V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi. [We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee.]
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum. [Because by Thy holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.]
From the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. 53:2-3
He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
|Tabacchetti and Giovanni d’Enrico, Christ on the Road to Calvary (1600)|
Tradition has bequeathed us Veronica. Perhaps she is a counterpart to the story of the Cyrenian. As a woman, she could not physically carry the Cross or even be called upon to do so, yet in fact she did carry the Cross with Jesus: she carried it in the only way possible to her at the moment and in obedience to the dictates of her heart: she wiped his Face.
Tradition has it that an imprint of Christ’s features remained on the cloth she used. This detail seems fairly easy to explain: since the cloth was covered with blood and sweat, it would preserve traces and outlines.
Yet this detail can have a different meaning if it is considered in the light of Christ’s words about the last days. Many will then ask: “Lord, when did we ever do these things for you?”. And Jesus will reply: “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (cf. Mt 25:37-40). In fact the Savior leaves his imprint on every single act of charity, as he did on Veronica’s cloth.
Face of the Lord Jesus, disfigured by pain, resplendent with God’s glory. R. Kyrie, eleison
O Holy Face, imprinted on every act of love. R. Kyrie, eleison
From the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. 53:2-3
He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
|St. Veronica with the Holy Kerchief (1420)|
From the Book of Psalms. 27:8-9
You have said, “Seek my face”. My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek”. Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, you who have been my help. Cast me not off, forsake me not, O God of my salvation.
“Your face, Lord, do I seek. Hide not your face from me” (Ps 27:8-9). Veronica – Bernice, in the Greek tradition – embodies the universal yearning of the devout men and women of the Old Testament, the yearning of all believers to see the face of God. On Jesus’ Way of the Cross, though, she at first did nothing more than perform an act of womanly kindness: she held out a facecloth to Jesus. She did not let herself be deterred by the brutality of the soldiers or the fear which gripped the disciples. She is the image of that good woman, who, amid turmoil and dismay, shows the courage born of goodness and does not allow her heart to be bewildered. “Blessed are the pure in heart”, the Lord had said in his Sermon on the Mount, “for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8). At first, Veronica saw only a buffeted and pain-filled face. Yet her act of love impressed the true image of Jesus on her heart: on his human face, bloodied and bruised, she saw the face of God and his goodness, which accompanies us even in our deepest sorrows. Only with the heart can we see Jesus. Only love purifies us and gives us the ability to see. Only love enables us to recognize the God who is love itself.
Lord, grant us restless hearts, hearts which seek your face. Keep us from the blindness of heart which sees only the surface of things. Give us the simplicity and purity which allow us to recognize your presence in the world. When we are not able to accomplish great things, grant us the courage which is born of humility and goodness. Impress your face on our hearts. May we encounter you along the way and show your image to the world.
|Sixth Station of the Cross, Pfettisheim Saint Symphorian|
Pater noster, …
Quis non posset contristari
Christi Matrem contemplari
dolentem cum Filio?
Hallowed by Thy Name
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done,
on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our Daily Bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother’s pain untold?