The Real Face of Jesus, Part I

The Church Guys have finished the “Real Face of Jesus.  Is this Him?


Re-reading this post, what sticks out is the Incarnation.  God became one of us in all things but sin.  He had hair. His eyes were bluish-gray.  His hair brown.  He had a mother.  Thinking about that  mystery leaves me dumbstruck with awe.


The whole topic of trying to figure out what Christ looked like provoked a lot of discussion.  Some guys thought that we were the “face” of Jesus and trying to find the literal face of Jesus was illegitimate.  Others thought that we fell so short of Christ that talking about being the “face” of Jesus was almost sacrilegious.

Although I was an advocate of one view, the more I think about it, both positions miss the point — and suffer from the same error.  The point is the incarnation.  Christ was a flesh and blood person.  The two positions, however, spiritualize Christ.  The first is a metaphor in the same way calling the Church the “Mystical Body of Christ” is a metaphor.  The second is almost Gnostic; by(over)emphasizing our unworthiness, it almost reaches a point where matter, the physical, the concrete, are evil — in its rush to save Christ’s presence from being physically embodied in us, it ends up divorcing Christ from the world.  That is error — an error any Church Guy ought to recognize having just studied John’s Gospel.

So where does that leave us?  The ‘you are the face of Christ’ idea has much to recommend it.  I think it needs to be understood a little more accurately, though.  When we are in a state of grace, Christ’s very life is in us.  We return His love with the only thing worthy of an infinite gift — by returning His love to Him through acts of service and of worship.  We are unworthy to untie the sandals of His feet.  But we can, if we want, hand on what we have been given — His grace.  Through the sacraments and the ministry of the Church, we grow in our capacity to manifest that love.  Not because of any merit or ability on our part — how can a finite creature repay even the smallest infinite gift?  Our money’s no good.  But God gives us what we need through the Church.  Grace to have something to return.  Grace to be pleasing to Him.  If we understand being the “face” of Jesus to mean giving whatever grace we have back to Him and to those He loves out of love for Him, then yes being the “face” of Christ is our highest aspiration.  Realizing that it is not our grace and that we really have nothing to give (except what we have been given) means accepting our limits.

The debate over the real face of Jesus turns out to be one of those debates where both sides were advancing a partial truth as if it were the whole truth.  Whether we should try to figure out what Jesus looked like is the topic of Part II.

Believing Is Seeing, Part II — The Magic Eye (updated)

We Church Guys watched Part I of the History Channel’s reconstruction of the image of the man on the Shroud of Turin.  One assertion was somewhat troubling.  The graphic reconstruction team asserted that the Shroud contains  3-D information “coded” on/into a 2-dimensional surface.  Honestly, this had puzzled me each time I saw the show.  I think I know what it means now.

Sitting in an optometrist’s office today, I was bored.  Really. Really. Bored.  So I looked around and saw a Magic Eye drawing.  I looked and looked and looked.  Finally, the hidden three-dimensional image emerged.  Neat.  I sat down again. Really. Really. Bored.

Then, EUREKA……….

The Magic Eye was exactly what the experts meant by “three dimensional image coded in/on a two dimensional surface.” I had just looked at one.  I looked again. I stepped back and looked at the picture.  Apparent chaos, color patterns; but with a hidden image.  It’s different from a photo – I stare at that forever and it remains on the paper.  I stare at the Magic Eye and something jumps out at me.

I was staggered.  The Shroud of Turin is a Magic Eye.  When looked at with the appropriate tools, a face, a face of a crucified man, a man who appears to have been tortured just as Jesus was, appears in three dimensions.  How did it get there? Painting? Yeah, right.  A medieval artist? unh-unh.  Coincidence.  Just as much of a coincidence as God shaping the protein that holds our bodies together as a cross.  Totally-Random-Coincidence.

Here are a couple of Magic Eye images.  Do you have eyes to see and ears to hear?

Is this a Snapshot of God?

source: (image no. 1:; image no. 2:

Update: fixed erroneous link

Exodus 33:12-23

Tomorrow is part I of the Real Face of Jesus.  Apropos of this, Exodus 33:12-23 comes to mind:

Moses and the Glory of the LORD

12 Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

14 The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

17 And the LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

19 And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

21 Then the LORD said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

This raises some interesting questions — are you guys crazy!? If the Almighty Master of the Universe is saying “my face must not be seen” and we are trying to see it, are we in mortal danger? Hmmm…..Men of Emmaus, not for the faint of heart!

