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A Mary Moment Monday post


In my reading of Ora et Labora et Zombies (a novel that comes in the mail, as letters!) last week, I found myself struck by this explanation of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. It’s found in letter 65.

“Even Jesus, in his human side, was scared enough of the cross that he sweat blood, asked God if he could take it away. That’s what that picture over there is about, the one where Jesus’ shoe is broken.”

“The icon?” I said. “Our Lady of Perpetual Help?”

He nodded. “My mama explained it to me once. She said those angels came flying in, showing these things to Jesus when he was just a little boy, the cross and the nails, the spear that’s going to pierce his side, and little Jesus is so scared that he runs away so fast that his sandal breaks. But see, he runs to Mary, to his mama, and she comforts him. Mama said if I was ever scared and I couldn’t find her, pray to Mary instead and she would help me.”

I’ve been in the habit of calling Mary “Mama” for quite a while. The image of running to her (often at breakneck speed) is one that resonates with me. Maybe it’s that I have young children who pummel me. Maybe it’s a desire within me to have her as a model of motherhood. Maybe…something else.

Jesus was never really human to me until I got to know Mary. He was never more than a theory, a concept, a phrase. He symbolized something, and it was something I rejected for a long time because I didn’t understand it in my heart.

It took Mary for me to understand it, because as I’ve been drawn to Mary, I can’t help but be drawn to Jesus.

And then there’s the whole having children thing. Nothing has made Jesus more real to me than wiping my own babies’ little behinds, snuggling up against a small person, catching my husband’s eye across the room at a mispronunciation.

The idea that God became man is all well and good. But until you know him, until you meet him, until you encounter him…well, it’s just a day on the calendar, and not even that great a day if you’re at all cynical.

I think I’m going to move my icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help for Advent and put it beside my Advent wreath. I want to run to her too. I want to rest in her arms. I want to use this Advent to prepare for the Gift that awaits me on Christmas Day.

image from Wikipedia Commons

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  • Sarah, I just read the same letter this weekend and absolutely loved that description! The thought of running to Mary the way you would “run” to your mother as a little child never really occured to me before regarding this icon.

    That series of letters has turned out to be a really worthwhile investment for me. I’m a little sad that is will be coming to an end in the next few weeks.

  • CatholicKath

    what a wonderful post! (made me teary!) Our church has a devotion to the Our Lady of Perpetual Help on every Wednesday. What I love most about the devotion is the prayer at the end: May the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of Mary of Perpetual Help, Be with you to defend you, Within you to sustain you, Before you to lead you, Behind you to protect you, and above you to bless you, all the days of your life.In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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  • Dr. Patti M. Zordich

    I have a special devotion to OLPH. As a Catholic psychologist I use OLPH icon in marriage counseling a beautiful example of what a secure attachment relationship looks like. When scared and threatened, Jesus runs to his mother so fast that his sandal slips off. Our Lady comforts him just as much as he needs; she doesn’t cling and she doesn’t push him off to be independent. She let’s him mold into her and offers herself, her arms, her hands, her breast which he accepts and with which he finds great comfort.

    Our Lady provides such a beautiful example of responding with love to those who are suffering for mothers, parents, even spouses.

    Thank you for sharing this story.

    Patti M. Zordich


    • Patti, that is so awesome! Thank you for sharing that!

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