Today, the 26 of April, the Augustinians worldwide celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary’s feast, Mother of good counsel. We celebrate especially in Nigeria today (26 April 2017)because we formally inaugurate the devotion in all our parishes.
The Blessed Virgin Mary is honored in the Church with so many titles and devotions, but the Mother of good counsel is special to us, the Augustinians. It is a title given to the miraculous picture of Our Lady and the Child Jesus at Genazzano in Italy.
Genazzano is in Italy, and in this place is a Church built in the 4th century dedicated to our Lady, Mother of Good Counsel. This Church was given over to the Augustinians in 1356, and in 1467 a renovation work started to which a widow named Petruccia sold all her belongings to help finance the work. Funds were not, however, enough to finance the project; more contributions were needed. In April of the same year, something amazing happened in this Church. The cloud descended upon this Church dedicated to our Lady of good counsel, and when the cloud eventually disappeared, an image of Our Lady and the Child Jesus was revealed, which had not been there before. The image, on a paper-thin sheet, was suspended miraculously. Soon after the image’s appearance, many miracles and healings were attributed to Our Lady of Good Counsel’s intercession. In 1727, Pope Benedict XIII instituted the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Since then, the devotion to our lady, Mother of good counsel, has been in the church and championed by the Augustinians.
Some people feel that the Church attributes divinity to Mary, a mere mortal. We recognize her as a mere mortal who has been blessed beyond every flesh and blood; the high level of our devotion to her may have suggested to these people that the Church considers her a divine being. We do not worship her but hold her in high esteem without fear or shame. We need to look beyond the fact that she is the mother of Jesus Christ to see more reasons why she must be honored. I have seen bad mothers, and it is also very possible to dishonor the very honor we received. But in the case of the Blessed Virgin Mary, she did not only become the mother of Jesus Christ by God’s grace, but she maintained her honor; she remained a good mother and a woman of faith. She treasured the word of God and remained with the Word made flesh, even to the cross. That is the more reason why she must be honored and emulated. She said “yes” to God even when she had the freedom to say otherwise. Her faith and humility deserve commendation; these should challenge us. She remains a role model not just to mothers but to all Christians.
Mary played a vital role in our salvation history, and she continues to intercede for us before her Son Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life. The devil himself knows the power of Mary’s intercessions and tries to discourage people from calling on her; he keeps raising people to criticize every Marian devotion. The devil will never encourage this devotion because they are sworn enemies from the very beginning. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel ( Gen. 3:15). I am a testimony to how the devil trembles at the intercessory power of the Blessed Virgin Mary, not because her name is the name by which we are saved, but because God has lifted her from her low state and pulled down the proud. God has humiliated the devil through this woman in her Son Jesus Christ. She is the “woman” in Genesis 3:15 and Jesus the “seed.” We, too, are seeds from this woman through our baptism in Christ Jesus. Mary is a gift from the cross. Woman, here is your son… son here is your mother (Jn. 19:26-27). We proudly express our devotion to this wonderful woman, especially through our Augustinian devotion; Mother of good counsel.