by Jayson M. Brunelle, M.Ed., CAGS
As Christians, we take Christ as the exemplar of how to live as adopted sons and daughters of God the Father. We understand that it behooves us to imitate Christ in each of the mysteries of His life on earth, for, Christ is “the Way” to the Father. Moreover, Holy Mother Church, founded by Christ on the “rock” of the apostle Peter, teaches that there exists a certain “hierarchy” of divinely revealed truths and mysteries of the holy faith. Among these truths, the two most important and fundamental mysteries of our Christian faith are (1) the mystery of the Holy Trinity; and (2) the mystery of Christ’s Incarnation.
If, as Christians, we are to imitate Christ, our Lord, in each of the mysteries of His life, and if the Incarnation of the Word in the virginal womb of Mary is among the most important and fundamental of all Christian mysteries and truths, then it logically follows that we should imitate our Lord, Who became a little child and entrusted Himself entirely and unreservedly to the care of His Mother, Mary. Should not we, too, as followers of Christ, the Way, imitate the action of our Savior by becoming like children and entrusting ourselves unreservedly to the care of Mary, who, in addition to being the Mother of Christ, is simultaneously and necessarily the true Spiritual Mother of the Mystical Body, the Church, which cannot be separated from Christ, its head?
Moreover, the Logos, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, could have chosen any means whatsoever to enter into the earthly realm of space and time; but of all possible means, He chose Mary. If Christ, Who, as God, could have chosen an infinite number of ways to come to meet humanity, decided upon Mary as the most illustrious pathway by which to meet humanity, should this not serve as the single greatest reason for us, His disciples, to imitate our Lord in choosing Mary as the most sublime of all pathways by which to return to Him?
In short, Jesus chose to unite the Immaculate Heart of His Mother Mary most perfectly with His own Sacred Heart and to share His perfect redemptive and salvific mission with her. It is for this reason that Mary is called the Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all grace and Advocate for the People of God. These three roles of Mary best express Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood of all humanity in the order of Grace. For, she who gave birth to Christ, the source of all grace and mercy, can certainly be said to be the Mother of all who benefit from that grace and mercy. Moreover, it was from the Altar of the Cross that the dying Jesus entrusted His Most Holy Mother to all of humanity, represented by the beloved apostle John, when, from the Cross of our Salvation, Christ stated, “Woman, behold thy son.…Behold thy mother” (Jn 19:26).
This brings us to the sound theological foundation upon which Marian Consecration rests: Mary’s true function as Spiritual Mother of all humanity, expressed according to her three-fold function as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all grace, and Advocate for the People of God. Let us, then, explore the first two of these three aspects of Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood, in order to better understand the logic and necessity of Consecration to Mary, our Spiritual Mother.
Mary as Co-redemptrix
The following ideas derive from the writings of the early Church Fathers, who identified Jesus as the “New Adam,” and Mary, His Most Holy Mother, as the “New Eve.” Just as the first Eve provided the first Adam with the fruit as the instrument of the fall, in like fashion does Mary, the “New Eve,” provide Jesus, the “New Adam,” with his body as the instrument of the Redemption.
Mary, or the “Woman,” is spoken of at the very beginning of Sacred Scripture, in Genesis 3:15, and at the very end of Sacred Scripture, in Revelation 12:1. In both instances, this “Woman,” which, incidentally, is the precise phraseology used by Jesus in referring to His Mother Mary all throughout the four Gospels, is portrayed as the archenemy of the Devil, or Satan. In Genesis, 3:15, we read: “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” This passage, referred to by theologians as the “Proto-Evangelium,” or the “First Gospel,” depicts God the Father’s first promise of salvation, redemption and restoration for a humanity which, having been seduced by Satan, severed four fundamental relationships as a consequence of the original fall. The four relationships that were either severed or significantly impaired were: (1) man’s relationship with God, resulting in the deprivation of sanctifying grace, or the lack of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit as the soul of man’s soul; (2) man’s relationship with himself, or man’s inability to subject his passions/emotions to right reasoning, an internal conflict referred to by theologians as concupiscence; (3) man’s relationship with other men, such that in place of a spirit of cooperation with and concern for one’s neighbor, there exists, instead, a desire to dominate and manipulate the other, who is now regarded as a “stranger” to be feared and an “enemy” to be overcome; and lastly, (4) man’s relationship with nature itself, which, prior to the fall, posed no threat to the well-being of man, but, as a consequence of the fall, has introduced pain, suffering and death into the lives of men.
Gratefully, the Sacrament of Baptism restores man to God’s friendship, allowing for the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit of God in the soul of Man. Yet, the Scripture passages quoted above make clear that the salvific action of Christ, whereby humanity would be restored to God the Father’s friendship and “good graces,” would be intimately associated with this “Woman.” Jesus, the “Word of God,” refers to himself as the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” (Rev 1:8). Mary, the “Woman” of Scripture, appears at “the beginning and the end” of the “Word of God.” Thus, it is manifestly clear to this author that God had Mary, “the glory of Jerusalem…the great pride of Israel…the highest honor of our people” (Judith 15:10), in mind well before the creation of the world; for, it was in accord with His Holy and Divine Will that the Savior of Humanity, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, would graft a true human nature to His Divine Person, and that the “Woman” from whom the God-man’s sinless human nature would come would, herself, be without the least stain of original sin, “blessed…by God Most High, beyond all women on earth” (Judith 13:23), and, for that very reason, would cooperate in a wholly singular and unique fashion with her Divine Son in the defeat of Satan not once, but twice: that is, she would precede both the first and second comings of Christ. Mary was the immaculate gateway through which Christ, the Son of God, entered into the world in a most humble and obscure fashion approximately 2,000 years ago. In His first coming, His divinity was overshadowed and hidden by His humanity. Now, in our times, Mary is once again preparing the world for the Second Coming of her divine Son; only this time, his humanity shall be obscured and overshadowed by his glorious divinity. Both of Christ’s comings herald a great victory for God, Mary and each of their faithful children that coincides with a great defeat of Satan. Such was the case in Christ’s first coming, and so shall it be in His glorious Second Coming, which, if one knows how to read the signs of the times, is on the verge of taking place.
Thus, the “Woman” who begins and ends Sacred Scripture, the “Woman” who preceded the first coming of Christ and participated in a wholly unique and singular fashion in His victorious defeat of Satan, sin and death, is again preceding His second Glorious coming through her numerous apparitions all over the globe. She is preparing her faithful and victorious cohort of children who shall entrust themselves unreservedly to her, that they might be thoroughly imbued with her spirit and truly make up the Apostles of Light of the Immaculate Heart, in order to afford Christ, her divine Son, the greatest possible glorification. These children of Mary comprise the humble “heel” of the Mystical body of Christ, that shall definitively crush the head of the ancient serpent. Moreover, they, in imitation of their Most Holy Queen, offer themselves, their prayers and especially their sufferings through, with and in Christ to the glory of God the Father and for the salvation of souls.
This is not to say that there is anything whatever lacking in the perfect redemptive act of Christ. Instead, it has pleased Christ to associate his adopted sisters and brothers, His co-heirs of the Kingdom, in his ongoing work of redemption. And Mary takes first place among the Co-redeemers with Christ, becoming the Co-redemptrix. For, if St. Paul, among the greatest of Evangelists in the history of the Church, could state, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church,” how much more should this apply to Mary who, unlike St. Paul, was wholly untouched by the least taint of sin? It should be noted, however, for the sake of theological accuracy, and to avoid any confusion, that Mary’s participation in the work of redemption is wholly subordinate to and dependant upon Christ’s perfect salvific act of redemption on Calvary. Nevertheless, it has pleased the Godhead to afford Mary a unique participation in the economy of salvation. Furthermore, you and I have been called to participate in the marvelous, ongoing work of the redemption. This we do by exercising the royal, common priesthood that was bestowed upon us at our Baptism. The People of God are a Priestly People. This is to say that through our baptism into Christ’s Mystical Body, we were made participants in the priestly, prophetic and kingly offices of Christ, the One Eternal High Priest. Thus, in addition to the ministerial priesthood which is bestowed upon men who receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders, there exists the Common, Royal Priesthood of all baptized believers.
