Peace is Within Our Reach – Contemplating the Face of Christ with Mary

Dear Readers,  

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has asked the faithful to join him on May 1st in praying the rosary for peace, especially in Syria, and to pray the rosary each day in May with peace as the intention.  So, for the beautiful month of May, dedicated to Our Mother Mary, I hope you will not mind this re-post from Oct. 7. 2017, “To Bring Peace to the World.”  Please join in the Holy Father’s intention in praying the Rosary…peace is within our reach!

(Please include in your rosary intentions: “Protect Ireland from abortion” Peace in the womb)

                        “To Bring Peace to the World”

“Do not be afraid, I will not harm you.  I come from heaven…Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all sufferings He wills to send you, as an act of reparation for the conversion of sinners?  Then you are going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.” –The words of Our Lady to the three shepherd children of Fatima.

One hundred years ago, on May 13th, 1917, the Blessed Mother appeared to three children in Portugal with a message from Heaven for the world.  She requested that the children, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, come on the 13th of the month for the next six months. Our Lady told the children that Jesus wanted to use the children to make His mother known and loved, and to establish devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary throughout the world.  In each apparition, the Blessed Mother asked that the Rosary be prayed every day “to bring peace to the world.” In her last visit on October 13th, 1917, she told the children, “I am the Lady of the Rosary.”

“To bring peace to the world” is no little thing.  The world is filled with division, violence, and death.  It would take a miracle of God to bring peace from the chaos that surrounds us.  God has always willed to show forth His power and glory through the smallest and weakest.  He has sent his own Mother to earth with a delicate Rosary in her hands as an unlikely but powerful weapon against evil, if only we co-operate with His Divine Plan by praying it.  It is not a vain repetition of words, but the contemplation of the Face of Christ through the eyes of His Mother; and therein lies its power.

Contemplating the Face of Christ with Mary

Pope St. John Paul II

When he placed the New Millennium under “the Radiant sign of the Face of Christ” Pope St. John Paul II wrote:

“To contemplate the Face of Christ, and to contemplate it with Mary, is the ‘program’ which I have set before the Church at the dawn of the third millennium…It is the Church’s task to reflect the light of Christ in every historical period, to make His Face shine also before new generations of the new millennium. Our witness, however, would be hopelessly inadequate if we ourselves had not first contemplated His Face.” 

The Rosary is a traditional Christian prayer directed to the contemplation of Christ’s Face. “Without contemplation, the Rosary is a body without a soul,” says Pope St. John Paul II, “and runs the risk of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas, in violation of the admonition of Christ.”

Virgin and Child,1510

Contemplation is a gift, a grace, from God. It is a communion in which God transforms a soul into His likeness. To put it more simply, as St. Teresa of Jesus says, contemplation is “a close sharing between friends…taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.”  Contemplation is not something beyond our reach however–we have an incomparable model in Mary; the eyes of her heart were always turned toward His Face. To dispose our souls to receive this great gift of God we need only reach for a Rosary and pray it with humility, listening attentively in the Spirit together with Mary, in silent love–that veil of mystery–to the Father’s voice. When we contemplate the scenes or mysteries of the Rosary in union with Mary, the Rosary becomes an unceasing praise of God; a way to learn from her about her son, Jesus, to discover His secrets and understand His message for us.

To recite the Rosary, which can be called a compendium of the Gospel, Pope St. John Paul II says, “is to contemplate the Face of Christ in union with, and at the school of, His Most Holy Mother…Against the background of the words of the Ave Maria the principal events of the life of Jesus Christ pass before the eyes of the soul. They take shape in the complete seriesIMG_0915-1 of the joyful, [luminous,] sorrowful and glorious mysteries, and they put us in living communion with Jesus through–we might say through the heart of his Mother…The Rosary belongs among the finest and most praiseworthy traditions of Christian contemplation…To look upon the Face of Christ, to recognize its mystery amid the daily events and sufferings of His human life, and then to grasp the divine splendor definitively revealed in the Risen Lord, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father; this is the task of every follower of Christ and therefore the task of each one of us. In contemplating Christ’s Face we become open to receiving the mystery of Trinitarian life, experiencing ever anew the love of the Father and delighting in the joy of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul’s words can then be applied to us ‘Beholding the glory of the Lord, we are being changed into His likeness, from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.’” (Rosarium Virginus Mariae) 

"The contemplation of Christ's Face cannot stop at the image of the Crucified One. He is the Risen One!"~St. Pope John Paul II
“The contemplation of Christ’s Face cannot stop at the image of the Crucified One. He is the Risen One!”~ Pope St. John Paul II, ( Holy Face of Manoppello – the Sudarium of Christ, Photo: Patricia Enk)

By keeping our eyes fixed on the Face of Jesus as we pray the Rosary, together with Mary, through her maternal intercession, we may obtain great victories through the heart of her Son Jesus, who obtained for all mankind the greatest victory over sin and death by His Resurrection.

