Perpetual Help Devotion

Prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Old and New Version

– Sister Marcia Vinje

The following study by Sr. Marcia Vinje is a way of showing that devotions are not only an expression of personal piety, but also the devotional rendering of ecclesial theology. The changes occurred in the formulation of the following popular prayer is a good example of this unity and complementarity of theology and devotion.

Principles and Guidelines of Marialis Cultus

Old Version of the Perpetual Help Devotion

New Version of the Perpetual Help Devotion

Doctrinal Synthesis


Marialis Cultis

For the Right Ordering and Development of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Pope Paul VI   February 2, 1974

A. In view of the liturgical reform following Vatican II “Every authentic development of Christian worship is necessarily followed by a fitting increase of veneration for the Mother of the Lord.” (MC Intro)

“Certain practices of piety, that not long ago seemed suitable for expressing the religious sentiment of individuals and of Christian communities, seem today inadequate or unsuitable because they are linked with social and cultural patterns of the past. On the other hand in many places people are seeking new ways of expressing the unchangeable relationship of creatures with their Creator, of children with the Father.” Ibid.

B. After discussing revisions of the liturgy in reference to Marian feasts and Mary as a model of worship, the Holy Father introduces the renewal of devotion to Mary.

Lumen Gentium 66-67 encourages the promotion of other forms of devotion side by side with liturgical worship. Some of these show a need for renewal that “will permit them to substitute elements that are transient, to emphasize the elements that are ever new, and to incorporate the doctrinal data obtained from theological reflection and the proposals of the Church’s Magisterium” MC 24

“We would like this revision to be respectful of wholesome tradition and open to the legitimate requests of the people of our time.” Ibid.

C. Some principles: Trinitarian, Christological, Ecclesial

Worship is offered to the Father through Christ in the Spirit. Since devotions extend the liturgy it is fitting that they reflect this Trinitarian aspect. MC 25

In Mary everything is relative to Christ and dependent upon him. When Marian devotion reflects this Christological element, it increases the worship due to Christ himself. Special attention should be given to the relationship between Mary and the Holy Spirit who sanctified her in view of her role in redemption. MC 25-27

Devotions should also express the place which Mary occupies in the Church, the highest and closest to us after Christ.  Attention should therefore be focused on the nature of the Church as the Family of God, the People of God, the Kingdom of God and the Mystical Body of Christ (LG 6-11) The Church’s concern for the poor and weak reflect Mary’s concern as Mother of the Church. Mary and the Church collaborate to give birth to the Mystical Body of Christ. MC 28 

D. The document also gives guidelines for devotion to the Blessed Virgin: biblical, liturgical, ecumenical and anthropological.

“Every form of worship should have a biblical imprint.” Marian devotion should draw their inspiration and wording from the Bible; devotions should take up the great themes of the Christian message. The Bible is filled with the mystery of the Savior and references to Mary, the Mother and associate of the Savior. MC 30

Devotions should be in harmony with the liturgy, flowing from the liturgy and encouraging people to participate in worship; they can be aids for worship. However they should not be merged, e.g. praying devotions within Mass. Worship should be the culmination, not just the occasion for devotions. Devotions can help one establish a suitable attitude for liturgy or allow one to meditate further on the Eucharist. They can make a connection with practical application of the Mass to daily life. MC 31

One of the concerns of the Church is the longing for Christian unity. Marian devotions thus should have an ecumenical element. We can unite ourselves especially with the Orthodox Churches and Anglicans who foster sound devotion to the Blessed Mother. Emphasizing Mary’s role in the Christian’s life and using Scriptural references further unite us with other Christians. One should be careful to avoid exaggerations which could be misleading concerning Catholic doctrine. Devotion to Mary should be a path rather than an obstacle to unity among Christians. MC 32-33

Devotions to Mary should pay attention to changing views of the human person, particularly the role of woman. Mary ought to be held up as an example of her attitude, not in the concrete aspects of her time bound culture. e.g. listening to the Word of God, acting on it, her charity and service, being a disciple of Christ. Sentiments and means of expression change in time and the devotions should speak to the people of today. Search for deeper elements of Mary’s character which are timeless and worthy of imitation. MC 34-37

E. Finally, devotions should de-emphasize external practice in favor of serious commitment. Empty and short-lived sentimentality is counterproductive; instead “the spirit of the Gospel… demands persevering and practical action.” MC 38

