One of the benefits of having good friends is the good counsels that spring from the relationship. Experiences have shown that one who receives good counsels from friends hardly visit a therapist (counsellor); basically, because counsellors are people we listen to. Thus, if we listen to good friends, we can be counselled and guided properly. The greater number of good friends we make, the greater chances of always being counselled and guided properly. We are quite aware of the popular hymn “What a friend we have in Jesus…” The hymn reflects what our Lord Jesus Christ, our good friend, does for us; bearing our sins and grief, and sharing our sorrows when we approach him in prayer. This same attribute can be spoken of our Blessed Mother Mary, as one who counsels us and lightens our burdens in prayers. And so, today, being the eleventh day of our devotion in the month of May, we approach Mary, our dearest friend and mother, as the “Mother of Good Counsel”, as invoked in her Litany.
The invocation “Mother of Good Counsel” is actually one of the Marian titles that catches my attention. Its origin is dated as far back as the early centuries of Christianity. Interestingly, this devotion to our “Mother of Good Counsel” is centred on an icon of the Virgin currently displayed in Genazzano, Italy, in the Church of “Our Lady of Good Counsel.” History recalls that between the years 432 and 440, Pope Sixtus III ordered the construction of a church dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel, in the town of Genazzano, in Italy, next to an Augustinian community. In fact, the devotion to our Lady of Good Counsel became widely propagated by the Augustinian priests, and as a result, spread throughout the world.
Going beyond the title or popular devotion to our Lady of Good Counsel and dwelling on its spiritual significance, we see that the Blessed Virgin Mary’s counsel has a strong root in the Scriptures. The first biblical text that spontaneously comes to mind is the episode of the Wedding at Cana, in which Jesus performed the miracle of turning water into wine (cf. Jn. 2:1-12). The rich symbolism hidden between the lines of the Gospel of John would require a much deeper analysis. It was a wedding party. Jesus was not known yet; he had never performed a miracle and was not even a famous preacher. He was with his mother. He was just an ordinary guest at the party. Unfortunately, the wine finished and Mary saw the drama due to her maternal sensitivity. Caterers who serve meals at parties and feasts would easily understand Mary’s sensitivity when the wine finished because it is quite an unpleasant experience when foods or drinks are lacking in the middle of a feast or party. The embarrassment is horrible, with the thoughts of guests leaving the party without eating or drinking. In the middle of that embarrassment, Mary took action. She went to talk to her Son – “They have no wine.” Despite her son telling her that “His hour had not yet come”; Mary knew that Jesus would do something extraordinary, and in order to enable such extraordinary act, a good counsel was needed; as such, she said to the stewards: “Do whatever he tells you.” That was the Good Counsel, which still echoes in our ears to this day. Thus, the stewards followed Mary’s counsel and the extraordinary act took place – water was changed to wine. If Mary had not counselled them to do whatever Jesus tells them, Jesus’ order (‘fill the jars with water’) would make no sense to them. Nevertheless, they listened to Mary’s counsel, and the extraordinary happened.
Notice that Mary did not say “I think you should do this or that.” Her counsel was straight, direct, and convincing: “Do whatever he tells you.” Thus, devotion to her would always guide and direct us to always do the will of God. Her counsel is the gift of the Holy Spirit cultivated in silence and listening. By invoking our Lady as the “Mother of Good Counsel”, we are asking her to give us the Holy Spirit which she has possesses – “The Good Counsel”. This gift makes manifest in Wisdom, Fear of the Lord, Understanding, Knowledge, etc., in order to always to do whatever God wants of us.
Dear friends in Christ, the book of Proverbs 12:15, say: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel. Therefore, we are called in this month to return to the school of Mary – “Mother of Good Counsel”, that she might counsel us in doing the Will of God. Sometimes, just talking with a friend openly about our concerns can help. Thus, our Blessed Mother, like Christ, is that good friend and mother we can trust and always rely on in sharing our problems and challenges with.
Indeed, what a friend we have in Mary, all our grief and worries to bear, what a privilege it is, to listen to her good counsel in prayers. Many a time, we tend to forfeit peace and bear needless pains, all because we do not approach our “Mother of Good Counsel” in prayer. Therefore, my dear friends, do we have trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged, but seek the intercession of our dear friend and Mother of Good Counsel in prayer. Our Blessed Mother remains that faithful and true friend who has borne all our sorrows together with her Son at the scene of the crucifixion and knows how to counsel us out of our present sorrows and difficulties with the wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit – to do whatever God wants of us.
Let us pray:
Mother of Good Counsel, you know how to discern the will of God. Intercede for us with your Son. We want to follow your counsel and do whatever your Son tells us. May by listening to your counsel, we may come to receive the gifts of wisdom, knowledge and understanding. And that we may also be true friends to our fellow brethren by offering them the encouragement, discernment, counsel and strength needed in their difficulties and challenges. Amen.
Oh Mother of Good Counsel, pray for us that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Fatima, Vila Sabrina, São Paulo, Brazil
firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
PS: Have you prayed your Rosary today?