Like the Face of an Angel

At the Chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Sriracha, Thailand

It’s nice to hear stories about how the saints interacted with one another. Sometimes they do so as friends, sometimes as colleagues (in agreement or in disagreement), sometimes indeed as superiors and inferiors in life or in the work of God. One example of the latter is Saint Alphonsus, founder of the Redemptorists, and Saint Gerard, one of the first lay brothers in that congregation.

While under investigation for a crime he did not commit (and while being unjustly punished for it), Saint Gerard lived in the same house as his order’s founder. When walking along the corridor, they once ran into one another. Gerard paused and then said to Saint Alphonsus, his rector: “Your face is like the face of an angel. Every time I see it, I am consoled.”

(We can smile upon hearing this, I think!)

All in all this is rather the same thing they said of Saint Stephen, the first martyr: “And all who sat in the council looked intently at him, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15). This inspires love in some, hatred in others. For Saint Gerard seeing Saint Alphonsus, he loved the holiness; for those who looked on Saint Stephen, they were agitated and fearful in their hearts. But no matter whether are hearts are disposed to love the good or to hate it, what we have, at the core, is the very transfiguration of the body – the taking up of the flesh deeper into the human spirit, animated more and more by the Holy Spirit.

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