With the pandemic causing many people to feel helpless, bishops around the world are showing their faithful that it is always time to turn to prayer.
On May 1, the bishops of the United States and Canada will consecrate the two countries to Mary, Mother of the Church. The bishops’ conferences from the two countries decided to coordinate their act of consecration to make “a most meaningful and powerful intercession.”
Every bishop in Canada and the US will consecrate their own diocese to Mary.
Archbishop Jose Gomez, president of the US bishops, will lead a brief liturgy with the prayer of re-consecration on Friday, May 1 at 3:00 pm EDT and has invited the bishops to join in from their respective dioceses and asked them to extend the invitation to the faithful in their dioceses for their participation. A liturgy guide will be available to assist the faithful who may join in by tuning into the USCCB’s social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
On the same day, the bishops of Italy will consecrate that country to Mary, Mother of God, in a liturgy celebrated at the Basilica of Santa Maria del Fonte (St. Mary of the Spring) in Caravaggio, Italy. Cardinal Gualterio Bassetti, the president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, said in a video statement that he had received more than 300 letters from Italian faithful asking him to entrust the country to Mary.
Meanwhile, on May 13 – the feast of Our Lady of Fatima – Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manilla will consecrate the Philippines to Our Lady during a liturgy in Manila’s cathedral, attended by mayors from five cities within the archdiocese. “It will be beautiful when all the people [of] God, led by their civil and religious leaders, put themselves under the protection of the Blessed Virgin,” Bishop Pabillo told CBCP News, the news agency of the Philippine bishops’ conference.
From May 10 to 13 Filipino faithful will be invited to take part in three days of doing penance and praying the rosary. Throughout May the Archdiocese of Manila will also offer on-line catechesis sessions to teach people about the significance of Marian consecrations.
Bishops in 24 other countries have already entrusted their nations to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
On March 25, bishops of Portugal renewed Portugal’s and Spain’s consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Cardinal Antonio dos Santos Marto of Leira-Fatima presided over a liturgy at the sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima – the place where Mary appeared to three shepherd children in 1918. In the same liturgy the cardinal also consecrated 22 other countries to Jesus and Mary at the request of bishops from those countries.
On Easter day, Latin America and the Caribbean was consecrated to Our Lady of Guadalupe during the Easter Sunday Mass celebrated by bishops of Mexico at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. At the moment that Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes read the act of consecration, cathedral bells along the continent rang out 12 times to mark the moment.
In a statement announcing the consecration, the president of the Latin American Episcopal Council, Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte de Trujillo of Peru said, “The present time demands that as pastors, we see and hear the afflictions of our peoples and generate hope, by turning our sight to our Mother in Heaven. In so doing, we will strengthen our faith, nourish our hopes and commit ourselves with solidarity and with love to those who are experiencing illness, pain, loneliness, fear and poverty.”
On March 29, Catholics and other Christians across England took part in the “re-dedication” of the country to the Virgin Mary. Though already planned before the pandemic hit hard, the dedication took on greater solemnity with the increasing concerns of the world.
The COVID-19 virus arrived in these regions at different times.
Italy was the first European nation to be hit hard with the virus in late January, finally seeing a plateau in the number of cases around March 31. However, public safety officials in the Piedmonte region have said they believe their region has yet to reach the peak. Spain saw a peak in the number of cases around March 25, and went through a series of dips and peaks before finally seeing a downward trend in infection. Neighboring Portugal saw fewer cases – attributed to implementing lockdown measures very early on – and is believed to have hit a peak around April 14.
In North America, the United States has registered more than 1 million cases, and it is believed some parts of the country may have reached their peak number of cases around April 13, while others are still seeing staggering death rates. In Canada public health officials said on April 28 that the curve of the spread of the virus is slowing. On April 9 the number of Canadian cases was doubling every three days; by April 28 it was doubling every 16 days.
While the Philippines had only recorded just under 8,000 cases as of April 28, it is believed the country had yet to see a peak in cases. In Latin America, as of late April there had been more than 170,000 cases with Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador being hardest hit.
Worried about the future? Find peace in this short prayer
It’s relatively easy to be worried about the future. We simply don’t know what is going to happen today, tomorrow, or next year. This state of uncertainty can cripple us at times, keeping us from doing anything out of fear of the unknown. St. Josemaria Escriva consoled someone in a similar frame of mind, who…
It’s relatively easy to be worried about the future. We simply don’t know what is going to happen today, tomorrow, or next year. This state of uncertainty can cripple us at times, keeping us from doing anything out of fear of the unknown.
St. Josemaria Escriva consoled someone in a similar frame of mind, who said to him (as quoted in The Way of the Cross), “Father, I am having a very rough time.”
In response, the saint composed a short but peaceful prayer of abandonment, entrusting to God everything past, present and future.
My Lord and my God: into your hands I abandon the past and the present and the future, what is small and what is great, what amounts to a little and what amounts to a lot, things temporal and things eternal.
Asking his friend to pray this prayer, St. Josemaria wrote, “Then, don’t worry any more.”
The only way we can move forward in calm is to entrust our “rough times” to God and then let the worry go. He is in control, and will be with us every step of the way.
