Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
Holy Hour of Veneration in the presence of the Traveling Image of Our Lady of Czestochowa
Human Life International’s Ocean to Ocean Pilgrimage
December 4, 2013
To listen to an audio recording of this fervorino, please click here:
The written text that guided the fervorino is as follows:
It is a great joy and honor to receive the image of miraculous traveling icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa to our parish and I thank all of you for coming.
I had the great joy back during the Summer of 2001 to spend a month in Poland and a great deal of time praying before this image. The following April I was asked to accompany a pilgrimage from St. Stanislaus here in the city and twice had the privilege to celebrate Mass before this icon in the precious vestments worn by Blessed John Paul II, who had an incredible devotion to Our Lady under this holy image.
One of the most moving events of his papacy was when he returned to Poland in 1979 and on June 4, preached before this image, and consecrated the entire Church to Mary’s maternal image. He said that this image “speaks,” it communicates the message of Mary’s maternal love and “solicitude for every soul; for every family; for every human being.” It was there, before this beautiful image, that he consecrated the whole world to Mary’s Motherhood, including all the problems, like the still very big problem of communism at the time. He asked her to teach us, as Spouse of the Holy Spirit and Seat of Wisdom, to be docile to the work of the Holy Spirit in us. He asked her, as Mother of Unity, to teach us how to bring back into one family all the separated children of God. He asked her, as Mother of Good Counsel, to show us how to serve individuals and nations and lead them on the way of salvation, justice and peace. He begged her as Mother of the church to pray for the Church to become mature with a new maturity of faith and inner unity. He asked her to sanctify families, to pray for laborers for the Lord’s vineyard, to watch over the souls and hearts of young people, to overcome the great moral threats against life and love. He entrusted the whole Church and all her problems to her “maternal heart” with great confidence.
We follow his example tonight in this holy hour of veneration. We bring here before this loving mother all our joys but also all our problems, all our hopes and our fears and anxieties. We consecrate ourselves anew to her.
We do so at the beginning of this liturgical year during this first week of Advent. Mary shows us what Advent is all about, for she was God the Father’s Advent. She was the one prepared by God the Father to be ready to receive his Son in the fullness of time. She was preserved free from all stain of sin so that she could say a full “fiat” — yes! — to God with all her mind, heart, soul and strength when the Archangel Gabriel appeared and so that as Jesus remained growing within her for nine months, no sin would touch him in his humanity. She is the one who shows us how to desire God. She shows us the necessity of cleaning ourselves of anything unworthy of him. She shows us how to go out to meet him as he comes to us each Advent.
The Gospel of the Visitation we heard shows how Mary never seeks to keep Jesus to herself but to share him. As soon as she became the Mother of God at the Annunciation, she went with haste to care for her elderly cousin Elizabeth, pregnant for the first time with John the Baptist, as the Archangel had revealed to her. She brought Jesus on his first missionary journey on earth before he had developed even the tiniest of feet. And we see how he made John the Baptist leap for joy in the womb.
Mary seeks to bring us the same gift of her Son tonight.
One of the aspects of this icon that I have always loved the most is Mary’s right hand. Eastern Christians call her the Hodegetria, the “One who shows the way.” We see her directing attention away from herself, pointing with her right hand to Jesus. And she directs us toward her Son so that we may receive his benediction, shown in Jesus’ right hand in blessing and his left on the Book of the Gospels.
As we continue with our Holy Hour, entering into the school of this great Mother and pondering the blessed fruit of her womb in the Holy Rosary, we prepare ourselves to receive his benediction not just through his holy hour, but in the Eucharistic benediction at the end of our time tonight.