We, the members of Christ’s Royal Priesthood, properly exercise this function by assisting at Holy Mass and by living the Mass. Thus, the exercise of our royal priesthood is contingent upon the exercise of the Ministerial Priesthood. While these two participations in the one priesthood of Christ differ not only in degree but also in essence, it is by no means any less dignified to offer oneself as an oblation on the altar of Mary’s Immaculate Heart as a lay person. Rather, this constitutes the truly sublime and exalted vocation to which each of the baptized members of Christ’s Mystical Body has been called. We exercise our Royal Priesthood by participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, whereby Christ continues His work of redemption through, with and in us, as a consequence of our reception of His Most Precious Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist. For, as Christ states in the Gospel of John, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (Jn 6:56).
Mary’s role as Co-redemptrix began at the moment of the Incarnation, when she provided the Only begotten Son of the Father, the Eternal Word of God, with his human body and nature, which He forever grafted to His Divine Nature, in what is referred to as the Hypostasis. Thus, Christ’s work of Redemption began at the moment of the Incarnation, where He reconciled, in His one Divine Person, humanity and divinity. Thus, it is entirely theologically correct to state that the start of the work of Redemption would never have taken place without Mary’s full consent and unconditional cooperation with the Divine Will of the Father, who freely chose to become dependant upon her fiat. Moreover, it is additionally at the moment of the Incarnation that Mary begins her role as Spiritual Mother of all of humanity; for, in giving birth to Christ, the Head, she simultaneously and necessarily gives birth to the body connected to that Head, which is the Church. Ultimately, Mary’s role as Co-redemptrix is brought to completion at the foot of the cross, where Mary mystically participated in the sufferings of Christ, consenting to the immolation of this victim Who was her dearly beloved Son and Savior. Her maternal suffering was so intense that she merited more grace than any other creature. Finally, it was precisely at the foot of the Cross that Christ designated Mary as the Spiritual Mother of all humanity, for it was there that she, in an unprecedented and unmatched fashion, participated with her Son in meriting grace and mercy, or divine life, for the human family. It is for this reason, then, that Mary is rightly termed the Co-redemptrix; for, if Saint Paul, in speaking about his own sufferings, could state, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church” (Col 1:24), how much more should this apply to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who never knew sin and was wholly Immaculate from the first moment of her conception?
Mary as Mediatrix of all Grace
While the first dimension of Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood is carried out through her Co-redemptive participation with her divine Son in the meriting of grace and mercy, or divine life, for humanity (in a manner that is entirely dependant upon and subordinate to Christ’s perfect Redemptive act), Mary’s role as the Mediatrix of all grace is the logical continuation of this Spiritual Motherhood. As any good mother will tell you, motherhood certainly does not cease with the definitive act of giving birth, but instead continues in the nourishing and nurturing of the child long after it has been born until such time as the child reaches full maturation. The same must be said of the Blessed Virgin with regard to the nourishing and nurturing of the spiritual children that she participated with Christ in giving birth to. As Co-redemptrix, Mary participates with Christ in giving birth to the Church, whose Sacramental life gushes forth from the pierced Heart of Christ. Indeed, we might state that the Sacramental life of the Church was additionally born of the Heart of Mary, whose Heart, perfectly united as it is with her Son’s, was also necessarily pierced, in fulfillment of the prophecy of Simeon: “Indeed, a sword will pierce your own soul, too, so that the inner thoughts of many people might be revealed” (Lk 2:35). Further, it is fitting that she, who participated with Christ in the meriting of grace, continue to exercise her maternal function by participating in the mediation and distribution of that grace.
