Omnis Terra! – Sing With Joy All the Earth!

Detail from The Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese (1528-1588)

Omnis Terra, Latin for “All the Earth, ” is the name given to the Second Sunday in Ordinary time, when the Gospel of the Wedding at Cana is read.  In the midst of the wedding feast, Mary whispers to her son Jesus, “They have no wine.” At Mary’s words, Jesus then performed his first miracle: “the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee, and so revealed His glory, and His disciples began to believe in Him.” (John 2: 1-11)  The revelation of His glory is the cause for all the earth rejoicing, giving praise to His Name at the wedding feast of the Lamb!

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI gazes on the Holy Face of Manoppello photo: Paul Badde

God has a face and a name. The expression “name of God” means God as He Who is present among men. “His name,” Pope Benedict XVI says, “is the concrete sign of His Existence.” When we praise His Name, we are rejoicing in the splendor of His Face.  Benedict wrote:

 “To rejoice in the splendor of His Face means penetrating the mystery of His Name  made known to us in Jesus, understanding something of His Interior life and of His will, so that we can live according to His plan for humanity. Jesus lets us know the hidden Face of the Father through His human Face; by the gift of the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts.”

That is certainly a reason for all the earth to rejoice, as though at a wedding feast!

Omnis Terra Procession of Pope Innocent II in 1208 carrying “the Veronica” Face of Christ (from “Liber Regulae Sancti Spiritus in Saxia” manuscript 1350)

The “Omnis Terra” (All the Earth) procession in honor of the Holy Face  had its beginning in 1208 when Pope Innocent III processed with the Veil of the Holy Face  from St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to Spirito Santo church and hospital, giving alms to the poor and the sick along the way.  Our Lord’s Holy Face and Holy Name are also honored by a feast and procession at the Basilica Sanctuary of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Italy  on this day, the Second Sunday after Epiphany, inviting “All the Earth” to join them in celebrating Our Lord, who has “revealed His glory” so that we too may believe.

(For more information on Omnis Terra in Manoppello for 2019 see Holy Face of Manoppello blogspot here.) This years celebrants for the Solemn Mass at the Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face will be Cardinal Gerhard Muller, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, and Archbishop Bruno Forte.  To see the Omnis Terra Procession Live Streaming on Youtube on January 20, click (here)

detail of Face of Jesus on the Holy Veil from the precious manuscript “Liber Regulae Sancti Spiritus in Saxia”

Let all the earth worship and praise You, O God; may it sing in praise of Your Name, O Most High. Shout joyfully to the Lord all the earth; sing a psalm in honor of His Name, praise Him with magnificence!  

–Omnis Terra Introit

Holy Veil of Manoppello, photo: Patricia Enk

 

Who Does the Baby Look Like?

Adoration of the Magi – Gentile da Fabiano 1423

When a baby has just been born, the family and friends gather around to welcome the little one, and the first question that is almost always asked is–who does the baby look like? No doubt it was the same with the infant Jesus. Who did He most resemble? The answer, of course, is His Mother. Paradoxically, He resembles her, because she most resembles Him.

God chose Mary from all eternity to be the Mother of the Incarnate Word. She was created pure and perfect–a spotless image of God in her soul–a worthy Mother for the Son of God. Jesus, the only begotten of the Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit, took His human nature from her, while remaining one in the  Trinity.  Pope St. John Paul II reflected upon this mystery of the Incarnation:

“It is the Father’s plan to unite all things in Christ, then the whole of the universe is in some way touched by divine favor with which the Father looks upon Mary and makes her the Mother of His Son.”

As the moon reflects the light of the sun, we can see in Mary’s face the reflection of the face of her Son. If we remain close to Mary, the Mother of God, following her example in humility and virtue, perhaps the face of Jesus will also be recognized in us.

“La Buona Pastora” – “The Good Shepherdess” above the shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello, leading us to her Son. Photo: Paul Badde

“Mary, Mother of the Holy Face, help us to have ‘hands innocent and a heart pure,’ hands illumined by the truth of love and hearts enraptured by divine beauty, that transformed by the encounter with Christ, we may gift ourselves to the poor and the suffering, whose faces reflect the hidden presence of your Son Jesus. Amen.” — Pope Benedict XVI (Excerpt from his prayer in honor of his pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello.)

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

by Raffaella Sanzio

“O pure and holy Virgin, how can I find words to praise your beauty? The highest heavens cannot contain God whom you carried in your womb.

Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” –Divine Office

+++

+Peace and have a Blessed New Year!

The LORD said to Moses:
“Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:
This is how you shall bless the Israelites.
Say to them:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites,
and I will bless them.” (Num 6: 22-27)

 

 

 

From Manoppello With Love

image
The Holy Veil of Manoppello, Italy (photo by Patricia Enk)

“Il Volto Santo of Manopello” The Face of Mercy, Love and Peace!

 

UPDATE: CNA (Catholic News Agency) has recently featured a marvelous article about the Manopello image in which journalist Paul Badde interviews Archbishop Bruno Forte regarding his memories of the historic visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Sanctuary: (click here for article) http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/an-encounter-with-the-manoppello-image-of-the-face-of-christ-95030/

 

“Truly Seeking God” – Benedictines and the Face of Christ

“It is Your Face, O Lord, that I seek.” (Ps 26:8)

St. Benedict
St. Benedict, Feast Day July 11

In the Rule of his Order St. Benedict gives the key to discerning a true vocation in those seeking admittance to the Benedictine Order: “Let us examine whether the novice is truly seeking God.” (Ch. 58, Rule)  Since the Order’s inception, up to this day, the sons and daughters of St. Benedict have taken for their motto “Ora et Labora.” This “Prayer and Work” for many Benedictines is truly seeking the Face of God in the “prayer” of contemplation and the “work” of reparation to the Face of God covered with the blood, wounds, dust and spittle of  blasphemy–to stand, together with the Blessed Mother, before the endless crosses on which the Son of God continues to be crucified.  If there is a common thread among the holy men and women of the Order, it is woven through the veil of the Face of Christ.

But, they will tell you in their own words…

St. Gertrude by Migul Cabrera 1763
St. Gertrude by Miguel Cabrera 1763

St. Gertrude (1256-1302), while making reparation to the Adorable Face of Jesus, wounded and disfigured, said to Him, “Tell me, O Lord, the remedy that can soothe the suffering of Thy Divine Face!” Jesus replied: “If anyone meditates upon my sufferings with tenderness and compassion, his heart will be to Me as a soothing balm for these wounds.” Jesus gave St. Gertrude this promise: “All those who meditate frequently on my Divine Face, attracted by the desires of love, shall receive within them, through My Humanity, a bright ray of My Divinity, which shall enlighten their inmost souls so that they shall reflect the light of My Countenance in a special manner throughout eternity.”

St. Mechtilde (1240-1299) once exclaimed to her sisters, “Let us all, full of holy desire, hasten to venerate the sweetest Countenance of Our Lord, which will in Heaven be our all–all that a glorified soul can desire!” 

Bl. Columba Marmion
Bl. Columba Marmion

Blessed Columba Marmion O.S.B.(1858-1923) writes that our relationship with God hinge upon two things; our walking in the truth of our nature as creatures, who remain always in humble adoration before our Creator and our dignity as children of God.  “Our adoption as children supposes that we act always as loving children towards Our Heavenly Father, constantly seeking His good pleasure: Seek His Face evermore!  This Facies Dei, Face of God, is the smile of His loving approbation.  If you always keep the truth of this twofold relation, you will be more and more fixed in truth and in peace.”  “Look your Heavenly Father in the Face, and show him your soul in truth,” Bl. Marmion counsels, “…do not forget that He is God the Infinite!  The love of the creature, in order to be true, must be the love of adoration; the spirit of fear of the Lord.  If you keep the eye of your soul fixed on God alone, you will receive many graces.”  “It is good sometimes, when alone with God, to stretch out our hands and look at Him in faith showing Him the depths of our soul that His eye may penetrate into those abysses that are hidden in the recesses of the heart.  Then our prayer is pure and very powerful, for the child gazes into the Father’s Face, seeking His Face, that is to say His good pleasure:  “Seek ye the Lord, seek His Face EVERMORE!”

