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Consecration to Mary

“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.

The Joyful Mother

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).

The Joyful Mother

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.

Baptism

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)

Give Glory to God

The object of the Legion of Mary is the glory of God through the holiness of its members developed by prayer and active co-operation, under ecclesiastical guidance, in Mary’s and the Church’s work of crushing the head of the serpent and advancing the reign of Christ. 

Subject to the approval of the Concilium, and to the restrictions specified in the official handbook of the Legion, the Legion of Mary is at the disposal of the bishop of the diocese and the parish priest for any and every form of social service and Catholic action which these authorities may deem suitable to the legionaries and useful for the welfare of the Church. Legionaries will never engage in any of these services whatsoever in a parish without the sanction of the parish priest or of the Ordinary. 

(By the Ordinary in these pages is meant the local Ordinary, that is, the bishop of the diocese or other competent ecclesiastical authority.) 

The Handbook

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius

Written by the founder of the Society of Jesus, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius is a powerful book. Derived mostly from St. Ignatius’ conversion experiences in 1521-1523, Spiritual Exercises has provided guidance and encouragement to its readers for several hundred years. 

The aim of Spiritual Exercises is to assist people in finding God’s will for their life, and to give them the motivation and courage to follow that will. It is not a continuous piece of writing, but more like a program of sorts, containing a collection of thoughts, rules, encouragements, readings, meditations, prayers, warnings, and notes. 

Nevertheless the condensed writing is organized into four “weeks,” or periods of time, with each week focusing upon a different theme–the first, human sin; the second, Christ’s life on earth; the third, Christ’s death on the cross; the fourth, Christ’s risen life. A key theme throughout the Spiritual Exercises is discernment–the need to discern between good desires and evil desires in one’s life. It is by following the four weeks, and by utilizing such discernment, that a person can better realize God’s will for his or her own life. Although more profitably worked through with another person or spiritual director, Spiritual Exercises can be extremely beneficial for private personal study. 

Tim Perrine

CCEL Staff Writer

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/ignatius/exercises.html

Retreats

16. PROMOTING RETREATS

Having personally experienced the benefit of a Retreat, legionaries should organise for them, spread abroad the idea of them, and where they are not yet established, aim to have this done.

This is the recommendation of His Holiness Pope Pius XI, in the Encyclical quoted below, to those “companies of pious lay people who have ambition to serve the Apostolic Hierarchy by the works of Catholic Action. In these sacred Retreats they will see clearly the value of souls and be inflamed with the desire of helping them; likewise, they will learn the ardent spirit of the apostolate, its diligence, its deed of daring.”

The emphasis laid by that great Pope on the forming of apostles is to be noted. Sometimes that purpose is not served; apostles do not emerge. In that case the utility of those Retreats is to be doubted. Legionaries need not be deterred from trying to cast abroad the benefits of a Retreat by reason of the fact that there is no possibility of providing sleeping accommodation. Practical experience has proved that a form of Retreat, with manifest fruits, can be accomplished in a single day from morning to night: indeed there is no other way of bringing the system to the masses. Almost any sort of premises with some grounds attached can be converted to this use for a day, and the expense of providing a few simple meals will not be great.

“The Divine Master himself was wont to invite his apostles to the friendly silence of retreat: ‘Come apart into a desert place, and rest a little.’ (Mk 5:31) When he left this earth of sorrows to go to heaven, he willed that these same apostles and his disciples should be polished and perfected in the upper chamber at Jerusalem. There for the space of ten days ‘persevering with one mind in prayer’ (Acts 1:14), they were made worthy to receive the Holy Spirit: surely a memorable retreat, which first foreshadowed the Spiritual Exercises; from which the Church came forth endowed with virtue and perpetual strength; and in which, in presence of the Virgin Mary Mother of God, and aided by her patronage, those also were instituted whom we may rightly call the precursors of Catholic Action.” (MN)

The Handbook