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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Monthly Archives: June 2012
Sunday

Jesus, pictured as a young boy, also wears the colors of a king. His gaze is directed neither toward the beholder nor toward the angels who seem to frighten him with a foreboding of his bloody and bitter Passion. His wide-open eyes are gazing fixedly into space. On his face are signs of attention and serious contemplation.

Excerpted from The Perpetual Help Story, Liguori Publications, 1976; and The Story of an Icon by Fabriciano Ferrero, Redemptorist Publications, 2001.

Mother of Perpetual Help, your very name inspires confidence. We come before your holy picture in praise and thanksgiving to God, seeking your intercession with Jesus, your Son, for all the needs of our lives today.

You answered when called to be mother of our Lord.

You wondered as your Son grew in wisdom, knowledge and grace.

You delighted as your Son healed the sick.

You enjoyed peace as your Son comforted the afflicted.

You rejoiced as your Son forgave sins.

You suffered at the wounds your Son endured for our salvation.

You exulted in your Son’s resurrection.

You are the first of all the disciples and saints. We trust in your motherly love and care. Obtain for us all the graces we need to fulfill God’s plan each day of our lives.

Amen.

Saturday

From the summer edition of Plentiful Redemption, the Redemptorists’ quarterly newsletter. Click here to read the newsletter online (PDF).

By Rev. Richard Bennett, C.Ss.R.

Like many people, I can be a nervous fidget. Think for a moment, how many times you’ve witnessed a friend or a teacher twirl their hair with their finger. Perhaps your boss or colleague plays with his or her pen. Some folks chew gum, some grind their teeth, still others bite their nails.
 
These quirky, nervous habits seem to be rather common. No matter what the behavior, it seems to happen without thinking. This fact hit home with me during a recent conversation with a friend. She was talking about some observations she’d made about some unique Redemptorist habits.
 
Have you ever noticed your reaction when someone points out something in your character or personality? Typically, our first reaction is, "No, that’s not true!" But once we honestly reflect a little … there may be more truth in our friend’s statement than we were first willing to admit!
 
My friend noticed, time and time again, that Redemptorists have a habit of playing with the rosary beads that are part of our religious habit. Of course, I thought she meant that she often saw us praying with our rosary beads.
 
True. She had indeed seen our men praying the rosary. But we also seem to have a habit of fiddling with those rosary beads, too.
 
We hold them in one hand while preaching a sermon during a parish mission. They run between our fingers while gathered in a circle, laughing and telling stories with fellow Redemptorist priests and brothers. We grab for those beads while speaking to a group of retreatants, or while addressing an assembly of high school students.
 
Countless times she’s watched us reaching for them while seated at a parish reception, or upon returning to our bench after Communion. She was starting to get on my nerves! On the other hand, it was about this time when I began to realize, “That’s exactly what I do!”
 
Since I was a little boy, the soft gentle assurances from my mother always made everything turn out alright. "It will work out. Don’t worry," my mother would say. For us Redemptorists, our common “rosary twitch” may serve as a subtle reminder from Our Blessed Mother that “everything is going to be OK."
 
Men who are looking at religious life today routinely ask me, "What makes the Redemptorists distinct from other orders?" I tell them that it’s very difficult to want to be a Redemptorist and not have a deep love for and devotion to Mary.
 
From the time St. Alphonsus entrusted the congregation to her protection until the original icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help was given to us in 1866 by Pope Pius IX, Redemptorists have always held Mary in highest esteem. It was a small image of that same icon, leaning up against my grandmother’s perfume bottle, that gave me the little push I needed to enter the Redemptorist seminary in 1987.
 
We Redemptorists bring Mary, Our Mother of Perpetual Help, with us wherever we go. Each of us has known the power of her prayers and presence in our own lives, and has seen the effect of her intercession in the lives of thousands of people: The man who returns to confession after 40 years. The woman struggling to know she is loved by an all-loving God. The grandmother who’s spent years praying that her grandchildren will return to the Church. The addict who’s finally gotten clean. The young mother worried about how she’ll feed her family if she loses her job. All of these souls, those to whom we Redemptorists are closest, have found strength and a friend in Mary. Thanks to her, they’ve come to know that “everything will be OK.”
 
Throughout my life, I have fiddled with those beads, time and time again, and felt that same assurance. Like Mary, we are called to be prophets of hope to those who feel most abandoned. Sometimes we proclaim that message with words. And sometimes we just reach for our beads.
 
Fr. Bennett is vocations director for the Baltimore Province.
Saturday

The archangel Gabriel, on the right, carries the cross. He also holds the four nails.

Excerpted from The Perpetual Help Story, Liguori Publications, 1976; and The Story of an Icon by Fabriciano Ferrero, Redemptorist Publications, 2001.

Mother of Perpetual Help, your very name inspires confidence. We come before your holy picture in praise and thanksgiving to God, seeking your intercession with Jesus, your Son, for all the needs of our lives today.

You answered when called to be mother of our Lord.

You wondered as your Son grew in wisdom, knowledge and grace.

You delighted as your Son healed the sick.

You enjoyed peace as your Son comforted the afflicted.

You rejoiced as your Son forgave sins.

You suffered at the wounds your Son endured for our salvation.

You exulted in your Son’s resurrection.

You are the first of all the disciples and saints. We trust in your motherly love and care. Obtain for us all the graces we need to fulfill God’s plan each day of our lives.

Amen.

Friday

From the summer edition of Plentiful Redemption, the Redemptorists’ quarterly newsletter. Click here to read the newsletter online (PDF).

