Happy New Year 2017! “May the Lord Bless and Keep You…”

Christ Blessing by Hans Memling
Christ Blessing by Hans Memling

“May the LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be merciful to you!
The LORD turn His Countenance towards you and
give you peace!“–Num 6:22-27

Peace is the fruit of devotion to the Face of Christ; it is, in fact, the greatest gift of God. Devotion to the Holy Face is not narrow; it is not limited to prayers or venerating images of the Face of Jesus.  Although these things are good in themselves and a means of orienting ourselves toward the Face of God, they are not enough. Devotion to the Holy Face is as high and as wide as the Cross of Christ–extending to each person made in the image and likeness of God and respecting their dignity. Pope Francis wrote in his message for the World Day of Peace,

“All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers.  In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to building nonviolent communities that care for our common home. Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an artisan of peace”.

We can become an “artisan of peace” by turning toward the Face of God in prayer, especially before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, from which we draw the strength to love our neighbor, respecting the Face of Jesus within them, even when it is marred by sin–or what St. Teresa of Calcutta called “the distressing disguise of Jesus.”

IMG_1070“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

Begin the year by recalling God’s goodness in the maternal face of Mary, in the maternal face of the Church, in the faces of our own mothers, protects us from the corrosive disease of being “spiritual orphans”.  –Pope Francis Jan. 1, 2017

 

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 Mother of God – Her face is resplendent with grace

“How fair you are, O Virgin Mary, Your face is resplendent with grace.”
(from Carmelite Proper)

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Love your mother!

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

January 1st is the Feast of Mary, Mother of God.  We are reminded that God the Father chose Mary from all eternity to be the Mother of His Son, Jesus. St. Pope John Paul II reflected upon this mystery of the Incarnation: “If 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.” Mary was created pure and perfect, without any stain of sin.  Jesus loves His Mother above all creatures.  She shared in His suffering and ignominious death on the Cross, from which He gave her to John and to each of us as our Mother.  As the moon reflects the light of the sun, we can see in her face the reflection of the face of her Son, who is God.

There are some who reject this most precious gift of His own Mother.  They slander, mock and revile her, just as they did her Son.  Below is a prayer of reparation for blasphemy against the Mother of God–if you would like to send her a kiss instead of insult, please pray it.

An Act of Reparation for Blasphemies against the Blessed Virgin Mary

Most glorious Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and our Mother, turn thine eyes in pity upon us, miserable sinners; we are sore afflicted by the many evils that surround us in this life, but especially do we feel our hearts break within us upon hearing the dreadful insults and blasphemies uttered against thee, O Virgin Immaculate, to which we are so frequently constrained to listen.  O how these impious sayings offend the infinite Majesty of God and of His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ!  How they provoke His indignation and give us cause to fear the terrible effects of His vengeance!  Would that the sacrifice of our lives might avail to put an end to such outrages and blasphemies; were it so, how gladly we should make it, for we desire, O most holy Mother, to love thee and to honor thee with all our hearts, since this is the will of God.  And just because we love thee, we will do all in our power to make thee honored and loved by all men  In the meantime, do thou, our merciful Mother, the supreme comforter of the afflicted, accept this our act of reparation which we offer thee for ourselves and for all our families, as well as for all who impiously blaspheme thee, not knowing what they say.  Do thou obtain for them from Almighty God the grace of conversion, and thus render more manifest and more glorious thy kindness, thy power and thy great mercy.  May they join with us in proclaiming thee “Blessed Among Women,” the Immaculate Virgin and most compassionate Mother of God.

Hail Mary (three times)

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Our Lady of Czestochowa, with slash marks from the sword of a Hussite raider.