipment and historic archives. FOCUSTV, begun by the late Archbishop Philip Hannan (Google “The Archbishop Wore Combat Boots” to learn his story), gives glory to God through the social media. They have been instrumental in sharing the devotion to the Holy Face as well. Please pray for the good people at FOCUSTV and if you would like to help, please click (here).
On this infamous anniversary of the legalization of abortion in The United States, we reflect on the millions of faces which we will never see and the blindness of those who deny the humanity of unborn babies.
Unborn babies are not material to be used or blobs of tissue to be dissected and sold. We must recognize the humanity of the baby in the womb; we must look at their faces and see there the Face of Christ. Pope Francis has emphasized this truth, “Each child that is unborn, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted bears the Face of Christ. They cannot be discarded, as the culture of waste proposes! They cannot be discarded!”
Science and technology has made it possible to see this reality in an undeniable way, as shown in the ultrasound picture of the smiling baby in the photo above. They have a face and unique identity; he or she is created in the image and likeness of God! God has a plan and a mission for each unborn child. They are the hope of this broken world – if only the innocent unborn are able to live and grow to fulfill their part in His divine plan.
May they gaze on the Face of God and intercede for us before the throne of God that the horrors of abortion may finally be at an end. May Jesus, in His infinite mercy, remove the blindness from the eyes of those who support abortion so that, they, together with the millions of babies who have been killed in abortions, may one day together see God face to Face.
O Jesus, whose adorable human Face was formed and hidden in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary for nine months — have mercy on us!
On November 10th, during his visit to the beautiful city of Florence, Italy, Pope Francis spoke about the Holy Face of Jesus and the authentic face of man:
“We can speak about humanism only by starting from the centrality of Jesus, discovering in Him the features of the authentic face of man. And the contemplation of the face of the dead and risen Jesus that recomposes our humanity, fragmented as it may be by the hardships of life, or marked by sin. We must not domesticate the power of the face of Christ. The face is the image of His transcendence…. I do not wish here to draw an abstract image of the ‘new humanism,’ a certain idea of man, but to present with simplicity some features of Christian humanism, which is that of the sentiments, the mind of Christ. These are not abstract temporary sensations but rather represent the warm interior force that makes us able to live and to make decisions:”
“The first sentiment is humility. The obsession preserving one’s own glory and ‘dignity,” one’s own influence, must not form part of our sentiments. We must seek God’s glory, that does not coincide with ours. God’s glory that shines in the humility of the stable in Bethlehem or in the dishonor of Christ’s cross always surprises us.”
“Another sentiment is selflessness; The humanity of the Christian is always outward-looking. Please, let us avoid ‘remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits that make us feel safe.’ Our duty is to make this world a better place, and to fight. Our faith is revolutionary because of the inspiration that comes from the Holy Spirit.”
“Another of Jesus Christ’s sentiments is beatitude. The Christian is blessed. In the Beatitudes, the Lord shows us the path. By taking it, we human beings can arrive at the most authentically human and divine happiness. For the great saints, beatitude is about humiliation and poverty. But also in the most humble of our people there is much of this beatitude: it is that of he who knows the richness of solidarity, of sharing the little he possesses. The Beatitudes we read in the Gospel begin with a blessing and end with a promise of consolation. They introduce us to a path of possible greatness, that of the spirit, and when the spirit is ready all the rest comes by itself.”