Mother Marie des Douluers, Foundress of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified
Mother Marie des Douluers, Foundress of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified

Mother Marie des Douleurs (1902-1983) Foundress of the Congregation of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified emphasizes the relationship between the Sacred Heart of Jesus and His Holy Face:  “We must discover on this Face the revelation of the secrets of His Heart.” She also points to the Holy Spirit, whose work it is to restore the image of God in our souls: “Devotion to the Holy Face is the particular aspect by which the Holy Spirit makes us learn all we need to know to become the saints that Jesus desires.  This devotion is of such central importance and so vital for us that we cannot live without it!”

Bl. Ildephonsus Cardinal Shuster, O.S.B.
Bl. Ildephonsus Cardinal Shuster, O.S.B.

Blessed Ildephonsus Cardinal Shuster, O.S.B.  (1880-1954) wrote, “The Face of Jesus in Heaven is the cause of joy to the angels, but on earth it is a token of pity for sinners.  We say to the Father Respice in faciem Christi tui, (Ps 83:10) (Look upon the Face of Thy Christ) but let us fix our own gaze on that Face of Jesus, lest we lose sight of it.  As the Eternal Father, when He beholds the Face of Jesus, is touched with compassion for the wretched children of Adam, so let us show a holy reverence for that Sacred Face and for those pure eyes that look on us so tenderly; let us take care that all our actions are worthy of the ineffable sanctity of that Divine regard.”

Last but not least, is the Servant of God, Ildebrando Gregori O.S.B. (1894-1985) founder of the women’s religious congregation the Benedictine Sisters of Reparation of the Holy Face. The devotion to the Holy Face was rooted and imprinted on his Congregation: “The title that sets you apart is Reparation of the Sacred Face of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the story of Jesus’ Passion that manifests itself, in a particular way, in the love which St. Benedict had for that Face. The Face of Jesus which was seen dripping blood, crowned with thorns, spat upon; His eyes were bruised, the broken eyebrows, broken lips. His Face, more beautiful than Paradise, appeared like the face of a leper. So Adorers of the Holy Face, Reparation of his wounds in the contemplation of prayer (Ora), in the service of the needy (Labora)… (adoration of the Face of Christ) is essential to make reparation, to create harmony with Christ Jesus who makes us love what the beloved loves, to want what He wants and rejecting what brings Him pain, injury, suffering.”

This apostle of devotion to the Face of Christ applied the Rule of St. Benedict to a work of   human and spiritual formation for the poorest and most abandoned children, victims of World War II, in whom he saw the suffering face of Jesus.  He later extended that work to include the elderly.  At the time he was Abbot General he met Blessed Mother Maria Pierina de Micheli, of the Daughters of the Immaculate Conception, to whom Our Lord gave the mission of the propagation of the Holy Face Medal.  He became her Spiritual father and director until the time of her death in 1945. Padre Gregori shared with Bl. Mother de Micheli the love, devotion and deep desire to make reparation to the Face of Jesus and to propagate the Holy Face Medal throughout the world.

Servant of God Idlebrando Gregori, OSB
Servant of God Idlebrando Gregori, OSB

 

“I wish that the Lord bless you as He blessed the holy pious women, that He will fill you with His holy Love.  His Blessed Face is your ideal, and will piously torment you with the desire to give Him love and praise, this is the perfect reparation. “–Servant of God Ildebrando Gregori OSB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trinity and the Face of Christ

The importance of Devotion to the Holy Face has been underscored by our last three Popes: St. Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.  But, it was to a hidden, cloistered Carmelite nun in the mid-1800’s that Our Lord first entrusted what He called “The Most Beautiful Work Under the Sun!” It was the impetus for the resurgence of a forgotten devotion that has ultimately resulted in the dedication of the millennium to The Holy Face by St. Pope John Paul II and the emphasis on Jesus Christ, the Face of the Father’s Mercy by Pope Francis for the Jubilee Year of Mercy.  Through the Merciful Face of Christ we may be reconciled with the Father, so that the Holy Spirit may restore God’s image in our souls.

