Today, May 24th, is the feast day of Mary Help of Christians. Here at home we celebrate this day with a cake and by going to Mass, naturally.
The Salesian school that David attends organized a trip to Fatima today, as part of a bigger pilgrimage that includes students, teachers and staff who want to give thanks to Mary for the gift of their schools that they consecrate to her every year.
I grew up with a strong devotion to Our Lady but did not really ever invoke Mary Help of Christians, a devotion that was little heard of in my hometown, Castelo Branco. Only later in life, after we bought a house in the village of Mogofores and came to live here, about ten years ago, did we get used to invoking our Blessed Mother with this beautiful name that’s so dear to Sr. John Bosco. The 24th of May became more and more important to us as time passed.
Last year, a small detail transformed this day and my devotion to Our Lady Help of Christians into something truly special. My mother had been going over some old papers and found among her bits and pieces an old prayer card from my First Holy Communion, and so she lovingly offered it to me. I thanked her and put it away in my handbag.
Later that night when the children were down, I took out the prayer card and started to read it. “Let’s have a look and see what date my first Communion fell on”, I thought. To be honest, I know all the dates of the First Holy Communion of my children off by heart, but I did not know my own…
That’s when I discovered: my First Communion fell on May 24th, the feast day of Our Lady Help of Christians! Coincidence? Chance? I know well that for God, none of these things exists. This was a gift from Mary, yes, and a sign, yet another one, that the path we have taken today has been part of the Lord’s plan for us for a long time.
I imagine Mary, on the happy day of my First Communion, winking at Jesus: “One day Teresa will invoke me as Lady Help of Christians. Today, she doesn’t even dream that this day is mine!”
God has the lives of each one of us safely kept in the hollow of His hands. And it pleases Him to surprise us from time to time. If we remain attentive, we’ll realize the amount of small details that the Lord treats us to each day and that perhaps we forget to thank Him for. Yet only in Heaven will we know the whole story… Then we’ll laugh a lot at the thought!
Mary Help of Christians, Mother of Cana, teach us to do whatever Jesus tells us to do!