As we enter our seventh week under statewide “stay at home orders,” I continue to be humbled and amazed by the way our parishes and schools are responding to this ongoing pandemic with charity, creativity, and pastoral zeal.
Parishes and schools are serving our people in new ways — from daily livestream Masses, to online instruction, to serving children and families in need with great compassion.
I have been thinking a lot these days of St. Pope John Paul II, as we approach what would have been his 100th birthday on May 18.
As many of you know, St. John Paul has been an important inspiration in my life, and I was privileged to be appointed bishop by him. And I see what our schools and parishes are doing in this pandemic as a great example of the “new evangelization” that he called for, bringing Jesus Christ to the people of our time with a new sense of urgency and apostolic conviction.
St. John Paul often invoked Mary our Blessed Mother as the “Star of the New Evangelization,” and in fact, on several occasions he renewed the consecration of the Church and the world to her Immaculate Heart.
Our nation has been consecrated to Mary, and in fact our Blessed Mother has accompanied this great nation from the beginning. The first missionaries came to this continent under the mantle of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Our nation’s first bishop invoked the Virgin’s protection, and later the country’s bishops consecrated her as patroness of the United States of America.
On May 1, this time when our world is weighed down under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, the bishops of the United States renewed our country’s consecration to Mary under the title of Mother of the Church.
I had the privilege to celebrate the reconsecration ceremony at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, joined by more than 350,000 people online and millions more over EWTN, Relevant Radio, the Sirius XM Catholic Channel, El Sembrador (ESNE), Guadalupe Radio, and several other Catholic media outlets around the world.
In the service, we asked our Blessed Mother to turn her eyes of mercy toward us, to help her children in this time of trial, when many are dying and our faith is being tested.
St. John Paul is said to have renewed his personal consecration to Mary every day, and his deep devotion is reflected in his motto, “Totus Tuus” (“I am all yours”).
And in this month of Mary, I believe it would be a beautiful time for all of us to renew our devotion to Mary, who is the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, and the mother of every one of us.
Mary was the first person to consecrate herself to Jesus Christ, the first to offer her whole heart to do his will, to serve his beautiful plan of redemption.
Mary carried the child Jesus in her blessed womb, beneath her Immaculate Heart, and she was with him at the foot of his cross, when his own Sacred Heart was pierced. She goes with us now, as she always has and always will, the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of the Church.
As Jesus entrusted himself to Mary, we need to entrust ourselves to her and look to her as our model, as children look to their mother.
From Mary, we learn to trust that God’s plan of love will be fulfilled, in our lives and in history. From Mary, we learn to open our hearts to Jesus, to ponder his words and his life. And from Mary, we learn to do whatever he tells us, to surrender to the will of God; in everything to pray with her: “Let it be done unto me according to your word.”
As the saints teach us, the best way to grow in our love for Mary is to contemplate Jesus through her loving gaze in the mysteries of the rosary.
And Pope Francis is encouraging us “to rediscover the beauty of praying the rosary at home in the month of May.”
So, maybe we can all offer this little gift to Mary in the month of May. Maybe we can dedicate ourselves to finding time to come together every day, to pray the rosary in our families and in our homes.
Maybe we can start in a small way, even praying just one decade of the rosary. It will be something beautiful we can offer to Mary our Blessed Mother from our families. And we can have absolute certainty that she is interceding for us in these challenging times.
Pray for me this week and I will pray for you.
Let us give our hearts to Jesus, through the heart of his mother. May we keep in our hearts what she told us: that God has done great things for us, and his mercy is from generation to generation.
All for Jesus through Mary! She is the Mother of Fair Love and Holy Hope. And we know that in the end, her Immaculate Heart will triumph. For with God nothing will be impossible.