“Hide not Thy Face from me. Let me die, lest I die, if only I may see Thy Face.” ~ St. Augustine in Confessions (1.5.5)
There he came to a cave, where he took shelter. Then the Lord said: “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord willl be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the Lord–but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake–but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire–but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, “Elijah, why are you here?” He replied, “I have been most jealous for the Lord, the God of Hosts.” (1 Kings 19)
Fixing our eyes on God
Pope St. Gregory explains why Elijah is described as standing at the mouth of the cave (“where we direct our mental gaze, there we may be said to stand.”) and veiling his face when he heard the voice of the Lord speaking to him: “…as soon as the voice of heavenly understanding enters the mind through the grace of contemplation, the whole man is no longer within the cave, for his soul is no longer taken up with matters of the flesh: intent on leaving the bounds of mortality, he stands at the cave’s mouth.”
Humility and Detachment – the keys to contemplation
“But if a man stands at the mouth of the cave and hears the word of God with his heart’s ear, he must veil his face. For when heavenly grace leads us to the understanding of higher things, the rarer the heights to which we are raised, the more we should abase ourselves in our own estimation by humility: we must not try to know ‘more than is fitting; we must know as it befits us to know.’ Otherwise, through over-familiarity with the invisible, we wish going astray; and we might perhaps look for material light in what is immaterial. For to cover the face while listening with the ear means hearing with our mind the voice of Him who is within us, yet averting the eyes of the heart from every bodily appearance. If we do this, there will be no risk of our spirit interpreting as something corporeal that which is everywhere in its entirety and everywhere uncircumscribed…while our feet stand within the walls of His holy Church, let us keep our eyes turned toward the door; let us mentally turn our backs on the corruption of this temporal life; let us keep our hearts facing toward the freedom of our heavenly fatherland.”
Almighty, ever-living God, your prophet Elijah, our Father, lived always in your presence and was jealous for the honor due to your name. May we, your servants, always seek your Face and bear witness to your love. We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Apostles “with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary, the Mother of Jesus.” (Acts 1:14)
As an infant is inseparable from its mother, so the infant Church was inseparable from Mary, the loving Mother of the Church. An infant must be loved and nurtured in order to learn, grow, and mature, taking its first steps while holding tightly to the hands of its mother.
Mary, conceived without sin, was already filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and therefore she is a perfect reflection of the Face of God. So, the Apostles looked to Mary, “Full of Grace,” as their model perfectly formed in the image of God, as they prayed for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
This is the work of the Holy Spirit of Love– to sanctify our souls, shining upon us the radiance of His light, transforming us into the image of God, as we gaze on God’s Face in prayer.
“All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image, from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18)
In Mary, the Holy Spirit manifests the Son of the Father…filled with the Holy Spirit she makes the Word of God, Jesus Christ, visible in order to make Him known to us. Like all good mothers, our Mother Mary will obtain all the good gifts that her children will need from her Spouse, the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. The Holy Spirit then perfects the soul with the first fruits of eternal glory: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity — so we may more closely resemble Jesus Christ.
Let us remain “with one accord in prayer” with Mary, as the Apostles did, for it is “through Mary the Holy Spirit begins to bring men, the objects of God’s merciful love, into communion with Christ.” (CCC 725)
To Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit
Daughter of the Most High, Mother of God, faithful Spouse of the Holy Spirit — yet also Mary of Nazareth, Joseph’s wife, my mother– hear my prayer for grace, O Full of Grace. Pray your Spouse the Holy Spirit to come upon me — to shelter from all ill, to strengthen me to do what is right, to teach me all truth. Pray him come to me, and abide with me, and be within me a fountain springing up unto eternal life. May he sustain me in sorrow, sanctify me in life, and receive me at the hour of my death. Holy Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the Church, pray for us.
“Those in love try to see each other. People in love have eyes only for their love. That’s logical isn’t it? The human heart feels this need. I would be lying if I denied my eagerness to contemplate the Face of Jesus Christ. ‘ Vultum tuum, Domine, requiram.’ I will seek your Countenance, O Lord”–St. Jose Maria Escriva
The desire to seek the face of a loved one is written in the human heart by God, who loves each soul as though it were the only one on earth. God in turn, longs for us to return His love, like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, searching the horizon each day for the sight of his lost son. Visit any airport terminal and you will find someone standing with eyes riveted on the arrival gates with anxious anticipation for the familiar face of a loved one to appear, followed by great joy when their hope is fulfilled.
