Bishop Mark Rivituso, priests and lay Catholics around the archdiocese joined Pope Francis and the universal Church in the Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25, the feast of the Annunciation.
“As we are one with Mary today, not only in this great solemnity (of the Annunciation) but together with Pope Francis and the universal Church, we pray our act of consecration for Ukraine, Russia, for the Church and for all humanity, that we are one with the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” Bishop Rivituso said during Mass the Basilica of St. Louis, King of France. “Being one with her, we consecrate all, even ourselves, to be holy and to make our world holier.”
Pope Francis prayed the Act of Consecration during a Lenten prayer service in St. Peter’s Basilica on the evening of March 25, the feast of the Annunciation. Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, papal almoner, carried out the consecration at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal. The pope invited all bishops, priests and the rest of the world to join in praying the consecration prayer that day.
Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski participated in the Act of Consecration with other bishops gathered at Loyola University in Chicago.
Pope Francis said the Act of Consecration was “no magic formula but a spiritual act” of trust by “children who, amid the tribulation of this cruel and senseless war that threatens our world, turn to their mother, reposing all their fears and pain in her heart and abandoning themselves to her.”
To consecrate means to set something aside and make it holy, said Father Nicholas Smith, director of the archdiocesan Office of Sacred Worship. By consecrating “ourselves, the Church and all humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine,” to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Church is entrusting the world to the Blessed Mother’s care.
“We are called to be one with Mary, to consecrate our hearts with her holy heart, that we may be always dedicated to what the Lord is asking of us to make our world a more peaceful place,” Bishop Rivituso said.
According to the Vatican’s translation of the messages of Our Lady of Fatima, when Mary appeared to the three shepherd children in Fatima in 1917, she told them, “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace.”
Warning of “war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father,” Mary told the children, “to prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart.”
The Eastern- and Latin-rite Catholic bishops of Ukraine had been asking Pope Francis for the consecration.
While the consecration does specifically name Russia and Ukraine, it extends beyond the current conflict to “all humanity.” And every Catholic around the world — not just the pope or bishops — was invited to join in praying the Act of Consecration.
“Every single one of us is called to be a minister of Christ’s peace and love and reconciliation in the world. And we do that with our family and our friends,” Father Smith said. “When we think of peace, we think of the absence of war, but peace is also the absence of disagreement, the absence of just not liking somebody — all those things. So even though yes, the specific thing that’s drawing us together for this is the conflict taking place in Ukraine, all of us are called to be peacemakers in the world.”
The Act of Consecration should move all who participated to continually draw closer to the Blessed Mother and live out the prayer’s message, Bishop Rivituso said.
“I think of the line in the Act of Consecration, ‘Queen of the Rosary, make us realize our need to pray and to love every day,’” he said. “As we live out this act of consecration, we are called to be intentional, to pray and to love, to bring greater peace to our world.”
Before afternoon dismissal at St. Gerard Majella Parish in Kirkwood, parents joined students and staff to pray the Act of Consecration together, led by pastor Father Michael Grosch.
“In the classroom, the kids are praying daily for the people of Ukraine, so it’s something that’s already in our minds,” Father Grosch said. “This is one way of taking being able to take action.”
Inviting parents to join their children at the end of the day was a special way to be united together in prayer, said Ann Eilermann, coordinator of religious education at the school.
“We wanted this to reach as many people as possible,” she said.
At St. Peter Church in St. Charles, pastor Father John Seper led the parish in the Act of Consecration following the Stations of the Cross at noon.
“It’s always a privilege to be one in solidarity with the Holy Father, knowing that the world in all its crises can stand with him at the foot of the cross and ask for the intercession of our Blessed Mother,” Father Seper said.
The prayer at St. Peter Church also included the Gospel reading of the Annunciation, recitation of the Angelus and praying the first Joyful Mystery of the Rosary.
At the end of the school day at Sacred Heart Church in Valley Park, students and parishioners prayed a decade of the Rosary led by Fran Hanson, the parish's coordinator of formation and evangelization, prayed the Act of Consecration led by Father Jeffrey Maassen, parish pastor, and participated in Stations of the Cross led by Father Ryan Truss, associate pastor.
Even after March 25, Father Smith encourages all to return to the consecration text for prayer and meditation.
“The prayer is beautiful — it hits everything,” he said. “I know we’re doing it at this one moment on this one day, and it’s a very relevant day on which to do it because the Annunciation is a feast of Mary. But I think it’s something that people should go back to, often. It is going to be just as relevant next week as it is this week.”
Text of the Act of Consecration
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 neighbor’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” (Jn 19:27). 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.