Ideas like morality, relationships, hope, and love are hard to understand and sometimes even harder to live out in a Christian way. What can we use to help us when choices are tough, answers vague, and the future uncertain?
The roots of Catholic social teaching offer some simple ideas that, although they may seem obvious, may also be challenging to live by. “The Church identifies two paths to moral truth available to us. They are closely connected. In fact, they are simply two ways God communicates with humanity about the kind of people we are made to be. These paths are reason and revelation” (Faith Meets World: The Gift and Challenge of Catholic Social Teaching, p. 15). Author Barry Hudock says these paths reflect what God has made us to be. If we are made to love with that agape love God grants, then certainly we have every chance to make the right choices—it is already in us.
The Icon: A Vast Ocean of Gold
When we behold the image of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in its entirety, we soon become aware of the vast amount of gold present in the icon. At first we might conclude that the purpose of the brilliant shade is to emphasize the folds of the garments, but it has a more important significance. The gold in the icon invites us to contemplate Christ and the Mother of God already living in full glory of the heavenly realm.
The gold light comes through all four beings with great beauty and force—and this final element is the most powerful. As we come before the icon in prayer, we are infused with its healing and transforming light. The lonely and discouraged members of the body of Christ receive strength and energy to continue on the journey of faith.
We are reminded of the words of Jesus found in the Gospel of John: “I am the light of the world. No follower of mine shall ever walk in darkness; no, he shall possess the light of life” (8:12).
Jesus, the Word of God present in this icon, gives light to the inner space of our soul. In this final meditation on the elements of the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, we experience the “miraculous.”—Br. Daniel Korn, CSsR
Simple Yet Profoundly Beautiful
One of the joys I experience as a parish priest is hearing the repetitive and lilting sound of the Hail Mary being said after the daily Masses at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston. And each morning and afternoon one can find a faithful group of parishioners reciting aloud the rosary. Their daily devotion is a powerful witness that subtly but surely affects my spiritual life and the spiritual life of everyone who lives, works, or visits the basilica.
The words of this prayer to Mary resonate in my heart like the echo of church bells that ring from our towers. For me, the rosary is a powerful example of the unique and lasting devotion to Mary that rests in the heart of the Church.
Blessed John Paul II called the rosary a prayer of great significance that promises to yield a “harvest of holiness.” I like that phrase. There have been times when praying the rosary with others that I have seen what a “harvest of holiness” looks like.
The rosary has actually deepened my prayer life. When praying it, I experience a deep sense of consolation and a real sense of Mary’s maternal presence. The rosary speaks so clearly of her abiding love for us. And this seems to happen most when we turn to her in times of particular need.—Fr. Philip Dabney, CSsR