As we look at the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help and place ourselves in a space of prayer before it, we become aware that we are before something filled with holiness, and we are drawn into God’s presence through the eyes of Mary as she looks at us.
The process of unlocking the miraculous dimension of the icon is discovered through contemplative prayer. Through the prayer practice of gazing, we enable ourselves to step from our regular routine and place ourselves in a posture of silent prayer.
Icons are created to give us the opportunity to enter into the space of the holy. Mary’s gaze draws us into the icon, enabling us to give ourselves to the divine energy contained therein. In this space, we encounter the miraculous experience of the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. The way into the miraculous space of this icon is through the prayer of gazing.
The Prayer of Gazing:
Prayer is descending with the mind into the heart and standing in the presence of God. This is truly the practice of praying with icons. It is important that in whatever prayer petition we use that we have the icon at eye level.
The prayer of gazing is a powerful form of contemplative prayer. Our eyes behold the beauty and glory of God present before us. As you begin your prayer of gazing, quiet yourself and become aware of your breathing. As distractions come into your mind, gently acknowledge them and let them go.
After a few minutes of silence, close your eyes and become aware of your desire to be with God at this moment. Ask God to help you release any-thing distancing you from the closeness of God.
Let your eyes make contact with the image. Go with whatever thoughts enter your mind about the icon. Usually they will lead to feelings and thoughts about the mystery of Christ. When distractions occur, let your gazing be the tool that brings you back to reflecting on the icon.
Close your eyes and try to retain a sense of the icon in your awareness. Then let it fade to a formless presence and remain in this silence as long as you wish. Conclude your prayer time by praying the Our Father slowly in a low voice.
Feast of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is June 27