Russia to become majority Catholic?

Today, March 25th, at approximately 1:30pm EST, Pope Francis will say a special prayer consecrating the whole world, but particularly and explicitly Ukraine and Russia to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. The official title of the prayer is The Solemnity of the Annunciation, for the Celebration of Penance and the Consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

In a letter to all bishops, Pope Francis said, “I ask you to join in this act by inviting the priests, religious, and faithful to assemble in their churches and places of prayer on March 25, so that God’s Holy People may raise a heartfelt and choral plea to Mary our Mother.”

Many of the Catholic bishops of the world, as well as many priests and religious, will be praying the consecration prayer at the same time the pope is.

Catholic cable network EWTN will air the consecration live at 12pm-2pm EST. You can watch the live stream from Rome here.

If you would like to follow along with Pope Francis’ prayer, here is the full text:

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.

Today also happens to be (according to the Catholic liturgical calendar) the Solemnity of the Annunciation. The Annunciation recalls the day when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and revealed God’s will that she become the Mother of the Son of God, and she accepted. At that moment, the “Word became Flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

The consecration is happening because of what Mary said during the alleged apparitions of Mary at Fatima, Portugal in 1917. This article has more background on Fatima and how it relates to the consecration.

“Consecration” means being set aside for a holy purpose.

You may or may not have heard of the concept of consecration before. A person— or nation— that is consecrated is set aside for a holy purpose. The word “entrustment” is often used synonymously with the word consecration.

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.”

Pope St. John Paul II— who consecrated the entire Church and world to Mary three times during his pontificate— taught that by consecrating oneself to Mary, we accept her help in offering ourselves fully to Christ.

Colin Donovan, vice president for theology at EWTN, told CNA that consecration “is an entrustment and also an appeal to God. The entrustment here is the fact that we lay ourselves, our hearts, our prayers, our desires at the feet of Our Lady, and that serves God’s purposes because it elevates Our Lady in the mind of the Church, and hopefully in the mind in the world. And it’s an appeal to God for our particular needs.”

Michael O’Neill, author, EWTN television and radio host and creator of the website, told CNA that Marian consecrations are important because “they signify our love and trust in Our Blessed Mother and we beseech her protection as her children in a special way.”

Mary specifically asked that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart.

The 1917 apparitions at Fatima are some of the world’s most famous Marian apparitions.

In the course of her appearances, Mary revealed three secrets, the second of which was a statement that World War I would end, as well as a prediction of another war that would start during the reign of Pius XI if people continued to offend God, and Russia was not consecrated to Mary’s Immaculate Heart.

Sister Lucia, one of the three Fatima visionaries, said that Mary told her: “If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated.”

“In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”

In the years following the revelation of the secret, there was some controversy as to whether various consecrations of Russia performed by subsequent popes fulfilled the requirements set forth by Mary.

But in a letter written in 1989, Sister Lucia confirmed that Pope St. John Paul II satisfied Mary’s request for Russia’s consecration in 1984. At the time, Ukraine and Russia were both part of the Soviet Union.

Other authorities, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, also have affirmed the consecration was completed to Sister Lucia’s satisfaction.

Donovan said that both St. John Paul II “and the mystic, Sister Lucia, were at first uncertain because he hadn’t mentioned Russia by name but by allusion … however, she did confirm it with Our Lady, who said that yes, God had accepted it and he would keep his promise.” He added that Sister Lucia confirmed multiple times, including in person, that Our Lady’s request had been satisfied.

What is the Immaculate Heart of Mary?

The Immaculate Heart of Mary is an object of devotion, as it symbolizes her perfect will as expressed in her ‘fiat’. Mary’s heart is generally depicted with seven wounds and pierced by a sword. Early devotion to the heart of Mary was exemplified by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, but the modern devotion was founded by Saint John Eudes, a French priest of the 17th century.

The feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was first observed by Eudes, and it began receiving papal approbation at the opening of the 19th century. The feast was placed on the General Roman Calendar in 1944, to be observed Aug. 22, the Octave Day of the Assumption.

Ukraine’s Latin Rite Catholic bishops requested that Pope Francis do the consecration, amid the invasion of their country.

Ukraine’s Latin Rite Catholic bishops— meaning the bishops who lead the country’s Roman Catholics— sent a letter to Pope Francis on March 2 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.”

Why consecrate Ukraine and Russia now?

Donovan said that “consecration is always a good thing,” and that the ongoing war is “a context which is sufficient in and of itself” to warrant consecration.

Why on March 25?

The feast of the Annunciation is a prominent Marian feast, and, Donovan noted, the day especially recommended by Saint Louis de Montfort for personal consecration to Our Lady.

“All of Our Lady’s prerogatives come from the fact that from all eternity, God chose her to be the mother of the Word made flesh; that is the that is the central Marian dogma of the Church,” Donovan said, “so that is, I think that’s the perfect day. And John Paul chose to do it on that day, and I think that’s a good day for anyone to make their personal consecration, or for Pope Francis to do this one.”

Russia has been consecrated before. So has the whole world, actually.

In the past, several popes have consecrated the entire Church and world to Mary.

Pope Pius XII consecrated the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Oct. 31, 1942, and Pope St. John Paul II renewed that consecration on May 13, 1982, again on March 25, 1984, and once more on Oct. 8, 2000.

Pope Francis during October 2013 renewed the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and dedicated his pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima.

Why is there so much controversy over the consecration of Russia?

O’Neill said that “With the current actions of Russia, some Catholics have questioned whether Russia has indeed converted and expected a longer duration and type of a period of peace. Since the message does not provide specifics as to what such a conversion and peace would look like, the debate has raged about whether the consecration was done properly and in an efficacious way.”

He added that devotion to Marian apparitions can have a downside.

“If someone finds themselves becoming distracted or confused or obsessed with miracles, they can safely be disregarded,” he said. “While there is plenty to be gained with honoring Mary under these titles and energizing one’s faith with reveling in such wonders that God has worked, if someone wanted to, they could still be a Catholic in good standing with the Church and not pay any attention to these devotions and events.”

While not speaking for individuals’ motivations, Donovan considered that some of it is rooted in “taking seriously the message of Fatima.” He added that setting aside the judgement of the Church, going to the text and saying the consecration wasn’t done, “I think that holds God to a standard that … he can’t be generous.”

“In his generosity God accepted this, and we saw the fruits in the five years following the [1984] consecration, of the fall of the Soviet Union and the restoration of the nation of Russia,” Donovan reflected.

As a Reformed Christian, I don’t believe the Marian apparitions are authentic. I believe they are demons impersonating Mary, so as to take the focus off of Jesus. The Bible doesn’t talk about the Sacred Heart of Jesus or the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I believe Christ alone was immaculate – born sinless and without sin during His natural life on earth. To say another normal human is sinless contradicts several explicit Scriptures that say we all sin, and that Jesus, the God-Man, alone was perfect and without any blemish of sin. It robs Christ of His unique status. For this reason, I believe the so-called Immaculate Conception of Mary is Satanic!

I think this consecration will severely hamper Eastern Orthodox and Catholic relations. Russia is an Orthodox majority nation so in Ukraine. By Catholics publicly saying they wish and believe Russia and Ukraine will become majority Catholic will no doubt upset many Orthodox.

It’s good to pray for peace, but we must be biblical in our prayers.

2 responses to “Russia to become majority Catholic?”

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