MOST REV. DAVID J. BONNAR
Bishop of Youngstown
This is Bishop Bonnar’s March 25, 2022 homily for the Solemnity of the Annunciation, and the Consecration of Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
It is the custom on March 25th, exactly nine months before the birth of Jesus, for the Church to celebrate the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We recall that special encounter Mary had with the angel Gabriel who announced to her that she would conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit and bear who a son whose name will be Jesus, the Son of God.
What makes this day so sacred is not just the announcement by the angel but also Mary’s faith filled response summarized best in the Latin, “Fiat,” which means, “Let it be done to me as you say.”
When I was a seminarian studying in Rome, I remember one day the professor telling us in Italian these words, “Mary’s fiat drove her to the cross.” When he said this the entire aula burst into laughter because you see, fiat is an automaker in Europe. While it was a poignant pun, everyone had images of Mary driving a Fiat to the cross. But that is essentially where her “yes” to God in the person of the angel took her.
Mary is always with us at the foot of our crosses. Mary is also always present to us at the Holy Mass which is an extension of the cross. In my private chapel, there is an image of Mary on the wall beside the altar which serves to always remind me of her presence at Holy Mass and in the crosses of our Christian lives.
Led by our Holy Father, we turn to Mary today, at the same hour, and not only celebrate the joyful mystery of the annunciation but also her influence and intercession on our lives. In a particular way, we lift our hearts in prayer for the people of Ukraine and Russia in what is for us the greatest of prayers, the Holy Mass, and we echo the prayer and desire of our Holy Father that Ukraine and Russia be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. To be consecrated is to be set apart for the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
We know that when Our Lady appeared to the three shepherd children at Fatima, she encouraged promotion to her Immaculate Heart throughout the world. Such devotion could yield the promise of peace for the world and guard against war, famines, and persecutions.
There is nothing quite like a mother’s heart. We are all familiar with the image of a mother holding her newborn next to her heart bringing a sense of calm. The beating of a mother’s heart exudes protection and peace. The Immaculate Heart of Mary offers a loving embrace to those who are restless, homeless and under fire. An image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary from Vienna, Austria depicts seven wounds pointing to the seven sorrows of Mary. The Immaculate Heart empathizes with the pain and sorrows of others because she herself knows pain. The Immaculate Heart oozes with compassion.
In times of war, loss, and disillusionment it is tempting for any human being to lose heart and despair. The steady beating of the Immaculate Heart of Mary promises peace and hope. God knows there is a great need for peace and hope in Ukraine and Russia.
As the Holy Father consecrates Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we for our part need to look within our hearts and amid our own sufferings find tenderness and mercy for the people of Ukraine and Russia. What can we do in the face of this situation which seems so heartbreaking especially as we see and hear all the stories of death and destruction to an innocent people?
The Lenten season in which we find ourselves offers three possible responses. First, we pray. We need to storm heaven and seek the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary so that war will be overcome by peace, hatred eradicated by love, evil conquered by goodness and grace. We need to pray that all those lost and scattered from their native land will be safely reunited.
On Saturday, March 12th at a Mass in Rome, the Holy Father spoke about the importance of prayer regarding the situation in Ukraine. He said, “Let us also ask: how are we bringing the present war to our prayers?” We need to pray!
Second, we fast. We need to allow our acts of self-denial to become a prayer offering for the people who are suffering in Ukraine and Russia. We also need to fast from complaining about our situation. We are so blessed, and yet, we can so easily take our freedoms, comforts, and peace for granted. We need to fast!
Third, we give alms or do charitable works. The Ukrainian people need us. They are counting on us. Recently I had lunch with two of our Polish born priests. Given that there are now over 2 million refugees, many of whom have sought refuge in Poland, I asked these priests where they are placing all these people. They said, “Bishop, the Polish people are opening their homes to them.” The refuges are not yet at our doorstep, nonetheless, we can help them by our donations.
We have heard that there will be about 100,000 possible refugees coming to America from Ukraine. We need to do our part to welcome these people as our ancestors were welcomed many years ago. We need to do charitable works!
Mary’s “fiat” is an example and model for us. When we say “yes” to following Jesus we are also saying “yes” to the cross, not just our own cross, but the crosses and burdens and sufferings of others. In fact, Saint Paul reminds us that when one member of the Body of Christ suffers, we all suffer with them. And when one knows joy, we all share in that joy.
Today we entrust Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in what is for them their own stations of the cross. May we continue to seek Mary’s intercession upon them, and may we do all that we can to be like Simon and help them carry their cross.
