An Ancient Tradition Renewed
In the last few decades there has been a renewed interest in devotions to Our Mother. A prominent aspect of this renewal has been the growing attraction to traditional forms of prayer and devotion associated with icons. The Redemptorists are at the forefront of this revival, instructing congregations worldwide in such devotions, including through what has been called the prayer of gazing.
This course draws its inspiration from the works of Brother Dan Korn, C.Ss.R. For the past 20 years Brother Korn has preached missions on the Icon throughout North America. In 2015, in an effort to make these teachings available to a wider audience, Brother Korn published Embracing the Icon of Love. The course is in particular an elaboration on Part Three of Brorther Korn’s book in which he discusses various prayers and exercises including the prayer of gazing.
We also owe a depth of gratitude to Fr. Gregory Mayers, C.Ss.R. who has worked tirelessly to restore the ancient Catholic tradition of contemplative prayer.
St. Alphonsus Liguori, the founder of the Redemptorists, was a master of practical, affective spirituality. He is widely credited with having revived the practice of prayer and the use of meditation by ordinary Catholics in the 18th Century. It is in the spirit of St. Alphonsus that we offer you here some of the fruits of our study of the Icon. We hope as well that you will find this course to be infused with our love and devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help. We pray that this course will be a springboard for your deepening devotion to Our Mother. May you always open your heart to her. Through her, all things are possible!
The course consists of five session of instruction on the prayer of gazing before the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. The first three sessions are primarily devoted to the actual practice necessary to quiet the mind and develop a receptive spirit for prayer. The last two days deal with the symbolism of the Icon and its significance as a vehicle for prayer and contemplation. Each day begins with an Introduction to the lesson at hand, followed by Assessment Questions that will orient you to the day’s materials. The heart of each lesson is the Reflection section which follows. It serves as an in-depth guide to the day’s primary topic. Finally, there is a Practice section that offers progressive instructions on the prayer of gazing.
We estimate that the first three sections of each lesson could take as little as 15 minutes. We encourage you to then dedicate 20 minutes daily to the quiet prayer of the Practice section.
This course is intended as a practical guide for developing a prayer practice of gazing on the Icon. It’s important to give this process time to develop and integrate into your overall prayer life. The process of finding and fostering a space and time of quiet in your day in itself will take strong intention and persistent effort. For this reason we encourage you to do the course in a slow and deliberate manner.
We suggest that you repeat each lesson of the course two or three times before moving on to the next day’s lesson. Alternatively you might prefer to go through the five lessons of the course and then repeat them two or three times over a period of three weeks.
The goal of this course if to create the foundation for a regular or daily routine of devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help through the prayer of gazing. We hope you will find these lessons to be a useful tool for that purpose.
Finally, if you do not already have one, we encourage you to obtain a medium-sized or large print of the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help that you can gaze on during this course. There are a number of online sites that sell prints of the Icon. You might also find through Google Images an image of the Icon that you can print off on a home printer.