The icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help shows Mary looking at us as she holds and comforts the infant Christ, who has been frightened by the sight of the instruments of the Passion which angels hold. The much-revered icon reminds us of Mary’s ongoing maternal care for us and our ongoing need to be like Mary, accepting and responding to God’s love. Monuments and other works of public art have recently come under scrutiny as part of the public and private conversations we are having about our nation’s original sin of racism. As Catholic Christians nourished by scripture and sacraments, we have experienced the ability of words, signs, and symbols to effect individual and eventually social change. Secular symbols also have power to shape our imagination. Consideration of these public icons can provide a way for us to acknowledge past and present racism. Whether the monuments are removed, moved, or historically contextualized and, perhaps, countered with other images, such reflection can help us bring to fruition our national values of liberty, justice, equality, and peace. Through such service, we become salt of the earth and icons of Christ.
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