Contemplating the Mystery of Light with Pope Benedict XVI

The Transfiguration by Carl Bloch (1872) Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him up a high mountain to pray and was transfigured before them, becoming so dazzlingly bright that his clothes were “whiter than the work of any bleacher could make them.” (Mk 9:2-100

 

Like many of our beloved elderly, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has been quietly sharing in the suffering of Christ. Since visiting his brother, Georg, in Germany before Georg died, Pope Benedict XVI had contracted very painful erysipelas rash on his face. The sad news brought to mind the pope’s words during his pontificate about the Transfiguration, that “mystery of light,” when the reality of Jesus, who is “light from light,” became perceptible to the senses to Peter, James, and John on the mountain, when His Face became radiant with Divine Glory. The Transfiguration not only prepared and strengthened the apostles for the Passion of Jesus, but was also a foretaste of the Resurrection.  As Pope Benedict wrote in the first volume of his work Jesus of Nazareth: 

[The Transfiguration] “reveals the profound interpenetration of His being with God, which then becomes pure light. In His oneness with the Father, Jesus is Himself ‘light from light.'”

 

“The Face of Christ is the supreme revelation of Christ’s Mercy.”–Pope Benedict XVI (photo:Paul Badde/EWTN)

At the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI invited us to contemplate this mystery of light from the Gospel:

“Today, the liturgy invites us to focus our gaze on this mystery of light. On the transfigured face of Jesus a ray of light which he held within shines forth. This same light was to shine on Christ’s face on the day of the Resurrection. In this sense, the Transfiguration appears as a foretaste of the Paschal Mystery.

The Transfiguration invites us to open the eyes of our hearts to the mystery of God’s light, present throughout salvation history. At the beginning of creation, the Almighty had already said: ‘Fiat lux – let there be light!’ (Gn 1: 2), and the light was separated from the darkness. Like the other created things, light is a sign that reveals something of God: it is, as it were, a reflection of his glory which accompanies its manifestations. When God appears, ‘his brightness was like the light, rays flashed from his hand.’ (Heb 3: 3ff.).

Light, it is said in the Psalms, is the mantle with which God covers himself (cf. Ps 104[103]: 2). In the Book of Wisdom, the symbolism of light is used to describe the very essence of God: wisdom, an outpouring of his glory, is ‘a reflection of eternal light’ superior to any created light (cf. Wis 7: 27, 29ff.).

In the New Testament, it is Christ who constitutes the full manifestation of God’s light. His Resurrection defeated the power of the darkness of evil forever. With the Risen Christ, truth and love triumph over deceit and sin. In him, God’s light henceforth illumines definitively human life and the course of history: ‘I am the light of the world,’ he says in the Gospel, ‘he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life’ (Jn 8: 12).

In our time too, we urgently need to emerge from the darkness of evil, to experience the joy of the children of light!'”

Pope Benedict XVI, Paul Badde, and Sr. Blandina Schlomer Sept. 2006, at the Shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello.

In September of 2006, Pope Benedict XVI travelled as a pilgrim to the Shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Italy, where he contemplated another “miracle of light” — the Holy Face on the Veil of Manoppello. A year following this visit, he elevated the shrine to a basilica, and wrote the following prayer:

Pope Benedict XVI contemplates the Veil of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Photo:Paul Badde/EWTN
Light shines through the Holy Veil of Manoppello during evening procession. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

Prayer of Pope Benedict XVI to The Holy Face

Lord Jesus, as the first Apostles, whom you asked: “What do you seek?” accepted your invitation to “Come and See,” recognizing you as the Son of God, the Promised Messiah for the world’s redemption, we too, your disciples in this difficult time, want to follow you and be your friends, drawn by the brilliance of Your Face, much desired, yet hidden.

Hand viewed through the miraculous Veil of Manoppello. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

Show us, O Lord, we pray you, Your Face ever new; that mirror, mystery-laden, of God’s infinite mercy. Grant that we may contemplate it with the eyes of our mind and our hearts: the Son’s Face, radiance of the Father’s glory and the imprint of His Nature (cf. Hb 1:3), the human Face of God that has burst into history to reveal the horizons of eternity. The silent Face of Jesus, suffering and risen, when loved and accepted, changes our

Face becomes visible with light on the Holy Veil of Manoppello.
Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

hearts and lives. “Your Face, Lord, do I seek, do not hide Your Face from me.” (Ps. 27:8ff) How many times through the centuries and millennia has resounded the ardent invocation of the Psalmist among the faithful! Lord, with faith, we too repeat the same invocation: “Man of suffering, as one from whom other hide their faces.” (Is. 53:3) Do not hide your Face from us! We want to draw from your eyes that look on us with tenderness and compassion the force of love and peace which shows us the way of life, and the courage to follow you without fear or compromise, so as to be witnesses of your Gospel with concrete signs of acceptance, love and forgiveness. O Holy Face of Christ, Light that enlightens the darkness of doubt and sadness, life that has defeated forever the force of evil and death, O inscrutable gaze that never ceases to watch over mankind. Face concealed in the Eucharistic signs and in the faces of those that live with us! Make us God’s pilgrims in this world, longing for the infinite and ready for the final encounter, when we shall see you, Lord, “face to face” (Cor. 13:12) and be able to contemplate you forever in heavenly Glory. 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 face reflect the hidden presence of your Son Jesus. Amen.

