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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help - Meaning of the Icon

O Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke Thy most powerful name, which is the safeguard of the living and the salvation of the dying  O Purest Mary, O Sweetest Mary, let Thy name henceforth be ever on my lips.  Delay not O Blessed Lady, to help me whenever I call on thee, for, in all my temptations, in all my needs, I shall never cease to call on Thee, ever repeating Thy sacred name, Mary, Mary.  O what consolation, what sweetness, what confidence what emotion fill my soul when I utter Thy sacred name, or even only think of Thee I thank God for having given Thee, for my good, so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name.  But I will not be content with merely uttering Thy name; let my love for Thee prompt me ever to hail Thee, Mother of Perpetual Help. 
The Icon
Our Lady of Perpetual Help

The icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help painted by an unknown artist depicts the moment when the Archangels reveal the instruments of the Passion to the Infant Jesus. The Greek letters which appear on the icon indicate the names of the four figures: Jesus Christ, Mother of God, Archangel Gabriel and Archangel Michael. The gold background of the icon symbolizes heaven. Our Blessed Mother appears to be looking directly at those who view this image as she presents Jesus to us with her right hand. She is portrayed as both Virgin and Mother with her tunic red, the color virgins wore in the time of Christ and her mantle blue, the color mothers wore in Palestine. The Archangel to the right is Gabriel, who holds a cross and nails. On the left Michael holds the urn filled with gall, the lance and the reed with the sponge.

Many have contemplated the meaning of the sandal of Jesus which hangs by a “thread” in this icon. Some attributed this to His alarm at the thought of His Passion and death, others attributed this image to a reminder to cling to Our Blessed Mother, who always leads to Jesus, and protects us as our spiritual mother, a roll given to her at the foot of the cross by her Son. (John 19:26-27) Besides these I saw this as an image of my own spiritual journey, which at times “hung by a thread” due to my pride, indifference, ignorance or stubbornness to place my trust in God. My unwillingness to even consider that the goals He set for my life could truly trump any goals I set for myself or that His ways far exceeded mine. Fortunately (for all of us), Jesus, in His Divine Mercy, never lets go of that thread, and in time, by the grace of God I grabbed that thread and pulled myself back into His loving arms.

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