With all the post-interview spotlight beaming/glaring on Pope Francis, I hope all Catholics and secular media alike pay careful attention to what did on October 13th, 2013: consecrate the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Specifically, I wish he makes everyone wonder: what this consecration means to me on a personal level, why is it so significant, and hopefully, make us all want to jump in.
Consecration means to dedicate an object or person thing toward a specific purpose. When one consecrates himself to Mary, he gives himself over to her hands so that she can teach and mold him for the purpose to which God created him. St. Louis de Montfort writes that Mary is the “surest, easiest, shortest and most perfect means” to becoming like her Son Jesus. Technically speaking, it is consecrating oneself to union with Jesus through Mary. Since Mary is in full union with the Divine Will, her mission is always to serve the Divine Will, particularly to help the formation and sanctification of souls. Mary, in short, helps us become the purpose for which we are created: saints.
Blessed Pope John Paul II and St. Maximilian Kolbe are the two most famous saints in our history who consecrated themselves to Mary. Blessed John Paul II, who dedicated his papacy to Mary with the motif Totus Tuus, is on the record-breaking fast track to canonization. Granted, St. Maximilian Kolbe’s martyrdom is not the easiest path, but it was the surest one, and one he willingly accepted.
The significance of consecration is that it is a covenant with a dual dimension.
A person consecrated to Mary entrusts everything he has to her: body, soul, material possessions, spiritual goods (like merits and virtues), everything in his past, present and future. Mary takes the gift (often imperfect because of human flaws and selfish motives), and presents the gift to Jesus perfectly wrapped. St. Louis de Montfort illustrated this analogy: a humble farmer offers his only fruit –a scruffy, bruised, worm-bitten apple– to the King through the hands of the Queen. The Immaculate Queen, conceived without sin, polishes that gift with her merits, and embellishes it with her virtues. The gift becomes a purer, more pleasing version than what came out of the farmer’s own efforts.
The late Cardinal Luigi Ciappi further describes Mary’s holiness as having the “multiplier effect.” I believe this also refers to her role as mediatrix of graces. Thus, not only does Mary multiply one’s offerings to Jesus, her holiness also multiplies the graces one receives from Him as it goes through her hands. An example: my two-year old daughter once swallowed a coin. When we asked her what kind it was, she pointed to a penny. A quick 911 call and some procedure under general anesthesia later, the surgeon presented us with a nickel.
“That’s one heck of a slot machine you got,” he said, with a chuckle. “A 500% return on investment!”
In essence, this is what consecration does: Our offerings and prayers are deposited to Mary and her intercession and mediation yield a hefty return on investment of graces. (Forgive the gambling analogy, it happened in Las Vegas). The maximized graces will be distributed to us, our families, communities and there’s even enough to go around for the world.
“Can we have a piece of the pie?” you want to know.
Absolutely! St. Maximilian Kolbe said: “The Immaculata alone has from God the promise of victory over Satan. However, assumed into heaven, the Mother of God now requires our cooperation. She seeks souls who will consecrate themselves entirely to her, who will become in her hands effective instruments for the defeat of Satan and the spreading of God’s kingdom on earth.”
Finally, St. Louis de Montfort motivates us: “The Most High with His holy Mother will form great saints for Himself, saints who will tower in holiness over other saints even as the cedars of Lebanon tower over little bushes…”
* If you want to learn more about consecration to Mary and prepare yourself over a 33 day period, use this easy to read, easy to follow book “33 Days to Morning Glory” by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC. This book offers the writings and reflections of the great Marian saints like St. Maximilian Kolbe, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Blessed John Paul II, and the “founder” himself, St. Louis de Montfort. It also contains the short and long form of consecration prayer, as well as a guide for living out a true devotion to Mary. If your family wants to consecrate as a family, use this book an option, “Preparation for Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary for Families” from the www.familyland.org online store. It is available in CD or DVD format, too.