Thus, each of the Divine Persons of the Trinity has freely chosen to associate Mary, the “Woman” who begins and ends divine revelation, in every aspect of the economy of salvation: God the Father freely chose to become dependant upon Mary’s fiat in her acceptance of His invitation to become the Theotokos; God the Son freely chose to become dependant upon Mary by kenotically emptying Himself of His divinity, becoming an infant, and entrusting himself entirely and without reserve to the maternal care of Mary; God the Holy Spirit, the true spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, has freely chosen to become dependant upon Mary’s Maternal Mediation in the distribution of all graces that spring from the bosom of the Father, are merited or purchased with the Blood of Christ, and are distributed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, like the other two Divine Persons, has also freely chosen to act solely through, with and in Mary. Thus, the Church’s official doctrine concerning Mary’s role as Mediatrix of all graces is that nothing of the vast treasury of God’s grace comes to us but through the willed intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Thus, every gift of grace from God to humanity is additionally a gift of the Mother.
The great St. Louis Marie de Montfort explains that when it comes to the distribution of God’s grace, Mary truly distributes this grace to whom she wills, to the extent that she wills, in the manner that she wills. This may sound extreme to some; yet the precedent for this has been set in Sacred Scripture itself. For, in John’s Gospel account of the feast of the Wedding at Cana, we read the following exchange taking place between Jesus and His Mother: “When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’ ‘Dear woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied. ‘My time has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you'” (Jn 2:3-5). In this passage, Jesus makes it quite clear to Mary that He has no intention of performing a miracle, indeed, his first “public” miracle, on that particular occasion. Yet, as we read on, Jesus does, in fact, perform His first public miracle, turning water into wine. The conversation that takes place between Jesus and His Mother Mary manifests the tremendous influence Mary has on her Son. In short, as the saints never tire of stating, “Christ simply cannot refuse His Most Holy Mother.” Thus, in the Gospel account of the Wedding at Cana, we catch a glimpse into the tremendous intercessory power of Mary, and God’s inability to refuse a plea from His Most Holy Mother on our behalf. Indeed, how good shall it go for us at the pivotal moment of our particular judgment should we secure Mary’s intercession and Advocacy, which she promises to those who exercise true devotion to her through the daily prayer of the Holy Rosary.
Papal Pronouncements Concerning Mary’s True Function as Mediatrix of All Grace
There is no question that Vatican II, and the 16 documents that issued therefrom, were truly a gift from God to the Church, manifesting the very real action of the Spirit of God working in and through the Council Fathers. This gathering of all the world’s bishops, working in union with the popes who headed the Council, was, for the world, a concrete example of Sacred Tradition in action. And while Mary, the Mother of God, was certainly given special attention by the Council, as there had been discussions amongst the bishops of a dogmatic definition of Mary’s Co-redemption, Mediation and Advocacy, as well as the dedication of the entirety of Chapter 8 of Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, to the preeminent role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the Church, we additionally know that there were, indeed, a certain number of bishops who were significantly opposed to these particular Marian titles. These latter, in an effort to foster ecumenical dialogue with representatives of the various Protestant denominations, whom the Church had invited to participate in the Conciliar proceedings as “observers”, believed that, despite numerous previous Papal and Magisterial teachings and official pronouncements regarding Mary’s true roles as Co-redemptrix and Mediatrix of all grace, these particular Marian titles, whilst comprising Marian truths belonging to the Sacred deposit of Faith, should be avoided so as not to impede ecumenical efforts by fostering or arousing theological confusion.
Thus, to this day, there exist two schools of thought regarding this issue. On the one hand, there are those theologians who oppose a dogmatic definition of these three roles that comprise the exercise of Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood of humanity, believing that such a pronouncement would harm ecumenical efforts. On the other hand, there are those theologians, such as the author of this article, who fully support and endorse the dogmatic definition of Mary’s roles as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate, believing that, contrary to being harmful to ecumenism, a solemn Papal definition of Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood according to these three functions would, in effect, constitute humanity’s collective fiat to Mary’s Maternal Mediation, thereby “freeing” the Blessed Virgin to fully exercise her Maternal Mediation for both the Church and the world, obtaining for these latter a super-abundant, profound outpouring of the grace and mercy of the Holy Spirit, her well-beloved Divine Spouse, upon all of humanity, thereby resulting in a new, second Pentecost, which would most assuredly foster an authentic ecumenism that doesn’t resort to a watering down of the Sacred Truths of our Holy Catholic faith.
We must recall one of the most basic and fundamental axioms of moral theology; namely, that the end never justifies the means. In this instance, the end, or goal, would be a greater unification amongst the various Christian denominations, a most necessary goal for which Christ, Himself, prayed. Yet, in our efforts to bring about such a unity amongst Christians, it is never permissible to sacrifice, “water-down” or “discard” authentic and divinely revealed truths of the Sacred Deposit of Faith.
Regarding the numerous Papal pronouncements concerning the veracity of Mary’s role as Mediatrix of all grace, Fr. Alessandro M. Apollonio F.I. has done us a marvelous service in collecting and assembling salient quotations from numerous pontiffs that underscore, in no uncertain terms, the absolute truth of Mary’s undeniable role as the Mediatrix of all grace after Christ, the sole Mediator between humanity and the Eternal Father. In his article,Mary Mediatrix of All Graces, Part II, Fr. Apollonio provides a comprehensive list of the many Papal statements that have been made affirming Mary’s true role as Mediatrix of all grace. To view this most impressive display of Papal and Magisterial pronouncements regarding Mary’s true function as Mediatrix, please click here.
Thus, as Fr. Apollonio illustrates in the above linked-to article, “Mary’s universal mediation has been the object of the unchanging ordinary Papal Magisterium for at least the past three centuries and therefore must be considered Catholic doctrine, definitive tenenda, not dogmatically defined, but certainly definable.”
Mary’s Role as Mediatrix of All Graces Provides the Theological Foundation for Marian Consecration
Let us clearly state from the outset that all authentic, theologically sound devotion to the Mother of God is necessarily and entirely Christocentric. This is to say that all devotion to Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother, must always be understood to be a means to the end of a more perfect and profound devotion to and transforming union with the Sacred Heart of Christ. Catholics have often been accused by their Protestant brethren of “Mariolotry,” or rendering the worship that is due to God alone, to Mary. If it ever has happened (although such a situation would more than likely be impossible, as shall later be explained) that a person were to literally engage in the “worship” of Mother Mary, this would certainly constitute idol worship, and would, indeed, be a grave violation of the first and greatest commandment, which is to love God above all things, with one’s entire heart, soul, strength and mind.
St. Louis de Montfort, the great champion of consecration to Jesus through Mary, clearly explains that Mary’s sole function is to lead souls ever more perfectly to her Divine Son, and to assist, through her most powerful intercession, in the configuration of each soul into the image and likeness of Christ her Son. Thus, whatsoever we give to Mary, we, of necessity, give to Jesus. Mary in no way keeps anything we should entrust to her for herself, as if she were the last end of devotion to her. Instead, she is a proximate end, or a means to the end of an ever more perfect conformity to the Divine Will, who is literally incapable of doing anything that would not lead souls to an ever deeper and more profound communion with Christ, her Son. Despite this fundamental theological reality, there are not a few Christians who view devotion to Mary as an obstacle to their devotion to or union with Christ, as if devotion to Mary somehow detracts from devotion to Christ. As stated above, Mary’s sole function is that of leading her children to Christ. Mary’s words, as recorded by the Evangelist John, echo throughout all ages, as she states to men and women of every generation, “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5). She repeats these words to Christians of all times, places and cultures, and is, quite literally, incapable of doing otherwise. Thus, all devotion to Mary is, of necessity, devotion to Jesus.
Moreover, devotion to Mary perfects our devotion to Christ, and (1) speeds us along the path of sanctity; (2) brings about a profound detachment from the world, the flesh and the devil – the three chief enemies of our souls and our eternal salvation; (3) enables us to love Christ with the perfect and immaculate love of Mary’s Immaculate Heart, which has never known or been sullied by the least taint or shadow of sin.
