WASHINGTON — Bishops throughout the United States reconsecrated the country to Mary as the nation continues to struggle in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Bishops in Canada also used May 1 to rededicate their country to the Blessed Mother.
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, led a “Renewal of the Consecration of the United States of America to the Blessed Virgin Mary” May 1. The sparse, 37-minute ceremony at Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles was livestreamed on Facebook, YouTube and the websites of the Los Angeles Archdiocese and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Alternating between English and Spanish, Archbishop Gomez said: “In this difficult time we turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of the Church. She intercedes with her Son for all are affected in this way by the pandemic. … We implore her maternal care for her children.”
Archbishop Gomez noted Mary’s history in the United States. “The first missionaries came to this country under the mantle of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Later, the bishops consecrated her as patroness of the United States of America,” he said. “The Virgin Mary has accompanied this great nation since our beginnings,” he added. “Now in this difficult hour, we renew our consecration to her.”
The United States has been hit harder than any other nation in deaths connected to COVID-19, with 62,547 known coronavirus fatalities as of April 30, with about 2,000 more people dying each day. Although federal and state health officials have been advocating strict measures to “flatten the curve” of infections and fatalities, none have said that deaths have yet reached their peak. Some Americans have loudly grumbled about the slow pace of “reopening” states to travel and commerce, while health officials fear a second wave of infections.
“Mary was the first person to consecrate herself to Jesus, the first to offer her whole heart to do His will, to set His beautiful plan of redemption,” Archbishop Gomez said. “We ask God to give us that same faith, that same courage … the strength to follow Jesus, to seek His holiness and His kingdom.”
The ceremony featured Marian hymns including “Regina Coeli,” “Hail, Holy Queen” and a contemporary English-Latin setting of the Magnificat. It also featured the recitation of two decades of the Rosary: the fifth Sorrowful Mystery, the crucifixion and death of Jesus, followed by the fifth Glorious Mystery, the coronation of Mary as queen of heaven.
At its conclusion, Archbishop Gomez said, “Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is encouraging us to rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary at home in the month of May. We are still in quarantine in our homes.”
“Maybe we can dedicate ourselves,” Archbishop Gomez said, “to find time to come together as a family to pray the Rosary in our homes.”
A similar liturgy of consecration took place at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington May 1, led by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Washington, who prayed: “In this time of pandemic, we come to you, our sign of sure hope and comfort. Today we renew the act of consecration and entrustment carried out by those who have gone before us.”
Because of local and federal social distancing and self-isolation mandates in an effort to halt the spread of COVID-19, the rededication liturgy at the basilica was not open to the public, but livestreamed on social media platforms.
Archbishop Gregory prayed for Mary’s “intercession for the needs of our country, that every desire for good may be blessed and strengthened, that faith may be revived and nourished, hope sustained and enlightened, charity awakened and animated.”
Polls show faith is getting Americans through the coronavirus crisis
By Mark Pattison • Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON — Two separate polls show that Americans are relying more on their faith to help persevere through the coronavirus pandemic.
The Pew Research Center, in a survey released April 30, showed that nearly one-fourth of all Americans say their faith has grown stronger during the pandemic, while only 2% said it had grown weaker.
Catholics, according to Pew, are very much in line with the overall survey results. Among Catholic respondents, 27% said their faith had grown stronger with 2% saying it had gotten weaker. In addition, 63% said their faith had not changed much at all, and another 7% said the question was not applicable because “I am not a religious person and this hasn’t changed.”
Another poll by Fordham University released April 28 showed that Americans are being helped by their religious or spiritual faith during the pandemic, and the more often they go to church, the more they feel it has helped.
For those who go to church regularly, 68% said they have been “helped a lot,” and another 22% said they have been “helped somewhat.” For those who say they go the church frequently, 41% said they were helped a lot, with 45% reporting they had been helped somewhat. Even a majority of those who say they rarely go to church said faith has helped — 23% a lot and 32% somewhat.
Among all respondents, 35% said they have been helped a lot and 29% said they had been helped somewhat, while 34% said they had not been helped.
Significant percentages of Americans are reporting their faith has helped get them through a tough time yet they are unable to attend worship services. The Fordham poll showed 38% of Americans are attending less frequently, while 56% report no change. Just over a quarter are watching services more online or on television now than before the outbreak.
Regular churchgoers reported the largest attendance drop-off, with 67% saying they are attending much less often, 4% attending somewhat less often and 19% reporting no change. To compensate, 55% said they are watching online or televised services more than usual.
In the Fordham poll, 62% of Catholics said they had been helped at least somewhat by their faith. By comparison, 95% of evangelicals reported they had been helped at least somewhat, and just over three-fourths of mainline Protestants reported the same.
Pew’s numbers found that African Americans reported the biggest increase in faith at 41%, compared to 40% for Hispanics and 20% for whites. Older Americans likewise found their faith increasing, as nearly 30% of all Americans ages 50-up reported increased faith. Women’s numbers were nearly twice as big as men’s, 30% compared to 18%.
Read the Pew survey at https://pewrsr.ch/3bcdjpM. Read the Fordham study at https://bit.ly/35AkBm3