Queen Beauty and Mother of Carmel

“How fair you are, O Virgin Mary! Your face is resplendent with grace.” –Carmelite Proper

img_1069Virgin Mary is she who more than any other contemplated God in the human Face of Jesus.  She saw Him as a newborn when, wrapped in swaddling clothes, He was placed in a manger; she saw Him when, just after His death, they took Him down from the Cross, wrapped Him in linen and placed Him in the sepulcher.  Inside her was impressed the image of her martyred Son; but this image was then transfigured in the light of the Resurrection.  Thus, in Mary’s heart, was carried the mystery of the Face of Christ, a mystery of death and glory.  From her we can always learn how to look upon Jesus, with a gaze of love and faith, to recognize in that human countenance, the Face of God.” –Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

 

Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Seeking the Face of Christ through Mary

In the icon of “Queen Beauty and Mother of Carmel,” the Infant Jesus tenderly invites us to look at the face of His Mother, “resplendent with grace.” What makes the Virgin Mary’s face “resplendent with grace?”  It is the light of the Face of Christ – just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, the face of Mary reflects the light of the true sun, Jesus Christ.

Mary is “The glory of Jerusalem, the joy of Israel, the highest honor of our race,” (Judith 15:9) because she sought the face of God, His holy will and pleasure, in all things. Just as it is possible for the moon to shine even in the brightness of day, Mary gives more beauty to the heavens, more glory to God than any other creature on earth.  And when the dark night of faith is upon us and the sun is hidden from our view, Mary is there to enlighten our path and show us the way to her Son, until “In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1: 78-79)

At the present moment, although the world is filled with darkness, we can turn to her for help in seeking His Face and leading souls to Him. Even pebbles on a path on the ground can reflect the light of the moon at night; and so the children of Mary by following her example, “to seek the Face of God in all things,” can guide others through the darkness by reflecting the light of the Face of Christ as does Mary.

It is Jesus Himself who desires that we turn to the face of His Mother. He created her with all the perfection and beauty that would be fitting for the Mother of God.  Her soul, holy, immaculate and unstained by sin, is the perfect mirror in which He reflects His Face. He holds her up to us as the model for all His disciples as He did in Luke’s Gospel:  “While He was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to Him, ‘Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.’” This singular praise of Mary from the woman in the crowd was not enough for her Son.  And so Jesus replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” (Luke 11:27)  Mary is thus thrice blessed, first, in being chosen to be the Mother of God, second, in that Mary heard the word of God and third, because she kept His word in her heart.

Mary holds out to us her Scapular, a sacramental sign of being clothed in her own garment, to place over our shoulders, so that we may imitate her in faith, hope, charity and all the virtues that adorn her soul.  By contemplating the Face of Jesus always, together with Mary, we can do our part in making His Face shine upon our world as well.

Queen Beauty of Carmel
Queen Beauty of Carmel Feast day: July 16th

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

O most beautiful flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, blessed Mother of Christ, Immaculate Virgin, we praise and honor you as our Queen and Mother.

Help us to persevere in constant prayer for the needs of our world and share with you in the work of redemption.  Be with us, Holy Virgin, and guide us on our way, as we journey together in faith, hope and love to your Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

Fatima – The Blessing Fulfilled in Mary

“With Mary’s protection, may we be for our world sentinels of the dawn, contemplating the true Face of Jesus the Saviour, resplendent at Easter. Thus may we rediscover the young and beautiful face of the Church, which shines forth when she is missionary, welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means and rich in love.”–Pope Francis, canonization Mass of Jacinta & Francisco -homily

Pope Francis gave this address to the pilgrims at Fatima at the Rosary Procession and Vigil, teaching us to seek the Face of God with Mary, who, as “no other creature…basked in the light of the Face of God”:  

Pope Francis at Fatima Vigil

Dear Pilgrims to Mary and with Mary!

Thank you for your welcome and for joining me on this pilgrimage of hope and peace. Even now, I want to assure all of you who are united with me, here or elsewhere, that you have a special place in my heart. I feel that Jesus has entrusted you to me (cf. Jn 21:15-17), and I embrace all of you and commend you to Jesus, “especially those most in need” – as Our Lady taught us to pray (Apparition of July, 1917). May she, the loving and solicitous Mother of the needy, obtain for them the Lord’s blessing! On each of the destitute and outcast robbed of the present, on each of the excluded and abandoned denied a future, on each of the orphans and victims of injustice refused a past, may there descend the blessing of God, incarnate in Jesus Christ.

“The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Num 6:24-26).

This blessing was fulfilled in the Virgin Mary. No other creature ever basked in the light of God’s face as did Mary; she in turn gave a human face to the Son of the eternal Father. Now we can contemplate her in the succession of joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious moments of her life, which we revisit in our recitation of the rosary.

With Christ and Mary, we abide in God. Indeed, “if we want to be Christian, we must be Marian; in a word, we have to acknowledge the essential, vital and providential relationship uniting Our Lady to Jesus, a relationship that opens before us the way leading to him” (PAUL VI, Address at the Shine of Our Lady of Bonaria, Cagliari, 24 April 1970). Each time we recite the rosary, in this holy place or anywhere else, the Gospel enters anew into the life of individuals, families, peoples and the entire world.

