By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
A standing-room crowd filled the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe March 25 as Bishop Edward J. Burns joined Pope Francis and the universal Church in the Act of Consecration for Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
“Pope Francis has called the entire Church on this day, the solemnity of the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, to pray for peace,” said Bishop Burns, addressing the more than 1,200 people in attendance as well as others watching online. “We come before our God. We come before our Lord, who is our Prince of Peace. And, through the intercession of our Blessed Mother, we offer our prayers of peace. We pray that our prayers will permeate the hearts of those who are bringing forth the injustices in Ukraine.”
Pope Francis prayed the Act of Consecration during a Lenten prayer service in St. Peter’s Basilica on the evening of March 25, the feast of the Annunciation. The pope invited all bishops, priests and the rest of the world to join in praying the consecration prayer that day.
Pope Francis said the Act of Consecration was “no magic formula but a spiritual act” of trust by “children who, amid the tribulation of this cruel and senseless war that threatens our world, turn to their mother, reposing all their fears and pain in her heart and abandoning themselves to her.”
In Dallas, Bishop Burns first led the faithful in praying the rosary, joined by Francisco Moran, a seminarian from the Corsicana area who attends seminary in Ukraine. Bishop Burns then concelebrated a noon Mass at the cathedral with Auxiliary Bishop Greg Kelly and other priests.
“I am scared, but God has been helping me with the help of the Holy Spirit,” said Moran of the outbreak of war in the country he has lived the past seven years. A parishioner of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Moran expressed hope and appreciation for the pope’s call for unity in prayers for peace and the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
“This shows the universal aspect of the Church, to be able to be unified as one. I see how all of us are united as one. That is a really powerful thing,” he said. “Whenever there are two or three people in prayer, Jesus Christ is with them. Now there will be millions together in prayer around the world, I know this will be a powerful prayer for peace in Ukraine and a prayer for this war to stop.”
During the Mass, Bishop Burns prayed the same Act of Consecration as Pope Francis that day.
“Today we come before God, our Lord, who is the Prince of Peace, and we ask for the intercession of our holy mother. We offer our prayers,” said the bishop before praying the Act of Consecration. “We have always known in our Catholic faith that we are a community of believers and that we are brothers and sisters to one another. When one person suffers, we all suffer. As we gather here, this cathedral is blessed with all of you present, with all of our prayers and all of our concerns for our brothers and sisters in Ukraine.”
As the Mass concluded, the cathedral’s bells played “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” In parishes across the diocese, Bishop Burns had asked his brother priests to celebrate Masses, joining in the Act of Consecration.
For Kai Morris, a parishioner of Christ the King Catholic Church who made the trip to the downtown cathedral with a friend from out of town, the consecration Mass coupled with the celebration of the feast of the Annunciation, made the day quite memorable.
“I didn’t even know all these priests and bishops were going to be here today. It was quite a gift,” Morris said. “It made me feel like we all are one body of Christ no matter where we are. We are one body together and our prayers go up to Heaven. It was just so special.”
Likewise, Evan Groom called it a celebration of the universality of the Catholic faith. Groom, a FOCUS missionary from the University of Texas at Dallas, attended the Mass along with some students from the school.
“I think it’s a beautiful witness to the universality of our Catholic faith,” Groom said. “During the Mass, I was just filled with an awe of the power of prayer and the unity of faith.”