In preparation for the feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help on June 27, we will be praying the Novena for nine days. To download a copy of the newest 2016 Jubilee version of novena in English, click this link: http://www.baclaranchurch.org/assets/revised-novena-english.pdf. To download a copy of the newest 2016 Jubilee version of the novena in Tagalog, click this link: http://www.baclaranchurch.org/assets/revised-novena-tagalog.pdf. For a guide on how to pray the novena at the shrine, click this link: https://baclaranphenomenon.wordpress.com/2018/04/27/how-to-pray-the-novena-at-the-shrine/. For a guide on how to pray the novena at home, click this link: .https://baclaranphenomenon.wordpress.com/2018/04/28/how-to-pray-the-novena-at-home/.
The purpose of the novena, however, is not just to bring our needs and aspirations to God through the prayers of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. More importantly, in praying the novena we allow Mary to bring us to Jesus in order to follow him—the true path to God. This is the main message of the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
It would be a great means, therefore, that we do not just pray the novena, but also contemplate on the icon–the meaning of the whole Icon and its parts. Unlike the novena, contemplation is done more in silence gazing at the icon. Contemplation comes from the Latin word contemplari which means “to gaze, observe, behold.” To contemplate the icon is to be aware and to behold Mary and God’s love and presence. Contemplation is entering into God’s presence where Mary and the saints are now residing. It is placing our lives into the life of God. It is finding our story in God’s story. Contemplation evokes a response of waiting, loving, trusting, and obeying. Ultimately contemplation leads us to live our daily lives and experiences in the example of Mary following the path of Jesus towards true happiness and peace. For more information on how to contemplate and pray with an icon, click this link: https://aleteia.org/2018/09/12/how-to-pray-with-icons-a-brief-guide/.
The contemplation of the icon can be done either before or after praying the novena. It would be most appropriate to have an Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help or a copy of the icon in front of you. You can adorn it with candles and some flowers.
For the first day of the Novena we will contemplate on the eyes of Mary in the icon.
- First Day: Eyes of Mary
When we gaze at the icon, the first thing we see is Mary because she occupies the largest part of the icon. The biggest thing that gets our attention is Mary looking at us; not to Jesus, not to heaven nor to the angels above her head. She is looking intently at all of us; she seems to have a very important message for us. Her eyes are solemn and sad which draws our attention
If we would look at the icon from any angle, the eyes of Mary look on us, inviting us to enter into the mystery of the icon. The eyes of Mary are the doorway between our lives here on earth and the life of glory in heaven. The eyes of Mary in the icon are the bridge linking our life on earth and the eternal life with God. Through the eyes of Mary, we are called to be part of the icon, to participate in the icon by imitating her selflessness. The message of Mary in the icon is that we are not the center; we are mere parts of the mission of God.
Mary’s gaze upon us, however, is sorrowful because Mary sees our misery here on earth. Mary feels the pain and suffering that we undergo daily. Her gaze, therefore, is also a gaze of mercy and compassion.
Let us contemplate and gaze at the eyes of Mary in silence …
At the end of our contemplation, let us pray,
O Mother of Perpetual Help, lead us to Jesus your son, the way, the truth and the life. May we follow your example as a disciple of Jesus by being totally open and cooperative to God’s plan and word in our lives.
Here is the schedule of the Novena and Feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help at the Shrine: