SEVENTH DAY

Act of Contrition and Preparatory Prayer from the First Day

MEDITATION

Our Lady of Perpetual Help grants Her devotees fidelity in Her service

Perseverance! A great problem, a major question of life or death, a perpetual torment of souls who want to be saved.

Have you not said trembling – on seeing yourself surrounded by so many dangers and, above all, on seeing souls who seemed confirmed in good fall away, on feeling violent passions inflamed and on examining your own fickleness – have you not said, "Oh, will I be saved? Have my sins been forgiven? I hope so. Am I in the grace of God? Will I persevere in good until the end? What will be my sentence at judgment? Will I be found among the predestined? What will be my lot in eternity?"

Terrifying reflections, questions whose uncertain replies fill the heart with anxiety. St. Teresa, writing on this point, could not understand why the pen did not fall from her hand. St. Paul, after having preached to others, feared he would be among the reprobate. And St. Jerome responded beforehand to the sound of the trumpet of final judgment with cries of terror.

How, then, to get rid of this annoying doubt? How to find a guarantee of tranquility? A great saint tell us, "Of what value is it to stir up these questions disputed by the wise ones concerning whether you will be saved or not? If we are true children of Mary certainly we will be among the chosen ones."

This is the doctrine of all the Doctors of the Church. It is impossible for one who counts on the most powerful help of Mary to be condemned. A consoling word that should fill us with confidence and devotion. But this is understood on condition one lives without sins or desires at least to cease sinning. Because, if someone wants to sin with the hope the Blessed Virgin will save him, through his own fault he would make himself unworthy and incapable of Her protection.

It is true, then, O Mother of Perpetual Help that, if I am Thy faithful servant, without doubt I will be saved. I will serve Thee, then. I will love Thee. I will invoke Thee always.

Nevertheless, Christian soul, you are still not at peace concerning your perseverance. You must still fear one thing. Without doubt Most Holy Mary will save you if you invoke Her. But, will you be faithful in Her service? Will you one day cease to be Her devotee? So great is the fickleness of our heart that tomorrow you will give up what you have begun today. Have, perchance, all those who were devotees of the Virgin in the beginning persevered in Her service?

For this great misery, called inconstancy, there is a remedy in Our Lady of Perpetual Help. She Herself is the One Who must help up persevere in Her service. If all graces pass through the hands of Mary, why would not this most special grace of graces, that of invoking Her perpetually, also pass through them? And the very name itself of Perpetual Help, is it not almost a sure guarantee She will help us perpetually?

How could we weaken in Her love and forget Her? If a mother, according to nature, knew a child of hers could not be happy without enjoying the attention of his mother, what would she not do to keep him at her side? Well then, our august Queen knows there cannot be happiness for us, Her very beloved children without our having fidelity in Her service, which is intimately united to the service of the Lord. And that is why She provides Her devotees with Her maternal help, abundantly and perpetually.

When a soul who has been at one time Her devotee wishes to abandon Her, that tender Mother waits, so to speak, at the door of his heart and knocks until it is opened, that is, until the unfaithful one returns to his primitive fervor. We have, then, an infallible means of assuring ourselves of perseverance in devotion to Mary. It suffices to ask Her for the grace to call on Her always, to ask Her for the grace today, to ask Her tomorrow and every day. In short, O soul devoted to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, engrave in your memory that maxim of the great doctor, St. Alphonsus, "I am sure I will be saved, if I sincerely invoke Mary. I am sure of invoking Her, if I ask of Her the grace to do so always. And I will not tire of repeating this petition of imploring Her with fidelity."

Let us conclude in the words of St. Bernard, "O man, whoever thou art, understand that in this world thou art tossed about on a stormy and tempestuous sea rather than walking on solid ground. Remember that, if thou wouldst avoid being drowned, thou must never turn thine eyes from the brightness of this star, but keep them fixed on it and call on Mary. In danger, in straits, in doubts, remember Mary, invoke Mary. Let not Her name leave thy lips, let it be ever in thy heart. Following Her thou wilt certainly not go astray. Imploring Her thou wilt not despair. If She supports thee, thou canst not fall. If She protects thee, thou hast nothing to fear for thou canst not be lost. With Her for a guide, thou wilt not be weary for thy salvation will be worked out with ease." If Mary undertakes our defense we are certain of gaining the kingdom of Heaven. This do and thou shalt live. Amen.

