The Choice To Honor God – Omnis Terra!

Basilica of Il Volto Santo in Manoppello, Italy. Photo:Paul Badde/EWTN

Beginning at 0.53 Omnis Terra in Manoppello, Italy on Vaticano

On Sunday,  January 17, at 11 am, the Holy Face Basilica in Manoppello, Italy held the Eucharistic Celebration and solemn blessing  on the occasion of the feast Omnis Terra. In honor of the procession that Pope Innocent III began in 1208, processing the Sacred Veil of the Holy Face in Rome, from Saint Peter’s Basilica to that of Santo Spirito of Sassia.

Omnis Terra, Latin for “All the Earth,” is the name given to the Second Sunday in Ordinary time.,  The Gospel is a revelation of His glory is the cause for all the earth rejoicing, giving praise.

Gospel Jn 1:35-42

John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God.”
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —,
“where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
So they went and saw where Jesus was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
“We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
“You are Simon the son of John;
you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.

Omnis Terra Procession of Pope Innocent II in 1208 carrying “the Veronica” Face of Christ (from “Liber Regulae Sancti Spiritus in Saxia” manuscript 1350)
Archbishop Ganswein, Photo: Daniel Ibanez/EWTN

Homily of Celebrant Archbishop Ganswein – copyright EWTN

Basilica of the Volto Santo

Manoppello, Sunday, January 17, 2021

Dear brothers in the priestly ministry,

dear representatives of the civil authorities,

dear sisters and brothers in the Lord.

“As [John] watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God,’” we heard earlier in the Gospel. We can also say the same words here with John the Evangelist every day in view of the face of Christ in the Volto Santo.

Omnis terra is the name of today’s Sunday in the liturgical calendar, after the Latin words of Psalm 65 at the beginning of this Holy Mass: Omnis terra adoret te, Deus, et psallat tibi! That means in English, “Let all the earth worship you and praise you, o God; may it sing in praise of your name.” We have gathered here today, too, for this ancient praise of God by all the earth, in the Pontifical Basilica of the Volto Santo.

The occasion for this feast day is the memory of the same Sunday of the year 1208, when Pope Innocent III carried this true image of the Lord, which we see and venerate here above the main altar, as humbly as a mendicant monk from the old Basilica of St. Peter in Rome to the sick of the capital, as well as the sick pilgrims from all over Europe, to the nearby Hospital of the Holy Spirit. The most powerful and power-conscious pope of the Middle Ages brought the archetype of the merciful God barefoot to the sick and dying!

Before that, this precious veil icon had been kept hidden for a long time. With this step, the image came out into the open and became publicly known for the first time in the entire Catholic universal Church — on this Sunday in winter, which even then, in January 1208, began with the same words from the psalm as today: omnis terra.

But that Pope Innocent III at that time carried the holy face, together with his canons, not to the scholars and nobles of the city, but to the sick and the poor of Rome, we must especially remember today, January 17, 2021, when the expression omnis terra — “all the earth” — has taken on a startling reality as perhaps never before! For all the world is suddenly threatened by an invisible virus, all continents, all skin colors, nations and religions — truly all the people of this earth, young and old! All the world suddenly fears disease and death together, from Tierra del Fuego to Vladivostok. When was the expression omnis terra ever more timely and burning!

Therefore, it was for me a sacred duty as well as a great joy to come today, despite all the coronavirus obstacles, from Rome to Manoppello, where at present no pilgrims can come because of the pandemic. I had to come to bring the Volto Santo, at least through the medium of the moving images of television, to as many sick and lonely people as possible!

That is why I now also remember with gratitude the day five years ago today when Fr. Carmine Cucinelli invited me and the memorable Archbishop Edmund Farhat from Lebanon to celebrate the divine mysteries with a copy of the Volto Santo in the Church of Santo Spirito in Sassia in Rome on January 17, 2016. For Father Carmine, as rector of the Basilica in Manopello at that time, had come up with the idea of introducing a third annual feast for the veneration of the Volto Santo during the “Jubilee of Mercy” that Pope Francis had proclaimed for the year 2016. And the Sunday omnis terra, in memory of the pioneering initiative of Innocent III in the distant year 1208, was simply the most suitable for this.

