Vocal prayer… must be accompanied by reflection. A prayer in which a person is not aware of Whom he is speaking to, what he is asking, who it is who is asking and of Whom, I don’t call prayer — however much the lips may move.St. Teresa of Avila
St. Teresa of Avila was well aware of our human frailty. She experienced it herself in many years of empty prayer before her conversion experience which was before an image of the suffering Face of Jesus.
We are not angels. We cannot see the Face of God in this life, so we need help to remember to whom we are speaking when we pray. St. Teresa wrote, “When we pray we must be careful never to set aside the sacred humanity of Jesus Christ.” Therefore, following her example, it is good to have an image of the Face of Christ before us when we pray as she did, to see with our eyes what Jesus suffered for our sake.
Whoever lives in the presence of so good a friend and excellent 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 Avila, feast day October 15th
This is also a reminder of why images of the Face of Jesus are so precious, and to be treated with so much reverence and love. In particular, the image “not made by human hands” — the Holy Face of Manoppello — is a great gift from God to all of humanity, so we may fix our eyes upon Him and be filled with His blessings.
In the photo above, hiding behind the Holy Face Veil, is a priest who has been the custodian of the Face of Christ for sixteen years, the rector of the Shrine, Padre Carmine Cucinelli. It is no little thing to be its custodian, like St. Joseph, as portrayed holding the relic of the Face of Jesus in the beautiful icon at the foot of the altar. The icon, a parting gift to Padre Cucinelli, was written by Sr. Blandina Schloemer, whose life’s work and devotion has been the Holy Face. Padre Cucinelli will be taking up a new post at the Capuchin Monastery of Giulianova — on the road which leads to the Holy House of Loreto, north of Manoppello, along the Adriatic. The Capuchins there take care of a sanctuary, where the Madonna dello Splendore appeared over 450 years ago. May God bless and reward him for his kindness to the pilgrims, who travelled to see the Holy Veil of Manoppello, and for making the “Il Volto Santo” known and loved throughout the world.