“Accept, gracious Virgin, this little offering of my slavery to honor and imitate the obedience which Eternal Wisdom willingly chose to have towards you, his Mother.”St. Louis de Montfort
If you aren’t familiar with the concept, “Consecration to Mary” may sound like an extreme religious devotion meant for nuns in a convent rather than an average layperson like yourself.
This couldn’t be any further from the truth.
Consecration to Mary is an intimate, living act of love. It provides us with a fitting means to enter into the relationship between the Blessed Virgin Mary and Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Take a moment to consider this relationship. Mary is the mother of Jesus; Jesus is the son of Mary. Mary was obedient to the Lord in her conception of Jesus. She remained obedient to Jesus throughout His life and at the moment of His death — when He instructed her to take His Beloved Disciple as her son. Even now, as Queen of Heaven and Earth, she remains obedient to her Divine son.
This obedience, however, always went both ways. As Scripture says, Jesus honored Mary and showed her the obedience due to her as His mother — from His childhood, to His first miracle at the Wedding Feast of Cana, to the moment when he offered Himself to His Father on the Cross. His filial piety towards and childlike respect for Mary fulfilled and completed the Lord’s commandment to honor one’s Mother and Father.
In imitating Jesus’ commitment and obedience to Mary, then, we become more like Jesus ourselves. And, while many of the ways in which we are called to become more like Jesus can be difficult for a layperson to embrace, Jesus’ love for His mother and the obedience and piety He showed her in His childhood is something we can all appreciate.
An Act of Great Humility
When Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word of the Father, submitted Himself to His finite human mother, He demonstrated the greatest and most perfect conceivable humility. Because Mary was sinless and obedient to God, He knew this humility would not be abused.
… consecration to Mary, as Montfort presents it, is in imitation of Christ, of His slavery to Mary. Jesus emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, as St. Paul tells us, in the womb of Mary, so that He could save mankind from the slavery of the devil. In imitation of Christ we give ourselves to Mary in the same way. St. Louis de Montfort says,
“Accept, gracious Virgin, this little offering of my slavery to honor and imitate the obedience which Eternal Wisdom willingly chose to have towards you, his Mother.”
We, too, can trust that when we commit ourselves to obedience to Mary, our humility will not be abused. In fact, there is no better way for a lay person to overcome spiritual pride. On our part, it requires greater humility to commit ourselves to obedience to another human being than it does to commit ourselves to obedience to God alone. And, when we take the humility that Jesus showed through his obedience to Mary as our model and our source of grace and strength, we share in the greatest humility of all.
Imitation of Jesus and His consecration to Mary is the most perfect, most fitting, and most helpful way to consecrate ourselves to Mary. The perfect humility that Jesus showed towards His mother — choosing to become not only her child but to become fully dependent on her for nourishment and fully obedient to her commands — allows us to participate in the humility of the God who died for us.
Fr. Emil Neubert explained what this might look like as follows:
If we examine closely the role of Mary in our regard, we shall see that this special devotion should have a distinct character, that it should take the form of a truly filial piety, [a childlike obedience and reverence.] Indeed, since Mary is our true supernatural Mother, more mother than any other mother, we ought to adopt the dispositions of a child in her regard. These dispositions should not be those of an ordinary son for his mother, but those of Jesus to Mary. In truth, it is because we are other Christs that we are children of Mary. As other Christs we should assume the attitudes of our elder Brother. He has given us an example that as He has done we should do also. We should endeavor to imitate the humility of Jesus, His patience, His gentleness, and therefore His filial piety to His Mother.”Fr. Emile Neubert, Our Mother, Grail Pub., St. Meinrad IN, 1953 p. 77.
Quoted in this paper “To Jesus Through Mary: History and Theology” by Mr. Michael A. Scherschligt.
For more on the filial piety of Jesus to His Mother, see Other Influences on Frank Duff (which include Blessed William Chaminade and Fr. Emile Neubert).
