Our Perpetual Companion
Louis de Montfort, the great Marian saint, wrote volumes about the importance of Mary in the mystery of salvation. His teachings and inspirational prayers positioned devotion to Mary as a way to increase our faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
He was often quoted as saying what later became a well-known motto: “To Jesus through Mary.” In my study as a young religious brother, we were instructed to write this phrase at the top of our papers to help us remember the importance of the saint’s words.
These four words present a concept—understood by spiritual writers for centuries—of how to live an intense Christ-centered life. By meditating on the life and virtues of Mary shared in the Gospels, we can open ourselves to learn from her example and allow her to teach and form us into the mystery of Jesus.
Building a close relationship with Mary in our spiritual life models what has become known in spiritual practice as “the spirituality of companionship.” A companion is an associate, one who goes with another. Such a relationship enhances our life. Companionship with Mary is a union formed by walking together closely through the many experiences of life.
For those of us who are devoted to the Mother of God, our relationship with the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Helps becomes an intimate walk with Mary. It is more than devotional and weekly novenas and prayers. In this icon we have the special grace of presence. I have come to understand this grace to mean a force or energy of the holy. When we truly focus our eyes in gazing upon the image of Mary in this icon, we allow this force to engage us. This leads to an experience of a presence or closeness. It is in this moment that we have companionship.
In companionship with Mary, we try to live the deep mysteries of the Christian life. When our devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help grows to take on this quality, we become true children of Mary, asking her to teach us how to live the gospel life.
In companionship with Mary, we recognize how—within the form of the icon—she leads us. She stands straight and secure as she presents to us the Word of God. Her maternal look invites us into the mystery of Christ. Her hand points to the “way”: he who is our Redemption. Our Mother shows us how to live like Jesus in our day-to-day life. We know that Mary is Our Mother of Perpetual Help. She also is our great companion.