Holy Veil of Manoppello said to be the image of the Resurrected Christ
Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

In March of 2012, Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “As Jesus was transfigured before them, His Face ‘dazzling with light,’ the voice of the Father could be heard, ‘This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.’ (Mk 9:7)  Thus, the light and the voice: the divine radiance on Jesus’ Face, and the voice of the Heavenly Father that witnesses to Him and commands that He be listened to.

The mystery of the Transfiguration must not be separated from the context of the path Jesus is following. He is now decisively oriented to fulfilling his mission, knowing all too well that to arrive at the Resurrection He must pass through the Passion and death on the Cross. He had spoken openly of this to His disciples; but they did not understand, on the contrary they rejected this prospect because they were not reasoning in accordance with God, but in accordance with men.

Holy Face Veil of Manoppello, photo: Patricia Enk

It is for this reason that Jesus takes three of them with Him up the mountain and reveals His divine glory, the splendor of Truth and of Love. Jesus wants this light to illuminate their hearts when they pass through the thick darkness of His Passion and death, when the folly of the Cross becomes unbearable to them. God is light, and Jesus wishes to give his closest friends the experience of this light which dwells within Him.

After this event, therefore, He will be an inner light within them that can protect them from any assault of darkness. Even on the darkest of nights, Jesus is the lamp that never goes out.” (Pope Benedict XVI, March 2012)

Let us pray for our Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and all who share in Christ’s suffering, that their hearts will be illumined  and transfigured by this mystery of light shining on the Face of Christ.

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“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.” ~ Pope Benedict XVI

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News: Holy Face of Manoppello blogspot has posted a schedule for the days leading to the Feast of the Transfiguration celebrated at the Basilica Shrine of the Holy Face for the fortunate pilgrims who may visit. By special privilege of the Pope Francis in these days the faithful can gain the Plenary Indulgence.

Beautiful video below of the Feast of the Transfiguration at the Basilica of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Italy.

 

+++Blessing with The Holy Face Veil of Manoppello on the Feast of the Transfiguration+++

 

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)
NEWS UPDATE: Cardinal Brenes imparted a moving blessing with the charred Holy Face of Jesus which had been separated from the Crucifix during the attack and fire at the Church in Managua, Nicaragua, on the Feast of the Transfiguration.

 

Have We Lost Our Sense of Wonder?

The Transfiguration by Carl Bloch 1872

Our world is filled with amazing technology. Man can fly through the air, and communicate with anyone, anywhere, instantly throughout the globe. A person need never to suffer a moment’s boredom because we have instant gratification for our eyes and ears at our fingertips through our cell phones, computers, and television. Humanity has also never had so little peace, or silence necessary to hear the whisper of God’s voice, or so little desire to turn off the unrelenting images on screens in order to seek His Face.

G.K. Chesterton once wrote: “The world will never starve for want of wonders, only for want of wonder.” “When we are asked why eggs turn into birds, or fruits fall in autumn, we must answer that it is magic.” (Chesterton – “Ethics in Elfland”In other words, they are miracles, willed by God, which we have mistaken for the ordinary. What could be more ordinary, more common than a man?… and what could be a greater wonder than the Incarnation: when God became man?

“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.” ~ Pope Benedict XVI 

God knows our human weakness; we need to see, hear, taste and touch. Jesus took Peter, James, and John up Mount Tabor to witness His Transfiguration in glory; so they would believe that He, Jesus Christ, was also God. He gives us His Word, His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, He gives us tangible proofs of His Life, Death, and Resurrection in ongoing wonders: The Shroud of Turin, the Sudarium of Oviedo, and the Veil of Manoppello. Scoffers abound; they always have. The cynics are ever ready to dismiss these wonders, without even taking the trouble to see them. They refuse to believe that God would leave His image on a shroud, or cloth, or veil.

What happens when mankind becomes blind to God’s wonders? Mankind then seeks substitutes for the real, but seemingly ordinary thing. The result is a deadly one, as Chesterton writes in The Everlasting Man:

 “The effect of this staleness is the same everywhere; it is seen in all drug taking and dram drinking and every form of the tendency to increase the dose. Men seek stranger sins and more startling obscenities as stimulants to their jaded senses. They seek mad oriental religions for the same reason. They try to stab their nerves to life, if it were with the knives of the priests of Baal. They are walking in their sleep and try to wake themselves up with nightmares.”

It is an apt description of the nightmare of evil that has descended upon this world; a world which has turned away from the Face of God.

