We fly to thy protection - Fifth Sunday of Easter (A)

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > We fly to thy protection - Fifth Sunday of Easter (A)

As we have entered into the month of May, the world is still burdened with the danger of the spread of COVID-19. Vast populations are still living under very stringent restrictions on movement, human contact and employment.

While there are hopeful signs that many nations, including Australia, have managed to “flatten the curve”, many of the restrictions still remain in force, with some, like international travel, likely to remain for a long time to come.

The effects of the necessary restrictions are being felt in a wide variety of ways: economic, personal and spiritual. We all need help. The world needs help.

The Holy Father has appealed to the Catholic faithful to pray the rosary at home especially during the month of May, a month dedicated to Our Lady. The Pope has provided some special prayers for this time of the pandemic.

In one of the prayers the Pope offered these words, “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 towards us amid this coronavirus pandemic.”

Catholics have instinctively turned to the Blessed Virgin Mary in times of need. Indeed, in recent centuries reported apparitions of the Blessed Virgin can be linked to specific challenges facing nations and peoples. Thus, as the Pope has done, in this time of global threat it is most appropriate to seek her maternal intercession.

A number of bishops’ conferences across the world have re-consecrated their nations to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The United States Bishops’ Conference and the Canadian Bishops’ Conference have recently re-consecrated their nations to “Mary, Mother of the Church” in view of the pandemic; the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales have re-consecrated their nations as Our Lady’s Dowry; and the Irish, Spanish and Portuguese conferences have also done so under various titles of the Blessed Virgin seeking protection from the pandemic.

The Australian bishops are currently meeting and it has been proposed that bishops re-consecrate Australia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary under the title Our Lady Help of Christians. Under this title the Virgin Mary has been proclaimed patroness of Australia in 1844, with the feast celebrated on May 24.

Cardinal Moran laying the foundation stone of St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney said on that occasion: “Who was the patron selected by the people and their newly arrived pastor, Father Therry, for the Mother Church? Mary, the Immaculate Mother of God, under the special invocation of Help of Christians, was chosen patroness.”

On 13 May 2017, in the centenary year of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Tasmania was consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is not inappropriate to renew this consecration at the present time.

A consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary is an expression of our trust and confidence in the intercession of Our Lady to her Divine Son. On this Mother’s Day we are all reminded of the depths of love that lie in the heart of every mother for her children.

The various apparitions suggest that God knows that people will listen to the Mother of God and respond to her messages. At the same time, the Catholic people, knowing of the maternal care of the Virgin Mary, instinctively turn to her in times of need. 

Pope Francis has drawn our attention to a traditional Catholic Prayer, often known under its Latin title: ‘Sub Tuum Praesidium’. This is a very ancient prayer. It was discovered on an Egyptian papyrus dated in the third century. It reminds us that from the very earliest times of the Church Christians prayed with great expectation to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The text of the prayer reads:

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.

On this Mother’s Day as we honour motherhood let us respond to the request of the Pope and invoke the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary over all peoples during this time of global suffering.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Sunday, May 10, 2020