Hello everyone! Today we celebrate the Feast of Mary Help of Christians. This is one of my top ten favorite days of the year. I have always had a strong devotion to Our Lady under the title of “Mary Help of Christians.” After all, I live in the “fallout zone of her grace,” which daily bombards Earth from where Heaven touches it – at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill. She has always been there for me, and as a Catholic Christian I have always found the help through her.
Our Lady has been invoked under the title of Mary Help of Christians by both the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church for centuries. This devotion has been traced back as far as 1030 A.D. At that time, Our Lady was beseeched as the Help of Christians to save Christian Europe and Africa from the invading Ottoman Turks. However, it was not until the year 1815 that, under the Pontificate of Pope Pius the VII, the Feast of Mary Help of Christians was instituted to be celebrated on May 24.
The Pope had been exiled and imprisoned by Napoleon Bonaparte for over three years. In his cell, Pope Pius VII prayed to Our Lady, under the title of Mary Help of Christians, for his release. He promised, should he be allowed to go back to Rome, that he would institute a Feast to Our Lady under that treasured title. After the Battle of Leipzig, in January of 1814, the imprisoned Pontiff was miraculously granted his freedom on March 17, 1814. It was the Vigil of the Feast of Our Lady of Mercy. He re-entered Rome triumphantly on May 24, 1814. On the 15 of September of the following year, Pope Pius VII declared that the Feast of Mary Help of Christians should forever more be celebrated on the anniversary of his triumphant re-entry into Rome – May 24th.
So here we are, 198 years later celebrating the Feast of Our Blessed Lady, Mary Help of Christians. She is our help, our truest and surest guide to Jesus Christ. She will help us get to Heaven, if only we invoke her.
As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, I have a strong devotion to Mary Help of Christians. As often as I have invoked her, she has come though – often bringing the result I had requested in a way I had not fathomed possible.
My devotion to Mary Help of Christians has been shaped form my youngest days by daily attendance at her National Shrine at the Basilica of Holy Hill. God has given me the immense privilege of living in the “spiritual fallout zone” of that holy place. I, in turn, try to spend as much time and serve as many Masses as possible Mary’s Holy Hill.
The Carmelite Friars who run the Shrine daily share their deeply beautiful and profound spirituality in all of the Masses they celebrate and retreats over which they preside. Today’s Holy Mass, offered in celebration on the Shrine’s Patroness’ name day – Mary Help of Christians was no different. Indeed, it was such an honor to serve it. O God! Thank you for this priceless treasure. O Mary Help of Christians, help me get to Heaven.
Some Pictures of the today’s Holy Mass offered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill: