“Here, in the crossing of your arms, could there be anything else that I need? Nothing discourage, nothing depress me.” These words from the “Hymn to Our Lady of Guadalupe,” which I’ve often played on the piano, took on a whole new meaning for me recently. During Lent, I decided to reconsecrate myself to Our Lady using the book Total Consecration Through the Mysteries of the Rosary by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV. In one of the meditations, Fr. Broom uses this translation of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s words to St. Juan Diego: “Do not be afraid. Am I not your Mother? You are in the crossing of my arms; you are in my shadow; you are in my apron (tilma),the covering over my womb.” Now, when I see artwork with Mary’s arms folded, I imagine how she holds each of us as close as she held the baby Jesus to her heart. Is there any place better we could be than nestled in the Blessed Mother’s apron?
According to numerous saints, one of the most effective ways of drawing close to Our Lady is to allow her to carry you through Marian Consecration. When you place your life in the Virgin Mary’s hands, she will help you open your heart to God’s will to grow in peace, joy, and holiness. Perhaps you’re wondering, “But, when I consecrate myself to Mary, what should I expect?” Someone recently shared this answer with me: “You are about to experience some of the greatest graces and blessings God pours out.” When we come to God with empty hands, He fills them with His abundant love and blessings.
We are fortunate to live in a time when there are several forms of Marian Consecration available. At one period of my life or another, I have made many of them, some more than once. As a young adult, I first consecrated myself to Our Lady using the classic, and perhaps most popular consecration, from St. Louis de Montfort titled True Devotion to Mary. I have renewed this consecration a few times over the years. St. Louis was one of the greatest Marian priests and masterfully guides readers through thirty-three days of preparation to the total consecration. The first twelve days focus on renouncing the world. This is followed by three weeks that focus on Knowledge of Self, Knowledge of the Blessed Virgin, and Knowledge of Jesus Christ. Weeks include Scripture readings and excerpts from Imitation of Christ. Depending on the week, passages from True Devotion and Secret of Mary along with spiritual exercises are recommended, as well as the prayers Veni Creator, Ave Maris Stella, Litany of the Blessed Virgin, and Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus.
If you find St. Louis de Montfort’s consecration too difficult with time constraints, St. Maximilian Kolbe also provides a consecration to Jesus through Mary. Since it is short, when I was in my twenties, I encouraged some of my friends to make this version of the consecration and renewed my own with them. This form of consecration also provides you with the opportunity to become a Knight of the Immaculata – championing the cause of our Blessed Mother – to help win the world for Jesus her Son. St. John Paul II recommended this form of Marian Consecration as critical for the New Evangelization and spoke of St. Maximilian Kolbe as a primary intercessor for us. When we place our lives under the protection and guidance of Mary, we give God room to work and begin to see miracles in our lives and the lives of others.
So, in the words of Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, when you consider all that you receive the real question you should ask is: Why shouldn’t you consecrate yourself to Mary? In recent years, Fr. Gaitley offered another form of Marian Consecration titled 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Marian Consecration. I renewed my consecration using this method too. It is ideal for those who are busy and includes meditations from St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Teresa of Calcutta, and St. John Paul II. These saints explain the beauty of Marian devotion and consecration in a rich yet understandable way.
“Mary’s task is to give spiritual birth to Christians, to feed and nurture them with grace, and to help them grow to full stature in Christ,” explains Fr. Gaitley. “In short, Mary’s job is to help us grow in holiness. It’s her mission to form us into saints.”
Presently, I am using Total Consecration Through the Mysteries of the Rosary: Meditations to Prepare for Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary. What makes this book unique is that the reflections are based on Ignatian spirituality and provide a powerful guide for deepening one’s prayer. I felt drawn to read this book for several months and it is most fitting in my life at this time because I am also preparing to become a consecrated virgin in the world for my diocese on Divine Mercy Sunday of this year. Since Our Lady was the first consecrated virgin, as I read the meditations I am drawn closer to her as a model and mother. As I meditate on the reflections to prepare for Marian consecration, the Virgin Mary is also preparing me to become the spouse of Jesus her Son.
“Consecrating ourselves to Mary means accepting her help to offer ourselves and the whole of mankind to him who is holy, infinitely holy; it means accepting her help—by having recourse to her motherly heart, which beneath the cross was opened to love for every human being, for the whole world—in order to offer the world, the individual human being, mankind as a whole, and all the nations to him who is infinitely holy” (St. John Paul II, May 13, 1982).
While contemplating the many qualities of Our Lady – whether her prayerful silence or total surrender – we are also invited to imitate her life of love. In pondering mysteries such as the Annunciation, I was moved at how the Blessed Mother was “greatly troubled” at the angel’s greeting and had to trust in God’s plan, as we all do, as opposed to trying to figure it all out. By imitating Mary’s docility we become pure of heart and abandon ourselves to God like little children.
“Consecration to the Mother of God is a total gift of self, for the whole of life and for all eternity; and a gift which is not a mere formality or sentimentality, but effectual, comprising the full intensity of the Christian life – Marian life,” taught Pope Pius XII. “[It] tends essentially to union with Jesus, under the guidance of Mary.”
Marian Consecration reminds us that we are the delight of our Eternal Father and it is our great joy to live in the loving service of Jesus through Mary. In Fr. Broom’s book, I especially found that by journeying with our Blessed Mother – whether walking and standing at the foot of the Cross or basking in the light of the Face of Our Risen Savior – we encounter the healing love of the Lord. As we receive the blood and water that flow from His Sacred Heart, we are reminded that we quench Jesus’ thirst when we let him quench ours.
When I was experiencing a difficulty recently, my spiritual director reminded me that it was a “stumbling block thrown before things that are very good, true, and beautiful. Seen in that light, it is something to praise God for.” By totally consecrating ourselves to Jesus through Mary, we place our lives in Our Lady’s hands and give our most gracious Queen permission to arrange things. As I prepare for both of my consecrations, I have often asked Our Lady to arrange everything just as she did the roses in St. Juan Diego’s tilma.
Especially in these turbulent times, it is urgent that we entrust ourselves to our Blessed Mother. Invite your family members and friends to share in this gift with you and join you in consecrating yourself to Our Lady. Ask your parish priest to lead the whole parish in Marian Consecration. Mary will help you grow in your identity as a child of God and experience the fullness of life for which you were created. She will intercede for you so that you may receive God’s healing love and mercy. After all, who doesn’t want to be carried in the crossing of our Blessed Mother’s arms and live in the protection of her apron?