Thursday, 19 February 2015

THE HOLY FACE.-- From The Life of Sr. Mary of St. Peter.

holyface3“I seek another Veronica to soothe and adore my Holy Face, which has so few worshippers!” (Words of Our Lord.)

The spiritual delight which Mary of St. Peter received from the meditation on the Holy Name of Jesus, consoled her somewhat for the delay made in the propagation of the Work of Reparation. Our Lord had made no allusion to the subject from the 19th of November, 1844.

But on the 17th. of June, 1845, the Divine Master once more referred to this theme so dear to his Sacred Heart, and encouraged his servant to have an interview with the archbishop. Nothing less than a command from such a source, could have compelled this humble and timid maiden to place herself in direct communication with a Prince of the Church; for she was now to entreat him most earnestly in the name of God, to establish this Work; a serious undertaking in his eyes from which he always seemed to recoil.

She writes: “I then suffered an interior martyrdom which God alone knows; I could take no nourishment; existence was a burden. My heavenly Spouse told me not to fear speaking to Monseigneur; that he himself, would accompany me and suggest what I should say. My divine Saviour kept his promise; for I spoke to this worthy prelate with the simplicity of a child, conversing with the respect due to his dignity without being over awed.”

The archbishop consented to pay a visit to the sister, whom he already held in great esteem, because of her rare virtue. When she came into his presence, she fell on her knees and kissed his feet; she then implored him to finish the Work which he had so happily begun for the glory of the Holy Name of God, explaining to him the manner in which the Lord urged her to further his designs. The prelate replied: “My child,”! desire with all my heart, to establish this Work, and to give it all the publicity it merits; but this is an undertaking of some difficulty; you cannot see all the obstacles. If at present there is so much difficulty in obliging the people to perform their obligations of precept, what would be said of me if I were to propose practices of piety hitherto unheard of? Would not the wicked be excited to blaspheme God more than ever? Commend our present embarrassments to God, and pray fervently for me; ask for new lights; if the Lord deign to enlighten you further, you must make it known to me.” He added, as if to tranquillize her with regard to her interior dispositions: “My child, that which you experience bears not the impress of an illusion; no, sister, quite the contrary; - I recognize therein the hidden workings of God. I have have made inquiries, and have ascertained that many persons have had the same inspiration as you on the subject of this Work of Reparation, which now exists in Italy, and there is a movement in its favour in many dioceses of France. It is my desire that pious souls embrace this devotion, but that you in particular, should offer yourself to God as a Victim. Offer your penances and all your works as a sacrifice of Reparation for the Church and for France; unite yourself to our Lord Jesus Christ in the most Blessed Sacrament of the altar, to render through him honour, praise and glory to the three divine persons of the adorable Trinity; endeavour to stay the arm of the Almighty, that it may not fall heavily upon us. Address yourself to the Sacred Heart of Mary, and offer to the Eternal Father, through the hands of this august Mother, the most Precious Blood of her Divine Son, his sufferings and all his merit; and I hope we shall thus appease the anger of the Almighty.”

The archbishop continued his conversation with the sister, exhorting her particularly to glorify Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament of the altar. “Every Thursday,” said he, “make an honourable amend to God: Friday, recite the Litany of the Passion, and on Saturday, that of the Blessed Virgin. When Our Lord inspires you, my child, you may recite the prayers of Reparation: but I prefer you to recite more ordinary prayers.” The pious sister then told him, that sometimes she feared her own imagination interfered with the operation of God; but the prelate reassured her again, saying:  “Since you do not tenaciously cling to your own opinion, and that you remain within the limits prescribed by obedience, abandoning these things to the judgment of your superiors, you should remain perfectly at ease.” In conclusion, he said: “I find all that you have related to me very excellent; beg the Lord to send me the light of the Holy Ghost; and do all things for the glory of God.”

