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Bishop Koenig leads local consecration of Russia and Ukraine to Immaculate Heart of Mary

Bishop Koenig, left, and Bishop Malooly pray during the consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during Mass on March 25 at St. Peter Cathedral in Wilmington. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

WILMINGTON — A large crowd at the Cathedral of St. Peter worshiped as Bishop Koenig, Bishop Malooly and other priests joined the worldwide consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25.

Pope Francis recently asked bishops around the world to perform this act simultaneously on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, a day commemorating the announcement of the angel to the Virgin Mary that she would become the mother of Christ.

The pope asked that the consecration take place at 5 p.m. Rome time, which is noon on the East Coast. Bishop Koenig celebrated the normal noontime Mass at St. Peter’s, followed by recitation of the rosary and the consecration.

During his homily, Bishop Koenig explained how the situation in Ukraine is suited for the consecration. The Immaculate Heart of Mary, he said, is “a heart that certainly reaches out to those who are afraid” and to people thought to be unworthy.

He said Mary has three aspects that he wanted to reflect on.

First, Mary is the mother of sorrows. Simeon, who met Mary and Joseph as they presented Jesus at the temple, said Mary’s heart “will be pierced with sorrow.” Indeed, at the temple, Jesus was separated from Mary and Joseph for three agonizing days. Later in his life, Jesus would be rejected and eventually put to death, increasing his mother’s sorrow.

We can relate with the sorrow we feel today, Bishop Koenig said.

Second, Mary is the new Eve. Not only is she the mother of Jesus, she is “also the mother of the new creation, the new Eve,” the bishop said.

While on the cross, Jesus gives Mary to the human race as the new mother “who is sorrowful and filled with the sadness that continues to be part of her life as she looks upon us and the suffering of the human race,” he said.

In the consecration, Bishop Koenig said, the congregation would be saying yes to Jesus giving us Mary as our mother and yes to the ways that we stand at the foot of the cross.

Lastly, we ask Mary’s help to change minds and hearts. Mary, our lady of the fiat, is the one who said yes to the angel Gabriel to become Jesus’ mother. In so doing, Jesus is incarnate, Bishop Koenig said.

“As we look to Mary and her yes 2,000 years ago, we ask Mary to open hearts, to open minds, to open a way that God’s peace might reign, that God’s peace might come into this world,” he said.

As we consecrate ourselves and humanity, we should be mindful of how Mary suffers with us, and her sorrow allows us to feel the compassion of those who are in need, he continued. We should be mindful of how her heart breaks because of what we go through and how she inspires those to reach out to those in need.

“Let us ask Mary to ask God to open the way,” Bishop Koenig said, “to open the way for God’s grace, for God’s love to be made manifest in our world today.”

After communion, Bishops Koenig and Malooly led the recitation of the rosary while kneeling in front of the flags of both Russia and Ukraine. The Mass and consecration ended with the congregation reciting a prayer asking for the Blessed Mother’s intervention for peace.

“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,” the prayer read. “Accept this act that we carry out with confidence and love. Grant that war may end and peace spread throughout the world.”