By Kevin J. Jones
Every Catholic Christian has a role to play in living out Pope Francis’ consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury has said in a pastoral letter.
“It is to Mary and for a mother’s help that we now turn at this troubled hour of history. We cannot forget that the peoples of the Ukraine and Russia have been united over the centuries in great love and veneration for the Holy Mother of God who is also our mother,” Davies said in his pastoral letter to his diocese, located northwest of Birmingham in England.
The letter was read in all churches and chapels of the diocese the weekend of Sunday March 27, following the Friday consecration of all humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine. Pope Francis led the prayers, joined by many Catholic bishops, priests, and other faithful from around the world.
“We each have our part in this consecration, by accepting Our Lady’s motherly help in opening our hearts more fully to the grace of God and all that is asked of us in the duty of each day,” Davies said.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to thousands of dead combatants, with many civilians killed and millions of people displaced from their homes. The war has revived many Cold War-era fears, including military escalation and even nuclear war.
On March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, Pope Francis led the world in a consecration to the Virgin Mary.
“Accept this act that we carry out with confidence and love. Grant that war may end and peace spread throughout the world,” the pope prayed before a statue of Our Lady of Fatima. “Through your intercession, may God’s mercy be poured out on the earth and the gentle rhythm of peace return to mark our days.”
Davies described the papal consecration as a conscious response to “the gospel message of prayer and repentance that was entrusted to the children of Fatima.” At the time of the First World War, three children in Portugal witnessed an apparition of the Virgin Mary in Portugal.
“The children of Fatima had no human means to overcome war and bring peace to the world,” the bishop said. “Two of these children would die in the global pandemic of a century ago and are numbered among the saints.
Yet, by a renewed love for the Eucharist and a new faithfulness to prayer, especially the prayer of Mary’s heart in the Rosary; and by the offering of the small sacrifices of each day, these children sought to follow the path of Mary’s heart and open the way for the world to receive God’s gift of peace.”
“We recognize that it is human sin which takes away the peace of the world, the peace of families and of whole societies,” the bishop’s letter continued. “Sin takes away our own peace and when this rejection of God becomes definitive, it removes our hope of everlasting peace.”
“Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means returning to the open heart of her son
on the Cross. It is an invitation for all our hearts to be open to divine love and the grace of repentance,” he said.
“In the face of the violence and agony of war we have witnessed a greatness of heart in the generous response of so many people, not least in our Shrewsbury diocese,” the bishop continued, praising support for victims and prayers for peace.
“The prayerful entrustment of humanity to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, calls us to accept her
motherly help in returning to the very source of redemption and never to lose hope,” he said. Seeking the intercession of Mary’s pure heart leads us “to trust that the power of redemption is greater than all the destructive power of sin and evil.”
“The Immaculate Heart leads us unfailingly to the fountain of redemption and grace flowing
from the sacrifice of the Cross and the Eucharist, which is Christ’s one sacrifice,” Davies added. “This is the profession of faith we make whenever we kneel to confess our sins; or to adore, receive and share in the offering of the Holy Eucharist.”
(SOURCE: CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY)