Gazing on the Face of the Lord

When my daughter was little, she had a soft, pink and white baby blanket which we called “Mimi.” I wondered where this term for her blanket had originated and thought perhaps it came from “Me…me,” which is the way a one-year-old might say, “I want my blanket, please give it to me.” My daughter especially sought her “mimi” when she tired or distressed. Taking hold of it, she would nuzzle it to her cheek, stick her little thumb in her mouth and snuggle down in her crib. She would quickly fall asleep, knowing she was safe and secure. 

There are phrases from Scripture that are just like a security blanket. We can “take” them and “snuggle down” with them in peace and tranquility. Today’s response from the Responsorial Psalm is one such verse. “The just will gaze on your face, O Lord.” 

If we are willing to slow down and take the time to meditate and pray with this verse, it can teach us and shape us, comfort us and strengthen us. We can nestle down into the innermost places of our hearts and ask the Lord to show us His face. We can use our imagination to contemplate his countenance; to be transformed by his gaze as we gaze upon him.

In the Canticle to the Holy Face, St. Thérèse of Lisieux wrote a moving reflection on the face of Christ. This is an excerpt from her poem: 

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…

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!

St. Thérèse clearly loved to meditate on the face of Christ! 

Gazing upon the face of Jesus means contemplating everything about Him, which mysteriously reveals to us who the Triune God is and who we are. It draws us into a relationship of love with God that transforms us, sometimes in painful ways, but never stops offering us the peace, joy, and security we crave.

Let’s take the time today to “snuggle down” in God’s presence and “gaze upon the face of the Lord!” 

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Christine Hanus is a thwarted idealist who, nevertheless, lives quite happily in Upstate NY. She is a wife and mother of five grown children.

Feature Image Credit: Ruben Mishchuk,