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“I dare to summon the whole Church bravely to cross this new threshold, to put into the deep…so that now as in the past the great engagement of the Gospel and culture may show to the world ‘the glory of God on the Face of Christ’ (2 Cor 4:6). May the Lord bless all those who work for this aim.”  ~Pope St. John Paul II

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

Pope Francis – Misericordiae Vultus (Merciful Face) Jubilee Year

Pass through the Door of Mercy

“Whoever refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of my justice.” –Our Lord to St. Faustina, Divine Mercy in my Soul (1146)

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

On April 11th, Divine Mercy Sunday of 2015, Pope Francis gave a great gift to all the people of the world: Misericordiae Vultus (Merciful Face).  The first lines of the document declaring an “Extraordinary Year of Mercy” are both profound and powerful, Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy.  These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian Faith.” In this beautiful letter (which can be read here) Pope Francis, the servant of the servants of God, extends to all who read it “Grace, Mercy and Peace.”

"The Holy Door" of St. Peter's Basilica
“The Holy Door” of St. Peter’s Basilica

The Holy Year will open on December 8, 2015, The Solemnity of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, highlighting God’s greatest mercy in the history of mankind. “When faced with the gravity of sin, God responds with the fullness of mercy” by choosing Mary to be the Mother of the Redeemer. The “Holy Doors” of Mercy will be opened beginning in Rome and then in Cathedrals and Co-Cathedrals throughout the world.  The Holy Doors “will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instils hope.”  The jubilee will close with the liturgical Solemnity of Christ the King, “the living face of God’s mercy” on the 20th of November 2016.  “On that day, as we seal the Holy Door, we shall be filled, above all with a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving to the Most Holy Trinity for having granted us an extraordinary time of grace.”

Come Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit

In the letter 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.”  This prayer is an echo of the words of Pope St. John Paul II who 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.”  and of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who said, “The Face of Christ is the supreme revelation of Christ’s mercy.” 

During this Jubilee Year of Mercy Pope Francis wants us to “Keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and his merciful gaze, that we may experience the love of the Most Holy Trinity.”  He calls us to be merciful to others and reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as a way of awakening our conscience and enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel so that “we become merciful just as our heavenly Father is merciful.” (Lk 6:36)

“Pilgrimage has a special place in the Holy Year because it represents the journey each of us makes in life.”  Pope Francis tells us that Jesus shows us the steps of the pilgrimage to attain out goal: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.  For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Lk 6:37-38) Pope Francis reminds us that Jesus asks us to “forgive and give.” “To be instruments of mercy because it was we who first received mercy from God.”

The season of Lent for the Jubilee Year will be a time to meditate on Sacred Scripture “to help rediscover the merciful Face of the Father.”  The Pope cites (Hos 11:5) speaking of the unfaithful people of God who deserved a just punishment and anger, in which the prophets speech “reveals the true face of God:”  “How can I give you up, O Ephraim!  How can I hand you over, O Israel!  How can I make you like Admah!  How can I treat you like Zeboilim!  My heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender.  I will not execute my fierce anger, I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come to destroy.”  “Gods anger lasts but a moment, His mercy forever.”

The Holy Father also turns his gaze to the face of Mary, Mother of Mercy and our Mother, “May the sweetness of her countenance watch over us in this Holy Year, so that all of us may rediscover the joy of God’s tenderness.” Pope Francis asks us to address our Merciful Mother in the words of the Salve Regina (Hail, Holy Queen), “a prayer ever ancient and ever new, so that she may never tire of turning her merciful eyes toward us, and make us worthy to contemplate the face of mercy, her Son, Jesus.”

Sorrowful Mother
Sorrowful Mother

The primary task of the Church, Pope Francis urges us,  is to be “a herald of mercy,” “especially at a moment full of great hopes and signs of contradiction, is to introduce everyone to the great mystery of God’s mercy by contemplation of the Face of Christ.”

Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, "the living Face of God's Mercy."--Pope Francis
Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, “the living Face of God’s Mercy.”–Pope Francis

 

The Salve Regina or “Hail, Holy Queen”

Queen Beauty of Carmel
Queen Beauty of Carmel

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears! Turn, then, O most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

 

 

 

 

“The Face of Christ: …the supreme revelation of Christ’s Mercy.”

“The Face of Christ is the supreme revelation of Christ’s mercy.”

–Pope Benedict XVI

Divine Mercy Jesus, I trust in You!
Divine Mercy
Jesus, I trust in You!

Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, although differing in personality and charism, all have something in common, if we connect the pontifical dots… and the dots are: Mercy, the Face of God and Peace.

