On the Feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help
|little me -- kindygarten|
owned picture of the Blessed Mother, I remember taking it from where I kept it propped on the windowsill near our bunks at bed time. I was maybe five years old, kindergarten age -- and personal property had special meaning to a child who already had four siblings and very little that was 'specially her very own. Climbing with it up onto the top bunk (my sister, Linda on the bottom bunk snoring away), I'd trace my fingers around the white plastic, lace-looking frame. I loved how Jesus' little hands were wrapped around his mother's, but I wondered what He'd done to kick loose his sandal, and wondered that His Mother hadn't noticed it yet and fastened it back on. I guessed she was distracted by looking at me. There was gold foil on my little picture and I would tilt it back and forth to see the shine of of the gold foil background. I wished Mary and Jesus would smile; they both seemed so serious. I don't think I noticed that Jesus seemed to be looking over at the cross, or I may have figured that out. But I was very little and had more experience with homely things than heavenly things. I did wonder about the letters that weren't really letters. Being in kindergarten, that was a primary focus of my existence at the time: noticing, forming, and sounding out letters. The ones on this picture made no sense, though and when I asked, my Mom just shrugged and said she didn't know either. My mother had only been Catholic a few years at the time, so I understand now how it is she didn't know.
I expect many people, cradle Catholics and converts, pass right by this image without realizing how meaningful it is. I didn't know for years and years. It wasn't until I had children of my own, that I learned how the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is practically an encyclopedia of faith; every nuance has purpose. Every color, every tilt of a head, every letter has meaning. How cool is that? My own special little Blessed Mother, without saying a word teaches the whole world.
Check out the share below, and in the following links to learn all about it.
Shared from the official website of the shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, here is the meaning of the iconography:
2. The Child Jesus
3. The Archangels with the instruments of the Passion
4. Greek Abbreviations MP OY = Mater Theou: Mother of God
OAPM = O Arkanguelos Mikael: The Archangel Michael
OAPG = O Arkanguelos Gabriel: The Archangel Gabriel
ICXC = Iesus Xristos: Jesus Christ
The Eyes of the Mother of Perpetual Help:
The eyes of the Mother look towards us with compassion and love.
- In ancient christian iconography it means the ray of light, the hand of the Father who blesses from on high or the dove that descends bathed in light.
Signify the coming incarnation of Christ as announced by a prophet. It also appears in the nativity.
In pagan iconography it is a symbol of Divine presence.
Mary is the star that guides the faithful as once guided the Magi.
- The gilded background and the circular halos invite us to contemplate the great mystery of redemption - the incarnation, the “elevation” of Christ on the cross and his “ascent” into heaven on the day of the Resurrection. This is is why the archangels appear to repeat the following words: “ We bow before the Cross and glorify your Resurrection”.
- The eyes of the child look resolutely and calmly towards the instrument of salvation, the cross
- The sandals falls from the child’s foot, signifies the child’s knowledge -- and fright and is also a symbol of redemption (cf Ruth 4:7)
- The Great Hands of the Mother of God: Mary’s hands have a highly symbolic significance.
Her right hand is the Hodegetria hand, the hand of she who shows the path to Christ, who is the Way the Truth and the Life. She appears to say to us, “Do whatever he tells you.” (Jn 2:5)
The Instruments of the Glorious Passion of Christ
The instruments of the passion do not appear as signs of Christ’s execution but as a memorial to his glorious Passion.
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* For an even more in-depth explanation and discussion of everything from the meaning behind the colors chosen for this image, to the specifics of the looks on their faces, another great site is Mary's Touch.
* Source of the above abbreviated, illustrated explanation: The National Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help A history of the image can also be found at this site!
Prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help
O Mother of Perpetual Help
Imploring aid we come to Thee
Look down on us from far and near
Thy Mother's care will calm all fear
Perpetual Help, we beg of thee
Our souls from sin and sorrow free
Thou fairest flower of heavenly grace
O turn to earth Thy sinless face.
Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Oh Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke your powerful name, the protection of the living and the salvation of the dying. Purest Mary, let your name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, Blessed Lady, to rescue me whenever I call on you. In my temptations, in my needs, I will never cease to call on you, ever repeating your sacred name, Mary, Mary. What a consolation, what sweetness, what confidence fills my soul when I utter your sacred name or even only think of you! I thank the Lord for having given you so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name. But I will not be content with merely uttering your name. Let my love for you prompt me ever to hail you Mother of Perpetual Help. Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for me and grant me the favor I confidently ask of you.
(Then say three Hail Marys).
(Then say three Hail Marys).
* Our Prayers today on this feast of Our Lady for all our friends and family who have asked for our help storming heaven; for pregnancies, for sick children and other family members, for jobs and financial situations, for the success of our schools, for the conversion of loved one, and most especially for a world that seems to have gone mad. In reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, particularly in reparation for the sin of sodomy -- and for God's mercy on our troubled country and our declining civilization: Mother of Perpetual Help, we turn to you with confidence!