FOURTH DAY

Act of Contrition and Preparatory Prayer from the First Day

MEDITATION

Our Lady of Perpetual Help defends Her devotees in temptations

Consider that one of the major difficulties in which man needs the perpetual help of Mary in a special way is in temptation, that perpetual and provoking struggle in which we are engaged against the enemies of our salvation. All of us, just and sinners, feel ourselves inclined to evil. St. Paul himself, after having been carried up to the third heaven, exclaimed saying, "Unhappy man that I am. I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind and captivating me in the law of sin. . .There was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me."

Perhaps, my friend, you could use the same language. You, too, feel this dismal law of sin seeking to dominate the spirit, those vehement impulses of passions hungering for pleasure. Satan and a deceiving world hold out chains to you, too, and at times your find yourself in great danger of succumbing to the very violence of temptation.

Oh then, what constraints, what straits are those to the soul who wants to be saved. She finds herself surrounded by so many and such powerful enemies. She feels her own weakness and frailty and, with all that, she has to defeat all her enemies together under pain of being lost, perhaps for an eternity! How critical a position!

Christian, what will you do in this struggle so terrible with the world, the flesh and the devil? Will you surrender your arms declaring yourself defeated? No! That would be great and criminal cowardice. Ah! Let that not be your conduct! Rather let us have recourse to Our Lady and Her Perpetual Help will attain victory for us.

It is related that the Emperor Constantine, having to face a decisive battle against Maxentius, an enemy of the Christians, lifted his eyes to Heaven and saw in the sky a brilliant cross with this inscription: "In this sign shalt thou conquer." And it was verified by the complete routing of Maxentius.

Christian soul, you who are continually at war with so many enemies, Heaven presents you with the same banner in the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Look at the veil covering the virginal forehead of the heavenly Queen. On it you will also see a cross promising you the most powerful help of the merciful Mother of God.

Mary is terrible against the powers of Hell, like an army in battle array. She is the Tower of David constructed with ramparts from which hang a thousand shields. Against this tower the sharp arrows of the enemy will break. She is the One Who crushed the head of the infernal serpent. And the powers of Hell flee simply on hearing Her most holy Name pronounced.

Christian, have you looked for some time with reflection upon the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help? Does not Her sight remind you of the prodigies worked in other times by the holy ark of the Lord? Truly, the Ark of the Covenant was covered with pure gold. It contained the manna that fell from Heaven. And two angels covered it with their white wings. By means of the ark of the Lord the people of God attained their victories, the walls of Jericho crumbled, the Philistines were defeated because the holy ark was with Israel.

Well then, do you not see the gold of divine charity glow in the same way in the loving Heart of that kindest of mothers? Do you not see Jesus, the sweet manna of our souls, in Her maternal arms? Do you not see the angels in the background of that picture with their wings extended? Is it not by means of Her most powerful help that so many Christians have attained victory over their enemies? How many souls adorned with the grace of the Lord would be sunk in sin if they had not invoked Our Lady of Perpetual Help at the moment of temptation!

Thus, O Christian soul, make a firm resolution never to enter into combat with the enemies of your salvation alone, but rather accompanied by Most Holy Mary. Her Perpetual Help will serve as your shield and thus you will attain innumerable other victories in as many battles as you must endure.

O Mother of Perpetual Help! For us Thou art the holy Ark of the Lord. With Thee we will win victories. Before Thee the enemies of our salvation will flee terrified. In every temptation we will invoke Thy Perpetual Help and Thou wilt help us perpetually.

Meditate and ask. . .Recite the Joys

EJACULATORY PRAYER

O Mother of Perpetual Help! Do not let us fall into temptation, but deliver us from all evil. Amen.

EXERCISE

Accustom yourself to not arguing with temptation and to crying immediately to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

PRAYER

O my Mother of Perpetual Help! I bless and thank my God for having inspired me with such confidence in Thee because I know this confidence is for me a pledge of salvation. Oh, how unfortunate for me! If in the past I have fallen into sin it is for not having had recourse to Thee. I hope I have been pardoned through the merits of Jesus and through Thy powerful intercession. But I can again lose the grace of God. The danger has not ceased. The enemy does not sleep. Oh, how many new temptations remain for me to overcome. O most sweet Sovereign! Protect me, receive me under Thy mantle, do not let me fall. Grant me Thy Perpetual Help and obtain for me the grace that, in all the assaults of Hell, I will not forget to invoke Thee, repeating without ceasing, "Mother of Perpetual Help, do not let me lose my God." Amen.

