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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Faces of Good and Evil

There is a famous story about Abraham Lincoln refusing to place a person Seward knew in a high government position in the cabinet. Seward asked why Lincoln did not like this man, and the president replied that he "did not like his face". Seward was shocked that Lincoln seemed so superficially judgemental and said that the man was not responsible for his face.  Lincoln replied, "Every man over forty is responsible for his face."

Now, if you remember your childhood reading of The Three Musketeers, you will remember the evil character of Milady, a demon with a beautiful face, a horrifically manipulative villainess. 

She could turn her face into sweetness and light if she so wanted to do so, in order to ensnare her victims of revenge and violence.

But, her mask would slip, and some would see the horrendous anger and hatred which welled up from her soul into her face.

To state that a man over 40 is responsible for his own face means, simply, that the soul is revealed in the exterior. Some who have allowed God to purify their imaginations and discerning abilities can see serious sin on the faces of people.

I saw a murderer once, a long time ago, walking in a nasty area of a town, and later I found out this man was looking for "his" prostitute who worked for him. The locals understood what was going on. I could see murder in this man's face even though I saw him only once.

Some people seem so deceitful that one cannot see malice, or ambition, or pride.

But, the humble seem to be responsible for their calm and resigned faces.

Christ faced Pilate this week in history. Pilate asked the right questions--are you a king and what is truth and so on.

But, he could not judge the face. He was closed to Truth in the Face of Christ.

St. Therese had a great devotion to the Holy Face of Christ. This is a devotion of love and simplicity.

Here is the saint's poem of love honoring the Holy Face.

Canticle to the Holy Face.

Dear Jesus! ‘tis Thy Holy Face

Is here the start that guides my way;

They countenance, so full of grace,

Is heaven on earth, for me, to-day.

And love finds holy charms for me

In Thy sweet eyes with tear-drops wet;

Through mine own tears I smile at Thee,

And in Thy griefs my pains forget.

How gladly would I live unknown,

Thus to console Thy aching heart.

Thy veiled beauty, it is shown

To those who live from earth apart.

I long to fly to Thee alone!

Thy Face is now my fatherland, —

The radiant sunshine of my days, —

My realm of love, my sunlit land,

Where, all life long, I sing Thy praise;

It is the lily of the vale,

Whose mystic perfume, freely given,

Brings comfort, when I faint and fail,

And makes me taste the peace of heaven.

Thy face, in its unearthly grace,

Is like the divinest myrrh to me,

That on my heart I gladly place;

It is my lyre of melody;

My rest — my comfort — is Thy Face.

My only wealth, Lord! is thy Face;

I ask naught else than this from Thee;

Hid in the secret of that Face,

The more I shall resemble Thee!

Oh, leave on me some impress faint

Of Thy sweet, humble, patient Face,

And soon I shall become a saint,

And draw men to Thy saving grace.

So, in the secret of Thy Face,

Oh! hide me, hide me, Jesus blest!

There let me find its hidden grace,

Its holy fires, and, in heaven’s rest,

Its rapturous kiss, in Thy embrace!

August 12, 1895.