De Montfort explains in the introduction of his Treatise on True Devotion to Mary that the goal of every Christian is to become as perfectly conformed to the image and likeness of Christ as is possible. Thus, the greatest of all devotions to Christ would be that devotion which most perfectly conforms and unites us to Christ. Now, of all creatures, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, through the singular privileges of her Divine Maternity, Perpetual Virginity, Immaculate Conception and her glorious Assumption, is most perfectly conformed to Christ in all things, in each of the mysteries that comprise His life on earth. Ergo, it logically follows that, if the greatest of devotions is that which most perfectly unites us to Christ in all things, and if Mary, of all creatures is, indeed, most perfectly united to Christ, then the most perfect, most sanctifying and most efficacious of all devotions must be a perfect devotion to Mary. And, as de Montfort continues on, the apex of true devotion to Mary, Mother of God, is that of Total Consecration to her, whereby we renew, in her Immaculate and merciful hands and Heart, the solemn vows of our baptism, and proceed to entrust everything that we are and everything that we possess, in the orders of nature, grace and glory, to Mary, for her to dispose of according to her will, which is always perfectly conformed to the Most Holy and Divine Will of God. This, then, encapsulates the essence of the devotion of Total Consecration to Mary. For, how can a mother nourish a child who puts up resistance to her? We must be docile children in Our Mother’s most merciful and loving arms, allowing ourselves to be nourished by her with the milk of divine grace.
The key idea is that Mary, like God, has a profound respect for our freewill as human persons. Certainly, her Immaculate Heart is consumed with a profound maternal love for each and every one of her children, especially those who are the furthest away from her Son, the Good Shepherd. It is the most ardent desire of her Heart, as a true Mother to humanity, to save each soul that runs the risk of eternal perdition. Yet, she simply will not force herself on any of her numerous children. Instead, we must freely invite her to take up residence in our souls, and there is no question that she will, indeed, fly to the soul that solemnly consecrates itself to her. In her apparitions to St. Catherine Laboure, who was shown the image of the Miraculous Medal and was told by Our Lady to have the medal struck according to the vision she had received, St. Catherine noticed that on the obverse of the medal, Our Lady of Grace was depicted standing on the globe, with a serpent under her feet, and from rings on Our Lady’s fingers, there emanated rays of light (symbolizing grace and mercy) from some but not all of the gemstones. Our Lady described the image’s symbolism: “The ball which you see represents the world…and each person in particular. These rays symbolize the graces I shed upon those who ask for them. The jewels which give no rays symbolize the graces that are not given because they are not asked for.”
From this description given by Our Lady, herself, it is clear that we must exercise our freewill in petitioning Our Lady for the graces which we are in such dire need of, and which she is ever-ready to provide, if we but ask her. And it is precisely through our Act of Consecration to her Immaculate Heart and the living of that Consecration that Our Lady will remain utterly faithful to her solemn promise to provide, as our Spiritual Mother, for each and every one of our needs – both spiritual and material.
