In union with Pope Francis, Cardinal Vincent Nichols consecrated Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the evening of Friday March 25, 2022. The Mass and Act of Consecration took place at Westminster Cathedral at 5:30pm. It was attended by the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Gugerotti, members of the Diplomatic Corps, Fiona Bruce, MP, representing Her Majesty’s Government and representatives from fellow Christian Churches.
Cardinal Nichols invited everyone to join him in prayer for our ‘troubled world’ and ‘for peace for the suffering people of Ukraine’.
The moment of the meeting between the Archangel Gabriel and the Virgin, Mary, is much beloved of artists throughout the centuries. In their art, taken from the words of the Gospel we have just heard, they strive to depict the momentous significance of Mary’s acceptance of God’s purpose in her life, an acceptance that opens the way, chosen by God, to bring the light of Jesus Christ into this world. Almost invariably the artists have portrayed Mary as a person lost in prayer and astonished at the coming of this messenger.
This evening is, for us, an invitation to prayer. It is not a time for comment or condemnation. Simply a call to pray.
Three words about prayer, for us, this evening.
The first: prayer is simply the raising of the mind and heart to God. Each of us can do so in a way that is consistent with the thoughts of our minds and the movements of our hearts. It is not complicated, just a reaching out to the mystery of God, to the One from whom all being comes and who is our ultimate fulfilment, a fulfilment for which we long, intuitively and ceaselessly.
The second word: in our Christian faith we know that this mystery of God, and the purpose of human life, has been made known in Christ Jesus. He is given as our Way, Truth and Life. Christian prayer in, through and with Him. He carries our prayer to the ear of our Heavenly Father. The moment of great disclosure of purpose and prayer is given in His death, and His rising again. It is this moment, His self-sacrifice on the Cross, which is made present here in this celebration of the Holy Mass. This is the highest form of prayer and we are taken up in its action again this evening.
The third word: at that moment of his dying, Jesus said to each of us that Mary, His mother, standing at the foot of the cross, is to be our mother also. His words, ‘This is your mother’, spoken in the great pain of His last agony, touch our hearts and shape our daily prayer. This evening, then, we turn to our heavenly Mother in this great worldwide act of Consecration, the words of which express and explore so much of our faith and of our trust in her.
The pathway of our prayer this evening is clear: in raising our minds and hearts to God, we do so in union with the death and resurrection of Jesus, turning fervently to the one who is given to be a Mother of us all.
I invite you all into this pathway of prayer. Let the prayer of each one of us be a prayer for peace in our broken and troubled world.