On May 24th (the Feast of Mary Help of Christians), The Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill celebrated it’s 150th “birthday.” This past weekend gave me time to reflect on Our Lady and her title as “Help of Christians.” Today I am going to share some of my thoughts on Our Lady and why we, as Christians, honor her as our “Help.”
Have you ever traveled down a difficult path or struggled through a challenge of some sort? Have you found that after overcoming the adversity you are better able to offer assistance and advice to your companions who are undergoing the same trials? Thus, your very example becomes their benchmark and a beacon.
It is just such an exemplary woman whom we celebrated this past weekend, Mary Help of Christians. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes her as the “example of holiness” and the Church’s “model (CCC 2030).” Mary is the “First and Best Disciple.” She is the “exemplary Christian.”
All Christians are members of the Mystical Body of Christ. We are all striving towards our Heavenly Goal. Mary has traveled the “narrow road” and after overcoming all adversity, she now reigns as Queen of Heaven and Earth. According to the Catechism:
“We believe that the Holy Mother of God, the new Eve, Mother of the Church, continues in heaven to exercise her maternal role on behalf of the members of Christ” (Paul VI, CPG § 15, CCC 975).”
She is our help and our surest guide to Christ. We look to her as the “exemplary Christian” for help as we journey along the “narrow and difficult path.” She was faced with the same trials and temptations that now face us. As she was searching for her lost Child in Jerusalem and as she stood beneath His Cross surely temptations for despair and doubt must have assailed her. Yet, she overcame them all, never once sinning nor staining her Immaculate Heart. If we turn to her, she will help us to similarly avoid sin and conquer temptation. It is for this reason that we rightfully honor her as Mary Help of Christians!
When we suffer pain, sickness, persecutions and all sorts of similar trials, Mary understands our needs. She experienced similar situations and is more than willing to Help us if we come to her.
There are many beautiful “places of grace,” where prayers are answered daily. Indeed each Catholic Church, with Our Lord’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity truly present in the Tabernacle, is like a mini “Heaven.” One such “place of grace” is the Basilica of Hoy Hill, named in honor of Mary Help of Christians. As I mentioned at the beginning, Holy Hill – my “second home” – celebrated it’s 150th birthday on Friday. Wow! 150 years of healings – both bodily and spiritual – and answered prayers. The wall of crutches, left by those pilgrims who have felt Our Lord’s healing power, through the intercession of Mary, in a very tangible way stands in powerful testament.
Still, as wonderful of a sign as this wall is, the far greater sign and the real miracle of Holy Hill is the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist brought to us by the Holy Mass. Everyday, Our Lord’s own Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity comes to us in Holy Communion. That is indeed a miracle. We, Christians living in the fullness of truth found in the Catholic Church, are given the opportunity to receive into our very finite bodies our infinite Creator and God! We then carry Him in ourselves to the whole world, just like Mary. In that way we can become a “help” to other Christians!
Perhaps you may wish to join me in a prayer of thanksgiving to Our Dear Lord, for the 150 years of blessings that have flowed from the Shrine dedicated to His Mother under the title Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians. Likewise, let us together turn to Our Lady, and implore her maternal assistance as we ourselves strive to truly help our brothers and sisters in Christ.