In honour of the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of our Blessed Mother at Fatima, schools within the Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education, as well as the Catholic Education Office, consecrated their buildings, staff and students to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This initiative follows the consecration of our country and dioceses by bishops and parishes by priests earlier this summer.
Director of Religious Education of Medicine Hat Catholic, Jill Wilkinson, assisted administrators of various schools, with parish priests, to officially consecrate the schools in prayer services during the month of October. At St. Michael’s School, students were reminded of the story of the three shepherd children of Fatima and the appearances of Our Lady urging them to pray the rosary for the conversion of souls. Students and staff prayed the rosary followed by a special consecration prayer and school blessing by Fr. Tomy Manjaly.
Our Catholic Faith is so rich in meaningful traditions, which are imperative for our children to experience. The story of Fatima and the examples of St. Jacinta, St. Francisco and soon to be canonized, Lucia, help students to understand our devotion to Mary and how God chooses even children to spread his salvation throughout the world. The consecration celebration held at St. Michael’s on Tuesday, October 10, was part of the school’s ongoing devotion to our Blessed Mother which consists of a weekly rosary making club and rosary lunch club.
We have such a tremendous freedom in our Catholic schools to educate our children in meaningful, life altering experiences. This was one such moment that I pray will remain with our students and staff throughout their schooling experience and in years to follow.
Bishop McGrattan consecrated the Diocese of Calgary to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Saturday, July 1, 2017, with a celebration of Eucharist, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Rosary prayers.
The Diocese of Calgary thanks all the liturgical ministers involved and the staff at St. Mary's Cathedral for their assistance. A special thank you for God Squad Canada for preparing the delicious barbeque for everyone!
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Photography: Victor Panlilio
The Church has always recognized an affinity for the Blessed Virgin Mary. From its very origins this affinity is recognized in Luke by great meaning of the word “blessed.” The Greek word for “blessed” is “Echaritomene,” which literally means a person “having been graced” or a person “having been loved.” The Church responds to the injunction of scripture and responds with the same love for the Blessed Virgin: “‘All generations will call me blessed’: ‘The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.’ The Church rightly honours ‘the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honoured with the title of ‘Mother of God,’ to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs…. This very special devotion… differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration.’” [Catechism of the Catholic Church, 971].
The greatness of St. Mary is often perplexing to people and even to Christians from other denominations. Blessed John Henry Newman acknowledged that scripture does not talk too often about The Blessed Virgin Mary. However, he notes that this in itself is something to be acknowledged to her praise. That despite being the Mother of God, who played a large role among the apostles, she never made this point to be important. Even the biblical authors mention the Virgin about the same number of times as the lesser known disciples. This is however, to Mary’s glory, since it is by being humble that “the meek shall inherit the earth” [Matt. 5:5]. The 19th century book, Fear and Trembling, describes the Blessed Virgin in this way: “To be sure, Mary bore the child wondrously, but she nevertheless did it ‘after the manner of women,’ and such a time is one of anxiety, distress, and paradox. The angel was indeed a ministering spirit, but he was not a meddlesome spirit who went to the other young maidens in Israel and said: ‘Do not scorn Mary, the extraordinary is happening to her!’ The angel went only to Mary, and no one could understand her” [Johannes de Silentio, Hong p. 65]. As we declare the Gospel to the world, to our families, to our husbands, wives and children, we look to St. Mary whose only goal was to serve Christ and God alone!
A blessed tradition dating back to some of the earliest times of the Church is the consecration or entrustment to the Blessed Virgin Mary. On Saturday, July 1, everyone in the Diocese of Calgary is invited to meet at St. Mary’s Cathedral with Bishop McGrattan at 10:00 a.m. See Diocesan Dates on page 20 for details. The other dioceses and archdioceses in Canada will also meet on this day to consecrate Canada to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This consecration is an act of prayer where we will ask St. Mary, the Mother of God, and of all Christians, to pray to Christ from her Immaculate Heart for us.
Our fellowship with the saints and other Christians does not end in this life, but carries onto the next [LG 49]. This is the same living heart that said “yes” to God, and it is the same heart that prays for the world to recognize Jesus as the Savior and Lord of Canada and the Savior and Lord of the universe.
This year, Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary of confederation. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) invites every bishop of every diocese or eparchy to consecrate the country to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary on July 1. Families are also invited to commemorate this important event. We can do this by engaging the family in an active and communicative way!
