Our chapel was filled to overflowing for Mass in Honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help on her feast. Father Dennis Billy, CSsR once again began his homily with a personal note. This time he spoke of his young nephew Andrew. As typical a pre-schooler as any, Andrew is always active, always asking questions, always needing an adult eye lovingly monitoring his adventures. Father Dennis reported that his sister, Andrew's mom, tells him that mothering is the toughest job in the world.
Our Mother of Perpetual Help shows us the human face of Christ. The icon has been interpreted to be a depiction of the young Jesus fleeing from a nightmare of the Cross directly into the protection of his mother's arms. She comforts her son and comforts us too when we have nightmares of our own.
Father Dennis spoke of the Gospel, the vignette of Jesus entrusting his mother to John and John to his mother in his last agony. Then he says, "I thirst." Only to be followed by, "It is finished." Part of the work of redemption was Jesus gift of Mary to us in the words, "Here is your mother" and then "It is finished."
St. Alphonsus de Liguori wrote and published over one hundred theological and spiritual works. Perhaps his most famous book is The Glories of Mary. Alphonsus wrote about the desire of Mary to have us seek her and invoke her aid in order that she can be of help to us. And her love for us is so great that she does not wait for us but anticipates our prayers, always looking out for our welfare. We must bring her all our needs even though she already knows what they are. We must bring her our nightmares - the needs of our body, mind, spirit, family, community, country, society and world. And all of our prayers to Mary are uttered within the context of the Eucharist, the source and summit of our spiritual lives as followers of Christ. In that Eucharist we receive Jesus's gift of Himself, we receive the Son of Mary, who is our Redeemer, the One to whom Mary is our constant guide.