On Friday March 25th, Pope Francis consecrated Russia and the Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
While various forms of the consecration have been done, this time was different because the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox Christians asked for the Pope to do the consecration and to specifically name Russia and the Ukraine.
So why is this important?
Obviously, the situation in the Ukraine is impacting and threatening the safety of the entire globe. The consecration of Russia was specifically asked for by Mary in her 1917 apparitions at Fatima. Many have been waiting for this very specific act since the end of WW 1, WW 2, and the Cold War. Various forms of the consecration have been done in the past, but Russia was never mentioned by name due to the fact it was a point of contention with the Russian Orthodox church.
Why a consecration?
Pope Francis asked for Catholics everywhere to pray a novena leading up to Friday’s consecration. The Ukrainian bishops even published the text for a novena that references many of the requests of Mary at Fatima – and the often forgotten oppression and horrors suffered by Ukrainians under Communism.
While many people discount such novenas as cynical ‘hopes and prayers’, even cynics will agree that the first step to change is to admit there is a problem. Catholics have always understood that change requires prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and forgiveness/love. Prayer must come with admission of our guilt, gratitude for what we have been given, and thanks for prayers answered. It must also be paired with acts of self denial that help us turn away from bad behavior (much like going to a gym to get in shape!), almsgiving designed to help change the situation, and acts of reconciliation/forgiveness. Most important to all of those is that we admit we do not have all the answers ourselves and ask for help – inviting God into the broken situation. As people with free will, recognizing we need help and asking for it is the very invitation God wants in order to help us. It is no different than when we ask others for help.
So with that, I encourage you to read the text of the consecration and hear all those elements of the Catholic understanding of how change is to happen.
The full text of the consecration is here on the vatican website, but here is a short piece:
Therefore, O Mother, hear our prayer.
Star of the Sea, do not let us be shipwrecked in the tempest of war.
Ark of the New Covenant, inspire projects and paths of reconciliation.
Queen of Heaven, restore God’s peace to the world.
Eliminate hatred and the thirst for revenge, and teach us forgiveness.
Free us from war, protect our world from the menace of nuclear weapons.
Queen of the Rosary, make us realize our need to pray and to love.
Queen of the Human Family, show people the path of fraternity.
Queen of Peace, obtain peace for our world.