The post I wrote about the icon a few years ago remains, throughout the year, one of my most popular posts so you can find it linked on the sidebar any time, or just click here to know everything you ever wanted to know about it. ;-)
As I have a deep devotion to this particular image of our Blessed Mother, and of course, the Passion of Our Lord that it portrays, I find it comforting that this year, I begin my summer reduction in work hours on her Feast day and conclude this "workweek" with the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
For those unfamiliar with the steady ups and downs of my life, during the summer, this being the fourth in a row of this particular hardship, my work hours drop from full time to part time. The first two years it dropped to 10 hours per week. I survived the first year on a good tax return, the 2nd year on the help of friends who paid my mortgage and sent me out East and throughout the midwest to visit a few religious communities, setting the conditions to finally do this: I considered the time to be a blessing and the support...amazing.
Last year I had an increase in hours to 25 hours per week for 6 weeks, so between that and not paying utility bills until I was back full time (playing catch-up), and my tax return, I scraped by.
This year is a different story. While I begin this summer on 25 hours per week, what's left of my already-meager tax return won't help me survive. My undergrad loans were transferred from a company that was helpful to a company that has no soul and in fact, INCREASED the amount they expect me to pay each month. My grad loan company is even MORE heartless and told me they don't have a financial hardship forbearance of any kind. (They're lying through their teeth but if they don't grant it, it's the same thing anyway).
So...this forces my hand. I'm in the process of filling out mortgage relief paperwork and my last attempt to keep my head above water until that can be completed and processed is to contact my mortgage company and see if they will allow me to skip a payment this summer. I'm asking for only one month, which I pray they grant me as I have never been late on a payment.
You see, then, how appropriate is today's Feast, for I do indeed, need perpetual help, both for my spiritual life and my continued financial existence.
In honor of the Feast, I plan today to sit down at my own Icon of Our Mother of Perpetual help and finally highlight Jesus' tunic - which I already messed up and have to "re-do" in a sense. Should I complete that, I will begin working on Our Lady's face, at long last.
I have decided, based upon how well the faces come out, to add gold leaf to this image, for if it turns out well, nothing less than gold would be proper for this particular window to heaven - should God give me the grace to ever complete it.
Please pray for me as I continue to write this very large icon, and please pray that somehow, God provides me with some kind of financial relief. While this latter is necessary, the fact is that I am in a better position than so many in our society, for at least I still have a roof over my head, good credit (but for how long before it all crashes?), and a position to bargain with at least a few creditors. There is hope and I keep grasping for it, grateful for the motherly gaze coming to me through Our Mother of Perpetual Help.