Act of Consecration
Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Prayed on March 25, 2022 (Solemnity of the Annunciation) by:
Pope Francis | Basilica of Saint Peter, Rome
Bishop David Bonnar | St. Columba Cathedral, Youngstown
And by bishops around the world
O Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, in this time of trial we turn to you. As our Mother, you love us and know us: no concern of our hearts is hidden from you. Mother of mercy, how often we have experienced your watchful care and your peaceful presence! You never cease to guide us to Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
Yet we have strayed from that path of peace. We have forgotten the lesson learned from the tragedies of the last century, the sacrifice of the millions who fell in two world wars. We have disregarded the commitments we made as a community of nations. 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. We chose to ignore God, to be satisfied with our illusions, to grow arrogant and aggressive, to suppress innocent lives and to stockpile weapons. We stopped being our neighbour’s keepers and stewards of our common home. We have ravaged the garden of the earth with war and by our sins we have broken the heart of our heavenly Father, who desires us to be brothers and sisters. We grew indifferent to everyone and everything except ourselves. Now with shame we cry out: Forgive us, Lord!
Holy Mother, amid the misery of our sinfulness, amid our struggles and weaknesses, amid the mystery of iniquity that is evil and war, you remind us that God never abandons us, but continues to look upon us with love, ever ready to forgive us and raise us up to new life. He has given you to us and made your Immaculate Heart a refuge for the Church and for all humanity. By God’s gracious will, you are ever with us; even in the most troubled moments of our history, you are there to guide us with tender love.
We now turn to you and knock at the door of your heart. We are your beloved children. In every age you make yourself known to us, calling us to conversion. At this dark hour, help us and grant us your comfort. Say to us once more: “Am I not here, I who am your Mother?” You are able to untie the knots of our hearts and of our times. In you we place our trust. We are confident that, especially in moments of trial, you will not be deaf to our supplication and will come to our aid.
That is what you did at Cana in Galilee, when you interceded with Jesus and he worked the first of his signs. To preserve the joy of the wedding feast, you said to him: “They have no wine” (Jn 2:3). Now, O Mother, repeat those words and that prayer, for in our own day we have run out of the wine of hope, joy has fled, fraternity has faded. We have forgotten our humanity and squandered the gift of peace. We opened our hearts to violence and destructiveness. How greatly we need your maternal help!
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.
O Mother, may your sorrowful plea stir our hardened hearts. May the tears you shed for us make this valley parched by our hatred blossom anew. Amid the thunder of weapons, may your prayer turn our thoughts to peace. May your maternal touch soothe those who suffer and flee from the rain of bombs. May your motherly embrace comfort those forced to leave their homes and their native land. May your Sorrowful Heart move us to compassion and inspire us to open our doors and to care for our brothers and sisters who are injured and cast aside.
Holy Mother of God, as you stood beneath the cross, Jesus, seeing the disciple at your side, said: “Behold your son” (Jn 19:26). In this way he entrusted each of us to you. To the disciple, and to each of us, he said: “Behold, your Mother” (v. 27). Mother Mary, we now desire to welcome you into our lives and our history. At this hour, a weary and distraught humanity stands with you beneath the cross, needing to entrust itself to you and, through you, to consecrate itself to Christ. The people of Ukraine and Russia, who venerate you with great love, now turn to you, even as your heart beats with compassion for them and for all those peoples decimated by war, hunger, injustice and poverty.
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. Accept this act that we carry out with confidence and love. Grant that war may end and peace spread throughout the world. The “Fiat” that arose from your heart opened the doors of history to the Prince of Peace. We trust that, through your heart, peace will dawn once more. To you we consecrate the future of the whole human family, the needs and expectations of every people, the anxieties and hopes of the world.
Through your intercession, may God’s mercy be poured out on the earth and the gentle rhythm of peace return to mark our days. Our Lady of the “Fiat”, on whom the Holy Spirit descended, restore among us the harmony that comes from God. May you, our “living fountain of hope”, water the dryness of our hearts. In your womb Jesus took flesh; help us to foster the growth of communion. You once trod the streets of our world; lead us now on the paths of peace. Amen.
ACTO DE CONSAGRACIÓN AL CORAZÓN INMACULADO DE MARÍA
Oh María, Madre de Dios y Madre nuestra, nosotros, en esta hora de tribulación, recurrimos a ti. Tú eres nuestra Madre, nos amas y nos conoces, nada de lo que nos preocupa se te oculta. Madre de misericordia, muchas veces hemos experimentado tu ternura providente, tu presencia que nos devuelve la paz, porque tú siempre nos llevas a Jesús, Príncipe de la paz.
Nosotros hemos perdido la senda de la paz. Hemos olvidado la lección de las tragedias del siglo pasado, el sacrificio de millones de caídos en las guerras mundiales. Hemos desatendido los compromisos asumidos como Comunidad de Naciones y estamos traicionando los sueños de paz de los pueblos y las esperanzas de los jóvenes. Nos hemos enfermado de avidez, nos hemos encerrado en intereses nacionalistas, nos hemos dejado endurecer por la indiferencia y paralizar por el egoísmo. Hemos preferido ignorar a Dios, convivir con nuestras falsedades, alimentar la agresividad, suprimir vidas y acumular armas, olvidándonos de que somos custodios de nuestro prójimo y de nuestra casa común. Hemos destrozado con la guerra el jardín de la tierra, hemos herido con el pecado el corazón de nuestro Padre, que nos quiere hermanos y hermanas. Nos hemos vuelto indiferentes a todos y a todo, menos a nosotros mismos. Y con vergüenza decimos: perdónanos, Señor.
