This past week, on Thursday evening, October 29, a special Mass of Hope was offered in our church. While it was originally intended to support anyone experiencing difficulties during these troubled financial times due to lack of employment and stretched resources, it proved to be a source of peace and hope for anyone struggling in any way: physically, emotionally or spiritually. Since that wonderful celebration and evening of communal support, I have heard a number of people express the feeling that we should do something like this more often, even monthly! Those thoughts got me to thinking: “I wonder how many people realize that we currently have a Mass every Tuesday evening at 7:00 PM coupled with devotions to Our Mother of Perpetual Help (OMPH) and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament immediately following?”
The Miraculous icon of OMPH has a long and interesting history. This Byzantine icon dates back to the 13th or 14th century. In 1499, it was first venerated by the public in St. Matthew Church in Rome, where it remained for nearly 300 years, under the care of the Augustinian Friars. When St. Matthew’s Church was closed and destroyed in 1798, the icon found its way into several other churches until 1866 when Pope Pius IX ordered the Augustinians to surrender the Icon to the Redemptorists, According to tradition, when handing over the Icon to the Redemptorists, Pius IX expressed the desire that they should make her known to the whole world. From that time to the present day, devotion to OMPH has spread all over the world. Thousands of copies of the picture have been dispatched throughout the world and there are many shrines where copies of the original Icon are venerated and regarded as Miraculous.
If ever there was someone that we should turn to in times of difficulties it would have to be OMPH! Our churches used to be overflowing every Tuesday with people who would travel from miles around to attend devotions to OMPH. This fervent devotion to the Mother of Jesus has radically diminished in the present time. That’s not to say that there aren’t a fair number of people who attend on Tuesday morning at either the 7:00 or the 9:00am Masses, but you could almost shoot a canon through the church at the evening Mass (7pm) and not hit a soul! There are about 25 people who are there faithfully, week after week. I think, no, I am certain that these folks return week after week because they have found and they treasure the perpetual help that Mary, the Mother of Jesus extends to them. We venerate Mary because she, as our Mother, intercedes for us with her Son. In doing so, she is always drawing us closer to her son Jesus and helping us to realize His tremendous love for each of us.
It is quite common for people to turn to Mary for help when they come up against some difficulty or crisis in their lives or the lives of their loved ones. And while Mary is always there for us, even when she has never heard from us for months, even years on end! However, it is easier for us to pour out our hearts and needs to her when we are already in the habit or practice of honoring her week after week. So, I invite you to join us as we gather to honor Mary each and every Tuesday. This only amounts to one hour out of the day, but the return on this small investment of your time is phenomenal! You will find in Mary, someone who understands the difficulties and pain you are dealing with. She will speak to Her Son on your behalf and His Love will touch and transform your lives in ways that you can’t even imagine! I pray that you will give Mary a chance. From the Cross, Jesus gave us His Mother to be our Mother also. Allow her the opportunity to be for you, a Perpetual Help!
OUR MOTHER OF PERPETUAL HELP, PRAY FOR US!
Fr. Bernie Carlin, C.Ss.R.