by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
Today, March 25, we celebrate the solemnity of the Annunciation to Mary by the Archangel Gabriel of the conception of Jesus in her womb.
Today, Pope Francis has invited all the Catholic bishops throughout the world to join him in consecrating Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Of course, every Marian consecration is understood to be a consecration to Jesus through his mother Mary.
The Holy Father has invited all Catholics to join him in praying for peace, specifically for an end to the war between Russia and Ukraine. It is heartbreaking to see the images of the elderly and children being wounded and killed by the indiscriminate bombing of civilian neighborhoods.
There can be no moral justification for the suffering that Russian President Putin has inflicted upon the people of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian people have exhibited heroic courage in their efforts to defend their country against an unjust invasion. They have inspired the world with their remarkable bravery in resisting effectively the unprovoked aggression of a much larger nation and military.
Too many have suffered and too many have died already. Yet, Russian President Putin appears resolute in occupying and bringing under his rule the country and the people of Ukraine.
At the same time, few believed that the Ukrainians could successfully blunt, as they have thus far, the massive Russian military invasion.
Sadly, the success of the Ukrainian defense has both embarrassed and infuriated President Putin. The Russian president appears to have become more vicious in his attack on the Ukrainian people. The Russian invaders have already attempted to level and completely destroy several Ukrainian towns and cities in an effort to break the will of the Ukrainian people.
It seems that Putin’s pride prevents him from acknowledging the terrible harm he has inflicted upon Ukrainians. Putin is afraid to appear weak by withdrawing. It seems improbable that he will ever order his soldiers to return home to Russia, much less be willing to pay reparations for his responsibility in the destruction of innocent lives and property.
War is never an acceptable means to resolve disputes between nations. No one wins at war. Inevitably, there are innocent bystanders who are severely harmed by war.
It has been heartwarming to see how Ukraine’s neighbor nations have been generous and gracious in welcoming refugees. Poland has received, by far, the largest number of refugees. The Polish people have been remarkable in their generosity to care for and welcome those who have been forced to flee their homeland.
It will take a miracle to bring an end to this war without much greater loss of life and a growing number of those spiritually, emotionally and physically scarred by the evil of war. Our God is a God of miracles. Our Lord has a history of liberating those unjustly oppressed. Jesus is the Prince of Peace and his mother, Mary, the Queen of Peace.
Jesus and Mary are eager to help us, if we remain faithful and determined in our prayer. After all, if the Lord of Lords and King of Kings was humble enough to become a tiny embryo in the womb of Mary in order to bring mercy and peace to our broken world, do we doubt that he will respond to our fervent prayers?
On March 25, I was already scheduled to be at St. James Academy in Lenexa to lead the students and faculty in a period of eucharistic adoration at the precise time Pope Francis has asked the bishops of the world to join with him in offering the prayer of consecration.
I hope many of our parishes will offer similar opportunities for prayers for peace at this critical moment.
I encourage every member of the archdiocese to enter into persistent and fervent prayer for peace in Ukraine. Relying solely upon our own ingenuity, the situation appears overwhelming. However, we never are on our own. God promises to be with us and God is faithful.
I urge every member of the archdiocese to pray the rosary daily for the specific intention of peace in Ukraine.
If we storm heaven with our prayers, I have no doubt that God will shower his blessings upon us, our families and our world.
Most Pure Heart of Mary, pray for us. Amen.