“I will defend them, I will preserve them and I assure them of Final Perseverance.”
– Jesus to Sr. Mary of St. Peter
(The revelation above is taken from the promises He gave her, regarding those who devote themselves to making reparation to His Holy Face).
Shrove Tuesday (February 9): Feast of the Holy Face
This coming Tuesday (February 9) is the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus. How I have come to love this devotion! Some have a devotion to the Precious Blood; others to the Holy Wounds; others to the Sacred Humanity; others to the Passion of Our Lord – these are all admirable devotions. But do we realise that devotion to the Face of Christ, in a sense, combines all of these devotions?
Behold the Face of Christ, which was spat upon, beaten and mocked; behold the Precious Blood dripping down His Adorable Face; look upon the Wounds left by the Crown of Thorns; look at that Sacred Flesh torn by the malice of our sins; consider that, according to several chosen souls, the pain inflicted by the Crown of Thorns was one of His most intense sufferings! How can we not console this God, Who suffered so much for us? What will we do for Him? ‘I looked about, and there was none to help: I sought, and there was none to give aid…’ (Is. 63:5)
The Feast of the Holy Face is a truly glorious Feast; if you have the opportunity to attend Mass, you must! At every Mass, the Risen Lord is made present on our Altars; that Adorable Face, which is the delight of the Blessed, looks at us with infinite sweetness, hoping that our eyes will meet His. How blessed are those who make their souls a living Tabernacle for Love Incarnate! How fortunate, we say, was St. Thomas, to have placed his hand in the side of Christ. Do we not realise that we receive the same Christ into our souls?!
Before looking in greater detail at what some of the Saints have written about the Holy Face, let us pause to consider a few of the reasons why devotion to the Holy Face is so important:
- The Scriptures frequently tell us to seek the Face of God. ‘Seek ye the Lord, and his power: seek ye His Face evermore.’(1 Chron. 16:11) ‘Seek ye the Lord, and be strengthened: seek His Face evermore.’(Ps. 105:4)
- The Face of Jesus gives us confidence. His Divine Countenance is full of love and mercy; He is love and mercy, and His Face reflects the Love that consumes His Sacred Heart. How often have sinners been converted by looking at an image of Christ! Who can look at the Face of Jesus Crucified and not be moved? Our Lord said to St. Faustina that His Face on the image she had struck (the Divine Mercy image) resembles His expression from the Cross. Similarly, Our Lord told Sr. Benigna Consolata that, while hanging on the Cross, He unopened His bloody Eyes to look with tenderness upon His executioners, upon us!
- The Face of Jesus radiates light, warmth and life. “Frequently during her meditations, St. Gertrude saw the Divine Countenance of our Saviour resplendent as the sun, illuminating priests, inflaming the devout and converting sinners. Once she asked why the blessed Countenance of our Redeemer shone like the sun, and she received this explanation:
“Like the sun, My Countenance illuminates, warms and fructifies.”
- Jesus demands reparation in these very sinful times. Jesus is the Head of the Church; when the Church is persecuted, Jesus suffers (retroactively; He cannot suffer now). Our Lord has revealed to many of His Saints that the world is going to ruin because there is no one to make reparation. “Souls are not saved if nothing is done for them.” (Jesus to Sr. Benigna Consolata) The Face of Christ is suffering much; we must offer It, then, in reparation for sins. To the extent that the Divine Countenance is obscured by the wounds inflicted upon It by sinners, we must adore It.
- The Face of Jesus is one of the most efficacious means of effacing sins, growing in Divine Love, and saving our souls (as we shall see).
The Saints and the Holy Face
Many of the Saints had an ardent devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus; they loved Him by contemplating Him in His sufferings, and in His glory. Some of these holy souls include St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, St. Mechtilde, St. Gertrude, Ven. Leo DuPont, Sr. Mary of St. Peter, St. Edmund and Bl. Maria Pierina de Micheli.
Some Anecdotes and Revelations
+ “My child, as long as you look at Me, you will love Me; as long as you look at Me, you will serve Me; when you do not look at Me, you will not follow Me.” – Jesus to Armelle (‘Divine Communications,’ p. 235, Vol. 1)
++ “O Lord,” said St. Mechtilde; “enlighten the face of my soul with the brightness of Thy countenance.” Our Lord replied:
“The face of thy soul is the image of the Holy Trinity. The soul should see this image reflected in My face as in a mirror, and see whether he finds some stain in that image.”
Mechtilde understood that we should often contemplate our soul in this divine Mirror, the face of Jesus Christ, so as to discover any stains that might disfigure it, and wash them away before Holy Communion. Purity of conscience, then, is the first preparation, but the Sacred Heart expects more.”
+++ “All those who meditate frequently on the vision of My Divine Face, attracted by the desires of love, shall receive within them, by the virtue of My Humanity, a bright ray of My Divinity, which shall enlighten their inmost souls, so that they shall reflect the light of My countenance in a special manner in eternity.”
