Recently in Eucharistic Face of Christ Category

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I preached this homily some years ago. Here it is again. The icon depicts Our Lady of the Cenacle's adoration of the Eucharistic Face of her Son.

Genesis 14:18-20
Psalm 109: 1, 2, 3, 4
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Luke 9:11b-17

A Eucharistic Triptych

Today’s Liturgy of the Word forms a Eucharistic triptych. It sets before our eyes three icons, three windows into the mystery. In each panel of the triptych we see what the Servant of God Pope John Paul II called, “the Eucharistic Face of Christ” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, art. 7).

Melchisedech

In the first panel we see the mysterious Melchisedech; his name means, “my king is justice” (cf. Heb 7:2). He is king of Salem, that is, “king of peace” (cf. Heb 7:2). The Letter to the Hebrews tells us that Melchisedech is “without father or mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever” (Heb 7:3). In some shadowy way, “the Eucharistic Face of Christ” appears first in Melchisedech, priest and king.

Eyes Only for Thy Face

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A Longing to See Him Again

Blessed John Henry Newman wrote somewhere that the Ascension of the Lord is "at once a source of sorrow, because it involves His absence; and of joy, because it involves His presence." For Our Blessed Lady and the Apostles, standing on the Mount of Olives with their eyes riveted to the heavens, the Ascension was the last glimpse of the Face of Christ on earth. The disappearance of the beloved Face of Christ leaves in the heart of the Church a longing to see Him again, a burning desire for His return.

I Seek Thy Face

This is the grace offered us in Exaudi, Domine, today's incomparable Introit: "Listen to my voice, Lord, when I cry to Thee, alleluia. True to my heart's promise I have eyes only for Thy Face; I seek Thy Face, O Lord! Turn not Thy Face away from me, alleluia, alleluia" (Ps 26: 7-9). The desire to contemplate the Face of Christ becomes a persistent longing; this is the experience of all the saints. The vitality of one's interior life can be measured by the intensity of one's desire to see the Face of Christ.

Blessed John Paul II

Twelve years ago, in Novo Millennio Ineunte, Blessed John Paul II placed the new millennium under the radiant sign of the Face of Christ. Then again, at the beginning of the Year of the Eucharist, the year of his death, Blessed John Paul II again directed our eyes to the Face of Christ concealed and revealed in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

The Holy Spirit

There is a vital connection between the Holy Spirit and the Face of the Word made flesh. Recall the promise of Our Lord before His Passion: "He who is to befriend you, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send on my account, will in His turn make everything plain, and recall to your minds everything I have said you" (Jn 14:26). "It will be for Him, the truth-giving Spirit, when He comes, to guide you into all truth" (Jn 16:13). Contemplation of the Holy Face of Jesus is the means by which the Holy Spirit teaches us all that we need to know in order to become saints.

The Holy Spirit teaches us by referring them to the adorable Face of Jesus. The Holy Spirit so illumines the Sacred Scriptures for us that we perceive the Face of the Bridegroom shining through the text. "Now," says the Bride of the Canticle, "He is looking in through each window in turn, peering through every chink" (Ct 2:9).

The Memory of the Church

Since His Ascension from the Mount of Olives, the Holy Face of Jesus fills the vision of the Church. The Holy Spirit brings to our remembrance all that Our Lord said by compelling us ceaselessly to seek His Face. This is why the Church sings on this Sunday After the Ascension: "Listen to my voice, Lord, when I cry to Thee, alleluia. True to my heart's promise I have eyes only for Thy Face; I seek Thy Face, O Lord! Turn not Thy Face away from me, alleluia, alleluia" (Ps 26: 7-9).

The Cenacle

Today's Holy Gospel, from the 15th chapter of Saint John, takes place in the Cenacle. The place of (1) the institution of the Most Holy Eucharist and of the Priesthood is the very place wherein (2) Mary's Motherhood of the Church begins to unfold in a ceaseless prayer. At Pentecost, the same Cenacle becomes the place of (3) the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. These three mysteries are telescoped into one in every celebration of Holy Mass. Today, after two thousand years, the Cenacle remains the Church's home. The Church lives out of the Cenacle -- Ecclesia de Eucharistia -- and returns to the Cenacle to be renewed in the Holy Spirit through the intercession of Mary, the Mediatrix of All Graces.

The Eucharistic Face of Christ

In the Cenacle, together with Our Blessed Lady and the Apostles, one contemplates the Eucharistic Face of Christ. The commandment of the Lord on the night before He suffered, "Do this for a commemoration of me" (Lk 22:19), was certainly obeyed by the Apostles during the days that separated the Ascension of the Lord from Pentecost. The Mother of the Eucharist was there. The very Face that disappeared into the heavens over the Mount of Olives on the day of the Ascension re-appears in every Holy Mass, hidden, and yet shining, through the sacramental veils.

The Priestly Prayer

The Priestly Prayer of Christ to the Father, first uttered in the Cenacle on the night before He suffered, is wondrously actualized in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is Christ, the Eternal High Priest, who stands at the altar with His Face turned toward the Father and His pierced Heart open for all eternity, that out of it we may receive the life-giving torrent that is the Gift of the Holy Spirit. In some way, the final chapters of Saint John's Gospel are a sustained contemplation of the Face of Jesus turned toward us, and lifted to the Father.

Contemplate the Face of Jesus, portrayed in the Fourth Gospel: the Holy Spirit will surely draw you into His filial and priestly prayer to the Father. This is, I think, the reason for taking today's Communion Antiphon from Our Lord's Priestly Prayer given in the 17th Chapter of Saint John. One who receives the Body and Blood of Christ, receives the very prayer of Christ into his soul. The grace of every Holy Communion is that of Christ praying to His Father in us and for us.

As the Spirit of the Lord Enables Us

Through the adorable mystery of the Eucharist, the Face we so long to contemplate is set before our eyes and burned into our souls. "It is given to us, all alike, to catch the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, with faces unveiled; and so we become transfigured into the same likeness, borrowing glory from that glory, as the Spirit of the Lord enables us" (2 Cor 3:18).


The Eucharistic Humility of God

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The 16th Sunday After Pentecost

The Most Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament of the Divine Humility.
Those who partake of It worthily
enter into the humility of God,
for one cannot eat the Bread of the Humble
and remain proud.

Those who adore this Sacrament of the Divine Humility
are drawn into the obedience of God,
who, at the word of a man,
of a priest speaking and acting in the Name of Christ,
annihilates the substance of a little bread
to replace it entirely
with His Divinity united to the Sacred Humanity.

Who can describe the Eucharistic Humility of God?
Here the Word made flesh,
born of the Virgin Mary, and crucified,
He whose side was opened by the soldier's lance,
He who rested in the darkness of the tomb,
He who rose from the dead
and is seated in glory at the right hand of the Father,
here, He is really present:
silent in the fragility of the sacred species,
and hidden from view not only by the sacramental veil
--the appearance of bread--
but, more often than not, by the tabernacle as well.

This is the Humility of God,
hidden from the eyes of the learned and the clever,
but revealed to little children.
I think of Blessed Francisco Marto of Fatima,
who, at nine years of age,
understood the mystery of the Hidden Jesus
and wanted nothing more than to console Him
by hiding himself close to the tabernacle.

Worldly arrogance scoffs at the folly of a God
hidden under the appearance of a little bread
and put away in a box;
but this Mystery follows and completes
the disconcerting logic of God who hides Himself
in a Virgin's womb,
becoming a man like unto other men
in all things, save sin.

The Eucharistic Humility of God
is inseparable from His Eucharistic Silence.
This Saint Benedict understood,
for in his Rule, the silent are humble,
and the humble silent.

This our Mother Mectilde understood
for she wanted her Benedictine adorers to bury themselves
in the silence of the hidden God,
the ineffably humble God
in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

This the little Thérèse understood
for she knew that one who would find the Hidden Face of Jesus,
must first hide himself.

The Eucharistic Face of Jesus, His Hidden Face,
is revealed only to those who themselves risk being hidden,
as the psalm says:
"Thou shalt hide them in the secret of Thy Face,
from the disturbance of men,
Thou shalt protect them in Thy tabernacle
from the strife of tongues" (Psalm 30:20).

The last place at the banquet is elusive;
he who thinks he has found it
may be surprised to discover
that Another has taken a still lower place before him.

No matter how low we think we have placed ourselves,
no matter how little we think we have made ourselves,
no matter how diligently we think we have sought the last place of all,
no matter how completely we imagine ourselves to be
buried in silence,
there is Another, the Other,
who has forever laid claim to the lowest place,
who, though He be the infinite God,
Creator of all things visible and invisible,
has made Himself littler than a crumb of bread.

Has He not made Himself
the very last thing that remains
when all have left the banquet table:
a fragment of bread to be stored away?

Has He not entered into an inviolable silence
that astonishes even the angelic Choirs
and causes kings to fall silent and adore?

One does not become humble by striving to be so,
for all our striving is infected by an insidious pride.
One does not become humble by striking humble poses,
by affecting a humble speech,
or even by thinking humble thoughts.
And why?
Because humility belongs to God alone
who made it His own in the mystery of the Incarnation,
and who continues to make it His own
so often as the mystic words are uttered by a priest
over a little bread and a little wine mixed with water:
"This is My Body. This is the chalice of My Blood."
Here is the Mysterium Fidei:
the Eucharistic Humility of God.

Eat the Body of Christ, and digest the Divine Humility.
Drink the Blood of Christ;
it is the elixir of those who would hide themselves with Christ in God.

Since the event of the Incarnation
--the descent of God into the Virgin's womb,
in view of His descent into death's dark tomb--
and so often as Holy Mass is celebrated
--the descent of God into the frail appearance of Bread
and into the taste and fragrance and wetness
of a few drops of wine--
humility can be found nowhere else.

The very least and last of the guests
has become The Host,
and The Host
has made Himself the very least and last of the guests.

Tremble, then, to adore Him,
and having adored Him, receive Him,
that your soul may become the throne of the Humble Hidden God,
and His humility your most cherished treasure.

"Learn from Me," He says,
"for I am meek and humble of heart" (Matthew 11:29),
and again,
"Everyone that exalteth himself shall be humbled,
and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted" (Luke 14:11).

Adoremus in aeternum
sanctissimum et augustissimum Sacramentum.

The Transfiguration of the Lord

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Gazing on the Holy Face

One-hundred-fourteen years ago, on August 5th, 1897, the eve of the feast of the Transfiguration, a young Carmelite stricken with tuberculosis had a very special desire. She wanted an image of the Holy Face of Christ placed close to her bed. The image was brought from the choir and attached to her bed curtains. On the following September 30th, she died. Her name? Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face. Saint Thérèse, a Doctor of the Church, fixed her gaze on the Face of Christ disfigured by suffering, and found the transfiguration of her own suffering in its radiance.

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Preparation for the Mystery of the Cross

The Holy Face of Christ was a mystery familiar to Thérèse. As a result of the good works of the Venerable Léon Dupont, the "Holy Man of Tours," devotion to the Holy Face had spread throughout France. The Carmel of Lisieux honoured the Holy Face every August 6th, forty days before the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14th. Every August 6th, the Carmelites exposed the image of the Holy Face in their choir, anointed it with perfume, and prayed before it.

Hidden in the Secret of His Face

A year before her death on August 6, 1896, Thérèse and two of the novices entrusted to her consecrated themselves to the Holy Face of Jesus. They understood the mystery of the Transfiguration just as the liturgy presents it to us today: as a preparation for the Mystery of the Cross.

The three young Carmelites asked Our Lord to hide them "in the secret of His Face." They were drawn by the Holy Ghost into the abjection of Christ, the Suffering Servant described in chapters 52 and 53 of the prophet Isaiah. They desired to be Veronicas, consoling Jesus in His Passion, and offering Him souls. Their prayer concluded: "O beloved Face of Jesus! As we await the everlasting day when we will contemplate your infinite Glory, our one desire is to charm your Divine Eyes by hiding our faces too so that here on earth no one can recognize us. O Jesus! Your Veiled Gaze is our Heaven!"

Lectio Divina and Eucharistic Adoration

At the very center of the Transfiguration we see the Human Face of God, shining more brightly than the sun. Tradition gives us two privileged ways of seeking, of finding, and of contemplating the transfigured and transfiguring Face of Christ: the first is lectio divina in its two forms: the corporate choral lectio divina of the Sacred Liturgy, and the solitary lectio divina that prolongs the Sacred Liturgy and prepares it. One who seeks the Face of Christ in the Scriptures as dispensed to us by the Church will discover the Face of the Beloved peering through the lattice of the text, and will be changed by the experience. The second way is Eucharistic adoration. One who remains silent and adoring before the Divine Host, the "Veiled Gaze: of Jesus, will, almost imperceptibly, but surely, be transfigured and healed in its radiance.

Christ Waits for His Priests

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I wait for my priests.
I long to see them enter my sanctuary
and approach the tabernacle of my abiding presence.

I wait for them
in the Sacrament that I left for their sakes
as the expression of my Divine Friendship for my priests,
as their consolation in loneliness,
their strength in weakness,
their sweetness in life's bitterness.

When my priests seek my company
I am moved to show them the compassionate love of my Heart.
When they draw near to me
it is because I have already drawn near to them,
set my gaze upon them,
given them my Heart's love of predilection,
and claimed them for myself
and for my Bride, the Church.

If they come in search of my Eucharistic Face,
it is because the light of my Face
has already illumined their darkness.
Some see the light of my Face
and walk in its radiance.

Others see it and turn away,
choosing darkness over my light.
Even among my priests
there are those who forsake the light of my Face
for the demon-infested darkness
that will lead to their destruction.

How I grieve over those of my priests who turn from me.
How I grieve over those of my priests
who pretend not to have seen my light
nor to have recognized my Face.
These, like Peter in his weakness,
deny having known me.

Still, I wait for them to turn to me.
My Face is, at every moment, turned towards them.
I will give them light to return to me.
I wait for them in the Sacrament of my Love.

From In Sinu Iesu, The Journal of A Priest

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All Priest

In recalling the holiness of Saint Philip, it occurs to me that it was essentially this: he was all priest. He was always and everywhere a priest. His priesthood suffused his very being, making him incandescent with the fire of the Cross and of the altar. As we move toward the conclusion of the Year of the Priest, Saint Philip Neri makes his appearance to stimulate our generosity, and to show us what happens when a priest surrenders to the fire of Divine Love.

Spiritual Combat: The Seven Capital Sins

Have no illusions about priestly holiness. Like all men, priests are locked in a combat to the death with the seven capital sins: pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. Priests are, if anything, subject to more subtle and more violent temptations than anyone else because they are Satan’s preferred quarry. Is the propensity to any one particular sin worse than the propensity to another? I dare not speculate about secrets of conscience. God alone probes the mind and heart.

To God All Things Are Possible

Souls called in a particular way to offer themselves for the sanctification of the clergy should entertain no illusions about the seriousness of their apostolic mission. There were, there are, and in all likelihood, there will continue to be some prideful priests, covetous priests, lustful priests, angry priests, gluttonous priests, priests who are drunkards, priests who consumed by envy, and priests who are lazy. One might be tempted then to say with the disciples, “Why then, who can be saved?’ (Mk 10:26). Listen to Our Lord’s reply. Jesus spoke it, according to Saint Mark, with His eyes fastened on the disciples. “Such things are impossible to man’s powers, but not to God’s; to God, all things are possible” (Mk 10:27).

Spiritual Maternity

Read the appeal from Rome, asking women in all states of life to become spiritual mothers to priests, and calling for a worldwide movement of adoration in a spirit of reparation and supplication for the priesthood. It is not enough to read it once and file it away. Our Lord will hold those women who consent to spiritual motherhood accountable for the sins and for the sanctity of a multitude of priests. Does this shock you? It shouldn’t. Saint Paul says, “A man’s body is all one, though it has a number of different organs; and all this multitude of organs goes to make up one body; so it is with Christ. . . . If one part is suffering, all the rest suffer with it; if one part is treated with honour, all the rest find pleasure in it. And you are Christ’s body, organs of it depending upon each other” (1 Cor 12:12, 26-27). Again, the Apostle says in another place, “Bear the burden of one another’s failings; then you will be fulfilling the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2).

A Contagious Joy

Speaking to priests in Warsaw four years ago, Pope Benedict XVI said, “You have been chosen from among the people, appointed to act in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. Believe in the power of your priesthood!” Saint Philip Neri believed in the power of his priesthood, and from that belief flowed his outstanding characteristic: a contagious joy.

The Face of Christ

The loving gaze of Jesus is the origin, the present, and the future of every priestly vocation. Priestly devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, to His Eucharistic Face, is indispensable and it is, I would say, up to you to obtain that grace for them. This is not my personal idea. You will find it clearly expressed in the 2008 Message for the Day of Prayer for Priests, which opens with these words: “Reverend and dear Brothers in the Priesthood,
on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus let us fix the eyes of our minds and hearts with a constant loving gaze on Christ, the one Savior of our lives and of the world. Focusing on Christ means focusing on that Face which every human being, consciously or not, seeks as a satisfying response to his own insuppressible thirst for happiness. We have encountered this Face and on that day, at that moment, his Love so deeply wounded our hearts that we could no longer refrain from asking ceaselessly to be in his Presence.”

Adoration

Again, in his address to priests in Warsaw, the Holy Father enjoined them to practice Eucharistic Adoration as an antidote for the noise of the world, and to teach others to adore too. “In a world where there is so much noise, so much bewilderment, there is a need for silent adoration of Jesus concealed in the Host. Be assiduous in the prayer of adoration and teach it to the faithful. It is a source of comfort and light particularly to those who are suffering.”

Experts in Joy

Pope Benedict XVI teaches that, “the faithful expect only one thing from priests: that they be specialists in promoting the encounter between man and God. The priest is not asked to be an expert in economics, construction or politics. He is expected to be an expert in the spiritual life.” Saint Philip Neri was just that: an expert in the spiritual life and, precisely for that reason, he was an expert in joy.

Ineffable Joy

“You never saw Him but you learned to love Him,” says Saint Peter, “you may not see Him even now, but you believe in Him, and if you continue to believe in Him, how you will triumph! How ineffable your joy will be, and how sublime, when you reap the fruit of that faith of yours, the salvation of your souls” (1 P 1:8-9). May Saint Philip obtain for us today hearts open to the joy that no one can take from us and, with you, may he intercede for all priests that they, like him, may be experts in joy.


Letter to a Brother Priest

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Dear Father X,

You asked me the other day to write something that would encourage you to be faithful to your daily Eucharistic adoration. Here then are a few thoughts that came to me while at prayer. I share them with you simply, as one priest to another.

When you come into Our Lord's presence to adore Him, and when you prefer Him to the countless other things that solicit your attention and make claims upon your time, Jesus is consoled and glorified. The proof of friendship is the choice of one's friend over all else. Our Lord wants you to prefer Him, to give Him time that could be given to other persons and things. In so doing, you will show Him your love and offer Him the consolation of a true friendship.

The Lord Jesus asks this preferential love of all His priests. Friendship, if it is to thrive, must be practiced. This is as true of friendship with Our Divine Lord as it is of human friendships. Jesus waits for the companionship of His priests. With them He holds His priesthood -- and His victimhood -- in common. This is what makes the friendship of His priests so precious to His Sacred Heart.

With us priests Jesus shares the purest joy of living in the presence of His Immaculate Mother and of experiencing her maternal care in all the circumstances of priestly life. Given that friendship is based on treasured things held in common, Our Lord's friendship with His priests is unlike His friendship with other souls. The more we priests come to Him and linger in His presence, the more will He share with us the secrets and the treasures reserved for us in His Sacred Heart.

We priests are sometimes fearful of finding ourselves silent and alone in Our Lord's presence. When we come to adore Him and to offer Him the consolation of our company, He doesn't require that we speak to Him; it is enough that we remain in the radiance of His Eucharistic Face, allowing our hearts to go out to His Eucharistic Heart. If you have experienced this movement -- this leap -- of the heart to His Eucharistic Heart, and I trust you have, you will know of what I speak. Words are not always necessary. The engagement of the heart, on the other hand, is indispensable.

Weariness and fatigue are no obstacle to a fruitful time of adoration. They are incidental; what matters is the desire to seek the Eucharistic Face of Jesus and to abide in His company.

For one who loves, the time in Our Lord's presence passes quickly, storing up immense treasures of merit for souls. If you are offering your adoration in reparation and intercession for our brother priests, Our Lord considers the merits of your adoration as belonging to the neediest and most broken among them. Is that not the meaning of the prayer by which we begin our adoration here at the monastery?

Lord Jesus Christ, Priest and Victim,
behold, I kneel before Thy Eucharistic Face
on behalf of all Thy priests,
and especially those priests of Thine,
who at this moment are most in need
of Thy grace.
(N. and N.)
For them and in their place,
allow me to remain,
adoring and full of confidence,
close to Thy Open Heart,
hidden in this, the Sacrament of Thy Love.

Through the Sorrowful and Immaculate
Heart of Mary,
our Advocate and the Mediatrix of All Graces,
pour forth upon all the priests of Thy Church
that torrent of mercy that ever flows
from Thy pierced side:
to purify and heal them,
to refresh and sanctify them,
and, at the hour of their death,
to make them worthy of joining Thee
before the Father in the heavenly sanctuary
beyond the veil (Hb 6:19)
where Thou art always living
to make intercession
for us (Hb 7:25). Amen.

Father, you will not see in this life the good done to the souls of Christ's beloved priests, our brothers, by your fidelity to adoration, but in heaven it will be revealed to you, and this revelation will cause you an indescribable increase of delight in His presence.

Be the adorer of Jesus' Eucharistic Face, and draw other souls, those whom He will send you, into its radiance. Thus will your priesthood bear fruit, fruit that will last.

In lumine vultus Iesu,

Father Mark

Where our paths converge

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Learn From the Saints

Yes, Our Lord would have you learn from His saints. It is good to study the saints and receive their teachings. Draw inspiration from their friendship with the Lord Jesus, but don't try to imitate them slavishly on every point. Each of Our Lord's friends arrives at union with Him by the path traced for that particular soul by the Holy Spirit. Even when two paths may appear similar, they are not identical. All of these paths converge in union with Our Lord in the light of His Face, and all of them lead to the open door of His Sacred Heart.

A Secret of Love

Certain souls are called into the way of adoration. Our Lord asks them to abide before His Eucharistic Face and to make it possible for others to do the same. Even when many souls are called to the same way of life, each soul has her own secret of love, a way of experiencing the friendship of Christ most intimately, that can be shared with no one else.

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A Personal Love

Jesus' love is a personal love. He loves each soul that He has created as if that soul were the only soul in the universe, and He adapts His infinite love to the particular sensibilities and needs of that soul with all the wisdom and tenderness of His Divine Heart.

Humility and Trust

Trust in the path that Christ has opened before you and be faithful to it. Allow His love to direct all things. Remain little and humble. Allow Him to direct and determine the course of events and the growth of His works. The more faithful you are to adoring Him in the Sacrament of His Love, the more will He be faithful to you in manifesting the wonders of HIs providence.

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Remain Before Him

Fatigue and distractions in adoration are no impediment to His action in the depths of your soul. Go before Him and remain before Him even when you feel that your adoration is no more than a struggle and a failure to remain attentive in love and focused on His Eucharistic Face.

In the prayer of adoration, your feelings are of no importance. What matters in Jesus' sight is your humility and your willingness to endure distractions, fatigue, and even sleepiness while adoring Him from the heart of your heart. Know that even when you feel that your adoration has been a waste of time, in His plan it is something fruitful and very pleasing to Him. He does not see things as you see them nor does He measure their value as you measure it.

The images depict Saint Paschal Baylon, Saint Peter Julian Eymard, and the Servant of God, Father Augustin-Marie du T. S. Sacrement (Hermann Cohen).

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I sometimes wonder if those of you who keep watch before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus for the sake of His priests, really grasp the significance of your adoration. Allow me on this Lenten First Friday of March to suggest something of what you are doing, and of what Our Lord is doing through you, when you persevere in prayer close to the tabernacle or in the radiance of the monstrance containing His adorable Body and Blood.

A Divine Work

You are participating in a divine work, in a work of grace. You are before Our Lord's Eucharistic Face as an empty vessel to be filled with the power and sweetness of the Holy Spirit, so that souls might drink of His Love and, drinking, know that His Love is sweeter than any earthly delight.

Intercession

You are before Our Lord's Eucharistic Face as an intercessor in whose soul the Holy Spirit is sighing with ineffable groanings, and obtaining from the Father, through Christ, the Eternal High Priest, all that the Father desires to give His priests in this world and in the next.

Reparation

You are a reparator opening yourself to receive the love that so many others ignore, refuse, or treat with indifference, coldness, and disdain. By offering yourself to the Lord Jesus in an adoration of reparation, you console His Eucharistic Heart, which burns with love and so desires to fill souls with His tender mercy.

Friendship

When you are before HIs Eucharistic Face, you are the privileged friend of His Heart, keeping Him company in His loneliness and allowing Him to share with you His sorrows, His grieving over sin, and His designs for a priesthood made pure and radiant with holiness.

Victimhood

When you are before Our Lord's Eucharistic Face, you are with Him a victim of love, handed over and bound to remain at your place before the altar with no desires or plans other than to love, to adore, to make reparation, and to represent all priests in a prayer that simple, and confident, and life-changing.

The Work of Christ the Priest

When you are in adoration before His Eucharistic Face, you are are not idle; you are working in a way far more efficacious than any human undertaking can be. This is your work and it is Christ's work in you. This is a work that many will criticize and not understand. You are before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus in a divinely active collaboration with Him, who from the Sacrament of His Love, continues His priestly mediation before the Father on behalf of poor sinners.

Never Doubt

Never doubt of the value of your hours of adoration. It is this that Our Lord is asking you to do, and He will draw from your presence in the sanctuary a great good and a superabundance of graces for His priests.

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A Thursday of Adoration and Reparation

For the very first time, our embryonic monastery observed the Thursday of Adoration and Reparation for Priests. Being three, we were able to prolong our adoration before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus for the sake of our brothers, His beloved priests. Our tiny oratory has become a sanctuary of adoration, and this in response to the particular mandate given us by Bishop Slattery.

Saint John Leonardi

Also today, my Benedictine confrère, Father Samuel Weber, sent me the text of the Holy Father's General Audience for the 400th anniversary of the death of Saint John Leonardi, Founder of the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God, and patron saint of pharmacists. The whole text is worth meditating, especially in the context of the Year of the Priesthood, but the following lines went straight to my heart:

The Splendor of the Holy Face of Jesus

Saint John Leonardi's existence was always enlightened by the splendor of the "Holy Face" of Jesus, kept and venerated in the Cathedral Church of Lucca, becoming the eloquent symbol and the indisputable synthesis of the faith that animated him. Conquered by Christ like the Apostle Paul, he pointed out to his disciples, and continues to point out to all of us, the Christocentric ideal for which "it is necessary to divest oneself of every self interest and only look to the service of God," having "before the mind's eye only the honor, service and glory of Christ Jesus Crucified."

And the Maternal Face of Mary

Along with the face of Christ, he fixed his gaze on the maternal face of Mary. She whom he chose patroness of his order, was for him teacher, sister and mother, and he felt her constant protection. May the example and intercession of this "fascinating man of God" be, particularly in this Year for Priests, a call and encouragement for priests and for all Christians to live their own vocations with passion and enthusiasm.

A Patron of Parish Priests

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Saint Gaetano Catanoso

Antiphon: Lord, when was it that we saw Thee hungry and fed Thee,
or thirsty and gave Thee drink?
When was it that we saw Thee a stranger,
and brought Thee home,
sick or in prison and came to Thee?
And the King will answer them:
Believe me, when you did it to one of the least of my brethren here,
you did it to me.

V. Pray for us, Saint Gaetano.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

Stir up, O Lord, in our hearts
the spirit of adoration and reparation
that filled Saint Gaetano, Your priest,
that we, having our eyes fixed, like his,
on the Eucharistic Face of Jesus,
may live in ceaseless prayer
and in the humble service of those
most in need of compassion.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

The Priest of the Holy Face of Jesus

Gaetano Catanoso was born on 14 February 1879 in Chorio di San Lorenzo, Reggio Calabria, Italy. His parents, prosperous landowners, were exemplary Christians. Gaetano was ordained a priest in 1902, and from 1904 to 1921 he served in the rural parish of Pentidattilo.

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Adorer of the Eucharistic Face

The Holy Face of Jesus illumined Father Catanoso's life. He venerated the Holy Face as depicted in the image of Veronica's Veil diffused by the Carmel of Tours in France. He began "The Holy Face" Bulletin and established a local chapter of the "Archconfraternity of the Holy Face" in 1920. "The Holy Face," he wrote, "is my life." Saint Gaetano directed anyone seeking the Face of Christ to the Most Holy Eucharist, saying, "If we wish to adore the real Face of Jesus, we can find it in the divine Eucharist where, with the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Face of our Lord is hidden under the white veil of the Host."

A Eucharistic Parish Priest

On 2 February 1921, Father Catanoso was transferred to the large parish of Santa Maria de la Candelaria. He served there until 1940. The daily celebration of Holy Mass and Eucharistic adoration were the soul of his priesthood and the sustenance of his apostolate.

As the parish priest of Candelaria, Saint Gaetano drew people to Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar and renewed devotion to the Madonna. The plight of orphans moved him to undertake a number of charitable initiatives. He played an active role in the catechetical instruction of children and young people. Deeply moved by the message of the Blessed Virgin Mary at La Salette, Father Gaetano preached against blasphemy and taught the faithful to sanctify Sundays and the feasts of the Church.

Father Catanoso was compelled to reach out to orphans and to children suffering from neglect and abuse. He sought to provide youth with Christian role models. His charity extended to the forsaken elderly and to priests who found themselves isolated and without support. In all who suffered Father Gaetano saw the Face of Christ. His ardent love for the Most Holy Eucharist found expression in the restoration of churches and abandoned tabernacles.

Servant of Priests

"The Missionary of the Holy Face" spent hours or entire days in prayer before the Tabernacle. In his parish and beyond it he promoted Eucharistic Adoration in the spirit of reparation. He set up "flying-squads" of priests willing to assist other priests by preaching and hearing confessions on special occasions. In 1915 Saint Gaetano published for the first time a "Eucharistic Holy Hour" for priests. Saint Gaetano never let a single day pass without speaking of the Holy Face of Jesus.

Victim Priest

Father Gaetano patiently accepted sickness and, in the last stage of his life, blindness, desiring to unite himself to the saving Passion of Christ. In 1929 he offered himself as a victim priest to the Heart of Jesus.

La Madonna

Saint Gaetano's devotion to the Madonna was tender and childlike. He began praying the rosary daily as a little boy and remained faithful to the practice until his death. The rosary never left his hands, becoming for him a ceaseless prayer of the heart. To all who approached him for spiritual counsel he communicated his love of the Mother of God and his confidence in her intercession.

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Spiritual Father and Founder

From 1921 to 1950 Saint Gaetano served as confessor to various religious communities and in the Reggio Calabria prison. He served as spiritual director of the Archdiocesan Seminary. Everyone called him "Father," a title not normally given parish priests in Italy. He was, in fact, a beloved spiritual father generating holiness of life in countless priests and consecrated women. Father Gaetano's simple and ardent preaching attracted sinners to the contemplation of the Holy Face of Jesus and inspired souls to imitate his life of adoration and reparation.

In 1934, Father Catanoso founded in Riparo, Reggio Calabria, the Congregation of the Sisters Veronicas of the Holy Face of Jesus. The Sisters devote themselves to Eucharistic adoration and reparation to the Holy Face, catechesis, assistance to children, youth, priests and the elderly.

Canonized Three Years Ago

Father Gaetano Catanoso died on the Thursday of Passion Week, April 4, 1963. Pope John Paul II beatified him on May 4, 1997. Pope Benedict XVI canonized him on October 23, 2005. The liturgical memorial of Saint Gaetano Catanoso was fixed on September 20, the date of his ordination to the holy priesthood.

An American Cousin

Saint Gaetano's American cousin, Justin Catanoso, wrote a book recounting his experience of having a saint in the family. Visit Justin's website here.

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The liturgical memorial of Saint Gaetano Catanoso occurs on September 20th. Pope Benedict XVI canonized him on October 23, 2005. In the homily of the Mass of Canonization, the Holy Father said:

Saint Gaetano Catanoso was a lover and apostle of the Holy Face of Jesus. "The Holy Face", he affirmed, "is my life. He is my strength". With joyful intuition he joined this devotion to Eucharistic piety.

He would say: "If we wish to adore the real Face of Jesus..., we can find it in the divine Eucharist, where with the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Face of Our Lord is hidden under the white veil of the Host".

Daily Mass and frequent adoration of the Sacrament of the Altar were the soul of his priesthood: with ardent and untiring pastoral charity he dedicated himself to preaching, catechesis, the ministry of confession, and to the poor, the sick and the care of priestly vocations. To the Congregation of the Daughters of St Veronica, Missionaries of the Holy Face, which he founded, he transmitted the spirit of charity, humility and sacrifice which enlivened his entire life.


Your Veiled Gaze Is Our Heaven

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Future Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle

The Most Reverend Edward J. Slattery, bishop of Tulsa, Oklahoma, intends to establish in his diocese a monastery of Benedictine Monks (Adorers of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, O.S.B.) dedicated to adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist, intercession and reparation for priests, and the spiritual support of the clergy through hospitality, days of recollection, and retreats.

In This Year of the Priesthood

The project takes on a compelling relevance in the context of this Year of the Priesthood. It is moreover a direct response to the Letter of Cardinal Hummes, Prefect of the Congregation of the Clergy, dated 7 December 2007. Will we be able to break ground for the new Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle during this Year of the Priesthood? Much depends on the generous donations of the faithful. Until now we have not been able to obtain the financial support necessary to launch this noble and worthy work.

Prayer for Priests

The connection of the project with yesterday's Feast of the Transfiguration and with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is striking. The saint added to her name in Carmel the title, "of the Holy Face," and said upon entering the cloister, "I have come to pray for priests."

Gazing on the Holy Face

It was August 5th, 1897, the eve of the feast of the Transfiguration: the 24 year old Carmelite stricken with tuberculosis had a very special desire. She wanted an image of the Holy Face of Christ placed close to her bed. The image was brought from the choir and attached to her bed curtains. On the following September 30th,Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face died. Saint Thérèse, a Doctor of the Church, fixed her gaze on the Face of Christ disfigured by suffering, and found the transfiguration of her own suffering in its radiance.

Preparation for the Mystery of the Cross

The Holy Face of Christ was a mystery familiar to Thérèse. As a result of the good works of the Venerable Léon Dupont, the "Holy Man of Tours," devotion to the Holy Face had spread throughout France. The Carmel of Lisieux honoured the Holy Face every August 6th, forty days before the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14th. Every August 6th, the Carmelites exposed the image of the Holy Face in their choir and prayed before it.

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Hidden in the Secret of His Face

A year before her death on August 6, 1896, Thérèse and two novices entrusted to her consecrated themselves to the Holy Face of Jesus. They understood the mystery of the Transfiguration just as the liturgy presents it to us: as a preparation for the Mystery of the Cross.

The three young Carmelites asked Our Lord to hide them "in the secret of His Face." They were drawn by the Holy Spirit into the abjection of Christ, the Suffering Servant described in chapters 52 and 53 of the prophet Isaiah. They desired to be Veronicas, consoling Jesus in His Passion, and offering Him souls. Their prayer concluded: "O beloved Face of Jesus! As we await the everlasting day when we will contemplate your infinite Glory, our one desire is to charm your Divine Eyes by hiding our faces too so that here on earth no one can recognize us. O Jesus! Your Veiled Gaze is our Heaven!"

Lectio Divina and Eucharistic Adoration

The Transfiguration is the Human Face of God shining more brightly than the sun. Tradition gives us two privileged ways of seeking, of finding, and of contemplating the transfigured and transfiguring Face of Christ: the first is lectio divina. One who seeks the Face of Christ in the Scriptures -- the Face of the Beloved peering through the lattice of the text -- will be changed by the experience. The second way is Eucharistic adoration. One who remains silent and adoring before the Divine Host will be transfigured and healed in its radiance.

To Seek God

The Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle in the Diocese of Tulsa will be a place wherein priests and deacons may go apart for one thing only: to seek God. And where is God to be found except in Christ? "The knowledge of the glory of God," says Saint Paul, "is given to us in the Face of His Christ" (2 Cor 4:6).

Yesterday's Introit is the liturgical expression of this spirituality of the Holy Face. "Thou hast said, 'Seek ye my Face.' My heart says to thee, 'Thy Face, Lord, do I seek.' Hide not thy Face from me" (Ps 27:8-9a). The Holy Spirit works in lectio divina and Eucharistic adoration to reproduce in us the traits of the Holy Face of Christ. Pope Benedict XVI has recommended that both forms of seeking the Holy Face -- lectio divina and Eucharistic adoration -- be part of one's daily rhythm of prayer.

Infinite Beauty

The Face of Christ is "the splendor before which every other light pales, and the infinite beauty which alone can fully satisfy the human heart" (Vita Consecrata, art. 16). How fitting that, in the Greek text of today's gospel, Saint Peter's cry can, in fact, be translated, "Lord, it is beautiful for us to be here" (Mk 9:5)! In the transfigured Face of Christ we discover, in the words of Saint Clare of Assisi, "Him who gave Himself totally for our love, whose beauty the sun and moon admire, whose rewards and their preciousness and greatness are without end” (Letter III to Agnes of Prague).

Become What You Contemplate

Like Moses, to whom "the Lord used to speak face to face, as a man speaks to his friend" (Ex 33:11), and whose "face shone because he had been talking with God" (Ex 34:29), a soul faithful to lectio divina and to Eucharistic adoration will be transformed into the image that she contemplates. We become what we contemplate. One who contemplates disfigured things becomes inwardly disfigured. One who contemplates transfigured things becomes inwardly transfigured.

The Prophet Daniel

Yesterday's lesson from the prophet Daniel showed him awestruck in the presence of the Son of Man. Like Peter, James, and John on the holy mountain, Daniel is dazzled by the raiment of the Son of Man, white as snow (Dan 7:9). Again, like Peter, James, and John who were "heavy with sleep" (Lk 9:32), Daniel falls on his face, "in a deep sleep with his face to the ground" (Dan 10:9). This is no ordinary sleep; it is rather a mysterious sleep induced by the awesome proximity of the Divine, not unlike the sleep of Adam described in Genesis. "So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man” (Gen 2:21).

Fear Not, Daniel

Daniel describes what happened then. "And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees" (Dan 10:10). The touch of the hand of the Son of Man raises Daniel from his complete prostration. "And he said to me, 'O Daniel, man greatly beloved, give heed to the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.' While he was speaking this word to me, says Daniel, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, 'Fear not, Daniel'" (Dan 10:11-12).

The experience of Daniel ends with him being told to stand upright. It is a kind of resurrection. This too, the call to stand upright, to take our place with the risen Son, facing the Father, in the Holy Spirit, is part of our own transfiguration into the Victimal Priesthood of Christ. The soul transfigured stands before the Father, joyful and free, certain of being greatly beloved, and invested with the noble beauty of Christ's royal priesthood.

Holy Mass

At Holy Mass, priest, deacon, and people together ascend the mountain with Christ. In the reading of the Scriptures, Our Lord reveals His Face; and in the hearing of the Word we go, as the Vulgate puts it, "from clarity to clarity." Today, Moses and Elijah attest to Christ, the fulfillment of the Law and of the Prophets, and point to the mystery of His Exodus by way of the Cross and tomb, from the regions of darkness and of death into the very light and life of the Father.

Passing in every Mass from the Liturgy of the Word to the Liturgy of the Holy Sacrifice, we, like Peter, James, and John, see his glory, not with eyes of flesh, but with the eyes of faith and by the light of the Holy Spirit. We know Him really present in the bread become His Body and in the wine become His Blood and, like Peter, cry out, "Master, it is beautiful to be here" (Lk 9:33).

The altar of the Holy Sacrifice is our Mount Tabor. Over the altar resounds the voice of the Father, "This is my Son, the Chosen One; listen to him" (Lk 10:35). Invisibly yet truly; mystically yet really, the altar -- and all of us who from it partake of the Body and Blood of Christ -- are enveloped in the cloud of the Holy Spirit and assumed into the grand priestly prayer of Christ to the Father.

Eucharistic Transfiguration

The grace of yesterday's festival was our own Eucharistic transfiguration. Our Lord would take each of us and all of us into His hands, to become with Him, in the Holy Spirit, one single oblation to the Father. Without fear, give yourselves over, then, as victims into the wounded hands of our glorious Priest. He will consecrate you with Himself in the Holy Sacrifice. Then the Father, looking down from heaven, will recognize in each of us the Holy Face of His Son, the Beloved, for by the mystery of the Eucharist we are "being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another" (2 Cor 3:18).

If you would like to make a contribution toward building the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle, please send it to:

Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle
1132 East 21st Street
Tulsa, OK 74114

Kindly indicate that your contribution is for the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle. Thank you for your generosity. May Our Lord Jesus Christ through the intercession of Saint Thérèse, make the light of His Eucharistic Face shine upon you.

Hide Not Thy Face From Me

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Pray the Chaplet

Another form of prayer suitable for the Novena of the Holy Face is the Chaplet of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus. Pray it on ordinary rosary beads. Apart from the opening antiphon, which was composed by Saint Thomas Aquinas for the Office of Corpus Christi, it is entirely drawn from Sacred Scripture. It incorporates all four steps of lectio divina: lectio (the Word heard); meditatio (the Word repeated); oratio (the Word prayed), and contemplatio (the Word's embrace).

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O Sacred Banquet in which Christ is received,
the memory of His passion is renewed,
the soul is filled with grace,
and a pledge of future glory is given us, (alleluia).

Before each decade:

My soul is thirsting for God, the strong and living God;
when shall I enter and see the Face of God? (Ps 41:3)

On the Hail Mary beads:

It is Thy Eucharistic Face, O Lord, that I seek;
hide not Thy Face from me. (cf. Ps 26:8-9).

After each decade:

Behold, O God our protector,
and look upon the Face of Thy Christ. (Ps 83:10)

In conclusion, three times:

Father, glorify the Eucharistic Face of Thy Son,
that Thy Son may glorify Thee (cf. Jn 17:1)

Novena of the Holy Face of Jesus

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A Day Rich in Graces

-- Today, February 15th, is Sexagesima Sunday. In Rome the stational church is the Basilica of Saint Paul-Outside-the-Walls. This is reflected in the traditional Collect for today's Mass and Office: "O God, Who seest that that we put not our trust in anything we do of ourselves; mercifully grant that by the protection of the Doctor of the Gentiles we may be defended against all adversity."

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-- It is the feast of Saint Claude La Colombière, the spiritual father of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque and the Apostle of the Sacred Heart. Our Lord said this about him to Saint Margaret Mary: "Turn to my servant and tell him from Me to do all he can to establish this devotion and to give this pleasure to my Divine Heart. Tell him not to be discouraged by the difficulties he will meet with, for they will not be lacking. But he must learn that he is all-powerful who completely distrusts himself to place his trust in Me alone."

