As the first apostles,
Whom you asked: “What do you seek?”,
Accepted your invitation to: “Come and See”
Recognising you as the Son of God,
The Promised Messiah for the world’s redemption,
We too, your disciples in this difficult time
Want to follow you and be your friends,
Drawn by the brilliance of your face much desired yet hidden.
Show us, we pray you, your face ever new,
That mirror, mystery laden, of God’s infinite mercy.
Grant that we may contemplate it
With the eyes of our mind and our hearts:
The Son’s face, radiance of the Father’s glory
And the imprint of his Nature (cf. Hb 1,3),
The human face of God that has burst into history
To reveal the horizons of eternity.
The silent face of Jesus suffering and risen,
When loved and accepted changes the heart and life.
“Your face, Lord, do I seek,
Do not hide your face from me” (Ps.27,8ff).
How many times through the centuries and millenia has not resounded
The ardent invocation of the Psalmist among the faithful!
Lord, with faith, we too repeat the same invocation:
“Man of suffering, as one from whom others hide their faces” (Is.53,3),
Do not hide your face from us!
We want to draw from your eyes,
That look on us with tenderness and compassion.
The force of love and peace which shows us the way of life,
And the courage to follow you without fear or compromise,
So as to be witnesses of your Gospel,
With concrete signs of acceptance, love and forgiveness.
O Holy Face of Christ,
Light that enlightens the darkness of doubt and sadness,
Life that has defeated forever the force of evil and death,
O inscrutable gaze
That never ceases to watch over men and people,
Face concealed in the Eucharistic signs
And in the faces of those that live with us,
Make us God’s pilgrims in this world,
Longing for the Infinite and ready for the final encounter,
When we shall see you, Lord, “face to face”(1Cor.13,12),
And be able to contemplate you forever in heavenly Glory.
Mary, Mother of the Holy Face,
Help us have “hands innocent and a heart pure”,
Hands illumined by the truth of love
And hearts enraptured by divine beauty,
That transformed by the encounter with Christ,
We may gift ourselves to the poor and the suffering,
Whose faces reflect the hidden presence
Of your Son Jesus,
Who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen!
Benedict XVI., pp,
Rome, September 1st 2007, written and sent to the Guardian of the Basilica of the Holy Face in Manoppello (Italy) in memory of his pilgrimage to the Sanctuary a year before, on September 1st, 2006