The Confraternity spreads devotion to our Mother of Perpetual Help through distribution of prayer cards, Icons, prayer manuals, votive candles, conducting special events, etc.

By supporting the CONFRATERNITY on the #evangelism today, you are investing and building towards our #mandate of MAKING MARY KNOWN throughout the world.

With your monthly/yearly donation(s), you’ll help:
▪make the devotion get to all the Secondary schools,
▪keep life-changing programs,
▪rescue and help member-parishes on the brink of extinction,
▪evangelise and equip new Dioceses,
▪visit orphanage homes and prisons.
▪support the on going projects at the NATIONAL SHRINE OF OUR MOTHER OF PERPETUAL HELP

Be assured of the constant and unfailing intercession of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

With Mary, always our Perpetual Help

Forgiving and Being Forgiven

Forgiveness, if it is real, must affect everything about us.  It is something that we must ask for, give, receive, and give again.  Here are a few points for you to consider:

Can you honestly see your sin, experience sorrow for that sin, and say, “I’m sorry” to another?

When you are forgiven, what does that do to you?  Does it have the effect of making you more merciful toward others?

Can you in turn offer the same level of forgiveness and mercy that you hope to receive from God and others?

The Timing of God
God’s plan is so very different than human wisdom. His ways are far above our ways. And His
ways continue to be far above our ways!
What does this teach us? It teaches us lots of patience. And it teaches us surrender, trust and
hope. If we want to pray hard and pray well, we need to pray correctly. And the correct way to
pray is to continually pray that Thy will be done! Again, this is hard at first, but it becomes easy
when we understand and believe that God always has the perfect plan for our lives and for every
struggle and situation in which we find ourselves. We are to reflect, upon our patience and our
trust in the ways of the Lord. He has a perfect plan for us, and that plan is most likely different
than our plan. Surrender to Him and let His holy will guide you in all thing

There are only three things that we can give in our service of the Lord. Truthfully, they are not even ours to offer, they are only ours to offer back. The Lord owns all that is and we can give Him nothing that isn’t already His.

TIME: Some of us – or each of us at some times in our hectic lives – are blessed with the gift of Time, whether it’s a few hours once a week or some other piece of time which has not been eaten up by the necessities of our busy lives. We are called to consider filling those periods of time with some act of service, like society functions, attending meetings. Have I been faithful or have I allowed myself not to be involved, for others to be recycled? We rob God of these things all the time when we declare that we are too busy.

 

TALENT: All of us have been blessed with some skill or Talent e.g. to think strategically & organize plans and events, to impart your knowledge and teach others, etc. Remember what Jesus said about not hiding your light under a bushel! But sometimes we think that our “talent” is not good enough. Am sure that we have everything we need in our Confraternity while urging us to come and serve in which ever capacity you are called upon to for the success of our Conference.

TREASURE: In these turbulent economic times, we appreciate most gratefully your gifts of your material Treasure, as we know that there is often a decisive sacrifice involved. Many of us wonder if our “Widow’s Mite” makes any difference. Please be assured that every monetary gift towards achieving this Conference, no matter the size, is a significant part of the greater whole of our financial stability. Generosity is not measured by the size of the donation but by the size of the giving heart!

I’m asking everyone right now to pray and ask Mary where they stand in their service to Her. Am I making adequate use of my time, my talents, or my treasure in order to MAKE HER KNOWN?  Be faithful to give out your 3 T’s and She’ll be faithful in blessing you.

 

 

 

THE ICON AND LENT

By nature, Icons are not drawn or painted. Icons are written. In the case of the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, we read and contemplate on the mystery of the passion of Christ Jesus announced by the Angels and the Sorrowful Mother, who accompanied Christ on his Redemptive journey to the cross. A loving gaze on this Icon of love is an encounter with the mystery of Lent. The Icon tells not the story of the Sorrowful Mother Mary but narrates the events of the paschal mystery of Christ her Son. Nevertheless, the Holy Mother Mary is dominant because she was the greatest figure in the unfolding of the Redemptive work wrought by Christ her Son and she remains the greatest Personage in human history to identify with our human crosses till today.

Lent calls us to pray, fast and be charitable. In the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, we encounter the Woman of prayer. Mary, Our Mother cherished the revealed mysteries and pondered everything in her heart of love (Luke 2:19, 51). Put simply, the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is a contemplative Icon, calling us to prayer and meditation on the passion and death of Christ with the Sorrowful Mother journeying with Him to the last. And so, our going before the Icon this season of Lent, must remind us of our call to prayer that we may be fervent in doing God’s will in our daily sufferings and limitations.

