Holy Face of Jesus: February 2009 Archives

Look to Him and Be Radiant

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Tabernacolo S Volto.jpg

I am fascinated by this 18th century tabernacle depicting the Holy Face of Christ. Looking closely, one sees that the tabernacle door frames Veronica's Veil. Veronica herself holds the veil but turns away her own face. We are not meant to look at her face, but rather at the Face of Jesus concealed and revealed in the adorable mystery of the Eucharist.

Shrove Tuesday
Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus

Isaiah 52:13 -- 53:12
Psalm 26:1, 4, 5, 8-9abc, 11
Matthew 17:1-19


The last century saw, here and there, like so many points of light in the Church, men and women drawn by the Holy Spirit to the contemplation of the Face of Christ. In many cases this attraction to the Face of Christ was characterized by the prayer of reparation. The spiritual impulse to make reparation emerged in the aftermath of the French Revolution and, in the twentieth century, became in some way a response to the horrors of two World Wars. Violence, terrorism, and war continue to inspire a prayer of reparation that looks to the Face of Christ.

We are most affected by acts of violence that disfigure the human face. Hear Isaiah's prophecy of the Servant:

His appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the sons of men. . . . He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (Is 52: 14; 53:3)

Face and Person

Face and Person are synonomous, not only by reason of the Greek etymology, but even more because there is nothing more personal, nothing more precious, nothing dearer than the face of a loved one. The psalmist's cry, "I long to see Thy Face" (Ps 26:8), is the cry of every lover to his beloved, the cry of child to parent, of parent to child, and of friend to friend. The most poignant moment in the rites of death and burial comes when the face of the deceased is covered for the last time. We cherish photographs of those we love, but what is a photograph without a face? The relationships that we call "heart to heart" never tire of the "face to face."

Sins Against the Holy Face

The Holocaust that took place during the Second World War was, at the deepest level, an attempt to erase the dignity and uniqueness of each person, a sin against the Face of Christ, the Holy Face mirrored in millions of Jewish faces. Every sin against the dignity of the human person is a sin against the Face of Christ. Every act of violence, irreverence, or scorn directed against the human person is a sin against the Face of Christ. The abortion that prevents a child's face from seeing another human face in the light of day is a sin against the Face of Christ. Torture and cruel ridicule are sins against the Face of Christ. The hard, stony gaze that looks at a person without seeing him is a sin against the Face of Christ. The eyes that judge, the look that condemns, is a sin against the Face of Christ. The refusal to see Christ in the faces of the sick, the stranger, and the immigrant is a sin against his Holy Face.

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."


-- 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."


-- 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.

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.

Donations for Silverstream Priory