Saturday, June 14, 2014

The "Bread of the Face" of God

Today's psalm at Mass was taken from Psalm 27.  The line that stuck out for me?

"Your face, oh Lord, do I seek.  Hide not your face."

A line before that has the Lord commanding (His commands always have the urgency of love:)

"Seek My face."

So why did His face draw my attention?...

Why did His face draw anyone's attention?

I think that's what the face is supposed to do (especially a beautiful face.)  Its supposed to draw one's attention.

God is perfect truth; yes.  He is also perfect love.  We can't forget, though, that He is also perfect beauty.  It is, after all, impossible to forget a beautiful face (ask any guy who has been wide eyed at the site of a beautiful girl - he remembers her beauty.)

Beauty is a memorable thing.  It draws our attention not only in the present but it also continues to hold our attention in the future because, while we remember the beauty we've beheld and do, in a sense, behold it in our memory, we long to behold that beauty again with our vision!  I think this is the incredible effect which Saints and Mystics experience in encountering the Lords beautiful love - the experience of God is so powerful precisely because He is so beautiful; it makes the Saint/Mystic long and need to be near Him Who is Beauty Itself (a mystic is, after all, simply a person who has experienced reality in a deeply transformative way.  Reality is extremely attractive.)

The face of Christ - He Who is Beauty Incarnate - is the most beautiful of all things to be seen because it is the face of our deepest desire; namely, salvation and unconditional love. Jesus IS exactly what the heart craves and His face draws the heart to remember the deeper things which we long for.

"Your face, oh Lord, do I seek" and I beg you "hide not Your face."

Moses begged to see God's Beauty.  He said to God "Show me Your glory!!" (Exodus 33:18)  Theologically, glory is understood well as "beauty."  This is the ultimate longing of our souls, "Lord, show me Your beauty!  Let me see You! I want to see You!"

Beauty IS in the eyes of the beholder in the sense that we truly do possess something of the beauty which we perceive.  The beauty perceived is literally impressed upon the mind through what the eyes see - the beauty perceived is inside the beholder's eyes so to speak, inside the mind: permanently.

"Seek My face."

In the Eucharist we see Jesus' face through faith (which is how we see God in this life - faith is a real vision of the intellect allowing us to see what our limited human reason can't fully grasp.  It is a spiritual vision which allows us to see what God sees.)  So the Beautiful One is enthroned before us in that Eucharistic Adoration chapel and we are priveleged to gaze upon Him in order to satiate our hearts for what it so craves.  Job 23:3 says "If only I knew where to find him; if only I could go to his dwelling!" But WE do know where to find Him.  We CAN go to His dwelling among us - He is there in the Eucharist; the Beautiful One.

In the Old Testament there was a role for the priests to offer a sacrifice of bread and of wine (which foreshadowed the sacrfice of the Eucharist.)  The word used for that bread is sometimes translated as the "show bread" or better the "bread of the Presence" (God's Presence that is.)  The bread signified the presence of God which is one more reason why the Church discerned and understood the extraordinary significance of reserving the Eucharist which was, in fact, the real presence of Christ, Who is God in the flesh.  He is The Bread of Heaven from John 6)

I learned the other day while listening to a talk by Dr. Brant Pitre called "The Jewish Roots of the Eucharist" (available from Lighthouse Catholic Media) that there is a more precise translation of that term signifying the Old Testament bread of sacrifice.  

The "Bread of the Face."

The Eucharist is the true "Bread of the Face" of God because the Eucharist literally IS Jesus gazing back at us in love.  In the Eucharist is contained all the beauty of the face of the One Whom we seek.  "Your face, oh Lord, do I seek." The Eucharist is the Beauty which we desire, the "face" we seek.

"Your face, oh Lord, do I seek."

In Eucharistic Adoration the heart can rest in a sort of "beatific vision" through faith.  The heart can fill up on what it longs for even though the sensible experience of that beauty will have to wait until the Beatific Vision of God's Face in Heaven.

And when we're there we'll strangely remember that we've seen this Face before.  We will remember the beauty which once impressed itself upon us by faith in the "Bread of the Face" and we'll experience that final satisfaction in knowing that we never have to leave the Presence of the Beautiful One.  We'll rest in Beauty.

And what a beautiful rest that will be!