Pope Francis consecrated the world to the Blessed Virgin Mary earlier this month, at Easter. Similarly, the Bishops of Latin America consecrated their peoples to Our Lady of Guadalupe on Easter. The Bishops of Canada and the United States are also coordinating an act of consecration in each diocese on May 1, 2020. See this document for more information.
So what does a consecration to Mother Mary have to do with these days of pandemic? Consecrations of this kind were more common in previous decades, so maybe as we think about Mary and this month of May, a few words on Consecration to the Blessed Virgin.
The term “consecration” does not only refer to what happens to the bread and wine at the Eucharist, where the bread and wine become something else. The consecration of a country, or a world for that matter, to the Blessed Mother is more of a promise of devotion to her made on our behalf. At the same time, it is a reminder that because of her intimate relationship with the paschal mystery, her place as intercessor for those who suffer in any way from this pandemic, dedicating ourselves to her will certainly bring comfort.
There have been times in our history where Mary was seen almost to stand in opposition to Jesus – where he closed a door, Mary opened a window. But Jesus is not indifferent to our plight, and so a consecration to Mary is not some sort of trick to guilt Jesus into giving us what we need. Rather, this consecration places our concerns more deeply into the paschal mystery. Mary’s power as an intercessor lies exactly here, that in bringing our concerns to her, we bring them into that most powerful mystery of God – the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus. At the same time, through Mary, we can see the answer to our real fears and concerns in the Cross of Christ.
Ultimately, and the act of consecration notes this: we turn to Mary because she is, “Mother of all the living.” Mother Mary loves life, all of it. May is Mary’s month because it has always been the month of new life of fertility, of planting. If this May is her month, and if we are consecrated to her vision of life, then there is much to be done. And so as Catholics in a time of pandemic, we honour Mary when we stay home but remain in touch with each other, when we care for all who live as best as we can.
In this month of May, when we have been consecrated to her care, we should find ways to better embrace Mary’s vision. Mary’s motherhood of all the living means that every life is a source of joy. It is our responsibility in every case to celebrate life. I think we need to challenge our political leaders to not only make laws against ending life, but also make laws for making new life more wonderful. In Canada, we are fortunate that expectant mothers have access to health care, but more than that, both as a nation and as individuals we need to find ways to help with all those tasks and expenses that come with pregnancy and a new child. Think of Mary racing off to help Elizabeth get ready for the birth of John the Baptist. To have Mary’s vision of life is to embrace a daughter who is unexpectedly pregnant; it is to celebrate and to offer our help, even when a child comes to our son without the benefit of marriage. Of course we should encourage normalizing the relationship, but this comes later, more gradually. I think that Mary’s vision for life would have us celebrate first, ask questions later.
So a blessed May to you all. May Mary pray for us all, and may we embrace her love and joy in life.
–Glenn Byer has been making music for the Mass for 40 years, and has been writing about and offering courses and workshops on liturgy for more than 30 years. He holds a Master’s in liturgy from the University of Notre Dame, and a doctorate in liturgy from the Pontifical Institute for Liturgy at the Atheneaum of Sant’Anselmo in Rome. Glenn has written numerous books, some of which include 26 Ordinary Ways to Live the Liturgy, Unlocking the Feasts and Seasons of the Liturgical Year and Living the Liturgy of the Word.