The Holy Face, Disfigured by Sin

The essence of the Holy Face Devotion, and why the Holy Face is the object, is reparation for sin; and since our sins were taken upon Our Lord in His propitiatory sacrifice on Calvary, there is a scriptural basis.

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 contains many of the verses of the Messianic Prophecy of the Suffering Servant.

“Behold, my servant will understand; he will be exalted and lifted up, and he will be very sublime.

Just as they were stupefied over you, so will his countenance be without glory among men, and his appearance, among the sons of men.

He will sprinkle many nations; kings will close their mouth because of him. And those to whom he was not described, have seen. And those who have not heard, have considered.

Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

And he will rise up like a tender plant in his sight, and like a root from the thirsty ground.

There is no beautiful or stately appearance in him. For we looked upon him, and there was no aspect, such that we would desire him.

He is despised and the least among men, a man of sorrows who knows infirmity. And his countenance was hidden and despised. Because of this, we did not esteem him.

Truly, he has taken away our weaknesses, and he himself has carried our sorrows. And we thought of him as if he were a leper, or as if he had been struck by God and humiliated.

But he himself was wounded because of our iniquities. He was bruised because of our wickedness. The discipline of our peace was upon him. And by his wounds, we are healed.

We have all gone astray like sheep; each one has turned aside to his own way. And the Lord has placed all our iniquity upon him.

He was offered up, because it was his own will. And he did not open his mouth. He will be led like a sheep to the slaughter. And he will be mute like a lamb before his shearer.

For he will not open his mouth.

He was lifted up from anguish and judgment. Who will describe his life? For he has been cut off from the land of the living. Because of the wickedness of my people, I have struck him down.

And he will be given a place with the impious for his burial, and with the rich for his death, though he has done no iniquity, nor was deceit in his mouth.

But it was the will of the Lord to crush him with infirmity. If he lays down his life because of sin, he will see offspring with long lives, and the will of the Lord will be directed by his hand.

Because his soul has labored, he will see and be satisfied. By his knowledge, my just servant will himself justify many, and he himself will carry their iniquities.

Therefore, I will allot to him a great number. And he will divide the spoils of the strong. For he has handed over his life to death, and he was reputed among criminals. And he has taken away the sins of many, and he has prayed for the transgressors.”

Courtesy: Sacred Bible: Catholic Public Domain Version.

In it, you see, are numerous verses regarding the Face of the Servant, that is is disfigured and despised, the face of a leper. And Isaiah 53:5 mentions that He was wounded for our sins. Take all of this and go to the all of Gospel accounts of the Passion of Our Lord, how He was buffeted about His head, spat upon, and Crowned with Thorns which most definitely disfigures the Face, and the Face of Christ becomes a symbol of the effects of our sins upon the Divine Countenance.

A Divine ratification of the devotion to the Holy Face began when Veronica wiped the Face of Jesus while He was on His way to Calvary. His reward for her kindness was the imprinting of His visage on the cloth she used. (The cloth is in existence today, see the “Sudarium of Oviedo.”)

One of the most beloved Saints in modern times, and a personal favorite of mine (right next to St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Faustina Kowalska) is St. Therese of Lisieux. She was very dedicated to the Holy Face Devotion, to the point where she included it in her religious name, “Therese of the Child Jesus and Holy Face.” She composed the following prayers to the Holy Face:

“O Jesus, who, in Thy cruel Passion didst become the ‘reproach of men and the Man of Sorrows,’ I worship Thy divine Face. Once it shone with the beauty and sweetness of the Divinity; but now, for my sake, it is become as ‘the face of a leper.’ Yet, in that disfigured Countenance, I recognize Thy infinite love, and I am consumed with the desire of making Thee loved by all mankind. The tears that flowed so abundantly from Thy Eyes are to me as precious pearls that I delight to gather, that with their worth I may ransom the souls of poor sinners. O Jesus, whose Face is the sole beauty that ravishes my heart, I may not see here below the sweetness of Thy glance, nor feel the ineffable tenderness of Thy kiss, I bow to Thy Will—but I pray Thee to imprint in me Thy divine likeness, and I implore Thee so to inflame me with Thy love, that it may quickly consume me, and that I may soon reach the vision of Thy glorious Face in heaven. Amen.”

Another: “Eternal Father, since Thou hast given me for my inheritance the Adorable Face of Thy Divine Son, I offer that face to Thee and I beg Thee, in exchange for this coin of infinite value, to forget the ingratitude of souls dedicated to Thee and to pardon all poor sinners.”

And: “Jesus! Thy dear and holy Face
Is the bright star that guides my way;
Thy gentle glance, so full of grace,
Is my true heaven on earth, today.
My love finds out the holy charm
Of Thy dear eyes with tear-drops wet;
Through mine own tears I smile at Thee,
And in Thy griefs my pains forget.

Oh! I would gladly live unknown,
Thus to console Thy aching heart.
Thy veiled beauty, it is shown
To those who live from earth apart.
Fain would I fly to Thee alone!

Thy Face it is my fatherland;
It is the sunshine of my days;
My realm of love, my sunlit land,
Where through the hours I sing Thy praise;
It is the lily of the vale,
Whose mystic perfume, freely given,
Brings comfort, when I faint and fail,
And makes me taste the peace of heaven.

Thy face, in its unearthly grace,
Is like the divinest myrrh to me,
That on my heart I gladly place;
It is my lyre of melody;
My rest – my comfort – is Thy Face.
My only wealth, Lord! is thy Face;
Naught ask I more than this from Thee;
Hidden in the secret of Thy Face,
The more I shall resemble Thee!
Leave on me the divine impress
Of Thy sweet, patient Face of love,
And soon I shall become a saint,
And draw men’s hearts to Thee above.

So, in the secret of Thy Face,
Oh! hide me, hide me, Jesus blest!
There let me find its hidden grace,
Its holy fires, and, in heaven’s rest,
Its rapturous kiss, in Thy embrace!

St.Therese Prayers to the Holy Face are courtesy: Our Catholic Prayers.

And thus you can see how the Face of Christ reflects our sins. He looks upon us and is aggrieved, our sins are like blows upon Him…

The Holy Face Devotion is, like I mentioned in the first post on this, a work of reparation for our sins and those of others. Specifically, blasphemy and the profanation of Sundays and Holy Days, as well as the destructive work of Communists.

More resources: America Needs Fatima: Holy Face Devotion; also, Holy Face Devotion in the UK (But great, wherever you live!)

I think I will add a Holy Face Devotion group of links in the sidebar.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics" and "The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts" (Thank you!!)

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