When we think of the month of May, Mother’s Day stands out. This is well deserved when we consider all the sacrifices, caring, and concern that we associate with mothers. God gave mothers the strength and compassion needed for their calling.
Jesus gave us many special gifts: He shared His Father with us when he taught us to pray the Our Father, He sent his Holy Spirit to dwell in us and guide us. Finally, on the cross, he shared with apostle John and us: His own beloved Mother.
Through the centuries, devotion to Our Mother Mary has been fostered through Icons (images of holy people) and apparitions (appearances) of Mary in troubled times. Let us focus on some of the devotions in honor of Mary the Mother of Jesus.
With Ukraine and Poland much in the news, let us study the Icon: Our Lady of Czestochowa also referred to as the Black Madonna of Czestochowa. The people of Ukraine and Poland have great devotion to Mary, depicted in this Icon.
While there are many legends about the origin and history of the Icon, what is most important is her message. The image is of Mary holding the Child Jesus in her left arm. She directs attention away from herself by pointing to Jesus with her right hand. The Child Jesus faces the viewer and extends His right hand in blessing while holding a book of the Gospels in His left hand. Mary is referred to as “One Who Shows the Way.”
The Icon has been honored in many ways: King John II Casimir Vasa proclaimed Our Lady Queen of Poland. Several Popes have recognized the Icon including Pope Clement XI in 1717, Pope Pius X in 1910, Pope John Paul II in 1978, Pope Benedict in 2006, and Pope Francis in 2016. In addition, Orthodox Christians in Ukraine and Belarus have a special devotion to the Madonna of Czestochowa.
The Black Madonna Icon is now housed in the Monastery of Jasna Gora (English: Bright Mount) in Poland. It is said to have miraculously saved that monastery from a Swedish invasion in 1655.
In the United States, there are two shrines: The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa is located in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. There is also a shrine in Garfield Heights in Ohio.
Through the centuries, Jesus has sent His Mother to appear at difficult times to be a comfort to those who are suffering. During an especially painful time in 1531, our Blessed Mother appeared to Juan Diego, an Aztec convert to Christianity, on Tepeyac Hill, now in a suburb of Mexico City. She asked that a shrine in her honor be built there.
However, when Juan Diego brought her message to the bishop, he doubted the reality of the apparition. Therefore, he demanded a sign before he would build a church there. When Mother Mary appeared again, Juan Diego was upset because he could not convince the Bishop of the reality of his vision. Gently, she spoke these endearing words: "Hear me and understand well, my little son, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed .... Am I not here who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection?" (Juan Diego was a grown man, the diminutive 'my little son' was an expression of affection).
Our Lady then instructed Juan
Diego to pick some roses on the top of the Hill and bring them as a sign to the
bishop. (It was December when that type of rose would not normally
bloom). Juan Diego carried them to the Bishop in his tilma, (poncho). When he opened
the tilma, the roses fell to the ground. Printed on the tilma was
a picture of Our Lady as she had appeared to Juan Diego.
The bishop fell to his knees and ordered the construction of the Shrine which is visited daily even now and contains the tilma with the imprint of the picture of Our Blessed Mother.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is credited with the ending of a deadly epidemic of hemorrhagic fever which ravaged Mexico City from 1736 - 1737. Pope John Paul II canonized Juan Diego and declared Our Lady of Guadalupe the patroness of the Americas.
Might she not help us in the deadly pandemic which we are experiencing now? Let us pray to her who is our Mother too.
On March 27, 2022, Pope Francis made the following Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on behalf of our world, especially Russia and Ukraine, asking for an end to the war and peace in our World.
ACT OF CONSECRATION TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY
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 neighbor’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. At 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, the 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, and 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, 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.
Blessings to all mothers, grandmothers, godmothers,
and all those who provide motherly care.
Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Ph.D. Historian, Certified archivist, emerita
Queen of Peace, obtain peace for our world. From Pope Francis’ “Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
From the cross, Jesus gave His Mother to be the mother of John the Apostle, and John (on our behalf) to be her child. Confident of this, in 1883, Kate (St. Katharine Drexel)asked the Blessed Mother to be her mother after the death of Emma Bouvier Drexel.
St. Katharine urged all to “go to Mary as their Mother.” She also prayed the Rosary for all involved in armed conflicts. St. Katharine urged all to meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary. Perhaps our meditation on the Sorrowful Mysteries could include some of our current concerns.
The Agony in the Garden: Pray for those anxious about where they will go, will sleep if they will ever return to Ukraine.
The Scourging at the Pillar: Pray for those in areas under attack.
The Crowning with Thorns: Pray for those wearing a mantle of leadership, deliberating on steps to stop the aggression and aid the afflicted.
The Carrying of the Cross: Our Lord fell and needed help. Pray for those injured that they find support in Our Lord’s wounds and from the help of others.
The Crucifixion: Pray for those killed or injured in this conflict and in our cities.
Our Lady, Queen of peace, bring peace and justice to the whole world.
Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
Thank you for including Pope Francis’ Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the blog. It is such a beautiful appeal to Our Mother Mary on our behalf. That Consecration will serve as my Examen of heart and consciousness as I reflect on the daily contributions I make toward peace or toward disharmony.
I pray for peace yet so many times my thoughts reveal deep inner unrest. I recognize that I have strayed from the path of peace that Jesus desires. The more I hear of violence and destruction, the louder I hear the voice of fear. Fear makes for misery and I go about my day feeling broken-hearted, wanting to withdraw and grieve what once was. I am reminded by the Act of Consecration to Mary’s Immaculate Heart that it is my responsibility to seek the Presence of God in the midst of suffering humanity, to step out in faith, and to embody peace and love I want to see in the world. If I can uplift but one person today, I have acted as an agent of change.
I turn to Mother Mary with the heart of a humbled daughter, seeking forgiveness and asking for her powerful intercession with Jesus for all the times I have chosen to ignore Him and be satisfied with my illusions, for the times I have not respected the garden of the earth, and for those times I chose indifference to others over my own selfish interests.
I close with the sentiments of Pope Francis. Mother Mary, through your intercession, “may God’s mercy be poured out on the earth and the gentle rhythm of peace return to mark our days… May you, our ‘living fountain of hope,’ water the dryness of our hearts…You once trod the streets of our world; lead us now on the paths of peace.”
May we receive the tender motherly love of the Immaculate Heart of Mary into our hearts this day and share it with all those we encounter.