“At no time… especially at a moment as critical as our own — can the Church forget the prayer that is a cry for the mercy of God. …The Church has the right and duty to appeal to the God of mercy ‘with loud cries.'” (Pope St. John Paul II, Rich in Mercy, 15)
Some may view this pandemic as “the end of the world” as we know it. Others see the opportunity turn toward the Face of God in prayer and draw closer to Him. We can be certain of one thing in this uncertain time and that is, that He loves us. So, we can be secure in the knowledge that God’s mercy on mankind is not exhausted. “The mystery of the Father’s love” is continually being revealed to us; it is found through the beauty and glory shining on the Face of Jesus Christ, His Son.
The Splendor of the Truth is Found on the Face of Christ
“…No one can escape from the fundamental questions: What must I do? How do I distinguish good from evil? The answer is only possible thanks to the splendor of the truth which shines forth deep within the human spirit, as the Psalmist bears witness: “There are many who say: ‘O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord’” (Ps 4:6)
The light of God’s face shines in all its beauty on the countenance of Jesus Christ, “the image of the invisible God” (Cor 1:15), the “reflection of God’s glory” (Heb 1:3), “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14). Christ is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6). Consequently the decisive answer to every one of man’s questions, his religious and moral questions in particular, is given by Jesus Christ, or rather is Jesus Christ himself, as the Second Vatican Council recalls: “In fact, it is only in the mystery of the Word Incarnate that light is shed on the mystery of man. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of the future man, namely, of Christ the Lord. It is Christ, the last Adam, who fully discloses man to himself and unfolds his noble calling by revealing the mystery of the Father and the Father’s love”. –Pope St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor (1993)
In 2015, a Bull of Indiction, Misericordiae Vultus (Face of Mercy) was issued, declaring a “Jubilee Year of Mercy.” The document, begun by Pope Benedict and completed by Pope Francis, is a a powerful reminder of our mission of mercy to a spiritually dark world. We each have a precious opportunity that God has given us at this particular time in history to be instruments of His mercy, and to plead “with loud cries” for God’s “mercy on us and on the whole world.”
“This is the opportune moment to change our lives! This is the time to allow our hearts to be touched!” Misericordiae Vultus (Face of Mercy)
“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.’ (1 Jn 4:8,16)”
“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 Christ.”(Misericordiae Vultus)
For many of the quarantined, or for those dying in isolation, being deprived of the sacraments, especially of Jesus in the Eucharist, is a very painful suffering. Still, we can offer a “Spiritual Communion,” with a “gaze of faithfulness,” at His Holy Face — to express our love for Jesus — and beg those graces we need until, God willing, we may receive His Sacrament of Love again. Below is a beautiful prayer of St. Faustina, from her diary Divine Mercy in My Soul #1239
“O Living Host, O hidden Jesus. You see the condition of my soul. Of myself, I am unable to utter Your Holy Name. I cannot bring forth from my heart the fire of love, but, kneeling at Your feet, 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 that the time will come when You will unveil Your Countenance, and Your child will again see Your sweet Face. I am astonished, Jesus, that You can hide Yourself from me for so long and that You can restrain the enormous love You have for me. In the dwelling of my heart, I am listening and waiting for Your coming, O only Treasure of my heart!
Prayer to the Holy Face for the liberation from the coronavirus
Lord Jesus, Savior of the world, hope that will never disappoint us, have mercy on us and deliver us from all evil! Please overcome the scourge of this virus which is spreading, heal the sick, preserve the healthy, support those who work for the health of all. Show us your face of mercy and save us in your great love. We ask you through the intercession of Mary, Your Mother and ours, who faithfully accompanies us. You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.
The “A,B,C’s of mercy:”
Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.
Be Merciful to Others. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.
Completely Trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive.