The Greatest Longing

The greatest longing of the human soul is to see God face to face.

Detail from Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Paul Rubens, 1609

The Blessed Virgin Mary was the most perfect reflection of the Face of God. Her pure soul was continually turned toward the Face of God, seeking His most Holy Will in all things. At the Incarnation the Holy Face of her son Jesus, true God and true man, was formed in her holy womb; by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary was the first to see Jesus’s human face at His birth, and was closest to Him throughout His life and death. But, although she was immaculately conceived, she could only see the Face of God on earth, as any other human being can, that is, through the veil of faith.

Mary was created by God to be the mother of His Son, therefore she was “full of grace,” and filled with every gift of the Holy Spirit in their perfection. Her soul was “an enclosed garden” which belonged only to God, and in which the Holy Spirit formed the most perfect masterpiece of love. The gaze of her mind and heart was always on the Face of her son Jesus.  At the foot of the cross Mary suffered a passion of her own together with her son. As the blood and water flowed from Jesus’s side giving birth to the Church, through her pain and suffering Mary became the Mother of Christ’s mystical Body, with Christ as it’s Head.

Mary adored Jesus beneath the Eucharistic Veil of the appearance of bread.
The Virgin of the Host, by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres

The joy of seeing Jesus’s Face after the Resurrection was followed by the most painful deprivation of the sight of her son after His Ascension into heaven. Then Mary, with ever increasing love and longing, sought the Face of Christ in the same way that we must seek Him in this life: in His Word, in our neighbor, and in the Eucharist. As she sought Him in these ways, the image of God shining in her soul increased in beauty and splendor as God bestowed grace upon grace on Mary. Though she was the Daughter of the Father, the Mother of the Son, and the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, Mary constantly died to herself and lived for others in perfect charity until finally dying of the burning love and desire to see the Face of God in Heaven. Mary had no attachment to creatures or things of this earth, and having no stain of sin or corruption, she was taken body and soul to Heaven, where she was crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth.

Mary, constantly seeking the Face of God throughout her life until she was assumed into Heaven by God was to be an example for us to follow. Her example may be best summed up in the words of the Servant of God, Père Jacques of Jesus, OCD:

“Let your life be transformed by this constantly burning desire to be willing to die in order to see Christ face to face.” 


Holy Face Veil of Manoppello
(photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

Prayer to the Holy Face for the liberation from the coronavirus

Lord Jesus, Savior of the world, hope that will never disappoint us, have mercy on us and deliver us from all evil! Please overcome the scourge of this virus which is spreading, heal the sick, preserve the healthy, support those who work for the health of all. Show us your face of mercy and save us in your great love. We ask you through the intercession of Mary, Your Mother and ours, who faithfully accompanies us. You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.
+ Bruno Forte
Archbishop of Chieti – Vasto (Italy)