En la miseria del pecado, en nuestros cansancios y fragilidades, en el misterio de la iniquidad del mal y de la guerra, tú, Madre Santa, nos recuerdas que Dios no nos abandona, sino que continúa mirándonos con amor, deseoso de perdonarnos y levantarnos de nuevo. Es Él quien te ha entregado a nosotros y ha puesto en tu Corazón inmaculado un refugio para la Iglesia y para la humanidad. Por su bondad divina estás con nosotros, e incluso en las vicisitudes más adversas de la historia nos conduces con ternura.
Por eso recurrimos a ti, llamamos a la puerta de tu Corazón, nosotros, tus hijos queridos que no te cansas jamás de visitar e invitar a la conversión. En esta hora oscura, ven a socorrernos y consolarnos. Repite a cada uno de nosotros: “¿Acaso no estoy yo aquí, que soy tu Madre?”. Tú sabes cómo desatar los enredos de nuestro corazón y los nudos de nuestro tiempo. Ponemos nuestra confianza en ti. Estamos seguros de que tú, sobre todo en estos momentos de prueba, no desprecias nuestras súplicas y acudes en nuestro auxilio.
Así lo hiciste en Caná de Galilea, cuando apresuraste la hora de la intervención de Jesús e introdujiste su primer signo en el mundo. Cuando la fiesta se había convertido en tristeza le dijiste: «No tienen vino» (Jn 2,3). Repíteselo otra vez a Dios, oh Madre, porque hoy hemos terminado el vino de la esperanza, se ha desvanecido la alegría, se ha aguado la fraternidad. Hemos perdido la humanidad, hemos estropeado la paz. Nos hemos vuelto capaces de todo tipo de violencia y destrucción. Necesitamos urgentemente tu ayuda materna.
Acoge, oh Madre, nuestra súplica.
Tú, estrella del mar, no nos dejes naufragar en la tormenta de la guerra.
Tú, arca de la nueva alianza, inspira proyectos y caminos de reconciliación.
Tú, “tierra del Cielo”, vuelve a traer la armonía de Dios al mundo.
Extingue el odio, aplaca la venganza, enséñanos a perdonar.
Líbranos de la guerra, preserva al mundo de la amenaza nuclear.
Reina del Rosario, despierta en nosotros la necesidad de orar y de amar.
Reina de la familia humana, muestra a los pueblos la senda de la fraternidad.
Reina de la paz, obtén para el mundo la paz.
Que tu llanto, oh Madre, conmueva nuestros corazones endurecidos. Que las lágrimas que has derramado por nosotros hagan florecer este valle que nuestro odio ha secado. Y mientras el ruido de las armas no enmudece, que tu oración nos disponga a la paz. Que tus manos maternas acaricien a los que sufren y huyen bajo el peso de las bombas. Que tu abrazo materno consuele a los que se ven obligados a dejar sus hogares y su país. Que tu Corazón afligido nos mueva a la compasión, nos impulse a abrir puertas y a hacernos cargo de la humanidad herida y descartada.
Santa Madre de Dios, mientras estabas al pie de la cruz, Jesús, viendo al discípulo junto a ti, te dijo: «Ahí tienes a tu hijo» (Jn 19,26), y así nos encomendó a ti. Después dijo al discípulo, a cada uno de nosotros: «Ahí tienes a tu madre» (v. 27). Madre, queremos acogerte ahora en nuestra vida y en nuestra historia. En esta hora la humanidad, agotada y abrumada, está contigo al pie de la cruz. Y necesita encomendarse a ti, consagrarse a Cristo a través de ti. El pueblo ucraniano y el pueblo ruso, que te veneran con amor, recurren a ti, mientras tu Corazón palpita por ellos y por todos los pueblos diezmados a causa de la guerra, el hambre, las injusticias y la miseria.
Por eso, Madre de Dios y nuestra, nosotros solemnemente encomendamos y consagramos a tu Corazón inmaculado nuestras personas, la Iglesia y la humanidad entera, de manera especial Rusia y Ucrania. Acoge este acto nuestro que realizamos con confianza y amor, haz que cese la guerra, provee al mundo de paz. El “sí” que brotó de tu Corazón abrió las puertas de la historia al Príncipe de la paz; confiamos que, por medio de tu Corazón, la paz llegará. A ti, pues, te consagramos el futuro de toda la familia humana, las necesidades y las aspiraciones de los pueblos, las angustias y las esperanzas del mundo.
Que a través de ti la divina Misericordia se derrame sobre la tierra, y el dulce latido de la paz vuelva a marcar nuestras jornadas. Mujer del sí, sobre la que descendió el Espíritu Santo, vuelve a traernos la armonía de Dios. Tú que eres “fuente viva de esperanza”, disipa la sequedad de nuestros corazones. Tú que has tejido la humanidad de Jesús, haz de nosotros constructores de comunión. Tú que has recorrido nuestros caminos, guíanos por sendas de paz. Amén.