UPDATE: The words of the Holy Father's Act of Consecration are available here.
Bishop Stephen D. Parkes invites the faithful to join him for Mass on Friday, March 25, 2022, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, in the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist at 12 noon, the same hour Pope Francis will be consecrating Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Bishop Parkes will be celebrating Mass at this time in honor of Pope Francis’ request for bishops around the world to join in his Act of Consecration.
The consecration comes after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and is in response to a March 2nd letter from Ukraine’s Latin Rite Catholic bishops to Pope Francis, asking him to “publicly perform the act of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Ukraine and Russia, as requested by the Blessed Virgin in Fatima.”
We encourage Catholic Schools across our diocese to lead students in a special decade of the Rosary on that day or to offer a period of silence. Parishes may also take the opportunity to spend time in prayer with the Blessed Sacrament or dedicate the day to prayer for peace between Russia and Ukraine. If you are able, please consider making a special pilgrimage to your parish to pray and/or participate in the celebration of Mass on this holy day.
Both the Mass celebrated by Pope Francis and the Mass celebrated by Bishop Parkes will be livestreamed on the Diocesan website. Bishop Parkes' Mass will also be streamed on the Diocesan Facebook page.
“Consecration” means to set something apart, dedicate it to a sacred purpose or declare it holy. It is derived from the Latin word consecratus, the past participle of consecrare which means “to make holy, devote or sacred.” It encompasses the consecration of sacred objects, such as churches, altars, etc., and personal consecrations, such as to Mary, or when describing the “consecrated life” of men and women’s religious orders.
The Vatican’s “Congregation for Divine Worship” defines consecration to Mary as an overt recognition of the “singular role of Mary in the Mystery of Christ and of the Church, of the universal and exemplary importance of her witness to the Gospel, of trust in her intercession, and of the efficacy of her patronage.”
As Pope John Paul II explained on May 13, 1982, “Consecrating ourselves to Mary means accepting her help to offer ourselves and the whole of mankind to him who is holy, infinitely holy; it means accepting her help—by having recourse to her motherly heart, which beneath the cross was opened to love for every human being, for the whole world—in order to offer the world, the individual human being, mankind as a whole, and all the nations to him who is infinitely holy.
And Pope Pius XII said, “Consecration to the Mother of God is a total gift of self, for the whole of life and for all eternity; and a gift which is not a mere formality or sentimentality, but effectual, comprising the full intensity of the Christian life – Marian life.” This consecration, the Pope explained, “tends essentially to union with Jesus, under the guidance of Mary.”
While there is a long history of consecration to Mary, the practice of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is closely linked to the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. During the third apparition, on July 13, 1917, Our Lady said to the three little shepherds: “God wishes to establish the devotion to her Immaculate Heart in the world in order to save souls from hell and bring about world peace, and also asked for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart.”
Pope Pius XII consecrated the Church and the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during World War II on Oct. 31, 1942. “To you, to your Immaculate Heart, in this tragic hour of human history, we confide our fortunes, putting ourselves in your hands,” the Pope prayed.
John Paul II did the same on May 13, 1982, and again on March 25, 1984, at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Holy Year of the Redemption, in union with many of the bishops around the world. On Oct. 8, 2000, he made an act of entrustment of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the new millennium. Between them, Pius XII and John Paul II consecrated the Church and the entire world to Mary a total of eight times.
On Oct. 13, 2013, Pope Francis renewed the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and dedicated his pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima.
He will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during a penitential prayer service in St. Peter’s Basilica on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, Friday, March 25, 2022 at 5pm in Rome.
You can learn more about consecrations by reading this article.