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Thursday, May 24, 2018
Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians
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In the Missal today under "Mass in Some Places" is the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians.  The Roman Catholic Daily Missal published by Angelus Press says of today's feast: "The Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians is a feast of thanksgiving, instituted by Pope Pius VII in 1815, when the exile of the Sovereign Pontiffs, consequent upon the troubles caused by the French Revolution, came to an end."

Pope Saint Pius V gave Mary the title: "Help of Christians," after the victory of the Christian fleet over the Turks at Lepanto on October 7, 1571, and he added this invocation to her litany. When Pius VII returned to Rome on May 24, 1814, after spending five years of exile and captivity, he established the Feast of Our Lady, Helper of the Papal States.

The invocation of Mary as Help of Christians is part of the oldest prayer addressed directly to Mary, the "Sub tuum praesidium," which was found on a papyrus dating, at the latest, from the end of the third century. This prayer was composed at a time of great danger for Christians and for the Church. "Praesidium" is translated as "an assistance given in time of war by fresh troops in a strong manner."

Yet, Mary help of all Christians is not only helpful to those engaged in new wars, as the Gospel shows quite clearly. She is the bearer of joy, readying all Christians of good will to receive God's grace and the many gifts of life. Yes, ultimately, it is the caring woman of Cana who makes victory over dragon and serpent possible -- in letting Christ act on his own terms and at his own hour.

Collect:

O Almighty and merciful God, who didst wondrously appoint the most Blessed Virgin perpetual help for Christians in need of protection, grant in Thy mercy that after battling in life under such a protectress, we may be able to conquer our enemy at death. Through our Lord . . .

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