Jesus waits for us, with great longing, but do we have the same longing to see Him? It would be the greatest tragedy if we simply walk past Him because we didn’t recognize Him. Why is it so difficult to keep our focus on seeking the Face of the One who loves us most? The reason may be that we see His Face “only dimly.” Every day a million distractions prevent us from recognizing Jesus, and divert us from seeking the Face of the One who should be our “All in All.”
“At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully as I am known. So Faith, Hope, and Love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is Love.” (1 Cor: 12-13)
Jesus tells us, “Seek and you will find.” To seek the Face of God requires an exercise of the virtue of Hope united with Faith and Love to come to know Him. We can seek Him not only by spending more time in prayer which is the source of our love, but also in recognizing His loving presence in Scripture, in the Eucharist and in our neighbor. One way to exercise the virtue of Hope, in Faith and Love is to repeat often the words of King David: “Come,” says my heart, “seek God’s Face”; your Face, LORD, do I seek! Do not hide Your Face from me!” (Psalm 27:8-9) …and to remember that He “Only has eyes for you!” Though we may forget to seek God, He never ceases to seek us so we may find life and happiness in Him. His love is blind, though sins have marred our souls, He seeks only to beautify and fill with virtue each individual soul, created in His image and likeness, so that by His gaze, He may find there the original truth and beauty – a reflection of His Face.
I Only Have Eyes for You
My love must be a kind of blind love,
I can’t see anyone but you.
Are the stars out tonight?
I don’t know if it’s cloudy or bright.
I only have eyes for you, dear.
The moon may be high
but I can’t see a thing in the sky.
I only have eyes for you.
I don’t know if we’re in a garden
or on a crowded avenue.
You are here and so am I,
Maybe millions of people go by,
but they all disappear from view
and I only have eyes for you.
(By songwriters Al Dubin and Harry Warren)
“Truly, truly, I tell you the truth. Whoever will invoke the Holy Spirit, he will seek me and he will find me, and it is through the Spirit that he will find me.” ~Our Lord to Sr. Miriam of Jesus Crucified.
The Annual Feast of the Holy Face of Manoppello and Procession was celebrated on May 20, 2018. A beautiful account of the day, written by Antonio Bini, together with many wonderful photo’s may be found here on the HolyFace of Manoppello Blogspot.
A new documentary about the Holy Face of Manoppello will be released soon. To read more about it click here for the article on Holy Face of Manoppello blog.
(A preview – in Italian)
O Jesus, hidden God,
My heart perceives You
Though veils hide You;
You know that I love you.
–St. Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament, Apostle of Divine Mercy
On October 11, 1933, Saint Marie Faustina Kowalska was struggling “with great difficulty” to remain at prayer during a Holy Hour; she felt nothing, her mind seemed dimmed, she couldn’t understand the simplest form of prayer, and unlike most of us, this made her determined to stay another hour. During the second hour her sufferings increased, together with great dryness and discouragement. Rather than call it quits, she heroically resolved to remain for a third hour, by sheer will. Kneeling with her arms outstretched, she took off her ring and asked Jesus to look at it as the sign of their eternal union and her perpetual vows. After a while, her heart was inundated with a wave of love. Jesus suddenly stood before her stripped of His clothing as in His Passion. “His body completely covered with wounds, His eyes flooded with tears and blood, His Face disfigured and covered with spittle.” The Lord then said to St. Faustina, “The Bride must resemble her Betrothed.” She says she understood these words to their very depth. Her likeness to Jesus must be through suffering and humility. Jesus said to her, “See what love of human souls has done to Me. My daughter, in your heart I find everything that so great a number of souls refuses Me, Your heart is My repose. I often wait with great graces until towards the end of prayer.” Her faithfulness to prayer was rewarded with a powerful reminder that she must resemble Jesus, her spouse.
This mystery of likeness to God is tied to contemplative prayer, “a communion, in which the Holy Trinity conforms man, the image and likeness of God, to His likeness.” (CCC 2713) In contemplative prayer we seek Him whom our soul loves, with our attention fixed on Jesus, surrendering to the love of the Father. The interior life of prayer can be difficult, dry and empty; it requires pure abandonment to God when nothing is felt, resisting our natural inclination to self-love by desiring to enjoy consolation. St. Faustina writes, “Amid the greatest torments, I fix the gaze of my soul upon Jesus Crucified.” St. Faustina’s strength was in contemplation of the Face of Jesus reflecting all the pain and suffering of His Sacred Heart: “I have ever before my eyes His sorrowful Face, abused and disfigured, His divine Heart pierced for our sins and especially by the ingratitude of chosen souls.”
