Today is the feast of Mary Help of Christians.
In Australia, it is a first Class Feast. Our Cathedral in Sydney is named after her. Her image is displayed there. Most importantly, she is Patroness of Australia. We are so fortunate to have her as our Protectress.
In Masses today, ( live-streamed and in small Masses of 10 people at a time), there will be the words of the hymn that I like to think was especially written for us. It was written by academic, poet, journalist, literary critic and hymn writer James McAuley (1917-1976). and set to a tune by composer Richard Connolly (b 1927).
The words are like a National Anthem – indeed it raises and inflames our hearts with love: to our Blessed Mother and for our country. It is sung with full voice. There were only 10 at Mass today, but it sounded like a battle hymn. Indeed,m what comes to mind is a verse from Song of Songs ( or Canticle of Canticles /Song of Solomon in Douay Rheims version) , which is used in the Legion of Mary as an introduction to the Magnificat:
” Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?” (Ch. 6:9)
“Terrible as an army in battle array” – Our Lady is the army General, ready for battle. The enemy flees at her sight and her Name. She is Queen of Heaven and Earth, and Co-Redemptrix. In the image, both she and her Son, Jesus, wear a Crown. She holds the sceptre of authority; Jesus holds the “orb” – the globe with the Cross on top of it indicating that Christ rules the world.
The best news is that today, the Bishops of Australia are to consecrate Australia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Help of Christians!
It is a great shame, though, that not many faithful will be able to be at Masses to celebrate this. In fact, it has not been advertised. I guess,” No Mass, no bulletins”
Our Lady – Mary Help of Christians- , as Patroness of Australia is placed with Australia at her feet. The words of our hymn are heartfelt and strong:
Teach us that in Christ your Son
Lies the wisdom to be free;
For the Cross, which we would shun,
Is man’s Tree of Liberty.”
Other stanzas mention:
“powers of hell’; “coward heart”;
“our peace be trampled down”;
and the final line’
“Draw us to your victory”
Mary, our Queen and our Mother and “Help of Christians” has always been fighting for her children, in the worst times of our history: at the Battle of Lepanto, and others.
When Napoleon took over France. Pope Pius VII was kidnapped by Napoleon and imprisoned and subjected to trials and humiliations for 5 years. In the Battle of Leipzig, a coalition of armies from Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Sweden defeated the army of Napoleon. When the pope was released, he attributed the victory to Mary’s intercession. After Napoleon’s defeat, the pope gave thanks to God and Mary by declaring May 24 as the Feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians in Jan.1814
“The Feast Day of Our Lady Mary Help of Christians has been celebrated in Australia since 1844. …
The infant church in Australia had a special reason for turning to Mary. No priests were sent to the colony in its early days and Mass was not allowed except for one brief year until 1820. It was largely the Rosary in those early days that kept the faith alive.
The Australian Catholic community remained faithful to Mary and Australia was the first nation to choose her under the title, ‘Mary Help of Christians’ as principle Patroness.
Australia also became the first country to have a cathedral dedicated in Our Lady, Mary’s name. St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney was dedicated in her honour by the Irish pioneer priest, Fr John Therry who arrived in Sydney in 1820.”
Australian Prayers to Mary, Help of Christians
Prayer to Our Lady Help of Christians for Australia
Lord, You place deep in our hearts,the love of Mary, Help of Christians.
Through her prayers grant wisdom to our leaders and integrity to our citizens.Under her protection may Australia be granted harmony, justice and peace. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Crusade of Prayer for the Safety of Australia as a Christian Nation
(Imprimatur T. F. Little 13th November, 1975)
Almighty God, we thy people cry out in our affliction. Do not scorn us, but for the glory of Thy name, come to our rescue. Look mercifully upon us in our tribulation, and, though we have justly deserved punishment, turn away Thy wrath. Through Jesus Christ, Our lord, Amen.
Mary, Help of Christians,
bring succour and peace to Australia.
Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Help of Christians, Patroness of Australia.
O Mary, Help of Christians,Patroness of Australia, Mother of mercy, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners, we consecrate ourselves to your Immaculate Heart.To you we consecrate our country, our families, our hearts, our souls and all that we have. And in order that this consecration may be truly effective and lasting, we renew today the promises of our Baptism and Confirmation; and we undertake to live as good Christians – faithful to God,the Church and the Holy father. We desire to pray the rosary, partake in the Holy Eucharist,attach special importance to the first Saturday of the month and work for the conversion of sinners. Furthermore, we promise, O most holy Virgin,that we will zealously spread devotion to you, so that through our consecration to your Immaculate Heart and through your own intercession,the coming of the Kingdom of Christ in the world may be hastened. Amen.