Last Friday, Pope Francis consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The hope is that Russia will denounce its evil ways and come to Jesus for peace and salvation. Instead of rejoicing in this, many questioned why Mary is necessary. I addressed this here. Others debated whether the consecration had already been performed by past popes and the sacredness of what occurred in Fatima. I speak of these issues here.
If Russia does not convert, it will continue to spread its errors throughout the world and a disaster worse than the great flood will occur. This is a scary possibility for many. It should be. The thought of dying a horrific death, watching loved ones die, and spending eternity in Hell should terrify all of us, but there is reason to hope too.
Nehemiah, Free Will, Locus of Control, & Russian Consecration
Hope lies in our gift of free will and in the power we have to focus on what we can control rather than be distracted by what we cannot. Mary says “if” Russia is not consecrated and “if” people do not pray and do penance then terrible things will happen. The word “if” says a lot and refers to the gift of free will. It shows we have control over some things but that what we can control is often not what we focus on. It shows we can do better.
We spend much of our time concerned with what we cannot control. We debate it. We focus on it. We worry about it. We cannot control whether past popes consecrated Russia or not. We cannot control whether Pope Francis consecrated Russia correctly or not. We cannot control whether vendors corrupt sacred spaces or not. We cannot control whether the world erupts in nuclear war or whether a number of souls go to Heaven or Hell or any number of things, but that does not make us powerless.
Christians sometimes get so focused on the miracle that is Jesus, that we forget there is great value in the Old Testament and the lives of those who lived before Jesus too. Incorporating those lessons is invaluable today. In the case of Russian Consecration and in much of life, the key to what we should focus on lies in the Book of Nehemiah.
The Book of Nehemiah depicts a horrible, but often forgotten about period for the Jewish people. Nehemiah is a brave and faith-filled man whose world is under attack. He knows his people live in fear, worried about what might happen and focused on things they cannot control. They focused on what others were doing rather than on what was directly in front of them. To save his world, Nehemiah directed his people to build the wall that was directly in front of them. He convinced them not to focus on anyone else, but instead to do only what was directly assigned to them because that was what they could control.
Nehemiah understood we all have things we control, things we influence, and things we are concerned about. He knew what we control is much smaller than what we influence which is much smaller than what we are concerned about. He knew that too often we spend our time thinking about things we are concerned about and not enough time improving things we can control. Nehemiah knew that by getting the townspeople to focus on their individual circles of control, they would all have bigger impacts on their circle of concern.
Because of this dedicated focus, what would have taken decades to complete, Nehemiah built in just 52 days. By following God‘s direction, he built something that would seem almost impossible even in modern times and saved his people. His followers did not save their world by questioning, debating, or focusing on what others did. They saved their world by focusing on only what they could control. They saved their world by keeping their eye on what was important and their focus on what was directly in front of them. They did not let their circle of concern detract from their circle of control, and therefore, they had an unbelievable impact on their circle of concern building a wall that remnants of can still be seen today.
Nehemiah, Marian Consecration, and You
As a single mom, I know how much crazier life gets when I add to much to my plate. I know how difficult life can be when I try to take on tasks that are not mine to take on. I know how emotionally taxing it can be to add drama to life that is already dramatic enough. This generally happens when I try to control things that are in my circle of concern and forget to be concerned about things that are in my circle of control. Instead, I need to take a page from the Book of Nehemiah.
Nehemiah’s instructions are still valid for how we should approach this consecration and life in general today. Our role is not to question the validity of the consecration or to follow rabbit holes. Our role is to simply focus on God and what He asks of each of us. Our role is to pray, especially the five prayers here that were given to the children at Fatima. Our role is to repent, do penance, and live our best lives. This means saying the Rosary daily while reverently reflecting on the life of Jesus. It means keeping the first Saturday devotions, which include going to Confession and Reconciliation, attending Holy Mass, receiving the Eucharist piously, saying the Rosary, and then meditating for at least 15 minutes on one of the Holy Mysteries.
We are still called to love our neighbor as ourselves, to join our will to the will of God, and to unite our heart with Him and those around the world who praying for the conversion of Russia. We can look at the many different people who built the wall of Nehemiah and the many people around the world who want peace in Russia today and draw parallels. It is humbling to see the true meaning of catholic as universal if we unite in prayer with people of all colors, nationalities, and branches of Christianity praying for the conversion of Russia. We can also bet that God will hear our prayers and help us build walls specially designed to keep out, not just Russian invaders, but demonic ones.
The Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is an interesting topic to discuss, but if each of us spent as much time in prayer, Bible reading, and silent meditation as we do debating or worrying, the world would be a better place and we would be more at peace. God would hear our prayers and we would become more aware of how essential He is in our own lives. No matter what happened next, we would find joy knowing He is in control. In the end, we must humbly admit there is only so much we can do about our circle of concern. Our strength does not lie in our concerns but in what we can control.
The rest we must leave to God.
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