Cardinals (from left) Marc Ouellet, Thomas Collins and Gerald Lacroix read the prayer of consecration on Sept. 27 at Notre Dame Cathedral in Ottawa. Photo by Deborah Gyapong

A fitting celebration for Our Lady

By 
  • September 26, 2017

OTTAWA – It was the gift to beat all gifts.

To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday and to mark the 70th anniversary of Canada being consecrated to the Blessed Virgin, Canada’s three cardinals led the nation’s bishops in a ceremony Sept. 26 to re-consecrate the nation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

“In a way, what can the Church offer the country on this 150th anniversary?” asked Bishop Douglas Crosby. “There’s nothing more beautiful than the prayer of consecration to Our Lady. I’m very happy about it.”

The re-consecration ceremony was led by three cardinals: Cardinal Gerald Lacroix, the archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada; Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Prefect for the Congregation for Bishops in Rome and former archbishop of Quebec; and Cardinal Thomas Collins, the archbishop of Toronto. Standing near a portrait of Our Lady of Canada painted by the late Quebec artist Marius Dubois, they led more than 80 bishops and eparchs and hundreds of lay faithful in the consecration prayer at Ottawa’s Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica.

“May the Cross of your Son, planted on Canadian soil and in Canadian hearts, be known as the Tree of Life, whose fruit is visible and available to all in the garden of this world,” the cardinals, bishops and lay faithful prayed.

“Mary our Mother, we place our country Canada in the sanctuary of your Holy Heart for we know that there we will find Jesus, who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.”

The ceremony began with the concelebration of a Mass on the Feast of the Canadian Martyrs led by Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast. Lacroix gave the homily and said the bishops also prayed that, through the re-consecration, “our country may be protected from the horrors of war and that our people may be more open to welcome into their lives the Good News which is not a doctrine or a philosophy, but is Someone: Jesus Christ.

“We also pray that we may become missionary disciples, available and willing to share the treasure of our faith.”

Canada was first consecrated to the Immaculate Heart at the 1947 Marian Congress in Ottawa. That Congress drew several hundred thousand pilgrims to Ottawa and at the time was among the largest religious events ever held in North America.

Archbishop Gerard Pettipas of the Grouard-McLennan diocese in Northern Alberta said there was a wide sentiment among the bishops, “especially given our day and age here in Canada,” to renew a call on “the Blessed Mother to watch over and guide us as a people.”

“Our country is going through some very significant changes as a society,” he said. “We have to be careful to uphold that we are not only part of a Christian life, but of a good life, a whole life.”

Crosby said many people across Canada “have written or have expressed to me personally how grateful they are” for the decision to hold a re-consecration ceremony.

Prendergast said it was “moving” to “share with more than 80 of my brother bishops in the act of consecrating Canada . . . to Mary’s Immaculate Heart.”

“And the enthusiasm of the faithful — especially that of the university students — in their love of our country and our faith!  Wow! It’s an experience I shall not forget but treasure for years to come.”

When the bishops gathered the previous day to open their annual plenary in Cornwall, Ont., Canada’s Apostolic Nuncio told them he was “pleased” that they made the consecration.

“May this consecration make our hearts aflame with that love that shines forth from the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of Jesus,” Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi said.

The Mass also marked another milestone in Canada, the 50th anniversary of Development and Peace, the Canadian bishops’ overseas development agency, founded in 1967 on Canada’s 100th anniversary year.

“Today, in this golden jubilee, we give thanks to God for so many people who have worked and who continue to be committed to building a more just world,” Lacroix said.


 

Below is the text for the Prayer for the Consecration of Canada to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Prayer for the Consecration of Canada to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary on 1 July 2017

Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, when the first Christian believers came to these shores, they planted a Cross made of the fresh timber of the New World as a sign of their faith in your Son and the power of his Resurrection, placing their lives under your maternal protection and venerating you as the Immaculate Conception.
You show us how to live a life free from sin in Christ Jesus and, by our baptism, we hope to share fully with you in the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
You have accompanied us on our path through history, in times of peace, conflict, and reconciliation, and as we arrived at a greater sense of unity and nationhood.
With full confidence we come before you today giving thanks to God on the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. Gathered in the communion of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we place ourselves completely in the sanctuary of your Heart and commit the past, the present and the future of Canada to your maternal care.
For this reason, I, (N., Arch/Bishop/Metropolitan/Eparch of N.), commend to your Immaculate Heart the portion of the People of God entrusted to me. Together with the other Archbishops, Metropolitans, Bishops and Eparchs of Canada, I also consecrate the people of our country to your maternal Heart which teaches us to trust in God’s loving plan.
Immaculate Mother of God, we find ourselves at a crossroads in our history; we are grateful for advances in science and new discoveries, yet we know the human heart is tempted by selfish interests and false ideas about the human person and freedom. Help us, as Catholics, to live in peace with all people of good will and to dialogue with respect and friendship.
Loving Mother of Our Lord, help us to uphold religious freedom in Canada, and the natural rights of parents and families; inspire us to protect the unborn, to help the poor, the marginalized, and to give support to the infirm and elderly. Weighed down at times by our concerns, but hopeful for the future, we turn to you, the new Eve, Mother of all the living, for help and for strength.

Your Son is the beginning of God’s New Creation and you are his Masterpiece: intercede for our Churches, for all our people, especially the Indigenous Peoples, the first stewards of this land of Canada, and all who come here to live, take refuge, or visit.

[All together]
May the Cross of your Son, planted on Canadian soil and in Canadian hearts, be known as the Tree of Life, whose fruit is visible and available to all in the garden of this world.
Mary our Mother, we place our country Canada in the sanctuary of your Holy Heart for we know that there we will find Jesus, who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Let us now ask the intercession of Our Lady according to the titles with which she has been especially honoured in Canada:
Litany for Canada Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.
Mother of Christ, pray for us.
Mother of the Church, pray for us.
Sacred Heart of Mary, pray for us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.
Star of the Sea, pray for us.
Our Lady of Roc Amadour, pray for us.
Our Lady of Recovery, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Cape, pray for us.
Our Lady of Victory, pray for us.
Our Lady of Good Help, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.
Our Lady of Good Counsel, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Snows, pray for us.
Our Lady of the Prairies, pray for us.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
Our Lady of Canada, pray for us.

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