God’s Mirror – The Immaculate Conception

Immaculate Conception by Bartolome Esteban Murillo
Immaculate Conception by Bartolome Esteban Murillo

“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.”

Pope Francis has chosen December 8th, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, as the opening of the Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy, “because of its rich meaning.” “After the sin of Adam and Eve, God did not wish to leave humanity alone in the throes of evil.  So he turned his gaze to Mary, holy and immaculate in love (cf. Eph 1:4), choosing her to be the Mother of man’s Redeemer.  When faced with the gravity of sin, God responds with the fullness of mercy.” Pope Francis (Face of Mercy)

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.  It is she who leads us to Jesus, so that we may contemplate, together with her, the Face of Mercy.  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.”

As the Jubilee Year of Mercy begins, let us fix our gaze on 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 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.”

A Little Litany by G.K.Chesterton

Madonna and Child from the Robert Lehman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art
“Our Lady, in whose face – more than any other creature – we can recognize the features of the Incarnate Word.” –Pope Benedict XVI Madonna and Child from the Robert Lehman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art

When God turned back eternity and was young,
Ancient of Days, grown little for your mirth
(As under the low arch the land is bright)
Peered through you, gate of heaven – and saw the earth.

Or shutting out his shining skies awhile
Built you about him for a house of gold
To see in pictured walls his storied world
Return upon him as a tale is told.

Or found his mirror there; the only glass
That would not break with that unbearable light
Till in a corner of the high dark house
God looked on God, as ghosts meet in the night.

Star of his morning; that unfallen star
In the strange starry overturn of space
When earth and sky changed places for an hour
And heaven looked upwards in a human face.

Or young on your strong knees and lifted up
Wisdom cried out, whose voice is in the street,
And more than twilight of twiformed cherubim
Made of his throne indeed a mercy-seat.

Or risen from play at your pale raiment’s hem
God, grown adventurous from all time’s repose,
Of your tall body climbed the ivory tower
And kissed upon your mouth the mystic rose.

 

St. Faustina and “The Door of Mercy”

St. Faustina "Apostle of Mercy"
St. Faustina “Apostle of Mercy”

St. Faustina Kowalska, “The Apostle of Mercy,” whose feast day is October 5th, was known as a mystic and visionary.  Her diary Divine Mercy in My Soul is a record of the  journey of her soul. Our Lord granted St. Faustina a deep understanding of the love and mercy of God which she was to share with the world.  Because Pope Francis has declared a “Jubilee Year of Mercy” beginning December 8, 2015, it would be beneficial to read St. Faustina’s message of mercy to better understand the significance of the upcoming holy year.

Our Lord spoke strongly to St. Faustina about putting mercy into action:

“I demand  from you deeds of mercy which are to arise out of love for me.  You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere.  You must not shrink from this or try to excuse yourself from it.” (742)

Pope Francis exhorts us in the Jubilee Year “to introduce everyone to the great mystery of God’s mercy by contemplating the face of Christ.” Practicing the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy will also enable us to fulfill the Lord’s command  to let your light “shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.” (Mt. 5:16) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has said, “The Face of Christ is the supreme revelation of Christ’s Mercy.”

“I have ever before my eyes His sorrowful Face, abused and disfigured.  His divine Heart pierced by our sins and especially by the ingratitude of chosen souls.” (487) –St. Faustina

"O King of Glory, though You hide Your beauty, yet the eye of my soul rends the veil" -- St Faustina Veil of Manoppello in Italy. Photo: Paul Badde
“O King of Glory, though You hide Your beauty, yet the eye of my soul rends the veil” — St Faustina Veil of Manoppello in Italy. Photo: Paul Badde

The Jubilee Year will also have a “door”—a Door of Mercy”—a Holy Door  at St. Peter’s Basilica and other designated churches through which “anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instills hope.” (The Face of Mercy)  St. Faustina, in her diary, wrote of “a door of mercy”: “While there is yet time, let them have recourse to the fountain of my mercy.” (848) … He who refuses to pass through the door of My mercy must pass through the door of My justice.” (1146)

I have often reflected on the meaning of this Holy Door and the Face of MercyI believe they are both one and the same: The Face of Jesus Christ, the face of the Church, who leads us to the Father. We enter this “door” through devotion to the Holy Face by discipleship, to see Jesus in the faces our neighbors, through prayer and contemplation of the wounded Face of Jesus and through contemplation of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus.  Our faces, too, are like a “door” to our hearts and souls, which can radiate the Face of Jesus, the Face of Mercy to others. When Pope Francis came to the United States he spoke to the homeless in St. Patrick’s Parish in Washington, D.C., “Jesus keeps knocking on our door in the faces of our brothers and sisters, in the faces of our neighbors, in the face of those at our side.”

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

“Write this: before I come as the just Judge, I am coming first as the King of Mercy.” — Our Lord to St. Faustina

The Jubilee Year will end on November 20, 2016, on the Sunday dedicated to “Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe–and living Face of the Father’s Mercy.” (The Face of Mercy, Bull of Indiction) 

St. Faustina’s Prayer for Divine Mercy

O Greatly Merciful God, Infinite Goodness, today all mankind calls out from the abyss of its misery to Your mercy — to Your compassion, O God, and it is with its mighty voice of misery that it cries out:  Gracious God, do not reject the prayer of this earth’s exiles!  O Lord, Goodness beyond our understanding, Who are acquainted with our misery through and through and know that by our own power we cannot ascend to You, we implore You, anticipate us with Your grace and keep on increasing Your mercy in us, that we may faithfully do Your holy will all through our life and at death’s hour.  Let the omnipotence of Your mercy shield us from the darts of our salvation’s enemies, that we may with confidence, as Your children, await Your final coming — that day known to You alone.  And we expect to obtain everything promised us by Jesus in spite of all our wretchedness.  For Jesus is our Hope: Through His merciful Heart as through an open gate we pass through to heaven. (1570).

 

“Like dry weary land without water, so I gaze on You…” Psalm 63:1

Dead trees line the streets in California
Dead trees line the streets in California

The West is experiencing a severe drought; just how bad it was, was brought home to me when I visited the Los Angeles area this past week, after an absence of six years.  I had always been surprised by the lush greenery, flowers, flowering trees and palms that lined the freeways of “Tinsel Town.” That is all gone.  Streets, highways, homes and gardens now display signs that read “Brown is the new green.”  What was once lush, verdant and colorful is now dry as dust, brown, and dead. The West is suffering from a great thirst for water.  It is emblematic of its thirst for God.

“O God, you are my God, for you I long, for you my soul is thirsting, My body pines for you like dry, weary land without water…

It is no secret that Los Angeles is mecca of images, idolatry and false faces.  But on September 8th, the feast of the birth of the Blessed Mother, a replica of a miraculous image arrived in California, bearing the Face of Jesus Christ.  It had traveled all the way from a shrine in a small mountain village in Italy called Manoppello, accompanied by the rector of the Holy Face Sanctuary, Fr. Carmine Cucinelli, OFM Capuchin and Mr. Paul Badde, journalist and author of several books about the Holy Face of Manoppello, who were there to give talks about the Holy Face.  The first stop was the Carmelite Chapel of St. Joseph in Duarte, and the second stop, Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles.

Replica image of the Holy Face of Manoppello, Mass at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral Los Angeles.
Blessed Replica image of the Holy Face of Manoppello, Mass at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral Los Angeles.

Blessed Replica of the Holy Face of Manoppello, at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles

“… So I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and your glory.”  Ps. 63:1

Jesus our Great High Priest offering Himself in The Eucharist, viewed through the miraculous Veil of Manoppello in Italy. Photo: Paul Badde
Jesus our Great High Priest offering Himself in the Eucharist, viewed through the miraculous Veil of Manoppello in Italy. Photo: Paul Badde

It is significant, that this holy image should come to this place, at this time.  Images have great

Miraculous "Holy Face of Manoppello" in Italy Photo:Paul Badde
Miraculous “Holy Face of Manoppello” in Italy Photo:Paul Badde

impact on human beings, for good or evil, as everyone in Hollywood knows.  When God became Man at the Incarnation, He made His Face known to us.  As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has said, the Face of Christ is “the supreme revelation of Christ’s Mercy.”  Pope Francis, has declared an “Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy,” in a Bull of Indiction – THE FACE OF MERCY  from the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2015 to the Feast of Christ, King of the Universe and Face of the Father’s Mercy” November 20th, 2016. 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… to introduce everyone to the great mystery of God’s mercy by contemplation of the Face of Christ.” 