Lent is a season of grace. Thus, the Church calls us to fast that we may drink abundantly from the wells of salvation at Easter (Jn. 4:14). Now, to fast is to practice the virtue of bodily self restraint from the use of material things. The primary essence of fasting is to return to the Lord (Cf. Jon. 3:5 ff). Fasting is a radical way of doing some violence to bodily desires that the spiritual hunger may rise (Cf. Mt. 11:12). In the practice of the virtue of self-restraint, we diminish the pleasures or desires of the flesh which is dust and increase the grace and fervor of anointing and the will of God in us. The Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is a perfect tool of meditation with regards to self denial. A look at the features of the Icon speaks volume to us on mortification. A meditative glance at the Icon introduces Mary to us as a woman of few words. Hence, we must mortify from talking too much or speaking uncharitably. The hole in her ear tells us to listen to one another as a virtue to imbibe. Her Icon tells us to fast from make-ups and dressing immodestly. It compels us to turn away from the things of this world and return to the things that eternally endure.

Being charitable in words and deeds are two things that Mary is known for. The Icon is loved and venerated as a gift from God to humanity because it finds a charitable expression in the lives of all. For the sick, the Icon brings the desired healing effect. For the troubled, the Icon soothes pains. For the dying, the Icon is the beacon of hope. For the sorrowful, the Icon is a representation of Mary’s presence with her children who are the products of her tears. For the barren, the Icon presents Jesus the Blessed fruit of Mary’s womb. For the prisoner, the Icon is the hope of the captive. For the sinner, the Icon speaks of repentance. For the Christian in this valley of tears, the Icon is the help of Christians. We can go on forever. It finds expression in the lives of all and calls us to also be there for one another. Its shows Mary’s closeness to her Children in love and calls us to do the same in our life’s row.

As Members of the Confraternity of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, and lovers of Mary, we are quite aware that we are all at the fore-front of making the graces of this Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, known throughout the world as a mandate. We must promote her glories with fear and trembling. Our mandate is a Holy mandate. Mary herself takes the lead. We only try to catch up. And here is the starting point: conversion. We must be converted in order to convert anyone. Nemo dat quod non habet (You cannot give what you do not have). Conversion is an on-going process of the Christian journey. We must be open to that growth. In this season of Lent, reflecting on the features of the Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in our Novena is an invitation to embrace interior conversion that we may draw with joy from the wells of the Saviour at Easter (Is. 12:3).

Let us pray with Mary, mortify as she did and be charitable in words and deeds that we may truly represent who we are as her ambassadors. Amen.

May the peace of Christ reign in you all in this Lenten Season and always. Amen.

 

Revd. Fr. Christopher O. Uwadiale, C.Ss.R

National Chaplain, COMPH NIGERIA

09th day of March, 2018

On the occasion of March Lenten Novena in Nigeria

Pope Francis has released his 2018 Lenten message  (AFP or licensors)

Pope Francis has released his 2018 Lenten message (AFP or licensors)

Pope Francis on Tuesday released his message for the 2018 liturgical season of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, 14 February. The theme of this year’s message is: ‘Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold’ (Mt 24:12). This is the full text of the Pope’s Lenten message:

2018 Lenten Message of His Holiness Pope Francis
“Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (Mt 24:12)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Once again, the Pasch of the Lord draws near!  In our preparation for Easter, God in his providence offers us each year the season of Lent as a “sacramental sign of our conversion”.[1]  Lent summons us, and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly and in every aspect of our life.

With this message, I would like again this year to help the entire Church experience this time of grace anew, with joy and in truth.  I will take my cue from the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (24:12).

These words appear in Christ’s preaching about the end of time.  They were spoken in Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, where the Lord’s passion would begin.  In reply to a question of the disciples, Jesus foretells a great tribulation and describes a situation in which the community of believers might well find itself: amid great trials, false prophets would lead people astray and the love that is the core of the Gospel would grow cold in the hearts of many.

False prophets

Let us listen to the Gospel passage and try to understand the guise such false prophets can assume.

They can appear as “snake charmers”, who manipulate human emotions in order to enslave others and lead them where they would have them go.  How many of God’s children are mesmerized by momentary pleasures, mistaking them for true happiness!  How many men and women live entranced by the dream of wealth, which only makes them slaves to profit and petty interests!  How many go through life believing that they are sufficient unto themselves, and end up entrapped by loneliness!

False prophets can also be “charlatans”, who offer easy and immediate solutions to suffering that soon prove utterly useless.  How many young people are taken in by the panacea of drugs, of disposable relationships, of easy but dishonest gains!  How many more are ensnared in a thoroughly “virtual” existence, in which relationships appear quick and straightforward, only to prove meaningless!  These swindlers, in peddling things that have no real value, rob people of all that is most precious: dignity, freedom and the ability to love.  They appeal to our vanity, our trust in appearances, but in the end they only make fools of us.  Nor should we be surprised.  In order to confound the human heart, the devil, who is “a liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44), has always presented evil as good, falsehood as truth.  That is why each of us is called to peer into our heart to see if we are falling prey to the lies of these false prophets.  We must learn to look closely, beneath the surface, and to recognize what leaves a good and lasting mark on our hearts, because it comes from God and is truly for our benefit.

A cold heart

In his description of hell, Dante Alighieri pictures the devil seated on a throne of ice,[2] in frozen and loveless isolation.  We might well ask ourselves how it happens that charity can turn cold within us.  What are the signs that indicate that our love is beginning to cool?

More than anything else, what destroys charity is greed for money, “the root of all evil” (1 Tim6:10).  The rejection of God and his peace soon follows; we prefer our own desolation rather than the comfort found in his word and the sacraments.[3]  All this leads to violence against anyone we think is a threat to our own “certainties”: the unborn child, the elderly and infirm, the migrant, the alien among us, or our neighbour who does not live up to our expectations.

Creation itself becomes a silent witness to this cooling of charity.  The earth is poisoned by refuse, discarded out of carelessness or for self-interest.  The seas, themselves polluted, engulf the remains of countless shipwrecked victims of forced migration.  The heavens, which in God’s plan, were created to sing his praises, are rent by engines raining down implements of death.

Love can also grow cold in our own communities.  In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I sought to describe the most evident signs of this lack of love: selfishness and spiritual sloth, sterile pessimism, the temptation to self-absorption, constant warring among ourselves, and the worldly mentality that makes us concerned only for appearances, and thus lessens our missionary zeal.[4]

What are we to do?

Perhaps we see, deep within ourselves and all about us, the signs I have just described.  But the Church, our Mother and Teacher, along with the often bitter medicine of the truth, offers us in the Lenten season the soothing remedy of prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

By devoting more time to prayer, we enable our hearts to root out our secret lies and forms of self-deception,[5] and then to find the consolation God offers. He is our Father and he wants us to live life well.

Almsgiving sets us free from greed and helps us to regard our neighbour as a brother or sister.  What I possess is never mine alone.  How I would like almsgiving to become a genuine style of life for each of us!  How I would like us, as Christians, to follow the example of the Apostles and see in the sharing of our possessions a tangible witness of the communion that is ours in the Church!  For this reason, I echo Saint Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians to take up a collection for the community of Jerusalem as something from which they themselves would benefit (cf. 2 Cor 8:10).  This is all the more fitting during the Lenten season, when many groups take up collections to assist Churches and peoples in need.  Yet I would also hope that, even in our daily encounters with those who beg for our assistance, we would see such requests as coming from God himself.  When we give alms, we share in God’s providential care for each of his children.  If through me God helps someone today, will he not tomorrow provide for my own needs?  For no one is more generous than God.[6]

Fasting weakens our tendency to violence; it disarms us and becomes an important opportunity for growth.  On the one hand, it allows us to experience what the destitute and the starving have to endure.  On the other hand, it expresses our own spiritual hunger and thirst for life in God.  Fasting wakes us up.  It makes us more attentive to God and our neighbour.  It revives our desire to obey God, who alone is capable of satisfying our hunger.

I would also like my invitation to extend beyond the bounds of the Catholic Church, and to reach all of you, men and women of good will, who are open to hearing God’s voice.  Perhaps, like ourselves, you are disturbed by the spread of iniquity in the world, you are concerned about the chill that paralyzes hearts and actions, and you see a weakening in our sense of being members of the one human family.  Join us, then, in raising our plea to God, in fasting, and in offering whatever you can to our brothers and sisters in need!

The fire of Easter

Above all, I urge the members of the Church to take up the Lenten journey with enthusiasm, sustained by almsgiving, fasting and prayer.  If, at times, the flame of charity seems to die in our own hearts, know that this is never the case in the heart of God!  He constantly gives us a chance to begin loving anew.

One such moment of grace will be, again this year, the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative, which invites the entire Church community to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation in the context of Eucharistic adoration. In 2018, inspired by the words of Psalm 130:4, “With you is forgiveness”, this will take place from Friday, 9 March to Saturday, 10 March.  In each diocese, at least one church will remain open for twenty-four consecutive hours, offering an opportunity for both Eucharistic adoration and sacramental confession.

During the Easter Vigil, we will celebrate once more the moving rite of the lighting of the Easter candle.  Drawn from the “new fire”, this light will slowly overcome the darkness and illuminate the liturgical assembly.  “May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds”,[7] and enable all of us to relive the experience of the disciples on the way to Emmaus.  By listening to God’s word and drawing nourishment from the table of the Eucharist, may our hearts be ever more ardent in faith, hope and love.

With affection and the promise of my prayers for all of you, I send you my blessing.  Please do not forget to pray for me.

From the Vatican, 1 November 2017

Solemnity of All Saints

[1] Roman Missal, Collect for the First Sunday of Lent (Italian).
[2] Inferno XXXIV, 28-29.
[3] “It is curious, but many times we are afraid of consolation, of being comforted. Or rather, we feel more secure in sorrow and desolation. Do you know why? Because in sorrow we feel almost as protagonists. However, in consolation the Holy Spirit is the protagonist!” (Angelus, 7 December 2014).
[4] Evangelii Gaudium, 76-109.
[5] Cf. BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi, 33. Cf. PIUS XII, Encyclical Letter Fidei Donum, III.
[6] Roman Missal (Third Edition), Easter Vigil, Lucernarium.