Pope Francis – Discovering the authentic face of man through the Face of Jesus

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:

Pope Francis
Pope Francis

“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.”

“Like dry weary land without water, so I gaze on You…” Psalm 63:1

Dead trees line the streets in California
Dead trees line the streets in California

The West is experiencing a severe drought; just how bad it was, was brought home to me when I visited the Los Angeles area this past week, after an absence of six years.  I had always been surprised by the lush greenery, flowers, flowering trees and palms that lined the freeways of “Tinsel Town.” That is all gone.  Streets, highways, homes and gardens now display signs that read “Brown is the new green.”  What was once lush, verdant and colorful is now dry as dust, brown, and dead. The West is suffering from a great thirst for water.  It is emblematic of its thirst for God.

“O God, you are my God, for you I long, for you my soul is thirsting, My body pines for you like dry, weary land without water…

It is no secret that Los Angeles is mecca of images, idolatry and false faces.  But on September 8th, the feast of the birth of the Blessed Mother, a replica of a miraculous image arrived in California, bearing the Face of Jesus Christ.  It had traveled all the way from a shrine in a small mountain village in Italy called Manoppello, accompanied by the rector of the Holy Face Sanctuary, Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, OFM Capuchin and Mr. Paul Badde, journalist and author of several books about the Holy Face of Manoppello, who were there to give talks about the Holy Face.  The first stop was the Carmelite Chapel of St. Joseph in Duarte, and the second stop, Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles.

Replica image of the Holy Face of Manoppello, Mass at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral Los Angeles.
Blessed Replica image of the Holy Face of Manoppello, Mass at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral Los Angeles.

Blessed Replica of the Holy Face of Manoppello, at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles

“… So I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and your glory.”  Ps. 63:1

Jesus our Great High Priest offering Himself in The Eucharist, viewed through the miraculous Veil of Manoppello in Italy. Photo: Paul Badde
Jesus our Great High Priest offering Himself in the Eucharist, viewed through the miraculous Veil of Manoppello in Italy. Photo: Paul Badde

It is significant, that this holy image should come to this place, at this time.  Images have great

Miraculous "Holy Face of Manoppello" in Italy Photo:Paul Badde
Miraculous “Holy Face of Manoppello” in Italy Photo:Paul Badde

impact on human beings, for good or evil, as everyone in Hollywood knows.  When God became Man at the Incarnation, He made His Face known to us.  As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has said, the Face of Christ is “the supreme revelation of Christ’s Mercy.”  Pope Francis, has declared an “Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy,” in a Bull of Indiction – THE FACE OF MERCY  from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2015 to the Feast of Christ, King of the Universe and Face of the Father’s Mercy” November 20th, 2016. The primary task of the Church, Pope Francis urges us,  is to be “a herald of mercy,” “especially at a moment full of great hopes and signs of contradiction… to introduce everyone to the great mystery of God’s mercy by contemplation of the Face of Christ.” 

As I departed Los Angeles, a rain shower fell.  It made all the news programs, it was so rare. It seemed to me that the arrival of His Holy Face to Los Angeles was bringing blessings and showering grace on the City of Angels.  The Face of Jesus is the antidote to the poison of sin and evil in the world.  He comes to give us “Living Water.”   Nothing less will quench our thirst.

Let us follow Pope Francis’ exhortation to contemplate the Face of Christ through discipleship, images of the Face of Christ and in the Eucharist, and be true “heralds of mercy” by spreading devotion to the Face of Christ.

Holy Face of Manoppello, Italy Photo: Paul Badde
Holy Face of Manoppello, Italy Photo: Paul Badde

A special thanks to Mr. Paul Badde for allowing me to use his beautiful photos of The Holy Face of Manoppello!


The Feast of the Transfiguration

The Transfiguration by Carl Bloch
The Transfiguration by Carl Bloch

“After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.  And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.” (Mt 17: 1-3)

“All of us, gazing on the Lord’s glory with unveiled faces, are being transformed from glory to glory into his very image by the Lord who is the Spirit.”  (2 Cor 3:18)  “And even though the gospel is veiled, it is veiled for those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so that they may not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.  For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus.  For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor 4:5-6)

“See how great is the love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.  Yet so we are.” “We know that when he appears, we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:1-2)

There are special feasts observed by The Archconfraternity of the Holy Face throughout the Year:  Trinity Sunday, Easter, Good Friday, The Feast of the Holy Face on Shrove Tuesday, The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus and today’s feast, The Transfiguration.

Their Face is the Face of Christ!

"Each child that is unborn... bears the Face of Christ." --Pope Francis
“Each child that is unborn… bears the Face of Christ.” –Pope Francis

The “safe, legal and rare” facade of Planned Parenthood is beginning to crack as videos emerge that reveal the reality of their cold, callous and gruesome practices.  For far too long the evil of abortion has been carried out in this country and around the world.   Surely,  it should have come to an end after the trial of the infamous Kermit Gosnell, but it didn’t.  What will it take?  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!  The Planned Parenthood videos are awakening some people to the truth, but until society as a whole acknowledges this reality and opens their eyes to recognize  the face Jesus in the unborn, the horror of abortion will continue.  May the aborted unborn souls gaze on the Face of God and intercede for our country before the throne of God. May He may remove the blindness from the eyes of those who perform and support abortion.

O Jesus, whose adorable Face was formed and hidden in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary for nine months — have mercy on us!

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

“How fair you are, O Virgin Mary.  Your face is resplendent with grace.” –Carmelite Proper

Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Our Lady of Mount Carmel  icon by Patricia Enk


Seeking the Face of God 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.

Flos Carmeli

composed by St. Simon Stock

Most Holy Virgin!  Beauty of Carmel!  Virgin flower forever in bloom! Bright ornament of Heaven!  Thou Virgin Mother of the Man-God!  Mother of holy love! Mother of mercy and meekness!  Mother honored above all Mothers!  Star of the Sea!  be thou propitious to thy dear children of Carmel, and to all who have the happiness of wearing your holy Scapular.  Amen.

IMG_1070“Our Lady in whose face – more than in any other creature – we can recognize the features of The Incarnate Word.”  –Pope Benedict XVI