Beginning with Pope St. John Paul II, who established Divine Mercy Sunday, canonized St. Faustina, the Saint of Divine Mercy and wrote in an encyclical: “The Message of Divine Mercy has always been near and dear to me… which I took with me to the See of Peter and which in a sense, forms the image of this Pontificate.”

The message of Divine Mercy to the world began in 1931, when Our Lord appeared to a Polish nun, St. Faustina, in a vision.  She saw Jesus clothed in a white garment with His right hand raised in blessing.  His left was touching His garment in the area of His Heart, from where two large rays came forth, one red and the other pale. Jesus said to her:

Paint an image according to the pattern you see with the signature: Jesus I trust in You.  I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish.  I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death.  I Myself will defend it as My own glory. (Diary, 47, 48) I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy.  That vessel is this image with the signature: “Jesus, I trust in You” (327) I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and [then] throughout the world.

At the request of her spiritual director, St. Faustina asked the Lord about the meaning of the rays in the Image.  She heard these words in reply:

Divine Mercy in the waters of Baptism
Divine Mercy in the waters of Baptism

The two rays denote Blood and Water.  The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous.  The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls.  These two rays issued forth from the depths of My tender mercy when my agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. …Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him (299)

The image represents the graces of Divine Mercy poured out upon the world, especially through Baptism and the Eucharist.

Good Friday, the day on which Jesus died and “Blood and Water poured forth for souls” begins the first day of the Divine Mercy Novena, which ends on Divine Mercy Sunday, the second Sunday in Easter.  (The novena can be found here: http://thedivinemercy.org/message/devotions/novena.php)

Pope St. John Paul II died on April 2nd, the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday in 2002. Pope Benedict XVI recalled the words of Pope St. John Paul II at the dedication of the Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow, Poland: “Outside the mercy of God there is no other source of hope for human beings.” Pope Benedict said, “His message, like St. Faustina’s, leads back to the face of Christ, the supreme revelation of God’s mercy. Constantly contemplating that face: This is the legacy that he has left us, which we welcome with joy and make our own.”

Pope Benedict XVI did indeed make the message of Divine Mercy his own, connecting it to devotion to the Holy Face.  He spoke again and again of the Holy Face of Jesus, “that mirror, mystery-laden of God’s infinite Mercy.”

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

Continuing to “connect the dots,”  Pope Francis, on Divine Mercy Sunday 2013 said:

“Each one of us is invited to recognize in the fragile human being The Face of The Lord, who in human flesh, experienced the indifference and loneliness to which we often condemn the poorest, either in the developing nations or in the developed societies. Each child that is unborn, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, bears the Face of Jesus Christ, bear the Face of The Lord, who even before he was born, and then soon as he was born experienced the rejection of the world. And also each old person and – I spoke of the child, let us speak of the elderly, even if infirm or at the end of his days, bears the Face of Christ. They cannot be discarded, as the “culture of waste proposes! They cannot be discarded!”

Pope Francis recently made the joyful announcement of a special Holy Year of Mercy, again relating the message of Mercy to the Face of God:

“Dear brothers and sisters, I have often thought about how the Church might make clear its mission of being a witness to mercy.  It is a journey that begins with a spiritual conversion.  For this reason, I have decided to call an extraordinary Jubilee that is to have the mercy of God at its center.  It shall be a Holy Year of Mercy.  We want to live this Year in the light of the Lord’s words: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (cf. Lk 6:36)

This Holy Year will begin on this coming Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and will end on November 20, 2016, the Sunday dedicated to Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe — and living face of the Father’s mercy.”

Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

When the world turns to the merciful and glorious Face of God there will be peace, as Pope St. John Paul said in his prayer to the Holy Face:

“Holy Face, which looks at us and searches for us, kind and merciful, You who call us to conversion and invite us for the fullness of love, we adore and bless you.  In Your luminous Face, we learn to love and to be loved, to find freedom and reconciliation, to promote peace, which radiates from you and leads to you.” 

In Pope Benedict XVI’s homily on the World Day of Peace in 2013, he said that peace is “His [God’s] most sublime gift, in which He turns toward us the splendor of His Face.”

Come Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit

Let us pray that the fruit of the upcoming “Holy Year of Mercy” announced by Pope Francis will be peace, not as the world gives, but by the gift of The Holy Spirit poured into our hearts.”  This, Pope Benedict XVI said, is the foundation of our peace, which nothing can take from us.” 

“May the Lord bless and keep you; may He make His Face shine upon you and be merciful to you; may He turn His countenance toward you and grant you His PEACE!”

Peace! Holy Face of Manoppello, Italy Photo: Paul Badde
Peace! Holy Face of Manoppello, Italy Photo: Paul Badde