US bishops lead Eucharistic procession down looted, vandalized city center to pray for end to ‘violence…conflict’
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MADISON, Wisconsin, August 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Donald Hying, of the Diocese of Madison, and Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee, led hundreds in a Eucharistic Procession through downtown Madison to the state capital on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
This “Unite Wisconsin: Patriotic Rosary Rally” was spearheaded by an organization called Men of Christ (MOC) originating in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee but extending its presence into Madison and beyond. Other sponsors included Pro-Life Wisconsin, Women of Christ, Relevant Radio, United States Grace Force, and Evangelical Catholic, along with other organizations, parishes and schools.
Randy Mack, president of MOC-Madison, told LifeSiteNews the procession was “inspired by the need to counter the fear and confusion that seems so prevalent these days in the face of the many threats to our freedoms—including our religious freedom—and for healing, peace and unity following the widespread riots.”
The Eucharistic procession passed through the boarded-up windows of State Street, one site of so much vandalism and violence during socialist riots in May and June of this year, when more than 75 downtown businesses were damaged with broken windows and often looted.
The graffiti on these boards, symbolizing the spirit of these dark events, provided a significant contrast to the monstrance as it passed in the hands of Bishop Hying.
As part of his beautiful reflections on the terrace of the Capital (see full comments below), Bishop Hying stated to the great applause of the crowd, “What a blessing to carry Jesus Christ in his Eucharistic glory through the streets of downtown Madison! It was a sweet weight!”
Fr. Rick Heilman, founder of the United States Grace Force, and priest of the Diocese of Madison, compared the intention of the procession to the famous 13th-century story of St. Clare of Assisi who warded off an attacking army with the Blessed Sacrament.
“That horde was coming at them, and what did [St. Clare] do? She grabbed Our Lord in the monstrance—the Holy Eucharist—and she just pointed it at them, and they dispersed. That’s what we are doing today. We’re trying to bring Our Lord, the Prince of Peace, out into the violence, the virus, and we are asking Our Lord through the intercession of Our Lady Queen of Peace to bring our nation back and heal our land.”
Speaking in his reflections about the power of the Holy Eucharist, Bishop Hying stated, “Every time that the world has faced suffering and violence, every time that people have been filled with fear, the Church has brought out the Eucharist and processed the Eucharist through the streets … because we know that it is the power of this Eucharistic Christ that can bring about the fullness of what each human heart seeks, and that is union with God.”
Kevin O’Brien, who is the president of Men of Christ and is also credited as the inspiring force behind this and so many other events, was pleased with the outcome of the day.
He told LifeSiteNews, “It was so beautiful because it brought so much hope. We started this (planning) only three weeks ago … and to see thousands of people come out to actually walk through where the riots were going on and you literally see buildings boarded up and you hear people praying the Rosary, singing the Ave Maria, thanking police officers, tears in the eyes of police officers because of the gratitude that we show… Right now, I am so full of joy, so full of hope in what we can do, the power of Christ, it was just amazing.”
In expressing his gratitude to Archbishop Listecki and Bishop Hying, O’Brien emphasized that “Just through their presence, they can inspire… And I would say to other bishops that are out there, don’t be afraid. Be out there because your people need this, they are desiring it. Good Catholics need to be led.”
Full Reflections of Bishop Donald Hying from the terrace of the Wisconsin State Capital on the Occasion of the Unite Wisconsin Eucharistic Procession, Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, 2020
(As transcribed by the author)
Today is the great Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It’s on this day that we see in her glorified body the future promise of our own resurrection. We see in her the glorious dignity of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God, destined for eternal life—beloved children of the Father, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, anointed in the Holy Spirit.
And we have gathered here in such great numbers on this beautiful feast to pray, to pray for our country, to pray for healing, to pray for an end to the pandemic, to pray for an end to violence, and prejudice, and conflict, and racism, and abortion, and euthanasia, and we could go on with the list of all the things that threaten the dignity of the human person from the moment of conception until natural death. That is why we are here. To affirm that we as believers are called to build a culture of life, to construct a civilization of love and to ground our country in the moral truths that God has revealed to us, knowing that peace and justice and reconciliation and unity can only come fully about when we are rooted in the truth of God and the truth that has been revealed to us most fully in Jesus Christ.
We know that it’s only the love of Christ that can heal the human heart. It’s only the love of Christ that can heal all of our divisions and suffering that can drive away this pandemic and can bring us together as a united humanity.
I want to thank Archbishop Listecki of Milwaukee for joining us today. I want to thank Kevin O’Brien of the Men of Christ and all those who helped to organize and make this day of prayer possible for us. I want to thank our priests, our deacons, our seminarians, our religious, our laity, all of us gathered here in the thousands to come together and to call upon God to send down the mighty power of Jesus crucified and risen. What a blessing to carry Jesus Christ in his Eucharistic glory through the streets of downtown Madison. It was a sweet weight!
Every time that the world has faced suffering and violence, every time that people have been filled with fear, the Church has brought out the Eucharist and processed the Eucharist through the streets in procession because we know that it is the power of this Eucharistic Christ that can bring about the fullness of what each human heart seeks, and that is union with God.
And so for this precious time gathered here, so many of you have come from such a distance to be here, and my heart is filled with gratitude as I look at you who have come from all different places to unite in prayer, and to walk with the Lord Jesus, and to be a living witness to the truth and the power and the beauty of the Gospel of Christ which reveals to us God’s plan, and God’s dream for us, and also reveals to us our profound identity as beloved children. Gathered around Christ, then, we offer our hearts to the Lord on this glorious feast of the Assumption confiding to the Blessed Mother all of our personal intentions, confiding to her powerful intercession all of those who have died, those who are sick—confiding to her beloved heart, her Immaculate Heart, this great petition for unity, for an end to abortion, for an end to racial prejudice, for working for a just, humane, loving world, where every human person is welcomed, where every human person is loved and nurtured, where every human person can flourish as the child of God that they truly are. We confide all of those intentions to her Immaculate Heart on this day of her triumph over the power of sin and death. So we are here, for we are radically against, sin, evil and death. This is because we are radically for, in an even more profound way, beauty, truth, and love revealed to us in Christ. But it’s that vision in the truth that lead us, and give us the endurance to go forward.
So, thank you for coming. Thank you for being here. Thank you for making the effort and the sacrifice to be a witness to life and love and ultimately the primacy of God. That we come to this place, which is the symbol of government in our state to say that God is the ultimate reality of life and when a country is founded on the principles of truth, then human society flourishes and we come to discover who we are. So, we conclude with the prayer.
This is a prayer from the Men of Christ, a Prayer for Our Country.
O most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, at this most critical time we entrust the United States of America to your loving care. Most Holy Mother, we beg you to reclaim this land for the glory of your Son. Overwhelmed at the burden of the sins of our nation, we cry to you from the depths of our hearts and seek refuge in your motherly protection. Look down with mercy upon us and touch the hearts of our people, opening minds to the great worth of human life and to the responsibilities that accompany human freedom. Free us from all the falsehoods that lead us beginning with the evil of abortion but continuing with all the threats against the sanctity and dignity of human life. Grant our country the wisdom to proclaim that God’s law is the foundation on which this nation was founded and that he alone is the true source of our cherished rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Oh Merciful Mother, give us the courage to reject the culture of death, and the strength to build a new culture of life, and a new civilization of love. Amen