Discalced Carmelite Nun Sr. Marie St. Pierre holding "The Golden Arrow" The three circles representing the Holy Trinity
Discalced Carmelite Nun Sr. Marie St. Pierre holding “The Golden Arrow” The three circles representing the Holy Trinity

Sr. Marie St. Pierre, is best known for Devotion to the Holy Face and “The Golden Arrow” (prayer below) a prayer of reparation for blasphemy–sins against the Face of God. She had many interior visions regarding the Holy Face and the work of reparation, including a sublime conception of the The Holy Trinity and the Holy Face which she tried to express in these words she received from Our Lord:

"Holy Face of Tours"
“Holy Face of Tours”

“Remember, O my soul, the instruction which thy celestial Spouse has given thee today on His adorable Face!  Remember that this Divine Head represents the Father who is from all eternity, that the mouth of this Holy Face is a figure of the Divine Word, engendered by the Father, and that the eyes of this mysterious Face represent the reciprocal love of the Father and the Son; for these eyes have but one and the same light, the same knowledge, producing the same love, which is the Holy Spirit.  In his beautiful silken hair  contemplate the infinitude of the adorable perfections of the Most Holy Trinity in this majestic head, the most precious portion of the Sacred Humanity of thy Saviour; contemplate the image of the unity of God.  This, then, is the adorable and mysterious Face of the Saviour, which blasphemers have the temerity to cover with opprobrium: thus they renew the sufferings of His Passion, by attacking the Divinity of which it is the image.” 

Our Lord told Sr. Marie St. Pierre that she could comfort and console Him by her praises, then He added:

“According to the diligence you will manifest in repairing my image disfigured by blasphemers, so will I have the same care in repairing your soul which has been disfigured by sin.  I will imprint thereon my image, and I will render it as beautiful as when it came forth from the baptismal font… Oh! could you but behold the beauty of My Face!–But your eyes are yet too weak.” 

The beautiful Holy Face of Manoppello photo: Paul Badde
The beautiful Holy Face of Manoppello
photo: Paul Badde

Below are two beautiful prayers of Sr. Marie St. Pierre “The Golden Arrow” praising the Holy Name, which is reparation for blasphemy and also a prayer to ask Our Lord to “reproduce the image of God in our souls.”

THE GOLDEN ARROW

MAY the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and ineffable Name of God, be forever praised, blessed, adored, loved and glorified, in heaven, on earth, and in the hells, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.

Prayer to ask Our Lord to Reproduce the Image of God in Our Souls

I salute You! I adore You and I love you, Oh adorable face of my beloved Jesus, as the noble stamp of The Divinity! Completely surrendering my soul to You, I most humbly beg You to stamp this seal upon us all, so the image of God may once more be reproduced in our souls. Amen.

“By My Holy Face you will work marvels!” –Our Lord to Sr. Marie St. Pierre

Holy Face on The Shroud of Turin
Holy Face on The Shroud of Turin

 

 

 

Consoling Jesus

“Whoever gazes on Me already consoles me.”–Our Lord to Bl. Mother Maria Pierina De Micheli

Volto Santo in Sankt Michael
Volto Santo in St. Michael in Kochel a. See, Germany Photo: Paul Badde

He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Is. 53:2)

Act of Love to The Holy Face

Adorable Face of My Jesus, my only love, my light and my life, grant that I may see no one, except Thee, that I may love Thee alone, that I may live with Thee, of Thee, by Thee and for Thee. Amen.

