It’s only natural that we turn to our mothers for healing and comfort.
So it’s in that same outreach that Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith and bishops nationwide have consecrated Canada to the Blessed Virgin Mary on May 1, asking for her intercession with Christ to help the world weather the storms of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“Mary is our Heavenly Mother, who does not fail to come to the aid of her children in need,” Archbishop Smith said in an interview prior to the consecration Mass. “Those who are sick with COVID, as well as all Canadians who are suffering in many ways from the weakening of the health of our nation, can take comfort from knowing that Mary will give assistance to us.
“She brings our needs before her son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. We know from the account of the wedding feast at Cana, that Jesus responds to the prayers of His mother. He is our divine physician, so we know that, when she prays to Him for our healing, He will answer.”
On May 1, Canadian bishops, in solidarity with U.S. bishops and a number of bishops conferences around the world, consecrated their dioceses and eparchies to Mary, Mother of the Church seeking her maternal protection. May is the month devoted specifically to honoring the Virgin Mary.
“Come quickly to our aid at this time, Mother of Mercy, and deliver us from the dangers that surround us in our hour of need,” reads the Marian consecration prayer, composed by Canada’s bishops.
“Watch over especially the elderly, the weak and the infirm, our children and the unity of our families, and all those who give of themselves selflessly in pastoral care to those in need until in your arms and in your gentle embrace we all find safety.”
As of April 30, Alberta had 5,355 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 89 deaths. Nationwide, there have been more than 52,000 COVID-19 and 3,000 deaths. Worldwide, the cases top three million.
The Marian consecration Mass in Edmonton was livestreamed from St. Joseph’s Basilica because of social distancing restrictions limit to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Canada was last consecrated to Mary on July 1, 2017, the 150th anniversary of Confederation. However, the ongoing coronavirus and the fear, anxiety and upheaval that have affected virtually every aspect of Canadian life prompted another Marian consecration in an effort to ask for Mary’s intercession in the time of crisis.
In a video message, Archbishop Smith explained the Marian consecration, and in an interview he noted that it’s more than a gesture.
“A consecration is never purely symbolic. It is a real act of the heart by which one earnestly entrusts a cause to the Blessed Mother,” Smith said. “Our Lady always hears the prayers of her children, and on this basis we have the assurance that the act of consecration is effective.”
So, how will be able to see the results of Mary’s intercession?
“In point of fact, we may not,” Smith explained. “It is sometimes given us to see her answers to our prayers. Often, however, it is only with the benefit of hindsight that we are able to grasp how Mary has been at work by her prayers to bring us what we truly need.”
May 1 is also the feast day of St. Joseph The Worker, the patron saint of the Edmonton Archdiocese. And in his homily, Archbishop Smith also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how the world sees the value of labour – and its focus now on the collective good.
“Now the unity of work to a higher cause is not new to our experience. In fact, it is yet another lesson we are living and learning in our response to COVID. Extraordinary is the coming together of humanity the world over in a common undertaking” Archbishop Smith said.
“We can each see how our labour, and even the sacrificial loss of employment, contributes to a goal that transcends our individual selves: stopping the virus and protecting the human family from its harm. In St. Joseph, we see that human labour is summoned to unite in service of an even greater purpose: the salvation of the human race.”
The Marian consecration Mass, also, is an act of unity among the faithful.
“When Bishops across national boundaries act together in this consecration, it is a beautiful witness to the fact that Mary is the Mother of the entire Church,” Archbishop Smith said.
“In addition, it demonstrates our unity as Bishops with the Pope, the Universal Pastor of the Church. Pope Francis has asked the Church across the world to pray in the month of May to Mary for an end to the coronavirus pandemic. Consecrating our two countries to Mary’s maternal protection is an act that flows from this call of the Holy Father.”
Archbishop Smith noted that the Church’s liturgical year provides help asking for Mary’s intercession more regularly, not only in times of crisis. She’s honoured, by her many titles, on Jan. 1 as Mother of God and on Dec. 12 as Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“These are occasions to recall her irreplaceable role in the life of the Church and in our individual lives, and to call upon her for help,” Archbishop Smith said. “In addition, the months of October and May are traditionally dedicated to Mary, as are Saturdays when there is not a major liturgical feast. These also are times when we can remind ourselves to turn to Mary and seek her assistance.”
The title “Mary, Mother of the Church” was given to the Blessed Mother by Pope St. Paul VI at the Second Vatican Council, and a memorial under the title was added to the Church’s liturgical calendar in 2018.
Canada was first consecrated to Mary at a National Marian Congress in Ottawa in 1947, then again in 1954 at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Cape near Trois-Rivieres, Que.