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-- It is also the feast of Blessed Michael Sopocko, the spiritual father of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska and the Apostle of Divine Mercy. Concerning Blessed Michael Sopocko, Our Lord said to Saint Faustina: "He is a priest after My own Heart. . . . As a result of his efforts, a new light will shine in the Church of God for the consolation of souls."

-- And today marks the beginning of the Annual Novena in honour of the Most Holy Face of Jesus. The feast of the Holy Face is celebrated on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. I invite the readers of Vultus Christi to join me in praying daily this Litany of the Holy Face.

Praying the Litany

Litanies are among the oldest forms of Christian prayer. They invite us, not to a mechanical and vain repetition of words, but to a prolonged contemplation of one or another of the mysteries of our faith, shot through with an insistent appeal for mercy. Pray the Litany of the Holy Face quietly and slowly. Allow each invocation to open the eyes of your soul to the adorable countenance of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Human Face of God.

The Litany of the Holy Face of Jesus


Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven,
R. Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world.
R. Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost,
R. Have mercy on us.

Most Holy Face of Jesus, radiant splendour of the Father,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.

Most Holy Face of Jesus, spotless mirror of the majesty of God and image of His goodness,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.

Most Holy Face of Jesus, where radiates the consuming fire of the Holy Spirit,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.

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The mystery of the Face of Christ is a constant motif in the writings and teachings of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Again, at the Angelus on the Second Sunday of Advent, he spoke of the Face of Jesus and of Mary Immaculate, Pure Reflection of the beauty that shines from the Face of her Son.

Beloved, in Mary Immaculate we contemplate the reflection of the Beauty that saves the world: the beauty of God that shines on the Face of Christ. In Mary, this beauty is totally pure, humble, free of all pride and presumption. The Virgin showed herself in this way to St. Bernadette 150 years ago in Lourdes, and in this way she is venerated in so many shrines.

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Are you willing to commit yourself to one hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament every Thursday in intercession and reparation for priests? The hour may be made before the tabernacle or before the Blessed Sacrament exposed. Should it be impossible to make it before the Blessed Sacrament, one can, from any place, offer it in spirit before the tabernacle in the world where Our Lord is most forsaken, neglected, and forgotten.

O my beloved Jesus,
I give and consecrate to Thee this Thursday and all the Thursdays of my life,
in praise of the adorable Mystery of Thy Body and Blood,
and in thanksgiving for that of the Priesthood.

Moved by Thy Holy Spirit,
and full of confidence in the help of Thy Most Holy Mother, the Virgin Mary,
Mother of Priests,
I resolve to live each Thursday for the rest of my days here below
in adoration and in reparation for priests
and, especially, for those who do not adore Thee,
for those who are most wounded in their souls,
and for those who are exposed to the attacks of the powers of darkness.
I want to remain before Thy Eucharistic Face for them and in their place;
I want to draw near, in their name, to Thy open Heart,
ever-flowing with the Blood and the Water that purify,
heal, and sanctify all souls,
but, first of all, those of Thy priests.

Let each Thursday find me close to the Sacrament of Thy Body and Blood,
in adoration and reparation for the sake of all Thy priests.
Make me an entirely Eucharistic soul,
according to the desires of Thy Sacred Heart
and the designs of Thy merciful goodness upon my life.
I desire nothing else.
I want to love Thee more each day;
I want to be the faithful adorer of Thy Eucharistic Face
and the consoling friend of Thy Sacred Heart
hidden in the tabernacles of the world,
where it beats, wounded by love, forgotten, forsaken,
and waiting for the adoration and for the love of even one priest.
Amen.

Adoro Te

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A Sunday Adoration


I adore Thee who art present here before me.
I adore Thee with all the love of my heart.
I adore Thee humbly.
I adore Thee in faith.
I adore Thee because Thou art God ever worthy of all adoration,
and because Thou hast called me to adore Thee
in this the Sacrament of Thy Redeeming Love.

Here is Thy Blessed Passion,
here Thy immolated Flesh,
here Thy Precious Blood,
here Thy holy and glorious wounds,
here Thy pierced side,
here Thy Sacred Heart all-burning with love,
here Thy merciful priesthood exercised eternally on behalf of poor sinners,
here Thy adorable Face, so humiliated and disfigured in Thy bitter sufferings,
and now so ineffably radiant and divinely beautiful.
All of this I adore
so often as I bow low before the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

I adore Thee to thank Thee, insofar as I am able,
for all the benefits that flow from this Most Holy Sacrament
and, in particular, for those graces of purity, healing, and holiness
that Thou reservest here for Thy priests.

All that Thou givest Thy priests, beloved Lord Jesus,
redounds to Thy glory, because through them, as through "other selves" of Thine,
Thou dost sanctify and speak to souls.
Through Thy priests Thou prolongest Thy saving sacrifice in the world
from the rising of the sun to the setting thereof.
Through thy priests Thou givest pardon to the sinner,
healing to the sick,
hope to the despondent,
and peace to those whose hearts are troubled.

I adore Thee, too, to make reparation
for those who do not adore Thee present in this the Sacrament of Thy Love.
I adore Thee in reparation for those priests of Thine who,
though charged with the Sacred Mysteries of Thy Body and Blood,
have lost all sense of wonder, and rarely remain, freely and willingly,
before Thy Eucharistic Face, close to Thy Eucharistic Heart.

I adore Thee, O Silent Word, in reparation for the noise and lack of reverence
that so often fills Thy sanctuaries,
and for the indifference and neglect that has befallen Thee
in so many tabernacles where Thou art present, but forsaken.

I adore Thee, O Lamb of God, in reparation for my own innumerable sins
and for the sins of my brother priests,
trusting utterly in Thy boundless mercy
and in Thy readiness to restore by Thy grace whatever we have lost by sin.

I adore Thee, Radiant Splendour of the Father, because in approaching Thee,
I approach Thy Father,
and because in adoring Thee
I glorify Thy Father Who so loved the world
that He sent Thee into it,
that by Thy Sacrifice all creation might be cleansed
and all things made new.

I adore Thee, Victim and Priest,
begging Thee to unite me to Thy own oblation.
Draw me to Thy Open Heart by the action of Thy Holy Spirit,
that through Thee, and with Thee, and in Thee,
I may pass already from before this altar
where I contemplate Thee hidden beneath the sacramental veils
into the glory of Thy Kingdom
where the praise of Thy Father in the Holy Spirit is perfect and unending.
Amen.

Hidden, And So Often Left Alone

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This magnificent tabernacle door depicting the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus and His Five Holy Wounds is found in Saint Stephen's Catholic Church in Skipton, North Yorkshire, England.

Lord Jesus,
I come before Thy Eucharistic Face today
by placing myself in spirit close to that tabernacle in the world
where Thou art most forsaken, most ignored, and most forgotten.

And because Thou hast asked me for my heart,
I offer it to Thee
to keep company with Thy Sacred Heart, Thy priestly and Eucharistic Heart.
I adore Thee in a spirit of reparation for all the priests of the Church,
but especially for those who never, or rarely,
pause to be still in Thy presence,
there to rest their hearts,
there to put down their burdens,
there to receive from Thee new strengths,
new lights, and new capacities to love, to pardon, and to bless.

I do not want to depart from before this tabernacle today,
wherever it may be.
I want, at every instant, to remain there prostrate in the adoration
Thou waitest to receive from Thy priests.

I unite myself to the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces
and first Adorer of Thy Eucharistic Face.
By her most pure Heart, may the prayers that rise in mine
ascend even to Thine own open Heart,
hidden, and so often left alone,
alone in the Sacrament of Thy Love. Amen.

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Thanks to the encouragement of Father Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S., and the expertise of Webmaster Richard Chonak, this blog's first entry was on September 1, 2006, the very day of Pope Benedict XVI's pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Holy Face at Manoppello. This is what I wrote:

Hearts in Pilgrimage

Today our hearts are in spiritual pilgrimage as we follow Pope Benedict XVI to the Shrine of the Holy Face of Manoppello in the Abruzzo region of Italy. I got up at 3:30 a.m. to witness the event transmitted live via internet from Manoppello. Upon arrival the Holy Father knelt in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and then made his way behind the altar and up the steps leading to the back of the reliquary. A Capuchin Father opened the glass door for him and, in that moment, I saw Peter face-to-face with the precious image of his Master crucified and risen. The Holy Father looked intently at the Face of the Lord. The Pope's gaze was one of childlike wonder.

The Generation of Those Who Seek the Face of God

In his discourse the Holy Father invited us to be "the generation of those who seek the Face of the God of Jacob" (Ps 23:6). One who desires to contemplate the Face of God, he said, must approach His holy place "with clean hands and a pure heart" (Ps 23:4). "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God" (Mt 5:8). The Holy Father described the Christian life as a continual seeking after the Face of Christ. "It is thy face, O Lord, that I seek; hide not thy face from me" (Ps 26:8-9). Addressing the many priests present, he invited them to open themselves to the imprint of the holiness of the Face of Christ. We will have occasion to return to the Holy Father's discourse and to learn from it.

The Verbum Crucis

For the moment, let us turn our hearts to the Word of God given us by the liturgy today; it too opens onto the mystery of the Holy Face. When Saint Paul speaks to us in today's First Reading of "the word of the Cross" (1 Cor 1:18), he is referring not only to an event, and not only to a message. The Verbum crucis is the mystery of Christ Himself who is the Word Crucified. One who contemplates the Holy Face of Jesus gazes upon the Word Crucified. The image of the Holy Face of Manoppello draws us into the heart of the Paschal Mystery; it is an icon of the Word crucified, buried, and waking to the glory of the Father in the resurrection.

The Face of the Power and Wisdom of God

If you would know "the power of God" (1 Cor 1:24), expose yourself to the Face of Christ. If you would know "the wisdom of God" (1 Cor 1:24), study the Face of Christ. The image of the Holy Face reveals that "the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Cor 1:25). Those who look upon the Face of Jesus with a pure heart discover there "the secret and hidden wisdom of God" (1 Cor 2:7). "None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Cor 2:8).

The Face of the Bridegroom in the Night

In the Gospel we see that the one desire of the virgins waiting in the night was to catch the first glimpse of the Bridegroom's face. Our Lord invites us to be vigilant, to keep watch with lighted lamps and to feed their flame with the oil of a pure, adoring love, a love that consumes itself while waiting for the unfading light of His Holy Face. "Even the darkness is not dark to thee," says the psalmist, "the night is bright as the day; for darkness is light with thee" Ps 138:12).

The Eucharistic Face of Christ

The Bridegroom comes in the mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist. The human face is the expression of a presence that is personal and real. The human face is the epiphany of the heart, and Christ Jesus is the Human Face of God. The Eucharist is the Human Face of God - His real presence - turned toward us to reveal the burning desire of His Heart: "With desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you, before I suffer" (Lk 22:15).

Bring your lighted lamps - hearts aflame with faith, hope, and love - before the Blessed Sacrament today. The Bridegroom will make the light of His Eucharistic Face shine upon you. Last October 23rd in his homily for the canonization of Saint Gaetano Catanoso, Pope Benedict XVI quoted the humble priest of Calabria, saying: "If we wish to adore the real Face of Jesus, we can find it in the divine Eucharist, where with the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Face of Our Lord is hidden under the white veil of the Host." In every Mass we should want to cry out, "Behold, the Bridegroom comes! Go forth to meet him!" (Mt 25:6).

Reparation

Prayer before the Eucharistic Face of Christ will always have a character of reparation. Reparation belongs to the vocabulary of love. It is an imperative of the heart. Yesterday Pope Benedict XVI addressed priests of the diocese of Albano at Castel Gandolfo. The most insistent advice he gave them had to do with prayer and notably with the prayer of reparation. "Prayer," he said to them, "is not time taken away from our pastoral responsibility; it is precisely pastoral work to pray, to pray also for others ... substituting ourselves for others who perhaps do not know how to pray, who do not want to pray, or who do not find time to pray."

Do this today. Go before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, substituting yourselves there for those who do not know where to seek His Face, for those who do not know how to seek His Face. Expose yourselves to the radiance of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus for those who do not want to pray and for those who are afraid of prayer. For the sake of those who find no time to adore, be generous today in adoring Him whose Face is hidden beneath the sacramental veils.

A Pilgrimage Not Made in Vain

"Now we see in a mirror darkly, but then face to face" (1 Cor 13:12). Let not the Holy Father's pilgrimage to the Holy Face of Manoppello be in vain: in the dark night of this world let us become "the generation of those who seek the Face of the God of Jacob" (Ps 23:6). "Behold, the Bridegroom comes! Go forth to meet him!" (Mt 25:6).

Vere tu es Deus absconditus

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Nineteenth Sunday of the Year A

1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a
Psalm 84, 9, 10, 11-12, 13-14
Romans 9:1-5
Matthew 14:23-33

Christ in Solitude

Today's Gospel begins with the absence of Jesus. It takes place after the miraculous multiplication of the loaves prefiguring the gift of the Most Holy Eucharist. Jesus has withdrawn into solitude on the mountain. It is night. There, hidden from the eyes of His apostles, He prays to His "Father who sees what is done in secret" (Mt 6:6). "He went up by Himself on to the hill-side, to pray there; twilight had come, and He remained there alone" (Mt 14:23). In two brief sentences, Saint Matthew twice emphasizes the aloneness of Jesus. This would indicate that we are to attend to the solitude of Our Lord. It is, in some way, an invitation to enter into the prayer of Christ in solitude.

A Stormy Night

Mysteriously, Jesus is away from His apostles and, at the same time, present to them. Not only is it night; it is a stormy night. "The ship was already half-way across the sea, hard put to it by the waves, for the wind was against them" (Mt 14:24). Jesus is present to His apostles in the storm-tossed boat because He is present to His Father, who "probes us and knows us, who knows when we sit and when we stand, who discerns all our thoughts from afar" (cf. Ps 138: 1-2). Jesus is present to the Father for whom "the night shines clear as the day itself; light and dark are one" (Ps 138:12).

Linger over the mystery of Jesus' absence: an absence that is presence; a presence that, in the dark night of faith, we experience as absence. Jesus' presence to the Father renders Him wholly present to us. Yielding Himself to the Father in a movement of adoring love, Jesus yields Himself to us in a movement of compassion. There is no artificial separation here between contemplation and action, between presence to the Father and presence to Peter's fragile bark tossed on stormy seas.

The Hidden God

The Christ of today's Gospel is hidden on the mountain with the Father; the Ascended Christ is hidden with the Father in glory; the Eucharistic Christ (Gesù sacramentato, in Italian) is hidden beneath the sacramental veils. Christ is the Deus absconditus: "Verily thou art a hidden God, the God of Israel the Saviour" (Is 45:15).

