by Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito, Bishop of Palm Beach
Consecration of Humanity, Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
March 25, 2022
Today, on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, and in union with the entire Church, we join our Holy Father, Pope Francis, in consecrating all of humanity, Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We ask for her powerful intercession so that the horrible attack upon Ukraine, resulting in so much loss of life, injury to persons and disruption of life, be concluded as soon as possible. We pray for peace throughout our world which is so much needed in these areas, but not limited to them.
Saint Pope John Paul II, following other Popes, entrusted Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the same Solemnity in 1984. We have experienced the fall of communism through the peaceful evangelization of this great Pope through his relying on the intercession of Mary. Pope Francis, with a similar deep devotion to Mary, does the same today, in union with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and all the bishops of the world. We pray for an end to the massacre taking place, listening to the words of Pope Francis, “All this is inhumane! Indeed, it is also sacrilegious because it goes against the sacredness of human life, especially against defenseless human life, which must be respected and protected, not eliminated, and this comes before any strategy! Let us not forget it is inhuman and sacrilegious cruelty! Let us pray in silence for those who are suffering.”
The Solemnity of the Annunciation is a fitting time to turn to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was her “yes” to God’s will, delivered to her by the Angel Gabriel, that the merciful human heart of Christ, the Son of God, was conceived in her womb. The merciful heart of the Lord has become part of the Trinity for all eternity. His mercy is with each and every one of us, with the poor, the neglected, and the victims of violence and oppression, and the sinner. The Heart of Jesus and the Heart of Mary beat with love for the sake of peace. Their hearts remind us that we must turn our hearts, while we seek justice and peace, from the tendency to desire revenge or seek cruelty even on those who carry out such horrible deeds as we see before us at this time.
Mary’s “yes” at the Annunciation was the reversal of the “no” of Adam and Eve when they succumbed to the devil by seeking meaning in life through their own power and position. That original sin led to the same type of sin from Cain in the murder of his brother Abel, and every other sin since the creation of the world. God does not react to sin with destruction, but always with love. It is love that conquers. Concupiscence, so clearly evident in the hearts of the leadership responsible for today’s massacre is the same concupiscence that resulted from the fall of Adam and Eve. Pope Francis reminds all of us in his Lenten message this year, that we must never grow tired of fighting concupiscence, especially within our own hearts. He reminds us that we must never negotiate with the devil as Jesus did not in His own temptation in the desert.
The perfect human heart which our Lord encountered was that of the Immaculate Heart of His Mother, Mary. Her heart possessed no concupiscence and tendency to evil but only the goodness of her Son. While her heart certainly knew the pain of suffering, especially at the foot of the Cross, she always trusted in the Lord and therefore experienced the peace which only He could give. Mary truly understood the words of her Son, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and lean on me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Mt 11: 28-30).
There is a beautiful altarpiece of the Middle Ages referred to as the Throne of Mercy. The Trinity is symbolized portraying the Father holding, with outstretched hands, the Son with His pierced heart on the Cross as His greatest gift of love to a broken world. Between the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit depicted as a dove. It is truly an expression of the infinite love of God giving of Himself to us from the depth of His being. There is also a medieval sculpture of Mary serenely sitting with great peace. As one looks upon it, one is immediately drawn to the spiritual gaze of Mary. This particular sculpture opens up so that one is able to see what is inside of Mary as if we are looking into her heart. Inside the sculpture is the carving of the Trinity as the Throne of Mercy. It is so appropriate as this particular sculpture holds the heart of the Trinity as in her own. She reflects the love of God in her heart as no one else.
As we consecrate humanity, Russia, and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary this day, we pray for an end to the terrible human destruction that is taking place because hearts have gone astray and are possessed not by the Sacred Heart but by Satan. Our devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary will make us even more united as a spiritual family and help us overcome this time of trial.
Our Lady, Queen of peace, pray for us!
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
April 1, 2022