It’s perpetual, isn’t it? The temptation to fear, doubt, and despair over our children…or our home…or our work…or our marriage…or our finances or extended family. Also perpetual are the demands placed on us by all of it. The emotional and physical challenges of our vocation can be enough to scare us. And when these difficulties seem too frightening to face alone, to whom can we turn?
A Byzantine iconographer from the fifteenth century knew and created a treasure for the whole Church as a reminder of the tender love and assistance we have in Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
The image is of Toddler Jesus so spooked by a vision of Archangels Michael and Gabriel holding instruments of the Passion that He’s run and leapt into His mother’s arms, almost losing a sandal. The image never fails to send a pang to my mom heart as I think about Baby Jesus having to come to terms with His mission and His innocence in the face of suffering. If even I am moved to such sympathy, I think how very much more Our Heavenly Father must love us in our fallen state, spooked by the evils of the world—and because He is Merciful Love—even of our own making.
As I write this our driveway is being ripped up and widened, and there’s no way to convince my own toddler that the sound of the drills is not the sound of the end of the world. He’s climbed right up into my lap and has flung his little arms around my neck. I kiss his warm cheek and he calms down a little, though still very much annoyed by the noisy trucks in the front yard. I imagine each new tool will send him running back to me.
Our Lady does the same for us, only so much better, with so much more love, never growing irritable or impatient with our weakness. Our Lady perfectly receives us when we run to her, even if it’s every hour of every day. And there’s a very good chance that when we do run to her, we’ll also find Jesus there, completely understanding of our need to be scooped up.
Prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help
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 needs, in all my temptations I shall never cease to call on thee, ever repeating thy sacred name, Mary, Mary.
“Before God, who is eternal, you are much more a child than, before you, the tiniest toddler. And besides being a child, you are a child of God. — Don’t forget it.”–St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, Spiritual Childhood, 860.