By Stephanie K. Tracy

She’s peered down from mantelpieces, peeked over the edge of dressers, and popped up around hallway corners for generations. That mysterious lady shrouded in blue, bathed in gold, with those eyes that feel like they can see right through you.
 
The icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is one of the most recognizable images of Mary in the world, and the Redemptorists have been making her known under this title since 1866 when Pope Pius IX entrusted her to their care. The weekly perpetual novena services, still offered in most Redemptorist parishes today, have introduced generations to Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
 
 
Catherine Conry, a lifelong resident of Brooklyn, NY, has lived near the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help for 59 years, shortly after she married. Since moving into the neighborhood, she’s faithfully attended the weekly Perpetual Help novena. Her mother first handed on her devotion to Mary, and Catherine’s devotion only continued to grow once she started her own family.
 
“I grew up with it. I had seven children and the children would come with me; that was the only way I could get there! But it really taught them a great deal, and my faith keeps me coming,” Catherine said. “I have faith that she’s always come through and she always will.”
 
When Catherine first began attending the novena in Brooklyn, there were four or more services every Wednesday. Thousands flocked to the cavernous church to recite the prayers, sing the familiar hymns to Our Lady, and listen to a Redemptorist preach a powerful reflection on Mary.
 
As neighborhoods and churches have changed, the crowds may have dwindled, but the Redemptorists continue to reach thousands of people thanks to television, the Internet, and more recently through mobile phones.
 
Boston’s Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, better known as Mission Church, was also a hub of Perpetual Help devotion from the 1940s well into the 1980s. Thousands of people came on foot and on the trolley to pray and listen to some legendary Redemptorist preachers — Fathers Joe Manton and Joe Adamec, among others. Since 1984, the Mission Church novena has been broadcast on Boston’s CatholicTV. Since 2008, the novena homilies have been offered online via YouTube videos and since 2009 they’ve also appeared on the Redemptorists’ website, redemptorists.net.
 
The Wednesday novena at Mission Church has also seen a resurgence. Since the devotion was renewed in 2009, attendance at the main afternoon service has jumped 200 percent — from 75 people to more than 200. The evening service draws about 60 people now compared to 14.
 
“We’re discovering that people really want to experience the sacred,” said Father Philip Dabney, the Redemptorist who has overseen the Mission Church novena since 2009. “Our people are really hungering for God. Many knew the novena growing up. A good number are poor. We have a lot of Haitians and Africans — Perpetual Help is really big in their culture. They’re really in need and they come because they’ve experienced that need and Our Lady as the one who has helped them.”
 
In an effort to reach the hungering members of the younger generation, the Redemptorists released a novena app for the iPhone/iPad in February 2011. Available in English and Spanish, the first-of-its-kind app includes nine daily prayers adapted for a modern audience. In the first year, the app has been downloaded almost 900 times worldwide.
 
Joseph Schellings admits to never being “a big novena guy.” He began attending the novena at Mission Church when he started his second career teaching architecture.
The prayers, and especially the preaching, have kept him coming for the last 10 years. The icon’s story — of a Mother comforting her frightened Child — helped him relate to this unique image of Mary. Joseph said he compares it to the Gospel story of the wedding at Cana when Mary asked Jesus to provide more wine for the wedding feast.
 
“Having watched men relate to their mothers, that story has always seemed very real to me,” he said. “It taught me if you really want something from Jesus you’d better tell Mary, ‘Hey, would you get that for me?’”
 
Fran Ostrander was introduced to the image of Perpetual Help by her parents. She found the image’s Byzantine style hard to relate to, and never really liked it. That is until she learned the story surrounding her father’s sudden death.
 
“My dad worked in Manhattan and he’d go to (the Redemptorists’) Most Holy Redeemer Church on Third Street a lot. He was deaf and mute, and one evening he was robbed on the train home, and he died. All his possessions had been taken expect a little picture of Perpetual Help in his shirt pocket,” Fran said. “After I heard that story, knowing that he’d kept her with him like that, I had to start liking Our Lady of Perpetual Help!”
 
Like many people, Catherine brings many special intentions with her to the novena in Brooklyn. She prayed for her daughter-in-law when she was diagnosed with cancer. The disease was in remission for a few months, but since the cancer returned, she’s back on the prayer list.
 
“We don’t give up, and (my daughter-in-law) doesn’t either,” Catherine said.
 
Others, like Betty Galvin who’s attended the novena at Mission Church since she was in high school, keep coming because Perpetual Help is part of the fabric of their prayer lives.
 
“It probably keeps me on an even keel with dealing with some of the problems you have in your life,” she said.

Stephanie K. Tracy is the communications manager for the Redemptorists of the Baltimore Province.
Friday

 

The archangel Michael, on the left, bears the urn which contains the vinegar or gall mixed with myrrh that was offered to our Lord by the soldiers. In the urn are the lance and a reed topped by a sponge.

Excerpted from The Perpetual Help Story, Liguori Publications, 1976; and The Story of an Icon by Fabriciano Ferrero, Redemptorist Publications, 2001.

Mother of Perpetual Help, your very name inspires confidence. We come before your holy picture in praise and thanksgiving to God, seeking your intercession with Jesus, your Son, for all the needs of our lives today.

You answered when called to be mother of our Lord.

You wondered as your Son grew in wisdom, knowledge and grace.

You delighted as your Son healed the sick.

You enjoyed peace as your Son comforted the afflicted.

You rejoiced as your Son forgave sins.

You suffered at the wounds your Son endured for our salvation.

You exulted in your Son’s resurrection.

You are the first of all the disciples and saints. We trust in your motherly love and care. Obtain for us all the graces we need to fulfill God’s plan each day of our lives.

Amen.