Our Lady of Perpetual Help

First placed in the Church of San Matteo in Rome in 1499, the picture was thought to be lost at one point after Napoleon’s armies sacked that church in 1798. Fortunately, however, it was in the care of the Augustinian fathers until Pope Pius IX ordered that the icon be given to the Redemptorist order at the Church of St. Alphonsus in Rome in 1866 for public viewing once again. Since then it has been copied and venerated in churches and homes all over the world.

Note in this picture how Jesus, while safely cradled in his mother’s arms, looks anxiously at St. Gabriel the Archangel, who holds the cross and nails for His Crucifixion. (St. Michael the Archangel, at left, holds the lance, spear, and the vessel of vinegar and gall for our Lord’s Passion as well.) The Blessed Mother looks at us solemnly, perhaps as if in contemplation of her beloved Son’s future Passion and death for our salvation!

Remember that when we pray this novena to our Lady of Perpetual Help, that we are not choosing to worship her over her Divine Son. She is “our Mother on the order of grace,” according to a Vatican II document, and all the graces Mary gives us come directly from our Lord. She is always ready to intercede with Him on our behalf, but never for anything contrary to His wishes.

As long as we approach her as we do Him, with sincerely humble and contrite hearts, we can count on her aid and guidance. Mary’s last spoken words in the Gospels concerned her Son when she said at the wedding feast at Cana “Do whatever he tells You” (John 2:5). If we persevere in our intentions to do Christ’s will for us, we are doing hers as well.

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Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – “How can we define the Pontifical Mission Societies in one sentence? They are a worldwide network at the service of the Holy Father to sustain the mission and the young Churches through prayer and charity. We should consider the Pontifical Mission Societies and their charismatic service for the Church’s mission in light of the Church’s mandate to be a sign and instrument of salvation for the world”: this is what Archbishop Giovanni Pietro Dal Toso, President of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) said during his speech at the formation and refresher Course for the National Directors of the PMS in English, gathered in these days at the International Missionary Animation Center (Ciam), in view of the extraordinary Missionary Month of October 2019.
Working in the Pontifical Mission Societies, the Archbishop specified, “let us keep in mind that we are talking about a charism. I expressly use the term “charism”, because our Mission Societies would not be comprehensible without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This is evident if we consider the historical context in which they were founded. Various saints lived in the Diocese of Lyon at that time: St. John Maria Vianney, St. Peter Julian Eymard, founder of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, St. Peter Chanel, who later became apostle and martyr in Oceania. The missionary charism of the PMS was born in this context of holiness to sustain the mission through prayer and charity”.
After a theological report on the Church’s missionary spirit, the Archbishop, pointing out the specific charism of the PMS, recalled that “our foundress, the venerable Pauline Jaricot, gathered her friends to pray and take up collections for the missions. This charism, this gift of the Holy Spirit, is a concrete way to participate in the subjectivity of the Church in the fulfillment of the missionary mandate. The Church, precisely as a body made up of members, is a promoter of evangelization. The support we offer has a very important function: to help missionaries to not feel alone, but rather supported by the whole Church. In fact, just as no one can believe alone, no one can be a missionary alone. The whole Church is subject of evangelization, and therefore no missionary is alone, but supported by the rest of the Christian community, in whose name he carries out his mission”.
“From a structural point of view – continued Dal Toso – the PMS are both universal and local. They are coordinated at the universal level by the four International Secretariats, under a single President, and entrusted to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. The local dimension manifests itself in the fact that we have about 120 National directions that in turn support the diocesan directors”.
“The great task of the PMS – the President said – is that of raising missionary awareness. Indeed, in accordance with the teachings of the Popes and the Council, the mission is a task entrusted to the whole People of God. The PMS have the special mandate to keep this missionary spirit alive, and this is ultimately the goal intended for the celebration of the Extraordinary Missionary Month of October 2019”. (Agenzia Fides, 5/3/2019)


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