God’s Face . . . so, why should you adore God’s Face?
What’s in it for you anyway?
Adore God’s Face? Great question. Jesus appeared to another nun, Mother Maria Pierina de Michelli in Italy in the 1930s and 1940s. According to Mother Maria, He wished for a devotion to His Holy Face saying, “I wish that my Face, which reflects the intimate sorrow of my soul, and the suffering and love of my Heart, be better honored. He who contemplates me consoles me.” And He promised through His holy mother, Mary, that, “Whoever wears this scapular (medal showing His Face) and if possible, pays a weekly visit to the Blessed Sacrament on Tuesday in a spirit of reparation to the Holy Face will be granted the gift of a strong Faith and the grace to fly to its defense conquering, if need be, all interior and exterior difficulties. Moreover; they will meet their death peacefully, under the loving gaze of my divine Son.”
Is that enough for you? If not, there is more.
Sister Mary of St. Peter wrote, “In the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, His adorable face is more dazzling than the sun. He then once more promised me to imprint His divine likeness upon the souls of those who honor the features of His face.” Imagine that, God’s face imprinted on your soul! How beautiful, how radiant your soul would be! Think about the current or past ugliness of your soul and then imagine how transformed it would be with the face of God imprinted on it. It’s mind boggling. How could someone love us this much? Jesus gets this. He once said to her, “If you knew how I love you, you would die from joy.”
But wait there’s more!
On Holy Tuesday, Jesus returned to her and said, “Each time my face is contemplated I will pour my love into hearts and through my holy face the salvation of many souls will be obtained.”
Think about that for a few seconds.
All you have to do is contemplate His face and He will fill people’s hearts with His own love and then many souls will be saved. All you have to do is look at Him! Just sit there and look at Him! How easy is that? You can save countless souls, maybe your own, and those of your loved ones who have strayed. This is clearly the remedy we need in our times. What’s not to like?!?
Think of a famous shooter or rapist in the media in the last 12 months. Think of how you might despise them, or the actions they undertook. Think of the danger they are in of going to hell. Then think of how you looking at Jesus’ sorrowful face could save their souls. It’s that easy. See His sorrow and feel His pain. Look upon Him in love and let Him do the rest. You may hate the shooter or the rapist, but He loves them. He created them in His love and in His image. Just like He created you.
Our Sins Brutalized His Face
If you have a hard time with the brutalized and disfigured face that your sins and mine created, then start with His sweet baby face and let Him lead you from there. You’ll soon realize that that adorable Baby Jesus’s face was the face Mary, his mama, adored at His birth and through all the pudgy toddler years, the squealing and happy tiny tots years into his boyhood and then manhood. Yes, then you’ll realize that you and I bashed in His face with our hardheartedness and spit upon Mary’s son’s face with our pride. Once you get a taste of her sorrow, you will then think of His sorrow at seeing her grieving while viewing His beautiful face so cut, torn, swollen, bloodied and hated. Her sweet, perfect, cherubic flawless baby’s face so marred by all of our sins that she could barely recognize her own son.
When you think of these sorrows between mother and son, you can’t help but feel your own heart twist inside you with pain. This is good. This means you are beginning to grow and feel what God and His holy mother felt. Good will come of this awakening in your heart. You will want to comfort Him or comfort her, the mother who never did an unkind thing to any living soul. This is good because you will begin to want to comfort others as you see their sorrow or their disfigurement.
God’s Face Hidden
Lastly, I think we have all seen the face of God but just do not realize it. When we see each other, especially our poor brothers and sisters, we’ve been treated to the more veiled vision of God’s face. I think its too easy to overlook this form of the Imago Dei and just focus on the more pious and clean devotions. Getting to see the dirtiest, most disfigured faces should remind us to see Christ, not the person we may despise, judge or disdain. Jesus was covered in spittle, mud, blood and who knows what else they threw at Him to dishonor and humiliate him. And don’t forget, where He fell on His way to Calvary were streets where animals trod, constantly relieving themselves. I would bet if I had seen Him just before the woman in the Gospel wiped His face, and had I not been His follower, I may have just turned away and said, “Filthy criminal! Probably did something to deserve it. Hmph!” And although we see very repulsive faces of drug addicts, prostitutes, the mentally ill, violent youth, and homeless kids and adults today, we need to remember that each of them are created in God’s image and likeness.