“These counsels were as a healing balm poured over my soul; they filled me with consolation, for my confessor had declined giving an opinion on what had transpired in my soul regarding the “Work of Reparation,” saying that the archbishop had received from the Holy Ghost the power of pronouncing judgment, and that I should submit to his decision. Then I was more than ever convinced of the divine will, and although Monseigneur had not given me much hope that he would establish this work, as he foresaw many grave difficulties, yet, this did not prevent me from hoping that all obstacles would be removed when the time appointed by the decrees of Divine Providence would arrive. The following are my reasons for this conclusion: If the communications, which I have received from God in regard to the Reparation, are not illusions, as he who has received the grace from on High to judge, has declared, then this work will most assuredly be established, for .the word of God is all-powerful; if, on the contrary, Monseigneur had declared that they were illusions, I would have abandoned the Work entirely, for by the grace of God, I have always had more confidence in the decisions of my superiors, than in the interior communications which I believed to have received from God; in the latter, I might be deceived, but faith can never be deceived, for our Divine Master has said of superiors: ‘He who heareth you, heareth me;’ therefore, we cannot err in obeying your superiors. These words of the Gospel have always struck me forcibly; they are engraved on my heart; and in the practice of them, I have received wonderful graces with the assistance of those who have had the direction of my soul. These solid reflections give us a wonderful insight of the soul of our humble and obedient carmelite, and will corroborate the opinion of the venerable archbishop concerning her revelations. No one is ignorant of the fact that in matters of revelation or heavenly communications, the touch-stone is humility and a perfect submission of judgment to the decisions of those appointed by the Church as her immediate representatives.

Some time after, Mgr. Morlot consented to give his approbation to the prayers of Reparation, and after having indicated the corrections which he deemed necessary, granted the per mission to have them printed. “But,” continued she, “this was not immediately done. Our Lord gave me to understand that if the prayers alone were printed without a notice on the object of the work to be established, it would not be sufficient, because the faithful should be informed of the designs of his will, in order to awaken their interest in the Work, and to induce them to recite the prayers; and then we shall see them adopted by a multitude of pious souls who will recite the prayers of Reparation with the same avidity as the bees seek the flowers of .the field. He made me also understand that these prayers would obtain great graces for the conversion of sinners.”

She then speaks of the work on blasphemy, entitled the “Association of Prayers,” composed by l’Abbe Salmon The author adds a few reflections on the profanation of the days consecrated to God; then followed the prayers of Reparation. There was also subjoined the “Little Office of the Holy Name of God,” which had been compiled with the aid of two venerable canons, friends of the Carmelites. The expenses of publication were defrayed mostly by the contributions of M. Dupont.

“Monseignor,” continued the sister, “approved of this little work which soon met with great success; and in a short time, more than 25,000 copies of the prayers of Reparation had been distributed. From the different cities of France application came to Tours, for authority to propagate this devotion for the glory of the Holy Name of God, and the prayers were recited everywhere with great devotion. In reference to this subject, Our Lord told me that this new harmony appeased his anger; but that he wished an Association established ac cording to the manner indicated.”

In conformity with the exhortations of the archbishop, she began to importune the Lord to deign to grant her new light on the establishment of his Work. But it pleased the Divine Master to lead her once more in the path of trial. She could no longer think of anything but her sins; she believed herself to be but the phantom of a carmelite, far removed from what she should be in reality, and that her sins were the cause of this Work remaining incomplete. “With a heart laden with sorrow, she besought Our Lord to choose another instrument more worthy than she for the accomplishment of his designs. Then, regarding herself as very culpable before God, she made a review of conscience with her confessor, and took the resolution to lead, in the future, a life more in conformity with the knowledge she had received of her own misery and nothingness. This was only the beginning of a new series of struggles and interior combats. She was assailed by a thousand temptations, to which was added the privation of all sensible consolation; it seemed that her soul was not even in the state of sanctifying grace; she was reduced to a state of agony, experiencing disgust and bitterness in the very devotions which formerly had been so cherished. She scarcely dared receive holy communion.

holy-face-001-5x7One day, when she was hesitating to receive holy communion without having previously exposed her sad condition to her superior, the following happy thought presented itself to her mind: that this Bread of the strong would give her courage. While awaiting the mass to begin, with new faith she took her crucifix, and recollecting that Our Lord had told her that the praise contained in the “Golden Arrow” would wound his Heart in a most delicious manner, she pronounced the formula ten times in succession, then resolved to present herself at the holy Table and receive the Blessed Eucharist in reparation for the blasphemies uttered against the Divine Majesty of God. Nothing more was needed to touch the heart of the Divine Spouse. He tenderly drew to himself this soul who, in spite of her desolation, had come to unite herself to him, in order to indemnify his heavenly Father for the outrages offered him. “Oh! How good is God,” exclaimed the sister. “How great is his mercy! After having received this God of love in holy communion, I said to him with faith: ‘O heavenly Physician! I remit my soul into thy hands; and immediately my adorable Saviour made me experience the effect of my prayer, drawing me to himself alone that I might forget all my sorrows. He told me it was his express will that I should persevere in the exercises of Reparation in spite of all the efforts of the devil who was trying to fill me with disgust and repugnance, because he wished to annihilate this Work, Were it in his power. The Masters of the spiritual life have re marked that the Word Made Flesh, in his intimate relations with souls of election, has unexpected and sudden times of visitation, causing them in one moment to pass from tears to joy, from temptation to peace, from the most obscure darkness to the most brilliant light. Mary of St. Peter experienced this in the present case; as if to compensate her for the painful state which she has just described, Our Lord favoured her with one of his most consoling and most fruitful communications. The Work of Reparation through the Holy Face was suddenly revealed to her. She was transported in spirit to the road leading to Calvary. “There,” said she, Our Lord gave me to behold in a most vivid manner, the pious Veronica, who, with her veil, wiped his adorable Face covered with spittle, dust, sweat and blood. My divine Saviour gave me to understand that the wicked by their blasphemy renew all the outrages once offered to his divine Face; these blasphemies, poured forth against the Divinity, like the vile spittle of the Jews, disfigure the Face of Our Lord, who offered himself as a victim for sinners.

