33 Days to Becoming a Saint

Last year at this time I said a crazy prayer. It was answered, and my life hasn’t been the same since. I’ve been thinking about this prayer, and I’ve decided that it’s time to dare others to say it too. Our world needs saints more than ever, and there’s no time like the present.

I said my prayer one year ago on the feast of St. John Paul II, inspired with the knowledge that it was his first feast day as an officially canonized saint. It seemed a good time to ask for huge graces, so I asked him to give me his love for the Rosary and his consecration to Mary. I don’t know what I was thinking to ask for these—I must’ve been inspired by the same Holy Spirit who prompted Elisha to ask for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit—but I wanted to love the Rosary and Our Lady like our good Holy Father did, so I asked.

Next thing I knew, I was conspiring with a friend to make the 33 Days to Morning Glory consecration to Mary. Which was strange, because I’d already rejected that particular book and way of consecration.

A few years before, another friend had told me about 33 Days. Several friends had, in fact. But this one friend in particular told me that her priest brother had brought a copy into her home, and she and her husband and children had, at his urging, made the consecration to Mary as a family. This friend is the kind who lets you see her foibles and weaknesses, so I had no illusions that she and her family were perfect. And I believed her that the book was a boon, that a normal family could do this together and succeed at it. Most importantly, my friend and I are a lot alike, even in our love for particular saints and devotions, so I got off the phone with a deep desire to have my family do the 33 Days consecration. I approached my husband and sons—or rather, from my place at the kitchen table I called out to them—“I have a great idea! Why don’t we all do this thirty-three day consecration to Mary? It’s really easy, and we could do it together!”

Let me say in defense of my husband and sons that our family is even more normal than my friend’s family. And we don’t have a brother who’s a priest. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone—and although I was disappointed, I don’t think I was surprised either—that when I asked if they’d like to do the consecration with me, my family’s very normal response was a resounding and unanimous No.

Which was a great thing, because it turned out I didn’t want to do it either. Or the Holy Spirit didn’t want me to, at least not yet.

But first, I reacted as any loving wife and mother would and didn’t let their “no” stop me; I simply forged ahead without them. I got the book 33 Days to Morning Glory, and took a good long look at it in preparation for making the consecration alone. Okay, maybe five minutes doesn’t seem like a really good long look, but believe me, it can be.

The book arrived, I eagerly opened the package, I read the cover, I opened it up, and voila! Nothing. It didn’t move me; it didn’t attract me; not a word I read appealed to my heart or my mind. So much for making the consecration alone and inspiring my family with my newfound devotion and sanctity…so much for knocking their socks off and subtly compelling them to want desperately what I had. They wouldn’t be begging me later to make the consecration together, because I couldn’t make it—even to Day One—by myself.

But this is not merely a tale of my failure; it’s the story of St. John Paul’s success. He’s not called “the Great” for nothing, and when, a couple of years after my resounding flop with 33 Days, I asked for his help, he sped to the rescue immediately.

It happened simply. His feast day came and I prayed to him. Next thing I knew, as I mentioned above, a friend and I were talking about 33 Days. (Not the friend who’d done it with her family, but another friend.) Like me, she had made the total consecration to Mary years ago according to the wonderful preparation and formula of St. Louis Marie de Montfort. And again like me, she  thought that now she might not have the energy or time that traditional consecration required. And finally, we both were ready for a jump start in our love for Mary, so we decided to try the 33 Days consecration together.

The next 40 days were a blur. I found myself asking all kinds of other women friends if they’d like to do the consecration with us. Many said yes. A few hesitated, and then said yes. We got books, we made plans—the general idea was for each of us to proceed through the book on her own (and his own, since one or two friends had more success with their husbands than I did. To be fair, when I asked yet again if he would like to join me, my beloved asked in return, “Didn’t we make the consecration together when we got married?” I answered in the affirmative. “Well I never took it back!” my husband said, leaving me, not for the first time, laughing and loving him more than ever). At the end of the thirty-three days, the group of us would meet at Mass and make our consecration together, and go out to lunch afterward.

To my delight and astonishment, it happened. Starting on November 5th, armed with a new copy of 33 Days to Morning Glory by Father Michael E. Gaitley, MIC (I’d given the old copy away about ten minutes after it arrived), I read the daily two or three pages and said the simple, very short prayer that followed each reading. My friends, in the comfort of their homes, did the same. And on December 8, 2014, we made together our total consecration to Mary, and then went out to lunch to celebrate.

Would I do it again? Well yes, in fact, I’m going to do it again starting in a few days.

Would I invite others to join me? Actually, that’s my whole point. I don’t just invite you, I dare you. The book isn’t expensive, and you won’t be alone in making the consecration, even if your family isn’t ready to sign up yet. I’ll tell you a secret: we’re all normal, and imperfect, and on our own, capable of nothing. But in the words of St. Maximilian Kolbe, “My dear, dear brothers, our dear little, little mother, the Immaculate Mary, can do anything for us. We are her children. Turn to her. She will overcome everything.”

This last year since I made the consecration hasn’t been perfect, and neither have I, but it’s been happy, and I have too—happier than I’ve ever been. When I ask myself why, there’s an immediate reply from a still small voice within: I’m happier because I’m hers, totally. It’s an easy way, only thirty-three days to being loved exactly as you are, and belonging to the woman who can make you everything God wants you to be. St. John Paul II, pray for us!

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Suzie Andres, a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College and the University of Notre Dame, lives and writes in sunny Southern California. She is the editor of Selected Sermons of Thomas Aquinas McGovern, S.J., and author of Homeschooling with Gentleness, A Little Way of Homeschooling, the Catholic romantic comedy The Paradise Project, and Being Catholic: What Every Catholic Should Know.  Her latest books, Something New with St Thérèse: Her Eucharistic Miracle and Stations of the Cross with Our Sister St. Thérèse, are available in free ebook versions (along with her novel and a Vietnamese-English edition of the Stations, as well as a Spanish-English edition) at amazon.combarnesandnoble.com and on her website, suzieandres.com, where you can also find her blog, “Miss Marcel’s Musings,” and links to her books, online articles, and book lists for all ages.  

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