With Us As He Promised

Jesus comes to the apostles in the fourth watch of the night; their boat, by this time, is many furlongs from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind is against them. In just the same way, Our Lord comes to us in our stormy nights; He comes to us without leaving the Father, just as He goes to the Father without leaving us (cf. Jn 16:28), for He is with us as He promised, even to the end of time (Mt 28:20).

The Word proceeding from above,
Yet leaving not the Father's side,
Went forth upon His work of love,
And reached at length life's eventide.

(Verbum supernum prodiens, Lauds of Corpus Christi)

The Voice of the Lord

The passage of the Lord, His "visitation" of the Church and of our souls is characterized not by a great and strong wind, nor by an earthquake, nor by a fire, but by "a still small voice" (1 K 19:12). This is the voice that says, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear" (Mt 14:27). And again, this is the voice that says, "Why didst thou hesitate, man of little faith?" (Mt 14:31).

He Is With Me

Saint Bernard says: "When the Bridegroom comes to me, as He sometimes does, He never signals His presence by any token, neither by voice nor by vision nor by the sound of His step. By no such movement do I become aware of Him, nor does He penetrate my being through the senses. Only, by the movement of the heart, as I have said, do I come to realize that He is with me" (Sermons on the Song of Songs, 74).

Peace

What is that movement of the heart, by which we detect the passage of the Lord and become aware of His presence? It is, first of all, interior peace, the effect of the voice of Jesus saying: "Take courage, it is I myself; do not be afraid" (Mt 14:27). It is a pull of the heart that compels us to draw near to Christ in spite of the dark night, which obscures our vision, and in spite of the rolling waves, which threaten to pull us back and drag us down.

Looking Round for Pity

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Heart-broken with that shame, I pine away, looking round for pity where pity is none, for comfort where there is no comfort to be found.
They gave me gall to eat, and when I was thirsty they gave me vinegar to drink.
(Psalm 68, 21, Offertory of the Mass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus)

The Sufferings of a Love Wounded and Spurned

Our Lord, when He instituted the Most Holy Eucharist, foresaw outrages and sufferings: the sufferings of a Love wounded and spurned. He still waits for a little compassion from priests, from His priests. Today more than ever, Jesus is looking for priest consolers, that is to say, priest adorers who will make reparation. To one priest He said:

I Want Priest Adorers and Reparators

I want priests who will adore for priests who do not adore, [I want] priests who will make reparation for priests who do not make reparation, not for themselves, nor for others. I want priest adorers and reparators.

All Heaven Weeps

My Father, too, is grieved by the coldness and indifference with which I who am His Beloved Son, His Eternal Priest, His Immaculate Victim ceaselessly offered in the sanctuary of heaven, am treated on earth. This comes not from strangers, but from my very own, from those whom I chose, out of love, to share in my priesthood, to abide in my presence, to nourish my people with the mysteries of my Body and Blood. All heaven weeps over the sins of my priests. For every sin there is mercy in the Blood and Water that flow from my wounded Side, but the sins of my priests call for reparation. Make reparation for your brother priests by adoring me, by remaining before my Eucharistic Face, by offering the love of your heart purified by my great mercy.

I Love My Priests

My Sacred Heart is divinely sensitive to the coldness and indifference of my priests. I ask you to make reparation to me for them. Allow me to love you as I would love each of them. Allow me to heal you, to comfort you, to sanctify you, just as I would heal, comfort, and sanctify any one of my priests. I love my priests -- but few of them believe in my love for them. You, believe in my love for you. I am your Friend. I have chosen you to be in life and in death the privileged friend of my Sacred Heart.

Console Me

I ask you to console me by remaining before my Face. I ask you to console me by staying close to my Heart, pierced for love of you and for all sinners. Be my priest adorer. Console me and make reparation for those who spurn my love, for those who mock my wounds, my Blood, my sacrifice.

Time Before My Eucharistic Face

I want you to learn to remain before my Eucharistic Face, silent, adoring, listening to me, and loving me for those who do not adore me, those who do not listen to me, those who never express their love for me in this way. If only my priests would spend time before my Eucharistic Face, I should heal them, purify them, sanctify them, and change them into apostles set all ablaze with the Living Flame that consumes my Heart in the Blessed Sacrament. But they stay away. They prefer so many other things, vain pursuits and things that leave them empty, bitter, and weary. They forget my words, "Come to me . . . and I will refresh you." My priests will be renewed in holiness and in purity when they begin to seek me out in the Sacrament of my Love.

The Desires of My Heart

How it grieves my Heart when the unique love I offer a soul is spurned, or ignored, or regarded with indifference. I tell you this so that you may make reparation to my Heart by accepting the love I have for you and by living in my friendship. Receive my gifts, my kindnesses, my attention, my mercies for the sake of those who effuse what I so desire to give them. Do this especially for my priests, your brothers. I would fill each one of my priests with my merciful love, I would take each one into the shelter of my wounded Side, I would give to each one the delights of my Divine Friendship, but so few of my priests accept what I desire to give them. They flee from before my Face. They remain at a distance from my open Heart. They keep themselves apart from me. Their lives are compartmentalized. They treat with me only when duty obliges them to do so. There is no gratuitous love, no desire to be with me for my own sake, simply because I am there in the Sacrament of my Love, waiting for the companionship and friendship of those whom I have chosen and called from among millions of souls to be my priests and to be the special friends of my Sacred Heart. Would that priests understood that they are called not only to minister to souls in my Name, but even more to cling to me, to abide in me, to live in me and for me, and by me and no other. I want you to tell priests of the desires of my Heart.

A Company of Priest-Adorers Making Reparation

Oh, how my Heart longs to raise up a company of priest-adorers who will make reparation for their brother priests by abiding before my Eucharistic Face. I will pour out the treasures of my Eucharistic Heart upon them. I want to renew the priesthood in my Church, and I will do it beginning with a few priests touched to the quick by my friendship, and drawn into the radiance of my Eucharistic Face.

I am indebted to my friend, Father Scott Bailey, C.SS.R. for this poignant image of the Eucharistic Face and Heart of Jesus.

An End and a Beginning

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June 21, 2008
Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

Official End of my Service as Chaplain
to the Monastery of the Glorious Cross, O.S.B.
Branford, Connecticut, U.S.A.

Luigi: A Eucharistic Saint

Saint Aloysius, Luigi to call him by his proper name, may well be the most loved Jesuit in history. Luigi contracted the plague from those whom he was nursing. He foresaw his own death and asked Our Lord that he might die within the Octave of Corpus Christi. He died, in fact, on the Octave Day of Corpus Christi with the name of Jesus on his lips. Luigi was twenty-three years old. The liturgy commemorates the Eucharistic glow surrounding Luigi’s death in today’s Communion Antiphon:

He gave them the bread of heaven:
men ate the bread of angels (Ps 77:24–35).

Into the Radiance of the Eucharist

I should like to think that this my last “official Mass” as chaplain of the Monastery of the Glorious Cross might also leave us in a kind of Eucharistic glow. Every Holy Mass does this, certainly, but I see this particular celebration, after seven years of service as chaplain to the Sisters, as marking a movement in my own life and, I would hope, in yours too, from the radiance of the Eucharist into the radiance of the Eucharist.

With Faces Unveiled

The high point of my seven years here was, without any doubt, the Year of the Eucharist proclaimed by Pope John Paul II in 2004–2005. The Year of the Eucharist was that of his death, followed by the election of Pope Benedict XVI. It was also, for all of us, I think, in one way or another, a year marked by very special graces flowing, all of them, from the adorable mystery of the Eucharist, and carrying us as on a great surging wave, back into it, again and again. Does not the psalmist say, “In Thy light we shall see light” (Ps 35:10)? And does not Saint Paul describe the Christian journey as a movement from brightness to brightness? “It is given to us,” he says, “all alike, to catch the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, with faces unveiled; and so we become transfigured into the same likeness, borrowing glory from that glory, as the Spirit of the Lord enables us” (2 Cor 3:18).

The Eucharistic Face of Christ

The contemplation of the Eucharistic Face of Christ, the adoration of the Eucharistic Face of Christ is something that, for me at least, came into focus very clearly over the past three years. I had meditated, it is true, the invocation that the Congregation [of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified] taught me thirty-three years ago — “Most Holy Face of Jesus, sub Sacramento abscondita, hidden in the Host, look upon us, and have mercy” — but I needed, as we all do, those thirty-three years of sufferings, weaknesses, sorrows, blessings, and joys, for that invocation to pass from my head into the very fibres of my heart.

My New Mission

The wonderful Providence of God has so arranged things that I find myself now preparing to enter upon a new mission, one that is explicitly Eucharistic and priestly, one that will be marked by adoration, reparation, and a full-time dedication to the spiritual needs of priests and deacons.

In the June, 8, 2008 edition of his diocesan newspaper, Eastern Oklahoma Catholic, His Excellency, Bishop Edward J. Slattery, presented something of his vision for the Eucharistic renewal of his diocese, beginning with the Eucharistic renewal of his clergy. Rather than explain this to you in my own words, allow me to share with you what Bishop Slattery wrote.

“As a living organism, the Diocese must be assessed not at the level of measurable material things, but at the level of spiritual health, that is, the level of our ever-growing intimacy with Jesus Christ. Since the spiritual life is based on love, not to advance in this dynamic relationship with God in Christ is to retreat. One either grows in Divine intimacy or retreats from it; but the spiritual life is never static.”

Spiritual Health of the Clergy

Bishop Slattery has called me to the Diocese of Tulsa to be an agent of the spiritual health of his clergy, to foster and facilitate the ever-growing intimacy of his priests and deacons with Jesus Christ. His Excellency goes on to say:

“Let me introduce an idea, which is evidently a strongly felt part of the Pope’s vision. . . . The pontiff expressed his desires . . . through the Congregation for the Clergy in a circular letter from the Prefect of that Congregation, Cláudio Cardinal Hummes. That idea, briefly put, is this: Since there is an undeniable link between - on the one hand - the holiness of our clergy, the effectiveness of their pastoral ministry and the depth of their personal commitment and – on the other hand - the centrality of prayer and Eucharistic adoration in their lives, then of all the things which are necessary for the good of the Church, nothing can be considered more important, more necessary or more vital than helping our priests and deacons grow in Divine intimacy.”

It is that last line — nothing can be considered more important, more necessary or more vital than helping our priests and deacons grow in Divine intimacy — that explains Bishop Slattery’s mandate to me. He explains:

First and Foremost An Adorer of the Eucharist

“After their ordination, priests and deacons step to the altar of sacrifice and kiss it. They embrace a life of sacrifice which opens them up and makes them vulnerable to their Master’s redeeming love and allows His Eucharistic love to flow through them to sanctify the communities they serve. As Pope Benedict said “The secret of (priestly) holiness lies precisely in the Eucharist. The priest must be first and foremost an adorer who contemplates the Eucharist.”(Sept. 18, 2005).”

Adoration in the Diocese of Tulsa

His Excellency wants to express this concretely in the life of his Diocese:

“Cardinal Hummes asked that Eucharistic adoration be fostered in every parish and Catholic institution, with priests, chaplains and directors encouraged to strengthen the practice of adoration where it is already firmly established and introduce this devotion in places where it has not been known or where it has been allowed to disappear. Cardinal Hummes would be pleased to know that the kind of Eucharistic renewal he envisions has been quietly but steadily growing in our Diocese. Already eight parishes (plus St. John Hospital – a ninth site!) offer continuous (daily or even 24-hour) adoration, and a further 32 offer weekly periods of adoration. In fact, fully 72 out of our 78 parishes and missions have some form of Eucharistic Adoration during the course of the year!”

The Eucharistic Cenacle

Bishop Slattery intends to do still more. Listen to the description of his project:

“Cardinal Hummes asked that wherever possible, specific churches or oratories be set aside by the Bishop to serve the diocese as Eucharistic shrines, similar to Marian shrines. In these shrines of adoration, the Church’s special love for the Holy Eucharist, worthily celebrated and continuously adored, can be fostered and nourished until the light of Our Eucharistic Lord transfigures the whole Diocese. I have already decided to do this, but have prayed much that Our Lord direct me to the best location of our first such Eucharistic Cenacle of Prayer.”

For the Holiness of the Clergy

His Excellency has decided then, to set aside a place, and to designate it a Cenacle of Eucharistic Adoration for Priests. Then he describes what my mission will be.

“A second recommendation made by Cardinal Hummes was that in each Diocese a priest be appointed to the specific priestly ministry of promoting Eucharistic adoration. In some ways, the ministry of this priest-servant of the Eucharist would be to coordinate this important movement throughout the Diocese; but his ministry would be much more than simply coordination and management. Dedicating himself generously to making Our Eucharistic Lord better known and more loved, this priest would live a life of personal reparation and sacrifice offered for the holiness of the clergy. I am taking Cardinal Hummes’ recommendation very seriously; but I think that in this Diocese, it would be very beneficial to add to this priest’s ministry of sacrifice, a further responsibility, that of serving as spiritual director and confessor to our priests and deacons.”

Spiritual and Material Support

I took the time — your time — today to quote Bishop Slattery at length because I want to ask you to adopt this new mission of mine, first of all spiritually, by carrying it in the secret of your own prayer, but also materially if you are able to do so. I appeal to the Sisters, and to all the women here; I ask you to respond generously to the Holy See’s request that you accept the challenge and responsibility of spiritual motherhood for priests. This means offering your prayer, your sufferings, your sacrifices for the sake of priests, for the healing of those who are spiritually wounded, and for their growth in Divine Intimacy.

Thursdays of Adoration and Reparation for Priests

I invite all of you to commit yourselves to an hour of Eucharistic adoration in a spirit of reparation and supplication for priests every Thursday. Thursday is, as you know, the beginning of the weekly rememoration of the Paschal Mystery, it recalls the “Birthday of the Chalice,” that is, the institution of the Priesthood and of the Most Holy Eucharist.

Thanksgiving

It is time now to go to the altar of the Holy Sacrifice. Today, I carry to the altar and place upon the corporal, together with the bread that will become the Body of Christ, and the wine mixed with water that will become His Precious Blood, all that has happened in the Monastery of the Glorious Cross over the past seven years and — because God is eternal — all that the future holds in store for you and for me. For all things willed and permitted by God, I will sing, “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.” To that, there can be but one suitable response: “It is right and just.”

I gratefully acknowledge Rorate Caeli as the source of the above image of Saint Luigi Gonzaga.