To begin this journey with your family you need a Bible (and, if possible, a Children’s Bible) and the colouring page on page 6, and some colouring pencils. Prepare for the activity by reflecting on your relationship with your parents or with your children, so that you can share an example of your special relationship with your loved ones. Read the scripture passage, John 19:25-27.
- Have copies of the colouring page ready (1 per child). Click Here.
- Ask the children to describe something that they really like to do as a family, something that makes them feel special. For example, “each night before bed, Daddy reads to me and then we say our prayers together,” or “when Mommy makes my lunch she puts a special treat in the bag – something that she knows I will really like,” or “Mommy always knows what to say when I am feeling sad,” or “Daddy and I play outdoor hockey together on the weekends.”
- What makes these moments special? Is it because it is one-on-one time just between the parent and child?
- After everybody has had a chance to talk about their special times with mom or dad, read the scripture passage – John 19:25-27. If you don’t have a children’s Bible, you can paraphrase the passage in words that the children understand. It is important to mention that when children get older, they want to care for their parents, just as their parents cared for them when they were younger. Jesus wanted to make sure that his mother would be looked after. He wanted to make sure that his mother and John would take care of each other.
- Jesus also has a special relationship with his mother, and he wants us to care for her, and for her to care for us. That is why we pray through Mary that she will ask God to help us when we need it. We are comforted in the knowledge that Mary loves us and cares for us just as our parents do.
- This year Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary. As Jesus entrusted the disciple John to his mother Mary, and his mother Mary to John, we, as Catholics, are marking this special occasion by entrusting our country to the care of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. By doing so, the Blessed Virgin, Mary, the mother of Jesus, will ask God to help us live together in peace and harmony.
Ask the children to colour the image of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
Pray the Hail Mary together:
Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
There is a funny story about an elderly woman doing a rosary, unaware that a painter is on a scaffold above her repairing the church ceiling. As she says her prayer the mischievous painter whispers, “This is Jesus speaking.” The old woman ignores him until finally the painter, thinking the woman is deaf, shouts loudly, “Hello! This is Jesus!” The old lady raises her eyes to the crucifix and answers: “Just a moment my Lord, I’m talking to your mother!”
For several years now I have done a nightly rosary, but I’ve never had a similar interruption. For those who may not have undertaken a full rosary, I can say that it is a very powerful and rigorous practice. The rosary is divided into four mysteries, comprising five decades each. Prayed in sequence through the week they offer a magnificent encapsulation of the story of Jesus and Mary.
The Joyful Mysteries tell of the Annunciation through to the birth of Jesus, his presentation at, and the finding of Jesus in, the temple. The Luminous Mysteries tell the story of the revealing of Christ to the world, from his baptism in the River Jordan, to the Wedding at Cana through to the Last Supper. The Sorrowful Mysteries narrate the passion, from the agony of our Lord in the Garden through to his trial and carrying of the cross to Calvary, to his crucifixion. And the Glorious Mysteries tell of his resurrection and ascension into heaven, the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and finally the assumption of Mary into Heaven and her Coronation as Queen of Heaven and Earth.
For me the nightly rosary was a way to ground myself at a difficult time, and while it has proven spiritually heartening, I must admit that it was a practice that at times was challenging to maintain given the realities of life. If I was ill or returning from a long evening of work, it might be after midnight before I could turn to the rosary, an undertaking that can take up to thirty minutes. Until one day I read an account of a woman whose mother urged her to say the Hail Mary as she baked! I loved that story.
It reminded me of Salman Rushdie’s novel Midnight’s Children where one of the characters baked her emotions into whatever she prepared. Hence, if she were crying when she cooked, those who ate her food became sad. If she baked euphorically, those who sampled her cuisine felt uplifted. I couldn’t help but think the same would happen if you prayed while cooking. And since my own culinary ability is at best rudimentary, I decided to build the rosary into my daylight hours instead: the decades recited during the ride to and from work (guaranteed to eliminate road rage); while exercising (rather rare I’m afraid); or while doing household chores (rarer still). And often, of a Sunday, I arrive early at church and complete the rosary before the Mass begins. There are still times when it is late at night before I can say the rosary. But most of the time the rosary is part of the fabric of my day: reassuring, tempering, enlightening. How can you go wrong when 53 Hail Marys, 6 Our Fathers and a handful of other awesome prayers are part of your day?