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Prayers for Ukraine at Queen of Peace shrine; Bishop Koenig homily from consecration in Wilmington — Photo gallery

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Father Volodymyr Klanichka, pastor of Wilmington’s St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church, helped lead the rosary with congregants and members of the Knights of Columbus. The service was noon March 26 at the Shrine of Our Lady Queen of Peace on the grounds of Holy Spirit Church in New Castle. Dialog photo/Joseph P. Owens

Bishop Koenig delivered the following homily at “Consecration of Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary” at Cathedral of St. Peter in the Diocese of Wilmington on March 25.

As you probably know, after Mass today we will be joining our Holy Father, Pope Francis, and people throughout the world in consecrating ourselves, the Church and all humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  As we join so many others throughout the world in this prayer, I invite us to take a moment on this Solemnity of the Annunciation to reflect upon three titles of Mary that remind us of the tremendous role she has played in the history of salvation and is now being asked to continue to play today in and for our human race.

The first title of Mary is the “Mother of Sorrows.” When the infant Jesus was presented in the temple shortly after his birth, Simeon blessed the Holy Family and told them that this child of theirs is destined to be the downfall and rise of many in Israel. He then turns to Mary and tells her that she herself will be pierced with a sword. We see this prediction beginning to come to fruition in that same chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel as we read how the twelve-year old Jesus was separated from his parents on their annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  After three days of frantically searching for him and finally finding him, Mary asks Jesus why he has done this to them.  She looks at him and asks him to see her anxiety and sorrow.  It is a sorrow that is seen again and again as she witnesses Jesus’ rejection by those he has come to save, by his arrest, trial, cross and crucifixion.  It is a sorrow born out of the maternal love she has for her Son and her Lord.  As we gather today, and are especially mindful of the suffering of men, women and children in Ukraine and see people seeking shelter from bullets and bombs, people wounded and suffering, people separated from loved ones and their homes, Mary’s heart continues to be pierced.  May those who are affected by the violence taking place in Ukraine be consoled by Mary’s sorrowful heart.  And may Mary’s sorrow give us strength to help those most in need.

The second title given to Mary of which we are mindful today is Mary the “New Eve.”  Just as Eve was the first female created by God and hence the mother of the human race, Mary is the mother of the new creation that has come about through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Mary’s place as the New Eve, as the mother of all who have been reborn through Baptism, is seen as

Bishop Koenig kneels while praying the rosary with the congregation at the Cathedral of St. Peter, Friday, March 25, 2022. Dialog photo/Don Blake

Jesus, hanging on the cross, turns to Mary as she stands with his beloved disciple and says “Woman, here is your son.” And then, turning to the beloved disciple, says to him, “Here is your mother.”  In his encyclical, Redemptoris Mater, St. John Paul II writes: “Thus teach the Fathers of the Church and especially St. Irenaeus, quoted by the Constitution Lumen Gentium: ‘The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience; what the virgin Eve bound through her unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosened by her faith.’ In the light of this comparison with Eve, the Fathers of the Church-as the Council also says-call Mary the “mother of the living” and often speak of ‘death through Eve, life through Mary’” (RM, 19). The Mother of Sorrows is now not only Jesus’ mother, but the mother of all the living.  In our prayer of consecration today, we will be saying “yes” to Jesus giving us Mary as our Mother.  We will be saying “yes” to Mary’s maternal, loving care over all of her children and especially those who carry the crosses that have resulted from hatred, cruelty and violence.

The final title of which we are mindful today is “Our Lady of the Fiat.”  In the Gospel for today’s Solemnity of the Annunciation we heard of the story of the angel Gabriel being sent to Nazareth where he brings God’s message that God wants her to be the mother of God’s only Son.  Mary’s four-word response to this angelic message is the translation of “fiat”–“let it be done.”  In saying “yes” to God, the Word takes flesh and dwells among us.  God enters the human race.  God’s plan for salvation, his plan to overcome the sin of Adam takes a decisive turn.  It was Mary’s “yes” and her willingness and openness to God’s plan that allowed the “Word to take flesh and dwell among us.”  We ask “Our Lady of Fiat” today to be again the channel of God’s grace to end the violence of war and enable us to live in peace.  May we, with Mary, say “yes” to God’s plan for salvation.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Mary, the New Eve, pray for us.

Our Lady of the Fiat, pray for us.