You might think that Lourdes would be weighed down by a sad atmosphere. This small town in France draws thousands of people every year from all over the world who come to pray for healing. Many of the pilgrims are critically ill. Pilgrims wash in the grotto spring, as the Blessed Mother encouraged the teenaged St. Bernadette Soubirous to do in the 19th century.
I remember my first mission trip to Lourdes as a teenager going with a group of youth. At the hospital facility located in Lourdes, I was in charge of serving meals to pilgrims. Each had a different story – a little boy with a brain tumor, a paralyzed man, a mother with cancer.
Before I left on the trip, I was apprehensive. I had no idea what to expect! When I arrived, though, my perspective completely changed. I saw the smooth grotto rock encircling us like a hug – the rock where the Blessed Mother had stood. I laughed and talked with pilgrims in the dining room, amazed at how grateful they were for just a smile. I pushed pilgrims in wheelchairs through a milling crowd singing “Ave Maria” and raising rosaries and candles to heaven.
As I said later, that trip was tiring – but it was a good tired, the kind of tired where you feel a sense of security and awe that you were able to participate in something good.
Lourdes is the happiest place I have ever been to. And now I know why.
In his Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, “The Fruit of Her Womb,” Father Boniface Hicks writes, “When we are willing to live in such a constant, dependent relationship with Mary by being in her womb, life will only become more exciting, full, and rich” (20).
To explain what it means to be “safely enclosed in the womb of Mary” (170) and why I highly recommend doing Father Hicks’ beautiful consecration, let’s quickly review the structure of the consecration, explore the implications of being in Mary’s womb, and share some extraordinary takeaways from this wonderful book!
One of the things I enjoyed most about the book was that Father Hicks clearly explains why it’s so important to consecrate yourself to Jesus through Mary. Through consecration, “we choose not to have a will apart from Mary’s” in order to follow Jesus more faithfully (3). In the 33 days towards consecration, you’ll take a deep, readable, and relatable dive into rediscovering Jesus through the eyes of Mary.
The daily time commitment is brief – only about 10 minutes per day of reading and prayer. After you read the brief introduction, the 33 days of preparation are broken up into several sections:
- Day 1-12: Emptying ourselves of the spirit of the world
- Day 13-19 (one week): Self-knowledge
- Day 20-26 (one week): Knowledge of Mary
- Day 27-33 (one week): Knowledge of Jesus
- Day 34: The day of your consecration
Each day has a specific topic or theme that builds upon the previous days. A typical day includes two short readings, a reflection, and prayers, along with breathtaking artwork.
Usually, one reading is taken from the Bible and the other reading is an excerpt from one or more saints or popes, such as Pope Francis, St. Therese of Lisieux, Pope St. John Paul II, and Mother Teresa, just to name a few.
After the readings, Father Hicks provides a brief reflection tying in the readings to how consecration to Jesus through Mary helps us overcome our challenges and live our best lives.
After the readings and reflection, each section has a short collection of prayers to say, which are provided in an appendix.
Father Hicks’ consecration differs from St. Louis de Montfort’s widely known consecration in that we view Marian consecration through the lens of being inside Mary’s womb.
“St. Louis de Montfort reminded us that Baptism is an entrance into Mary’s womb,” Father Hicks writes. “It is in Mary’s womb that we learn a new logic and are enlightened as to the real power, providence, and plan of God. Here we first draw close to Christ, like twins together in the womb, and we are formed with Him by the Holy Spirit to become another Christ.”
What are the implications?
As Father Hicks states, we are – and should consciously see ourselves as – part of the family of God, because that’s how He sees us. You are God the Father’s child, Joseph and Mary’s kid, Jesus’s sibling.
Most fundamentally, Marian Consecration is a choice to be a child like Jesus. In other words, we are choosing to be a child of Mary and Joseph. But a child can still be willful and wander away, so our dependence must be more radical…we must let ourselves be held in the most perfect embrace of the most loving Mother as a baby in the womb.
You could compare the grotto at Lourdes to a womb from which pilgrims are spiritually reborn every day.
Father Hicks writes that when we are consecrated to Mary, we learn to live in such a way that “as things become more intense and the pressure increases, it is only because I am growing and drawing closer to birth, that is, the victorious emergence into eternal life.”
The Fruit of Her Womb: 33 Day Preparation for Total Consecration to Jesus is available from Sophia Institute Press.