Our Lady Help of Christians: Missa “Salve, sancta parens“
There are two inscriptions of the first centuries of Christianity in Greek related to the Virgin Mary: : θεοτοκος (Teotokos, Theotokos, Mother of God) and βοηθεια (Boetheia, the Helper). The Fathers of the Church referred to Mary as “βοηθεια”. John Chrysostom used the title in a homily of 345, Proclus in 476 and Sebas of Caesarea in 532. After the Patristic period (5th century), other persons used it like Romanos the Melodist in 518, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Sophronius in 560, John of Damascus in 749 and German of Constantinople in 733.
In the view of Fr. Johann G. Roten, SM, the invocation of Mary as Help of Christians is part of the oldest prayer addressed directly to Mary, the Sub tuum praesidium, which was found on a papyrus dating, at the latest, from the end of the 3rd century. Praesidium is translated as “an assistance given in time of war by fresh troops in a strong manner.”
Beneath your compassion,
We take refuge, O Mother of God:
do not despise our petitions in time of trouble:
but rescue us from dangers,
only pure, only blessed one.
The Church has traditionally focused on two aspects of Our Lady’s help on this feast day. Firstly, the Church focuses in this feast upon the role of Our Lady’s intercession in the fight against sin in the life of a believer. Secondly, the Church has focused upon Our Lady as one who assists Christians as a community, through her intercession, in fighting against anti-Christian forces.
Although it is commonly associated with the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church has also known the devotion since 1030 in Ukraine, when the country was defended from a barbarian invasion. Under this title, the Virgin Mary is venerated by many Chinese Catholics, particularly at the Shrine of our Lady of Sheshan. In May 2007, Pope Benedict XVI designated her May 24 feast for the Roman Catholics in China, who face persecution and restriction from the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.
St Andrew’s Daily Missal: Mass p.1591
Hail, holy Parent, that didst bring forth the King who ruleth Heaven and earth for ever and ever. Alleluia, alleluia. (Ps. 44. 2). My heart hath uttered a good word: I speak of my works to the King. V.: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Hail, holy Parent, that didst bring forth the King who ruleth Heaven and earth for ever and ever. Alleluia, alleluia.
O Almighty and merciful God, Who didst wondrously appoint the most Blessed Virgin perpetual help for Christians in need of protection: grant in Thy mercy that after battling in life under such a protectress, we may be able to conquer our enemy at death. Through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son, Our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. R. Amen.
EPISTLE Eccles. 24. 14-16
Lesson from the Book of Wisdom. From the beginning, and before the world, was I created, and unto the world to come I shall not cease to be, and in the holy dwelling place I have ministered before Him. And so was I established in Sion, and in the holy city likewise I rested, and my power was in Jerusalem. And I took root in an honorable people, and in the portion of my God his inheritance, and my abode is in the full assembly of Saints.
Alleluia, alleluia. V. The rod of Jesse hath blossomed: a virgin hath brought forth God and man: God hath restored peace, reconciling in Himself the lowest with the highest. Alleluia. Hail Mary full of grace; the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Luke 11. 27-28
At that time, as Jesus was speaking to the multitudes, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to Him: Blessed is the womb that bore Thee and the paps that gave Thee suck. But He said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Luke 1:28, 42
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Alleluia.
For the triumph of the Christian faith we offer to Thee, O Lord, the sacrifice of propitiation; may the Blessed Virgin’s help render them of profit to us, for such a perfect victory ever comes through her. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
PREFACE of the Blessed Virgin Mary
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: and that we should praise and bless, and proclaim Thee, in the Festivity of the Blessed Mary, ever-Virgin: Who also conceived Thine only-begotten Son by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, and the glory of her virginity still abiding, gave forth to the world the everlasting Light, Jesus Christ our Lord. Through whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, and the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with these we entreat Thee that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted while we say with lowly praise:
Blessed is the womb of the Virgin Mary, which bore the Son of the Eternal Father. Alleluia.
Help Your people, Lord, who are refreshed by partaking of Your Body and Blood; so that by the help of Your most holy Mother they may be delivered from all evil and peril and be kept in every good work. Who liveth and reigneth with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.