Special Event — “The Real Face of Jesus”

Where:  St. Francis

When:  This Saturday (Oct 23, 2010) and the next

Have you ever wondered what Jesus looked like in the flesh? Have you ever wondered about the Shroud of Turin? The Men of Emmaus are hosting a showing of “The Real Face of Jesus,” a History Channel documentary.  The show follows experts in the graphic arts as they take the two dimensional image on the Shroud of Turin and transform it into a three-dimensional person.  Could that be the face of the person who gave the Sermon on the Mount? Who hung on the cross? Who rose from the dead?

We are showing it in two parts.  Each meeting will begin at 7:45 A.M. sharp (usually we start at 8:00).  We will watch the show for about 45-50 minutes and then open the floor for discussion/impressions.  There will be full Church Guys hospitality.  Join us and bring a friend. . . .

“A Short History of the Angelus”

When the St. Francis Men of Emmaus meet, we pray.  Typically, we simply close the meeting with the Our Father.  Although we used to begin with the Angelus, we are getting back to that beginning this Saturday.  In preparation, I thought I’d post an article from EWTN about the Angelus to help bring more meaning to the our offering.  Please visit the page.

Giuseppe Luppino

We repeat the words of the Annunciation for the world, the ChurchOn 25 March, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Annunciation: an important moment for her to pause to recall what suddenly happened in the history of mankind, so that man could be changed profoundly and saved. Our experience of education in the faith has us continue our formation by reciting the Angelus even though we know that theAngelus in the form we have it was crystallized only around the first half of the 16th century.

Medieval custom of triple Hail Mary in the evening

In the centuries before that, this name or the name Ave Maria was applied to the moment of prayer specifically devoted to the daily recitation of the “angelic greeting”, the Hail Mary (a custom that seems to have spread in England before it took hold on the continent of Europe). The practice of reciting the Hail Mary three times in a row dates at least to the 12th century, and St Anthony of Padua (1195-1231) strongly recommended it. This devout practice was a great favourite also of St Mechtilde of Helfta (1241-1298) in herRevelations, and St Bonaventure, in a Chapter of the Order of the Friars Minor in 1269 proposed they recite these three Hail Mary’s in the evening after Compline, meditating on the mystery of Christ’s Incarnation, urging at the same time that the recitation be preceded always by the ringing of a bell so that the brothers and all the faithful nearby would know that it was time for the Hail Mary.

Morning and Noon Angelus for Christianity at risk

As time passed, in the Christian lands, the practice was repeated first in the early morning, and then at midday. Testimonies to the noon recitation are found around 1413 in the land now known as Czechoslovakia and in 1423 in Cologne. Pope Sixtus IV, in 1475, was the first to endow the recitation of the Angelus at noon with an indulgence. This indulgence was confirmed and extended by Pope Leo X in 1517 to whoever recited it in the morning, at noon, and in the evening, and Pope Pius XI (1922-1939) seems to have been the last one to grant an indulgence.

This is a moment of prayer, then, that has been used to sanctify the first part of the day for centuries and that even was prayed to rescue Christianity in difficult moments, such as happened in Belgrade in 1456, when the Turks succeeded in invading Serbia.

Modern form of devotion to Mary and the Incarnation

The form as we know it appears for the first timeaccording to J. Fournée in his TheHistory of the Angelus. The Angel’s Message to Mary (Lev, 1997)in The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Officium parvum BMV), printed in Rome during the time of Pope Pius V (1566-1572), and also in the Manuale catholicorum (Handbook for Catholics) by the Jesuit St Peter Canisius, published in Antwerp in 1588. In older manuals of devotion, according to the date of their publication, the Angelus may mention Pope Benedict XIV (14 September 1742) and Pope Leo XIII (15 March 1884) as its great promoters.

Artists have shaped our image of the Annunciation: Mary at prayer or in meditation at the angel’s coming

The greatest artists have chosen to immortalize this moment: Mary is usually shown kneeling or seated and sometimes has a book in her hand or nearby. The tradition preferred in the West and known in the East only because of Western influence (see the 16th century Mount Athos frescoes) likes to visualize Mary meditating on the Bible, and more precisely, according to the suppositions of the Fathers of the Church, on the passage by the prophet Isaiah (7,14): “Behold, a virgin will conceive …”, or reading the psalter, as reported in the Meditationes vitae Christi (Meditations on the Life of Christ), a book dear to late medieval artists. Among the earliest works representing the Annunciation, we can mention the frescoes of Giotto (ca. 1305 in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua) and the panel painting by Simone Martini (1333, Uffizi, Florence). And we should not forget Fra Angelico’s Annunciation in the Convent of San Marco in Florence (ca. 1440), the one by Leonardo (ca. 1475, Uffizi), or The Angelus by Millet (1857-59, Louvre, Paris).

Taken from:
L’Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
4 September 2002, page 6L’Osservatore Romano is the newspaper of the Holy See.
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The Angelus

Since we Church Guys are going to be praying the Angelus regularly again, I thought I’d post the prayer for handy reference.  Because we Church Guys are such uber-Catholics, the Latin comes first and then the English.  The source for the prayers is here.  It has a beautiful watercolor of the Blessed Mother and the infant Christ, check it out.

Angelus Domini

Ángelus Dómini nuntiávit Maríæ.
Et concépit de Spíritu Sancto.

Ave, María…

Ecce ancílla Dómini.
Fiat mihi secúndum verbum tuum.

Ave, María…

Et Verbum caro factum est.
Et habitávit in nobis.

Ave, María…

Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei génetrix.
Ut digni efficiámur promissiónibus Christi.


Grátiam tuam, quæsumus,
Dómine, méntibus nostris infúnde;
ut qui, Ángelo nuntiánte,
Christi Fílii tui incarnatiónem cognóvimus,
per passiónem eius et crucem,
ad resurrectiónis glóriam perducámur.

Per eúndem Christum Dóminum nostrum. Amen.

Glória Patri…


V: The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary

R: And she conceived by the Holy Ghost.

V: Hail Mary, full of grace: The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

R: Holy Mary, Mother of God: Pray for us sinners now and
at the hour of our death. Amen.

V: Behold, the handmaid of the Lord.

R: Be it done unto me according to thy word.

V: Hail Mary …

R: Holy Mary …

V: And the Word was made flesh

R: And dwelt among us.

V: Hail Mary …

R: Holy Mary …

V: Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,

R: That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

V: Let us pray.

All: Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy grace unto our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, thy Son, was made known by the message of an Angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Helping Instill The Virtue Of Patriotism

For Memorial Day, I posted a talk about the Catholic Virtue of Patriotism.  This virtue is quite challenging to teach.  Most materials out there are too extreme: they either ignore completely the failures to live up to our ideals as a nation or they magnify those failures so greatly that there doesn’t appear to be any reason for patriotism.  Recently, I found a resource for grade and middle schoolers that strikes what appears to me to be a great balance.  The resource is an animated series called Liberty’s Kids.  Produced by PBS, it follows young journalists, James Hiller and Sarah Phillips, as they report on the events of the American Revolution for Benjamin Franklin.  The show introduces kids to the major figures of the Revolution on both sides and to many of the minor figures, who played their part with courage and aplomb.  It also raises some of the uglier parts of the history (mob rule, slavery, treason, freedom of religion etc.) in ways that highlight the tension between our ideals and what  happened.   On top of this, it is quite entertaining for the younger set.  Check it out on You Tube.

Do You Want To See The Real Face of Christ?

Have you ever wondered what Christ really looked like?  I have.  So when a couple of St. Francis Church Guys said that they saw a documentary that reconstructed a 3-D image from the Shroud of Turin, I checked it out.  It was nothing short of amazing.   So, on October 23 and 30, 2010, the Men of Emmaus will be watching and discussing it.  Not only does it involve the reconstruction, it includes a lot of background about the Shroud.  Although the Church deems it an object worthy of veneration due to the image of suffering, it does not take a position on whether the image is that of Christ or,  in fact, has any connection to Him.  The documentary lays out the circumstantial evidence, though, and it is compelling.

For me, having a picture helps make Christ more concrete.  If He is the visible image of the invisible God, what happens if He is invisible because there are no pictures?  Reading the Gospels and picturing that man (as reconstructed) in a particular physical context makes it all so real and gives it an immediacy that it lacked for me beforehand.

So join us as we watch the History Channel reconstruct the Real Face of Jesus.

Another Great Catholic Website

A little while back, Our Sunday Visitor posted an article about their readers’ favorite websites.  Although we will soon be on the list, we haven’t quite made it yet.  Here’s one that might be of interest:  We all know you gotta pray to make it through the day.  I’m probably speaking for others too when I write that sometimes it’s difficult to have handy resources.  Pray-as-you-go solves that problem.  It has a wide range of excellent material.  Visit and discuss what you find valuable there in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.

What Does Christ Have To Do With Tootsie Rolls?

This is a quick shout-out for the Knights of Columbus’ Tootsie Roll drive.  The K of C men are out in force.  You can see them all around, dressed in yellow, collecting money for local charities that service the mentally handicapped.  When you see them, help them help others with a little spare change.  John 6:12-13 teaches about how putting small things together leads to great things.  Won’t you help?