The Golden Arrow

MAY the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most incomprehensible and ineffable Name of God, be forever praised, blessed, adored, loved and glorified, in heaven, on earth, and in the hells, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Amen.  (In Reparation for blasphemy)

Prayer of St. Therese

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAO Jesus, Who in Thy bitter Passion didst become “the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, “ I venerate Thy Sacred Face whereon once there did shine the beauty and sweetness of the Godhead; but now it has become for me as if it were the face of a leper! Nevertheless, under those disfigured features, I recognize Thy infinite Love and I am consumed with the desire to love Thee and make Thee loved by all men. The tears which well up abundantly in Thy sacred eyes appear to me as so many precious pearls that I love to gather up, in order to purchase souls of poor sinners by means of their infinite value.

O Jesus, Whose adorable Face ravishes my heart, I implore Thee to fix deep within me Thy Divine Image and to set me on fire with Thy Love, that I may be found worthy to come to the contemplation of Thy glorious Face in Heaven. Amen.

"Whoever who gazes upon me already consoles me." --Our Lord t Bl. Mother Pierina De Michelli
“Whoever who gazes upon me already consoles me.” –Our Lord to Bl. Mother Pierina De Michelli

 

The Sixth Station: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus

The meditation below is taken from the meditations “God is Mercy” by Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti for the Way of the Cross led by His Holiness Pope Francis on Good Friday.  The full text for this Way of the Cross may be found by clicking (here).

IMG_0622-1

Sixth Station
Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

V.  Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.

R.  Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (53:2-3)

He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Amidst the confusion of the crowd following Jesus to Calvary, Veronica appears, a woman whose face and life is unknown.  And yet she is a courageous woman, ready to listen to the Spirit and to follow his inspirations.  She is able to recognize the glory of the Son of God in the marred face of Jesus, and to perceive his invitation to her: “All you who pass by, look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow” (Lam 1:12).

Love, which this woman incarnates, leaves us speechless.  Love renders her strong enough to challenge the guards, to overcome the crowd, to draw close to the Lord and perform an act of compassion and faith: stopping the blood from his wounds, drying his tears of pain, contemplating his disfigured face, behind which hides the face of God.

We instinctively try to run away from suffering, because suffering is repugnant to us.  We come across so many faces disfigured by the afflictions of life and too often we turn away.  How can we not see the face of the Lord in the face of the millions of exiles, refugees, and displaced persons who are fleeing in desperation from the horror of war, persecution and dictatorship?  For every one of them, each with a unique face, God reveals himself always as the one who courageously comes to our aid.  Like Veronica, the woman whose face is unknown to us, who lovingly wiped Jesus’ face.

“Your face, o Lord, do I seek” (Ps 27:8).
Help me to see your face in my brothers and sisters
who walk the way of pain and humiliation.
Teach me to dry the tears and blood of those trodden down in every age,
of all those ruthlessly cast aside by a rich and careless society.
Help me to glimpse your face of infinite beauty behind every human face,
even the most abandoned.

All:

Pater noster, qui es in caelis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie;
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris;
et ne nos inducas in tentationem;
sed libera nos a malo.

Quis non posset contristari,
Christi Matrem contemplari
dolentem cum Filio?  

For more about St. Veronica – “What does it mean to be a Veronica?”

Historic Procession of Holy Face in Rome

Rev. Daren J. Zehnie in Roman Pilgrimage of Holy Face photo: Edward Pentin
Rev. Daren J. Zehnle in Roman Pilgrimage of Holy Face photo: Edward Pentin

A historic pilgrimage of the Holy Face has taken place  in Rome, though few were aware of its importance or of the great spiritual significance of the quiet procession by devoted pilgrims carrying a replica of the Holy Face of Manoppello this weekend.

Rev. Daren J. Zehnle of the United States was present for the joyous event and has posted wonderful photos and a moving, first-hand description of the procession through the Door of Mercy in St. Peter’s Basilica to the Pieta, altar of St. Veronica and to the Church of the Holy Spirit for veneration of the Holy Face and the Rosary.  Mass was offered by His Excellency the Most Reverend Georg Ganswein, Prefect of the Papal Household and Secretary to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.  (Fr. Zehnle’s excellent post may be found here.)

