Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The Holy Face at Manoppello: Sister Blandina Part 3

Sister asked permission to live at Manoppello as a Trappist hermit and to continue her research of the Holy Face. She decided to do this because the image of Jesus on the Veil seemed to her to have been deserted without a community to love or worship Him. There is a community of Capuchins, who as you have read, are keepers of the Sanctuary, but theirs is not one devoted to constant contemplation. This would indeed be difficult with only six members whose are constantly in demand as Confessors as a result of the increase in pilgrims since Pope Benedict's visit. Towards the end of the interview Sister makes the following plea:

"I would like a community devited ti tge cintemplation of God's face to be formed to experience the presence of Jesus Christ and sing His praises."

Also at the very end Sister tells us that a Russian recently visited the Sanctuary and bought three images of the Holy Face, painted on glass. She has since heard that one of these is to be given to the Patriarch of Moscow. It is comforting to know that both our Pope and the Patriarch will now have a personal copy.

Sister was also asked how she felt about passing her life in contemplation of the Holy Face at Manoppello. Here is her reply:

"At first I did not intend to stay here seeking the Holy Face. I think that Jesus used my life to carry out His plan, which I was completely unaware of and of which I was a modest instrument. In my opinion, God intended to reveal His son to His poor children of the 21st century; He sought and found people to help Him carry out His plan, knowingly or unknowingly. As for me, I can only thank thosewho gace me their help along this journey with their means and their highest spiritual vision and those who supported me with their prayers. "

Sister then goes on to speak further about the unique nature of the Holy Face on the Veil:

"While the Eucharist can be celebrated everywhere - for this reason I wouldn't have left my monastery in Germany, since Jesus is present in the Eucharist everywhere - with the Manoppello Veil, He does even more: He manifests Himself. "
(Sister clearly believes that the face on the Veil IS truly that of Our Lord, and in her case that it is the face of Our Lord after His resurrection, and further, as I suggested in a previous post, that somehow, and in a way which we may never know, this true Face was imprinted on the Veil and then because it is God's will, it has survived to the present day.

I'm not sure whether the interview was in German, Italian or English, but if in Italian, perhaps it is the translation into "He does even more:" which gives the impression that Sister thinks the Veil is more important than the Eucharistic presence of Jesus. I really find it difficult to believe she would have wanted to give that impression. Or perhaps Sister was not speaking her native German and that is how such an impression could be given. Perhaps Father Mark could shed light on how well Sister speaks English or Italian. Even if the Face on the Veil IS truly that of Jesus, it is just that, the human Face He had when he dwelt among us. It surely cannot be claimed, like the Blessed Sacrament, to contain, His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Of course, whether one believes it is the True Face imprinted there by some divine artistry, or that it was humanly wrought in a way not yet discovered, the contemplation of that Face should lead us to deeper adoration of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, to a greater longing to be united with Him in Holy Communion, and inspire us to greater faith in Our Lord's Presence and a more profound recollection, before, during and after our reception of the Sacrament.

However she continues:
"The first commandment loving God. Love means worship and contemplation. I can do this here; it is always possible to worship and contemplate God in spirit. Yet God Incarnate has a unique , which I can only contemplate here at Manoppello."

Readers may not want to know what I feel about the Holy Face at Manoppello, but on balance I think it would be an evasion not to tell you. I tend to the belief that it is the True Face of Our Lord but at what point between His Passion and Ascension into heaven, I do not know and am happy to remain in that ignorance for as long as the Lord wills; I admire Sister Blandina beyond measure and am grateful to her for her long years of patient, devoted and productive research and study; and I am convinced there is a relation between the images on the Shroud and on the Veil (Even on the several pictures of both that I have, I can recognize this. ) Moreover, it wasn't the fact that the Holy Father visited Mannoppello that has helped my conviction. No, that was achieved by his mien and what he said whilst there. Should I ever have the remotest opportunity, I will visit the Sanctuary taking with me the mental images of that mien, and a copy of what he said. My pigrimage would be to the end that the Veil at Manoppello will lead me, and all of us to a deeper faith in, and contemplative adoration of, Our Lord in his Eucharistic presence, His Eucharistic Face. And most importantly as a spiritual mother, my prayer would be for priests, particularly those who have grown cold toward Him in the tabernacles of the world, and those who argue that Eucharistic Adoration and/or Exposition is unnecessary, irrelevant, and a backward step. Most of us pray thus for priests each day in any case, but to do so before the Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Face at Manoppello would be something unutterably special.

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