Maternal and Miraculous
In the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help we encounter a particular understanding of Mary in the mystery of Christ and the Church. The iconography we read and pray opens the door to an avenue of miraculous experiences.
In recognition of the 150th anniversary of the restoration of the icon, June 27, 2016, Redemptorists throughout the world celebrated by blessing select icons as missionary icons. These special icons began a journey among Redemptorist centers. Their visits gave witness to a number of favors and miracles throughout the country in the places in which they were venerated.
In Seattle, on the day before his surgery for treatment of stage-four colon cancer, a man who belongs to a Catholic parish attended a Marian service of veneration and received the sacrament of the anointing of the sick. According to the man’s testimony, the following day surgeons found that the tumor had disappeared. The post-operative pathology report declared he is free of cancer.
Indeed, St. John Paul II speaks of Mary’s ongoing involvement in the world in his 1987 papal encyclical Redemptoris Mater (On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the Pilgrim Church):
“The Church sees Mary maternally present and sharing in the many complicated problems which today beset the lives of individuals, families, and nations….I hope with all my heart that the reflections contained [here] will also serve to renew this vision in the hearts of all believers” (RM 52).
The act of prayer through gazing before the icon allows Mary to lead us into a contemplative experience of the miraculous. Her desire as Mother of the Church is for the mystery of Christ to increase within us. It is her role to form us into Christ for the world. This is the true result of our devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help through veneration and devotion. This was witnessed by the gentleman from Seattle. Captivated by Mary’s look as presented in the icon, he was attentive in prayer and presence and received healing.
Our introduction to the icon might have been through anxious worries and problems, but over the years, a love for Mary and her intercession has evolved into an intimate relationship of deep spirituality. Mary, Our Mother of Perpetual Help, has indeed become an anchor of faith and confidence in the loving providence of God.
Br. Daniel Korn, CSsR
“The Church sees Mary maternally present and sharing in the many complicated problems which today beset the lives of individuals, families, and nations.”
—St. John Paul II Redemptoris Mater, 1987