Father General Michael Brehl will officially proclaim the 2016 Jubilee Year in celebration of Our Mother of Perpetual Help this year on Sunday, April 26 (the exact date the image was first presented for public veneration in the Redemptorist church of Sant Alphonso in Rome in 1866).
This will be an opportunity for Redemptorists to reclaim the mission of using the icon as means of evangelization. On the 100th anniversary of the Redemptorists receiving the icon in 1968, our beloved Bishop and Martyr, Blessed Vasyl Velychkovsky wrote in a book he was preparing for the 100th anniversary for which he was imprisoned and tortured:
“From the church of St Alphonsus in Rome, her most merciful power reaches everyone even those in the farthest corners of the world. Exact replicas of this wonder-working icon have been enthroned in various churches. Sharing the same miraculous power, they have become intermediary sources of bountiful grace. Thus, it flows from this phenomena that the Almighty desires that devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help be connected with the veneration of her icon.”
The act of venerating the icon means to open ourselves to the message of the mystery of salvation in Christ contained in the symbols and scriptural themes contained within the sacred image.
During this year of preparation, the Denver Province is preparing for the 2016 celebration with a variety of events. All of the preparatory events may distract us from the real focus on this commemoration: the renewal of our individual experiences of the icon in our missionary lives. The Province commission for the 150th celebration gives a simple format to keep before our eyes:
Learn to “Read” the Icon – “Pray” with the Icon – “Reflect” on the Icon – “Proclaim” its Message.
How can we accomplish this in the midst of everyday distractions? Fr. Serafino Fiore, C.Ss.R. puts it very simply: “It is enough to take some time, to pause before the icon, to contemplate and open ourselves to a truth that goes beyond us.” And our Superior General tells us: “She is our Partner in Mission, our Perpetual Help in our needs, and our Model and Mother.”
by Br. Dan Korn, C.Ss.R.