From the Pastor: Our Lady of Good Health
This coming Tuesday, September 8, a day on which both the Novus Ordo and the Traditional Latin Mass liturgical calendars are in sync (although the prayers and scripture readings differ), is the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Logically enough, the celebration of her birth falls nine months after the celebration of her Immaculate Conception on December 8. This same date is also a special feast on a local Catholic liturgical calendar in India. It is the feast of Our Lady of Good Health.
I had never heard of the apparition of Our Lady under this title until sometime around 2012 when a holy Religious Sister from India introduced me to it. I have worn a medal of Our Lady of Good Health ever since and I call on her for protection against colds, flu, and now the covid virus. She has blessed me with such graces of health that I have never since been too sick to celebrate Mass, a good thing since I have not had an associate pastor during all this time! The internet can reveal more information than I can give here but I will give you a short version of the apparition to whet your appetite. I will shamelessly copy and paste directly from the website of the church of the apparition, velankannichurch.com.
Sometime during the sixteenth century, Our Lady with her infant son appeared to a Hindu boy carrying milk to a customer’s home. While he rested under a Banyan tree near a tank (pond), Our Lady appeared to him and asked for milk for her Son and the boy gave her some. On reaching the customer’s home, the boy apologized for his lateness and the reduced amount of milk by relating the incident that occurred on his way. On inspection, the man found the milk pot to be full and realized that something miraculous had happened. That man, also a Hindu, wanting to see the place where the apparition occurred, accompanied the boy. When they reached the tank, Our Lady appeared once again. On learning that it was Our Lady who appeared to the boy, the residents of the local Catholic community became ecstatic. The tank where the apparition took place is called "Matha Kulam" or Our Lady’s tank.
Some years later Our Lady appeared again. This time to a crippled boy who was selling buttermilk near a public square on the outskirts of the same village of Vailankanni. She asked him for buttermilk for her infant Son and the boy complied. Our Lady asked the boy to inform a certain wealthy Catholic man in the nearby town of Nagapattinam of her appearance. Not realizing that his crippled leg was miraculously cured by Our Lady, the boy rose up and began his journey. The man also had a vision the previous night in which Our Lady asked him to build a chapel for her. Together, the man and the boy returned to the site of the miracle.
This time Our Lady appeared to both. The man erected a thatched chapel for Our Lady at the site of Her second appearance. This chapel became a holy place of veneration to Our Blessed mother and She was called henceforth, Mother of Good Health ("Arokia Matha").
A few years later, Our Merciful Mother rescued a few Portuguese merchant sailors from a violent storm, which wrecked their ship. When the merchants reached the shore of Vailankanni they were taken by local fisherman to the thatched chapel. To give thanks and pay tribute to Our Lady, they built a small permanent chapel on their return trip. On subsequent visits they improved on it. The merchants dedicated the chapel to Our Lady on September 8th to celebrate the feast of her nativity and to mark the date of their safe landing to Vailankanni.
If you go to the above-mentioned website you will find much more information about the feast (the celebration actually starts August 29 and continues through the actual feast day). You can also see the chronology of the church building as it progressed from a tiny little chapel to a majestic shrine basilica. A novena to Our Lady of Velankanni (as She is also known), photos, prayer requests and personal testimonies are also just a click away. Strangely (or not?), not a word of covid is mentioned on the site.
The following day, September 9, another beautiful feast, though not on any liturgical calendar whatsoever, is celebrated in both Novus Ordo and Traditional Latin Mass parishes, namely, “Buy a Priest a Beer Day.” Notice that it is not called, “Buy your own Priest a Beer Day”, so feel free to buy one for just about any priest you wish. I would bet that even the Eastern Rite priests you know would appreciate you dropping off a beer or quaffing (a word I seldom get to use) one with them. If you buy one for a Traditional priest, I suggest a full-bodied, flavorful dark beer such as a stout or porter, whereas for a Novus Ordo priest a more fitting choice might be something light and fruity. (Chuckle or wince or groan, whichever you prefer!)
Along similar lines, remember, men, that the Holy League is resuming our “2nd and 4th Thursdays” meeting schedule the day after that, on Thursday, September 10, at 6:00 pm. Come for some manly prayers, catechesis, and camaraderie. If any of you don’t know what this is, just come and find out, even if you will be running late after work.
Holy Mary, Our Lady of Good Health, Our Lady of Velankanni, pray for us.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka