It has been announced throughout the world that on March 25th, Pope Francis will celebrate the Act of Consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. This act of consecration will take place during a Penitential Celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The same Act of Consecration will be carried out on the same day by Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Papal Almoner, at the Marian Shrine in Fatima, Portugal.
Catholics associate this act of consecration with the apparitions of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal. In 1917, Our Lady of Fatima said that in order to put an end to war and the persecution of the Church, we must pray and consecrate Russia to her Sacred Heart.
It is one of the most profound expressions of the intercessory prayer of Mary who is the Mother of the Church. Under that title, she is the patron saint of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. This invitation from Mary also contained the request that those praying for this intention should receive Holy Communion on the first Saturday of five consecutive months. This demonstrates an obvious connection to the Lord Jesus Christ who is uniquely present in the Holy Eucharist.
Bishop Mark observed that it also has a penitential quality for two obvious reasons. First, the horrors of war are indications of the presence of sin that is manifested in hatred and violence. These are grave sins that should remind us of the need for repentance. Second, the reception of the Holy Eucharist is reserved for those who are in a state of grace. At the time of the celebration of this act of consecration by Pope Francis, the Church will find itself in the 3rd week of Lent, which is the season of repentance and conversion.
Finally, the 25th of March is also the Solemnity of the Annunciation of Mary. It is the observance of the day on which the Blessed Virgin Mary received the message of an angel that through the power of the Holy Spirit, she was to conceive a child who would be the Savior of the World.
As an act of communion with the Holy Father, Pope Francis, and in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and Russia who suffer from the current violence of war, Bishop Mark invites the faithful to a special Mass to be celebrated at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona, on Friday March 25. Beginning at 4:00 pm, priests will be available for confessions. At 4:30 pm, the Rosary will be recited. Mass will begin at 5:30 pm.
His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop for the Ukrainian Catholic Church throughout the world recently stated: “This is a spiritual act long awaited by the Ukrainian people.” Other church leaders around the world have observed that it is meaningful that Pope Francis is celebrating the act of consecration of both Russia and Ukraine to the care of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. It is her Son, the Lord Jesus, who tells us: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
A special collection will be taken up for the benefit of those suffering from the effects of this war. All proceeds will be forwarded to Catholic Relief Services.