A Source of Healing
Faith engages the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help and can lead us to feel healing from God. To assist our gazing prayers, I encourage using the Bible as an aid. Several passages show the importance of keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ. Remember, when we look upon our Lord, we become God’s living gospel.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus says to Nicodemus: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14–15). In the same Gospel it is written: “They shall look on him whom they have pierced” (John 19:37). And in St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews, he writes: “Let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1–2).
The people of Israel were healed from the bite of the seraph serpents by looking upon the serpent Moses put on a staff in the center of the camp. How much more are we called to experience healing if we fix our gaze upon Jesus, as St. Paul instructs us?
When we pray through gazing at the icon, the veneration and love we bestow upon the icon embraces us. Within this embrace, we have the opportunity to experience God’s healing grace.
The many letters received at shrines of Mary around the world confirm this state of healing to be true. Recently a witness was offered by a man who was found sitting by the icon with his hand placed on the image of Jesus. When asked why he was sitting in this position, he replied: “Like the woman in the Gospel, I want to touch Jesus and ask for healing” (see Matthew 9:20–22, Mark 5:25–34, and Luke 8:43–48).
We will never know all of the amazing graces that are bestowed upon those who partake in this practice of becoming intimate with the icon. By constantly looking into the image of Jesus as presented in the icon, we invite Jesus to pass into us. We center our gaze on the shape of his body, which is inserted in the center—the heart—of Mary. His hands embrace her hands, reminding us of his great love for us that was evident in his descent from glory into our humanity.