WASHINGTON, D.C. — Dioceses across the United States and Canada joined together on May 1 to reconsecrate themselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary in an act of united prayer for delivery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, led the American bishops in a liturgy broadcast from the cathedral of Los Angeles on Friday afternoon.
The reconsecration was announced last week by the USCCB, together with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a joint effort to entrust the two countries to the Blessed Mother during the suffering caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Bishops across both countries were encouraged to participate via live stream and to encourage the faithful of their dioceses to do the same.
Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto led the bishops of Canada in their own prayers of consecration earlier on Friday morning.
“Today, we ask our Blessed Mother to turn her eyes of mercy towards us — to help her children in this time of trial, when many are dying and our faith is being tested. We ask her to intercede with her Son, to protect us and deliver us from this evil of the coronavirus,” said Archbishop Gomez on Friday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
Archbishop Gomez said Mary has always accompanied the United States even before the country was incorporated, and that in “this difficult hour” it was once again time to renew this consecration.
“We entrust to her motherly heart, all our sufferings and anxieties, all our fears for the future,” said the archbishop.
The United States was first consecrated to Mary in 1792, by Bishop John Carroll of Baltimore. Bishop Carroll was the first Catholic bishop in the United States. In 1847, the consecration was renewed, and under the title of the Immaculate Conception Mary was named as the Patroness of the United States of America.
As Mary was the first person to be consecrated to Jesus Christ by virtue of being His mother and submitting fully to His will, “today, we ask God to give to us that same faith, that same courage,” said Archbishop Gomez.
“We ask His mercy and pardon. We ask Him to purify us and strengthen us to follow Jesus in seeking His holiness and His Kingdom,” he added.
Mary, said Archbishop Gomez, teaches the world about how to trust in God’s plan, and to open their hearts to Jesus.
“So,” he said, “let us give our hearts to Jesus, through the heart of his mother. All for Jesus through Mary.”
“May she who is the Mother of God and Queen of the Angels, continue to guide the whole Church in America,” said Archbishop Gomez. “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.”
Across the border in Canada, bishops echoed the prayers for Mary’s intercession on Friday, as they consecrated the Crown Dominion to Our Lady.
Earlier in the day, Archbishop Christian Lépine of Montreal praised Mary as the “model of holiness” and the ultimate guide for someone to emulate in their relationship with God.
Mary is “our model for living according to God’s plan,” said Archbishop Lepine.
“Through the simplicity of her life, we can contemplate God’s active presence in our life. Mary becomes a bridge, a channel between God and us. She prays with us and for us. Mary leads a simple life, but also a difficult one: Mary knows pain, and suffering.”
Lepine described Mary as someone “immersed in life and its difficult moments,” who can “understand our trials and give us the strength to hold firm, to be faithful, to continue on our path.
The date of May 1 was chosen for the re-consecrations as “May is traditionally considered a Marian Month,” Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington said in a statement released ahead of a liturgy which he led from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. timed to coincide with Gomez’s dedication on the other side of the country.
“We often have held special ceremonies declaring our love and devotion to the mother of God,” Archbishop Gregory said, and this year is no different.
At the consecration in Los Angeles, Gomez reiterated Pope Francis’ suggestion that families should take time to pray the rosary together each day in May.
“So, maybe we can all offer this little gift to Mary in the month of May,” said Archbishop Gomez.
“Maybe we can dedicate ourselves to finding time to come together every day, to pray the Rosary in our families and in our homes.”
“And may Mary our Mother continue to help us to stay close to her Son and to trust in his love.”