Radiant Transformation in Love

Holy Spirit Window in Loreto, Italy

The life of a Christian should be the faithful reproduction of Jesus in their soul — this radiant transformation is the work of love of the Holy Spirit. “Those whom He had foreknown He has also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” (Rom 8:29) He who loves will resemble the thing loved.

St. Cyril of Alexandria wrote:

After Christ had completed his mission on earth, it still remained necessary for us to become sharers in the divine nature of the Word. We had to give up our own life and be so transformed that we would begin to live an entirely new kind of life that would be pleasing to God. This was something we could do only by sharing in the Holy Spirit… He so transforms them that they begin to live a completely new kind of life.  

 St. Paul writes: “But we all with unveiled faces, reflecting as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His very image from glory to glory.” (2 Cor 3:18)

Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit

In his beautiful work  The Sanctifier, Archbishop Luis M. Martinez wrote about how this transformation, or mystical reproduction, of Jesus is brought about in souls. Archbishop Martinez writes: “because God gives a wonderful mark of unity to all His works…a most perfect unity shines forth from them because they are the fruit of wisdom. This divine contrast of unity and variety stamps the works of God with sublime and unutterable beauty.” Jesus is reproduced in the soul of a Christian in the same way in which He was brought into the world — The way is founded in love, caused by love and leads to love. — “Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit… of the Virgin Mary. That is the way Jesus is always conceived. That is the way He is reproduced in souls. He is always the fruit of heaven and earth. Two artisans must concur in the work that is at once God’s masterpiece and humanity’s supreme product: the Holy Spirit and the most holy Virgin Mary. Two sanctifiers are necessary to souls, the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, for they are the only ones who can reproduce Christ.”

Archbishop Martinez explains further – the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Virgin Mary each sanctify in different ways. The first Sanctifier sanctifies us by His essence because He is the love of God, who is infinite sanctity. And Mary’s part is her cooperation as the indispensable instrument in God’s design. “From Mary’s maternal relation to the human body of Christ is derived her relation to His Mystical Body, which is being formed through all the centuries until the end of time, when it will be lifted up in the heavens, beautiful, splendid, complete and glorious.” The action of the Holy Spirit and the cooperation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is profound, necessary, and constant. Mary is the most perfect, pure, and faithful reflection of the Face of God, which makes her the most perfect disciple, and model of virtues to all Christians. The virtues are the means of sanctification; the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Mary, as our mother, has the most efficacious influence in obtaining the gifts and graces for our souls from her Spouse, the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. The Holy Spirit then perfects the soul with the first fruits of eternal glory: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity — so we may more closely resemble Jesus Christ.

Divine Guest of our souls
(photo: Patricia Enk)

This is the work of the Holy Spirit of Love– to sanctify our souls, shining upon us the radiance of His light, transforming us into the image of God. Holy Spirit wants to dwell in us and convert our bodies into His temple, as He did in the Virgin Mary to bring grace, mercy, and peace. “Love is not a passing visitor who pays us a call and then goes away. He establishes in us his permanent dwelling and lives in intimate union with our souls as their eternal Guest.”  (The Sanctifier) As Jesus promised on the last night of His mortal life: “And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to dwell with you forever, the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you shall know Him because He will dwell with you and be in you.” (Jn 14: 16-17) 

 

To Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit

Daughter of the Most High, Mother of God, faithful Spouse of the Holy Spirit — yet also Mary of Nazareth, Joseph’s wife, my mother– hear my prayer for grace, O Full of Grace. Pray your Spouse the Holy Spirit to come upon me — to shelter from all ill, to strengthen me to do what is right, to teach me all truth. Pray him come to me, and abide with me, and be within me a fountain springing up unto eternal life. May he sustain me in sorrow, sanctify me in life, and receive me at the hour of my death. Holy Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the Church, pray for us. 

Excellent EWTN Video of talk by Dr. Scott Hahn: “Hail Holy Queen: Scripture and the Mystery of Mary —

 

 

 

  

 

Take Us By the Hand, O Blessed Virgin Mary!

O Mary, conceived with0ut sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Madonna, Pompeo Battono, 1742

 

Shutterstock photo

“It is first of all necessary to let the Blessed Virgin Mary take one by the hand to contemplate the face of Jesus. Mary gives us eyes and a heart that can contemplate her Son in the Eucharist.”