But I also remember, as if it were yesterday, how I was able to accompany Pope Benedict XVI on his “private pilgrimage” here on September 1, 2006, when he had decided, despite much resistance, to visit and venerate the Volto Santo in Manoppello as the first Pope in over 400 years, shortly before visiting his Bavarian homeland. And now it seems to me almost like divine providence that at that time he had chosen the same passage from the Gospel of John that we have just heard, in order to put into the following wordshis thoughts on this historic encounterbefore the Cappuchin friars and faithful gathered here with the holy veil:

Veil of the Holy Face of Manoppello, Photo: Daniel Ibanez/EWTN

During my pause for prayer just now, I was thinking of the first two Apostles who, urged by John the Baptist, followed Jesus to the banks of the Jordan River […]. The Evangelist recounts that Jesus turned around and asked them: “What do you seek?” And they answered him, “Rabbi […] where are you staying?” And he said to them, “Come and see.” That very same day, the two who were following him had an unforgettable experience which prompted them to say: “We have found the Messiah.” The One whom a few hours earlier they had thought of as a simple “rabbi” had acquired a very precise identity: the identity of Christ who had been awaited for centuries. But, in fact, what a long journey still lay ahead of those disciples! They could not even imagine how profound the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth could be or how unfathomable, inscrutable, his “Face” would prove, so that even after living with Jesus for three years, Philip, who was one of them, was to hear him say at the Last Supper: “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip?” And then the words that sum up the novelty of Jesus’ revelation: “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”

Thus far Benedict XVI on September 1, 2006.

If we take his word, and this word of the Lord, quite seriously, we see the Father also here, where the Son reveals his essence to us forever, and where we see: He lives – as Savior and Redeemer.

Pope Benedict had not come barefoot like Pope Innocent, but by helicopter from Castel Gandolfo to Manoppello at the invitation of Archbishop Bruno Forte, and I still remember very vividly every moment of that meeting, as well as May 15, 2009, when Benedict XVI visited the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, from which the veil of the Volto Santo — as well as the Shroud of Turin — originates as incomparable news of the resurrection of Christ from the dead. It cannot be otherwise. After the spectacular visit of Pope Paul VI on January 4, 1964, the empty tomb of Christ in Jerusalem has also been visited by Pope John Paul II in March 2000 and Pope Francis in May 2014. Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage to Manoppello on September 1, 2006, on the other hand, can only be compared to the procession through which Pope Innocent III made known the “True Icon,” popularly known as “Veronica,” in Western Christendom more than 800 years ago. Pope Benedict, however, on September 1, 2006, brought the personal and “human face of God” back to the Church and to all the world. He came all alone and not in the entourage of his advisors or the canons of Saint Peter. And he came shyly and reservedly, as is his way, and only for contemplation and prayer. A celebration of the Eucharist or a public blessing with the Volto Santo was not thought of at that time. But then thousands of pilgrims followed him here, who in his footsteps carried the sentence from the Gospel of John around the whole world: “Come and see!”

Church history will record this forever. And for this, the civil authorities of the city of Manoppello already gave him the keys of your City at the Vatican on November 3, 2010, in the presence of Archbishop Bruno Forte. For this I thank you again with all my heart, as well as all the friars of the Capuchin Order and all the citizens of Manoppello, and today I thank you again especially and personally for the precious privilege of celebrating the Holy Eucharist here with you for all the sick and suffering of all the earth, under the merciful gaze of Christ: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world!”

Amen.

Archbishop Georg Gänswein

Prefect of the Papal Household

January 17, 2021

Archbishop Ganswein, Feast of Omnis Terra 2021, Photo: Daniel Ibanez/EWTN

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“For God so loved the world”

The essence of the devotion to the Holy Face is to give honor and glory to God’s Holy Name, and make reparation to God for blasphemy, atheism, idolatry, and the profanation of the Holy Name and the Holy Day of Sunday. Jesus said, “I am in my Father, and my Father is in Me” (John 14:11). The merit of a person lies in his character, but the glory of his reputation rests on his good name. The Holy Name of God expresses the Divinity, and contains all the perfections of the Creator. Those who blaspheme and reject God’s love insult God directly. Because Jesus became man at the Incarnation, it is He who has suffered in His Holy Face all the outrages committed by blasphemers in the name of His Father. God has chosen the most universally understood realities to reach our souls, the most simple and human symbols — the heart and the face. The only perfect offering that can be made to God to atone for these terrible insults and rejection of God is the Holy Face of His Son Jesus, which reflects all the love of His Eucharistic Heart.

