Filipino Catholics consecrated the whole country to the Blessed Virgin Mary on May 13, feast day of Our Lady of Fatima.
Across the country, church and civic leaders led the faithful in praying for an end to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are praying that through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary this pandemic will end,” said Bishop Dennis Villarojo of Malolos.
The prelate led the main celebration of the consecration of the Philippines to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the National Shrine of the Our Lady of Fatima in the town of Valenzuela.
“For the souls of those who perished because of the pandemic … may God welcome them and may the Immaculate Heart of Mary be their refuge,” prayed Bishop Bartolome Santos of Iba.
“May we grow in spirit and reach out to our brothers and sisters who are in most need in this time of crisis,” added Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu.
‘We cannot kill to attain goodness’
In his homily during the celebration, Bishop Villarojo of Malolos said two of the three children in Fatima also “suffered the same way the world is suffering right now” because of the pandemic.
He said Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto died at a very young age because of the Spanish Flu, but “offered their sacrifices and sufferings” for the reparation of sins.
“Today, as we pray to the Virgin Mary to help us end this pandemic, may we possess the consciousness of the children of Fatima that whatever sufferings and grief we have, we lift them as self-offering for the reparation of sins and conversion of sinners,” said the prelate.
On May 13, 1917, cousins Lucia dos Santos, Francisco Marto, and Jacinta Marto reported seeing a woman “brighter than the sun” in their village in Fatima in Portugal.
The children said the woman asked them to devote themselves to the Holy Trinity and to pray the Holy Rosary every day “to bring peace to the world and an end to the war.”
Bishop Villarojo said people should examine themselves and realize “if we are one of those sinners because we allow, enable, and cheer the bad things that happen in our society.”
“In our time now, it seems that we set aside the sense of sin. It seems that we are dominated by our earthly concerns,” he said.
He reminded the faithful that “one cannot do evil so that good may come out.” The prelate said the country “cannot set aside human rights to attain peace and order.”
“We cannot kill to attain goodness. We cannot lie to bring out the truth,” said the bishop.
“It is easy for us to perform evil acts because we justify it by telling ourselves that we have good intentions in doing bad things,” said Bishop Villarojo.
“There’s a guarantee of attaining the common good when we respect the rights of a common person here and now,” he said.
Significance of Our Lady of Fatima to Filipinos
The prelate reminded the faithful of the significance of the image of Our Lady of Fatima to Philippine history.
An image of the Virgin was held by former Defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile and former General Fidel Ramos when the broke away from Ferdinand Marcos during the 1986 revolution.
“Not only this image was a witness to our struggles to regain freedom, but she also interceded for God to grant us back our democracy, the same democracy we no longer value today,” said Bishop Villarojo.
“We no longer give value to what the Lord will think of us. We prioritize our earthly concerns among others up to the point that we strive to attain the supreme good through immorality,” he said.
Bishop Broderick Pabilo, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Manila, said the act of consecration means “entrusting ourselves to the maternal hand of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
“She cares for us and the protection of her intercession is powerful before God,” said Bishop Pabillo during Mass at the Manila Cathedral.
All the five mayors of the cities in the Philippine capital attended the celebration.
“We entrust ourselves in the hands of the Blessed Mother so she may lead us to God,” said Bishop Pabillo.
He then expressed his gratitude to the civil authorities “for coming and leading your constituents to this consecration.”
It was not the first time that the Philippines was consecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In March 1984, Filipino bishops joined Pope John Paul II in Rome in consecrating the country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The following year, Philippine church leaders also begged the Blessed Mother’s intercession to bring the country to “true freedom and peace” during the Marcos dictatorship.
Filipino Catholics again renewed the nation’s consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and his Mother’s Immaculate Heart “as a form of joyous thanksgiving” in 1987 after the peaceful uprising that ousted Marcos.
In 2013, the bishops approved the yearly national consecration of the country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary during its memorial every June 8 in preparation for the celebration of the 5th centenary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines.
Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, president of the bishops’ conference, however, said “extraordinary times” calls on the Church to do the national consecration with a “sense or urgency.”
Mark Saludes and Marielle Lucenio contributed to this report.