Today’s Mass has for its first reading a passage from St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. One of the verses was chosen as the theme for the 1987 Papal Visit of now St. Pope John Paul II to the United States. The overarching theme for the Trip was: Unity In The Work Of Service, and this is the quote from Ephesians:
And he gave some as Apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God…
The ten day trip in September highlighted many areas of ministry in the Catholic Church, such as meetings with educators, catholic charities, youth, permanent deacons, priests, religious, catholic health care workers, and of course many prayer services and daily celebrations of the Eucharist.
I had the good fortune as serving as an assistant coordinator of this trip, and seldom a year goes by that I do not recall something of this visit around this time of year. Today, I was reviewing some of this saintly man’s talks, and rediscovered this Entrustment to the Virgin Mary :
TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND CANADA
ACT OF ENTRUSTMENT TO THE VIRGIN MARY
PRAYER OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II
Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles)
Wednesday, 16 September 1987
1. I wish at this time to turn my thoughts once more to the Woman of faith and of all salvation history: Mary, the Mother of Jesus and Mother of his Church; Mary, the Patroness of the United States under the title of her Immaculate Conception.
I entrust to you, Virgin Mother of God, all the faithful of this land. I entrust them to you, not only as individual men and women in the nobility of their personhood, but as the Christian community, living corporately the life of your divine Son.
I entrust to you my brother bishops in their great mission as servant pastors of God’s people, in communion with the Successor of Peter. I entrust to you all the priests, who minister generously in the name of the Good Shepherd; all the deacons bearing witness to Christ’s servanthood; all women and men religious proclaiming by their lives the holiness of God; all the laity working in virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation to order all temporal affairs according to the plan of God.
I entrust to you all the holy People of God – the pilgrim People of God – called to be mindful of their Christian dignity, called to conversion, called to eternal life.
In particular I entrust to you the families of America, in their quest for holiness, in their struggle against sin, in their vocation to be vital cells in the Body of Christ. I ask you to bless all husbands and wives, all fathers and mothers, and to confirm them in their high vocation of human love and openness to life. I entrust to you the children of this generation, asking you to preserve them in innocence, to protect them from all harm and abuse, and to let them grow up in a world of peace and justice and fraternal love.
I entrust to you all the women of the Church and the cause of their true human advancement in the world and their ever fuller participation in the life of the Church, according to the authentic plan of God. May they discover in you, O Mary, and in the freedom that was yours – from that moment of supreme liberation in your Immaculate Conception – the secret of living totally their femininity in fulfilment, progress and love.
I commend to your protection the young people that make up the future of the United States. I pray that in your Son Jesus Christ they may grasp the meaning of life, and come to understand deeply their call to serve their fellow human beings; that they may discover the profound fulfilment of chaste love, and the joy and strength that come from Christian hope.
I offer to your loving care the elderly people with all their sufferings and joys, and with their yet unfinished mission of service in your Church. I ask you to console and assist the dying, and to renew within the whole community a sense of the importance of human life at every stage, even when it is weak and defenceless.
I ask you to assist the single people with their special needs and special mission. Give them strength to live according to the beatitudes and to serve with generosity and gladness.
2. I entrust to you all those engaged in the great Christian struggle of life: all those who, despite human weaknesses and repeated falls, are striving to live according to the word of God; all those who are confused about the truth and are tempted to call evil good and darkness light; all those who are yearning for truth and grasping for hope.
I ask you to show yourself once again as a Mother with that deep human concern which was yours at Cana of Galilee. Help all those weighed down by the problems of life. Console the suffering. Comfort the sad and dejected, those tormented in spirit, those without families, loved ones or friends.
Assist the poor and those who need, and those subjected to discrimination or other forms of injustice. Come to the help of the unemployed. Heal the sick. Aid the handicapped and disabled, so that they may live in a manner befitting their dignity as children of God. Stir up the consciences of us all, to respond to the needs of others, with justice, mercy and love.
3. Through your intercession I ask that sinners may be reconciled, and that the whole Church in America become ever more attentive to Christ’s call to conversion and to holiness of life.
I pray that all those baptized in Christ your Son will be strengthened in the great cause of Christian unity, according to his will.
I ask your prayers so that citizens may work together to conquer evil with good, oppose violence, reject war and its weapons, satisfy hunger, overcome hatred, and remedy all forms of personal, social, national and international injustice.
I ask you to strengthen the Catholic people in truth and love, in their obedience to the commandments of God, and in their fidelity of the sacraments.
Virgin Mother of God, Our Lady of the Angels: I entrust to you the whole Church in America. Help her to excel in sacrifice and service. Purify her love, renew her life, and convert her constantly to the Gospel of your Son. Lead her children with all their Christian and non-Christian brethren to eternal life, for the glory of your Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.