~ Pope Benedict XVI

 

Mary was “Blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing,” (cf. Eph 1:3) chosen by God from all eternity to be the Mother of the Redeemer. So, ask her to take you by the hand because it is she who leads us to Jesus. Then we may contemplate, together with her, His Holy Face–in His Word, in the Eucharist, and in our neighbor. As the Immaculate Conception, Mary bears in herself the most perfect reflection of the Face of God.  Pope St. John Paul II wrote, “The Blessed Virgin saw shining upon her, as no other creature, the face of the Father, rich in grace and mercy.”

This Advent, let us fix our gaze on Jesus and Mary rather than on the profane things of the world. We keep Mary before our eyes in order to contemplate in her everything that is good and true and beautiful — She is “God’s Mirror.” “She is the proclamation of a merciful God who does not surrender to the sin of his children,” Pope St. John Paul II tells us “in Mary shines forth God’s sublime and surprising tenderness for the entire human race.  In her, humanity regains its former beauty and the divine plan is revealed to be stronger than evil…” In Mary “the Creator has kept the original beauty of creation uncontaminated” so that in the Immaculate Conception, “the Father’s original, wondrous plan of love was reestablished in an even more wondrous way.”

Virgin and Child,1510

 

And in Her Morning

The Virgin Mary cannot enter
my soul for an indwelling. God alone
has sealed this land as secretly His own;
but being mother and implored, she comes
to stand along my eastern sky and be
a drift of sunrise over God and me.

God is a light and genitor of light.
Yet for our weakness and our punishment
He hides Himself in midnights that prevent
all save the least awarenesses of Him.
We strain with dimmed eyes inward and perceive
no stir of what we clamored to believe.
Yet I say: God (if one may jest with God),
Your hiding has not reckoned with Our Lady
who holds my east horizon and whose glow
lights up my inner landscape, high and low.
All my soul’s acres shine and shine with her!
You are discovered, God; awake, rise
out of the dark of Your Divine surprise!
Your own reflection has revealed Your place,
for she is utter light by Your own grace.
And in her light I find You hid within me,
And in her morning I can see Your Face.
~Sr. Miriam of the Holy Spirit, OCD
(Jessica Powers)

Photo: Patricia Enk

Pentecost with Mary, the Mother of the Church

Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit

The Apostles “with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary, the Mother of Jesus.” (Acts 1:14)

As an infant is inseparable from its mother, so the infant Church was inseparable from Mary, the loving Mother of the Church. An infant must be loved and nurtured in order to learn, grow, and mature, taking its first steps while holding tightly to the hands of its mother.

Mary, conceived without sin, was already filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and therefore she is a perfect reflection of the Face of God. So, the Apostles looked to Mary, “Full of Grace,” as their model perfectly formed in the image of God, as they prayed for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

(photo: Patricia Enk)

This is the work of the Holy Spirit of Love– to sanctify our souls, shining upon us the radiance of His light, transforming us into the image of God, as we gaze on God’s Face in prayer.

“All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image, from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.”  (2 Cor. 3:18)

In Mary, the Holy Spirit manifests the Son of the Father…filled with the Holy Spirit she makes the Word of God, Jesus Christ, visible in order to make Him known to us. Like all good mothers, our Mother Mary will obtain all the good gifts that her children will need from her Spouse, the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. The Holy Spirit then perfects the soul with the first fruits of eternal glory: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity — so we may more closely resemble Jesus Christ.

Let us remain “with one accord in prayer” with Mary, as the Apostles did, for it is “through Mary the Holy Spirit begins to bring men, the objects of God’s merciful love, into communion with Christ.” (CCC 725)

Holy Spirit Window in Loreto, Italy.           Photo:Patricia Enk

 

To Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit

Daughter of the Most High, Mother of God, faithful Spouse of the Holy Spirit — yet also Mary of Nazareth, Joseph’s wife, my mother– hear my prayer for grace, O Full of Grace. Pray your Spouse the Holy Spirit to come upon me — to shelter from all ill, to strengthen me to do what is right, to teach me all truth. Pray him come to me, and abide with me, and be within me a fountain springing up unto eternal life. May he sustain me in sorrow, sanctify me in life, and receive me at the hour of my death. Holy Mary, Mother of God, Mother of the Church, pray for us. 

 

 

 

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)

 

 

 

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