Meditate and ask. . .Recite the Joys

EJACULATORY PRAYER

O Mother of Perpetual Help! Grant me Thine omnipotent aid and grant that I may ask for it without ceasing.

EXERCISE

Do not let one day pass without reciting three Hail Marys, morning and night, to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, to obtain the grace of invoking Her on the following day.

PRAYER

O my Mother of Perpetual Help! In Thy hands I place my pour soul. I entrust to Thee my perseverance. Intercede for me, an unhappy sinner. Take me under Thy protection and this will suffice for me. Indeed, if Thou protectest me, I have nothing to fear. I do not fear my sins, because Thou wilt remedy the evil they have caused me. I do not fear the devils, because Thou art more powerful than all Hell. I do not even fear my Judge Himself, because by one word from Thee Thou wilt appease His just indignation. No, I do not fear anything.

Oh! In spite of all this, my Mother, one fear assaults me. And it is that of forgetting Thee, of ceasing one day to call Thee to my aid and thus to be lost for all eternity. O my tender Mother! Obtain for me the grace of commending myself to Thee always. And if now Thou foreseest that one day I will abandon Thee, let me die today at Thy feet before the world may be witness to such great ingratitude. But, no, O Mother, I will not forget Thee. I would rather that my right hand wither, that my tongue be paralyzed than not go one day to sing of Thy mercies forever and ever. Amen.

EXAMPLE

In a certain city in England a man, completely given to drinking, used to come home every day in a state of intoxication. One day his unhappy wife, tired of all she was suffering from her husband’s perversity, lamented her lot before a devotee of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The latter, moved to compassion, gave a medal of that Virgin to the afflicted wife, advising her to light a candle in honor of her dear Mother every day.

The woman promised to do so and began to recite the holy Rosary before the miraculous medal. Her husband returned that day at a late hour, as was his custom, but not intoxicated.

After some time had passed the woman related to her pious advisor who was asking her about her husband, "Since I began to honor Our Lady of Perpetual Help he has amended. He returned to his vice only once when, distractedly, I forgot to fulfill the promise I made to the Mother of God."

Thus the Blessed Virgin rewards Her devotees.

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.

 

EIGHTH DAY

Act of Contrition and Preparatory Prayer from the First Day

MEDITATION

Our Lady of Perpetual Help assists Her devotees at the hour of death

Consider that, although man needs the benign help of Mary at all times and in all circumstances, never, however, as much as in the anxieties of death, which are the greatest that can be experiences in this world.

Terrible, indeed, very terrible are the afflictions of the dying. Everything conspires to make those last moments terrible – the memory of sins committed, the fear of the incomprehensible judgments of an offended God, the uncertainty of eternal salvation, everything, everything. Especially then Hell arms itself and puts into action all its forces to possess the soul that is going to pass into eternity because it knows only a little time remains before she is to be judged and, if it does not succeed in ruining her, she will be saved forever. That is why the wicked spirit, accustomed to tempting her in life, is not content solely with tempting her at the hour of death, but even calls his companions to help him. They say that, at the moment of St. Andrew Avellino’s death, ten thousand devils gathered in his cell to tempt him.

But if at that time we have on our side the most powerful help of Mary, who will be able to overcome us? And, how will that gracious Mother deny us Her aid if we persevere in asking for it? She Herself revealed to St. Gertrude that She grants aid to Her devotees at the point of death for as many times as they have implored her in life.

O my friend! How fortunate you will be if, at the critical moment of death, you find yourself bound by the chains of love to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. These are the chains of salvation and of eternal glory. No, that tender Mother does not know how to abandon Her true devotees at that supreme moment. She is the Mother of Perpetual Help. And, just as She has helped them in the time of their exile, so also She exhibits Her sweetness at the hour of death and obtains for them a sweet and happy death.

And, above all, showing Herself worthy of the beautiful name She bears, She sends the prince St. Michael with all the angels to the aid of Her faithful dying children so they go then to defend them from the snares of the devils and receive the souls of all those who have continually commended themselves to Her.

She is not content with sending angels to the aid of Her devotees. She Herself will come in person to assist them in their last moments. Since that great day when She had the good fortune and at the same time the sorrow of assisting Her son, Jesus, Who is the first of the predestined, She obtained the grace of assisting all of them also at the terrible moment of death. That is why the Holy Church makes us pray for Her to help us especially in the hour of our death. "Pray for us, sinners, now and at the hour of our death."

