Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki of Lviv, Ukraine, called for a novena to begin March 17 and conclude March 25, to prepare for Pope Francis’ consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart.
“We are calling all Christians in Ukraine to join this novena, and we would be very grateful if the whole Church around the world would join us in prayer for this intention.”
The worldwide Knights of Columbus organization is joining with this initiative, “I call on my 2 million brother Knights to unite in prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary,” Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly said in a statement. “Together, we’ll ask Our Lady to intercede on behalf of those directly impacted by the conflict, to give strength to our Ukrainian and Polish Knights working so hard to deliver relief, and to help bring peace and healing to the region.”
The Russian Orthodox Church has so far not commented on the news of the consecration.
While novenas are traditionally nine days (and hence the name), because of the nine days between the Ascension and Pentecost, the faithful are encouraged to pray any amount they can on any of the days they can.
According to St. Luke, Jesus ascended into heaven after “appearing to [the apostles] during forty days” (Acts 1:3) after his resurrection. This means that the time between Jesus’ ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is nine days (not including the day of Jesus’ ascension).
Often, the faithful use a specific prayer for novenas, depending on the occasion – a prayer to St. Joseph to lead up to March 19, for example – but this is not necessary. Any spontaneous or prepared prayer will do.
However, the Knights are suggesting this prayer:
The Annunciation Novena
I greet you, Ever-blessed Virgin, Mother of God, Throne of Grace, miracle of Almighty Power!
I greet you, Sanctuary of the Most Holy Trinity and Queen of the Universe, Mother of Mercy and refuge of sinners!
Most loving Mother, attracted by your beauty and sweetness, and by your tender compassion, I confidently turn to you, miserable as I am, and beg of you to obtain for me from your dear Son the favor I request in this novena:
For the consecration of Russia and Ukraine to your Immaculate Heart
Obtain for me also, Queen of heaven,
the most lively contrition for my many sins and the grace to imitate closely
those virtues which you practiced so faithfully, especially humility, purity and obedience. Above all, I beg you to be
my Mother and Protectress,
to receive me into the number
of your devoted children,
and to guide me
from your high throne of glory.
Do not reject my petitions, Mother of Mercy! Have pity on me, and do not abandon me during life or at the moment of my death. Amen.
Our sufferings and hopes
Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, primate of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, said the consecration is a “spiritual act that has been awaited for a long time by the Ukrainian people,” not only since the beginning of the current Russian offensive but since the war began in 2014.
“We entrust to the Immaculate Heart of Mary all our sufferings and the hopes for peace of our martyred people,” said the spiritual leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic minority, four to five million strong.
He himself performed an act of consecration of Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on October 23, 2016, in Fatima.