St. Faustina, the Apostle of Divine Mercy, had the mission of spreading His Mercy so that souls will come to know His unfathomable love, “to remove the veil of heaven so that earth will not doubt Your goodness.” She wrote, “Make of me, Jesus, a pure and agreeable offering before the Face of Your Father. Jesus, transform me, miserable and sinful as I am, into Your own self (for You can do all things), and give me to Your Eternal Father.” St. Faustina’s desire to see the Face of God increased although darkness filled her soul as though she were in exile. In spite of that suffering, she abandoned herself to the Will of God, remaining faithful in prayer. “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.”
St. Faustina sought solace by remaining patiently in prayer before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. “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!”
God who made us in His image and likeness dwells in us. His divine indwelling enables us to become who we truly are when we turn to Him with humility and perseverance in prayer. “With God, to gaze at is to love,” says St. John of the Cross, and we are transformed by what we gaze upon. The trouble for our human nature is that in difficulties we often forget to turn to His Face, as St. Teresa of Jesus has said, “O Lord, how true that all harm comes to us from not keeping our eyes fixed on You.” The divine goal of the grace of contemplative prayer, which flows from His mercy, is to resemble Jesus. St. Faustina wrote, “The Heavenly Father will recognize and glorify our soul to the extent that He sees in us a resemblance to His Son.”
“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.” –St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in My Soul
“The most illustrious thing the Church has is that which she hides most.” ~Bossuet
His countless virtues made him worthy to be the foster father of the Son of God. He was the first man to see the human Face of God; the first man to hear the cry of the Word of God. Yet for centuries the most just and humble St. Joseph was fairly hidden in the Church. Not a word is spoken by St. Joseph in the Gospels. But as Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “His is a silence permeated by contemplation of the mystery of God, in an attitude of total availability to His divine wishes.”
It was St. Teresa of Avila who recognized St. Joseph as the model of contemplative prayer. She wrote: “Would that I could persuade all men to have devotion to this glorious Saint; for I know by long experience what blessings he can obtain for us from God.” Because St. Joseph was silent, he was attuned to hear the voice of God, although it was in darkness and obscurity. “Those who practice prayer,” says St. Teresa, “should have a tremendous devotion to him always.”
“Joseph, the honest man, seeks God. Joseph, the selfless man, finds God. Joseph, the hidden man, delights in God’s presence.” –Second Panegyric on St. Joseph by Bossuet
St. Joseph, through continuous prayer, sought God’s Will in each present moment. St. Teresa writes that he is the master of the interior life. “In human life Joseph was Jesus’ master in their daily contact, full of refined affection, glad to deny himself in order to take better care of Jesus. Isn’t that reason enough for us to consider this just man, this holy patriarch, in whom the faith of the old covenant bears fruit, as master of interior life? Interior life is nothing but continual and direct conversation with Christ, so as to become one with Him. And Joseph can tell us many things about Jesus.” St. Joseph reveals those hidden graces in our daily lives; gifts from God that are available in each ordinary moment, as well as in trials and times of suffering. St. Joseph teaches us to live by faith as he did, before the presence of such a great mystery, by contemplating the human Face of God.
The sixth beatitude proclaims, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” What does it mean to be “pure in heart” and how can we attain purity of heart in this life?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that the “heart is the seat of our moral personality.” and there is a connection between purity of heart, of body, and of faith. St. Augustine summed up this connection:
“The faithful must believe the articles of the Creed so that by believing they may obey God, by obeying may live well, by living well may purify their hearts, and with pure hearts may understand what they believe.”
The “pure in heart” are promised that they will see God face to face and be like him. “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13: 12-13) Purity of heart is the precondition of the vision of God.
But what happens to a soul who dies in God’s grace and friendship, but is not yet perfectly purified in these three areas of “heart, body, and faith” in order to see the Face of God? The Church teaches that these souls are assured of eternal salvation, “but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” (CCC 1030) The joy of Heaven–which is the joy of seeing God face to face eternally. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of souls that enables them to attain the beatific vision. Theologians have said that this purification or suffering of the souls in Purgatory is their intense longing for the Face of God.
“It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” (2 Macch. 12, 46)
The faithful departed being purified are also members of the communion of saints, however, they can no longer pray for themselves; the opportunity for them to gain merit and virtue ended with their lives. They are in need of our prayers.