As I departed Los Angeles, a rain shower fell.  It made all the news programs, it was so rare. It seemed to me that the arrival of His Holy Face to Los Angeles was bringing blessings and showering grace on the City of Angels.  The Face of Jesus is the antidote to the poison of sin and evil in the world.  He comes to give us “Living Water.”   Nothing less will quench our thirst.

Let us follow Pope Francis’ exhortation to contemplate the Face of Christ through discipleship, images of the Face of Christ and in the Eucharist, and be true “heralds of mercy” by spreading devotion to the Face of Christ.

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

A special thanks to Mr. Paul Badde for allowing me to use his beautiful photos of The Holy Face of Manoppello!

 

Anniversary – Bl. Mother Teresa and The Merciful Face of Jesus

Re-post in honor of the Anniversary of Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s death September 5th

Mother Teresa source: Flicker
Mother Teresa
photo: Flicker

“Seeking the Face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and His hand in every happening; This is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world.  Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.”  –Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Many Catholic faithful are hoping and praying for the possible canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta during The Holy Year for Mercy. During the upcoming 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)

Blessed Mother Teresa, by her heroic life’s witness of seeking the Face of Christ in the “distressing disguise of the poor,” perfectly exemplified how Christians can live the works of mercy. When someone would ask her what they could do to serve, she was known for taking the person’s hand and touching each finger, she would say, “You-did-it-to-me.” “I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me. Whatever you did to the least of my brethren, you did it to me.”

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

The greatest desire of Bl. Mother Teresa was “to satiate the thirst of Jesus by serving him in the poorest of the poor.” Though suffering spiritual darkness in her own soul, she allowed the blazing brilliance of Christ’s love to radiate through her face to others and she sought continually Jesus’ face in those she served. In photograph after photograph of Mother Teresa we can see her looking intensely into the faces of children, the poor, the sick and the dying, while tenderly caressing their faces, searching in their face for the face of her beloved, Jesus.  Pope Francis tells us, “We must embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison. “ (Mt 25:31) “To love God and neighbor is not something abstract, but profoundly concrete: it means seeing in every person the face of the Lord to be served, to serve him concretely. And you, dear brothers and sisters are the face of Jesus!”

Blessed Mother Teresa heroically carried out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy by being the Merciful Face of Christ to others and by seeing the Merciful Face of Christ in others. Pope Benedict XVI has characterized devotion to the Holy Face as having three separate components:

The first element is discipleship and orientation of one’s life towards an encounter with Jesus, to see Jesus in the face of those in need. In order to do this, believers first need to become better acquainted with Jesus through the Eucharist.  Mother Teresa’s whole being was directed toward this encounter with Jesus in the poor.

Image of Jesus crucified which hung in Mother Teresa's room. It was one of her last sights before dying.
Image of Jesus crucified which hung in Mother Teresa’s room. It was one of her last sights before dying.

The second element is relating to the Passion of Jesus, and the suffering expressed by the images of the wounded Face of Jesus, relating this to the Eucharistic experience. This image of Jesus Crucified hung on the wall of Mother Teresa’s room in Calcutta. It was one of her last sights before dying. She identified completely with the Crucified Jesus. “Jesus, I love with my whole heart, with my whole being, I have given Him all, even my sins, and He has espoused me to Himself in tenderness and love. Now and for life I am the spouse of my Crucified Spouse.”

The third element, the Eucharist, is woven between the other two. The eschatological element then builds on awakening to Christ by contemplating His face in the Eucharist. The Eucharist was central to Mother Teresa’s mission.  “Seek him in the tabernacle. Fix your eyes on Him who is the Light. Bring your hearts close to His Divine Heart and ask Him to grant you the grace of knowing Him.”  She insisted that each Missionary of Charity begin their day in prayerful silence before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus from Whom they drew the strength to serve the poor.

“Jesus gives us two faces,” Pope Francis says, “actually only one real face, that of God reflected in many faces, because in the face of each brother, especially the smallest, the most fragile, the defenseless and the needy, there is God’s own image.  And we must ask ourselves: when we meet one of these brothers, are we able to recognize the face of God in him?”  

If we hope one day to see the Face of God we must open our eyes to our neighbor.  Pope Benedict XVI has said, “closing our eyes to our neighbor also blinds us to God.”

Bl. Mother Teresa, pray for us, help to recognize the Face of Jesus and carry out the “Works of Mercy,” so that we too may contemplate “the Living Face of Christ’s Mercy.”

The Corporal Works of Mercy           The Spiritual Works of Mercy

Feed the Hungry                                              Teach the ignorant

Give Drink to the thirsty                                 Pray for the living and the dead

Clothe the naked                                              Correct sinners

Shelter the homeless                                       Counsel those in doubt

Comfort the prisoners                                     Console the sorrowful

Visit the sick                                                      Bear wrongs patiently

Bury the dead                                                    Forgive wrongs willingly

 

What’s in a name?

"IHS" Monogram of The Holy Name - Church of The Gesu, Rome
“IHS” Monogram of The Holy Name – Church of The Gesu, Rome

 

Any mother-to-be, poring over lists of baby names, knows the importance of choosing a name.  She knows this is serious business.  The name should have meaning, giving a clue to shed light on the mystery of the person.  Our names, connected with our face become the basis of our relationship with others.  When we give our own name, and turn our face to others, we are giving something of ourselves.  So too, it is with God.

The Hebrew term for name is “shem” and for face, it is “panim.”  These are both terms which describe relationships.  In fact, “panim” means to see the face of God or the presence of God.  God has a face and a nameThe revelation of the face of God took on a new and beautiful manifestation when God became man in the person of Jesus Christ, as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has taught. As fully God and fully man, Jesus Christ gave us a human face that revealed the face of God.  He says, “While we too seek other signs, other wonders, we do not realize that He is the real sign, God made flesh;  He is the greatest miracle of the universe: all the love of God hidden in a human heart, in a human face!”  The Son of God was made man He is given a Name, Jesus.  The one who “saves His people from sin.”  Through His Face and His Name, He gives us Himself.

There is a direct connection between the Holy Face and the Name of God.  Jesus shows us the face of the Father, as He told His disciples:  “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”  Jesus also makes known to us the Name of God, as He said at the Last Supper when praying to His Father, “I have made Your Name known to them.”  The expression “Name of God” means God as He who is present among men.  His Name is a concrete sign of His Existence.

Because of the profound connection between our relationship with God and His Name and Face,image-20 sins committed against this relationship with Him are reflected in the Face of Jesus Christ.  When a man’s name is slandered, or reviled, those insults are reflected on his face.  So too, in the Passion, the Face of Our Lord was beaten, bloodied, bruised, spit upon.

How are sins against our personal relationship with God revealed in His Face?  The manifestation of our sins on His Countenance come through blasphemy, atheism, disrespect of God in Sacred things, the profanation of Sunday, hatred of God’s Church.  These indignities suffered by Our Lord in His Face represent the most serious sins, because they are against God Himself.

St. Veronica, model of reparation to The Holy Face
St. Veronica, model of reparation to The Holy Face

The damage done by our sins to our relationship with God are reflected in the Face of Jesus Christ.  For this reason, devotion and reparation to the Holy Face is fitting in order to make amends for what we have done.  By prayers and act of reparations we are performing the office of Veronica, the model of reparation to the Holy Face, in wiping the Face of Jesus and restoring dignity to His Holy Name and in a small way repairing mankind’s relationship with God.

 

 

Bl. Mother Teresa and The Merciful Face of Jesus

Mother Teresa source: Flicker
Mother Teresa
photo: Flicker

“Seeking the Face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and His hand in every happening; This is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world.  Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.”  –Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Many Catholic faithful are hoping and praying for the possible canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta during The Holy Year for Mercy. During the upcoming 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)

Blessed Mother Teresa, by her heroic life’s witness of seeking the Face of Christ in the “distressing disguise of the poor,” perfectly exemplified how Christians can live the works of mercy. When someone would ask her what they could do to serve, she was known for taking the person’s hand and touching each finger, she would say, “You-did-it-to-me.” “I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me. Whatever you did to the least of my brethren, you did it to me.”

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

The greatest desire of Bl. Mother Teresa was “to satiate the thirst of Jesus by serving him in the poorest of the poor.” Though suffering spiritual darkness in her own soul, she allowed the blazing brilliance of Christ’s love to radiate through her face to others and she sought continually Jesus’ face in those she served. In photograph after photograph of Mother Teresa we can see her looking intensely into the faces of children, the poor, the sick and the dying, while tenderly caressing their faces, searching in their face for the face of her beloved, Jesus.  Pope Francis tells us, “We must embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison. “ (Mt 25:31) “To love God and neighbor is not something abstract, but profoundly concrete: it means seeing in every person the face of the Lord to be served, to serve him concretely. And you, dear brothers and sisters are the face of Jesus!”

Blessed Mother Teresa heroically carried out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy by being the Merciful Face of Christ to others and by seeing the Merciful Face of Christ in others. Pope Benedict XVI has characterized devotion to the Holy Face as having three separate components:

The first element is discipleship and orientation of one’s life towards an encounter with Jesus, to see Jesus in the face of those in need. In order to do this, believers first need to become better acquainted with Jesus through the Eucharist.  Mother Teresa’s whole being was directed toward this encounter with Jesus in the poor.

Image of Jesus crucified which hung in Mother Teresa's room. It was one of her last sights before dying.
Image of Jesus crucified which hung in Mother Teresa’s room. It was one of her last sights before dying.

The second element is relating to the Passion of Jesus, and the suffering expressed by the images of the wounded Face of Jesus, relating this to the Eucharistic experience. This image of Jesus Crucified hung on the wall of Mother Teresa’s room in Calcutta. It was one of her last sights before dying. She identified completely with the Crucified Jesus. “Jesus, I love with my whole heart, with my whole being, I have given Him all, even my sins, and He has espoused me to Himself in tenderness and love. Now and for life I am the spouse of my Crucified Spouse.”

The third element, the Eucharist, is woven between the other two. The eschatological element then builds on awakening to Christ by contemplating His face in the Eucharist. The Eucharist was central to Mother Teresa’s mission.  “Seek him in the tabernacle. Fix your eyes on Him who is the Light. Bring your hearts close to His Divine Heart and ask Him to grant you the grace of knowing Him.”  She insisted that each Missionary of Charity begin their day in prayerful silence before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus from Whom they drew the strength to serve the poor.

“Jesus gives us two faces,” Pope Francis says, “actually only one real face, that of God reflected in many faces, because in the face of each brother, especially the smallest, the most fragile, the defenseless and the needy, there is God’s own image.  And we must ask ourselves: when we meet one of these brothers, are we able to recognize the face of God in him?”  

If we hope one day to see the Face of God we must open our eyes to our neighbor.  Pope Benedict XVI has said, “closing our eyes to our neighbor also blinds us to God.”

Bl. Mother Teresa, pray for us, help to recognize the Face of Jesus and carry out the “Works of Mercy,” so that we too may contemplate “the Living Face of Christ’s Mercy.”

The Corporal Works of Mercy           The Spiritual Works of Mercy

Feed the Hungry                                              Teach the ignorant

Give Drink to the thirsty                                 Pray for the living and the dead

Clothe the naked                                              Correct sinners

Shelter the homeless                                       Counsel those in doubt

Comfort the prisoners                                     Console the sorrowful

Visit the sick                                                      Bear wrongs patiently

Bury the dead                                                    Forgive wrongs willingly

Radiating Christ by Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman was one of Mother Teresa’s favorite prayers…

Dear Jesus, help me to spread your fragrance every I go.

Flood my soul with your Spirit and Life.

Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that my life may only be a radiance of Yours.

Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Your presence in my soul.

Let them look up, and see no longer me, but only Jesus!

Stay with me and then I will begin to shine as You shine, so to shine as to be a light to others.

The light, O Jesus, will be all from You; none of it will be mine.

It will be You, shining on others through me.

Let me thus praise You in the way You love best, by shining on those around me.

Let me preach You without preaching, not by words but by example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do, the evident fullness of the love my heart bears for You.  Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

Idol – “A face which is not a face”

“Be on your guard against idols.” (1 John 5:21)

Adoration of the Golden Calf by Nicholas Poussin
Adoration of the Golden Calf by Nicholas Poussin

The first at the top of the list of The Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai is: “I am the Lord, Thy God: thou shall not have strange gods before me.”  The people of Israel do not want to endure waiting to see the Face of God,  and so fashion an idol, a Golden Calf, the “work of their hands”, which they can see.  But, “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1) Idol worship is the opposite of faith.

We no longer live in a time where people worship an idol as a Golden Calf, but the world certainly worships an array of “strange gods.” The Dictionary gives many definitions of an idol: 1. An image used as an object of worship. 2. A false god. 3. One that is adored, often blindly or excessively.  But, the definition that fits better than these is one that was used in the Encyclical Letter Lumen Fidei, “Martin Buber once cited a definition of idolatry proposed by the rabbi of Kock: idolatry is “when a face addresses a face which is not a face”.

