Editor’s Note: Following is the reflection from Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., on the reconsecration of the United States to Mary, Mother of the Church. The Bishop led a prayer service at 3 p.m. from the church of Mary, Mother of the Church Parish, Bordentown. Father Martin O’Reilly, parish pastor, participated. A separate service was conducted in Spanish and included Father Jorge Bedoya, parochial vicar of St. Joan of Arc Parish, Marlton. The reconsecration replay can be viewed on YouTube/trentondiocese.

As the Lord Jesus was dying on the Cross, he looked down and saw his Beloved Mother standing next to John, his Beloved Disciple. In his final moments, their eyes met, and Jesus spoke: “Women, behold your son … son, behold your Mother.” In those sad but powerful words of love, John became a symbol of the whole Church for all time. Jesus gave the Church to his Mother … and his Mother to the Church. It was the Lord’s dying wish; it was the Lord’s dying prayer; it was his dying gift!

It is from this Gospel passage, from this holy exchange and blessed dialogue, that the title “Mary, Mother of the Church” is taken. Although that title was brought to the Church’s attention most recently by Pope St. Paul VI at the Second Vatican Council, its roots in the Church’s theology date back to St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, in the 4th century. Sixteen centuries later, Pope St. Paul VI – also a bishop of Milan – proclaimed that Mary “is Mother of the whole People of God, both the faithful and the pastors.”  

In light of Mary’s faith, love and complete unity with the Lord Jesus as his Mother, Mary became Mother of the Church, born in blood and water flowing from his pierced side on the Cross.

May has traditionally been considered the “month of Mary.” Catholics have always turned to her in their time of need. It is most fitting that the Church in the United States, on this first day of the month of May, turns to Mary in this act of consecration – reconsecration, really, since our nation has consecrated itself to her three times before in our history. Our country takes Mary under the title the Immaculate Conception as its national patron. Our Diocese takes Mary under the title Queen of the Assumption as its special patron.  

Now, today, as we confront one of the worst health crises of modern history, we turn to Mary, our Mother, once more. As a Mother loves and cares and intercedes for her children, we ask her, in faith, once more, to come to our aid. We reconsecrate our Diocese and our country to her and ask her intercession with her Beloved Son. May those who have died find his eternal peace. May those who are sick find his healing.  May their families find comfort and strength. Hold our health care providers and their staffs, our first responders and public servants, our scientists and researchers – hold us all close to your heart. And protect us, O Blessed Mary, Mother of the Church, as you lead us from this day forward to the heart of your Divine Son.