This past week we began preparation for the Marian consecration that will happen at the feastday Masses of the Immaculate Conception, December 7-8. We are using the program entitled 33 Days to Morning Glory, by Fr. Michael Gaitley. The introduction to the program explains the name: becoming more fully alive in Jesus Christ is like beginning a new day; and since consecration to Mary makes that new-day-experience happen, it is like the morning. Thus the title of the program.
In the introduction we also learn the basic principles of Marian consecration: that Jesus clearly desires to involve us in His work to save humanity; and that Mary has been given a task that is radicallly more important than the tasks He gives to all the rest of His believers. Not only was Mary chosen to bear and nurture the Savior of the world, God in the flesh. She was also brought into the work of Jesus’ salvation at its most intense time, the hour of His passion. Mary was given to St. John as his Mother, and St. John was given as Mary’s son. That gift from Jesus was a symbolic way to give Mary as Mother to every disciple. Mary works with the Holy Spirit to nurture all of us in the Faith. Because that is Mary’s role, we who want to be saints give ourselves entirely over to Her to accomplish this in us. We learn to say “yes” to God with our whole being, as Mary did.
The first week concentrates on the Marian theology of St. Louis de Montfort. For St. Louis, true devotion to Mary was a blessed “secret” to help us poor sinners. Here are some of St. Louis’ words:
Poor children of Mary, your weakness is extreme, your inconstancy is great, your inward nature is very much corrupted. You are drawn from the same corrupt mass as all the children of Adam and Eve. Yet do not be discouraged because of that. Console yourselves and exult in having the secret which I will teach you – a secret unknown to almost all the Christians, even the most devout.
Many popes have benefited from St. Louis’ secret of devotion to Mary: Blessed Pope Pius IX (d.1878), Pope Leo XIII (d.1903), Pope St. Pius X (d.1914), Pope Pius XI (d.1939), Venerable Pope Pius XII (d.1958), Pope St. John Paul II (d.2005). All of these popes expressed in their writings the same sentiment of St. Louis de Montfort: “There is no surer or easier way than Mary in uniting all men with Christ.”
Consecration to Mary is a type of renewal of our baptismal vows. On the day of our baptism we were cleansed of sin, and we became children of God. We (or our parents for us) rejected Satan and promised to live for Jesus. St. Louis reminds us that putting our baptismal vows into the hands of Mary can go a long way in helping us to live out that baptismal promise and overcome sin in our lives. So the consecration prayer we will make on December 7-8 includes an explicit renewal of those baptismal vows.
Then consecration to Mary is a particularly intimate gift of ourselves to Her. This imitates Jesus Himself, who at the moment of His incarnation gave Himself to Mary. Specifically St. Louis calls us to give to Mary our body, our soul, our exterior goods of fortune, and finally all of our spiritual goods – merits, virtues, good works. So the second part of St. Louis’ formula for consecration to Mary reads:
In the presence of all heavenly court, I choose you this day for my Mother and Queen. I deliver and consecrate to you, as your slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions, past, present, and future; leaving to you the entire and full right of disposing of me, and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to your good pleasure, for the greater glory of God, in time and eternity.
Finally St. Louis asks if this gift of Mary is too much, “over the top” so to speak. The answer: No! Mary will augment and perfect our gift to Jesus. And She will go way beyond us in Her generosity to help us and those whom we love. We do not have to worry that we will somehow be slighted by letting Her have everything. Mary is not outdone in generosity!
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,