When I first learned about and began to practice the Divine Mercy Devotion, it was a Jesuit priest, as well as one of his laywomen parishioners, who, for a number of years, were instrumental in my Faith journey. Through them, I came to appreciate the dynamic faith of my New Orleans brothers and sisters. I say that to put into context what I am about to say next.
About twenty years ago, my business responsibilities sent me, twice, in back-to-back conference trips, to New Orleans. Unfortunately, the conferences purposely were scheduled by the leaders to coincide with the start of Mardi Gras. I cannot tell you what a culture shock that event was—one I am happy never to repeat or to revisit, and one I happily remained in lock-in at the downtown hotel in order to avoid partaking in.
Misused by some revelers, including those from other states and countries, Mardi Gras--as I witnessed--gained the reputation of being one of the most extreme Shrove or Fat Tuesday celebrations. As I understood from local residents, Mardi Gras originally was intended to be a joyful, family fun-filled community event, including eating rich foods, on the day before Ash Wednesday, when forty days of Lenten penance and fasting would be implemented.
At the time that I remained in the hotel, I didn’t even know that there was a Church alternative to secular Mardi Gras festivities as they had unfolded.
Fortunately, I learned about the beautiful feast of the Holy Face of Jesus, celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday. What a blessing it has been to participate in Shrove Tuesday evening Mass, honoring the Holy Face of Jesus.
This Jubilee Year, in particular, it seems to me, contains a special invitation to acknowledge the Holy Face of Jesus on the last evening before Lent begins. Our Holy Father named his Jubilee "Bull of Indiction": Misericordiae Vultus (Face of Mercy). This Jubilee Bull opens with nine powerful words: “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy.”
In showing us the face of the Father’s mercy, Jesus, in His Human Nature, allowed His Holy Face to participate in His Saving Passion in a most humble way.
In fulfillment of the Messianic Prophecy found in the Old Testament (Cf. Isaiah 50: 5-7), Jesus’ Holy Face was slapped and spat upon by the Sanhedrin temple guard and Pilate’s soldiers (Cf. John 18:19-22; Mark 14:65; 15:19).
Prior to His Holy Passion, when Jesus firmly set His Holy Face toward Jerusalem (Cf. Luke 9:51) as prophesized (Cf. Isaiah 50:7), Jesus Himself told His Apostles about how His Holy Face would be spat upon (Mark 10:34 ).
During His painful way of the Cross, according to Sacred Tradition, it is the woman called “Veronica” (“Very (“true”) Image”) who wiped the Precious Blood and spittle from the Holy Face of Jesus. According to that same Tradition, Jesus rewarded her act of mercy by leaving the imprint of His Holy Face on her veil, the veil she had used to wipe His Holy Face.
Reflecting on Veronica’s charity toward the Holy Face of Jesus—the “face of the Father’s mercy,” reminds us of another aspect of the Holy Father’s Jubilee Bull of Indiction. As the Holy Father stated: “As the Father loves, so do his children. Just as he is merciful, so we are called to be merciful to each other.”
In his letter about the Jubilee Indulgence , the Holy Father emphasized the importance of performing spiritual and corporal works of mercy, saying that a “Jubilee Indulgence” “surely” will be obtained “[e]ach time that one of the faithful personally performs one or more of [the spiritual and corporal works of mercy].”
As we look upon the faces of our brothers and sisters, is it not easy to see “written” there that they are in need of our spiritual and corporal works of mercy? Do we not see that they are hungry, thirsty, sorrowful, confused, and so forth? And when we minister to them, are we not ministering to the Holy Face of Jesus?
In addition to many beautiful quotes and reflections about the Holy Face of Jesus which are contained in the Holy Father’s Jubilee "Bull of Indiction": Misericordiae Vultus (Face of Mercy), here are some other Scripture quotes for our prayerful consideration, particularly on Tuesday, February 9th, the day before Ash Wednesday, the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus.
These and other quotes can help us to honor Jesus’ Merciful Holy Face which was so mocked in His Passion. Among these mercy quotes are those that inspire responses—prayers--of praise, repentance, thanksgiving, and supplication.
Please add in the “Comment” section additional prayers to honor the Holy Face of Jesus on His Feast day during this Mercy Jubilee—and always! Thank you, and God bless you!
“The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!” (Numbers 6:24-26)
“Many say, ‘May we see better times! Lord, show us the light of your face!’” (Psalm 4:7)
“Hear my voice, Lord, when I call; have mercy on me and answer me. ‘Come,’ says my heart, ‘seek his face;’ your face, Lord, do I seek! Do not hide your face from me; do not repel your servant in anger. You are my salvation; do not cast me off; do not forsake me, God my savior! Even if my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me in.” (Psalm 27: 7-10)
“But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My destiny is in your hands; rescue me from my enemies, from the hands of my pursuers. Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your mercy.” (Psalm 31: 15-17)
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me, delivered me from all my fears. Look to him and be radiant, and your faces may not blush for shame. This poor one cried out and the Lord heard, and from all his distress he saved him.” (Psalm 34: 5-7)
“O God, restore us; light up your face and we shall be saved. …O God of hosts, restore us; light up your face and we shall be saved…Lord God of hosts, restore us; light up your face and we shall be saved.” (Psalm 80: 4; 8. 19)
“Blessed the people…who walk in the radiance of your face, Lord.” (Psalm 89: 16)
“Give thanks to the Lord, invoke his name; make known among the peoples his deeds! Sing praise to him, play music; proclaim all his wondrous deeds! Glory in his holy name; let hearts that seek the Lord rejoice! Seek out the Lord and his might; constantly seek his face.” (Psalm 105: 1-4)
“…if then my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
“If you return to the Lord, your kinfolk and your children will find mercy with their captors and return to this land. The Lord, your God, is gracious and merciful and he will not turn away his face from you if you return to him.” (2 Chronicles 30:9)
“Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father.” (John 6: 46)
“Jesus cried out and said, ‘Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me.'" (John 12: 44)
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’
“Philip said to him, ‘Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.’
“Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.’” (John 14: 6-11)
“At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
“For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of [Jesus] Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)
“All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
“They will look upon his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light, and they shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22:4-5)
Someday, please God!, we will spend an eternity worshipping the Holy Face of Jesus. Let us begin now showing great love to His Holy Face, as we worship the Holy Eucharist in Adoration.
This Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy is a very precious gift from our Merciful God through His holy Church.
“How can I repay the Lord for all the great good done for me?” (Psalm 116:12)
How shall we answer this question on the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus? How shall we spend this Shrove Tuesday? How will we begin the Jubilee Lenten season?