One can never go wrong being with Mary
10th National Convention of the Confraternity of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, Ugwogo-Nike, Enugu. Homily by Most Rev. Ignatius A. Kaigama, Archbishop of Abuja, 13th November, 2021
Readings: Isaiah 9:2-7; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2: 27 -35
The history of salvation mentions a very special woman for whom the Lord Almighty did great things, and generations to generations call her blessed. She is the one the Angel greeted, “Hail, full of grace. The Lord is with you” (Lk. 1:28) and Elizabeth said of her “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Lk. 1:42).
Over 700 hundred years earlier, Prophet Isaiah prophesied that through her a child would be born, the government would be upon his shoulder, and his name would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (9:6) Galatians 4:4 states that God sent forth His Son, through her so we might receive adoption as sons and daughters. That woman is our Blessed Mother, Mary, who at the foot of the cross Jesus handed to John who made a place for her in his home (cf. Jn. 19:27).
For us Catholics, two major pillars of devotion distinguish us in our spiritual journey: Eucharistic devotion and Marian devotion. One can never go wrong being with Mary, because she is full of goodness, purity, generosity, and selflessness; she is immaculate, all beautiful and a worthy daughter of God the Father, Mother of Christ the Son, loving Spouse of the Holy Spirit! Mary is celebrated, venerated, portrayed, honoured and revered by all generations for her unflinching cooperation with the divine plan of God.
As she pleaded earnestly for the wedding couple in John chapter two, to be protected from the embarrassment of lack of adequate entertainment for their guests, so will she plead for us in our moments of need. During this pilgrimage, let us beg our Blessed Mother Mary to obtain from her Son the Saviour either favours right here or when you arrive back home your blessing will be waiting for you.
“They have no wine” was her plea in Cana, and I believe it is also her plea for Nigeria which is lacking not alcoholic wine, but the wine of gladness and peace, security; national unity and cohesion; justice and peace; employment for youths; marriage stability; holiness, respect for the sanctity of human life, etc. To remedy this, she is telling us to do whatever her Son tells us (cf. Jn. 2:5).
Suffering for Mary was not just an abstract notion. Simeon prophesied that “a sword will pierce through your own soul” (Lk. 2:35). Her social life was interrupted when she conceived Jesus, she gave birth not in the luxury of a Teaching Hospital, she had to flee from the murderous threat of Herod with her Son to Egypt, the child once got lost, and she experienced the sadness of a mother seeing her Son die brutally on the cross. Scripture encourages us to rejoice when we share in the sufferings of Christ that we may also rejoice exultantly when His glory is revealed (cf. 1 Pt. 4:13).
In Nigeria, it has been a season of apprehension and suffering. Let us take our worries and the many problems facing our nation to the Lord in intensive and unceasing prayer by praying the rosary, participating in Eucharistic adoration, and repenting from our sins like the people of Nineveh.
We as Nigerian Catholics must tell our Mama of Perpetual Help about the irrational killings and attacks resulting in internally displaced people (IDPs); we are experiencing hunger and poverty and the deadly corona virus pandemic; the public service fueled by corrupt practices or blatant ethnic and religious favoritism. One gets a job or admission or recruitment not on merit but based on somebody one knows or how much one has! To conquer all these, we must intensify devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help as desired in 1866 by Pope Blessed Pius IX when he asked the Redemptorists to “make her known to the whole world”.
The Redemptorists in collaboration with members of the Confraternity of our Mother of Perpetual Help have been faithfully spreading this devotion. I am happy to be part of this pilgrimage here at this National Shrine to pray with all of you assembled from different parts of our dear nation. I congratulate the Redemptorist Vice Province of Nigeria, led by their Vice Provincial Superior, Fr. Joterio Aghoja, C.Ss.R, and indeed, all the members of the Confraternity of Our Mother of Perpetual Help for promoting this devotion in Nigeria, with many Catholics and even non-Catholics drawing closer to Mary. Mary is ever ready to assist us, to be there for us, constantly prepared to seek her Son’s guidance and support for her children. May this annual celebration bring down God’s blessings upon us and continue to bear lasting fruits in our Church and nation.
Mary remains the first disciple and star of evangelization because she heard the Word of God and kept it. Mary is not only blessed and favoured, she remains a channel of grace and refuge for us and we are neither spiritually orphaned nor abandoned because she stands with us in the face of difficulties. We ask her to intercede for all who suffer.
I urge you to carry your rosary and pray it always, and seek graces upon your families, our traditional, civil, religious, and political leaders. They need wisdom, prudence and compassionate leadership in order to sacrifice their personal ambitions and agenda for the good of all. We are all urged to increase devotion and to make others aware of the role of Mary in salvation history.
Do not be content with merely pronouncing the name of Mary, wearing her medal or the rosary in her honour; lead your lives in a way that proclaims her to be our Queen and Mother, a tower of refuge and hope. We must remain confident that our eyes will see the blessings of God upon us, on our families, and nation. With Mary, our waiting will never be in vain and our hopes will not disappoint us. The memorare reminds us that, “anyone who fled to her motherly protection, implored her help, or sought her intercession was never left unaided”.
Our beacon of hope, Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for us and for Nigeria, and indeed, for the whole world, for peace, harmony and genuine progress. Amen.