Vigil of the Feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help
In the last few days Father Dennis Billy, CSsR, celebrant and homilist for our Masses of the Triduum of this great feast, had the rather shocking experience of going to the doctor for a regular check-up and ending up in the hospital. It was all about his heart. This is all the more shocking because Father Dennis is a young-looking fifty or so years, spare of frame and totally committed to his daily run up hill and dale here in Esopus or through the busy streets of Rome where he is a professor. As he began his homily last evening he listed the technology available to measure the function of the heart: EKG, blood pressure gauge, electrocardiogram, echo cardiogram, stress test, and angiogram. But he insisted there is another science of the heart, what St. Alphonsus called the 'silence of the saints'. It is the saints who teach us about the inner workings of the heart.
Mary is a master teacher. As we learned from the Gospel story of the Annunciation Mary listened. Her heart was open to the word of the angel and the Word of God who would come to rest beneath her heart. Mary teaches us in two very important ways. She reminds us of the human face of God we behold in Jesus. And she reveals our destiny, what we are called to become, a disciple of Jesus. Father asked us to ponder, as Mary would, a few questions in our heart. Can we see the human face of Go? Do we hope to be fully alive and redeemed? How does God speak to you? What is God saying right now?
This evening Father spoke again of his hospitalization for tests and of getting temporarily 'lost'. Callers and visitors could not find him because he was not in the ER nor was he in a room so the computer 'thought' he wasn't in the hospital at all. He felt as if he had become invisible and asked us if we'd ever felt like we had just fallen off everyone's radar screen. Finally his sister found him and when she pulled open the curtain surrounding him he experience much joy in the sight of a familiar face.
He had just read to us the Gospel story of Mary's visitation, her reaching out to her cousin in need. By virtue of the presence of the Incarnate Word in her womb she became a disciple of Jesus. In this act of generosity she demonstrates what discipleship means. She had great concerns about her welfare and the welfare of her child but she extended herself. So this story tells us what it means to be a disciple. We must allow the Word of God to take shape in our hearts where we ponder its mystery. We must be present to others with our eyes, ears and hands reaching out in service, friendship and kinship to fulfill the needs of others.
We may feel forgotten or lost but Our Mother of Perpetual Help reminds us that we will never be forgotten. She reminds us that God desires us and wants us to bear fruit and nurture the Word in our hearts.
Jesus comes to us every day in the Eucharist. Mary visits us too whenever Jesus comes into the world and into our hearts. In this 'visitation' she helps us to be faithful disciples.
We are grateful to Father Dennis Billy, CSsR
for sharing his story, these insights
and his love of Our Blessed Mother
with us during this Triduum.