Saturday, May 27, 2017

"It is the Lord"

photo by Paul Badde/EWTN

this article originally appeared at

"It is the Lord!"

Paul Badde on Cardinal Luis Tagle's visit to Manoppello

No word of the Gospel describes the sudarium of Christ in Manoppello better than the touching story of John, where Jesus at dawn is on the shore of Lake Genezareth and asks his disciples: "Son, have you nothing to eat?" They reply: "No." Then He said to them, "Cast your net from the other side of the boat and you will find it." They cast the net and could no longer pull it up for the great amount of fish. " Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!"  DOMINUS EST  is also the motto on the coat of arms of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of the megalopolis of Manila and Primate of the Philippines, who visited last Saturday and Sunday the town in Abruzzi from which comes a small thin veil which for years has moved the hearts of millions of his faithful in distant Asia.

Urbi et Orbi: Manoppello and the world

Rain had been predicted.  In Rome there was a terrible deluge that flooded the basements, yet in Manoppello not even a drop fell. Already on Saturday pilgrims from Moscow, the Philippines, all over Italy and Europe surrounded the holy sudarium which was brought down from the high altar to await  the annual procession. Prior to the Mass of 7.30am, the cardinal, 59 years old, smiling and youthful, had blessed Urbi et Orbi with the Face of God, though in this case we should say rather: Manoppello and the world.

photo by Antonio Bini

For the solemn mass of 9.30am not even a needle could get into the small basilica, while bursts of fireworks in the valleys around Manoppello announced the great feast of the Holy Face,  celebrated here every year since 1712 on the third Sunday of May . Right here, in this corner of the earth - Cardinal Tagle explained at the beginning of his homily - the pastor one day followed his flock when he spoke of the "lively, dynamic and widespread devotion of the Holy Face" in the Philippines and Manila , where in January 2015, during the visit of Pope Francis, he could greet six million participants (!) at the final gathering in Rizal Park. The Philippines is the most Catholic nation in Asia.

The Face of Truth

In his passionate homily the Cardinal first mentioned John's word in the gospel of this Sunday:
"Still a little while, and the world will never see me again; You will see me because I live and you will live. "

"This word is fulfilled today, in this assembly," he continued categorically. "Now we see the face of Jesus. Let's see why He lives now in our midst. We see it and we do not die, unlike the ancient men, who thought they would be dead if they had seen God. On the contrary: if we look at the Face of Jesus, we receive life and strength from Him.We see Jesus and we live! We see Jesus and we live! "

Already after his arrival on the previous night he had called the face on the veil of  marine byssus the Face of Truth, that veil which until 1527 had long been revered in Rome as "Veil of Veronica".  This would have been his first impression when he saw the living image for the first time, which he had previously known only through the copies he had been given. He had "felt embraced and welcomed by this gaze full of tenderness in a face which speaks, that is alive and does not incur any fear. It's the Face of Truth. "

"But how is it possible for us to see Jesus?" he asks again. "As sinners we have neither merit nor the right to see His face. But we see it and we live. How is it possible?"

photo by Paul Badde/EWTN

Cast the nets - and take on loads of fish

Also John's Gospel responds to this according to the Cardinal. "Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father and I will love him and I will show myself to him." "In strict logic we would not see the face of Jesus, we should say more precisely that He shows us His face, He shows His Face and looks at us, so we see. It is pure grace, pure unconditional love, but from Him. He manifests his face, his true self. And there is no other reason, except the love that He has for us. "

"This face however is not only to be seen, but also to be heard.  Because Jesus' face is the human face of the word of God and of his commandments. And his commandments show us the way for peace, freedom, forgiveness. In the face of Jesus we see the One who has fully realized the commandment of the love of God and neighbor. In Him are visible the commandments of the one who said to us: 'Come to Me all of you who are weary and heavy laden.'

Yet what we have seen and heard and what we see and hear in this place, we have to share it with others. Jesus is our hope of hope. "His love for us and his triumph over death is the reason for our hope!

We see the face of Jesus because He manifests himself here.  It is the face of God who loves who has spoken to us. "

The shepherd and fisherman's homily lasts fifteen minutes and thirty seconds, up to the last "Amen". Then Cardinal Tagle goes to the new bishop's chair at the right side of the chancel, which now seems to have been placed especially here for him in the basilica, and takes his pastoral staff in his hand. When he finally goes to the altar to preside over the Eucharistic celebration, there is no longer any doubt that this charismatic fisherman from now on will "throw the net again from the right side of the boat" and pull it on "full of fish."

From the Tarigni hill to the church of San Nicola

First, however, on the same Sunday, after having celebrated solemn Mass, he led, together with Father Carmine Cucinelli and the other Capuchins of the Basilica, the procession, with hymns and prayers, of the sudarium of Christ from the Basilica of the Holy Face down the Tarigni Hill to the church of St. Nicholas in the town of Manoppello, followed by a long line of pilgrims. Though perhaps it was just two miles down the road, but Cardinal Tagle of Manila this morning has turned them into a milestone on the long road of the return of the true image of God into the world.

photo by Antonio Bini

Taking into account all the possibilities and weighing each of them, there is no reasonable alternative to the hypothesis that the holy veil of Manoppello is identified with that "sudarium" (in Greek: soudarion) that evangelist John discovered for the first time in the empty tomb of Christ in Jersualem on Easter morning and cites in his Easter Gospel (see Jn 20: 7).

Theses days no sermon, no matter how intense, can reinforce more faithfully  the weak faith of Christianity in the resurrection of Christ from the dead than this sudarium of Christ. In Jesus, God has shown His face, there is to be no further manifestation. Even though we do not know WHAT we expect after death, we know WHO is waiting for us. "It is the Lord!"

There is little more to say about the face of Christ on his sudarium than: DOMINUS EST.

photo by Paul Badde/EWTN

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