“We must say many prayers for the souls of the faithful departed, for one must be so pure to enter Heaven.”–St. John Vianney
We can help these holy souls by our prayers, especially in the month of November, when the Church remembers the Faithful Departed in its prayers. There are many ways to obtain indulgence from God for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, through the Church, such as visiting a cemetery and praying for the dead. A plenary indulgence for the souls in Purgatory can be obtained by visiting a cemetery any day between November 1 and November 8 or by a visit to a church or public oratory on November 2nd and reciting the Our Father and the Creed. A partial indulgence can be obtained for the souls in Purgatory, especially in the month of November, when we recite:
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Purity of heart makes it possible to see God in heaven. So, we should strive to attain purity of heart here on earth which helps us to see things according to God in this life. To do this demands prayer, the practice of chastity, purity of intention and of vision. (CCC 2532). Purity of heart also requires the modesty which is patience, decency, and discretion. (CCC 2533). So, in charity, let us pray, not only for ourselves but for the souls of the departed, so that they may soon see God face to face.
Eternal Father I offer you the most precious blood of your divine Son Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, sinners in the universal church, those in my own home, and within my family. –St. Gertrude Prayer
UPDATE: THE HUMAN FACE OF GOD IN THE HOLY VEIL OF MANOPPELLO (NEW- 2017) will air on EWTN, Tuesday, November 8th, at 6:30 pm Eastern time (U.S.). Filmed on location in Italy, host Paul Badde introduces the Veil of Manoppello as he relates it to other images of the Holy Face of Jesus. (30 minutes)
His gaze is piercing, his lips closed, as he turns interiorly toward the Face of God; he listens intently for God’s voice in humble silence, and paradoxically evangelizes the world. Robert Cardinal Sarah, appointed in 2014 as the prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship by Pope Francis, has written a masterpiece on prayer with Nicholas Diat, The Power of Silence; Against the Dictatorship of Noise. In the afterword for the book Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI writes that Cardinal Sarah is “a master of silence and of interior prayer.”
In The Power of Silence Cardinal Sarah writes:
“Silence is not an absence. On the contrary, it is the manifestation of a presence, the most intense of all presences.”
“Through silence we return to our heavenly origin, where there is nothing but calm, peace, repose, silent contemplation, and adoration of the radiant Face of God.”
Pope St. John Paul II also spoke of the “radiant Face of Christ” as a preparation for the New Evangelization in Novo Millenio Ineunte, “And 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 millenium. Our witness, however, would be hopelessly inadequate if we ourselves had not first contemplated His Face.” One can have the false impression that evangelization consists only in saying many words. So, how is it possible that silence can also evangelize? Another eminent cardinal, Louis Cardinal Tagle of the Philippines, gives an answer to this question in his address in 2012 for the Synod on the New Evangelization:
“The Church must discover the power of silence. Confronted with sorrows, doubts, and uncertainties of people she cannot pretend to give easy solutions. In Jesus, silence becomes the way of attentive listening, compassion and prayer. It is the way to truth. The seemingly indifferent and aimless societies of our time are earnestly looking for God. The Church’s humility, respectfulness, and silence might reveal more clearly the Face of God in Jesus. The world takes delight in a simple witness to Jesus, meek and humble of heart.”
To become “meek and humble of heart,” like Jesus, we must first turn to His Face in silent contemplation as Cardinal Sarah explains.
“Contemplative silence is silence with God. This silence is clinging to God, appearing before God, and placing oneself in His presence, offering oneself to Him, mortifying oneself in Him, adoring, loving, and hearing Him, listening to Him and resting in Him. This is the silence of eternity, the union of the soul with God.”
“The asceticism of silence reaches its most perfect degree in the life of those who have tasted this encounter with God through contemplation of His Face. This is a form of nakedness and poverty. But one gains access to true glory only at this price. The asceticism of silence allows a person to enter into the mystery of God by becoming little, like a child.”
“In silence, he cannot be a false god but can merely stand in a luminous face-to-face encounter with God” (—The Power of Silence)
Recently, Robert Cardinal Sarah made a visit to the Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Italy. It was his second pilgrimage to the shrine since since 2013 to see the miraculous veil bearing the Face of Jesus. After his visit, “visibly moved,” he wrote this dedication in the guest book of the Capuchins at the Shrine:
“Here in Manopello we meet the countenance of God face-to-face, and when we look at Him, His gaze cleanses and heals us, God be blessed, Robert Cardinal Sarah 17/7/2017”
“When face to face with a God who has become man, how can we not remain silent?” —The Power of Silence by Robert Card. Sarah with Nicholas Diat
Part 1: The Face of Mercy in Manoppello
“The practice of pilgrimage has a special place in the Holy Year, because it represents the journey each of us makes in this life. Life itself is a pilgrimage, and the human being a viator, a pilgrim traveling along the road, making his way to the desired destination…each according to his or her ability will have to make a pilgrimage. This will be a sign that mercy is also a goal to reach and requires dedication and sacrifice. May pilgrimage be an impetus to conversion; by crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us.” –Pope Francis from The Face of Mercy, Misericordiae Vultus
Human beings are made in the image and likeness of God, and so our souls have a yearning, a natural longing for the infinite. We are called to communion with God, to see Him “face to face.” He is calling us to seek Him, to know Him, and love Him with all our heart, mind, and strength. The history of salvation can be described as a gradual discovery of the Face of God by nations and individuals, marked by their battles, falls and triumphs, as they turn toward or away from the Face of God, on a pilgrimage–a journey which will only end when each person comes “face to face” with God.
The Year of Mercy cannot be complete until we have made some sort of pilgrimage toward God. Although I had made a local pilgrimage to the Door of Mercy at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, I had felt a very strong tug in my heart to return to Italy and re-visit places of pilgrimage that were especially meaningful to me. Together with my husband, I made the necessary preparations, but, the most important “packing” for the journey was to remember on our pilgrimage all those God has given us to love, and their intentions, people that we would like to have with us, but could not make the journey. We especially carried within our hearts those who were too sick, or too old, as well as those who have lost their faith, the deceased, and people in our country and in the world in need of someone’s prayers, placing all in our hearts so that we could carry them, in spirit, through the Doors of Mercy.
We began with the place in which I encountered the Face of Mercy in a very profound way in October of 2012: the Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face in the small mountain village of Manoppello. This humble, beautiful village has hidden in its heart, for centuries, what St. Pio of Pietrelcina called “The greatest relic of the Church”–a gossamer-thin byssus veil, bearing, in a miraculous way, an image of the human Face of Jesus.
We arrived very late at night after 28 hours of travel to a hotel in the village very near the Sanctuary. The next morning we walked to the Basilica for Mass, entering the beautiful dedicated Holy Door, engraved with depictions of events in the history of the Veil. My favorite was the panel recalling the visit of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to the Shrine in September of 2006. It was a year later, that he wrote his moving prayer to the Holy Face in honor of that occasion and elevated the Shrine to the status of a Basilica.
The day after we arrived was a special occasion as well, as the next day, August 6th, was a Feast of the Holy Face, the Transfiguration. The Veil, normally kept in a special reliquary high above the back of the altar (but accessible by a stairway from behind) was to be brought down after the Mass and placed in another movable reliquary, used in processions, near the front of the altar. The Veil would remain there throughout the day for prayers and veneration of the faithful, then be returned to its place behind the altar for the night.
Earlier in the day, on the steps leading up to the relic, I bumped into journalist Paul Badde, who has taken more photos perhaps than anyone of the Holy Veil and written so much about its amazing re-discovery. I couldn’t have been more surprised than if I had bumped into Lazarus emerging from the tomb! Paul has been making an amazing recovery from heart surgery, stroke, and a coma which lasted for more than
three weeks during Lent of 2016. Paul later introduced me to Sr. Petra-Maria, who, I soon discovered, shares with pilgrims her extensive knowledge and love for “Il Volto Santo.” Like two other nuns, who shared similar names–Sr. Marie St. Pierre, a Discalced Carmelite nun associated with the Holy Face in Tours, and Bl. Mother Maria Pierina, an Immaculate Conception nun associated with the Holy Face Medal–Sr. Petra-Maria is a true apostle of the Holy Face of Manoppello. The Holy Face draws her like a magnet; she never tires of gazing at His Face or drawing others to His peaceful, merciful countenance and telling and re-telling the incredible details of the features, the history, and especially, the spiritual significance of the miraculous image. (I’ll have to save those details for a special post.)
Celebrations and entertainment were held in honor the Holy Face in the piazza in front of the Basilica in the evening by local musicians and very talented young people of the community, who gave a very enjoyable musical performance of the life of St. Francis. I’ll never forget the line of young “Franciscan monks” on the stage singing “Andiamo! Andiamo!…” “We go! We go! For the Blessed Mother!” The next day the Holy Veil was brought out after Mass on the Feast of the Transfiguration for the day and in the evening there was planned a solemn procession with the Veil and benediction. But, as in all things in life, plans change… (To be continued in Pt.2)
“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.