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Learning What Your Face Is Like

  • Sandra Yocum


This year we are blessed with a beautifully expressed convention theme: “God Has Begun a Great Work in Us: The Embodiment of Love in Contemporary Consecrated Life and New Ecclesial Movements.” I hear in the phrasing of this theme profound faith, great hope, and deep joy. And while the theme's focus is on the special witness of consecrated lives and ecclesial movements, still it seems to me that within all of us, individually and even more so collectively, God's work has begun, and we are called to embody love. Tonight I want to use the time that I have been given for my presidential address, a privilege indeed, to reflect on this embodiment from one perspective. This evening, I want to consider faces.



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1 The following is the presidential address delivered at the 2014 College Theology Society convention banquet on Saturday evening, May 31, 2014, at Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

2 Susman, Warren I., Culture as History: The Transformation of American Society in the Twentieth Century (New York: Pantheon Books, 1984), 271–85.

3 Ibid., 271.

4 Ibid., 281–82; Shaler quoted in Susman.

5 Ibid., 283.

6 Ibid., 282.

7 Ibid., 284.

8 “Greatest Film Mis-Quotes,”

9 Ben Wedeman, “Meet the Disfigured Man Whose Embrace with Pope Francis Warmed Hearts,” CNN World, November 27, 2013,

10 Translations taken from The New Jerusalem Bible: Pocket Edition (New York: Doubleday, 1989).

11 “The Church Year: Transfiguration,” Orthodox Church in America,

12 Clément, Olivier, The Roots of Christian Mysticism: Texts from the Patristic Era with Commentary (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 1993), 35.

13 Ibid., 37.

14 Williams, Rowan, The Dwelling of the Light: Praying with Icons of Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003), 71.

15 Cf. Williams, The Dwelling of the Light, 70.

16 All the quotes from Clément in this paragraph are from The Roots of Christian Mysticism, 82.

17 Clément, The Roots of Christian Mysticism, 82.

18 Ibid.; biographical information on Dumitru Stăniloae taken from

19 Clément, The Roots of Christian Mysticism, 35.

20 Ibid., 226.

21 Odes of Solomon 13, quoted in Clément, The Roots of Christian Mysticism, 226.

22 Francis and Clare: The Complete Works, trans. and intro. Armstrong, Regis J., OFM, Cap., and Brady, Ignatius C., OFM, preface by Vaughn, John, OFM, in Classics of Western Spirituality (New York: Paulist Press, 1982), 204–5.

23 Clément, The Roots of Christian Mysticism, 82.

24 Ibid., 227.

25 Ibid., 248.

26 Pseudo-Macarius, “First Homily,” quoted in Clément, The Roots of Christian Mysticism, 248–49.

27 Clément, The Roots of Christian Mysticism, 283.

28 Quoted in Clément, The Roots of Christian Mysticism, 284.

29 Father James Schutte, priest for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. He was pastor of Corpus Christi Parish, Dayton, Ohio, when he preached the homily.

30 Clément, The Roots of Christian Mysticism, 37.

31 An adaptation of the blessing in Numbers 6:24–26.


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