Marians join world in praying for the Consecration of Russia and Ukraine

By Chris Sparks

On March 25, the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception joined the rest of the Church in making a solemn Act of Consecration of humanity, and Russia and Ukraine in particular, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as the Holy Father, Pope Francis, had requested.

Pilgrims, Marian Helpers, and Marian Fathers all gathered at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, for the special Mass and Consecration prayer, which were also livestreamed.

Missed the Mass? Watch now.

Pray the Consecration prayer.

Why this act, and why now?

An historical moment
“We’re reaching an historical moment,” said Fr. Anthony Gramlich, MIC, rector of the National Shrine and lead celebrant for the day’s Mass, “in which our Holy Father will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary explicitly.”

“Russia has been consecrated,” Fr. Anthony said, referring to the March 25, 1984, consecration. Thirty-eight years ago today, on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, in union with the bishops of the world (to whom a letter had gone out on Dec. 8, 1983, inviting them all to take part), St. John Paul II had made the consecration of the world, and added, “In a special way we entrust and consecrate to you those individuals and nations which particularly need to be thus entrusted and consecrated.” According to Sr. Lucia, this consecration fulfilled Heaven’s requests, transmitted through Our Lady at Fatima in 1917.

But, Fr. Anthony explained, “this consecration is going to be explicitly for Russia and for Ukraine and praying for peace in Ukraine. We pray for peace for all so that all will have that merciful heart that Jesus wants us to all have.” No previous papal consecration made in union with all the bishops of the world had included explicit mention of Russia.

To make holy
Why do we consecrate something to the Lord? "We consecrate something to God in order to make it holy. Consecration literally means, 'to be set apart for a holy purpose' or 'to make holy,' so something that’s secular, something profane is given to God and is made holy, is changed,” Fr. Anthony explained in his homily. “That’s why religious consecrate themselves to God in order for God to change them.

“How was Jesus born the first time? Through Mary and the Holy Spirit. How is Jesus born the second time through souls? Through Mary and the Holy Spirit,” Fr. Anthony continued. “That’s why we consecrate souls. That’s why we consecrate nations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary — because we’re entrusting them to Mary for Jesus to be born again through Mary in that nation or in that soul’s life to transform them.”

Listen to Fr. Anthony's entire homily

Ukrainian bishops' appeal
The consecration came in response to the request of the Ukrainian bishops, who’d been appealing to Pope Francis for just such an act of consecration since the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine in 2014. The Ukrainian bishops renewed this appeal on March 2 in a public letter to Pope Francis, and the Holy See announced plans for the consecration on March 15. 

The context of the consecration at the National Shrine, after a Mass, and at St. Peter’s Basilica, at the conclusion of a penance service during which Pope Francis and other priests heard Confessions, reinforces Fatima’s call to the Sacraments and to basic Christian obedience. Servant of God Sister Lucia dos Santos (1907-2005), the longest-lived of the three Fatima visionaries, once told her personal physician, Dr. Branca Paul, “The miracles and secrets aren’t important. We must concentrate on Our Lady’s message. Live the Ten Commandments. That's what’s important.” Said Dr. Paul, “To this, Lucia added her 11th Commandment: ‘Do whatever God tells you. That is what Our Lady wants.’”

Pope Francis reinforced this in his homily at the Celebration of Penance, according to Devin Watkins of Vatican News. Watkins explained that the Holy Father offered reflections on humanity’s need for God’s forgiveness. Pope Francis said the renewal of the Act of Consecration is meant to consecrate the Church and all the whole of humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine, to Mary’s Immaculate Heart.

Turn to our Mother
“This is no magic formula but a spiritual act,” the Holy Father explained. "It is an act of complete trust on the part of children who, amid the tribulation of this cruel and senseless war that threatens our world, turn to their Mother, reposing all their fears and pain in her heart and abandoning themselves to her.”

The Pope added that we place all that we have and are into “pure and undefiled heart, where God is mirrored.”

To fulfill Our Lady’s other requests, please plan to begin or continue making the First Saturday devotion on April 2. You can also livestream the devotions from the National Shrine.

Chris Sparks is the author of the Marian Press book How Can You Still Be Catholic? 50 Answers to a Good Question.

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