– Jesus to St. Gertrude
++++ “At the hour of Terce, our Lord appeared to St. Gertrude in the position in which He was when tied to the pillar between two executioners, one of whom tore Him with thorns, and the other bruised Him with a whip full of large knots; both striking His Face, which seemed so disfigured, that her very heart melted away with compassion; nor could she restrain her tears whenever she recalled that mournful spectacle during the day, since it appeared to her that none upon earth had ever been so cruelly used as her sweet Lord Jesus. Even the very pupil of the eye was torn and inflamed, both by the thorns and the blows of the scourge. It appeared also to her that her Lord turned His blessed Face from side to side; but when He turned it from one executioner, the other struck it still more furiously; then He turned to her, and exclaimed:
“Have you not read what is written of Me: Vidimus eum tanquam leprosum? “We have thought Him as it were a leper” (Is. liii. 4).
The Saint replied: “Alas, Lord ! what remedy can we find to soothe the agonising pains of Thy Divine Face!”
Our Lord replied:
“The most efficacious and the tenderest remedy which you can prepare for Me is to meditate lovingly on My Passion, and to pray charitably for the conversion of sinners. These two executioners represent the laity, who offend God openly, striking Him with thorns, and the religious, who strike Him still more unpitiably with the knotted cords of secret sins. But both offend Him to the face, and outrage the very God of heaven.”
+++++ Meditation on the Sixth Station of the Cross (revealed to Sr. Benigna Consolata): Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
The religious soul, My spouse, says the Lord, is the little Veronica, who wipes My face every time that she mortifies herself: the veil with which she wipes it, is her soul in which I leave My divine Features portrayed. The more pure and spotless the soul is, the more capable is she of receiving My divine Lineaments. If thou wouldst arrive near to Me thou must pass across My enemies, who are thine also, and from whom thou wilt have much to suffer; but the consolation which a single one of My divine Looks will impart, will repay thee with usury.
Pause, O good Jesus! I am very small, but I will rise on tiptoe to wipe Thy Face. I will use the very finest linen, the whitest and most delicate; and I will prepare this linen for Thee by my fidelity in three things: purity of intention, charity toward my neighbor, and the most ardent love possible toward Thee; and do Thou, O Jesus, celestial Beauty, give me a perpetual remembrance of Thee!
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
++++++ “As Gertrude prayed for a person who had an ardent desire to advance in perfection, she received this instruction:
“Tell her from Me, that if she desires to unite herself to Me by the tie of special love, she must, like a noble bird, make a nest at My feet of the branches of her own nothingness and the palms of My greatness, where she may repose by a continual remembrance of her unworthiness, because man is always inclined to evil of himself, and not to good, unless he is prevented by My grace. Let her often reflect on My mercy, and on the paternal goodness with which I am ready to receive men when they have fallen, if they return to Me by penance. When she desires to leave this nest in order to seek for food, she must fly into My bosom, wherein, with affectionate gratitude, she must reflect on the different blessings with which I have enriched her by My superabundant kindness. If she desires to fly further, and to ascend higher on the wings of her desires, she must rise with the swiftness of an eagle to the contemplation of heavenly things, which are above her; she must fly around My face, supported like a seraph on the wings of charity, and gaze with the piercing eyes of her spirit upon the glory of the King of kings.”
Some Scriptures about the Holy Face
‘My heart hath said to thee: My face hath sought thee: thy face, O Lord, will I still seek.’ (Ps. 27:8)
‘The Lord turn his countenance to thee, and give thee peace.’ (Num. 6:26)
‘I have seen God face to face, and my soul has been saved.’ (Gen. 32:30) [We can pray this at every Mass during the Elevation of the Sacred Host]
‘Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: and teach me thy justifications.’ (Ps. 119:135)
‘For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ Jesus.’ (2 Cor. 4:6)
The Delight of St. Gertrude
“When Thou didst display Thy most adorable Face, the source of all blessedness, as I have said, embracing me, unworthy, a light of inestimable sweetness passed through Thy Deified eyes into mine, passing through my inmost being, operating in all my members with admirable power and sweetness: first, it appeared as if the marrow were taken from my bones; then, my flesh and bones appeared annihilated; so much so, that it seemed as if my substance no longer had any consciousness save of that Divine splendour, which shone in so inexplicable and delightful a manner that it was the source of the most inestimable pleasure and joy to my soul.”
Sources: ‘The life and revelations of Saint Gertrude, virgin and abbess, of the Order of St. Benedict,’ ‘The Love of the Sacred Heart (St. Mechtilde),’ ‘Vademecum Proposed to Religious Souls (Sr. Benigna Consolata),’ ‘Devotion to the Holy Face’ (TAN Books), ‘The Golden Arrow’ (TAN Books).
For an excellent read:
“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.“
– Jesus to Sr. Mary of St. Peter