"Show us...Your Face, that mirror mystery-laden, of God's infinite mercy."--Pope Benedict XVI
“Show us…Your Face, that mirror mystery-laden, of God’s infinite mercy.”–Pope Benedict XVI

Archbishop Georg Ganswain’s spoke these words in his homily at Spirito Santo Church.  “808 years ago, for the first time, Pope Innocent III  carried in procession the Holy Sudarium of Christ from St. Peter’s to Santo Spirito. It was the holy veil that shows ‘the human Face of God’, which Pope Benedict XVI will never get tired of speaking about; and ‘the living face of the Father’s mercy’ to which Pope Francis has dedicated this Jubilee Year. And also back then, in January of 1208, the Divine Face of God here in this church, was connected to the concrete mercy of men; this church which much later, in 1994, St. John Paul II dedicated to the ‘Divine Mercy,’ in honor of Saint Faustina Kowalska, whose relics we venerate here. The Polish Pope was also a visionary and once more we experience that here today.”

(His homily may be found in its entirety below.  Additional photos and description of the event may also be found here – thanks to Raymond Frost at the Manoppello blogspot. )

Devotion to the Holy Face is the antidote for the ever-increasing evil in the world. The greatest sins are those against God Himself: atheism, blasphemy, the profanation of the Holy Name and the Holy Day of Sunday. The importance of Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, in this Jubilee Year of Mercy cannot be over stressed.  “Lord, God of Hosts, bring us back.  Let Your Face shine on us and we shall be saved!”  (Psalm 80)

Holy Face of Manoppello Photo by Paul Badde "Jesus Christ is the FACE of the Father's Mercy." --Pope Francis
Holy Face of Manoppello
Photo by Paul Badde
“Jesus Christ is the FACE of the Father’s Mercy.”
–Pope Francis

Omnis terra adoret te, Deus, et psallat tibi!” (“Let all the earth adore you, O God and sing psalms to you”) (Psalm 65)

Homily of Archbishop Georg Ganswain at Spirito Santo

Archbishop Ganswain with Holy Face of Manoppello at Spirito Santo in Rome.
Archbishop Ganswain with Holy Face of Manoppello at Spirito Santo in Rome. photo:Paul Badde

Dear sisters and brothers!

Sunday today is called “Omnis Terra” in the words of Psalm 65 that we heard at the beginning of the Mass: “Omnis terra adoret te, Deus, et psallat tibi!” (“Let all the earth adore you, O God and sing psalms to you”). This Sunday was also called this eight hundred years ago ; and even then, as now, in all Catholic churches the Gospel of the wedding at Cana was proclaimed. Since then empires have fallen, swept away like autumn leaves; the Church has seen the succession of ninety popes; violent revolutions and wars have shaken Europe; fatal divisions have torn Christianity. So it seems almost a miracle the tranquility with which, in this Sunday’s liturgy, we sing today as then: Praise the Lord, all you nations!

With this praise, however, today we also remember the fact that here 808 years ago, for the first time, Pope Innocent III  carried in procession the Holy Sudarium of Christ from St. Peter’s to Santo Spirito. It was the holy veil that shows “the human Face of God”, which Pope Benedict XVI will never get tired of speaking about; and “the living Face of the Father’s mercy” to which Pope Francis has dedicated this Jubilee Year. And also back then, in January of 1208, the Divine Face of God here in this church, was connected to the concrete mercy of men; this church which much later, in 1994, St. John Paul II dedicated to the “Divine Mercy”, in honor of Saint Faustina Kowalska, whose relics we venerate here. The Polish Pope was also a visionary and once more we experience that here today.

In fact, 808 years ago, in that very first procession, Pope Innocent III decreed that the holy image was not brought to the nobles of Rome, but to the sick pilgrims and the poor of the city, whose most important abode back then  was this hospital of  Santo Spirito. He also ordered that the papal chaplain, drawing from Peter’s Pence, should distribute three coins to each of the three hundred sick and the thousand poor who were invited to attend the ceremony and who came from all over the city: one for bread, one for wine and the third for  meat. He also connected substantial indulgences to visiting the “true image” and for participating in its procession.

In fact it was an anticipation of the Holy Year, which only later, in 1300, was introduced to Rome by Boniface VIII. This all began right here!

From that time to the present modern age processions and expositions of the Holy veil have never ended. Soon there were countless pilgrims to Rome who wanted to contemplate the Face of God. Later, it was in one of these processions that Dante learned to know the Face of God. It is the Face before which he ends the “cosmic excursion” of his Divine Comedy, as Pope Benedict XVI said ten years ago, when he presented his encyclical Deus Caritas Est. It is the Face of the love that “moves the sun and the other stars”, as Dante wrote in the best known passage in Italian literature.

It is the love of God who rejoices in us as “the bridegroom to the bride,” as we have just heard in the words from the prophet Isaiah; and the strength of the Holy Spirit of whose various gifts St. Paul has once again made us aware in this church of Santo Spirito. And yet, nowhere else does this Spirit speaks more clearly and with more evidence as in the silent Face of Christ, before whom we are gathered here today.

Because “this is the vocation and the joy of every baptized person: to bring and give Jesus to others”, as Pope Francis said on January 3. And this is exactly what today is given to us – to become witnesses, in the moment when the good Capuchin friars of Manoppello here “bring and give Jesus”, in whose Face God himself shows his Face.

In conclusion I would add just one thing on the Gospel of the wedding at Cana, about which so many instructive things have been said: who, in fact, could still wonder that Jesus worked his first public miracle exactly in favor of marriage and the family which are in such danger today that Pope Francis has dedicated synods to each of these! Indeed, in this time of Christmas in which we are still, we can understand perfectly that first miracle as a necessary extension of the mystery of the incarnation of God. For it is only within a family that we become human! With a mother and a father and – if we are lucky – with brothers and sisters. For this reason Christian artists have always portrayed the Face of Jesus referring to his mother’s, and vice versa. Because if God is the Father of Jesus, His Face should  and can only look like hers. And it is this most ancient Face that today in an almost miraculous way has returned to  Santo Spirito in Sassia, that Face which seems to be almost identical to the Face of the Divine Mercy which has been venerated here for more than two decades.

It is a copy of that ancient original that Pope Innocent III showed the pilgrims and which for four hundred years was kept in Abruzzo, on the Adriatic, in an outlying area of Italy, which today for the first time has been brought back to where its public worship began. From here, countless copies brought all over the world the true Face of God that Christians knew. Precisely in this lies the deeper meaning of this moment. Before coming to Rome, the Holy Veil was kept in Constantinople, earlier in Edessa and even before in Jerusalem. It is not possible, in fact, that this Face could be the property, could be the treasure of anyone, not even of the Pope. It is the signature of Christians. Only we know that God has a Face – how and who He is. For this reason, the Face of Christ is the first, the most noble and most precious treasure of all Christendom, even more: of all the earth. Omnis Terra! Before this Face we ought to open ourselves again and again. Always as pilgrims; always to the outlying areas; and always having before our eyes one goal: that moment when we will be before him face to Face.

translated from the original Italian 

 

St. Teresa of Avila – A gaze of faith fixed on Jesus

St. Teresa of Avila Icon by Patricia Enk
St. Teresa of Avila, Feast Day Oct. 15th Icon by Patricia Enk

“It is the Church’s task to reflect the light of Christ in every historical period, to make His Face shine also before the generations of the new millennium.  Our witness, however, would be hopelessly inadequate if we ourselves had not first contemplated His Face.”

–Pope St. John Paul II

Contemplation is a gaze of faith fixed on Jesus in silent, loving, attentiveness. It is a gift and a grace from God. Theologians have written volumes about what has been called by the Catechism of the Catholic Church “the simplest expression of the mystery of prayer,” yet when the Catholic Church wants to teach anyone about contemplative prayer it invariably directs them to St. Teresa de Jesus, Doctor of the Church and Foundress of the Discalced Carmelite Order.  St. Teresa is a “down-to-earth” sort of saint who can explain prayer to us in the most understandable terms.  “Contemplative prayer” says Teresa, “in my opinion is nothing more than a close sharing between friends, it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.”

