I mentioned last week that we would be doing a novena in honor of the Holy Face, especially perfect this year because the Feast of the Holy Face (Mardi Gras, the day before Ash Wednesday) falls on February 25th next week, which is also Celine's "Feast," the day she finally left this land of exile for her true Home in Heaven.
Celine was taught her love of the Holy Face by her family, especially Therese, and after Therese died, she learned to love the Holy Face even more when she saw the newly photographed face from the Shroud of Turin. She wrote of this first meeting:
"I cannot describe the impression I felt while contemplating the features of my Jesus . . . I was mute with emotion, it seemed to me that I saw Him in person. Yes, it was indeed Him, I recognized Him, God who thus portrays Himself in Holy Scripture: "Merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in goodness and faithfulness, who preserves His grace up to a thousand generations, who forgives iniquity, revolt and sin" (Exodus 34:7). He who, on the evening of His Passion left us for inheritance "His Peace" after giving us the means to keep it, telling us "Learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls."
"It was indeed my Jesus, as my heart had foreseen Him. This image was not inferior to the ideal that I had made of the mortal features of my God . . . And, seeking the vestiges of His Love for us I followed the wounds with the bloody imprint . . .Then, unable to contain the feelings of my heart, I covered this adorable Face with my kisses and sprinkled it with my tears. And I resolved to paint a Holy Face according to this ideal that I had glimpsed. I went to Our Mother, who, while finding the Holy impression wonderful, did not share my enthusiasm. I told her that I understood her sensation, but that, according to this sketch, I would make a clearly defined, true portrait of Our Lord. She allowed me this."
We can see the result of Celine's enthusiasm and the fulfillment of her promise in the portrait at the top of this post. I'm so grateful we have not only the photos of the Shroud, but also Celine's remarkable portrait which makes Love even more visible. Let's ask her to intercede for all our intentions, even as we offer our prayers as so many kisses with which we can cover this adorable Face over the next 9 days.
Therese had written in a letter, "Jesus is on fire with love for us . . . Look at His adorable Face! Look at His eyes lifeless and lowered! Look at His wounds . . . Look at Jesus in His Face . . . There you will see how He loves us." She loved Him so much that she wrote more than one prayer to the Holy Face, but I would like to offer just the tail end of one of those prayers for our novena, in honor of our very little way. If you don't feel all the sentiments of this prayer, don't worry - that's part of the little way too! Therese advised her sister Marie, "Let us love to feel nothing!" That's because we entrust all to the power of Jesus and His Love, while we try to remember that our poverty, our failings, even our lack of feelings (or the excess of them!), are never obstacles to Jesus but simply magnets for His mercy!
I had originally intended to post the beginning of our novena yesterday, and I also thought I might post every day for 9 days. As you can see, the first of those intentions went by the wayside, and I'm betting the second will too, so what I can say is that barring the internet imploding, this post will be here for the duration of our novena (and likely long after as well!) so that you can come return each day and repeat our Holy Face prayer.
As always with our MMM novenas, you are included just by virtue of hearing about it! And look, you're even reading the post! And I'm guessing you're going to read through the prayer that comes after this paragraph! You are thus amazing and hence triply included! And then if, by dint of life getting in the way, you forget to say some days (or the rest of them), know that we'll be keeping your intentions safely with ours and allowing Celine to offer them to Therese (and Marcel) to offer them to our adorable Jesus, along with scads of kisses. Which leads to only one conclusion: No more worrying, any more, ever! And now for our prayer:
O Jesus, whose adorable Face ravishes my heart,
I implore You to fix deep within me Your divine image
and to set me on fire with Your Love,
that I, and all those I love, may be found worthy to come to the contemplation of Your glorious Face in Heaven. Amen.
Draw me, we will run!
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