Bishop Stika joins in praying to Virgin Mary for healing and salvation during the coronavirus pandemic
By Dan McWilliams
Bishop Richard F. Stika on May 1 joined fellow bishops from around the United States and Canada who reconsecrated their nations to the Blessed Virgin Mary as the world fights the coronavirus pandemic.
“In this difficult time, we now turn to our Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Church and the Queen of Peace, to ask that she intercede with her son, Jesus, for all those who are affected in any way by this pandemic and to renew the consecration of our country, the United States of America, and of ourselves,” Bishop Stika said in his opening remarks. “To the mother of God we implore her eternal caring for all her children.”
The ceremony, like others in the two countries starting at 3 p.m. local time, was livestreamed from the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. The pews were empty, as the faithful were not allowed to attend due to restrictions imposed because of the virus.
“There are certain things that happen in the history of the world that are so often hard to explain: the death of a child, war, the Holocaust, the ongoing things that are occurring in this day and age—Syria, which is so often forgotten about,” the bishop said in his reflection/homily. “Nation after nation, people after people, starvation and all those things that exist in our world today. So someday when I’m called home to God, which I hope will be a little bit from now, I’ll have a few questions for God: why?”
On that reconsecration day of May 1, “we turn to someone very special,” Bishop Stika said. “She’s not God, the Blessed Mother. Some people think Catholics believe that she is, but she’s not. But she has played a role in salvation history unlike any other person. She gave birth to Jesus.”
On the cross, Jesus gave Mary to us as our mother, Bishop Stika said.
“Throughout history, the Church has often sought out the intercession of Mary, as a powerful advocate, an intercessor who stands before God,” he said. “The Catholic Church is gathering together today with all the bishops of the United States, with all the bishops of Canada, seeking the intercession of Mary to protect us and to give us strength.”
After the homily, an important prayer followed: the fifth sorrowful mystery of the rosary, which is the Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord.
“We’re also going to pray something very powerful, one decade of the rosary, the Sorrowful Mysteries,” the bishop said. “Then I, together with my brother bishops throughout the United States and Canada, and his eminence, the cardinal [Justin Rigali] here, will pray a powerful prayer, asking Mary for her intercession as she stands before God.”
Bishop Stika mentioned the doctors, nurses, those who clean the hospitals, scientists, and others on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We entrust them all to the Blessed Mother, whether they understand her or not, whether they believe in her and her intercession or not. We do,” he said.
May 1 was also the memorial of St. Joseph the Worker, and Bishop Stika prayed for his intercession as well. The bishop also reminded his listeners to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
“As we pray through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, we also pray the prayer that was given to us by St. Faustina, a prayer that is indeed powerful, that will indeed allow us to walk in these months of uncertainty: Jesus, I trust in you,” he said.
Bishop Stika opened the prayer of reconsecration by saying, “Most Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, you are the fairest fruit of God’s redeeming love; you sing of the Father’s mercy and accompany us with a mother’s love. In this time of pandemic we come to you, our sign of sure hope and comfort. Today we renew the act of consecration and entrustment carried out by those who have gone before us. With the love of a Mother and Handmaid, embrace our nation … embrace this diocese, which we entrust and consecrate once again to you. . . .”
Father David Boettner, rector of the cathedral, prayed, “With the love of a Mother and Handmaid, embrace this parish, which we entrust and consecrate once again to you, together with ourselves and our families.”
The bishop continued: “Mary, Health of the Sick, sign of health, of healing, and of divine hope for the sick, we entrust to you all who are infected with the coronavirus. Mary, Mother of Consolation, who consoles with a mother’s love all who turn to you, we entrust to you all those who have lost loved ones in the pandemic.”
Bishop Stika also entrusted to Mary’s care “all caregivers,” “all who are working to find a care to this pandemic,” and “all leaders and policymakers”: “Accept with the benevolence of a Mother the act of consecration that we make today with confidence, and help us to be your Son’s instruments for the healing and salvation of our country, of our diocese, and the world.”
The prayer concluded: “Mary our Mother, bring everyone under your protection and entrust everyone to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord.”
Afterward, Bishop Stika said the ceremony “was a great idea of Archbishop [José] Gomez, who’s the archbishop of Los Angeles and president of the [U.S. bishops’] conference, to reconsecrate, because we’ve already done that in the past, during this time of pandemic. So every bishop of the United States and Canada today, around the same time, we’re in different time zones, we basically used the same format: said the rosary, had the same Gospel, the same prayer of consecration.
“It was just like all of us as Church coming together to pray for the United States but also Canada and the entire world, placing ourselves in the hands of Mary, who gives us to Jesus, who gives us to the Father. Mary has appeared to different people over the centuries, and she always points to her Son, Jesus, you know: ‘do as he says.’ I think it’s really powerful.”
Bishop Stika knew that as he prayed, dozens of his fellow bishops were doing the same around the country and Canada.
“I always know that whenever I pray, no matter what time, there’s always somebody in the world praying at the same time. But today was very powerful, because we’re called the College of Bishops, it’s the official teachers of the Church throughout the world, but today we got together with the bishops of Canada and the United States and maybe other places, too, and did it as one voice,” he said.