With Christmas almost upon us, we have the opportunity to reflect on the joy of Christ’s birth and what it means to us as Catholics. As pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church, I often reflect upon that joy from the perspective of our patroness, Our Lady of Perpetual Help. She’s portrayed holding Jesus, and her icon is the sandal that dangles from His foot. This symbol provides much comfort in its familiarity. This simple gesture of a mother’s love is something both I and my parishioners can relate to in our times of need.

Fr. Greg Schlarb is pastor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Scottsdale.

This month, we celebrate the unveiling of a new sculpture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help at St. Francis Catholic Cemetery. This statue will serve as the focal point of the OLPH section at the cemetery on the north side of the Resurrection Mausoleum. Carrier Mausoleum Construction Company and Bronces Jorda in Spain developed the original mold for this statue, adding Jesus’ sandal at our request. This portrayal of our patroness in bronze will bring a sense of love and comfort to visitors at St. Francis, and it will have special meaning to those who are devoted to her.

As Mary loved her son, Jesus, so we gather during the holiday season to share our love with our own family and friends. This time of year provides us with a chance to come together, reminisce about happy times gone by and create new memories to take with us into the future. For those of us who have lost someone dear over the course of the year, it also serves as a time to remember our faithful departed and share with others the gift they were in our lives.

In celebrating the birth of Jesus together, we celebrate the light that dispels the darkness. In times of doubt and grief, Advent and Christmas remind us of the hope and joy Jesus brought to the world. We can take comfort in the assurance that through our faith—and the intercession of Mary—we will see our loved ones again.

Merry Christmas, and many blessings to you and your loved ones in the new year!

Fr. Greg Schlarb is pastor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Scottsdale.

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