Today in the Latin Calendar we commemorate Our Mother of Perpetual Help. A story about this commemoration can be found by Clicking Here.
Since 1866 the Redemptorists have spread devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the icon and title of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (also known as Our Lady of Perpetual Help).
According to tradition, the ancient Byzantine icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help was stolen from a church in Crete, where many miracles had occurred.
The image remained in the private possession of a Roman merchant and his family until 1499, when it was publicly displayed in the Church of St. Matthew in Rome between the Basilicas of St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran.
When St. Matthew’s was destroyed in 1789, the icon was rescued and hung in an obscure monastery chapel until the Redemptorists learned that the site of their new headquarters in Rome had once been the site of St. Matthew’s, the one-time home of a miraculous icon of Our Lady.
A Redemptorist priest who as a young man had frequented the monastery chapel that displayed the icon informed his brothers where to find the image.
The Redemptorists asked Pope Pius IX for permission to move the icon to their new church, San Alfonso, which was built on the location of the icon’s earlier home. The pope granted his permission and told the Redemptorists to “make her known throughout the world.”
The Symbolism of the Icon
In the Eastern world, religious art is seen as an extension of God’s presence in creation. Icons are much more than beautiful images: they’re meant to help us connect directly with God.
The artist who writes the icon strives to illuminate the viewer’s soul with divine truth. Above is a photo of the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help — the most widely known icon in the world. This sacred image has special importance for the Redemptorists, who were asked by Pope Pius IX to “make her known throughout the world.”
Each element of the icon has a specific meaning:
1. Mary’s eyes, filled with compassion and love, are directed toward us.
2. Our Lady is clothed in the colors of virgins (red) and of mothers (blue). These are also royal colors.
3. Jesus, depicted as a young boy, wears the colors of a king.
4. The star on Mary’s veil reminds us that she is the dawn announcing the coming of Christ.
5. Our Lady’s hands hold her Son securely, and her right hand directs our gaze to Him.
6. The Christ Child grasps his mother’s hand as though he is frightened by what he sees.
7. In His hurry to reach his mother, Jesus has almost lost one of his sandals. He became human, like us, in all things but sin.
8. On Our Lady’s left and right we see the reasons for the child’s fear. On the right is the Archangel Gabriel, holding a cross and four nails. On the left is the Archangel Michael, holding a lance, a pole with a sponge, and a vessel of vinegar. This vision of the instruments of the crucifixion has driven the young Jesus to his mother’s protective embrace.
9. Yet Our Lady’s gaze is fixed on us, her children on earth. She is our source of constant comfort and hope.
Prayer to Our Mother of Perpetual Help
Mother of Perpetual Help, your very name inspires confidence. We come before your holy picture in praise and thanksgiving to God, seeking your intercession with Jesus, your son, for all the needs of our lives today. We celebrate your holy motherhood as we proclaim Jesus Christ our Lord and Redeemer.
You answered when called to be mother of our Lord. Obtain for us the grace to be alive to our baptismal call and especially to embrace the Gospel of life and to respect all life on earth.
You wondered as your Son grew in wisdom, knowledge, and grace.
Intercede for us so that we may welcome the Word of God in our lives and be bearers of the good news to everyone.
You delighted as your Son healed the sick.
Intercede for our sick that they may receive good health and that they in their turn may be healers to others.
You enjoyed peace as your Son comforted the afflicted.
Intercede for all who suffer so that they may know that we carry their burdens with them and in this way we keep the law of Christ.
You rejoiced as your Son forgave sins.
Obtain for us the forgiveness of our sins and lead us to unbind others and set them free.
You suffered at the wounds your Son endured for our salvation.
Help us to bind up the broken-hearted and to give hope to the downtrodden.
You exulted in your Son’s resurrection.
Obtain for us the grace to persevere in His way all the days of our life and be granted a place in heaven.
You are the first of all the disciples and saints. We trust in your motherly love and care.
ain for us all the graces we need to fulfill God’s plan each day in our lives. Amen.
St. Cyril of Alexandria
Saints are not born with halos around their heads. Cyril, recognized as a great teacher of the Church, began his career as archbishop of Alexandria, Egypt, with impulsive, often violent, actions. He pillaged and closed the churches of the Novatian heretics (who required those who denied the faith to be rebaptized), participated in the deposing of St. John Chrysostom (September 13) and confiscated Jewish property, expelling the Jews from Alexandria in retaliation for their attacks on Christians.
Cyril’s importance for theology and Church history lies in his championing the cause of orthodoxy against the heresy of Nestorius, who taught that in Christ there were two persons, one human and one divine.
The controversy centered around the two natures in Christ. Nestorius would not agree to the title “God-bearer” for Mary (January 1). He preferred “Christ-bearer,” saying there are two distinct persons in Christ (divine and human) joined only by a moral union. He said Mary was not the mother of God but only of the man Christ, whose humanity was only a temple of God. Nestorianism implied that the humanity of Christ was a mere disguise.
Presiding as the pope’s representative at the Council of Ephesus (431), Cyril condemned Nestorianism and proclaimed Mary truly the “God-bearer” (the mother of the one Person who is truly God and truly human). In the confusion that followed, Cyril was deposed and imprisoned for three months, after which he was welcomed back to Alexandria as a second Athanasius (the champion against Arianism).
Besides needing to soften some of his opposition to those who had sided with Nestorius, Cyril had difficulties with some of his own allies, who thought he had gone too far, sacrificing not only language but orthodoxy. Until his death, his policy of moderation kept his extreme partisans under control. On his deathbed, despite pressure, he refused to condemn the teacher of Nestorius.
Lives of the saints are valuable not only for the virtue they reveal but also for the less admirable qualities that also appear. Holiness is a gift of God to us as human beings. Life is a process. We respond to God's gift, but sometimes with a lot of zigzagging. If Cyril had been more patient and diplomatic, the Nestorian Church might not have risen and maintained power so long. But even saints must grow out of immaturity, narrowness and selfishness. It is because they — and we — do grow, that we are truly saints, persons who live the life of God.
Cyril's theme: "Only if it is one and the same Christ who is consubstantial with the Father and with men can he save us, for the meeting ground between God and man is the flesh of Christ. Only if this is God's own flesh can man come into contact with Christ's divinity through his humanity. Because of our kinship with the Word made flesh we are sons of God. The Eucharist consummates our kinship with the word, our communion with the Father, our sharing in the divine nature — there is very real contact between our body and that of the Word" (New Catholic Encyclopedia).
Life of Holiness:
If we are faithful in little practices of love, in little sacrifices, in little interior mortifications, then we will become more Christ-like and build within ourselves the life of holiness. Holiness is only a very high degree of love. Let us all unite in helping each other to become holy.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Let us refer all our actions to (God), let us raise our souls to Him more often.
Jesus told me that I please Him best by meditating on His sorrowful Passion
Jesus told me that I please Him best by meditating on His sorrowful Passion, and by such meditation, much light falls upon my soul. He who wants to learn true humility should reflect upon the Passion of Jesus. When I meditate upon the Passion of Jesus, I get a clear understanding of many things I could not comprehend before. I want to resemble You, O Jesus, - You crucified, tortured and humiliated. Jesus, imprint upon my heart and soul Your own humility. I love You, Jesus, to the point of madness, You who were crushed with suffering as described by the prophet [cf. Isaiah 53:2 9], as if he could not see the human form in You because of Your great suffering. It is in this condition, Jesus, that I love You to the point of madness. O eternal and infinite God, what has love done to You? - (Diary No. 267)