Pope prays resources move from military to pandemic prevention
By Cindy Wooden | Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Under the gaze of a seventh-century icon of Mary, Pope Francis launched a monthlong, global recitation of the rosary, pleading for Mary’s intercession for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And he prayed May 1 that Mary would move people’s consciences “so that the enormous amounts spent to increase and perfect weapons are instead used to promote research to prevent similar catastrophes in the future.”
The pope and about 160 young adults and families from Rome prayed in St. Peter’s Basilica and were joined remotely by people at the National Shrine and Basilica of Our Lady of Walsingham in England, the first of 30 Marian shrines around the world that will lead the rosary every day throughout May.
“At the beginning of the month dedicated to Our Lady, we join in prayer with all the shrines around the world, the faithful and all people of good will to entrust to our holy mother all of humanity so harshly tried by this pandemic,” the pope said, introducing the recitation of the glorious mysteries of the rosary.
The Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization coordinated the rosary marathon, the scheduling of the shrines and the assigning of a specific prayer intention for each day of the month traditionally devoted to Mary.
The pope said those intentions would include people who have died or fallen ill with the virus, their loved ones and the medical personnel who cared for them, people who had lost their jobs, and students who longed to return to school and to their friends. The prayers, he said, also would remember “the people, especially women, who endured violence within the home” during the pandemic lockdowns.
“Mother of Succor, welcome us under your mantle and protect us, sustain us in times of trial and light in our hearts the lamp of hope for the future,” the pope prayed, standing before the Marian icon.
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was scheduled to lead the prayers “for all world leaders and for all heads of international organizations” May 17, and the Quebec Shrine of Notre Dame du Cap was to lead prayers for “for all law enforcement and military personnel and for all firefighters” May 23.
While leaving much of the planning up to the shrines and their local expressions of faith, the pontifical council included in the outline for the prayer services one of the special prayers to Mary in the time of COVID-19, written by Pope Francis last year when the pandemic had just begun (see boxes).
Pope Francis’ invocations to Mary May 1 included large sections of that prayer, including a plea to “turn your merciful eyes toward us amid this coronavirus pandemic. Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply.”
“Be close to those who are concerned for their loved ones who are sick and who, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, cannot be close to them,” the pope continued. “Fill with hope those who are troubled by the uncertainty of the future and the consequences for the economy and employment.”
But he also prayed that government leaders would work with “wisdom, care and generosity” to aid those who lack even the basic necessities and that their recovery plans would be farsighted and marked by solidarity with the poor.
Pope Francis also added a prayer to the “beloved mother,” asking her to help everyone in the world recognize that they are part of “one great family” and should care for one another, especially those most in need.
“Encourage firmness in faith, perseverance in service and constancy in prayer,” he asked. “O, Mary, consoler of the afflicted, embrace all your suffering children and have God intervene with his hand.”
“We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God.”
In the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety, we fly to you, Mother of God and our mother, and seek refuge under your protection.
Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes toward us amid this coronavirus pandemic. Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply. Be close to those who are concerned for their loved ones who are sick and who, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, cannot be close to them. Fill with hope those who are troubled by the uncertainty of the future and the consequences for the economy and employment.
Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us to God, the father of mercies, that this great suffering may end and that hope and peace may dawn anew. Plead with your divine Son, as you did at Cana, so that the families of the sick and the victims be comforted, and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust.
Protect those doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers who are on the frontline of this emergency, and are risking their lives to save others. Support their heroic effort and grant them strength, generosity and continued health.
Be close to those who assist the sick night and day, and to priests who, in their pastoral concern and fidelity to the Gospel, are trying to help and support everyone.
Blessed Virgin, illumine the minds of men and women engaged in scientific research, that they may find effective solutions to overcome this virus.
Support national leaders, that with wisdom, solicitude and generosity they may come to the aid of those lacking the basic necessities of life and may devise social and economic solutions inspired by farsightedness and solidarity.
Mary Most Holy, stir our consciences, so that the enormous funds invested in developing and stockpiling arms will instead be spent on promoting effective research on how to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.
Beloved Mother, help us realize that we are all members of one great family and to recognize the bond that unites us, so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity, we can help to alleviate countless situations of poverty and need. Make us strong in faith, persevering in service, constant in prayer.
Mary, Consolation of the afflicted, embrace all your children in distress and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand and free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its normal course.
To you, who shine on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope, do we entrust ourselves, O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.
You shine continuously on our journey
as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick, who, at the foot of the cross,
were united with Jesus’ suffering,
and persevered in your faith.
“Protectress of the Roman people,”
you know our needs,
and we know that you will provide,
so that, as at Cana in Galilee,
joy and celebration may return
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the will of the Father and to do what Jesus tells us.
For he took upon himself our suffering,
and burdened himself with our sorrows
to bring us, through the cross,
to the joy of the Resurrection.
We fly to your protection,
O Holy Mother of God;
Do not despise our petitions
in our necessities,
but deliver us always
from every danger,
O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.