Litany to Our Mother

Contemplating the Archangel Gabriel

Mother of Perpetual Help, the Archangel Gabriel of the Annunciation, appears in your icon carrying a cross and nails. He reminds us of Nazareth; it was he who descended to one of the fifty humble homes of the village. There he met you and announced the Incarnation: that the Son of God, by act of the Holy Spirit, would make Himself our Brother by becoming in your womb one with us in our human nature.

In Nazareth you raised Jesus in an atmosphere of simplicity and work. You, Mother, used to take Jesus’ hands in yours to teach Him to pray; you taught Him the Psalms and the prayers of your people.

Dearest Mother, servant of the Lord and simple housewife, teach us to love our homes and fill them with joy and understanding. Help us to build a society that is both just and fraternal, where there is bread and work for all.

Our Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for us!

Contemplating the Archangel Michael

On your right, at the level of your shoulders, we see the Archangel Michael, leader of the celestial armies and zealous defender of the Lord’s glory. He reminds us that only God is Lord of the Universe and that His Kingdom is a kingdom of justice, love, and peace.

The Archangel holds a sponge and a lance in the folds of his green mantel. With the sponge, the lips of your dying Son were moistened as His mouth and throat burned with thirst. With the lance, His side was pierced and from it flowed water and blood. But your Son did not die a failure; on the third day His Heavenly Father raised Him up. From then on, the lance, the sponge, and the cross have become the symbols of Jesus’ victory over sin and death. What were signs of disgrace are now symbols of triumph.

O Mother of Perpetual Help, give us faith in the power of Your Son and in the purifying and restoring power of his sacred blood. He gave his life for everyone because his strength was anchored in love.

Our Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for us!

Contemplating the Letters of the Icon

On both sides of your haloed head, we see some large letters. They are the initials that mean “Mother of God.” And next to the head of your Divine Son, there are some initials that mean “Jesus Christ.”

Because you are the Mother of the Son of God made man, Jesus Christ, you are also our Perpetual Help, our certain, tireless intercessor; you are the powerful means to obtain what we ask you. You are the Mother of God. That is your unique, incomparable title.

There are many mothers with illustrious sons, even as there are innumerable women of great influence in the areas of power, the arts, and the sciences. But you are the one that we praise, we venerate and rejoice in, above all other creatures. As God continues to show us His mercy through you generation after generation, we call you “Blessed.”

Holy Mary, “blessed among all women,” pray for us.

Contemplating the Left Hand of Mary

Mary’s Left Hand

The instruments of the Passion (lance, sponge, nails, and cross) are in the hands of the Angels. In your left hand you hold the Child Jesus. In this icon, Nazareth and Calvary, the infancy and the redemptive death of Jesus, are united.

As you presented your Son in the Temple, Simeon told you that a sword would pierce your soul. And from that moment, Mary, not a day passed without your thinking of the meaning of those words. You cherished the baby talk of Jesus, His first faltering steps and, later on, His independence. But you always saw in Him the shadow of a sword hanging over His head, a sword that deeply saddened you.

Mother of Perpetual Help, you are holding Jesus against your heart. Sustain us in our weakness as we look to the future and perhaps see it darkened by sickness and pain. We trust in your protection, because your very title of Perpetual Help is an invitation to confidence and hope.

Our Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for us!

Contemplating “Hand in Hand”

With your left hand, you hold the Child Jesus. With your right, you take the hands of the Child, while your long, slender fingers point to His face. One day in Cana you said: “Do what He tells you.” You point to Jesus, all good and all powerful. Through your image you remind us that you are only the one that points out the road, the guide, the Virgin of the Way.

Our Heavenly Father said at the moment of the Transfiguration: “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.” Mary, you are the sign that allows us to identify the loving and comforting presence of Jesus. Where He is, you are, inseparable. You tell us, Mary, Mother and first disciple of Jesus, that to be a Christian consists of following your Son and that you will take us by the hand to Him.

Thank you Mother, for lighting our way to our Father’s House. Strengthen our faith and enliven our hope when we tire on life’s journey.

Our Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for us!

Contemplating the Child in Your Arms

Well do we see Him. He is no longer a baby but has already lived a few years.

We go back to think about Nazareth and its ordinary and peaceful home life. You dedicated yourself to your domestic chores: the kitchen and the oven, providing water and fire-wood, taking Jesus by the hand to the village well. What a nice place to meet friends, talk a while, and comment on the village news. Meanwhile, the children played and, among them, Jesus. With Joseph and Jesus you formed a simply family in a humble town of Israel.

Good Mother, enlighten us to recognize the presence of Our Heavenly Father even in the fatigue of our daily life. He never lets go of our hand, even when our daily life. He never lets go of our hand, even when our faith seems to falter or we are overcome by difficulties. Strengthen us so that, full of confidence, we can ask Him, as Jesus taught us, for our daily bread, and not to let us fall into temptation and despair.

Our Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for us!

Contemplating the Star

On your head, gracious Mother, we see a star. It reminds us of the star that guided the Wise Men of the Orient to Bethlehem to worship the Infant Jesus. You are like that Star of Bethlehem: you guide us to Jesus and point out where we can find Him – in His Word, in the Eucharist, in the silence of prayer, in our brothers and sisters, and especially in the poor and abandoned.

After the Resurrection of your Son, you accompanied the first disciples in vigilant prayer. Thus you were among the Apostles at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit began the preaching of the Good News to the whole world. You accompanied the new Church in its first missionary steps.

Holy Mary, Star of Evangelization, help us to fulfill our mission as followers of your Son. Bless the efforts of all who proclaim the Good News.

Our Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for us!

Contemplating the Colors of the Icon

Your icon, Holy Mother, is made up of contrasts. The Child’s sandal is falling while His hands are tightly clutching yours. The instruments of the Passion are carried, wrapped in a cloak, as if they were just collected after the Resurrection. The colors that the artist chose accentuate these contrasts: the blue, red, and green of the clothing and the gold background.

The tunic you are wearing is red and the cloak that covers it is blue. Did the artist want to remind us that you are a created person (red), but at the same time recalling that the Holy Spirit covered you with His Presence and grace (blue)? On the other hand, the Child wears a green tunic, while His cloak and sash are in shades of red. Is this a sign that He is the divine Life (green) that has taken on our humanity (red)?

The artist distinguishes five levels of depth in the icon. The first level: the hand that points to the Savior. Then the Child – Jesus Christ. The third level is your own presence. Further back are the angels with the instruments of the Passion. And as a general background, the golden light. Since this icon is about Our Savior, it shows Him in Nazareth, on Calvary, and in His glory.

Mary, teach me to live the contrasts of life with optimism, the birthing and dying that goes on each day. Help me to understand more of the mystery of our salvation that passes through cross and pain to reach triumph and Resurrection.

Our Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for us!

Contemplating the Eyes of Mary

We end this wonderful novena of discovering in your image the reason for your name. It is all present in your eyes. You are our Perpetual Help because of your eyes, those eyes that follow us from left to right, that see us from any point from which we seek you. They watch us as eyes filled with love and a desire to protect us. They follow us perpetually, whatever our situation be, our detours, our absences, and our returns.

You are our Perpetual Help because, as the icon shows us, your gesture of sustaining Jesus is eternal, since you now are forever at His side as our faithful intercessor. To be Perpetual Help is your mission, Mediatrix of God’s inexhaustible grace, despite the immensity of our faults.

Grant us the favor of responding to your Perpetual Help by always coming to you in persevering prayer.

Our Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for us!