We have seen great crowds fill the streets this year for various protests and political demonstrations to honor this cause or that with the religious-like fervor of pagan cults. But few have filled the streets in procession for the honor and glory of Our God and Creator.

 A choice is set before us: The false faces of idol worship or seeking the Face of the one true God. For those who choose idols, we have the warning of the prophets:

“One day they will invoke the Lord, but He will not answer them, and on that day He will hide His Face from them because of the evil of their conduct.”

(Micah 3:4)

But those who choose to contemplate the Face of Christ will be transformed into His Image:

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

(2 Cor 3:18)

Pope Benedict XVI
“Come and see!”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.”

Those who choose God have a reason for all the earth to rejoice!

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. 

If you would like to participate remotely on this beautiful occasion, the celebration on Sunday, January 17 at 11 am in the Basilica Minor of the Holy Face of Manoppello will be live streamed live on the Sanctuary, and may also be viewed at a later time: Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/basilicavoltosanto

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

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.+ Bruno ForteArchbishop of Chieti – Vasto (Italy)

The Face of the Father’s Mercy

Pope St. John Paul II

“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)

 

“This Mercy of God which has a concrete face, the Face of Jesus, the risen Christ.” –Pope Francis

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." -- Pope Francis
“Jesus Christ is the Face of the Father’s Mercy.” — Pope Francis

“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

Holy Face of Jesus of Manoppello (photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

“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!  

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Holy Veil of Manoppello, Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

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.

+ Bruno Forte
Archbishop of Chieti – Vasto (Italy)
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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.

 

 

Never Set Aside the Sacred Humanity of Christ

“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

c. 1510, Dirk Bouts, Carmel of Toledo. It is believed that this is the image of Christ the St. Teresa was praying before when her dramatic conversion occurred.

 

Why is devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus so important? St. Teresa of Jesus, the foundress of the Discalced Carmelites, and Doctor of the Church tells us that when we pray we must be very careful never to set aside the sacred humanity of Jesus Christ. “Many, many times have I perceived this through experience. The Lord told it to me.  I have definitely seen that we must enter by this gate if we desire his sovereign Majesty to show his great secrets. A person should desire no other path, even if he be at the summit of contemplation; on this road he walks safely. This Lord of ours is the one through whom all blessings come to us. He will teach us these things. In beholding his life we find that he is the best example.”

“Blessed is the one who truly loves him and always keeps him near…As often as we think of Christ we should recall the love with which he bestowed on us so many favors, and the great things God showed in giving us a pledge like this of his love; for love begets love. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to waken ourselves to love. For if at some time the Lord should grant us the favor of impressing this love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall carry out our tasks quickly and without much effort.” ~St. Teresa of Avila 

 

The Holy Face of Manoppello- photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

My beloved passing fair,

Love has drawn thy likeness, see,

In my inmost Heart, and there–

Lost or straying unaware–

Thou must seek thyself in me.

 

Well I know that thou shalt find

This thine image in my Heart,–

Pictured to the life, with art

So amazing, that thy mind

Sees thy very counterpart.

 

If by chance thou e’er shalt doubt

Where to turn in search of me,

Seek not all the world about;

Only this can find me out–

Thou must seek myself in thee.

 

In the mansions of thy mind

Is my dwelling-place; and more–

There I wander, unconfined,

Knocking loud if e’er I find

In thy thought a closed door.

 

Search for me without were vain,

Since, when thou hast need of me,

Only call me, and again

To thy side I haste amain;

Thou must seek myself in thee.

–St. Teresa of Jesus

 

St. Teresa of Jesus, Doctor of the Church

“Whoever lives in the presence of so good a friend and excellent a leader as is Jesus Christ can endure all things.  Christ helps us and strengthens us and never fails; he is a true friend. And I see clearly that God desires that if we are going to please him and receive his great favors this must come about through the most sacred humanity of Christ, in whom he takes his delight.”

The Majesty! How victorious! How joyful! Indeed, like one coming forth from a battle where He has gained a great kingdom! And all of that, plus Himself, He desires for you. Well, is it such a big thing that from time to time you turn your eyes to look upon one who gives you so much?”  ~St. Teresa of Jesus, Feast October 15th

 

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, which may also be viewed anytime after the event – 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

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+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).

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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?”