Then he told me that I must imitate the zeal of the pious Veronica who so courageously passed through the crowd of rough soldiers to offer him some relief, and whom he gave me for my protectress and model. By endeavouring to offer reparation for blasphemy, we render Christ the same service as this heroic woman, and he looks upon those who act thus, with the same complaisancy as if they had performed this act during his Passion. I observed that Our Lord had much love for this holy woman. For this reason he said that he desired to see her particularly honoured in our monastery, and he invited me to ask any grace that we wished, in the name of the service rendered him by Veronica.

It was the first time Our Lord spoke to his faithful servant of his Holy Face, and that he proposed the example of this noble Jewess, of whom tradition preserves an immortal souvenir. The statement is clear and succinct. The marvellous economy of the Reparation for Blasphemy is here presented entire in its germ. We shall behold it bud forth and blossom in the succeeding revelations.

After relating the preceding facts, our carmelite adds:

“The effects of this communication in my soul were so marvellous, that I could not but admire the power and condescension of Our Lord. Before receiving this communication, I was in an abyss of sorrow; and after having partaken of this Bread of Life, I was as if resuscitated from death, and my soul was dilated with joy; I went to seek our reverend mother to inform her of what the Divine Master had just communicated to me concerning his Holy Face, in regard to the Work of Reparation. I said to her: ‘Reverend Mother, Our Lord promised to grant any grace asked for through the intercession of the pious Veronica. What shall I ask for you? I felt interiorly urged to propose this question to our reverend mother, for Our Lord assured me that I would be heard; and I thought that if he granted the favour proposed, it would be a proof of the truth of the last communication I believed to have received. Our mother replied: ‘If God desire that we should soothe his Divine Face, and if he be disposed to grant us a grace in consideration of the services of the pious Veronica, the favour which I desire now to ask is, that he would have the goodness to veil the faces of his spouses, who will be exposed to the eyes of seculars, if the ground adjoining our garden be sold to strangers; therefore, intercede with him to obtain it for us; if he grant you this grace, your superiors will have a visible proof of the spirit which conducts you.’

The mother superior, Mary of the Incarnation, was at that time occupied with the construction of the new monastery on the Rue des Ursulines. On one side of the enclosure, there was a piece of ground which commanded a view of the Carmelites’ garden, a great inconvenience, as can easily be understood for cloistered religious, who by their rule, should be sheltered from the curiosity of the world. With the gayety and apparent indifference with which she generally spoke to her spiritual daughter, the reverend mother held the above conversation to which we have just listened. The sister obeyed the order of the prioress and began a novena in honour of the Holy Face; but said she naively: “Thou knowest well, my Divine Lord, that I only desire this ground for thy sake and for the glory of thy Holy Name.”

Before obtaining possession of the ground, there seemed to be insurmountable obstacles to be overcome; for this reason, the sister became importunate in her entreaties to the Lord, knowing that its acquisition would be a visible sign of her mission; we shall notice in what manner this grace was granted.

For the present, let us listen to her describing the manner in which she rendered homage to the Holy Face, from the time she received the first communication. “I experience a special protection from the pious Veronica, and I am continually occupied in the adoration of the august and most Holy Face of Our Saviour. I feel that my soul is in the hands of God, like an instrument of which he makes use at his own good pleasure. I felt urged during those days, to expose to Jesus that which our worthy archbishop had suggested to me concerning the work of Reparation for Blasphemy,” when I had the privilege of speaking to him. Yesterday, after holy communion, I conjured Our Lord to deign to give me more light on this subject, saying to him: ‘Thou knowest, my Lord and Saviour, that it is for Monseigneur I make this request, and in virtue of holy obedience.’ But my Divine Saviour did not judge it necessary to answer me. He only concentrated the powers of my soul most profoundly in the contemplation of his adorable Face.

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On the 27th of October, from the moment she entered the choir for the morning meditation, the Lord communicated himself to her anew, according to his ordinary custom, and as if in answer to the prayer addressed to him in the name of the archbishop, he exposed his designs on the Work of Reparation.

“It is at the present moment, reverend mother,” said she,; ‘that I stand in need of the light of the Holy Ghost to direct my pen, for I know not how to write that which I have seen and heard. I shall relate it as carefully as possible.”

“Our Lord, having concentrated the powers of my soul in his Divine Heart, applied me to the contemplation of his adorable Face; he made me understand by internal rays of light, that this holy and august Face, offered to us for our adoration, is the mirror of the ineffable perfections comprised in the most Holy Name of God.”

“It is impossible for me to express this intellectual view, unless in the words of the Apostle St. Paul, ‘God is the head of his Christ. (1 Cor 11:3) “Which words I have since read; they struck me most forcibly, for I recognized in this thought what had been communicated to me supernaturally.”

May there not be, in effect, a mysterious sense applicable to the devotion of the Holy Face in these words of the Apostle: Caput Christi Deus? (God is the head of his Christ.) May we not infer that the word, Caput, (head), signifies not only the authority God possesses over Jesus Christ considered as man, but that the head of the Saviour, taken in its literal signification, expresses in a particular manner the figure of the Divine Majesty?

What favours this interpretation, is the unity of idea contained in the passages in which these words are found, and the conclusion drawn by the Apostle. Jesus Christ is the head of mankind, as man is the head of woman, and as God is the head of Jesus Christ. If it were here only a question of the power which God possesses over the humanity of Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ over man, and man over woman, it would suffice to conclude, that woman ought to be submissive to man, man to Jesus Christ, even as Our Lord himself is submissive to his Father.

But St. Paul goes still further. He desires that man should respect Jesus Christ, his chief, his head, by uncovering his head when at prayer. That woman should veil her head when praying, for man is her chief. We observe here an idea of dignity attached to the word chief, or head, taken in its literal or physical sense: dignity of man as head of woman; dignity of Jesus Christ, the chief of mankind, dignity and majesty of God in the august head of Jesus Christ.

Still better, we may infer the dignity of the adorable head of our Lord from one of the following passages in which St. Paul says: “Man should not cover his head, being the image and glory of God.” True, the sacred text simply says, that man is the image and the glory of God, without particularly mentioning the head; but according to this, why forbid him to cover his head, if not be cause this image and glory reside principally in the head? Now, if the head of man be worthy of so much dignity, with how much more reason should we not consider the august head of Jesus Christ as the picture and the emblem of the Divine Majesty, and his Holy Face as the image and the glory of God?

The above is found at the end of Sr. St. Peter’s writings. It reveals to us an extended horizon of information and light on the devotion to the most Holy Face of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and is its own commendation.

“I understood that as the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the visible object offered to our admiration to represent his immense love in the most Blessed Sacrament of the altar, likewise, in the Work of Reparation, the Face of Our Lord is the sensible object offered for the adoration of the associates, to repair the outrages of blasphemers who attack the Divinity, of which it is the figure, the mirror and the image. In virtue of this adorable Face, offered to the Eternal Father, we can appease his anger and obtain the conversion of blasphemers.” The co-relation existing between the devotion to the Sacred Heart and that of the Holy Face, could not have been better expressed. The Holy Face is a picture of the Divinity outraged by the opprobrium, of blasphemers, as the Sacred Heart is a picture of the immense love of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

The sister was also favoured with another light. “Our Lord” said she, “showed me that the Church, his Spouse, is his mystical body, and that religion is the face of this body; then he showed me this face as the butt of all the scoffs coming from the enemies of his Holy Name; and I saw that blasphemers and sectarians renew in this holy face, all the opprobrium of the Passion. I beheld, also, by this divine light, that the wicked, in uttering profane words and in blaspheming the Holy Name of God, spat in the Divine Face of Our Lord and covered it with filth; that all the blows aimed at the Church and “at Religion by sectarians, were the renewal of the numberless buffets “which our Divine Lord received in his Holy Face, and that these unfortunate wretches drew forth perspiration in drops of blood from his Divine Face, by thus maliciously destroying his works.”