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In his Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II drew the eyes of the Church to the Face of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist. He coined a new phrase, one not encountered before in his writings or in the teachings of his predecessors, “the Eucharistic Face of Christ.” Thus did Pope John Paul II share with the Church his own experience of seeking, finding, and adoring the Face of Christ in the Eucharist.

To contemplate the face of Christ, and to contemplate it with Mary, is the “programme” which I have set before the Church at the dawn of the third millennium, summoning her to put out into the deep on the sea of history with the enthusiasm of the new evangelization. To contemplate Christ involves being able to recognize Him wherever He manifests Himself, in His many forms of presence, but above all in the living sacrament of His Body and Blood. The Church draws her life from Christ in the Eucharist; by Him she is fed and by Him she is enlightened. The Eucharist is both a mystery of faith and a “mystery of light.” Whenever the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the faithful can in some way relive the experience of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: “their eyes were opened and they recognized Him” (Lk 24:31). . . . I cannot let this Holy Thursday 2003 pass without halting before the “Eucharistic face” of Christ and pointing out with new force to the Church the centrality of the Eucharist.

This text, among others of Pope John Paul II, inspired both these Salutations to the Eucharistic Face of Christ and this icon of the Mother of God, Adorer of the Eucharistic Face of Christ. The Salutations are drawn from the Corpus Christi meditation which I wrote in 2006 and posted here.

Hail, Eucharistic Face reflecting the Glory of the Father
and bearing the very stamp of His nature!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, Living Icon of the Father!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, Epiphany of the Father’s Love!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, Kindly Light amidst the gloom!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Crucified in the Sacrament of Your abiding presence!
Hail, Eucharistic Face of Life conquering death!
Hail, Eucharistic Face of Mercy rising in the night with healing in your rays!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, Sweetness leaving no bitterness!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Risen One,
filling earth and heaven with glory
from the rising of the sun even to its setting
in the offering of your pure and eternal Oblation!
Hail, Eucharistic Face raising the dead to life!
Hail, Eucharistic Face breathing peace into every troubled place!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, revelation of a Heart full of mercy and ready to forgive!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Ascended One!
Hail, Eucharistic Face of the High Priest interceding for us beyond the veil!
Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Victim reconciling heaven and earth!
Hail, Eucharistic Face all ablaze with the Holy Spirit’s fire!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the King who will return in glory!
Hail, Eucharistic Face hidden from the powerful, the clever, and the wise!
Hail, Eucharistic Face revealed to the pure of heart!
Hail, Eucharistic Face familiar to little children and to those like them!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Divine Wayfarer!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, unrecognized and unknown in the midst of men!
Hail, Eucharistic Face shrouded in silence,
and with us always, even unto the consummation of the world!

Quaesivi Vultum Tuum

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Seventh Sunday of Paschaltide
Sunday of the Holy Face of Christ

The Most Holy Face of Christ is celebrated on various days of the liturgical year. In the tradition of Carmel, especially in France, the feast of the Transfiguration, August 6th, is marked by loving attention to the Face of Christ. Mother Maria-Pierina De Micheli and the Servant of God Abbot Ildebrando Gregori, O.S.B. promoted the feast of the Holy Face on Shrove Tuesday.

The Congregation of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified, founded by Mother Marie des Douleurs in 1930, has the custom of turning to the Holy Face in a special way on the Sunday after the Ascension of the Lord. The choice was motivated by the Introit of the Mass:

“Listen to my voice, Lord, when I cry to Thee, alleluia.
True to my heart’s promise I have eyes only for Thy Face;
I seek Thy Face, O Lord!
Turn not Thy Face away from me, alleluia, alleluia” (Ps 26: 7-9).

One of the unfortunate consequences of the lamentable transfer (in some places) of Ascension Thursday to the following Sunday is the loss of the magnificent Proper texts of the Sunday after the Ascension, both for the Mass and the Divine Office . . . and the loss of a Sunday that leaves us with the gaze of our souls riveted to the Face of the Beloved.

A Longing to See Him Again

The soon to be beatified Cardinal Newman wrote somewhere that the Ascension of the Lord is “at once a source of sorrow, because it involves His absence; and of joy, because it involves His presence.” For Our Blessed Lady and the Apostles, standing on the Mount of Olives with their eyes riveted to the heavens, the Ascension was the last glimpse of the Face of Christ on earth. The disappearance of the beloved Face of Christ leaves in the heart of the Church a longing to see Him again, a burning desire for His return.

I Seek Thy Face

This is the reason for Exaudi, Domine, today’s incomparable Introit: “Listen to my voice, Lord, when I cry to Thee, alleluia. True to my heart’s promise I have eyes only for Thy Face; I seek Thy Face, O Lord! Turn not Thy Face away from me, alleluia, alleluia” (Ps 26: 7-9). The desire to contemplate the Face of Christ becomes a persistent longing; this is the experience of all the saints. The vitality of one’s interior life can be measured by the intensity of one’s desire to see the Face of Christ.

John Paul II

Eight years ago in Novo Millennio Ineunte, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II placed the new millennium under the radiant sign of the Face of Christ. Then again, at the beginning of the Year of the Eucharist, the year of his death, Pope John Paul II again directed our eyes to the Face of Christ concealed and revealed in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The teaching of Pope John Paul II confirms, in a striking way, the spiritual patrimony left by Mother Marie des Douleurs to the Congregation she founded. “Devotion to the Holy Face,” she wrote, “is the particular aspect by which the Holy Spirit makes us learn again all that we need know to become the saints that Jesus desires. This devotion is of such central importance and so vital for us that we cannot live without it.”

The Holy Spirit

I am touched by the connection Mother Marie des Douleurs makes between the Holy Spirit and the Face of Christ. “Devotion to the Holy Face is the particular aspect by which the Holy Spirit makes us learn again all that we need know to become the saints that Jesus desires.” Recall the promise of Our Lord before His Passion: “He who is to befriend you, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send on my account, will in His turn make everything plain, and recall to your minds everything I have said you” (Jn 14:26). “It will be for Him, the truth-giving Spirit, when He comes, to guide you into all truth” (Jn 16:13).

The Holy Spirit teaches souls by referring them to the adorable Face of Jesus. The Sacred Scriptures themselves are illumined by the Holy Spirit who so opens our eyes that we perceive the Face of the Bridegroom shining through the text. “Now,” says the Bride of the Canticle, “He is looking in through each window in turn, peering through every chink” (Ct 2:9).

Focusing On That Face

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I am overwhelmed by this letter from the Congregation for the Clergy. It expresses all that I have tried to say on Vultus Christi and elsewhere. The subtitles in boldprint are my own. I will be returning to the text of the letter in order to meditate its content. I took the photo of the Altar of the Holy Face in Saint Patrick's Cathedral, New York City.

Vatican City, April 22, 2008
Here is the message published by the Congregation for Clergy for the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests. The day will be celebrated May 30, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Reverend and dear Brothers in the Priesthood,

Focusing On That Face

On the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus let us fix the eyes of our minds and hearts with a constant loving gaze on Christ, the one Savior of our lives and of the world. Focusing on Christ means focusing on that Face which every human being, consciously or not, seeks as a satisfying response to his own insuppressible thirst for happiness.

Hearts Wounded By His Love

We have encountered this Face and on that day, at that moment, his Love so deeply wounded our hearts that we could no longer refrain from asking ceaselessly to be in his Presence. "In the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch" (Psalm 5).

Healed By His Flesh

The Sacred Liturgy leads us once again to contemplate the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, the origin and intimate reality of this company which is the Church: the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob revealed himself in Jesus Christ. "No one could see his Glory unless first healed by the humility of his flesh.... By dust you were blinded, and by dust you are healed: flesh, then, had wounded you, flesh heals you" (St. Augustine, Commentary on the Gospel according to John, Homily, 2, 16).

Mercy That Embraces Our Limitations

Only by looking again at the perfect and fascinating humanity of Jesus Christ -- alive and active now -- who revealed himself to us and still today bends down to each one of us with his special love of total predilection, can we can let him illumine and fill the abyss of need which is our humanity, certain of Hope encountered and sure of Mercy that embraces our limitations and teaches us to forgive what we ourselves do not even manage to discern. "Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts" (Psalm 42[41]).

Adoro Te Devote

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Yearning, I adore you, wondrous hidden God,
Bread of Life by bread concealed, speaking heart to heart.
Give me now the faith that sees darkly through the veil,
Let your presence draw me in where my senses fail.

Seeing, touching, tasting, fail to grasp you, Lord.
Hearing only stirs up faith; faith clings to your word.
This is truth enough for me: all that you have said.
Faith alone discerns your Face, radiant Living Bread.

Seeing you upon the Cross, flesh and blood I find;
Here your flesh and blood are hid, veiled in sacred signs.
Trusting in your mercy, like the dying thief,
I confess you, God and Man; this is my belief.

Unlike Thomas touching, probing hands and side,
I see not but name you still God and Prince of Life.
Hold me in your presence, stronger make my faith,
Bolder make my hope in you, fire me with Love’s flame.

Wonderful memorial of the Crucified!
Sacred Banquet, Bread from heav’n, Wellspring gushing light!
Let your life be life to me, feed and feast my mind,
Be to me the sweetness I was meant to find.

In the wounded Pelican, faith sees something more.
She with blood sustains her young; you your blood outpoured
All the world to cleanse of sin. Bathe me in that tide,
Though a single drop makes pure those drawn to your side.

Jesus, here your Face is hid, from my sight concealed,
How I thirst to meet your gaze gloriously revealed!
After life’s obscurity, let me wake to see
Beauty shining from your Face for eternity. Amen.

Original Latin text: Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
English translation: Father Mark Daniel Kirby, O.Cist., 2004

Thank you, Holy Father!

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"One cannot contemplate Mary without being attracted by Christ and one cannot look at Christ without immediately perceiving the presence of Mary."

I am profoundly moved by the Holy Father's message for the 2008 World Day of the Sick. Pope Benedict XVI is showing himself, in every way, as Marian a Pope as the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II. Here is an excerpt of the message; my own comments are in italics.

The Immaculate Conception

The hundred and fifty years since the apparitions of Lourdes invite us to turn our gaze towards the Holy Virgin, whose Immaculate Conception constitutes the sublime and freely-given gift of God to a woman so that she could fully adhere to divine designs with a steady and unshakable faith, despite the tribulations and the sufferings that she would have to face. For this reason, Mary is a model of total self-abandonment to the will of God: she received in her heart the eternal Word and she conceived it in her virginal womb; she trusted to God and, with her soul pierced by a sword (cf. Lk 2:35), she did not hesitate to share the Passion of her Son, renewing on Calvary at the foot of the Cross her 'Yes' of the Annunciation.

Is this not the mystery of Mary invoked and presented as Coredemptrix? "She did not hesitate to share the Passion of her Son." In the next section the Holy Father speaks of the "Yes" which "joined her wonderfully to the mission of Christ, the Redeemer of humanity."

Led by Mary's Hand

To reflect upon the Immaculate Conception of Mary is thus to allow oneself to be attracted by the 'Yes' which joined her wonderfully to the mission of Christ, the Redeemer of humanity; it is to allow oneself to be taken and led by her hand to pronounce in one's turn 'fiat' to the will of God, with all one's existence interwoven with joys and sadness, hopes and disappointments, in the awareness that tribulations, pain and suffering make rich the meaning of our pilgrimage on the earth.

To be taken and led by Mary's hand expresses what we means when we speak of total consecration to her. Consecration to Mary is ongoing and dynamic; for this reason the Holy Father speaks of "our pilgrimage on earth."

An Indissoluble Link Between the Mother and the Son

One cannot contemplate Mary without being attracted by Christ and one cannot look at Christ without immediately perceiving the presence of Mary. There is an indissoluble link between the Mother and the Son, generated in her womb by work of the Holy Spirit, and this link we perceive, in a mysterious way, in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, as the Fathers of the Church and theologians pointed out from the early centuries onwards.

The link between the Mother and the Son is prolonged in the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist. One who contemplates Mary will be attracted to Our Lord in the Sacrament of His Love. One who contemplates Our Lord in the Sacrament of His Love will perceive the presence of Mary. This is the experience of Saint Peter Julian Eymard, and of so many other saints.

Mother of the Eucharist

'The Flesh born of Mary, coming from the Holy Spirit, is Bread descended from heaven', observed Saint Hilary of Poitiers. In the ninth century "Bergomensium Sacramentary" we read: 'Her womb made flower a Fruit, a Bread that has filled us with an angelic gift. Mary restored to salvation what Eve had destroyed by her sin'. And Saint Peter Damian observed: 'That Body that the most Blessed Virgin generated, nourished in her womb with maternal care, that Body I say, without doubt and no other, we now receive from the sacred altar, and we drink its Blood as a sacrament of our redemption. This is what the Catholic faith believes, this the holy Church faithfully teaches'.

The same Holy Spirit who overshadowed the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation, overshadows the altar in every celebration of Holy Mass. The Body of Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist is the very Body of Christ that the Blessed Virgin conceived, carried beneath her heart for nine months, brought into the world, and nourished at her breast. Is this not what the magnificent medieval prose, the "Ave, Verum Corpus," sings? "Hail, true body, / Born of the Virgin Mary, / Truly suffered, sacrificed / On the Cross for mankind, / Whose pierced side / Flowed with water and blood, / Be for us a foretaste / In the trial of death."

Mother of the Sacrificed Lamb

The link of the Holy Virgin with the Son, the sacrificed Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, is extended to the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. Mary, observes the Servant of God John Paul II, is a 'woman of the Eucharist' in her whole life, as a result of which the Church, seeing Mary as her model, 'is also called to imitate her in her relationship with this most holy mystery' (Encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," n. 53). In this perspective one understands even further why in Lourdes the cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary is joined to a strong and constant reference to the Eucharist with daily Celebrations of the Eucharist, with adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament, and with the blessing of the sick, which constitutes one of the strongest moments of the visit of pilgrims to the grotto of Massabielle.

Yes, the Holy Virgin is the Mother of the Immolated Lamb. This was illustrated in the apparition at Knock. Our Lady, appearing with Saint Joseph and with Saint John the Evangelist, stood with her hands raised in prayer in the presence of the Immolated Lamb who stood upon an altar with the Cross behind Him. The Holy Father alludes to the three grand Eucharistic moments that mark every experience at Lourdes. These are not of course, limited to Lourdes. I try to make them part of the retreats that I am asked to preach.

