Editorial: A call to honor Mary and to ask for her protection

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Mary Garden
B.J. Buxton tends the garden at her Medford, Ore., home March 19, 2020. Working in a garden beside a statue of Mary offers her another spiritual refuge at a time when public Masses are canceled amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. (CNS photo/courtesy B.J. Buxton)

As the world continues its battle against the coronavirus pandemic, the bishops of the United States will join those of Canada in renewing the consecrations of both nations to the care of the Blessed Mother. This won’t be the first time in the history of our country that Church leaders have invoked the protection of the Virgin Mary. In 1792, Archbishop John Carroll, the first bishop of the United States, consecrated the country to Mary under the title “Immaculate Conception.” This initial consecration was renewed by the country’s bishops in 1846. Then, in 1959, at the dedication of the Upper Church of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (now a basilica) in Washington, D.C., Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle led America’s bishops in another renewal of that consecration. In addition, archbishops and bishops in various places have consecrated their archdioceses and dioceses to Mary at various times and in different circumstances.

The consecration on May 1 will be done under the title of Mary, Mother of the Church, and each bishop in America is being asked to participate by personally renewing our nation’s consecration to Mary on the same day.

“Through a collective dedication or entrustment of a nation to Mary, an act of consecration is meant to be a reminder to the faithful of the Blessed Mother’s witness to the Gospel and to ask for her effective intercession before her Son on behalf of those in need,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement.

“This will give the Church the occasion to pray for Our Lady’s continued protection of the vulnerable, healing of the unwell and wisdom for those who work to cure this terrible virus,” Archbishop José H. Gomez, president of the USCCB, wrote in a letter to the conference’s members. While the Church each year seeks the special intercession of the Blessed Mother during May, “This year, we seek the assistance of Our Lady all the more earnestly as we face together the effects of the global pandemic,” Archbishop Gomez said.

During this time of crisis, Mary’s intercession is more important than ever, and we are grateful for the leadership of our bishops.

As our bishops formally reconsecrate our country to the protection of Mary, we, too, can honor Our Lady in special ways even from our homes. This may be as simple as placing a statue or image of Our Lady in a revered place in our domestic church — perhaps on a mantle or on a home altar. If we have a larger statue, the family could pick flowers from the yard and gather together for a simple May crowning, either indoors or outdoors.

We could also spend a few afternoons tilling soil and planting flowers for a beautiful Marian garden. Depending upon your time frame, this could be as simple as sprinkling a few seeds in a sunny place or as involved as making a plan with colors and patterns and planting appropriate blooms.

Another option during this time of social distancing could be to embrace the current popular practice of making a “stained-glass” window using tissue paper or washable paints — and have the creation feature an image of Mary. In addition to being a good activity for families or those who love to create, it could also serve as a tool for evangelization, proclaiming to the neighborhood a love of the Blessed Mother and the Church.

Of course, we are always able and encouraged to recite a daily Rosary, or even a decade of the Rosary. This devotion is especially fitting during May and could be a special way of asking for the protection of our Blessed Mother within our own homes and over our own families. We can also incorporate the two prayers recently composed by Pope Francis at the end of our Rosary recitation.

As we seek out ways to honor our Blessed Mother in a special way this month, our thoughts cannot help but turn to our own mothers and grandmothers, who we celebrate this year on May 10. During this time of social distancing, many of us are physically separated from them; others might be separated by estrangement or death. But we can always be united spiritually, and we can and should pray for the maternal figures in our lives this month — especially as we honor the one who is mother of us all, and mother of all the Church.

Our Sunday Visitor Editorial Board: Gretchen R. Crowe, Scott P. Richert, Scott Warden, York Young

Our Sunday Visitor Editorial Board

The Our Sunday Visitor Editorial Board consists of Father Patrick Briscoe, OP, Gretchen R. Crowe, Matthew Kirby, Scott P. Richert and York Young.