What does it mean to consecrate a country to Mary?

How can one consecrate an entire country when not all its inhabitants believe in God?

(Imagem/ Reprodução)

The gesture made by Pope Francis on 25 March, the feast of the Annunciation, is a great historical milestone. As the Russian offensive on Ukrainian territory begins its second month, the Pope will consecrate Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He invited all the bishops and priests of the world to join the consecration.

To consecrate means “to devote oneself to a sacred purpose.” The term is often used in the vocabulary of the Church for places (churches), persons (religious or consecrated laity) and liturgical objects, and, in the heart of the Christian faith, for the consecration of the Eucharist.

One can also consecrate oneself personally to Christ through Mary, consecrate oneself to Mary, or to other saints. From the Middle Ages, this personal process extended to cities and then to countries. Thus Louis XIII consecrated France to Mary in 1638, a process that was later imitated by bishops and popes, for specific countries and places, and even for the whole world. The world’s first consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was made by Pius XII during the Second World War on 31 October 1942.

Countries already consecrated to Mary

Many countries have already been consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Portuguese bishops consecrated Portugal on 13 May 1931. Poland was consecrated in 1946 and Australia in 1948.

More recently, Congo was consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on 4 February 2017, in the presence of Cardinal Parolin, Secretary of State of the Holy See. On 18 February 2017, England and Wales were consecrated by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster. A few months later, the bishops of Scotland also consecrated their country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on 3 September 2017.

Two years ago, on March 25 2020, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, 24 countries were consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Fatima to invoke the protection of the Lord and the Virgin Mary for this hard time.

The countries consecrated (or renewed consecration) were: Albania, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Kenya, Mexico, Moldova, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and East Timor.

To Jesus through Mary

How can one consecrate an entire country when not all its inhabitants believe in God? The consecration of a country is indeed a consecration offered: it is not a formal consecration (which requires consent), but an intercession for the country.

In the Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Poenitentia, John Paul II explained the process: Into the hands of this mother, whose fiat marked the beginning of that “fullness of time” in which Christ accomplished the reconciliation of humanity with God, to her immaculate heart-to which we have repeatedly entrusted the whole of humanity, disturbed by sin and tormented by so many tensions and conflicts-I now in a special way entrust this intention: that through her intercession humanity may discover and travel the path of penance, the only path that can lead it to full reconciliation.

This implies, as John Paul II says, a path of conversion.

Taking Mary as a mother

St Louis Mary Grignion de Montfort, a great devotee of the Virgin Mary, explained that consecrating ourselves to Mary is like taking the Virgin as a mother: “To consecrate oneself to Mary is precisely to choose her as Mother, not only for the physical protection of our persons, but even more, and above all, to give her in her own right the fullness of maternal power over our soul. The mother, in the human family, has power over her children. She protects them in two ways. Protecting from dangers and threats, sometimes without them even knowing it. Advising and guiding them to make good use of their freedom. ”

While respecting the freedom of each person, an act of consecration requires a conversion of hearts. In a radio message addressed to Belgium, Pius XII specified: “By placing her personal, family and national activities under the aegis of Mary, she is invoking her protection and help in all her efforts, but also promises not to undertake anything that might displease her, but also to conform her whole life to her direction and requests”.

Therefore, the act of consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is undoubtedly the good beginning for converting our souls and acting as men and women according to the heart of God.



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