Throughout two millennia, Mary has gone by many names. For sailors she was Star of the Sea; for contemplatives, a Mystical Rose; for students, Good Counsel; and for those in pain, Health of the Sick. No matter what you call Mary, she will always be Perpetual Help. Lately, we have needed her help more than ever before.
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Scripture informs us that Jesus’ first miracle was accomplished for desperate newlyweds at their dinner reception. Perhaps before water was blushed into wine, the first miracle was in fact that this couple chose to invite Mary and Jesus into the beginning of their life together.
Mary’s perpetual help offers constant hope. Contemporary spiritual author, Father Ron Rolheiser writes that Mary turns hope into reality. Mary’s hope is not just about optimism or good feelings about the future. Mary’s hope sees beyond world events and life situations into the presence and promise of God.
Mary’s hope comes from her trust in God. In one sense, the angel Gabriel’s message to Mary was incomplete. Mary did not know the full picture, the whole story. All Mary had were two angelic truths: She did not have to be afraid (Do not be afraid, Mary!), and God’s promise would be with her (the Holy Spirit will overshadow you!). Pledged with this comfort, she could and would endure many hardships. And so shall we….
Like Mary, we do not know all the details of our life or the end of our life story. But like Mary we are given gifts from God. God is with us; we do not have to be afraid. This is hope become real.
Whatever the title, whatever our situation, Mary will always be Our Mother of Perpetual Help, and an eternal source of hope.
Father Daniel Francis, C.Ss.R.