FEAST OF THE MOTHER OF PERPETUAL SUCCOUR
*The Feast of the Mother of Perpetual Succour is celebrated on the Sunday before the Feast of St. John the Baptist (June 24)
The Blessed Virgin Mary has earned the beautiful and glorious title of Perpetual Succour, not only by her valiant deeds, but also by her great sufferings. Truly Mary was that valiant woman who put forth her hands to strong things, even to be the helper, the consoler, the Perpetual Succour of the Man-God Himself. To her the divine Child ever turned for sympathy, succour, and a sweet refuge, and never did He do so in vain. Surely she who was able to help and succour and comfort the Omnipotent God Himself when He became weak for our sakes, will be able to comfort and succour His poor creatures.
Truly Mary, God’s great Mother, performed valiant deeds. She was the valiant woman who put forth her hands to strong things to help even Him Who made the world, to assist Him Who sustains all creation, to succour and console Him Who was the joy of Heaven and earth, and to save Him Who was the world’s Saviour-this was holy Mary’s work, these were her valiant deeds to which she put forth her hands, and therefore it was she received from the Lord the fruit of her glorious deeds, and became for man what she had been for God Himself, a helper, a consoler, a Mother of Perpetual Succour. The Sacred Picture itself speaks better than words. In that awful representation of suffering and sorrow the Mother’s breast is the Child’s perpetual succour, for there we see He clings, clasping her hand with His trembling fingers, and finding comfort and succour in her sheltering arms. She clasps Him to her bosom, kisses away the tears, hushes Him to sleep in her arms to drown if possible, by sweet lullabies, the horrid sounds and sights of His Passion that in vision haunt and scare Him. It was to her, and to her alone, He ever and always turned for succour and sweet refuge, and never did He turn in vain. Thus, we may well say, did God place in Mary’s keeping Him in Whom were all human infirmities, that Child of Sorrows, so that she might learn from experience how to compassionate and succour poor humanity in us. And when she had proved her fitness, her skill, her tenderness in succouring and comforting the suffering Head, she was left to the suffering members of His mystical Body, to be to us what she had ever been to Him, a most sweet Comforter, a Mother of Perpetual Succour.
Consider what conditions are required in us that Mary may be our Mother of Perpetual Succour. We must be her children that she may be our Mother. An enemy or a stranger will not dare to claim, or hope to expect what is bestowed only on faithful, loving children -a mother’s affection, tender care and succour. As Mary’s true and faithful children we should love her very much, and above all we should sympathise with her, remembering the bitter sorrows she had to undergo in order to become our Perpetual Succour. The very rocks of Calvary were rent asunder, and melted to pity for Mother and Son. But it was our sins inflicted all those wounds and sorrows. For the sins of my people have I struck him-(Is. liii. 8). “Each one of our sins,” says St. Alphonsus, “afflicted the soul of Jesus Christ more than Crucifixion and Death afflicted His body.” What, then, asks the Saint, must have been the sufferings of Jesus, as yet in His Mother’s arms, when He saw before Him the immense array of all the crimes of men for which He was to make satisfaction! As by our sins we had part in inflicting life-long sorrow on the Mother of the Saviour, we should offer her life-long sympathy and pity.
We should have a child’s confidence in our heavenly Mother, such indeed as her Child Jesus Himself had. As represented in the holy Picture, what childlike trust does Jesus repose in His holy Mother! In all His wants, and in the midst of the sorrows that were continually before Him, the Child Jesus ever turned to His Mother for comfort and succour. With the arms of His Mother guarding Him, and resting on her bosom, the weak and helpless Child becomes strong and valiant, and turning resolutely gazes on the awful vision of the instruments of His Crucifixion and Death, exclaiming with the Prophet: I am prepared for scourges.
All Mary’s children should have the same unfailing, childlike trust in her power. However weak we may be of ourselves, we shall be made strong and resolute against the attacks of hell; patient, generous, and victorious in the midst of temptations and sufferings, provided only we fail not in our confidence in our Mother of Perpetual Succour. “She well understands our miseries and dangers,” says St. Alphonsus, “and this most clement and sweet Lady, compassionates and succours us with a Mother’s love.”
Let us, then, have perpetual recourse to Mary to make sure of her Perpetual Succour. Constant recourse to Mary is a pledge of eternal salvation, but yet, alas! too often in past times have we fallen because we had not recourse to her. Sinners though we are, let us turn to Mary in spite of our unworthiness. “O sinner,” says St. Alphonsus, “whoever you are, do not despair, but have recourse to this Lady with the assurance of being succoured,” for, he says, “she is all eyes to pity and succour us in our necessities.”
Behold, then, I have recourse to thee, most holy Mary. I have lost my Father, but thou art my Mother who must enable me to find Him. In this my so great misfortune I call thee to my aid: do thou succour me. And this is the grace I now ask of thee, and I conjure thee as far as I know how and can to obtain it for me-namely, in the assaults of hell always to have recourse to thee and to say to thee: O Mary, help me! Mother of Perpetual Succour, suffer me not to lose my God! Amen.