Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Do You See What I See? A Reflection on the Vera Icon

See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure. —1 John 3:1-3

Praised Be Jesus!

Last week, the Church celebrated the Feast of All Saints, when we celebrate all of those men and women whom the Church has recognized for their heroic virtue and lives lived in love and service to Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Church teaches that each and every one of us is called to Sainthood — whether you're Sister Rose or truck driver Joe — and we are all called to love with courage and live unabashedly in virtue. So, what is the first step to Sainthood? Well, it may just be to look into the Face of Christ.

Jesus asks us as He did His disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" What image do you have of Me? In the passage above from the Solemnity of All Saints, the Apostle John teaches us that holiness comes from seeing Christ as He truly is and that by truly coming to know Christ, we begin to purify ourselves. It is because in Christ is the True Icon (Vera Icon, from which we get "Veronica"), the true image of humanity and divinity — what is true and full holiness for humanity's union with God.

But in order to see Christ as He is, we must rid ourselves of the images of Christ of how we "want to see Him," the Christ shaped and warped by our own wants, whims, and selfishness. This is a Christ who does not lead to holiness, does not challenge, and ultimately does not lead us to a greater love of God, self, and neighbor.

It is in Christ that we see reality as it really is, both physical and spiritual. Christ becomes the mirror we must look into to see our true selves and the criterion on which holiness is based. By looking at Christ as He really is, we see how much we are unlike Him and how much we need to conform our own image to His. It is only by looking at Christ that we can be transformed and become truly human, to become truly holy. And at the end of this earthly life, we want the Father to look at us and see the true image of His Son in us, that He may say, "That's one of My kids."

Prayer to the Holy Face 
O Jesus, who in Thy bitter Passion didst become "the most abject of men, a man of sorrows", I venerate Thy Sacred Face whereon there once did shine the beauty and sweetness of the Godhead; but now it has become for me as if it were the face of a leper! Nevertheless, under those disfigured features, I recognize Thy infinite Love and I am consumed with the desire to love Thee and make Thee loved by all men. The tears which well up abundantly in Thy sacred eyes appear to me as so many precious pearls that I love to gather up, in order to purchase the souls of poor sinners by means of their infinite value. O Jesus, whose adorable Face ravishes my heart, I implore Thee to fix deep within me Thy divine image and to set me on fire with Thy Love, that I may be found worthy to come to the contemplation of Thy glorious Face in Heaven.

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