EXAMPLE

In Rome two brothers, sons of good parents, on a certain day had a dispute in which they became inflamed to such a degree that one of them took a stiletto (a type of short three-edged sword) to wound the other.

A sister of the unfortunate youths who witnessed the scene gave a cry of fear and exclaimed in a tone of unspeakable sorrow, "My Mother of Perpetual Help, have mercy on us!"

Scarcely had the young man heart this invocation and, in spite of the fury that carried him away, when he threw down the fratricidal weapon and with the meekness of a lamb embraced his brother, saying to him calmly, "Let us make peace! I beg you!"

The pious sister picked up the stiletto and took it to the altar of Our Lady as a trophy of the victory that powerful Queen had just won over one of the most terrible passions of the human heart.

May the Virgin of Perpetual Help be loved, praised, invoked and eternally blessed! May She be my hope, my love, my Mother, my refuge and my life. Amen.

 

FIFTH DAY

Act of Contrition and Preparatory Prayer from the First Day

MEDITATION

Our Lady of Perpetual Help protects Her devotees in all the necessities and afflictions of life

Let us consider that the world is a place of trial, a valley of tears and weeping. Who is unaware of it? "Man," says Job, "born of a woman, living for a short time, is filled with many works and miseries."

His works is that of Calvary. Such is the condition of every mortal. That is why the author of the "Imitation of Christ" says, "Man needs consolation."

And this consolation. . .where will our afflicted heart find it? Perhaps in our friends and neighbors? Ah, no! Usually they look with indifference upon our tribulations. Our tears do not move them. And if one of them is moved to compassion upon seeing our sorrow, often he does not know how to mitigate it in the least because he is impotent. Of whom can we ask help in poverty, consolation in affliction, counsel in doubts? Of Whom but of Her Who is the Perpetual Help of mortals.

Look, afflicted soul, see how the Divine Infant clasps the hand of His tender Mother. He has seen the Cross and the instruments of His Passion the angels present to Him and He has become terrified and His Heart has said, "My sorrow is always before My eyes."

But where does He seek consolation? In His good Mother Who extends Her hand to Him to support and comfort Him in His sufferings! Let us learn from this heavenly Infant to have recourse to the compassionate Mother of Perpetual Help in our afflictions and trials. Perpetual are our miseries. But, oh consolation! Perpetual also is Her help.

Poor soul! Do not be discouraged. Your Mother sees the many and varied calamities that grieve you. She sees what torments your body and afflicts your soul.

Are you poor? Neither the necessities of your family nor the afflictions of your heart nor the tears you shed for lack of means with which to procure food for them or to satisfy your creditors or to provide honestly for your children pass unnoticed by Her.

Are you ill? She sees the pain consuming you, the abhorrence afflicting you, the fear oppressing you, the days you pass without relief, the nights you count without rest.

Are you the target of anotherís envy or anger? Are you calumniated? Do you find reason for affliction within your own family? This compassionate Mother witnesses your bitterness, the injustices committed against you in tribunals, the harm your rivals cause you, the outrages and offenses you receive from your relatives. She counts your tears. This, with all the rest afflicting you, She sees without withdrawing Her penetrating and benign glance from you for one moment.

And She not only sees it, but it seems She feels it more vividly than you yourself. A mother is of mercy. And that is why, just as She sees our miseries with the eyes of a mother, She sympathizes with them. In such a way that, just as the foot of the Cross the wounds of the most sacred Body of Jesus were reflected in the loving Heart of Mary, thus all the injuries of our wounded heart are reproduced in that of our heavenly Mother.

Finally, this tender Mother not only sees our miseries and our heart open and is moved by our misfortunes, but also She has Her hands extended in a gesture of helping us with all haste. And She exercises this pious office with us continually. Is She doing anything but granting us help in our necessities? Ah! No matter how little we dedicate our thoughts to the many laborious evils to which we are subject in life we will come to see that in everything She defends us, relieves us, protects us.

At the wedding feast of Cana, scarcely was She aware of the lack of wine, of the shame of the bridegroom and of the disturbance of the guests when, moved to compassion, She presented that necessity to Her Son, begging Him sweetly to apply the opportune remedy. Thus, in the same way now that She is seated gloriously at the right hand of Her Son in Heaven, She continually discloses to Him all our necessities. She begs Him without ceasing either to alleviate our miseries or to provide powerful help to suffer them with humble resignation as this or that may redound to His greater glory and our spiritual good.

