“Do whatever he tells you.”
On a cold February evening many years ago, a Dominican friar at my university’s parish handed me a copy of True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort. As a spiritual father who made our Catholic community feel like a home away from home, he had taken it upon himself to lead us, a ragtag group of college students and community members, through the total consecration to Jesus through Mary. This 33-day period of prayer would culminate on March 25, the Annunciation—the day Christ entrusted himself to Our Lady in her womb.
Our friar explained that this consecration involved formally entrusting ourselves to Our Lady, who would always lead us to her Son. “As in the order of nature a child must have a father and a mother, so likewise in the order of grace, a true child of the Church must have God for his Father and Mary for his Mother” (The Secret of Mary, 11). Because her heart is so conformed to the heart of Christ, as seen in her fiat, she would be the “safest, easiest, shortest and most perfect way of approaching Jesus,” for “the more one is consecrated to Mary, the more one is consecrated to Jesus” (True Devotion, 55, 121). As a tender mother, mama bear, and tiger mom whose own heart was pierced by a sword of sorrow, she would take responsibility for us as her spiritual children and lovingly intercede for us to be formed into little Christs, into the men and women we were called to be.
Over the course of 33 days, we spent time in prayer and penitence, preparing for the season of Lent. Then, we spent time reflecting on ourselves, on Mary, and finally on Jesus. Our friar told us not to get discouraged if we didn’t understand the writing style, to keep going if we missed a day, not to be afraid of loving Mary too much, since we could never love her more than Jesus did (St. Maximilian Kolbe), and to watch out—for if we let her into our lives in this way, she would act! Also, we shouldn’t be too surprised if this path led to the cross—for all hearts longing for Christ are called in some way to the path of thorns and briars to become a little more like his heart, to be able to love with a love a little more like his love. Perhaps we would even wish that we had suffered more as we accepted our crosses, carried them to the heights, and let our own hearts be pierced and poured out for others in a sacrifice of praise.
The consecration described in this one little volume is beloved by many saints and popes. St. Pope John Paul II says, “The reading of this book was a decisive turning-point in my life. I say ‘turning-point,’ but in fact it was a long inner journey. . . This ‘perfect devotion’ is indispensable to anyone who means to give himself without reserve to Christ and to the work of redemption. . . It is from Montfort [whose own motto was ‘God Alone’] that I have taken my motto: ‘Totus Tuus’ (‘I am all thine’).” It was a turning point in my own life as well, changing the arc of my story both through immediate graces and through deeply-rooted ones I am only just beginning to discover. I am so grateful to that friar for sharing his profound love for Our Lady—and through her, Christ, particularly in the Eucharist—with us.
Today is the day we begin this year’s 33-day period of prayer to entrust ourselves yet again to the spiritual motherhood of Our Lady on the Solemnity of the Annunciation. If you don’t have a copy of the book just yet, you can use these online resources. And if you miss a day, don’t give up! Just take courage, keep going, and keep your eyes on Christ—even if your feet are led to the foot of the cross or if your heart is pierced by a shining sword of sorrow. If you’re unsure or don’t completely understand everything right now, just take a chance, do the consecration anyway, and try not to be afraid to let Our Lady love you and intercede for you. And watch out: for if you let her into your life in this way, she will act!
Perhaps St. Bernard of Clairvaux says it best:
In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal.
So, come—let us run “further up and further in” to Love, to Jesus through Mary, and take the adventure that comes to us under her starry mantle!
Reading & Listening Suggestions
St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, The Secret of Mary
Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, 33 Days to Morning Glory
Matt Fradd and Fr. Gregory Pine, O.P., Marian Consecration with Aquinas
Jackie and Bobby Angel, Consecration to Jesus Through Mary
Total Consecration Text