In keeping with the observation of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Austin, as well as the centennial of the appearances of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Bishop Joe Vasquez has decided, upon recommendation of the Priests’ Council, to mark the occasion with the dedication of the Diocese of Austin to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We are doing so this Sunday, December 10.
What is this???? It is certainly not anything I would have thought of doing. It is a type of action more popular in the past, especially prior to Vatican Council II, but not so much in recent times. Indeed, in my nearly 40 years of priesthood have I never run across a dedication of a parish, organization, or diocese to Mary or any other saint. So it seems, at least to me, a bit odd and rather unusual. So what is it?
It is first of all a prayer. A rather long prayer, but still a prayer. This prayer, printed in our worship aid, will be prayed at each Mass this weekend. You are free, and indeed encouraged, to use the prayer for yourself and your family in your home.
It is also a pledge or commitment. By dedication of our Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary we are pledging ourselves to strive to act more in accordance with the Will of God, as Mary did. She becomes our example in how to live. Especially in the section that states: “Assist us to defend the sanctity of marriage and the family. Teach us to preserve and nurture the dignity of every human being as children of God.” We are hereby committing ourselves to act in certain ways, fostering the dignity of every human being.
It is an expression of hope. As we pray “Awaken in each of us a desire to draw ever closer to your beloved Son” we are expressing our desire to live more and more as the brothers and sisters of Jesus, with Mary as our spiritual mother.
Finally, it is a reminder. This dedication is an opportunity to remind us our special relationship to Jesus and to His Mother Mary. It is therefore a reminder that we are called and empowered to be, and to live, as the children of God.
In these ways, the dedication of our Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary makes sense, but ONLY if we live it out.