By Deacon Kyle Eller
The Northern Cross
In union with the call of Pope Francis, Bishop Daniel Felton consecrated Russia, Ukraine, and the whole human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at a Mass on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, Friday, March 25, at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Duluth.
|Bishop Daniel Felton kneels before a Statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary as he, along with a packed congregation at St. Mary Star of the Sea in Duluth March 25, prays a prayer of consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. (Photo by Deacon Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross)|
Dioceses and parishes throughout the world answered the pope’s call, and it was evident in the Duluth Diocese that Pope Francis’ decision had resonated deeply, as the church filled to capacity with faithful from across the diocese.
In his homily, Bishop Felton noted the power of the name parents give a child, and how that whole child’s life will take place “in that name.” He noted that in the Gospel reading for the Annunciation, God the Father himself gives the name.
“God named the Son of God,” he said. “God gave a name to this Son he was sending into the world out of his love for us, and the name that he gives is Jesus. “Jesus” is a Hebrew word which literally means to rescue and to deliver.”
When it comes to consecration, he said the word means to dedicate with boldness and strength.
Referring to the prayer of consecration that Pope Francis had given to the world to pray, Bishop Felton said, “We literally are, with boldness and with strength, we are dedicating all of the people of Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, truly believing this very day that all the people of Russia and all the people of Ukraine will be lifted up into our prayer and we are praying will be lifted up into the heart of Mary herself, who is going to do what? She is going to take the people of Ukraine, she is going to take the people of Russia to her son, Jesus. Truly believing it is only Jesus, today in the power of that name, that can bring peace and justice and rescue our beloved brothers and sisters, the beloved sons and daughters of God, in Russia and in Ukraine, can rescue them from war, rescue them from hatred, rescue them from the injustices … and in the power of Jesus not only to rescue, he will deliver them: deliver them to divine love, deliver them to divine unity, deliver them to divine hope, and we pray through the Immaculate Heart of Mary in our consecrating boldness, dedicating the people of Ukraine and of Russia, that he will be able to deliver them finally to divine peace, not by our doing, not by their doing, but in the power of the name of Jesus.”
After his homily, the bishop knelt before a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and with the entire congregation recited the prayer, pausing several times to sing a chorus of “Ave Maria.” The prayer took more than 10 minutes to complete.
|A number of priests were present to concelebrate Mass with Bishop Felton March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the day on which the pope and bishops, priests, and faithful throughout the world consecrated Russia and Ukraine to the Immmaculate Heart. (Photo by Deacon Kyle Eller / The Northern Cross)|
Many bishops across the United States joined in similar prayers, entrusting the people of both countries to the care and protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“Friends, we are all deeply disturbed by the war in Ukraine, and the unconscionable attacks on innocent men, women, and children in their homes and neighborhoods,” said Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a video message.
“In this time when our world is weighed down under the shadow of war, I invite you to enter into this solemn moment of prayer with the Holy Father,” the archbishop said. “Together with him, let us ask our Blessed Mother to turn her eyes of mercy toward all her children. Let us ask her to intercede with her son, to deliver her children from evil and grant us peace.”
Bishop Felton had also asked parishes across the diocese to pray the prayer of consecration that same day, suggesting to pastors that they include it in their parish Masses or in another devotion, such as a rosary.
At the close of Mass at St. Mary Star of the Sea, the bishop urged those present to take the consecration not only as a prayer for reconciliation of nations but to also bring reconciliation into communities, families, and lives, remembering that we are not guaranteed another opportunity.
“We never know when there is going to be a next moment or a next day,” he said.
Rhina Guidos of Catholic News Service contributed to this report.