Through the Heart of His Most Holy Mother

The presence of many sick pilgrims in Lourdes, and of the volunteers who accompany them, helps us to reflect on the maternal and tender care that the Virgin expresses towards human pain and suffering. Associated with the Sacrifice of Christ, Mary, Mater Dolorosa, who at the foot of the Cross suffers with her divine Son, is felt to be especially near by the Christian community, which gathers around its suffering members, who bear the signs of the Passion of the Lord.

Yes, those who suffer bear the signs of the Passion of the Lord, His wounds. Saint Paul says, "I bear the marks of the Lord Jesus in my body" (Gal 6:17). This is true, not only of the signs of physical suffering, but also of the wounds of the psyche and of the heart.

Mary suffers with those who are in affliction, with them she hopes, and she is their comfort, supporting them with her maternal help. And is it not perhaps true that the spiritual experience of very many sick people leads us to understand increasingly that 'the Divine Redeemer wishes to penetrate the soul of every sufferer through the Heart of his Holy Mother, the first and the most exalted of all the redeemed'? (John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, "Salvifici Doloris," n. 26).

"The Divine Redeemer wishes to penetrate the soul of every sufferer through the Heart of His Holy Mother." Is this not what we mean when we speak of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. Mary is the Mother of the Suffering Servant, "despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity" (Is 53:3), and of all who resemble him.

The Eucharistic Congress

3. If Lourdes leads us to reflect upon the maternal love of the Immaculate Virgin for her sick and suffering children, the next International Eucharistic Congress will be an opportunity to adore Jesus Christ present in the Sacrament of the altar, to entrust ourselves to Him as the Hope that does not disappoint, to receive Him as that Medicine of Immortality which heals the body and the spirit. Jesus Christ redeemed the world through His suffering, His death and His resurrection, and He wanted to remain with us as the 'Bread of Life' on our earthly pilgrimage.

The Holy Father emphasizes the healing virtue of the Most Holy Eucharist, the Medicine of Immortality. He invites us to entrust ourselves to Him as the Hope that does not disappoint. In the Sequence of the Mass of Easter, Mary Magdalene calls Our Lord "Spes mea — my Hope." In the Eucharist He remains our Hope, and the remedy for every despondency.

The Face of the Lord

'The Eucharist, Gift of God for the Life of the World': this is the theme of the Eucharistic Congress and it emphasizes how the Eucharist is the gift that the Father makes to the world of His only Son, incarnated and crucified. It is he who gathers us around the Eucharistic table, provoking in his disciples loving care for the suffering and the sick, in whom the Christian community recognises the Face of her Lord. As I pointed out in the Post-Synodal Exhortation "Sacramentum caritatis," 'Our communities, when they celebrate the Eucharist, must become ever more conscious that the sacrifice of Christ is for all, and that the Eucharist thus compels all who believe in him to become "bread that is broken" for others'. We are thus encouraged to commit ourselves in the first person to helping our brethren, especially those in difficulty, because the vocation of every Christian is truly that of being, together with Jesus, bread that is broken for the life of the world.

Every authentic passion for the adorable Mystery of the Eucharist leads to compassion for the suffering, for the sick, for those in difficulty. Contemplation of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus opens one's eyes to the Face of Jesus in the suffering and broken members of His Mystical Body.

A Living Offering for the Salvation of the World

4. It thus appears clear that it is specifically from the Eucharist that pastoral care in health must draw the necessary spiritual strength to come effectively to man's aid and to help him to understand the salvific value of his own suffering. As the Servant of God John Paul II was to write in the already quoted Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris, the Church sees in her suffering brothers and sisters as it were a multiple subject of the supernatural power of Christ (cf. n. 27). Mysteriously united to Christ, the man who suffers with love and meek self-abandonment to the will of God becomes a living offering for the salvation of the world.

The spirituality of victimhood: to suffer with love and meek self-abandonment to the will of God, thus becoming a living offering for the salvation of the world. The Blessed Virgin Mary Coredemptrix was the first to follow her Son, the Immolated Lamb, into the way of victimhood. Since that hour on Calvary she draws other souls after her in the same way of offering and victimhood.

Bonjour, chers amis!

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Dear readers of Vultus Christi,

After a long hiatus, I am able today to connect to the internet and give you some news. I am writing from the home of Jean-Baptiste and Thérèse Garnier, friends of the Monastère Saint–Benoît in Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne. Jean–Baptiste and Thérèse have DSL, and were kind enough to invite me to their home to update Vultus Christi.

I have been in France since 12 September, the feast of the Holy Name of Mary. For the first few weeks I stayed at the Monastère Saint-Benoît in Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne. After giving a conference at the General Chapter of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified at Brou-sur-Chantereine on Saturday, 29 September, I went to Subiaco, a dependence of the Monastère de l'Incarnation in Saint-Loup-sur-Aujon.

On Wednesday 3 October, the feast of Blessed Columba Marmion, I arrived at the monastery of the Benedictines du Saint-Sacrement in Craon (Mayenne) to make a personal retreat of adoration and discernment. The monastery of Craon, steeped in adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist, is a blessed place indeed. My retreat there was life-changing.

The day before leaving for my retreat I received a book in the mail. I had not solicited this book, but the librarian of a certain Benedictine monastery, knowing "the interests of my heart" sent it without knowing that I was about to begin a retreat of adoration and discernment. The book, published in 1930, was La Sainte Messe, échelle de la sainteté, by Dom Eugène Vandeur (1875-1967). The evening before my retreat I opened the book at random and read:

Let me be wholly and entirely thy priest, like John, thy beloved disciple, standing at the foot of the Cross, the Tree of Life.

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I was astonished. This one sentence sums up my personal vocation and the thrust of my life for the past thirty years. There was still more. At the end of the book, I read:

O Mary, Virgin and Mother of priests,
I will place myself close to thee, today and all the days of my life,
there, in the very place where stood Saint John, the disciple whom Jesus loved,
the preferred Priest of His love;
I will remain there, with thee, facing the cross, and I will gaze upon Him,
this Jesus Crucified, the only science that a priest need know, love, and preach.
"To know only Jesus and Him crucified" (1 Cor 2:29). . . .

O Mary, teach this priest of Jesus this folly of the Cross,
true Wisdom in the sight of God
and the solemn manifestation of His power.
Teach me how one passes into Jesus Crucified;
how, following the example of the Apostle,
one comes to bear in oneself the wounds of the Lord Jesus.
"I, for my part, bear in my body the wounds of the Lord Jesus" (Gal 6:17).

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Thou dost answer me, O Mother,
saying that I will learn this at the holy altar,
the mountain of myrrh and the hill of incense (Ct 4:6),
that, each morning, I will ascend with thee
to enter into the wounds of Jesus Crucified.

There is much more that I could share about this retreat, but my time is limited. The signal grace of the retreat was a call to live in adoration and reparation for all my brother priests, and to allow my soul to be "johannized," that is to say, to consent to become, by the merciful goodness of Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit, another Saint John, a beloved disciple for His Heart and for the Heart of His Mother.

The desire of the Heart of Jesus is that there should be priest adorers and reparators: priests who will adore for those who do not adore, priests who will make reparation for those who do not. Our Lord asks me — and will ask other priests as well — to remain in adoration before His Eucharistic Face, offering all the priests of the Church to His Open Heart present in the Sacrament of His Love.

Our Lord asked me to consecrate every Thursday (day of the Eucharist and of the Priesthood) to this particular mission of adoration and reparation for priests.

Let each Thursday find me close to the Sacrament of Thy Body and Blood,
deep in adoration, and offering Thee the reparation Thou askest of me
in the name of all Thy priests.
Make me an entirely Eucharistic priest,
according to the desires of Thy Sacred Heart
and the designs of Thy merciful goodness upon my life.
I desire nothing else.
I want to love Thee more each day;
I want to be the faithful adorer of Thy Eucharistic Face
and the consoling friend of Thy Sacred Heart
hidden in the tabernacles of the world,
where it beats, wounded by love, forgotten, forsaken,
and waiting for the adoration and for the love of even one priest.

Imago Dei Invisibilis

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Twenty-Second Friday of the Year I

Colossians 1:15-20

Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of every creature:
For in Him were all things created in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible,
whether thrones, or dominations,
or principalities, or powers:
all things were created by Him and in Him.
And He is before all, and by Him all things consist.
And He is the head of the body, the church,
who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead;
that in all things He may hold the primacy:
Because in Him, it hath well pleased the Father,
that all fullness should dwell;
And through Him to reconcile all things unto himself,
making peace through the blood of his cross,
both as to the things that are on earth,
and the things that are in heaven.

Doxological Christology

Today’s passage from the Letter to the Colossians is well known to us. Some of you may even know it by heart. In our monastic cursus of the Divine Office it is the New Testament canticle at Vespers on Thursday of the Second Week; in the Roman Office, it occurs as the New Testament Canticle at Vespers every Wednesday. It is, in fact, a hymn inspired by the Holy Spirit, addressed to the Father, in celebration of the mystery of Christ, a wonderful example of “doxological Christology.”

Thanksgiving

In praising the glory of the Father — the mystery of the Son comes into focus to “enlighten the eyes of the heart” (Eph 1:18). The hymn englobes the whole “economy” of God: redemption, creation, the resurrection and lordship of Christ and, at the end of the text, a confession of the mystery of the Cross, radiating peace over heaven and earth (Col 1:20).

Through Him

Perhaps you noticed that, although the whole hymn celebrates Jesus Christ, He is never explicitly named. Instead, all throughout, the pronoun “He” is repeated again and again. The effect is not at all unlike that of the, “Through Him, with Him, and in Him . . .” that concludes the Eucharistic Prayer.

Indeed Right and Fitting

This is not the only point of resemblance with the Eucharistic Prayer. If you take the text on your own, in lectio divina, and repeat it slowly, you will see that it is crafted like the Roman Preface of the Mass. In fact, if you put the traditional opening of the Roman Preface at the beginning — It is indeed right and fitting, it is our duty and leads to our salvation, that we should praise you always and everywhere, Lord, holy Father, almighty and ever-living God, through Christ our Lord — and if you add, at the end, the traditional conclusion of the preface — And therefore, together with all the Angels, we never cease to praise and glorify you, as we joyfully proclaim, Holy, Holy, Holy — you have, with very few adjustments, a magnificent Eucharistic text, a rich Christological Preface.

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God's Human Face

There is, in these eight or nine verses, an inexhaustible richness of content. If I were to linger over a single phrase, it would be verse 15. “He is the image, the icon, of the invisible God” (Col 1:15). Jesus is, to use the title of Cardinal von Schönborn’s book, “God's Human Face.” “No one has ever seen God,” says Saint John the Theologian; “the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known” (Jn 1:18). Jesus Himself says, “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9), and Saint Paul adds that God “has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of his glory in the Face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:6).

The Eucharistic Revelation of His Face

Today’s message from Colossians moves us to seek the Face of Christ. One who desires to contemplate the Face of Christ needs to immerse himself in the psalms, the prophets, the Gospels, Saint Paul, and the saints and mystics of every age. One who desires to contemplate the Face of Christ needs to spend time, silent and adoring, before the mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist. And so, we go from the ambo to the altar, where “the Blood of the Cross” (Col 1:20) is given us to drink, and where the Face of Christ, at once hidden and revealed, satisfies the heart’s desire.

Salve, Festa Dies

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Hail, Festival Day!
Hail, Day of Sion’s sweetest hymns!
Hail, Day of timeless adoration!
Hail, Day of lavish jubilation!
Hail, Day of our most fragrant incense!
Hail, Day of flowers strewn before their Maker!
Hail, Day of flames dancing in the presence of the Fire!
Hail, Day of a silence that is song!
Hail Day of a song become silence!
Hail, Day made radiant by the Face that shines like the sun in full strength!
Hail, Day made lovely by the Face of the fairest of the children of men!
Hail, Day rising to see the Face once hidden in the tabernacle of the Virgin’s womb!
Hail, Day rejoicing in the Human Face of God concealed in bread and wine!

Hail, Eucharistic Face reflecting the Glory of the Father
and bearing the very stamp of His nature!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, Living Icon of the Father!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, Epiphany of the Father’s Love!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, Kindly Light amidst the gloom!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Crucified in the Sacrament of Your abiding presence!
Hail, Eucharistic Face of Life conquering death!
Hail, Eucharistic Face of Mercy rising in the night with healing in your rays!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, Sweetness leaving no bitterness!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Risen One,
filling earth and heaven with glory
from the rising of the sun even to its setting
in the offering of your pure and eternal Oblation!
Hail, Eucharistic Face raising the dead to life!
Hail, Eucharistic Face breathing peace into every troubled place!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, revelation of a Heart full of mercy and ready to forgive!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Ascended One!
Hail, Eucharistic Face of the High Priest interceding for us beyond the veil!
Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Victim reconciling heaven and earth!
Hail, Eucharistic Face all ablaze with the Holy Spirit’s fire!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the King who will return in glory!
Hail, Eucharistic Face hidden from the powerful, the clever, and the wise!
Hail, Eucharistic Face revealed to the pure of heart!
Hail, Eucharistic Face familiar to little children and to those like them!

Hail, EucharisticFace of the Divine Wayfarer!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, unrecognized and unknown in the midst of men!
Hail, Eucharistic Face shrouded in silence,
and with us always, even unto the consummation of the world!

Hail, God–With–Us!
Hail, God–Turned–Toward–Us!
Hail, God who with immense yearning desire to share your Pasch with us!
Hail, God–in–Search–of–Those–Who–Hunger!
God–in–Search–of–Those–Who–Thirst!
Hail, O inexhaustible and precious Chalice!

Hail, Day of the Altar and of the Blood!
Hail, Day of the new and everlasting covenant!
Hail, Day that calls us anew to obedience:
“All that the Lord has spoken we will do,
and we will be obedient” (Ex 24:7).
“This is my Body which is given for you.
This Chalice poured out for you is the new covenant in my Blood.
Do this in remembrance of me” (cf. Lk 22:19–20).

Hail, Day of the Blood without which there is no pardon!
Hail, Day of the Blood poured out for the refreshment of the weary!
Hail, Day of the Blood that flows, a river of mercy in the wastelands of sin!
Hail, Day of the Blood that vanquishes demons!
Hail, Day of the Blood that consoles in sorrow!
Hail, Day of the Blood that cleanses the entire world of sin!
Hail, Day of the Blood of Christ, Victim and Priest!
Hail, Day of the Blood presented in the sanctuary not made by hands!
Hail, Day of the Blood offered on earth as it is in heaven!

Hail, Precious Chalice lifted up for all to see!
Hail, Precious Chalice, thanksgiving sacrifice worthy of God!
Hail, Precious Chalice held to the lips of the martyrs!
Hail, Precious Chalice strengthening every witness!
Hail, Precious Chalice making pure the impure!
Hail, Precious Chalice containing the Fire of the Divinity!
Hail, Precious Chalice, the antidote for every poison!
Hail, Precious Chalice, the remedy for every ill!

Hail, Day of the Upper Room made ready for eternity!
Hail, Day of the Pasch without end!
Hail, Day of the Bread lifted up in Christ’s holy and venerable hands!
Hail, Day of the blessing uttered by His sacred lips!
Hail, Day of the Body forever given and of the Blood forever poured out!
Hail, Day of the Cenacle opened to every nation on earth!
Hail, Day of the Mystical Supper open to the poor, the sick, the lame, and the blind!
Hail, Day of Heaven’s open door!
Hail, Day of the Supper of the Lamb!

Hail, Day that sees us prostrate before the Eucharistic Face of God!
Hail, Day on which men do the work of Angels!
Hail, Day on which Angels stand amazed
before the Mystery set before the children of men!
Hail, Day that passes too quickly and never passes!
Hail, Day that begins in time the joys of eternity!
Hail, Day that fills the earth with a foretaste of heaven!
Amen. Alleluia.

Vere Tu Es Deus Absconditus

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Thursday Adoration

Today, being Thursday, is our weekly day of Eucharistic Adoration at Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. The Blessed Sacrament is exposed from Tierce until Vespers in our choir chapel in the cloister. We take turns watching in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, each member of the community having his designated hour.

John Paul II on the Visitation

It is also the Solemnity of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Yes, Cistercians keep today and all the other greater festivals of Our Lady as solemnities!) The Servant of God Pope John Paul II offered a rich Eucharistic hermeneutic of the Visitation in the Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 April 2003). John Paul II wrote:

Blessed is she who believed” (Lk 1:45). Mary also anticipated, in the mystery of the incarnation, the Church's Eucharistic faith. When, at the Visitation, she bore in her womb the Word made flesh, she became in some way a "tabernacle" – the first "tabernacle" in history – in which the Son of God, still invisible to our human gaze, allowed himself to be adored by Elizabeth, radiating his light as it were through the eyes and the voice of Mary.

The Hidden Face of Christ

The Face of Christ was hidden in Mary’s virginal womb: hidden, yet wonderfully radiant, Christ was hidden in Mary as He is hidden in the tabernacle. (I think that the traditional use of the tabernacle veil suggests that very connection.) The Virgin of the Visitation bears within herself the Human Face of God. She holds it beneath her heart. The joy on Mary's face as she intones her Magnificat is the very joy that shines eternally on the Face of the Word in the presence of the Father. Mary’s womb sheltered “the knowledge of the glory of God in the Face of Christ Jesus” (2 Cor 4:6).

The Virgin of the Sign

This is the significance of the ancient icon of the Virgin of the Sign. She is the Virgin of the Magnificat and the Woman of the Eucharist. Here, the Child in the tabernacle of her womb is displayed to the eyes of faith. His Face shines from Mary’s womb as it shines from the Eucharist. Elizabeth was affected by the light shining from the Face of the hidden Christ; the same light that radiated from the Face of the Infant Christ in the tabernacle of Mary’s womb shines for us from his Eucharistic Face.

The Eucharistic Face of Christ

When the Body of Christ is displayed to our eyes at Mass, or exposed to our gaze in the monstrance during adoration, His Eucharistic Face streams with light for every darkness, healing for every brokenness, joy for every sorrow, and pardon for every sin. When Christ is “brought forth” in the Eucharist, as he was from Mary’s virginal womb on the first Christmas, the Church can sing what she sings every year at First Vespers of Christmas: Rex pacificus magnificatus est, cuius vultum desiderat universa terra — "The King of peace is magnified, the One whose face the whole earth desires to see.”

Visited by Joy

The festival of the Visitation invites to imitate the faith of Elizabeth who, without seeing it, was illumined by the Human Face of God tabernacled in Mary’s womb. For us the same Human Face of God is hidden beneath the sacramental veils, the appearances of bread and wine. The Most Holy Eucharist is the Visitation of the Hidden Christ. He come always with Mary that from her we might learn, as John Paul II said, “to sing the Magnificat in a Eucharistic key.” Thus does the Hidden Face of Christ become for us, as it was for Mary and for Elizabeth, the wellspring of joy in God.

Mane Nobiscum, Domine

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Jacopo Pontormo painted this Supper at Emmaus for the Carthusian monastery of Galluzzo sometime between 1523 and 1527. He includes Carthusian monks in the scene, men living at the time he was working on the painting. He brings a once–and–for–all event of the past into the present; something wonderfully effected in every celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Notice the large feet of the disciples: feet accustomed to walking Palestine's dusty roads. The cats barely visible under the table and the puppy in the lower left corner add to the painting's homely realism. The "eye of God" above the head of Our Lord is an unfortunate later addition.

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Wednesday of Pascha

Acts 3:1-10
Psalm 104: 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9 (R. 3b)
Luke 24: 13-35

A Eucharistic Icon

With each passing year the unfolding of the Resurrection Gospel of Emmaus becomes more luminous, more transparent like the favourite page in an old book, the page that with each reading delights one anew. The repetition and ritual recurrence of the Word shapes and reshapes the Church, making her ever more perfectly Christ’s beloved Bride, the Companion of the New Adam, born from His pierced side. You recall that it was this very page of the Gospel that was given us by the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II as the heart of his message for the Year of the Eucharist. He presented the mystery of Emmaus as a kind of Eucharistic icon.

Stay With Us, Lord

Mane nobiscum, Domine. “Stay with us, Lord, for it is almost evening” (Lk 24:29). In making these words the title of his Apostolic Letter for the Year of the Eucharist, Pope John Paul II gave the Church a clear orientation for our times. He gave each one of us a kind of personal spiritual direction. More than that, he taught us to pray using these very words: Mane nobiscum, Domine. “Stay with us, Lord.” He taught us to pray as the Holy Spirit had taught the two disciples on the road to Emmaus to pray. Poor wayfarers they were: bewildered and dejected men, sorrowing and not quite knowing what to think, not quite knowing what to do with their lives.

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More than one reader asked for a fuller explanation of the icon of the Virgin Mother, Adorer of the Eucharistic Face of Christ. The following essay is an attempt to respond to that request.

In his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II drew the eyes of the Church to the Face of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist. He coined a new phrase, one not encountered before in his writings or in the teachings of his predecessors, “the Eucharistic Face of Christ.” Thus did Pope John Paul II share with the Church his own experience of seeking, finding, and adoring the Face of Christ in the Eucharist.

"To contemplate the face of Christ, and to contemplate it with Mary, is the 'programme' which I have set before the Church at the dawn of the third millennium, summoning her to put out into the deep on the sea of history with the enthusiasm of the new evangelization. To contemplate Christ involves being able to recognize Him wherever He manifests Himself, in His many forms of presence, but above all in the living sacrament of His Body and Blood. The Church draws her life from Christ in the Eucharist; by Him she is fed and by Him she is enlightened. The Eucharist is both a mystery of faith and a 'mystery of light.' Whenever the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the faithful can in some way relive the experience of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: 'their eyes were opened and they recognized Him' (Lk 24:31). . . . I cannot let this Holy Thursday 2003 pass without halting before the 'Eucharistic face' of Christ and pointing out with new force to the Church the centrality of the Eucharist."

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This text, among others of Pope John Paul II, inspired the new icon of the Mother of God, Adorer of the Eucharistic Face of Christ. The icon was written by the hand of Charlotte Lauzon in preparation for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ 2006. Presently, it is kept in the Abbey of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome.

Calling our attention to the presence of the Mother of God in every celebration of the Holy Sacrifice, Pope John Paul II wrote: “Mary is present, with the Church and as the Mother of the Church, at each of our celebrations of the Eucharist. If the Church and the Eucharist are inseparably united, the same ought to be said of Mary and the Eucharist. This is one reason why, since ancient times, the commemoration of Mary has always been part of the Eucharistic celebrations of the Churches of East and West.”

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The icon depicts the Mother of God as she is shown in the familiar icon of the Sign, as well as in the much–loved Russian icon of the Mother of God of the Inexhaustible Chalice. The icon of the Sign is among the most venerated icons of the Mother of God. The ancient gesture of praying with upraised hands is seen in frescoes in the catacombs. It evokes the mystery of the Ecclesia Orans, the Praying Church, personified here in the Mother of God. The same ancient gesture of intercession became, in the late Middle Ages, a popular expression of adoration at the elevation or showing of the Sacred Host.

Whereas in icons of the Sign, Christ is depicted enclosed in a mandorla or nimbus of divine light on the Virgin’s breast, in this icon the Eucharistic Face of Christ shines from the Sacred Host suspended above the Holy Chalice on the altar. The Mother of God stands at the altar presenting the Eucharistic Face of her Son to the Eternal Father, saying, “Behold, O God our Protector; look upon the Face of your Christ” (Ps 83:10). At the same time she presents the Eucharistic Face of her Son to the eyes of all who seek Him in the Holy Mysteries. Looking out towards us, she calls us to the contemplation and adoration of the Face of Christ at once concealed and revealed in the Sacrament of the Altar.

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“The contemplation of Christ has an incomparable model in Mary. In a unique way the Face of the Son belongs to Mary. It was in her womb that Christ was formed, receiving from her a human resemblance which points to an even greater spiritual closeness. No one has ever devoted himself to the contemplation of the Face of Christ as faithfully as Mary.”

The blood-red mantle of the Virgin frames the Body and Blood of Christ, recalling that she “became in some way a tabernacle — the first tabernacle in history — in which the Son of God, still invisible to our human gaze, allowed Himself to be adored.” “Mary is a woman of the Eucharist in her whole life. The Church, which looks to Mary as a model, is also called to imitate her in her relationship with this most holy mystery.”

Above the uplifted hands of the Mother of God is inscribed the prayer of the disciples to the Wayfarer on the on the road to Emmaus: Mane nobiscum, Domine, “Stay with us, Lord” (Lk 24:29). This is the phrase that Pope John Paul II gave the Church at the beginning of the Year of the Eucharist in 2004. The same inscription is found on the medal of the Holy Face of Jesus diffused by the Servants of God, Mother Maria-Pierina De Micheli and Benedictine Abbot Ildebrando Gregori. The Mother of God sustains the Church in praying, Mane nobiscum, Domine, and teaches the Church to treasure in her heart the promise of Christ’s abiding presence in the Eucharist: “Behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20).

The altar in the icon represents every altar in the world where the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ are offered in the Holy Sacrifice and given in Communion. The words, Illumina, Domine, vultum tuum super nos, “Lift up, O Lord, the light of your face upon us” (Ps 66:1), also inscribed on the medal of the Holy Face of Jesus, appear on the front of the altar. In this Eucharistic context, the ancient prayer of the psalmist is wondrously fulfilled. The altar is the place from which the Eucharistic Face of Christ shines with a divine radiance that penetrates every darkness.

Respice in Faciem Christi Tui

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Today, being the First Friday of the month, we had exposition and adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament at the monastery. Saint Gaetano Catanoso used to say: "If we wish to adore the real Face of Jesus, we can find it in the divine Eucharist, where with the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Face of Our Lord is hidden under the white veil of the Host".

As evidenced by the bannerhead, the mission of this blog is to invite its readers to the contemplation of the Holy Face of Christ and, most especially, to the contemplation of His Face hidden in the Eucharist. Eucharistic adoration is a simple form of prayer; simple, however, does not mean easy. If you are like me, you may find yourself at times looking for some simple formula to anchor your heart during adoration.

The following prayer, in the form of a chaplet said on ordinary rosary beads, was inspired by the teachings of Pope John Paul II during the Year of the Eucharist and is based on Sacred Scripture and the Liturgy. For some people this Chaplet of the Eucharistic Face of Christ has become the preferred way of anchoring the heart in the silence of adoration. I would be grateful to know if you find it helpful.

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O sacred banquet in which Christ is received,
the memory of His passion is renewed,
the soul is filled with grace,
and a pledge of future glory is given us, (alleluia).

Before each decade:

My soul is thirsting for God, the strong and living God;
when shall I enter and see the Face of God? (Ps 41:3)

On the Hail Mary beads:

It is Thy Eucharistic Face, O Lord, that I seek;
hide not Thy Face from me. (cf. Ps 26:8-9).

On the Glory be to the Father beads:

Behold, O God our protector,
and look upon the Face of Thy Christ. (Ps 83:10)

In conclusion, three times:

Father, glorify the Eucharistic Face of Thy Son,
that Thy Son may glorify Thee (cf. Jn 17:1).

The chaplet may be concluded with the Salve Regina, thereby entering into Pope John Paul II’s desire that we should contemplate the Face of Christ with Mary.

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An Intuition of the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II

In his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Pope John Paul II drew the eyes of the Church to the Face of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist. He coined a new phrase, one not encountered before in his writings or in the teachings of his predecessors, “the Eucharistic Face of Christ.” Thus did Pope John Paul II share with the Church his own experience of seeking, finding, and adoring the Face of Christ in the Eucharist.

To contemplate the face of Christ, and to contemplate it with Mary, is the “programme” which I have set before the Church at the dawn of the third millennium, summoning her to put out into the deep on the sea of history with the enthusiasm of the new evangelization. To contemplate Christ involves being able to recognize him wherever he manifests himself, in his many forms of presence, but above all in the living sacrament of his Body and Blood. The Church draws her life from Christ in the Eucharist; by him she is fed and by him she is enlightened. The Eucharist is both a mystery of faith and a “mystery of light.” Whenever the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the faithful can in some way relive the experience of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: “their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (Lk 24:31). . . . I cannot let this Holy Thursday 2003 pass without halting before the “Eucharistic face” of Christ and pointing out with new force to the Church the centrality of the Eucharist.

The Face of Christ Turned Toward Us

The experience of the disciples on the road to Emmaus culminated in their eyes being opened to see the Eucharistic Face of Christ. “When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight” (Lk 24:30-31). Christ vanished from the sight of the disciples, leaving in their hearts a mysterious burning (cf. Lk 24:32), and the broken Bread that at once conceals and reveals his Eucharistic Face. In the Eucharist the Face of Christ is turned toward us. The Eucharistic Face of Christ waits to meet the gaze of our faith, waits to be sought and recognized, adored and implored. “We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known” (1 Cor 13:12). Sanctissima Facies Iesu, sub sacramento abscondita, respice in nos et miserere nostri.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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