But God exists, and in His infinite mercy, He continues to hold out His wonders to those with “eyes to see,” to behold, and give Him thanks. On the Feast of the Transfiguration, when Jesus’s Face was “transfigured in glory,” pilgrims from all over the world, join the people of Manoppello as they go forth  in procession  to celebrate the wonderful relic of the Face of Jesus — the Veil of Manoppello — a sign of wonder and God’s love for His children.

Banner of the Face of Christ hangs above the procession route in Manoppello. Photo: Paul Badde
Hand viewed through the miraculous Veil of Manoppello. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

“O Lord, You are my God, I will extol and praise Your Name; for You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago with perfect faithfulness.” (Isaiah 25:1)

Face of Jesus as it appears on the Veil of Manoppello. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

Transfiguration Procession in Manoppello

“Lord, God of Hosts bring us back; let Your Face shine on us and we shall be saved.” (Psalm 80:7) 

Banner bearing image of the Holy Veil draped in front of the Basilica Sanctuary of the Holy Face, Il Volto Santo.
Photo: Paul BAdde/EWTN

There are three celebrations each year in Manopello, Italy to honor the relic Veil of the Holy Face: “Omnis Terra” in January, the Feast of the Holy Face in May to commemorate the arrival of the Holy Veil in Manoppello, and also on the Feast of the Transfiguration.

Paul Badde’s latest book tells in a compelling way, the amazing history of this miraculous veil, and the deep significance of the processions. The Human Face of God; The Holy Veil of Manoppello, will be soon released in October, but may be pre-ordered now on Amazon. Paul has sent these beautiful photos of the most recent Transfiguration evening procession — the lights may be seen through the transparent veil but be sure to look closely, and you will also see the image of the Holy Face!

The lights lining the streets for the evening Transfiguration Procession shine through the sheer Veil of the Holy Face being carried in its reliquary frame. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN
Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN
Holy Veil of Manoppello. Look closely in the center of the frame where a portion of the Holy Face may be seen.
Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN
Evening Procession of the Holy Veil of Manoppello
Holy Face now more visible together with lights shining through the Veil near the bottom of the frame.
Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

“We process toward our heavenly home in the company of God.  Procession is the function of faith, which burns in our hearts and beams in our faces, and makes our voices tremulous with emotion as our ‘Lauda Sion’ bids defiance to an unbelieving world.” –Fr. Frederick W. Faber 

 

Transfigured

And He was Transfigured before them, and His Face shone like the sun… –Matthew 17:2

Transfiguration – Raphael

 

Please pray today for men and women in every vocation in life, that in seeking God’s Will, they may transfigured into the image of Christ, and become faithful witnesses to Him in the Church and in the world:

Good Father, in Christ Your Son You reveal to us Your love, You embrace us as Your children and You offer to us the possibility of discovering in Your Will the lines of our true face.

Father, help us to be holy as You are holy.  We pray You, never allow Your Church to lack holy ministers and apostles who, with the word and the sacraments, may open the way to the encounter with You. 

Merciful Father, give to lost humanity men and women who, through the witness of a life transfigured to the image of Your Son, may walk joyfully with their other brothers and sisters towards our heavenly homeland.

Our Father, with the voice of the Holy Spirit, and trusting in the maternal intercessions of Mary, we earnestly beseech You; send to your Church priests who will be courageous witnesses to Your infinite beauty.  Amen!

–Pope St. John Paul II, Prayer for Vocations

Holy Veil of Manoppello
Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN
Veil of Manoppello Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

” O God, you have scattered the darkness with your light and have poured your light into our hearts so that we might look upon the radiant Face of Jesus Christ, –Nourish in us the desire to contemplate your beloved Son. –Lord, in your light may we see light.” –from Divine Office

Holy Veil of Manoppello, photo: Patricia Enk

The Feast of the Transfiguration

The Transfiguration by Carl Bloch
The Transfiguration by Carl Bloch

“After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.  And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.” (Mt 17: 1-3)

“All of us, gazing on the Lord’s glory with unveiled faces, are being transformed from glory to glory into his very image by the Lord who is the Spirit.”  (2 Cor 3:18)  “And even though the gospel is veiled, it is veiled for those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so that they may not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.  For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus.  For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor 4:5-6)

“See how great is the love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.  Yet so we are.” “We know that when he appears, we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:1-2)

There are special feasts observed by The Archconfraternity of the Holy Face throughout the Year:  Trinity Sunday, Easter, Good Friday, The Feast of the Holy Face on Shrove Tuesday, The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus and today’s feast, The Transfiguration.

In your charity, please pray today for God’s abundant blessings on the monks of Silverstream Priory: Dom Benedict Maria Anderson, O.S.B., who will pronounce his solemn vows today and also for Dom Finnian Joseph King and Dom Elijah Maria Carroll, who will pronounce their temporary vows on August 15th.  May God’s Face shine upon them today and always!

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS!