Last week, the traditional morning greeting to colleagues and friends over a cup of tea was followed with the question “What did you do for Mother’s Day?” We each have our special ways of marking the day, from phone calls to special lunches to gifts and carefully chosen cards. Whatever the action, each has one underlying message – we wish to honour the very special gift of life, love and service our mums have given to each of us.
Next Tuesday May 24, we celebrate as a College community the mother of the church, Our Lady Help of Christians, followed by our Community Service Day.
As we know, Don Bosco had an intense devotion to Mary Help of Christians. Not only was he born and educated in a deeply Marian environment of local church tradition and family piety, but he experienced many dreams in which Mary appeared and guided his vocation to care and educate the young.
On the eve of Don Bosco’s departure for the seminary, Mamma Margaret called him aside and gave him that memorable advice: “John, when you came into this world I consecrated you to the Blessed Virgin; when you began to study I recommended you to be devout to that same Mother; and now I advise you to be entirely hers: love those of your companions who are devoted to her, and if you become a priest always recommend and spread devotion to Mary.”
This deep awareness of Mary’s personal relationship with him was to help Don Bosco to develop spontaneously in his heart a care and affection for her. Many years after establishing his own order of priests (the “Society of St. Francis de Sales”), he was drawn to the work of Maria Domenica Mazzarello, whose own deep sense of commitment to helping the educational development of children and young women led them to establish the “Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians”, which would eventually go on to be known as the Salesian Sisters.
Maria Mazzarello and Don Bosco dedicated the rest of their lives to the education of young men and women, always with Mary as their guide who served as a model of humanity, simplicity and joy. As we celebrate the Feast Day of Mary Help of Christians next week, let us be open to the love that inspired both St Maria Mazzarello and St John Bosco, both of whom knew that we are at our best as human beings when we are serving God by peacefully serving others with humility and respect.
Prayer to Mary Help of Christians
Most Holy Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, how sweet it is to come to your feet imploring your perpetual help.
If earthly mothers cease not to remember their children, how can you, the most loving of all mothers forget me?
Grant then to me, I implore you, your perpetual help in all my necessities, in every sorrow, and especially in all my temptations.
I ask for your unceasing help for all who are now suffering. Help the weak, cure the sick, convert sinners.
Grant through your intercessions many vocations to the religious life.
Obtain for us, O Mary, Help of Christians, that having invoked you on earth we may love and eternally thank you in heaven. Amen