Image of the Holy Face of Jesus that captivated St. Teresa
Image of the Holy Face of Jesus that captivated St. Teresa

St. Teresa suffered for years as a religious from an inability to pray, so she gives some solid advice to those who struggle as they seek the Face of God in prayer: “Never set aside the Sacred Humanity of Christ.” We cannot come to the Father except through Him.  Intimacy with Jesus draws us into the life of the Trinity. “If we can, we should occupy ourselves in looking at Him Who is looking at us; keep Him company; talk with Him; pray to Him; humble ourselves before Him; have our delight in Him.”  St. Teresa complained that she didn’t have much of an imagination, so she found it helpful to have an image of Christ to look at as she prayed, especially an image of Jesus in His Passion. “Speak with Him as with a Father, a Brother, a Lord and a Spouse–and, sometimes in one way and sometimes in another.  He will teach you what you must do to please Him… Remember how important it is for you to have understood this truth–that the Lord is within us and that we should be there with Him.”

He is only waiting for us to look at Him!

Statue of Jesus Scourged St. Teresa's moment of conversion occurred while praying before this image.
Statue of Jesus Scourged
St. Teresa’s moment of conversion occurred while praying before this image.

 

Feb. 9th, Day 2 – Holy Face Novena

image-13“All those who attracted by my love, and venerating my countenance, shall receive, by virtue  of my humanity, a brilliant and vivid impression of my divinity.  This splendor shall enlighten the depths of their souls, so that in eternal glory the celestial court shall marvel at the marked likeness of their features with my divine countenance.” (Our Lord to St. Gertrude)

 Alpha-Omega Holy Face of Jesus Novena Prayers and Consecration – Day 2

Daily Preparatory Prayer

(to be said each day as you console the Holy Face)

O Most Holy and Blessed Trinity, through the intercession of Holy Mary, whose soul was pierced through by a sword of sorrow at the sight of the passion of her Divine Son, we ask your help in making a perfect Novena of reparation with Jesus, united with His sorrows, love and total abandonment.

We now implore all the Angels and Saints to intercede for us as we pray this Holy Novena to the Most Holy Face of Jesus and for the glory of the most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Second Day

Psalm 51: 5-6

My offenses truly I know them; My sin is always before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned; What is evil in your sight I have done.

Most Holy Face of Jesus, we are truly sorry that we have hurt you so much by constantly doing what is wrong; and for all the good works we have failed to do.  Immaculate Heart of Mary, Saint Joseph, intercede for us, help us to console the Most Holy Face of Jesus.  Pray that we may share in the tremendous love Thou hast for one another, and for the most Holy and Blessed Trinity.  Amen.

Through the merits of your precious blood and your Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, …Pardon and mercy.

Prayer to The Holy Spirit

Come Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit

Come, Holy Spirit, Sanctifier, all powerful God of love, Thou who didst fill the Virgin Mary with grace, Thou who didst wonderfully transform the hearts of the apostles, Thou who didst endow all Thy martyrs with a miraculous heroism, come and sanctify us, illumine our minds, strengthen our wills, purify our consciences, rectify our judgments, set our hearts on fire and preserve us from the misfortune of resisting Thine inspirations.  We consecrate to Thee our understanding, our heart and our will, our whole being for time and for eternity.  May our understanding be always submissive to Thy heavenly inspirations and to the teachings of Thy Holy Catholic Church, of which Thou art the infallible guide; may our heart be ever inflamed with love of God and neighbor; may our will be ever conformed to the divine will, and may our whole life be a faithful imitation of the life and virtues of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and Thee be honor and glory forever.  Amen.

Pray one (1) Our Father, three (3) Hail Mary’s, one (1) Glory Be.

O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (3 times)

“O God, Who did constitute Your only begotten Son the Savior of mankind, and did command that He should be called JESUS; grant in Your kindness that our heart’s joy in Heaven may be the Face of Him Whose Holy Name we venerate on earth.” Amen. — Blessed Mother Pierina De Michelli