Novena to the Holy Face
Begins Sunday 20 February
Shrove Tuesday is also the Feast of the Holy Face.
Many who discover this are quickly struck by the significance of beginning Lent more in love with His countenance.
For having made reparation “with Jesus, united with all His sorrows, love and total abandonment” through the Novena, we can begin our Lenten walk with Christ, more eady to comfort Him along the way, as StVeronica did.
Indeed, this searingly beautiful devotion goes back to the Passion itself, when the veil of Veronica smoothed the injuries of Jesus’ Holy Face, so besieged with pain.
In 1843, Sister Marie of St. Peter had visions of Jesus requesting a devotion to His Holy Face called “The Golden Arrow, which brings Him great delight, as He said to Sr Marie, “All who honour My Holy Face in a spirit of reparation thereby perform for Me the services of the pious Veronica.”
In 1938, Jesus appeared to Sister Maria Pierina de Micheli (1890-1945), His face bloodied by His Passion and said, speaking of His Face, “I wish that it be venerated by a special Feast on Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. I wish that the Feast be preceded by a Novena in which the faithful make reparation with me, joining together and sharing in my sorrow.” For “Those on earth who contemplate the wounds of My Face, shall in Heaven, behold it, radiant with glory.”
Following that request, Pope Pius XII named Shrove Tuesday as the official Feast of the Holy Face in 1958.
We pray our Novena in fine company.
St Augustine (354-430), St Gertrude the Great (1256-1302) and St Bernard (1090-1153), St Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897), among many others, all venerated the Holy Face.
In a similar way, our Lenten witness to the wounds on His Hands and Feet is inadequate, if we have not first contemplated His Face, bitterly kissed by Judas, spat upon, battered, covered with sweat and blood and crowned with thorns, continuing to be dishonoured even today, through the Blessed Sacrament by profanations, abuse and neglect.
For so many, Shrove Tuesday is a date on the calendar that gets overshadowed by Ash Wednesday, that memorable day we wear the outward sign of repentance and recall our mortality. How much more meaningful will our Ash Wednesday be, if we first mark Shrove Tuesday as a Feast of the Holy Face, concluding the Novena we began in the time of preparation and beginning Lent more in love with the Countenance of Christ and, through Him, made more beautiful in our own soul. AMEN, Let us Pray ……