The word religion, employed here to signify the face of the mystic body of Jesus Christ, is easily explained. We may understand it to mean the doctrine of Jesus Christ, which teaches us what we are obliged to believe and practise, and the worship which we must render to God. Religion, in this sense of the word, is the face of the Church, because her doctrine renders visible the features by which we recognize her even as we distinguish and recognize a person by the features of his countenance. This face of the Church is, at the same time, the Face of Jesus Christ; for the Church can have but one head, which is Jesus Christ, and consequently but one face which is likewise that of Jesus. Finally, in a mystic sense, it can be said that the doctrine of Jesus Christ, that is the Christian religion, is as much his face as that of the Church, because it is by this doctrine that we recognize him as he is himself. Therefore the expression inspired to the sister, justifies itself, and we can but admire the nicety and depth of the word.

Nothing, therefore, could be more conform able to the spirit of Reparation which Our Lord proposes to himself. In our days, more than ever before, the face of his mystic body, the Church, is the butt of all the outrages of his enemies. Sectarians vomit forth their blasphemies into his face, as so much ignoble filth ; they launch at her a thousand injurious invectives, even falsehoods which recall to mind the buffets received by the Saviour during his Passion; thus do they seek to destroy his labours; and after the lapse of centuries since the time he passed in the world, ‘doing good,’ they exult in their endeavours to overthrow what he has established, and to counteract the fruits of the salvation brought to man. This face of the Church, also, stands in need of being consoled and comforted, and we are not surprised that Christ has repeated to his servant, the request already made in favour of his Spouse, placed like him on the road to Calvary. “Then, at this sight,” she continued, “our Lord Jesus Christ said to me: ‘I seek for more Veronicas to console and adore my Divine Face, which has but few worshippers. ‘He made me understand anew, that all those who devoted themselves to this work of Reparation, would perform the same office as Veronica. After which he addressed to me the following consoling words: ‘I give you my Holy Face as a recompense for all the services you have rendered me for the past two years; you have done but little, it is true, but your heart has conceived great designs; therefore, I give you this Face in presence of my Eternal Father, in virtue of the Holy Ghost, and in sight of the angels and saints ; I present you this gift by the hands of my Holy Mother, and of St. Veronica, who will teach you how to honour it.’ Our Lord continued: ‘By this Face, you will perform prodigies.’

She understood that this precious gift was not for herself alone, but that it was to become the distinctive symbol of the projected work. “For,” said she, “my Divine Master manifested his desire to see his Holy Face offered as the appropriate object of devotion to his children, the members of the Association of Reparation for Blasphemy, and he seemed to invite me to reveal his adorable Face under this aspect.”  She undoubtedly felt, at the same time, the excellence of the grace accorded her by Our Lord. “It was, he told me, the greatest grace he could have given me after that of the sacraments, and for which he had prepared and cultivated the soil of my soul by the interior trials which I had suffered a short time previously. I also learned that he deputed St. Louis, king of France, protector of this “Work of Reparation, because of his zeal for the glory of the Name of God ; and for protectress, he designated the pious Veronica, in gratitude for the services rendered him on the road to Calvary.”

“After having favoured me with these remark able revelations regarding the Reparation for blasphemy, he added: ‘Those who do not now recognize in this, my work, close their eyes, and will not see.’”

“Toward the conclusion, I felt a little uneasiness with regard to the veracity of this revelation, because of its length; but Our Lord assured me, saying that he had many means at his disposal by which to manifest himself to souls, that he accommodated himself to my feebleness, and that I had already experienced that he had communicated himself to me before in this sweet and peaceful manner. He was as a tender Father giving me his orders and informing me of his desires; but for this purpose, it was necessary that my soul should not be disturbed by passion of any kind, neither of joy or pain, which might cause agitation and impede his communications. When by his pure bounty, he condescended to make himself understood, all passed so sweetly and impressed me in such a manner, that I could only apply myself to that which my Divine Master, in the excess of his bounty, was pleased to communicate.”

“He had promised after my admission into religion, that if I would make him a perfect act of self-abandonment, with all my merits, for the accomplishment of his designs, that he himself would conduct my soul in his ways. I can here testify, to the glory of this amiable Shepherd, that he conducts me step by step as one of his sheep, notwithstanding my un-worthiness; he leads me at will, to graze now in one pasture, then in another; sometimes in delicious valleys, again in sandy deserts, according to the necessity of the spiritual health of his poor little sheep. — I have thought it might not be useless to make known in a few words this conduct of our Lord in my regard, that the communications, which I believe I have received from my Divine Master, may the more easily be credited. May his Holy Name be blessed for having taken so much care of a miserable sinner!”