Throughout the life of faith of so many men and women, we find the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who, after the Holy Trinity, has a privileged place in the Church, not only because she is the Theotokos, that is, the mother of God, but also because of her example and testimony of a life that has marked and inspired hundreds of generations over two millennia. With a generous Yes, this great woman has been a collaborator in the redemptive plan of humanity.
That is why men and women of different backgrounds, races, languages, nationalities and rites have invoked her under different titles. They have turned to this loving Mother, who saw the birth of the Church from the pierced heart of her Son Jesus at the foot of the cross; they have turned to her for centuries and have called her blessed, thus fulfilling what she herself expressed in her beautiful canticle: “Therefore from now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done wonderful things for me, holy is his name, and his mercy extends from generation to generation to those who fear him” (Lk. 2:48-50). Certainly, those who venerate her and come to her have at some point in their lives received consolation and prompt help from this good mother, who, like a radiant star, leads us to Christ Jesus.
Because of this, the Redemptorist world and many peoples and nations are celebrating our dear Mother of Perpetual Help in a special way in June. The Marian invocation, which since 1866 by the papal mandate of Pius IX, has been kept in the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and spread with these words: “Make her known throughout the world”. From that moment on, this great mother has blessed us and accompanied us in our missions, in our daily struggles and our moments of tribulation. She has been our mother, she has strengthened the perseverance of hundreds of Redemptorist missionaries all over the world, and today more than ever, in the face of the realities of this wounded world, she accompanies and strengthens our communion with God and the Church.
Throughout these years, Mary of Perpetual Help has been that radiant star, the star of the new evangelisation, which opens the horizons for the proclamation of the Good News; it is she who leads every missionary, to the point of reaching the most distant places. She has looked upon and consoled the pain of thousands of people, of families who cry out and ask for her great maternal help. Therefore, Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer, has been a healing respite for the wounded. She has hands that comfort and free, but above all, she has been the tender caress of God’s love for us.
Therefore, as Redemptorist Missionaries and bearers of abundant redemption for the most abandoned, especially the poor, we must consider the Blessed Virgin Mary as our model and help, for she, the handmaid of the Lord, in walking the way of faith and embracing the salvific will of God wholeheartedly, consecrated herself entirely to the person and work of her Son, and cooperated and continues to cooperate in the mystery of redemption, as a perpetual help in Christ for the people of God. 2] And indeed, this mother teaches us how to look upon, embrace and heal the suffering realities of our wounded world. She teaches us to be in solidarity, not to leave abandoned or forgotten many of our brothers and sisters who feel desolate and marginalised; she invites us to be attentive and to heal with the balm of Christ, those hearts that have been shattered by the realities that the world has let fall upon them, the weakest.
Today more than ever, as we contemplate the Most Holy Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, it is a call to our entire Redemptorist family, from priests, consecrated religious, lay people and other associations that share the charism of the Abundant Redemption, to assume in our lives the maternal gaze of Mary who challenges us, not only as devotees but as true sons and daughters. We can therefore draw three lessons for our life today as Catholic Christians and, above all, as Marians:
- Firstly, to keep in mind that the Virgin Mary is the Hodigitria, that is, the one who shows us the way and who always reminds us where we must walk, for it is she, who pointing with her hand to her son and at the same time to the cross, refers to us that only to him we must follow and serve; for if we have recourse to Jesus, we will never be disappointed.
- Secondly, let us not forget that she is our Mother and that, as such, she will not abandon us. Still, on the contrary, she will be attentive to our requests to bring them to Christ and thus make visible her motherly power and that tenderness that Eleusa characterises her as a woman.
- Finally, we must assume that she is our protectress and that we must frequently and confidently invoke her constantly. Whenever we are in front of her image, let us not forget that she is always present in our existence as that guide who wants the best for our life, who wants us to be happy to construct a better world.
Therefore, as a great tribute to this Mother of Love, let us take on the personal commitment to love her as true children, to make her known to the whole world, following in the footsteps of many Redemptorists, men and women, who have carried out this task to the full. May our Mother continue to guide our steps in the paths of Christ the Redeemer.
Juan Luis Rivera Arellano, Province of Mexico.
Jhonny William Vargas Vargas, Vice Province of Caracas
1] (VI, 1964) IV The cult of the Blessed Virgin in the Church 66. Mary, exalted, by the grace of God, after her Son, above all angels and above all men, because she is the most holy Mother of God, who took part in the mysteries of Christ, is justly honoured by the Church with a special cult. And indeed, from the earliest times, the Blessed Virgin has been venerated with the title of “Mother of God”, to whose protection the suppliant faithful have recourse in all their dangers and necessities.
2] (Redemptorists, 2012) Second Chapter: The Apostolic Community (Constitution 32)
3] (Redemptorists, 2021) The mystery of icons, Icons come to us from the East: from Byzantium or its empire. Byzantine iconography is a sacred art based not only on aesthetic criteria, but above all on mystical ones.
4] (Redemptorists, 2021) It is a representative icon of the Theotokos, the Mother of God with her grown Son in her arms. According to the role Our Lady plays in the salvation of mankind, three categories of Marian icons are usually distinguished:
- The Virgin who teaches the way: ‘Hodigitria’.
- The Virgin of tenderness: ‘Eleusa’.
- Our Lady of the Passion: ‘Strastnaia’.