How do we recognize these false faces for what they are?  First, in order to recognize what is false, we need to know what is true. Pope Emeritus Benedict said, “While we too seek other signs, other wonders, we do not realize that He is the real sign, God made flesh; He is the greatest miracle of the universe: all the love of God hidden in a human heart, in a human face.” In other words, we need to seek the face of God by looking at the face of Jesus Christ, who is the Truth. “God… has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the Face of Christ.” (2 Cor 4:6) At The Incarnation,  God became man to redeem us and now God’s Face can be seen: the Son of God, made man and He is given a name; the all-powerful name of Jesus, at whose Name every knee shall bend.

It is an interesting fact that false faces, or idols, go hand-in-hand with a false name.   Euthanasia is re-named “Mercy,” Abortion – “Compassion,” Sexually disordered actions – “Love,” murder, rape and beheading are carried out in the name of “Religion” and the media now turns its adulation to man named Bruce, who is re-named “Caitlyn.”  Bruce Jenner, through surgery, cosmetics, and a multitude of other deceptions now has the appearance of a glamorous female, “Caitlyn.”  This particular idol is unmasked  in the article “Pretty Little Lies” by Lauren Enk Mann, who points out that this is how the devil, the father of lies, by appearing as an angel of light, deceives humanity.  But, the reality is, “Lies are ugly things, but the point of a lie is that lies hide their true face; they don’t seem ugly, but attractive and appealing.”  The full article may be found here:  http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Blog/3924/pretty_little_lies_on_the_idolness_of_bruce_jenner.aspx

Our true identity is that we are made in the image and likeness of God and we must resemble Him in the end.  Truth leads us to life. The false name and “the face which is not a face” erase the identity of the human person and leave something which is horrible in it’s place: an idol, which leads to death. Truth and faithfulness go together, therefore we must seek always and everywhere what is true, live in truth and lead others to truth in charity, in order to  see the Face of God.

“We also know the Son of God has come and has given us discernment to know the one who is true.  And we are in the one who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ.  He is the true God and eternal life. Children, be on your guard against idols.” (1 John 5:20-21)

Christ Pantocrator, St. Catherine Monastery, Sinai
Christ Pantocrator, St. Catherine Monastery, Sinai

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Lent and “FaceTime”

One of the greatest blessings of the internet, at least for me, is something called “FaceTime.”  If you have ever been separated from loved ones who live in another part of the country, or on the other side of the world, you know what I mean.  A letter, an email, a phone call  are all good but not quite as good as seeing them face to face.  We need to look in the face of a person in order to truly have a good relationship; to read their expression and discover what is in their heart; to see their emotions and, when they are mirrored in our own face, show to them our empathy and our love.

Mother 12-1-23

When it is death that separates us from a loved one, we long to see that face again, gaze at a photo of them, a face frozen at a moment in time and try to re-kindle memories of our relationship with them; the smile, crinkle of the eyes, expressions of love that we hope to see again in heaven one day.

The longing to see the Face of our Creator has been written in our hearts.  All of mankind long for that one, particular face, the Face of God, even if they don’t know what that feeling of longing is for.  Unfortunately, man, seeking the object of its longing, sometimes cannot bear the mystery of God’s hiddenness. Rather than wait for God to reveal Himself when He is ready,  mankind seeks “the face which is NOT a face,” –that is, an idol, as described in the encyclical “Lumen Fidei,” (“The Light of Faith”). The opposite of faith (longing to see God’s face) is idolatry, trying to fill our longing for Him with something else, an idol, which is a dead end, a one-way street in which there is no relationship.

"Show us...Your Face, that mirror mystery-laden, of God's infinite mercy."--Pope Benedict XVI
“Show us…Your Face, that mirror mystery-laden, of God’s infinite mercy.”–Pope Benedict XVI

Lent is a time in which, by faith, we turn toward God in conversion, enter into relationship with Him and let ourselves be transformed and renewed by God’s call and reject idols.  “Those who believe come to see themselves in the light of the faith which they profess:  Christ is the mirror in which they find their own image fully realized.  And just as Christ gathers to Himself all those who believe and makes them His body, so the Christian comes to see himself as a member of this body, in an essential relationship with  other believers.” (Lumen Fidei sec. 22)

Without light or sound, there would  be no Face Time.  We would all be sitting silently in the dark.  “Faith is hearing and seeing” (Lumen Fidei, sec. 37)  God has shown us His Face in His Son, Jesus.  We can now see His Face, we can hear His voice in the Scriptures, in our neighbor, in His images and in The Eucharistic Face of Jesus, in which He reveals to us all the love of His Most Sacred Heart.  During Lent, by “turning away from idols” we turn toward the Face of God.  When we open our hearts to God’s love, through this divine “Face Time” we hear his voice and receive his light,  a gift which is so great we cannot keep it to ourselves but through word and light, invite others to “Face Time” with God and to believe.

"...all the love of God, hidden in a human heart, in a human FACE." --Pope Benedict XVI
“…all the love of God, hidden in a human heart, in a human FACE.” –Pope Benedict XVI

 “All  of us with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image.” (2 Cor 3:18) “God…has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the Face of Christ.” (2Cor 4:6)

 

Mardi Gras Feb. 17: The Feast of The Holy Face, Act of Consecration

“Christ’s response, “Whoever has seen me, has seen the Father, “lead us into the heart of Christological faith.”  — Pope Benedict XVI

Jesus Christ the Alpha and the Omega
Jesus Christ the Alpha and the Omega

 Act of Consecration

O Lord Jesus, we believe most firmly in You, we love You.  You are the Eternal Son of God and the Son Incarnate of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  You are the Lord and Absolute Ruler of all creation.  We acknowledge You, therefore, as the Universal Sovereign of all creatures.  You are the Lord and Supreme Ruler of all mankind, and we, in acknowledging this Your dominion, consecrate ourselves to You now and forever.  Loving Jesus, we place our family under the protection of Your Holy Face, and of Your Virgin Mother Mary most sorrowful.  We promise to be faithful to You for the rest of our lives and to observe with fidelity Your Holy Commandments.  We will never deny before men, You and Your Divine rights over us and all mankind.  Grant us the grace to never sin again; nevertheless, should we fail, O Divine Saviour, have mercy on us and restore us to Your grace.  Radiate Your Divine Countenance upon us and bless us now and forever.  Embrace us at the hour of our death in Your Kingdom for all eternity, through the intercession of Your Blessed Mother, of all Your Saints who behold You in Heaven, and the just who glorify You on earth.  O Jesus, be mindful of us forever and never forsake us; protect our family.  O Mother of Sorrows, by the eternal glory which you enjoy in Heaven, through the merits of your bitter anguish in the Sacred Passion of your Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, obtain for us the grace that the Precious Blood shed by Jesus for the redemption of our souls, be not shed for us in vain.  We love you, O Mary.  Embrace us and bless us, O Mother.  Protect us in life and in death.  Amen. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.  Amen.

Happy Feast of The Holy Face of Jesus!

St. Veronica, the model of reparation to The Holy Face
Hans Memling’s “St. Veronica c.1470-75  – St. Veronica, the model of reparation to The Holy Face

“It is the Church’s task to reflect the light of Christ in every historical period, to make His Face shine before the generations of the new millennium.  Our witness, however, would be hopelessly inadequate if we ourselves had not first contemplated His FACE!”  –St. Pope John Paul II

All are invited…

Feast of The Holy Face
Please offer prayers of reparation on The Feast of The Holy Face, wherever you may be. May God reward you!

Tuesday, February 17th from 6pm to 9pm Benediction, St. Anselm Catholic Church, Madisonville, Louisiana

You are invited to an evening of prayer, sacred music, and Adoration of The Eucharistic Face of Christ in The Blessed Sacrament. The Sacrament of Confession will be available throughout the evening.

For those in the New Orleans, LA area, there will take place the Annual Holy Face Triduum February 14, 15 and 16 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Kenner. Each night begins with the Rosary at 6:00 pm, followed by Mass at 6:30 pm.

In addition, on February 16th, there will be the Mardi Gras Day of Prayer. Mass at 12:00 noon, 6:30 pm, and closing Midnight Mass for Ash Wednesday. In between Masses, the Church will be open for prayer and devotions.

 

St. Therese of The Child Jesus and The Holy Face Icon by Patricia Enk
St. Therese of The Child Jesus and The Holy Face Icon by Patricia Enk

“O Jesus, Whose adorable Face ravishes my heart, I implore Thee to fix deep within me Thy Divine Image and set me on fire with Thy Love, that I may be found worthy to come to contemplation of Thy glorious Face in Heaven.  Amen.” — St. Therese