Well then, if such are the benign effects we experience every day from the loving help of Mary, what must be our gratitude toward a Mother so kind, what must be our affection for a Mother so tender, what must be our confidence in a Mother Who loves us so and concerns Herself so much with us? She has Her eyes always fixed on our miseries with Her Heart always disposed to be compassionate and with Her hands always open in an attitude of remedying them. Let us have continuous and devout recourse, then, to this most kind Mother, disclosing to Her with filial confidence all our needs. And let us be assured that through Her we will have our perpetual relief, encouragement and consolation. Amen.

Meditate and ask. . .Recite the Joys

EJACULATORY PRAYER

In all my difficulties and miseries come to my aid, O Mother most kind!

EXERCISE

When some labor is presented, say, O Mother of Perpetual Help! Take this chalice from me or grant me virtue and fortitude to bear it for the love of my God.

PRAYER

O Mother of Perpetual Help! In the same manner as a poor, ragged and wounded one presents himself to a great queen, I present myself to Thee, Who art the Queen of Heaven and earth. From the exalted throne where Thou art seated, I beg Thee, do not disdain to turn Thy merciful eyes toward this unhappy sinner. For that is why God has enriched Thee so much, to help the poor, and He has established Thee, Queen of Mercy, so Thou mayest alleviate the miserable.

Behold me, then, and have mercy on me. I am not unaware that Thy merciful Heart finds consolation in aiding the miserable. Today, then, console Thy pious Heart and console me, too, because Thou hast occasion to assist me. See, O tender Mother, the afflictions of my heart, see the needs of my family. There are so many causes for affliction in my own home and so much persecution on the part of my neighbors. Illness torments my body and interior pains devour my soul. In these afflictions to Whom must I have recourse, O my Lady and Mother, but to Thee Who art Mother of Perpetual Help? Allow me, then, to say with St. Bernard:

"Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to Thy protection, implored Thy help or sought Thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence I fly unto Thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother! To Thee I come, before Thee I kneel, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in Thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen."

EXAMPLE

At the end of the year 1883 while the freethinkers of the United States were celebrating their annual reunion in Rochester and in their impious discourses were denying the existence of God and of His works, behold, suddenly a marvelous event occurred that occupied the American press. It is the following:

In the city of Boston the principal of a school had a horrible cancer that had broken out in three places in her breast. The most distinguished doctors of Boston had examined the disease and judged it incurable unless there were a happy outcome to a surgical operation.

The sick woman, although with repugnance, had to consent to it. But first she began a novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Eight days had passed without attaining the desired result and the operation was to be performed on the following day.

Several distinguished professors from the university, among them its head, were to cooperate in this painful undertaking. They put the sick woman to sleep with a soporific drink and placed her on the operating table. The head surgeon was somewhat distant and the surgeon assigned to begin that risky task asked him with which of the three wounds he was to start. "With the largest," he was answered.

But, behold, the surgeon could not find any cancer. Very courageously the head surgeon approached the sick woman and imagine his surprise when neither could he find any sign of the terrible disease. Nevertheless, he affirmed solemnly to the doctors who were present that the previous evening and that very same morning he himself had seen three horrible cancers in the breast of the sick woman. He added that their disappearance was a mystery to him.

They released the sick woman and awakened her. Not feeling any pain she asked why they had released her. They assured her the operation was not necessary. Having convinced herself of that fact she began giving thanks to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, declaring to the incredulous, but stunned, doctors that this was the work of the good Mother in Whose honor a novena was coming to an end on that very same day.

May the Virgin of Perpetual Help be loved, praised, invoked and eternally blessed! May She be my hope, my love, my mother, my refuge and my life. Amen.

 

SIXTH DAY

Act of Contrition and Preparatory Prayer from the First Day

MEDITATION

Our Lady of Perpetual Help sustains her devotees in the practice of virtue

If it were sufficient to avoid sin in order to be agreeable in everything to the Lord, the benign office of our Mother would stop at this. For this alone She would provide Her Perpetual Help. But God is not content with not being offended. He requires positive service. He wants us to be perfect. "Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect." And truly, He wants us to dedicate ourselves to the practice of these Christian virtues.

But how many difficulties are encountered on the path that leads to the holy mountain of perfection! It seems that good, solely because it is good, is now contrary to our corrupt nature. Just souls who have consecrated yourselves to the practice of piety, have you not found it so? Oh, how arid and sterile is our heart, how incapable of producing any fruit worthy of eternal life if the heavenly water of grace do not fall to fertilize it.