“ … The ultimate purpose of devotion to the Blessed Virgin is to glorify God and to lead Christians to commit themselves to a life which is in absolute conformity with his will.” MC 39

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Old Version of the Perpetual Help Devotion

Principles: Trinitarian, Christological, Ecclesial
Guidelines:
Biblical, Liturgical, Ecumenical, Image of the Human Person

Behold, O Mother of Perpetual Help, at thy feet a wretched sinner (Image of the Human Person), who has recourse to thee and trusts in thee. O Mother of mercy, have pity on me; I hear all men call thee the refuge and hope of sinners: be therefore my refuge and my hope. Help me for the love of Jesus Christ (Christological): hold out thy hand to a fallen wretch (Image of the Human Person), who commends himself to thee and dedicates himself to be thy servant (Image of the Human Person) forever. I praise and thank God (Trinitarian), who of His great mercy hath given me this confidence in thee, a sure pledge of my eternal salvation. Alas, it is only too true that in the past I have fallen miserably (Image of the Human Person), because I did not come to thee. I know that with thy help I shall conquer; I know that thou wilt help me, if I commend myself to thee; but I am fearful (Image of the Human Person) lest in the occasions of sin I shall forget to call upon thee and so I shall be lost. This grace, then, do I ask of thee; for this I implore thee, as much as I can and know how to do; namely, that in the assaults of hell I may ever run to thy protection and may say to thee: Mary, help me; Mother of Perpetual Help, permit me not to lose my God.
 
Hail Mary…
 
O Mother of Perpetual Help, grant me ever to be able to call upon thy powerful name (Image of the Human Person), since thy name is the help of the living and the salvation of the dying. Ah, Mary most pure, Mary most sweet, grant that thy name from this day forth may be to me the very breath of life. Dear Lady, delay not to come to my assistance whenever I call upon thee; for in all the temptations that assail me, in all the necessities that befall me, I will never leave off calling upon thee, ever repeating: Mary, Mary. What comfort, what sweetness, what confidence, what tenderness fills my soul at the sound of thy name (Image of the Human Person), at the very thought of thee!I give thanks to our Lord (Trinitarian), who for my sake hath given thee a name so sweet, so lovable, so mighty. But I am not content merely to speak thy name; I would utter it for very love of thee; it is my desire that love should ever remind me to name thee, Mother of Perpetual Help.
 
Hail Mary…
 
O Mother of Perpetual Help, thou art the dispenser of every grace that God(Trinitarian) grants us in our misery; it is for this cause that He hath made thee so powerful, so rich, so kind, that thou mightest assist us in our miseries. Thou art the advocate of the most wretched and abandoned sinners (Ecclesial), if they but come unto thee; come once more to my assistance, for I commend myself to thee. In thy hands I place my eternal salvation; to thee I entrust my soul. Enroll me among thy most faithful servants (Image of the Human Person); take me under thy protection and it is enough for me: yes, for if thou protect me, I shall fear nothing (Christological); not my sins, for thou wilt obtain for me their pardon and remission; not the evil spirits, for thou art mightier than all the powers of hell; not even Jesus, my Judge (Christological), for He is appeased by a single prayer from thee (Christological). I fear (Image of the Human Person) only that through my own negligence I may forget to recommend myself to thee and so I shall be lost (Image of the Human Person). My dear Lady, obtain for me the forgiveness of my sins, love for Jesus (Christological), final perseverance and the grace to have recourse to thee at all times, O Mother of Perpetual Help.
 
Hail Mary…
 
Petition to Mary by Saint Alphonsus Liguori
 
Most holy Virgin Immaculate, my Mother Mary, to thee who art the Mother of my Lord (Trinitarian), the queen of the universe, the advocate, the hope, the refuge of sinners (Ecclesial), I who am the most miserable of all sinners (Image of the Human Person), have recourse this day. I venerate thee, great queen, and I thank thee for the many graces thou has bestowed upon me even unto this day; in particular for having delivered me from the hell which I have so often deserved (Image of the Human Person) by my sins. I love thee, most dear Lady; and for the love I bear thee, I promise to serve thee willingly forever and to do what I can to make thee loved by others (Image of the Human Person) also. I place in thee all my hopes for salvation (Ecumenical); accept me as thy servant (Image of the Human Person) and shelter me under thy mantle, thou who art the Mother of mercy. And since thou art so powerful with God, deliver me from all temptations (Biblical), or at least obtain for me the strength to overcome them until death. From thee I implore a true love for Jesus Christ (Christological). Through thee I hope to die a holy death. My dear Mother, by the love thou bearest to Almighty God (Trinitarian), I pray thee to assist me always, but most of all at the last moment of my life. Forsake me not then, until thou shalt see me safe in heaven, there to bless thee and sing of thy mercies through all eternity. Such is my hope. Amen.
 
Act of Consecration (to be said once each month)
 
Desiring to consecrate myself entirely to the service of the ever Blessed Virgin Mary, from whom, after God (Trinitarian), I expect all help and assistance (Image of the Human Person) in life and in death, I unite myself with the members of this pious confraternity (Ecclesial), which has been erected in honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. As my special patron I choose the glorious St. Alphonsus (Ecclesial), that he may obtain for me a true and lasting devotion to the ever Blessed Virgin, who is honored by so sweet a name.
I promise, moreover, to renew my consecration to the Mother of God and to St. Alphonsus (Ecclesial) once a month and frequently to receive the holy sacraments (Liturgical).
O Mother of Perpetual Help, receive me as thy servant, and grant that I may ever experience thy constant motherly protection (Image of the Human Person). I promise to have recourse to thee in all my spiritual and temporal necessities. My holy patron, St. Alphonsus (Ecclesial), obtain for me the grace of an ardent love for Jesus Christ (Christological), and the grace of ever invoking the Mother of Perpetual Help. Amen.

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New Version of the Perpetual Help Devotion

Principles: Trinitarian, Christological, Ecclesial
Guidelines: Biblical, Liturgical, Ecumenical, Image of the Human Person

Opening Hymn (Stand)

Section 1

Leader: Let us kneel as we gather together (Ecclesial) to honor our Mother and our Perpetual Help. We recall how she helped others. Her whole life was a lesson in love.

All: Mother of Perpetual Help, today we face so many difficulties. Your picture tells us so much about you. It reminds us to reach out and help those in need (Image of the Human Person). Help us understand that our lives belong to others (Image of the Human Person) as much as they belong to us. Mary, model of Christian love (Ecumenical), we know we cannot heal every ill or solve every problem. But with God’s grace (Trinitarian), we intend to do what we can. May we be true witnesses (Image of the Human Person) to the world that love for one another really matters. May our daily actions (Image of the Human Person) proclaim how fully our lives are modeled after yours, Mother of Perpetual Help.

Section 2

Leader: Mary, you were a woman of steadfast faith (Ecumenical). Your faith in Jesus (Christological) never wavered. Model of all believers, pray to the Holy Spirit (Trinitarian) for us. Help us not only to accept all your Son teaches (Christological) us, but also to put that teaching into practice (Image of the Human Person).

All: Mother of Perpetual Help, as a child Jesus (Christological) ran to you for comfort and reassurance. You did not see him as only a frail child. Moved by the Holy Spirit (Trinitarian), you accepted Jesus (Christological) as the Son of the Most High (Trinitarian), the long-awaited Messiah. Following your example of faith, help us recognize Jesus (Christological) in those we meet, especially the poor and the lonely, the sick and the elderly (Ecclesial). Keep us always mindful, dear Mother, that whatever we do to the least of our brothers and sisters (Ecclesial), we do to your loving Son (Christological). May His words live in our hearts (Biblical) and influence our lives and the lives of those we meet.

Section 3

Leader: Let us pray to be open to God’s Word.

All: Mary, woman of faith, you pondered and treasured the meaning of God’s words (Biblical) and actions in your life. You generously responded to His Word in faith. As we listen to God’s Word (Biblical) help us be attentive to His message. May the Holy Spirit (Trinitarian) enlighten our understanding, and give us the courage to put these words into practice. ( Biblical)

(If homily follows, all should be seated.)

Section 4

Leader:  Let us stand as we present our petitions: Grant wisdom and guidance to our Holy Father, Pope…, our Bishop…, our priests (Ecclesial), and all the leaders of our nation, state, and community (Ecumenical).

All: May your mother intercede for us, Lord (Trinitarian).

Leader: Grant peace and unity throughout the world (Image of the Human Person), especially in our homes and families.

