Skip to comments.Consecration to Mary(Catholic Caucus)
Posted on 06/01/2009 4:47:21 PM PDT by stfassisi
GOD, in His infinite wisdom and goodness, has planned that there be many and varied approaches to the spiritual life, so that thereby He might mercifully adapt His ways to the manifold differences found in the sons of men. Some descriptions of the way of perfection make it appear to be a very complex process. To St. John of the Cross, however, it is utterly simple, so simple that it could be summed up in two words: ALL-NOTHING. God is All-to have Him, one needs to void himself of everything that does not help to attain the All. If one has any disordered desire whatsoever, "... the more the desire for that thing fills the soul, the less capacity has the soul for God."1 On the other hand, "When ... the soul voids itself of all things ... it is impossible ... that God should fail to perform His own part by communicating Himself to the soul at least secretly and in silence. It is more impossible than that the sun should fail to shine in a serene and unclouded sky.... God, like the sun, is above our souls and ready to communicate Himself to them."2 In the thought of St. John, God not only sincerely wills the salvation of all men: such is His incomprehensible goodness, such His desire to give Himself to all that if the soul does not become filled with God,3 the reason is not that God for any reason has held back, but solely because the soul failed to do its part by emptying itself to make room for God.
The goal, then, that St. John proposes is, "... union and transformation of the soul with God," which "comes to pass when the two wills-namely that of the soul and that of God-are conformed together in one, and there is naught in the one that is repugnant to the other."4
It is remarkable how admirably a total consecration to our Lady accords with St. John's principles, and how powerfully it aids the soul in putting these principles into practice. It is true, St. John himself, in his major works, does not point this out, but the reason is not that he did not appreciate the place of Mary in the spiritual life-it is rather the fact that he was intent on a rather speculative presentation of principles. For there is no doubt that St. John in his personal life was greatly devoted to Mary, who seems to have saved his life miraculously5 on more than one occasion. And was he not a member of a thoroughly Marian Order, enriched with the special favor of her Scapular, of which our present Holy Father wrote: "... may it be to them a sign of their consecration to the Most Sacred Heart of the Immaculate Virgin."6
The consecration we have in mind is a total consecration, which one not only makes, but lives out most fully, so that it affects his whole life. Such a total consecration is found in different forms. Probably the best known is that presented by St. Louis de Montfort. The consecration which the saintly Father Chaminade gave to his Society of Mary is substantially the same, differing only, as the eminent Marianist theologian, E. Neubert, says, "in certain nuances."7 To live out a total consecration to Mary means to give oneself completely into her hands by an entire gift of oneself, so that, under the inspiration of her example, and with her all powerful help, he may, as our present Holy Father says, "conform [his] whole life to her direction and desires."8 It is obvious, then, that if one really gives all to Mary, he must thereby also strive to void himself of everything9 that would impede him from attaining the All. And if he tries to fulfill not only her commands, but even her desires, he must by that very fact tend powerfully toward that "union and transformation of the soul with God" which "comes to pass when the two wills-namely that of the soul and that of God- are conformed together in one...."10 For if a soul, abandoning its own desires, tries to conform its whole life to her desires, then, since her will is entirely one with the will of God, there will be "naught in the one," the human will, "that is repugnant to the other," the will of God. It is easy to see, therefore, what a great help to spiritual growth comes from such a consecration by the very fact that it so strongly promotes detachment and conformity to the will of God. But we must not forget also, that while our Blessed Mother, the Mediatrix of all graces, cares lovingly for all her children, when she sees that some are giving themselves totally into her hands, she will not be outdone in generosity, but will obtain for them the choicest graces to bring them as close as possible to her divine Son.
Let us examine each of these points more fully.