When a soul truly wishes to sanctify herself she renounces herself, advancing each day in perfection, experiencing what the author of the "Imitation" says, "that sanctification is not childís play nor the work of one day." Then she feels the need of perpetual and powerful help, of continual assistance.

Ah, and this perpetual help, perchance we do not have it? Why do we withdraw? Why turn back in the face of difficult? Do we not have Our Lady of Perpetual Help to protect us?

Take courage, generous souls, your Mother will help you. Do you not see that She presents you to the Infant Jesus? And why, except to incite us to the practice of virtue? The knowledge alone that his king is watching him gives courage to the warrior in combat. Thus, when good is made difficult for us, when we are about to weaken, let us fix our glance on the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The sight of the adorable Infant Who one day must reward us encourages us and we will have the courage to practice the most heroic virtues.

Children of Mary, would you like to be truly virtuous, but always find in your interior that reserve of self-love that poisons your good works? Invoke Our Lady of Perpetual Help and in a little while your spirit, like Hers, will seek nothing but the good pleasure and glory of God.

Do you lack patience? Invoke Our Lady of Perpetual Help frequently and you will be meek and humble of heart.

Is it your desire to live detached from all disordered affection for creatures, but that miserable heart always takes delight in the vanities of the world? Invoke Our Lady of Perpetual Help and you will grasp the vanity of everything created.

The white lily of chastity has enamored you. Do you want to preserve it immaculate or acquire it again, if through misfortune you lost it? Invoke Our Lady of Perpetual Help and soon you will be singing within yourself to Him Who grazes among the lilies, "As the lily among thorns, so is my beloved among the daughters."

Faith, hope and charity, queen of virtues, wish to place their throne in your heart? Who will grant you that favor but the Virgin Who bears on Her forehead the star of faith and the Cross that is all our hope and in Her arms the love of the Divine Jesus?

The wound of an insult received does not want to heal in your heart? Invoke Our Lady of Perpetual Help and you will succeed in doing good to those who offended you.

Finally, are you in the flower of your age? Does the choice of a way of life concern you? Pray to Her like other souls whom She has helped, enlightening them about the vanities of the world and enkindling in them the love of their God to the point of their abandoning everything and consecrating themselves to the Lord by means of the sacred vows of religion. And finally, if you have chosen your vocation and wish to work out your sanctification in the world, make yourself a devotee of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and you will attain it.

Oh, only in Heaven will it be known how many souls have reached perfection through that so easy means. Dedicate yourselves, then, pious souls, from now on to the service of that gracious Mother and one day you will be Her crown in glory.

Meditate and ask. . .Recite the Joys

EJACULATORY PRAYER

O Mother of Perpetual Help, I want to be a faithful imitator of Thy virtues. Help me in such a noble undertaking.

EXERCISE

Recite the Holy Rosary in honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help to obtain the gift of never weakening in the practice of virtue.

PRAYER

O my Mother of Perpetual Help! How is it possible that, with Thy being so holy, I must be so wicked? Today I do not come to ask temporal goods of Thee, but things more pleasing to Thy Heart. Thou art most humble. Attain for me, then, humility and love for contempt. Thou Who wast most patient in the afflictions of life, obtain for me patience in adversity. Thou Who lived always withdrawn from everything created, obtain for me detachment from all creatures. Thou Who wast always pure and spotless, attain for me a perfect purity of heart. Thou Who wast filled with love for God, attain for me the gift of holy and pure love. Thou Who wast all charity for Thy neighbor, grant that I may have a holy and efficacious love for my brothers. Thou Who wast always united to the will of God, obtain the same grace for me, above all in my choice of a state of life, and a complete conformity with all the dispositions of Divine Providence. In a word, O most holy of creatures, make me holy! These are the graces I beg of Thee. Do not let me weaken in the practice of virtue, O Mary, my Mother, my love, my life, my refuge, my consolation, my Perpetual Help. Amen.

EXAMPLE

Interior afflictions were tormenting a woman of Finales to the extent that she was suffering grave harm in her peace and in her health. Having heard in 1873 of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and of the numerous graces She lavished, she took several little images and made, with the consent of her father, a vow to go to Rome for a visit to the shrine of Our Lady if she recovered tranquility in her soul.

The Blessed Virgin heard her. Hardly had she formulated her vow when she felt herself free of her interior sufferings and, together with peace, her strength returned, sleep, appetite and, in a word, health of soul and body.

May the Virgin of Perpetual Help be loved, praised, invoked and eternally blessed! May She be my hope, my love, my Mother, my refuge and my life. Amen.

 

Seventh Day