Feast Day Summaries - July 2020
July 5, 2020: The Mother of God of the Passion or Our Lady of Perpetual Help
The icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, or as it is known in the Eastern Churches, The Mother of God of the Passion, is commemorated on this day. Another of the feast days of the icon is on June 27, as celebrated in the Western Churches. Originating from Greece, the icon has been in Rome since, at least, the 15th century. It is currently enshrined in the church of St. Alphonsus Liguori in Rome.
The title of the icon reflects what we see depicted in it. On the right side of the Mother of God is St. Michael who holds the lance and the sponge, while on Her left side is St. Gabriel holding the Cross and the nails. The icon represents the Christ Child who, upon seeing the instruments of his future Passion, hurries to be comforted by His Most Holy Mother. And He does so in haste, indicated by the dangling sandal on one of His feet.
The icon of The Mother of God of the Passion is in a class of icons known as the Hodegetria: "the One who shows the way". Our Lady points to Her Son Who is The Way. She leads us to Christ and instructs us to go to Him. She is the comfort and perpetual help of Christians. Under this title, Our Lady has performed countless miracles and has been a source of profound consolation for those who, like the Christ Child, have run to Her and sought Her Assistance in every difficulty and circumstance of need in this life.
July 20, 2020: Glorious Prophet Elijah
When Israel was divided into northern and southern kingdoms, Elijah appeared as a prophet in the Northern kingdom in or around the ninth century B.C. In 1 Kings 17-19, 21 and 2 Kings 1, 2: 1-12 we read about the Prophet Elijah, the Tishbite from Tishbe in Gilead, who was one of the great prophets of the Old Covenant and prophesied and performed many great wonders.
At that time, Israel had turned away from faith in the true God and turned toward pagan practices. The people of God were led into pagan worship by Ahab, the king of Israel, and the pagan wife he had married, Jezebel. Following Jezebel's example, King Ahab worshipped the false god Baal. God sent the prophet Elijah to tell Ahab that because of his false worship, God would send a severe drought such that it would not rain for three and a half years. And so it happened.
But during the drought, God miraculously fed Elijah twice a day with bread and meat by means of the ravens whom He commanded to feed the prophet. Later, God sent Elijah to be fed by a widow in a town called Zarephath. When the widow worried that she only had a meagre amount of meal and oil, Elijah reassured her that, if she fed him first, God would provide that the meal and oil would not run out. And so it happened. Soon after, the widow's son became ill and died. But Elijah took the child from his distressed mother, prayed fervently to God, and God restored the child’s life.
Perhaps, the Prophet Elijah is most well-known for his victory over the 450 priests of Baal. In order to bring the people of Israel back to faith in God, Elijah proposed a challenge. Gathered at Mount Carmel, Elijah told the prophets of Baal to prepare an animal sacrifice to Baal while he would prepare an animal sacrifice to God. Neither camp would light a fire for the sacrifice. Instead, the priests of Baal where to pray to him to bring fire upon their sacrifice and Elijah would pray to God to bring fire upon his own sacrifice. Although the priests called on the name of Baal, lacerated themselves, and made commotion all the day, no fire lit their sacrifice. Elijah, on the other hand, repaired God’s altar, put everything in order for his sacrifice, and asked the people that both the sacrifice and the wood be drenched in water. In fact, he ordered the soaking of everything in water be done three times. Immediately following Elijah's prayer to God, fire engulfed the water-soaked sacrifice. Finally, the people fell down and worshipped God.
May the prophet Elijah pray for us so that we, too, may worship God in truth and righteousness lived out in our everyday lives.
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