The power of example is tremendous. The great St. Augustine before his conversion, though he had reached a point at which he no longer felt any intellectual obstacle to entering the Church, yet was held back by his evil life. Speculative considerations on the goodness of virtue were familiar to him, but these did not suffice. The external means through which grace actually led him to change from a great sinner into a great saint was the example of saintly men of his time, of which he read and heard. What then must be the force of the matchless example of Mary, if one places it before his mind by means of frequent meditation!11 As Pope Pius XII said:
Anyone who has been consecrated to Mary belongs to her in a special way.... The love of Mary gives him the courage to undertake great things, to conquer human respect, to shake off egoism, to serve and to obey patiently. With his interior gaze fixed steadily on her, he falls in love with the purity, the humility, the charity, with which the soul of the Virgin was resplendent.12
St. John of the Cross insists that faith, hope, and love are the true means of union with God in this life. Whoever had faith that could compare to Mary's faith? Although her own people, even the divinely approved teachers of Israel, failed to understand the prophecies which told of the divinity of the coming Messias, although she encountered apparent contradictions to what the Archangel had told her, her faith never wavered. For Gabriel had said that her Son would sit on the throne of David: yet He came into His own, and His own received Him not. He was to be a mighty King forever, yet had to flee from the wrath of the petty Herod. For the thirty years of His hidden life, He seemed to all eyes, except the eyes of faith, to be just an ordinary child- a good child- but still not basically different from the others. Yet Mary never ceased to believe and to adore. Finally, dying in public disgrace, He Himself cried out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"13 Yet Mary's faith and hope did not waver, and during those dark three days before the first Easter, when the very pillars of the Church had fallen from belief, she remained almost the sole vessel of faith upon the earth. In fact, since our Lord Himself, because He always possessed the Beatific Vision, was incapable of having the virtues of faith and hope, it is plain that Mary's faith and hope were greater than those of any other soul.
Again, it is good for us to try-though the attempt can never fully succeed-to picture to ourselves Mary's love of God. Her divine Son said: "He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me."14 The very first picture the Gospels give us of her provides a glimpse of her utter self-effacement before the will of God. The Archangel had just brought the divine message to her. She who at that very moment was raised to the highest dignity of all creatures, to a "dignity second only to God," as Pope Pius XI said,15 replied by saying: "Behold the slave girl of the Lord. Be it done to me according to thy word."16 St. John of the Cross tells us that when a soul reaches the most perfect love and conformity with the will of God, "God alone moves the faculties of these souls to do those works which are meet, according to the will and ordinance of God, and they cannot be moved to do others.... Such were those of the most glorious Virgin, our Lady, who, being raised to this high estate from the beginning, had never the form of any creature imprinted in her soul, neither was moved by such, but was invariably guided by the Holy Spirit."17 Even when St. Joseph, the just man, was tempted to doubt her chastity, and was minded to put her away privately, Mary would not speak one word in her own defense, for such was the will of God. The Holy Spirit, whose ever faithful Spouse she was, had not moved her to defend herself, preferring instead to accept her loving surrender to the divine will, and to inform Joseph through an angel.
Pope Pius IX, in speaking of Mary's holiness (and, therefore, her love, for these are always equal) wrote that it is so great that "none greater under God can be thought of, and no one, except God, can comprehend it."18 We can comprehend to some extent the sanctity of even so great a saint as St. John of the Cross, with his tremendous austerities and burning love. But were we to multiply his sanctity to the greatest degree of which our minds could conceive, we still would not have formed anything like an adequate idea of Mary's love and holiness, for as Pope Pius IX said, "No one except God can comprehend it"! Here indeed is the perfect example of a soul completely filled with love, completely voided of self-so empty of self that God has made her the channel through which all graces pass to all mankind.
St. John of the Cross with keen clarity has stressed that all perfection depends on the union of our wills with the will of God. We can do nothing more perfect than to conform our will and our actions as exactly as possible to those of God. Let us see, then, what we can discern of the will of God in regard to Mary.
Many good Catholics, though they have a tender devotion to the Mother of God, may yet fail to realize fully the position which God has willed to give to her in His dealings with us. For although they do have a good knowledge of most of the Marian teachings of the Church, they may not have heard of certain less familiar points, and, what is of particular importance, they never may have added together the various elements of the truth to form a unified picture, and, as a result, fail to learn a most important spiritual lesson.
Let us, therefore, briefly attempt to sketch such a synthesis.
From all eternity, God had planned for the Mother of Christ. As Pope Pius IX said,19 in the eternal designs of God, our divine Redeemer and His Blessed Mother were provided for in one and the same eternal decree. Hardly had our first parents started mankind on its long course of rejecting the generous advances of God, when the Father, His thoughts bent not on vengeance, but on pardon, at once promised the Redeemer, and, in the very same sentence, spoke of a mysterious Woman who would be associated with Him in crushing the head of the infernal serpent.20 Many thousands of years later, when the fullness of time had come, the same kind Father began to put His eternal plan into execution by sending the Archangel Gabriel to ask Mary to consent, "in the name of the whole human race," as Pope Leo XIII said,21 to become the Mother of the Saviour. Then there began what St. Pius X described as a "never dissociated manner of life and labors of the Son and the Mother."22 Even before His birth, the Saviour brought cleansing grace to the unborn Precursor, St. John the Baptist-and He did it through the instrumentality of His Mother. After the brief glory of the angel's song at Bethlehem, our Redeemer withdrew with Mary into obscurity, and, though He had come to save the world, deemed it best, according to the will of the Father, that He should go down to Nazareth and be subject to Mary and Joseph,23 spending thirty of His thirty-three years in that marvelous communion in obscure faith, showing no signs and wonders. During His public life, Mary appears briefly at the very start, revealing her intimate union with Him and her power over His Heart, when He, at her request, performed His first sign, advancing the divinely set hour. Thereafter, during the days when the crowds acclaimed Him, she withdrew into the shadows, but remained ever united to Him in the obscurity of faith, hope, and love, and in meriting for us, for we know that even this time did not interrupt that "never dissociated manner of life and labors of the Son and the Mother."24 But finally, when the dread hour of the great Sacrifice had come, Mary emerged from the shadows into the far more obscure dark night that hung over Calvary. There, as Pope Benedict XV said, "With her suffering and dying Son, Mary endured suffering and almost death."25 For her sufferings were proportioned to His indescribable torment, and to her love for Him, which was so great that "no one except God can comprehend it."26 "She gave up her Mother's rights over her Son to procure the salvation of mankind, and, to appease the divine justice, she, as much as was hers to do, immolated her Son."27 Therefore, as St. Pius X wrote: "She merited for us congruously ... what Christ merited condignly,"28 or, to continue with the words of Pope Benedict XV, "one can rightly say that together with Christ she has redeemed the human race." Hence, as most theologians understand these words of the popes, we arrive at the tremendous conclusion that what the Eternal Father accepted as the price of our salvation was a joint offering, made by the New Adam, with the co-operation of the New Eve: He, alone sufficient and necessary, alone paying a superabundant ransom; she, in her inferior way, joining in the offering, so that, to paraphrase St. Pius X, she paid congruously the price that Christ paid condignly. For the goodness and generosity of the Eternal Father was so great that He willed to accept even her lesser, and in itself insufficient, offering, as fused, so to speak, with His great offering, into one great price of the ransom of all.29
But the dark night of Calvary soon passed, and the Bridegroom Himself rose in glory. Just as His Resurrection was, in the words of Pope Pius XII, "an essential part and final sign of this victory" over sin and death, "so also that struggle which was common to the Blessed Virgin and her Son had to be closed by the 'glorification' of her virginal body.30 In other words, since Mary's cooperation had been so much an integral part of the obtaining of Redemption that the "struggle ... was common' to both, a common cause had to have a common effect. In Christ, this effect was the Resurrection: in Mary, it would be the Assumption.
