On March 25, the solemnity of the Annunciation, along with my brother bishops and priests from around the world, I joined with the Holy Father Pope Francis in consecrating and entrusting Russia, Ukraine, and all of humanity to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

It was a beautiful, emotional moment. Confronted with the senseless violence of war, the ruin of cities, the destruction of innocent lives, prayer is our most powerful weapon against evil.

An act of consecration is not “magical thinking” or just a beautiful idea. It is an act of courage and hope, a call to conversion. Peace among nations begins when there is peace in the human heart. The world can be changed, if we change our hearts, if we conform our hearts to the heart of Mary and the heart of Christ.

In making this consecration, Pope Francis made visible the beautiful reality that the human race — for all its variety of peoples, all its diverse ethnicities, religions, histories, traditions, and ways of life — is one family. 

As St. Paul said long ago, when one member of our family is suffering, we all suffer. And in our sufferings, in our times of trial and trouble, it is natural that we turn to our mother.

In uniting myself to the Holy Father in prayer to Our Lady, I experienced, in a new and beautiful way, the truth that “catholic” means universal, worldwide. I was renewed in my conviction that the mission that Jesus gave to his Church remains urgent today — to draw all nations and peoples into a single family, united in his love.

The promise of Jesus is that in his Gospel we can know God as our Father, and know all men and women as our brothers and sisters. As St. Francis of Assisi used to say, in giving birth to Jesus, Mary “made God our brother.” And in his final act of love, as he hung near death on the cross, Jesus entrusted every person to Mary. “Behold your mother,” he said to us.

At the center of his act of consecration, Pope Francis recalled the words of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He prayed: “In every age you make yourself known to us, calling us to conversion. At this dark hour, help us and grant us your comfort. Say to us once more: ‘Am I not here, who am your mother.’ You are able to untie the knots of our hearts and of our times. In you we place our trust. We are confident that, especially in moments of trial, you will not be deaf to our supplication and will come to our aid.”

This is a beautiful passage that evokes not only Our Lady’s appearance at Tepeyac, but also the traditional devotion to Mary as the “undoer of knots,” and the ancient prayer that became the Memorare.

I urge you to read prayerfully the entire text of the pope’s act of consecration. It was translated and prayed in 36 world languages, which reminds us of the Church’s birth at Pentecost, when people “from every nation under heaven” were gathered in Jerusalem, and each one heard the apostles’ preaching “in his own native language.”

In making this act, the pope reminds us once again that Mary is the Mother of the Church, and the mother of each one of us.

She was there at Our Lord’s conception and birth. She was there to present him in the temple, and to help him grow from an infant to a man in those hidden years at Nazareth. She was there at the wedding in Cana, as the one who asks him to perform his first miracle.

The mother of Jesus was there when her Son died, keeping her station at the foot of his cross. Our Lady was there at the birth of the Church, praying with the apostles for the Holy Spirit to come down at Pentecost.

Mary continues to guide and pray for the Church on earth. And as St. Pope John Paul II said: “Where she is, her Son cannot fail to be.”

Since the early centuries of the Church, Mary continues to bring us to Jesus.

And as Pope Francis recognized in this consecration, Mary’s message in our times, as in every age, is one of hope and mercy, and reassurance of her motherly protection.

Pray for me, and I will pray for you. Let us continue to pray with all our strength for an end to this war and every war.

May we continue to unite as one family of God, with our Holy Father, bringing our needs to Jesus, through Mary our mother. Queen of Peace, pray for us!