We need to strive to love and serve and pray for them in order to honor their Creator and the fact that He said, “Let us make man to our own image and likeness” (Genesis 1:26). St. Teresa of Calcutta, known as Mother Teresa, always strove to see and honor the face of God in the poor she gently tended. We would do well to imitate her motherly example: “Seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and His hand in every happening; This is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world. Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.” –Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Another Holy Confirmation
Recently, at Sunday Mass, our choir sang a meditation anthem of farewell to two beloved priests. I had been praying with an image of the crucified Lord laying dead under His mother’s gaze. I was worshiping His face and asking Him to confirm my choice of blog topic when I heard the words “to make His face to shine upon you” sung repeatedly. I was startled out of my post-Communion prayer reverie and I felt God urging me to share His and my thoughts on His face. I had asked Him to confirm my choice of blog topic and here was the confirmation in four part harmony! (Perfect for a professional musician). My eyes welled with tears at the realization that He is always listening and is so close to me.
I hope folks around the world will take up this request and challenge from Jesus to spread devotion to His Holy Face. After all, He asked us Himself. And we the Church are His spouse!!
“Oh, you, who are my friends, and my faithful children, look and see if there be any sorrow like mine. Everywhere My enemies despise and insult both my Eternal Father and My church, the cherished spouse of My heart. Will no one rise up to console Me by defending the glory of My Father, and the honor of My spouse, which has been so cruelly attacked? I can no longer remain in the midst of a people that will continue to be so heedless and so ungrateful. Look at the torrents of tears that stream from My eyes! Can I find no one to wipe away these tears by making reparation to My Father, and imploring forgiveness for the guilty?” (Jesus to Sister Mary of Saint Peter).
All you have to do is look at Him. Blow a kiss to God’s face. You’ll never regret it. And He’ll never forget it. Nor will the countless souls you may save with your tender glances at His face.
PROMISES OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
Revelations to Sr. Mary of St. Peter, Discalced Carmelite Nun of Tours, France, in favor of those who honor His Holy Face. Details of these revelations are found in the book named The Golden Arrow (the autobiography of Sister Mary of St. Peter):
By offering My Face to My Eternal Father, nothing will be refused, and the conversion of many sinners will be obtained.
By My Holy Face, they will work wonders, appease the anger of God and draw down mercy on sinners.
All those who honor My Face in a spirit of reparation will by so doing perform the office of the pious Veronica.
According to the care they take in making reparation to My Face disfigured by blasphemers, so will I take care of their souls which have been disfigured by sin. My Face is the Seal of the Divinity, which has the virtue of reproducing in souls the image of God.
Those who by words, prayers or writings defend My cause in the Work of Reparation, especially My priests, I will defend before My Father, and will give them My Kingdom.
As in a kingdom they can procure all that is desired with a coin stamped with the King’s effigy, so in the Kingdom of Heaven they will obtain all they desire with the precious coin of My Holy Face.
Those who on earth contemplate the wounds of My Face shall in Heaven behold it radiant with glory.
They will receive in their souls a bright and constant irradiation of My Divinity, that by their likeness to My Face they shall shine with particular splendor in Heaven.
I will defend them, I will preserve them and I assure them of Final Perseverance.
© 2018 Frances Peterson
Feature Image: Alex Iby, https://unsplash.com ; All images are free to use, with Creative Commons CC0.
The Sudarium Image From The New York Public Library:
All other images: photo credit Frances Peterson
The Promises of Our Lord are from: http://www.holyfacedevotion.com/revelations.htm
The Holy Face Devotion: https://theholyface.com/
The Lord Bless You and Keep You, by John Rutter:
A wonderful painting of Christ’s Face:
Holy Face Association:
A very nice summary of the story of Sr. Mary of St. Peter and the layman who made the devotion famous:
Song: The Holy Face of Jesus: