Mass Consecrating Ukraine and Russia to the Blessed Virgin Mary
25 March 2022

Today, at this very hour in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, our Holy Father, Pope Francis will place the people of Russia and Ukraine under the special protection of Mary, the Mother of God, in an act of consecration.  While Saint John Paul II consecrated Russia to Our Blessed Mother in 1984, today’s act renews our trust in God and Mary’s intercession to protect the people of Russia and Ukraine in this time of great hardship and suffering.  It is also a radical call to conversion for all peoples, including me and you – a call that ultimately sets the stage for true and lasting peace in our hearts, our families and our world.

Earlier this month, the Latin Catholic bishops of Ukraine asked Pope Francis to publicly perform this act of consecration on behalf of their own people and the people of Russia.  In speaking of this sacred moment, one Ukrainian bishop reminded his people – and us, “The important thing is that we ourselves pray along with the Holy Father.  It is about our hearts.  ….  Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is not magic; it is prayer.  ….  We want to ask Our Lady with her heavenly power that the shedding of blood may stop, as soon as possible.”

Brother and sisters, may we make this prayer of Pope Francis our own this day.  …  Not one of us in our cathedral has not been heartbroken by the suffering and death of countless numbers of innocent lives, inflicted because of greed, a lust for power and a disregard for the gift of human life and the very God in whose image and likeness all human life is made.  ….  Not one of us hasn’t, at moments during the course of this war, felt helpless in our desire to stand in solidarity with suffering members of the Body of Christ.

Yet, despite our frustrations in bringing consolation and peace and an end to the violence and aggression inflicted upon the people of Ukraine, we Christians ought never forget that we do indeed have a way to respond to this tragic moment.  We have the power of God, won for us through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus and given to us through the gift of faith.

How fitting that we gather on this Solemnity of the Annunciation of the birth of Jesus to Mary.  Mary’s faith and trust in the power of God at work in her life allowed her to say “yes” to God’s invitation to her to give birth to His Son.  In so doing, however, she wasn’t given a pass on the uncertainty, pain and suffering that are so often a part of our lives and world.  She knew and experienced them all.  Her “yes” to God’s plan, however, was testimony of her belief in God’s enduring love and presence in our lives, even and especially in the most challenging moments of life.

Because of Mary’s willingness to journey in darkness with faith and trust, she stands before us as the first of the disciples of Jesus – a model for us all who seek to embrace the life of God in our own.  Indeed, it was because of her faith that God raised to the glory of heaven where, through the communion that we all share as baptized sons and daughters of Jesus, she intercedes for us with God on our behalf.

May we open our hearts in faith to the abiding presence of God in our lives this day and pray, with the help of Mary, our Mother, for an end to war, suffering and death for the people of Ukraine and Russia.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!