Archbishop consecrates Archdiocese of Denver to Immaculate Heart of Mary

On the centennial of Our Lady’s final apparition to the Fatima children and the Miracle of the Sun on Oct. 13, hundreds were gathered in the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and thousands more gathered in parishes across the archdiocese as Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila consecrated Denver to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Watch the prayer vigil here

The event, which was live-streamed across the world and into participating parishes in the archdiocese, began with a procession and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. After some moments of silence, Father Ryan O’Neill, vocations director at the Archdiocese of Denver, led the congregation in the rosary, followed by an exhortation.

Father O’Neill called attention to the day of Friday, the 13th, which is typically considered a superstitious, unlucky day to some. But instead, the archdiocese was gathered on such a day for sacred blessing.

“We are here in the darkness on an unlucky day to celebrate a beautiful, holy thing, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima,” Father O’Neill said. “Today is a very lucky day for us, any by lucky, I mean blessed. In the midst of our fears comes a woman dressed in white.”

After some time of silent adoration before the Eucharist, Archbishop Aquila also addressed the faithful before the final prayer of consecration, recalling the miracle that occurred 100 years ago to the day.

“Our Lady said, ‘In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph,’” Archbishop Aquila said. “And in that, we see the heart of Mary and her love for Jesus. Her last recorded words were, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ She constantly reminds us of her son and her deepest desire is that we be as pure in heart as she is pure of heart.”

Archbishop Aquila reminded the faithful that Our Lord “promises to give us a new heart,” and that Mary wants us to open our hearts to salvation and to Jesus.

He went on to emphasize four themes that will lead us deeper in intimacy with Jesus: The gift of faith, conversion, praying for peace and remembering Our Lady’s message of hope.

“Mary invites us to put our faith in God, to believe in his love for the world and to put our trust and confidence in him,” Archbishop Aquila said. We also need to pray for our own conversion, as well as the conversion of the whole world, he continued.

“She also reminds us to pray for peace in the world,” Archbishop Aquila pointed out. “We may not be in a World War today, but there are many small wars going on. We see threats of war with North Korea and there’s that angst — but how often do we ask the Lord, grant our world peace?

The Consecration of the Archdiocese of Denver to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on October 13, 2017, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Denver Catholic)

“The peace the Lord gives is not without suffering or the cross,” he added. “But it is strong. It is the peace Mary knew at the foot of the cross…so, we are praying for that peace today.”

Archbishop Aquila concluded by reminding the archdiocese that with Mary’s apparitions always comes a message of hope — that life has meaning, and that there is eternal life.

Father O’Neill also highlighted three events in Mary’s life that offered us an example of her virtues to imitate: The Annunciation, the wedding feast at Cana, and her love of the cross.

In the Annunciation, Father O’Neill said, “Mary receives the gift God wants to give her,” and that, often, we wish for things other than the great blessing God is trying to give us.

At Cana, Mary exhibited humble confidence. She points out a need and is very confident that Jesus will answer it the way he wants, Father O’Neill said.

“St. Therese prayed like that,” Father O’Neill said. “She said that even if things don’t go the way you want, remember that Jesus loves you so much that if you could see it, you would die of ecstasy. It’s not about what he gives, it’s about who he is.”

The third example of her virtue is at the cross.

“It didn’t feel good, but there was a choice. She chose the cross,” Father O’Neill said. “Every cross is a preparation for a greater blessing, a ripening of our soul for greater grace. I want you to see the cross as something really good coming your way.”

As the archdiocese joined the Archbishop in prayer of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the faithful prayed, “May every country and every person in the world come to know your maternal love for them…through your intercession, may every human being encounter you son, Jesus Christ, and become the person he desires them to be.” ­­

Hundreds of faithful were gathered at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on October 13, 2017, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Anya Semenoff/Denver Catholic)

“As we consecrate ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, let us pray for faith… to love Jesus as Mary loved Jesus, and pray for peace and let us pray for hope, rooted in the promise of eternal life,” Archbishop Aquila concluded. “It is only by keeping our hearts fixed on Jesus that this will come about.”

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.


Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash