Alleluia, He is risen! He is risen as He said!
Happy Easter! We are just barely out of the Easter Octave, the Easter Day that lasts 8 days and yet is one day. We are now in the shadow of the Divine Mercy, and what graces the Lord pours out upon us from His wounded side!
But then after yesterday's feast of St. Mark, we have today the feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel. What an embarrassment of riches! She has a delightful history and is overjoyed to continue that history here and now in our lives. She wants nothing more (nor less) than to share the Good Counsel that Divine Wisdom, her dear Son now risen but once a little babe in her arms, has for us.
We have once again traversed Lent and Holy Week. Whether we were extra zealous or extra sleepy, those beautiful days fulfilled their promise and have brought us into Eastertide, and what a marvelous time to spend with Our Lady. After she witnessed Our Lord's Passion, formally received us as her children and held her dead beloved Son in her arms on Good Friday, after she waited through the long hours of Holy Saturday, after she received (as tradition tells us) the first Resurrection Visit of Jesus early Easter morning - ah, now she waits only to share all her compassion and fulfilled hope with us, her littlest children.
Here is what she says, as we gaze upon her lovely, delicate features:
"My dear little one. You have just been looking at me . . . My child, by a simple glance you have drawn to yourself my compassionate gaze." (Marcel Van's Conversations, 426) What power we have: simply by gazing upon her we draw her compassionate gaze upon ourselves!
The story of the original Our Lady of Good Counsel image in Genezzano is marvelous! Here is an account from the Missionary Sisters of St. Peter Claver, whose special patroness she is:
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Devotion to the Mother of Good Counsel is associated with the story of a miraculous icon. The sacred image is found in a church in Genazzano, a beautiful town thirty miles south-east of Rome. The church dedicated to the Mother of Good Counsel was built there in the fourth century. In 1356 the church was given over to the Augustinians. Restoration started in 1467, when a widow, Petruccia, sold all her belongings to help finance the project. However, funds ran out before the task was completed.
That same year, all the residents of Genazzano heard a beautiful melody coming from heaven. As they looked up, they saw a white, shining cloud that descended on the church of the Mother of Good Counsel. The cloud gradually vanished, revealing a beautiful painting of Our Lady tenderly holding her Divine Son in her arms. Immediately, Mary began to cure the sick and grant countless graces.
The news spread throughout the country. Two Albanians from Scutari appeared in the town with a curious tale. They had fled from their homeland to escape the invading Turks. Before fleeing, they had stopped in the church and had seen how the icon of Our Lady, wrapped in a white cloud, lifted off the wall on which it had hung for two centuries. They followed the picture until they could see the towers of Rome, when it suddenly disappeared. The mysterious icon of Genezzano was identical to the one in the church in Scutari.
The amazing news reached Rome. Pope Paul II sent two bishops to investigate the story. The prelates reported that 171 miracles were recorded in the months following the icon’s appearance. The pope’s commission also found that there was an empty space on the church wall at Scutari. An icon that had been venerated there for centuries was, indeed, missing.
The image was painted on a sheet of plaster so thin that it would have been impossible for any human hand to remove it without damage. It had survived the subsequent centuries through the tumult of several earthquakes and withstood the bombing during World War II. Several altars were destroyed, walls caved in, and the roof was crushed. The icon, only yards away from the explosion, remained intact.
In 1753, Pope Benedict XIV established the Pious Union of Our Lady of Good Counsel to promote devotion to Mary under this title. Pope Leo XIII added the title Mother of Good Counsel to the Litany of Loreto. Pope Pius XII dedicated his term of office to Our Lady of Good Counsel. And Pope John XXIII visited her shrine to pray for the success of the Second Vatican Council.
The icon at Genazzano is about a foot wide and eighteen inches high. It depicts a mother figure that is half turned toward her son and half toward the viewer, reflecting Mary’s concern for both Jesus and his Church.
If Our Blessed Mother is willing to ask her Son to work miracles to let us know of her motherly concern, Our Lady of Good Counsel is certainly willing to speak words of advice and instruction to help us over the hurdles of our daily lives.
Our Lady of Good Counsel, pray for us!
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Two more things I love about this picture in Genezzano:
First, the eggshell thin image is actually not attached to the wall! It miraculously hangs in the air a short distance away from the wall!
Second, when Our Lady and little Jesus are saying yes to a request, ready to grant a miracle, their images become rosy cheeked!
How they love us., and how they want us to ask for favors. They will pour out their love upon us no matter what, but when we ask, they are thrilled to respond with even more graces. Do you have any special requests? I know I have a growing pile of intentions in my heart, and I commend these - and your needs - to our dear Mother of Good Counsel and Divine Wisdom in her arms. She says to us, "My dear child, remain in peace, all right? Little Jesus has not scolded you; neither have I. Our sole intention, both of us, is to get rid of your troubles. Do not worry. I love you dearly." (Conversations, 426)
As for her good counsel pertaining to our particular needs - it is time to snuggle close to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary and listen. They will tell us what it is we are in such desperate straits to hear, the advice we need. Our job is to quiet ourselves, cozy up, and listen. Oh, and throw in a "Jesus, I trust in You!" or two for good measure!
May your Easter be replete with love, joy, and peace, as well as answered prayers. And may Our Lady, Our dearest Mother, whisper into your heart every needed good counsel!
Draw me, we will run!
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