Acknowledging The New Eve
“Mary is our mother, not only by adoption, but also by virtue of a spiritual generation ; she became our Mother when she conceived the Son of God. […] adoption is not birth, and the blessed Virgin would not be strictly the new Eve in our regard [if we were simply adopted]. Moreover, the bond of adoption between Mary and ourselves would not be sufficient for our needs; we need a true and a real mother in the order of grace as in the order of nature, because in grace, just as in nature, an adopted mother is never a real one.”Bl. William Chaminade
In the perfect humility that Jesus offered Mary — and that she, in turn, offered back to Him — the pride of Adam and Eve that brought about the Fall is reversed. Our Lord and Lady are the new Adam and the new Eve.
The name Eve means “mother of all the living.” Mary’s spiritual maternity as the mother of all the redeemed encompasses each and every one of us, and through us, she serves as the mother of the world.
Since Mary is already our spiritual mother, then, consecrating ourselves to her is, in a way, merely accepting what is already true and fully accepting her as our mother. We need not wonder whether we should consecrate ourselves to Mary or whether we are worthy to do so — Jesus has already paved the way for us to participate in His own perfect consecration to Mary.
[By] virtue of her motherhood of Christ, Mary is the true Mother of the Christian soul, a motherhood which Our Lord Himself proclaimed at the moment when it acquired its full dominion, that is, when it was consummated by Redemption [on the Cross, when Jesus proclaimed Mary as our mother.] If we seek to supplement that image by another which will help us to appreciate the intimacy of the relations of Mary with her children, we have an expressive, though still inadequate one, in the life of the unborn babe. That babe is the soul, and its mother is Mary.
But why should we specify the unborn babe, rather than the infant carried in the mother’s arms and nourished with the natural milk? It is for this reason, that the closeness of the relation between the soul and Mary, which De Montfort – with the Church – depicts, would not at all be sufficiently shown by the babe in arms. The latter is dependent on the mother to a very large extent, but not entirely. It can and does live a little life of its own apart from its mother. …
But how different is the case with regard to the soul. From the day when the soul is born again in Baptism, on to lifetime’s end – perhaps a hundred years later – no single grace will have reached that soul without Mary.
Renewal of Baptism
Does anyone fulfill the promises of baptism faithfully? Is it not true that nearly all Christians prove unfaithful to the promises made to Jesus in baptism? Where does this universal failure come from, if not from man’s habitual forgetfulness of the promises and responsibilities of baptism and from the fact that scarcely anyone makes a personal ratification of the contract made with God through his sponsors?(True Devotion, #127)
Finally, Consecration to Mary is a fulfillment of our own baptism into the life and death of Jesus. St. Louis de Montfort taught that the best way to renew the vows made at baptism was through consecration to Jesus through Mary:
Now the Councils, the Fathers of the Church and experience itself, all indicate that the best remedy for the frequent lapses of Christians is to remind them of the responsibilities of their baptism and have them renew the vows they made at that time. Is it not reasonable therefore to do this in our day and in a perfect manner by adopting this devotion with its consecration to our Lord through his Blessed Mother? I say “in a perfect manner”, for in making this consecration to Jesus they are adopting the perfect means of giving themselves to him, which is the most Blessed Virgin Mary.”(True Devotion, #128-30)
Each year, faithful Legionaries renew their baptismal vows by consecrating themselves to Mary. We pray,
“I am all yours, and all that I have is yours, my Mother, my Queen”
This prayer of consecration is a perfect reflection of both the spirituality of the Legion and the true nature of Consecration to Mary. Through consecration, we are incorporated into Jesus. We become part of His great love of His mother Mary and of His Divine Father. We are children of Mary through our baptism — we are one family under Mary our Mother and God our Father.
Before baptism every Christian was a slave of the devil because he belonged to him. At baptism he has either personally or through his sponsors solemnly renounced Satan, his seductions and his works. He has chosen Jesus as his Master and sovereign Lord and undertaken to depend upon him as a slave of love. This is what is done in the devotion I am presenting to you. We renounce the devil, the world, sin and self, as expressed in the act of consecration, and we give ourselves entirely to Jesus through Mary. We even do something more than at baptism, when ordinarily our god-parents speak for us and we are given to Jesus only by proxy. In this devotion we give ourselves personally and freely and we are fully aware of what we are doing.(True Devotion, #126)