Then, in everlasting splendor, "He, the Son of God, reflects on His heavenly Mother the glory, the majesty, and the dominion of His kingship. For, having been associated with the King of Martyrs in the unspeakable work of human Redemption as Mother and Co-operatrix, she remains forever associated to Him, with an almost unlimited power, in the distribution of the graces that flow from the Redemption.... And her kingdom is as vast as that of her Son and God, since nothing is excluded from her dominion."31 Hence by this "royal power ... she is able to dispense the treasures of the Kingdom of the Divine Redeemer."32 Or, as Pope Leo XIII expressed it: "... absolutely nothing of that great treasury of grace which the Lord brought us ... is given to us except through Mary, for such is the will of God: so that just as no one can go to the Most High Father except through the Son, in much the same way, no one can come to Christ except through His Mother."33 There are no exceptions-even the graces, of the Sacraments, even infused contemplation and the choicest fruits of the Holy Spirit come through Mary. For was it not even true that on the first Pentecost, as our present Holy Father said: "She it was who, by her most mighty prayers, obtained that the Spirit of the Divine Redeemer, already given on the Cross, should be bestowed on the new-born Church ... in the company of miraculous gifts."34
We see, then, that Mary is inseparable from her divine Son. As Pope Pius XII said, she is "always sharing His lot" and "always most intimately united with her Son...."35 There is and always has been a "never dissociated manner of life and labors of the Son and the Mother."36 We might sum it all up in a brief word: Mary's role, according to the will of God, is best described as all-pervading. She is everywhere in His dealings with us. She shared intimately in earning all graces, she shares equally in distributing every grace. Would it not, then, be an excellent means of conformity with the ways of God if we would give to her an equally all-pervading place in our own spiritual lives, by making and living a total consecration to her?37
It is obvious, then, that if one really lives out a life of total consecration to Mary, our Mother, our most glorious Queen, the inseparable associate of Christ in all His works, he will find therein a most powerful help toward carrying out the ideals set before us by St. John of the Cross. For he is thereby brought more fully under the powerful attractiveness of the perfect example of Mary's virtues. He is led to hate, and to void himself of all that is disordered, by his attempt to "conform [his] whole life to her direction and her desires."38 His will is drawn gradually into complete conformity with Mary's will, which is ever in perfect unison with the will of God. Even his very manner of seeking to achieve conformity with the will of God by conformity with the will of Mary is particularly in accord with God's good pleasure, for, if one gives to Mary an all-pervading role in his spiritual life, he is thereby imitating the ways of God, who gives to Mary an all-pervading place in all His dealings with us. And if, in carrying out his total consecration, one goes so far as to give to Mary the right to dispose of all his spiritual treasures39-and a really total consecration naturally implies this40-he is thereby imitating most closely the example of Christ the King, who makes His Queen and Mother His treasurer, without whom absolutely no grace is given to mankind. It is obvious, further, that in surrendering to Mary even the disposition of his dearest treasures, he is greatly aided in avoiding attachments which, as St. John of the Cross points out so well, can lurk in even the holiest things. Finally, the soul is aided to accomplish these things not only by the inherent tendency of the consecration to promote detachment and conformity to the will of God: for Mary, our Queen and Mother, the all-powerful Mediatrix of all graces, while she cares lovingly for all her children, has a still greater, most special love and assistance for those who joyfully give themselves totally into her hands.
It is easy to see, then, how true are the words of St. Pius X:
For who does not know that there is no more certain and easy way than Mary to unite all with Christ, and to attain through Him the perfect adoption of sons that we may be holy and immaculate in the sight of God?41
Consecration of your life to Mary.
This is the only security today in this crazy world.
Thanks for this post!
“Come, let us wonder at the virgin most pure, wondrous in herself, unique in creation, she gave birth, yet knew no man; her pure soul with wonder was filled, daily her mind gave praise in joy at the twofold wonder: her virginity preserved, her child most dear. Blessed is He who shone forth from her!” +Ephraim the Syrian
I’ve always liked St. Ephrem the Syrian. :-)
For those who don’t know, +Ephraim the Syrian was known as “the Harp of the Holy Spirit” because of his magnificent hymns and poems. The verse I quoted was from one of his, I think, eighteen poems in praise of the Theotokos.
You might also appreciate these three final stanzas of the Nativity Kontakion of +Ephraim fellow Syrian, +Romanos the Melodist:
“When the blameless Virgin saw the magi bringing
new and radiant gifts and worshiping,
the star showing him, the shepherds praising him,
she implored the Maker and Creator of all these, saying,
Accept, my Child, a trinity of gifts,
grant her who gave you birth three requests.
I pray to you for the seasons
and for the fruits of the earth and for those who dwell on it.
Be reconciled to all, because through me you have been born
a little Child, God before the ages.
For I am not simply your mother, compassionate Savioor;
it is not in vain that I suckle the giver of milk,
but for the sake of all I implore you.
You have made me the mouth and the boast of all my race,
and your world has me
as a mighty protection, a wall and a buttress.
They look to me, those who were cast out
of the Paradise of pleasure, for I bring them back.
May all things understand that, through me, you have been born
a little Child, God before the ages.
Save the world, O Savior. For this you have come.
Set your whole universe aright. For this you have shone
on me and on the magi and on all creation.
For see, the magi, to whom you have shown the light of your face,
fall down before you and offer gifts,
useful, fair and eagerly sought.
For I have need of them, since I am about
to go to Egypt and to flee with you and for you,
my Guide, my Son, my Maker, my Redeemer,
a little Child, God before the ages.