Saint Thérèse and the Holy Face

hf_therese.jpgPrayer to the Holy Face

Composed by Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face

As she herself tells in The Story of a Soul, St. Thérèse had a fervent devotion to the Holy Face, where she found unfathomable "depths of treasures hidden". She wrote:

"Ah, I desired that, like the face of Jesus, my face be truly hidden that no one on earth would know me."

On August 5, 1899, just a few weeks before her death, to celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration her sisters brought to the infirmary from the choir the "picture of the holy face she so much loved and hung it where she could see it". Looking at the picture, she said, "Oh, how much good that holy face has done me in my life!"

"O adorable face of Jesus,

sole beauty which ravishes my heart,

vouchsafe to impress on my soul

Your divine likeness

so that it may not be possible

for You to look at Your spouse

without beholding Yourself!

O my Beloved,

for love of You I am content

not to see here on earth

the sweetness of Your glance,

nor to feel the ineffable kiss

of Your sacred lips,

but I beg of You

to inflame me with Your love

so that it may consume me quickly

and that soon I (name) may behold

Your glorious countenance in heaven."

"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.

Amen."

Thérèse's sister Celine wrote about her:

"Devotion to the Holy Face was, for Therese, the crown and complement of her love for the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord. The Blessed Face was the mirror wherein she beheld the Heart and Soul of her Well-Beloved. Just as the picture of a loved one serves to bring the whole person before us, so in the Holy Face of Christ Therese beheld the entire Humanity of Jesus. We can say unequivocally that this devotion was the burning inspiration of the Saint's life. ...Her devotion to the Holy Face transcended, or more accurately, embraced, all the other attractions of her spiritual life."

Canticle to the Holy Face

Composed by Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face

12 August 1895
 

Jesus, Your ineffable image
Is the star which guides my steps.
Ah, You know, Your sweet Face
Is for me Heaven on earth.
My love discovers the charms
Of Your Face adorned with tears.
I smile through my own tears
When I contemplate Your sorrows.

Oh! To console You I want
To live unknown on earth!
Your beauty, which You know how to veil,
Discloses for me all its mystery.
I would like to fly away to You!

Your Face is my only homeland.
It's my Kingdom of love.
It's my cheerful meadow.
Each day, my sweet sun.
It's the Lily of the Valley
Whose mysterious perfume
Consoles my exiled soul,
Making it taste the peace of Heaven.

It's my Rest, my Sweetness
And my melodious Lyre
Your Face, O my Sweet Savior,
Is the Divine Bouquet of Myrrh
I want to keep on my heart!

Your Face is my only wealth.
I ask for nothing more.
Hiding myself in it unceasingly,
I will resemble You, Jesus
Leave in me, the Divine Impress
Of Your features filled with sweetness,
And soon I'll become holy.
I shall draw hearts to You.

So that I may gather
A beautiful golden harvest,
Deign to set me aflame with Your Fire.
With Your adorned mouth,
Give me soon the Eternal Kiss!