Pope Francis reminisces about 6th grade
Perhaps it wouldn’t be wrong to say that our Jesuit pope also has Salesian roots. Pope Francis hinted at this on Sunday, May 24, the feast of Mary Help of Christians, which is an important Salesian feast. “Today, on the day of Mary Help of Christians, I address an affectionate and cordial greeting to the…
Perhaps it wouldn’t be wrong to say that our Jesuit pope also has Salesian roots. Pope Francis hinted at this on Sunday, May 24, the feast of Mary Help of Christians, which is an important Salesian feast.
“Today, on the day of Mary Help of Christians, I address an affectionate and cordial greeting to the Salesians,” he said, following the midday Regina Coeli prayer at the Vatican’s Apostolic Library. “I recall with gratitude the spiritual formation I received from the sons and daughters of Don Bosco.”
The Pope did not mention it directly, but he was referring to 1949 when he and his younger brother, Oscar, were enrolled as boarders at Colegio Wilfrid Barón de los Santos Ángeles run by the Salesians at Ramos Mejía.
Pope in Salesian school
The Virgin Mary, under the title Mary Help of Christians, is the principal patroness of the Salesians of Don Bosco, the religious congregation that Don Bosco founded in 1859 in the northern Italian city of Turin, to serve the young people.
The city’s Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, which was commissioned by Don Bosco himself, remains the heart of the Salesians of Don Bosco.
The Argentine Pope’s remarks on Sunday is not the first time that he has spoken about the influence of the Salesians of Don Bosco in his childhood.
Turin, June 22, 2015
Pope Francis visited Turin, June 21-22, 2015, during which he joined the Salesians in celebrating the 200th birth centenary of Don Bosco, who was born on August 16, 1815, and died on January 31, 1888.
During his visit, the Pope met the Salesians, including the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, known as the Salesian sisters, which Don Bosco co-founded with Saint Mary Mazzarello.
While commending Don Bosco’s ministry for young people, the Pope recounted fond childhood memories of his family’s closeness to the Salesians and how, when his mother was ill, he was taken out of public school to spend one year studying with the Salesians.
The Holy Father spoke of how he grew very attached to the Salesian community in the year he spent with them and that one priest, in particular, followed him from Baptism to the realization of his vocation, accompanying him ultimately on his journey to the Jesuit Order.
Salesian priests Fathers Enrico Pozzoli and Cayetano Bruno are particularly remembered by the Pope.
“Evangelii gaudium with St John Bosco”
Again, in January 2019, Pope Francis wrote a preface to the book, “Evangelii gaudium con don Bosco” (Evangelii gaudium with St John Bosco), a collection of reflections by 25 members of the Salesian family.
Commending the spirit of joy of Don Bosco, despite the thousands of “difficulties that besieged him every day”, the Pope recalled his association with the Salesians as a boy in Argentina.
While studying in a Salesian school, he wrote in the preface, he found that same “climate of joy and family.” The Salesians, he said, trained him to appreciate beauty, work, and cheerfulness – and this, he told the Salesians, “is your vocation.”
Houston church closes again after priests test positive for COVID-19
Catholic churches in Texas had begun offering Mass for the public again in early May. But at one parish, public Masses were abruptly suspended again after three priests tested positive for COVID-19. “Today we learned that three members of the Redemptorists community living and working at Holy Ghost Parish have tested positive for COVID-19, Fr.…
Catholic churches in Texas had begun offering Mass for the public again in early May. But at one parish, public Masses were abruptly suspended again after three priests tested positive for COVID-19.
“Today we learned that three members of the Redemptorists community living and working at Holy Ghost Parish have tested positive for COVID-19, Fr. William Bueche, C.Ss.R., pastor of Holy Ghost, said in a statement May 16. “While the individuals themselves are asymptomatic, they, and the other members of the community, are in quarantine in the residence isolated from the others. All members of the household have been tested and are awaiting results.”
Fr. Bueche said that one of the individuals who tested positive had been active in celebrating public Masses at Holy Ghost since the church reopened on May 2. He urged anyone who has attended Masses in person at Holy Ghost since the reopening to “monitor your health for any symptoms and be tested for COVID-19, as a precautionary measure.”
The priest said he informed the City of Houston Health Department about the situation.
In a statement issued Monday, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston noted that, Fr. Donnell Kirchner, a 79-year-old priest at Holy Ghost died. “The specific cause of death is unknown, but he had been recently treated at an urgent care clinic who referred him to a hospital emergency room,” the statement read. “He was diagnosed with pneumonia but he was not admitted to the hospital and ws sent home with medication. It is not clear if he was tested for covid-19 at either faciity. He returned to the residence he shared with seven other members of his religious order.”
The statement said that following Fr. Kirchner’s death, the other Redemptorists “sought medical advice, and all were tested for the coronavirus. Although the parish had followed cleaning, sanitation and social distancing guidelines described by State health officials since reopening on May 2, they determined at that time it was best to close the church immediately to public Masses until the results of their tests were known.”
The archdiocese also noted that in-person attendance at Holy Ghost had been “closely controlled” and that attendance at Mass on Sunday never exceeded 179, far short of the 900-person capacity. Weekday Mass attendance as a “small fraction of that amount.”
An earlier statement on the parish website said that Masses would be canceled as of May 14 because the Redemptorist community was self-quarantining while awaiting results of the COVID-19 tests. Suspension of Masses included the funeral for Fr. Kirchner originally scheduled on Saturday, May 16.