Today is Monday, July 16, 2018. Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, a Marian Feast Day in the Catholic Church. Today I have consecrated myself to Jesus through Mary after attending mass celebrating this feast. Today I would like to share with you my thoughts and preparations leading up to this consecration, preparation that I made using the book 33 Days to Morning Glory by Michael E. Gaitley.
How did I learn about Marian Consecration?
Two years ago, my mother-in-law recommended that my husband and I read 33 Days to Morning Glory and by starting in November, we could consecrate ourselves on December 8 for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. She had heard a talk about it and had gone through the consecration herself with her husband and highly recommended it. She said it would make a good devotional study, even if we decided not to consecrate ourselves.
As I am always down for a good bible study, my husband and I read the book together. My husband did decide to consecrate himself at the feast. At that time, I did not. While I read the book with him, I did not feel comfortable consecrating myself because I did not understand what consecration was and I did not understand many of the Catholic dogmas about Marian theology. 33 Days to Morning Glory is not a beginner’s book to Marian theology. For me, it was like trying to read a calculus book without knowing multiplication. Since then, I have done further study into Marian theology and accepted the beliefs that were holding me back before. Having moved past those barriers, I decided I wanted to give the book a second chance to learn more about Marian Consecration. I didn’t start the book thinking I would consecrate myself, but wanted to use it as a good devotional study, one that I could more fully participate in this time around.
What is a consecration?
The Catholic Church defines a consecration as “an act by which a person is dedicated to the service and worship of God by prayers, rites, and ceremonies.” While it is similar to a blessing, it differs because the person is elevated to a new status to which one will never be changed back from. For that reason, you can only be consecrated once; however, there are many different forms of consecration. Should you decide to consecrate yourself to Jesus through Mary does not inhibit you from consecrating yourself to Divine Mercy the next year or to the Sacred Heart of Jesus after that. Since a consecration can only happen once, it is solemn and serious.
What is a Marian Consecration?
A Marian Consecration is when a person dedicates him/herself to the service and worship of God “by relying upon Mary’s powerful intercession, experiencing her tender care, speaking to her from his/her heart, letting him/herself be led by her, having recourse to her in all things, and trusting her completely” (126). It is determining to be more like Jesus by depending upon Mary. Jesus first depending upon Mary when He trusted Himself completely to her care within her womb and then again when He trusted her to nurture and teach Him in the Hidden Years prior to His active ministry. Consecration to Jesus through Mary is acknowledging that when Jesus said during the “hour” of his Passion, “here is your son; here is your mother,” He was talking not only to John but to every disciple. When you consecrate yourself to Jesus through Mary, you are saying “Yes” to his request to take His mother into your home so that she can transform you into a model of Christ.
Why do I want to consecrate myself?
I want to consecrate myself for three reasons: (1) to fulfill my utmost desire to live a life that is pleasing to God, (2) to enrich my current spiritual life, and (3) for my prayers and sufferings to be offered up in the most appropriate manner to benefit my family or those in need.
It is my utmost desire to live a life that is pleasing to God and to follow His will in my daily actions. I struggle with this desire because I feel like I am at a stage in my life where I am uncertain of what the Lord wants for my life. In the past, I have felt capable of discerning where the Lord was calling me to be. I have felt lead to do City Year, to become a Youth Group Director, to move into the City, and to marry my husband. These calling led me to believe that I would live in Detroit, raise a family, while working for a nonprofit doing God’s work. And while I am living in the city, raising a family, I am not working for a nonprofit. While that doesn’t mean that I am not doing the Lord’s work, it means that I struggle with the confidence that I am doing the Lord’s work in the capacity He wants me to be. By consecrating myself to Jesus through Mary, I am embracing Mary’s motherly devotion to me and allowing her to lead me into the Lord’s will for my life.
Raising two toddlers has taken a toll on what my spiritual life looks like. I have less time to pray, read the Bible, and participate in Church life. While I teach my children how to pray, I forget to pray. Often times I find myself confessing to God of my fear to not be placing Him first in my life. I desire that this Marian Consecration transforms my spiritual life. By having Mary lend me her heart, I can better love Jesus. As a mother, I know there is no creature who loves my children more than me. As a creature, no one loves Jesus more than Mary, especially given her Immaculate Heart. By asking Mary to keep me in her heart, I trust her prayers and spiritual guidance will led me to a better devotion to God.
Every day, I pray that the Lord bless my daughters and make them into saints, a task that is never accomplished until they arrive at Heaven’s gates. I pray for my family and those who have fallen away from the church’s teachings. By consecrating myself to Mary, I provide her the use of my prayers and merits. While I still can pray for whomever I chose, I let her be the final say on where those blessings may be placed. While this is terrifying, it is also reassuring in that, one day, I may have children who are suffering in faith and not feel comfortable to tell me about it. But Mary knows their heart and can direct my prayers and merits over to them when I would not have for being oblivious to the pain they are feeling. And should my family not need my prayers, Mary will be able to direct those prayers to those in most need.
What does it mean to consecrate yourself to Jesus through Mary?
When I began writing this post, I almost saw me writing a book review summarizing all that Michael Gaitley discussed about Marian Consecration. That would be a big disservice to you, as if you are interested, it comes much better from him for I am no Marian theologian. Instead, I will merely state some of the things that stuck out to me, which influenced my decision in deciding to consecrate myself to Jesus through Mary, this time around.
⦁ Saint Louis De Montfort believed that the main reason why we sin is because we forgot our baptism vows, when we declared to reject Satan. He has us renew our baptism vows to Mary to place this declaration in the forefront of our hearts and minds, as well as, enlist Mary’s support, because the Lord has “place[ed] an enmity between her and Satan.” (36-37)
⦁ De Monfort’s prayer of consecration to Mary emphasizes a special and intimidate gift of self to Mary, where one offers her (1) his/her body with all senses and members, (2) our soul, with all its powers, (3) our exterior goods of fortune, (4) our interior goods of fortune (merits, virtues, and good works). We offer up these to Mary so that she can make use of them to her best discretion, relying upon her will that is completely aligned with the will of God. (38)
⦁ Saint Maximillian Kolbe wished to “consecrate his entire life to a great idea.” My freshmen year of college, my roommate told me she was out at a party talking to stranger. Somehow they got on the conversation of roommates, and the stranger asks, “wait, you’re Detroit girl’s roommate?” Upon hearing her story, I couldn’t be prouder that the one characteristic people knew me by was my passion for Detroit (or countless number of sweaters and wide brim hats displaying the Old English D). I would like to consecrate my life so wholly to Jesus it becomes a part of my identity.
⦁ Kolbe pondered the phrase “I am the Immaculate Conception” for most of his life and determined there are two Immaculate Conceptions. The uncreated Immaculate Conception (Holy Spirit) and the created Immaculate Conception (Mary). While Mary was immaculate conceived, when she said “yes” to the Lord’s will at the Annunciation, and conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit, she became the spouse of the Holy Spirit. As such, just as a woman takes a man’s name in marriage to represent that they have become one, she takes the name of her spouse. (52-54)
⦁ Saint Mother Teresa acknowledged De Monfort’s intimate gift of self to Mary and focused this gift on the exchange of hearts. Mother Teresa prayed that Mary would lend her heart so that Mother Teresa could better love Jesus. She also asks to be in Mary’s heart, creating an intimate union with Mary. With this covenant comes rights and obligations to which Mother Teresa spells out for all interested. (76-80)
⦁ Mother Teresa mediated on the phrase “I Thirst” during the Lord’s Passion and realized his thirst was for love and it was her desire to take away the continual suffering of Jesus by bringing disciples to him to satiate his thirst. Am I properly responding to Jesus’ proclamation of thirst and doing my best to take away his suffering? (70)
⦁ Saint Pope John Paul II explains that Mary’s role is unique in history as our maternal mediator. While there is one mediator to God and that is Jesus, God is generous and wants all of us to share in this role, in cooperative and subordinate ways. This consecration to Jesus through Mary is our “ongoing, post-baptismal transformation in Christ.” (101)
How will I consecrate myself?
For 33 days I have read, studied, and reflected upon the devotions to prepare my heart for saying yes to Mary. I have done the three things Gaitley recommends (nothing is required): (1) gone to confession, (2) write and print out the prayer of consecration to sign and date after, and (3) got a miraculous medal to carry around with me. I also attended adoration for an hour to reflect upon the serious nature of this consecration and my desire to consecrate myself. I will attend the Feast of the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel’s mass and say my prayer afterwards. From there, I will try my best, with the help of Mary and the Holy Spirit, to live an attitude that brings me closer to the will of the Father and to mimic the life of Jesus. What this looks like, I do not yet know.