On March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, bishops, priests and laypeople throughout the world joined Pope Francis in praying the following words: “Therefore, Mother of God and our Mother, to your Immaculate Heart we solemnly entrust and consecrate ourselves, the Church and all humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine.”
This Act of Consecration was a solemn moment of prayer in response to what the pope calls “the madness of war.” But it was also an impassioned plea against the violence and cruelty that humanity has visited upon itself and the world we inhabit (“our common home”) since the earliest days of human history.
Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Pope Francis has spoken out forcefully not only against this war, but also against wars in Syria, Ethiopia and other regions of the world. Pointing out that “we have strayed from that path of peace,” the Holy Father says that we “have forgotten the lesson learned from the tragedies of the last century, the sacrifice of the millions who fell in two world wars” and we “have betrayed peoples’ dreams of peace and the hopes of the young. We grew sick with greed, we thought only of our own nations and their interests, we grew indifferent and caught up in our selfish needs and concerns.”
While it’s easy to condemn the actions of one man, or one nation, the pope argues that the greed and indifference of many nations and peoples are at the heart of the problem.
“We chose to ignore God, to be satisfied with our illusions, to grow arrogant and aggressive, to suppress innocent lives and to stockpile weapons,” the pope argues in the Act of Consecration.
The shame we feel because of selfishness and indifference to the needs of others prompts us to cry out for forgiveness and to turn to Mary, the Mother of God and our mother.
Mary Immaculate is our refuge in times of trouble, including pandemics, natural disasters, economic and political turmoil, and the madness of war. She is the Queen of Peace who intercedes for all her children, reminding us that we can only find true and lasting peace in the person of her divine son.
Mary, the Mother of Sorrows, knew the bitter agony of her son’s crucifixion. She experienced the profound anguish and disappointment of the world’s rejection of Jesus and she watches with sorrow as we repeat the foolish mistakes of past generations, continuing to rely on military solutions to problems that can only be resolved by peaceful, nonviolent means.
Mary’s Immaculate Heart aches for us, her wayward children.
As responsible stewards of our common home, and the common good of all humankind, we must fall to our knees and pray with Pope Francis: “Holy Mary, Queen of Peace, through your intercession, may God’s mercy be poured out on the Earth and the gentle rhythm of peace return to mark our days. Amen.”
Dan Conway is a member of Holy Trinity Church, serves as a member of The Record’s editorial board and is a writer, consultant and stewardship educator.