All: May your mother intercede for us, Lord.

Leader: Grant that young people respond generously to the call of the Holy Spirit (Trinitarian) in deepening their faith and choosing their vocation in life.

All: May your mother intercede for us, Lord.

Leader: Grant us continued health of mind and body, and help the sick, especially… to regain their health according to your holy will.

All: May your mother intercede for us, Lord.

Leader: Grant eternal rest to all our deceased (Ecclesial), especially… and to the souls of all the faithful departed.

All: May your mother intercede for us, Lord.

Leader: Let us pause now to silently present our own personal petitions to Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

Section 5

Leader: Let us kneel as we continue our prayers:

All: Mary, humble handmaid of the Lord, we need your example today to discover God’s will in our lives (Image of the Human Person). You always gave God (Trinitarian) the first place in your life. Just as you pondered His Word in your heart (Biblical), help each of us to seek his plan in all that we do. Give us the conviction that nothing is more important than doing the will of our heavenly Father (Ecumenical). May we spend each moment in loving and pleasing Him. Help us follow your example in proclaiming (Ecumenical), I am the servant of the Lord (Biblical). I will what God wills (Image of the Human Person), when He wills it, as he wills it, because He wills it.

Section 6

Leader: Mother of Perpetual help, your picture reminds us that we are to carry our cross as Jesus did (Christological). With courage, he endured injustice, abandonment and betrayal, pain and suffering, even a criminal’s death.

All: Mary, we turn to you as our model in suffering and courage (Ecumenical). You shared in your Son’s suffering and death (Christological). Now you share in His Resurrection. We, too, share in the cross of Christ (Christological), and someday, like you, we will share fully in His Resurrection. Help us be patient in our suffering, and to trust (Image of the Human Person) in the loving care of our Father in heaven (Trinitarian). May those suffering sickness in mind or body (Ecclesial) experience your Son’s healing power (Christological). Help us follow his example (Christological), and through Him, with Him, and in Him, commend ourselves to the care of our heavenly Father (Trinitarian).

Section 7

Leader: Let us ask Mary to watch over all families.

All: Mother of Perpetual Help, bless our families (Ecclesial) with your tender, motherly love. May the sacrament of Marriage (Liturgical) bring husbands and wives ever closer together (Image of the Human Person) that they may always be faithful, and love each other as Christ loves us (Christological). Help all mothers and fathers love and cherish the children God (Trinitarian) has entrusted to them. May they always be models of a truly Christian life (Ecumenical). Help all children, that they may love and respect their parents. Inspire all people to value Christian marriage and family life (Ecumenical). Give us a sense of responsibility (Image of the Human Person) that we may do our part in making our homes havens of love and peace (Image of the Human Person) Mary, our model, help every family grow daily in genuine love (Image of the Human Person) for God (Trinitarian) and neighbor so that justice and peace may flourish everywhere in the human family.

Section 8

(The following Act of Consecration is to be said the first week of the month.)

Leader: Let us renew our Act of Consecration.

All: United with the members of the Confraternity (Ecclesial) of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, here and throughout the world, we consecrate ourselves to your service. We promise to renew this dedication once a month and frequently to receive the sacraments (Liturgical). We beg you to obtain for us the grace to imitate your great servant, St. Alphonsus (Ecclesial), in his love for you and your Son.

Section 9

Leader: From the first moment of her existence, the Holy Spirit (Trinitarian) filled Mary with His love. By his power, she became the Virgin-Mother of God (Biblical). Through the same Holy Spirit, she became the perfect wife, the perfect mother. Let us imitate her generosity, her openness to the Holy Spirit (Image of the Human Person), and say,

All: Come, Holy Spirit (Trinitarian). Fill our hearts with your joy and your peace, with your power and your love, with your constant Presence within us.

Leader: Receive the Holy Spirit. May He be with you to strengthen you, above you to protect you, before you to lead you, behind you to encourage you, within you to possess you totally. Through the prayers of our holy patron, St. Alphonsus (Ecclesial), through the intercession of Our Mother (Ecclesial) of Perpetual Help, through the merits of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament (Christological) of the altar, may the blessing of almighty God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Trinitarian), descend upon you and remain forever.

All: Amen.

Closing Hymn (Stand)

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Doctrinal Synthesis

Prayer to Our Lady of Perpetual Help

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