Ten days ago, we had a beautiful special Novena service to dedicate our new shrine to Our Mother of Perpetual Help. This ceremony gave us a very fitting occasion to mark the end of the Year of Mercy, and also to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Icon being given to the Redemptorists. I want, once again, to thank all of you for your generosity in raising the funds to build our beautiful new shrine.
I believe that all those who were available to attend the special Novena service and the dedication of the shrine were very touched by the wonderful spiritual atmosphere that was felt by all who were present.
In my homily, I made reference to the fact that one of the major aspects of the atmosphere of prayer which we find at Holy Redeemer Church is due to the long spiritual tradition of a deep love and devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help. The Icon has been, for many generations of our parishioners, a place where people have knelt in prayer, to bring all their joys and thanksgivings, and their struggles and sorrows, to Our Beloved Mother.
The new shrine will, I pray, evoke a new sense of our need for prayer, and a fresh understanding that in Our Blessed Mother we have a model of faith and perseverance and trust. As a Redemptorist community, it is our hope and prayer that many more people will be inspired to discover in Mary a true inspiration and a help in all our needs. I would, in particular, once more like to encourage families to make an effort to attend our weekly Novena service, along with their children and young people. The tradition of devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Mother has sustained so many of our families ever since the foundation of Holy Redeemer. May it continue to be a source of blessing for all our families and our whole parish in the generations ahead.
As we continue our holy Season of Advent, we can also find ourselves inspired by the loving witness of Mary. We are all aware that Advent is a spiritual time of waiting in prayer, waiting in joyful hope for the coming of Our Saviour Jesus Christ. And any mother will know the joyful hope and expectation, as well as the natural anxiety, as she prepares for the birth of her child. Mary, in all her humanity, must have felt the very same anxiety as any expectant mother as the time of birth draws near. But she inspires all of us because of the great trust that she had in God, “The One who has done great things for me”.
No matter our present circumstances, our joys and anxieties, each of us is asked, during this season of Advent, to place all our trust in God, who has also done great things for us. The greatest gift that the world has known is the birth of the infant Jesus, who came into our world in order to share our humanity and to offer us the eternal love of God.
During these weeks of Advent, let us turn to Our Holy Mother each day: to be inspired by her hope and trust, and to ask her intercession, that as we wait for the Lord Jesus to be born anew in our hearts, we too may place all our hope and trust in God who offers us the gift of Jesus, and the gift of eternal joy and love. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now, and at the hour of our death.
Fr Gerard, CSsR