The Lady and the Champ
by Rev. Robert J. Hermley

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There was once a priest who had a deep genuine devotion to our Blessed Lady.  It was a devotion taught to him by his mother and nourished more deeply by his local parish and the wonderful Redemptorist priests stationed there.  Mary was for him first and foremost, a Mother of Perpetual Help, always ready and eager to help him on his way to Christ's love and service.  A Mother in time of need and a perpetual source of strength and aid.

At ordination he had Our Lady of Perpetual Help engraved on his Paten and procured many vestments with Mary's image embroidered upon them.  Oh yes, he honored the Sacred Heart, too, but it was his contention that if Mary could get Jesus to change water into wine for a married couple to save them from embarrassment, that she could also get Jesus to change him into a very special priest, ready to aid and assist others who needed a helping hand - And then too, in a slight Machiavellian way he felt that if perchance he would stray a bit, Mary would also put in a special plea to her Son to get him back on the right track.  It was all very honest and sincere but there was, just ever so little, a bit of the embezzled heaven! He did often pray that Mary would always be near him in life and even closer at the hour of death.

So, the priest became Mary's champion on earth.  He championed her cause to the elderly, the sick and the hopeless.  He championed Mary's name to all who would listen, and to all with whom he came into contact.  We wrote and preached about Mary's motherhood and her love for all her children in Christ.

He honored and spread devotion to Mary under many titles, not only Perpetual Help which was his favorite, but also Our Lady of Fatima, Mother of Good Counsel, and Our Lady of Guadalupe and to Mary the Queen of Poland - Our Lady of Czestochova.  He wanted all people to know and love Mary as he did.  He truly became Mary's champ.  Borrowing an idea from Shakespeare he would say again and again, "Mary by any other name would still be sweet."

It so happened that when he died, Jesus Himself came to the gates of heaven for his judgment, and Mary stood at her Son's side.  "I do not know whether or not you belong here Father," Christ said, "I have not had a chance to check your entire record yet; but on my way here to this judgment, My Mother took Me aside and said, 'He is my champion' and that is all she had to say, for I know what she was asking of Me."

So, Jesus welcomed the priest into the Heavenly Kingdom, and as  the gates closed behind him, two happy people stood side by side in joyful rapture - the Lady and the Champ!