As we begin to approach the holy season of Lent, it is also the time of year when many people make or remake their Marian consecration. Many use the 33 day formula of St. Louis de Montfort. This consecration is made on a Marian feastday with the most popular being the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25th. To begin this 33 day consecration, one begins on February 20th.
There is a preliminary 12 days and then three more weeks of preparation with prayers particular to each phase. I will be posting these prayers. But first let us look at what the recent Popes have had to say and also a little bit about what consecration is and means.
Pope John Paul II on St. Louis Marie de Montfort
" … At one point I began to question any devotion to Mary, believing that, if it became too great, it might end up compromising the supremacy of the worship owed Christ. At that time, I was greatly helped by a book by Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort entitled 'Treatise of True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin.' There I found the answers to my questions. Yes, Mary does bring us closer to Christ; she does lead us to him, provided that we live her mystery in Christ. . . . . thanks to Saint Louis, I began to discover the immense riches of Marian devotion from new perspectives."
Pope John Paul II "Gift and Mystery" pp 28-30
April 20, 2005: Missa pro Ecclesia – First Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI at the end of the Eucharistic Concelebration with the members of the College of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel
To support me in my promise, I call on the motherly intercession of Mary Most Holy, in whose hands I place the present and future of the Church and of myself.
WHAT EXACTLY DOES "CONSECRATE" MEAN?
When something or someone is said to be consecrated, this means it is set apart by God for his exclusive use; it becomes holy. The word comes from the Latin consecrare: con-together + secrare-sacred.
We were all consecrated at Baptism when the priest poured holy water on our heads and baptized us "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." That is, we were "set apart" for the Holy Trinity. We are changed forever and pledged to the exclusive service of God, by God.
However, baptismal consecration represents only the germ of consecration. God has chosen us to a lifetime of Christian holiness, and "his call is irrevocable" (Rom 11:29). But God does not do anything in us or to us without our cooperation. We must continually give ourselves to God, to ask for, and to seek holiness on a daily basis, until it becomes a natural habit that lasts a lifetime.
WHY SHOULD WE CONSECRATE OURSELVES TO MARY?
God willed that Mary would have a special role in our Christian life when he gave her to us as our spiritual mother at the foot of the Cross (In 19:27). It is a universal role assigned to her by God: All Christians of every age are to "take her into his home"-into our hearts, minds and every aspect of our lives. This is why we pray to her and through her, asking for her assistance.
In perfect union with her Son and subordinate to him, Mary is called by the Second Vatican Council "our mother in the order of grace" (Lumen Gentium, no. 61). Mary became the prototype of total consecration when, at the beginning of the New Testament, she said "yes" to becoming the Mother of God (Lk 1 :37). She was chosen to help us in our consecration through her maternal intercession as Mediatrix of All Graces, thus disposing us to develop the gifts of God that we received in Baptism. As such, Mary will enlighten your mind, guide your will, empower your efforts and intercede for you in a special way before the throne of the Father.
DOES MARIAN CONSECRATION TAKE AWAY FROM MY RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS?
On the contrary, consecration to Mary heightens the depth of our commitment to Christ. It is a way to express explicitly that our ultimate goal and end is GOD.
St. Maximilian Kolbe made it very clear that Marian consecration does not stop at Mary: "In reality, we are entirely, completely and exclusively consecrated to the Immaculata; in her and through her entirely, completely and exclusively to the Lord Jesus; in him, finally and through him entirely, completely and exclusively to our Father in heaven." And also, "Devotion to Mary is a direct means to this end. We pass with Mary to the Other."
By consecrating ourselves to Mary, she will always point us to the heart of Jesus, for "her will is so perfect that in nothing does it differ from God's." Marian consecration thus becomes the ideal way to fulfill our baptismal promises, which we renewed at our Confirmation. St. Maximilian Kolbe summarized our Christian mission in the beautiful expression: "To win the world for the Immaculata, and as soon as possible."
As Vatican II teaches, calling upon Mary's intercession "does nor hinder in any way the immediate union of the faithful with Christ, but on the contrary fosters it." (Lumen Gentium, no. 60). Therefore, coming "to Jesus through Mary" through our Marian consecration is not an extraordinary way of worshipping God and bringing about our final sanctification – it is the best way!