And this is found to be in conformity with what the Blessed Virgin said to St. Bridget, speaking of Her devotees, "Then, My daughter, as their Mistress and Mother when they die I will go out to meet them so they may have consolation and comfort."

The loving Queen then covers these souls with Her mantle and presents them to the Judge, Her Son, and thus surely attains salvation for them.

Christian, although you may have been a sinner, you will not cease experiencing this consolation provided that, from now on, you manage to live well and to serve this gracious and most amiable Lady. In your anguish and in the temptations with which the devil will assault you at death to make you despair Our Mother of Perpetual Help will give you fortitude and will come Herself to defend you. And with such a Mother and Protector what will you fear, O sinner?

Meditate and ask. . .Recite the Joys

EJACULATORY PRAYER

O Mother of Perpetual Help! Pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

EXERCISE

Commend your self three times a day to Our Lady of Perpetual Help to attain a happy death.

PRAYER

O Mother of Perpetual Help! What will become of me when I am at the point of delivering my soul to God? From now on, when I consider my sins, when I think of that terrible moment that must decide my salvation or my eternal perdition, I begin to tremble and become perplexed. O my Mother of Perpetual Help! Do not abandon me in that tremendous hour. What will become of me if Thou dost abandon me in that supreme moment? O Holy Virgin, my Hope, cone to my aid in the tremendous anguish in which I will then be held prisoner. Fortify me when the devil wants to fling me into despair by the memory of the sins I have committed. Obtain for me the grace to invoke Thee then more often than ever so I may die uttering Thy most sweet name together with that of Thine adorable Son and so I may die loving God and loving Thee to go afterwards to love Thee eternally in Paradise. Amen.

EXAMPLE

A woman from the Pontifical States went one day to Rome to venerate the miraculous image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. A priest to whom she addressed herself asked her what was the motive that had decided her to undertake such a long trip. She answered him, "My husband told me several times that in this Church a very miraculous image of the Virgin, called Our Lady of Perpetual Help, was venerated. He often commended himself to Her and received many graces through Her intercession. A little while ago he died. When he approached death he told me he saw Our Lady at his bedside. He received such consolation from this apparition he seemed not to feel the pains of death and he died so gently and piously I have no doubt about his salvation, and my greatest happiness would be to die as he did."

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.

 

NINTH DAY

Act of Contrition and Preparatory Prayer from the First Day

MEDITATION

Our Lady of Perpetual Help helps Her devotees in Purgatory

Will the exercise of Mary’s mercy be limited, by chance, to the threshold of eternity or before the tribunal of Jesus Christ? Oh no! Remember, Her help is perpetual. With maternal solicitude She continues working on our behalf until She sees us at Her side in glory. This compassionate Mother helps Her devotees not only in all the necessities of life and at death, but also in Purgatory. Because the imprisoned souls need greater help because they are more tormented and cannot be relieved by their own efforts this Queen of Mercy busies Herself with greater efficacy in helping them.

Above all, just hearing Her most holy name pronounced alleviates those unhappy sinners. They are consoled on thinking the help of their Mother is perpetual and extends, therefore, even to that horrifying prison. One day Jesus told Her, as St. Bridget heard it, "Thou art My Mother, the Mother of mercy, the consolation of those who find themselves in Purgatory.

And the Blessed Virgin said to the aforementioned saint that, just as the words of consolation She addresses to a poor sick, afflicted and abandoned one on his bed or sorrow delight him, so also were those souls consoled with just hearing Her name. For Her dear children this name is a great relief in that prison and thus they invoke it often. And the loving Mother, on hearing them invoke it, provides them Her maternal help, directs Her pleas to God with which many souls are helped and refreshed as with heavenly dew in their great sufferings.

Moreover, as sovereign Queen, She exercises in that prison Her dominion and the fullness of Her powers not only to relieve, but also to free from their pains, those holy prisoners. And in regard to relieving them St. Bernardine of Siena, applying to the matter we are dealing with those words of Ecclesiasticus, "I have walked in the waves of the sea," says this is visiting and helping in the necessities and pains of My devotees, who are My children. The pains of Purgatory may be called waves, adds the aforementioned saint, because they are transitory, different from those of Hell that never pass and they may be called waves of the sea because they are very bitter pains.

Afflicted by those pains the devotees of Mary are often visited and aided by Her. Mary Herself revealed to St. Bridget that She was the Mother of all the souls found in Purgatory because all the pains they deserve for the offenses they committed in life are mitigated in a certain manner, hour by hour, by Her pleas. The compassionate Mother does not disdain descending at times to that holy prison to visit and console Her afflicted children. How important it is, then, to dedicate oneself to the veneration of that kindest Queen because Her devotees are not forgotten in the purifying flames of Purgatory.

But Mary not only consoles, aids and visits Her children in that prison of expiation but also at times She takes them away from there to carry them to Heaven. On the day of Her glorious Assumption, one pious tradition holds, Purgatory was left vacant because Mary had asked and obtained from Jesus Christ the privilege of taking with Her to glory all the souls then grieving in that place were fire purifies all stains.

And it is a matter of faith that with Her pleas and petitions She has the singular privilege of freeing, as it pleases Her, the souls in Purgatory and especially those of Her most devoted children. Be a sincere devotee of this tender Mother, therefore, so you, too, may feel the sweet effects of Her maternal help when you are in Purgatory. Even more – ask Her to grant you before death the grace of making an act of such perfect love that you may fly to Heaven without even passing through those purifying flames.

Meditate and ask. . .Recite the Joys

EJACULATORY PRAYER

O Mother of Perpetual Help! Have mercy on the souls in Purgatory and especially those who were most devoted to Thee.

EXERCISE

Hear Mass and receive Communion in honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help for souls.

PRAYER

O Mother of Perpetual Help! O Thou Who dost never abandon Thy children and helpest them perpetually in life, in death and even in Purgatory itself, behold here at Thy feet a poor sinner who, filled with confidence, has recourse to Thee and gives himself to Thee. Many and great are the sins I have committed. I hope, O my Mother, they have been forgiven. But I do not know if I have done for them the penance due and it is likely I may have to continue expiating them in Purgatory. Ah, if such would be my lot, do not cease to visit me in that terrible prison. Console me then and alleviate my pains. Finally, be my perpetual help until seeing me in Heaven, praising Thee and singing of Thy mercies for all eternity. Amen.

EXAMPLE

Austria 1876. A God-fearing woman had a son of very bad character and with very bad habits. To maternal advice he was apt to reply, "I know what I must do."

One day the mother, filled with confidence, made a pilgrimage to Catzelsdorf, some four leagues distant by a laborious road, to a shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. As soon as she arrived before the altar of the Virgin she knelt down and prayed a long time, begging with abundant tears for the conversion of her son.

Meanwhile, her son, who remained at home, began to feel a sudden change of heart together with a great confidence in Her Who is the Refuge of sinners.

The good mother returned to her home, related what she had seen and heard and spoke of her emotion in the presence of the holy image. The prodigal son, on hearing this, could not resist grace and made a resolution to make that same pilgrimage as soon as possible.

He did it alone and without his mother’s knowing of it. Our Lady finished what She had begun, granting to that unfortunate one as a reward for that act of virtue the grace of a sincere contrition and of a good confession. Reconciled with his God he received Communion and returned home.

It was his luck that he had not been deaf to the voice of God for a little later he was a victim in a sad accident and died suddenly. His poor mother was ignorant of his conversion. How great, then, was her bitter and inconsolable sorrow, believing her son had died in the sins of his past. She could do nothing but weep day and night.

But She Who had saved the sinner did not leave the pious mother without consolation. One night she saw her son in her dreams. He was in Purgatory and, from the midst of the flames, he extended his arms, crying, "My mother, my mother, I am not condemned, but I suffer horribly in this place. Go, I beg you, on a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Perpetual Help of Catzelsdorf!"

As soon as she awoke the poor woman, without concerning herself with her duties, went to the Church mentioned. Prostrate at the feet of the Virgin after having received Holy Communion she prayer fervently for her dead son. And then she learned from his confessor what she had been ignorant of: that a few days before her son, too, had come to pray before the protective image and had not returned to his house without having reconciled himself with God and prepared himself for death.

On hearing such happy news her grief was transformed into pure joy. Praising and blessing the merciful Mother she went everywhere to relate the wonders worked by Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

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.

May it be for the glory of God!