“The church is like Mary awaiting a birth. Like her, we should say of Jesus and mean with our hearts: Come! I want to see your face!”–Pope Francis
“A love that desires to see God may not have reasonableness on it’s side, but it is evidence of filial love.“
(Please see update below-Prayers needed)
Love desires to see God. So says St. Peter Chrysologus: “When God saw the world falling to ruin because of fear, He immediately acted to call it back to Himself with love…” By an invitation of grace, love and compassion God called Noah, Abraham, Jacob and Moses–and a “flame of love” was enkindled in their hearts, “it’s intoxication overflowed into men’s senses. Wounded by love, they longed to look upon God with their bodily eyes, yet how could our narrow human vision apprehend God, whom the whole world cannot contain?” St. Chrysologus writes, “It is intolerable for love not to see the object of it’s longing!” No matter what good the saints did to merit a reward, they could not see the Lord. “A love that desires to see God may not have reasonableness on it’s side, but it is evidence of filial love. It gave Moses the temerity to say: If I have found favor in your eyes, show me Your Face. It inspired the psalmist to make the same prayer: Show me Your Face. Even the pagans made their images for this purpose: they wanted to see what they mistakenly revered.” (from sermon of St. Peter Chrysologus)
God Himself initiates the longing to see His Face, extending this grace to all who are willing to accept it, which is why the Blessed Virgin Mary “Full of Grace” had the greatest, deepest longing to see the Face of God–more than any creature on earth. In the third week of Advent, the Church celebrates this longing to see God’s Face, together with Mary, with a Triduum (three days of prayer) and a Feast–It is called The Feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Longing to See His Face. (a bit of the history may be found here.) The Triduum begins on December 15th and continues until the feast day which is on December 18th. (The prayer, found below, for the Triduum and Feast Day may also be prayed on the days leading up to Christmas.)
There are two very important aspects of Advent mentioned in this prayer that should not be overlooked as they are necessary for us to prepare our hearts for Jesus on Christmas Day: preparation and penance (that “Jesus may find no obstacle in our hearts.”) Sometimes the greatest obstacle to opening our hearts to God is our own self-love. Let us have confidence in Mary’s intercession to help us overcome this self-love, “removing all obstacles” to her Son so that we will be prepared to receive Him Christmas morning and share her joy in the redemptive love shining on the Face of Jesus.
Prayer for the Triduum and Feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Longing to See His Face
“Mary, your life with Jesus was one of the purest, most fervent, most perfect emotions of longing and most eager expectation of the Birth of the Divine Child! How great must have been that longing! You were longing to see the Face of God and to be happy in the vision. You were soon really to see the Face of God, the created image of divine perfection, the sight of which rejoices heaven and earth, from which all being derive life and joy; the Face whose features enraptured God from all eternity, the Face for which all ages expectantly yearned. You were to see this Face unveiled, in all the beauty and grace as the face of your own child.
Most just indeed it is, O Holy Mother of God, that we should unite in that ardent desire which you had to see Him, who had been concealed for nine months in your chaste womb; to know the features of this Son of the heavenly Father, who is also your own; to come to that blissful hour of His birth, which will give glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to men of good will. Yes, dear Mother, the time is fast approaching, though not fast enough to satisfy your desires and ours. Make us re-double our attention to the great mystery; complete our preparation by your powerful prayers for us, so that when the solemn hour has come, our Jesus may find no obstacle to His entrance into our hearts. Amen.” (Prayer by Rev. Lawrence Lovasik, S.V.D.)
UPDATE: In your charity, please pray for the soul of Archbishop Edmond Farhat, who died in Rome on December 17. He said this in his homily January 17, 2016 about the Holy Face of Manoppello:
“It is not an object of another time; it is the icon of the eternal face, the face of goodness and of friendship, of mercy and of peace. The face that speaks, that examines, that asks, that awaits a response. It seems to say: ‘Look at me, you who are tired. Come to me and I will give you rest.’…” We fix our gaze on the Holy Face and we will be transformed by God’s mercy. The sign is not an end in itself; the sign is a pointer on the way of the return, the return to the Father.”