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As we contemplate the face of Christ, we find that Christ enters into our lives. This is prayer without words – being in God's presence rather than performing in Christ's presence. Images can be a doorway into closeness with God. If we sit with them long enough, we can enter the stillness – into communion.

To begin our prayer, we may want to light a candle nearby. A flame is a metaphor for prayer, inviting us into God's presence in our lives. Look at the image as you pray. See it as a point of connection with Christ and the communion of saints.

Even though you may feel pressured by the demands of the day, try not to pray in a hurry. Better to pray for a short time with quiet attention to each word and each breath than to rush through many prayers. Be aware of your breathing. You are breathing in life itself, breathing in God's peace. You are breathing out praise and gratitude, breathing out your appeals for help.

As you pray, cultivate an inner attitude of listening. God is not an idea and praying is not an exercise to improve our idea of God. Prayer is the cultivation of the awareness of God's actual presence. We may speak words to God or just look attentively at the image and let God speak to us.

Viewing Options

The DVD was produced as part of the Year of Grace, an initiative of the Catholic Bishops of Australia, in response to the appeal of Pope John Paul II that we should "start afresh from Christ", and that we should "contemplate the face of Christ".

As you will see in the acknowledgements, all the images are sourced from Australia. They are in a variety of forms and a variety of styles. Viewers will, of course, respond in their own ways to these different styles and forms.

There are many ways the images may be viewed.

If being viewed by a group of people, some spoken words of introduction will help establish the atmosphere. It may be helpful to outline some of the points made above.

Option 1 – thirty minutes, without texts

Run the whole series of images through, without interruption. There are 32 images, and the DVD lasts approximately 30 minutes.

It could be suitable for use in many ways – during a time of prayer and adoration in a church; as part of a meditation during a retreat; during a Second Rite of Reconciliation, as individual penitents are going to Confession; or, at home, for personal devotion.

Option 2 – thirty minutes, with texts

This is the same as the first, except that each image of Christ is accompanied by a text from the New Testament.

There will be some times when the addition of these texts from Scripture will enhance the experience. At other times you may judge that the simple images, without text, are more suitable.

Option 3 – six five-minute "chapters"

The DVD is divided into six "chapters", each lasting about five minutes. On the home menu they are described as:

  1. 'When I am lifted up'
  2. 'My Son, the Beloved'
  3. The Resurrection and the Life
  4. 'Weep not for me'
  5. Thanks be to God
  6. The Alpha and the Omega

One "Chapter" could be shown, for example, in a parish church a few minutes before the beginning of the Sunday Mass.

It may also be used at the beginning of a meeting – a Parish Pastoral Council, a school Staff Meeting, or as an introduction to a Religion lesson in a classroom.

In these situations, it may be fruitful to begin a discussion with questions such as these:

  • Was there an image here that especially spoke to me?
  • If so, what was it about that image?
  • Where have I seen the face of Christ today, or recently?
  • As I contemplate the face of Christ, what is he saying to me?

Option 4 – a single image

Another option is to choose just one image to display and pause on it for some time, and then engage with the questions above.

Option 5 – outside display

Yet another option is to project the DVD on an outside wall of a church, convent, hall, school etc., so that it is visible to people passing by. This might be worth considering on Good Friday night, or Holy Saturday night, or on Christmas Eve. In these cases the sound-track may be of no benefit, but passers-by may find themselves drawn into "contemplating the face of Christ". You will decide whether to use the version with the images only, or the version with the Scripture texts.

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