Consecration Frees Mary to Fully Exercise Her Role as Mediatrix in Souls
This brings us to the crux of our thesis: Mary is only capable of carrying out the fullness of her role as Mediatrix of all Grace with respect to those souls who have solemnly and unreservedly entrusted themselves to her maternal care and mediation through a solemn act of Total Consecration to her and the subsequent living of that Total Consecration. Thus, Mary’s rightful role as Mediatrix of all Graces can only be fully exercised in those souls who have become her full possession and property. Moreover, it is not enough to simply recite a prayer of consecration to Mary; instead, we must conscientiously seek to live with Mary, through Mary, in Mary and for Mary. We must beg her, each day of our lives, to take our hearts, full of vice, iniquity, sin, defects, ingratitude, pride, attachment to ourselves and our way of thinking and feeling, and so on, and replace them with her Most Immaculate Heart; a heart that truly is “full of grace,” without the least taint or shadow of sin or self-love, and that beats only and always with a pure, perfect love for God and for each one of her countless spiritual children. Thus, we can be assured of a rapid yet profound increase in personal sanctification and growth in holiness through the action of Our Holy Mother Mary in the desert of our souls when we make a solemn act of total consecration to the Most Immaculate Heart of Mary, Our Spiritual Mother, and make every effort to truly live that Consecration, which should entail (1) becoming enrolled in and continuously wearing the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which she has referred to as the “religious habit” of those totally entrusted or consecrated to her; (2) the daily praying of at least five decades of her prayer, the Most Holy Rosary (while meditating on the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious or Luminous mysteries); (3) daily participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and reception of the Most Holy Eucharist, which, as has been explained in-depth in previous posts, should become the center of one’s day and, ultimately, one’s life; for, it is the “source and summit” of our lives as Christians (one must be aware of being in a state of sanctifying grace so as not to receive Our Lord unworthily); (4) renewing, each morning, one’s act of total consecration, and the making of a “Morning Offering” each day (the Apostles of Light of the Immaculate Heart Marian Consecration Prayer combines one’s consecration to Our Lady with a total offering of the day’s prayers, works, joys and sufferings); (5) reception of the Sacrament of Penance at least monthly; (6) performance of the five first Saturday devotion, given to Sr. Lucy at Fatima, as an act of reparation for the sins committed against to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; and (7) the wearing of a blessed Miraculous Medal, preferably around the neck.
One all-encompassing Marian Devotion
Most Catholics familiar with some or all of these Marian devotions are under the false impression that these devotions are mutually exclusive, and that it is sufficient simply to choose one from among the many and varied Marian devotions; that is, if they happen to have any Marian devotion whatsoever. The truth is that each of these devotions are sub-devotions (with, of course, the exception of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which is the greatest of all prayers, and the Sacrament of Penance; for any one of the Seven Sacraments of the Church far surpasses any “devotion” whatsoever) that fall under the all-encompassing devotion of Marian Consecration. One who is truly committed to Our Lady will endeavor to practice each of these devotions, for, each of them plays an essential role in the over-arching devotion of a lived-out total consecration to the Mother of God.
St. Joseph’s Espousal of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Epitomizes Total Consecration to Her
As we have seen, Marian consecration is the quickest, easiest, perfect and most secure way of giving ourselves over to Jesus, who came to us through Mary. We most surely return to Christ using the same pathway He used in coming to us – Mary. Few will dispute the profound efficacy of Marian consecration in making strides in the spiritual life and most perfectly conforming ourselves to Christ through Mary.
There is, however, an essential aspect of this devotion that has been somewhat neglected, and that would be the role of St. Joseph. St. Joseph is numbered among the greatest of the great saints precisely because of the intimacy of life that he shared with Jesus and Mary. Moreover, we can set Joseph up as the perfect example of one who is totally consecrated to Jesus through Mary, and this due to his spousal union with the Blessed Mother. Joseph, in his espousal of Mary, gave his heart to her and took her heart as his own. There was, then, an exchange or union of hearts. And is this not precisely what takes place through consecration to Mary? For when we make a solemn act of consecration to Mary, we are, in imitation of Joseph, taking Mary’s Heart and giving to her our own hearts with the goal of becoming wholly united with her, in order to love the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus with the pure, perfect and immaculate love of Mary’s Immaculate Heart. Thus, Joseph was the first to consecrate himself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and through Mary, he was capable of loving Jesus with Mary’s perfect and immaculate love. It is precisely this, then, that made St. Joseph such a great saint, and led to him becoming the Patron of the universal Church. Let us, then, follow Joseph’s example by becoming one with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, in order to most perfectly unite ourselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Furthermore, let us take Joseph as the patron of our total consecration to Jesus through Mary, and ask him to be the protector of Jesus and Mary in our souls.
Still to Come: Reasons to Consecrate Oneself to Mary, and, The Effects of a Well-Lived Marian Consecration