Pilgrims with Mary… But which Mary? A teacher of the spiritual life, the first to follow Jesus on the “narrow way” of the cross by giving us an example, or a Lady “unapproachable” and impossible to imitate? A woman “blessed because she believed” always and everywhere in God’s words (cf. Lk 1:42.45), or a “plaster statue” from whom we beg favours at little cost? The Virgin Mary of the Gospel, venerated by the Church at prayer, or a Mary of our own making: one who restrains the arm of a vengeful God; one sweeter than Jesus the ruthless judge; one more merciful than the Lamb slain for us?

Happy New Year 2016 – May The Lord Bless and Keep You!

Mary, Mother of God (Fra Angelico)
Mary, Mother of God
(Fra Angelico)

“May the Lord bless and keep you, may He make His Face shine upon you and be merciful to you: May the Lord turn His Countenance toward you and give you His PEACE.” (Num. 6:22-27)

Peace, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has said, is the summit of the six actions of God in this blessing, which are in our favor; “His most sublime gift, in which He turns toward us the splendor of His Face.”

January 1st is the Feast of Mary, Mother of God, who is the Queen of Peace and this is also the World Day of Peace.  Today Pope Francis said, “She is the Mother of Mercy, because she bore in her womb the very Face of Divine Mercy, Jesus, Emanuel, the Expectation of the nations, the “Prince of Peace.” (Is. 9:5)  Jesus has given us His Mother so that we may never be left alone on our pilgrimage through life, especially in times of trouble and uncertainty.

Pope Francis has also said, “Our eyes need to focus on the particular signs God has given us, to see His merciful love first-hand.”  The Holy Father recalled the suffering, violence and death of many innocent people in the previous year, but he also noted the many acts of kindness, love and solidarity that go unnoticed but should not be obscured “by the arrogance of evil.”  The good always wins,” said Pope Francis, “even if at times it can appear weak and hidden.” 

One of the “particular signs God has given us, to see His merciful love first-hand” is the Face of Christ which He offers to all humanity as “the supreme revelation of the Father’s Mercy.”  By contemplating and rejoicing in the splendor of His Face through devotion to the Holy Face we may obtain the peace that the world so desperately needs.

Pope Francis concluded his blessing by appealing to Mary saying, “Send us your blessing on this day consecrated to your honor.  Show us the Face of Jesus your Son, who bestows upon the entire world mercy and peace.” Finally, the Pope concluded by calling on the faithful to pray each morning for God to “shine his face” on us, and invited those in the square to repeat after him: “Today, the Lord makes His Face to shine upon me.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has written, “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.”  “This,” Pope Benedict XVI says, “is the foundation of our Peace, which nothing can take from us.”

+Peace and have a Blessed New Year!

“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 Emeritus Benedict XVI

The Work of the Holy Spirit – restoring God’s Likeness

 

Come Holy Spirit!
Come Holy Spirit!

“Disfigured by sin and death, man remains “in the image of God,” in the image of the Son, but is deprived “of the glory of God, of his likeness.” “… the Son himself will assume that “image” and restore it in the Father’s “likeness” by giving it again its Glory, the Spirit who is “the giver of life.”–CCC705

Mankind has separated itself from the love of the Father, like the prodigal son of the Gospel, man no longer wants to be the image of God, but the image of himself, which is a false image — not who God created us to be; his sons and daughters.  The Holy Spirit restores God’s likeness in us through the merciful face of Jesus.

In the letter, “Misericordiae Vultus” (Merciful Face) Pope Francis invokes the Holy Spirit by praying, “May the Holy Spirit, who guides the steps of believers in co-operating with the work of salvation wrought by Christ, lead the way and support the People of God so that they may contemplate the 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

Pope St. John Paul II who dedicated the millennium to The Holy Face also prayed, ”May the Holy Spirit, which you have granted, bring to maturation your work of salvation, though your Holy Face, which shines forever and ever.”  Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI tells us that the Holy Spirit illuminates the reciprocity between God the Father and Jesus the Son: “Jesus has divine dignity and God has the human face of Jesus.  God shows himself in Jesus and by doing so gives us the truth about ourselves.”


The truth is that we are not God, our own image is a false one and we need the Holy Spirit “to restore his likeness” in us through Jesus, the King of Mercy.  By the mutual gaze of love between the Face of God and the soul of man, God restores his image in our souls.

At the first Pentecost the Holy Spirit manifested as fire.  Jesus said, “I come to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already enkindled.” (Lk 12:49)  The fire of the Holy Spirit blazes, but does not destroy when it burns.  The effect of the fire of the Holy Spirit is to purify, sanctify and transform us, through the Cross, into his image in truth and love and re-animating our souls with the Holy Spirit’s breath of life.

Burn within us, Holy Fire, so that chaste in body and pure of heart, we may desire to see the Face of God.

Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit
Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit

Prayer to Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit

Hail, Mother of Mercy, Mother of God, and Mother of pardon, Mother of hope, and Mother of grace, Mother of holy joy — O Mary!

Hail, happy Virgin Mother, for he who sits at the Father’s right hand and rules over the heavens, earth and sky, enclosed himself in your womb — O Mary!

The Uncreated Father made you, the Holy Spirit overshadowed you, the only begotten Son became man in you: divine was your making — O Mary!

Be our consolation; O Virgin, be our joy; and after this our exile bring us to our heavenly  home — O Mary!

–Salve, Mater Misericordiae