Bishop Joseph C. Bambera leads a special liturgy in renewing the consecration of the U.S. to the care of our Blessed Mother on May 1, 2020. (Photo/Eric Deabill)

SCRANTON – Bishop Joseph C. Bambera joined bishops throughout the United States in reconsecrating the United States to Mary as the nation continues to struggle in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bishops in Canada also used May 1 to rededicate their country to the Blessed Mother.

Bishop Bambera led a local prayer service at the Cathedral of Saint Peter. It was broadcast live on CTV: Catholic Television and livestreamed on Facebook, YouTube and the Diocese of Scranton website.

“During these days that continue to be painful for many of us, may we find hope in Mary’s example of loving, trustful discipleship and may we embrace Jesus’ invitation to rely upon her watchful and loving care for our Church and for our lives, especially during these days,” Bishop Bambera said.

The bishop noted Mary’s loving heart and her long journey of faith.

“From the moment that she was asked to accept the unbelievable, that she was to give birth to the Savior, through the power of the most high God, her entire life became a journey of trust in the midst of pain, suffering and struggle,” Bishop Bambera added.

Those tribulations make her example all the more important to us.

“Mary has stood before us, not as a pristine, porcelain figure who was shielded from this world. Quite the contrary, she is that simple soul who has known life as we experience it. A lonely figure at times who walked every path of life, of joy, but also of pain and suffering, to the point of letting go of her son on a Cross, allowing Him to be crucified, something that was so unfair and so undeserving,” the bishop said.

Bishop Bambera prayed for Mary’s intercession for the needs of our country, that every desire for good may be blessed and strengthened.

“Mary understands the brokenness of our world, because she experienced it, like you and I do. She understands the pain, the fear, the confusion, the doubt, the struggle, the grief, every one of those dimensions of life were woven into hers. Yet, throughout her entire journey in this world, she stands before us as a model of discipleship and faith, trusting that regardless of how her life unfolded, she believed fundamentally in the midst of everything that came her way, God’s promise to save his people would always come to pass. It is because of her role as such a trusting disciple and a mother that we turn to her today, at the very invitation of Jesus, as he prepared to lose his own life,” he added.

At exactly the same time as the service in Scranton was taking place, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, led a similar event at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral which was livestreamed to the faithful.

Alternating between English and Spanish, Archbishop Gomez said: “In this difficult time we turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of the church. She intercedes with her Son for all are affected in this way by the pandemic…We implore her maternal care for her children.”

Archbishop Gomez noted Mary’s history in the United States.

“The first missionaries came to this country under the mantle of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Later, the bishops consecrated her as patroness of the United States of America,” he said. “The Virgin Mary has accompanied this great nation since our beginnings,” he added. “Now in this difficult hour, we renew our consecration to her.”

The United States has been hit harder than any other nation in deaths connected to COVID-19.

“Mary was the first person to consecrate herself to Jesus, the first to offer her whole heart to do his will, to set his beautiful plan of redemption,” Archbishop Gomez said. “We ask God to give us that same faith, that same courage … the strength to follow Jesus, to seek his holiness and his kingdom.”

At its conclusion, Archbishop Gomez said, “Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is encouraging us to rediscover the beauty of praying the rosary at home in the month of May.” He noted “maybe we can dedicate ourselves to find time to come together as a family to pray the rosary in our homes.”

This reconsecration reaffirms the bishops’ previous consecrations of the United States to Mary. In 1792, the first bishop of the United States, Bishop John Carroll, consecrated the nation to Mary under the title Immaculate Conception, and in 1846, the bishops unanimously chose Mary under that title as the patroness of the nation. In 1959, Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle of Washington again consecrated the United States to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The consecration on May 1 follows a similar action of the bishops’ conference of Latin America and the Caribbean, who consecrated their nations to Our Lady of Guadalupe on Easter Sunday. Catholic News Service contributed to this report.