Newsletter for Sunday 20 March 2022

18 Mar

Mary our Mother and Protector

This Friday 25th March, we celebrate our Patronal Feast – the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Although we commonly call our church ‘St Mary’s’, its full title is ‘St Mary of the Annunciation’. You can see the scene depicted outside, above the entrance of the main door, on the large painting on the left-hand wall in the Lady Chapel and also on the stained glass window above the left-hand confessional.

The Annunciation celebrates the Incarnation – God becoming man in the womb of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. The Angel Gabriel announced to Mary the Will of God – that she conceive and bear a Son by the power of the Holy Spirit who would be the Son of the Most High. Then at her “fiat”, that is her “yes”, “the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us”. So from the earliest days of the Church, Our Lady has been referred to as the Mother of God. This does not mean that Mary created God in her womb. Rather we mean that the Child she carried in her womb was the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Mary gave JESUS His flesh and blood and God created His human soul. The human and the divine were hypostatically joined, and so from the moment of conception, the Child in her womb was also God, and so Mary gave birth to God. Mary, therefore, truly is the Mother of God or ‘Theotokos’ which is the Greek word meaning ‘God bearer’.

On Thursday 24th March, the Vigil of the Annunciation, we will have a second Holy Hour for peace in Ukraine at 6.30pm during which we will recite the Holy Rosary in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. As I mentioned here two weeks ago, Our Lady of Fatima requested the Consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart by the Pope in union with the bishops of the world. She promised that if her requests are carried out, there will be peace in the world and Russia will be converted “following this day of prayer and worldwide reparation”. The Vatican announced last Tuesday that Pope Francis will make the Consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary this coming Friday at 5pm (that is 6pm here), the Solemnity of the Annunciation. The Papal Legate, Cardinal Krajewski, will do the same in Fatima on the Pope’s behalf. As I write (Friday), it is being reported that the Pope will ask the world’s bishops to join him in the Consecration. Various popes since the 1940s have made various consecrations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, but there has always been something missing from what Our Lady asked. She said, “If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted and there will be peace; if not she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”

As the war escalates in Ukraine and there is an increasing risk it could develop into something truly terrible for the whole world, let us all pray now in earnest that this Consecration of Pope Francis will be done according to Our Lady’s instructions and will be in union with the world’s bishops, and bring about true peace, the conversion of Russia and an authentic renewal of the Church, which Our Lady of Fatima, the Mother of God, ‘Theotokos’, promised would come about as a result of this Consecration. Please make every effort to attend the Holy Hour on Thursday. It would be wonderful to see the church full.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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Novena Prayer for the Consecration of Russia and A Prayer for Ukraine