Thursday, December 15, 2011

Total Consecration to Jesus, through Mary

I began my fifth year of total consecration this past Thursday. It's hard for me to explain, so I'll let St. Louis-Marie de Montfort do it for me. (Emphasis mine; I added it because the quote is long and I tend to skim the latter half of long quotes.)

St. Louis de Montfort noticed that the saints
stay at home with their mother—that is, they have an esteem for quietness, love the interior life and are assiduous in prayer. They always remain in the company of the Blessed Virgin, their Mother and Model, whose glory is wholly interior and who during her whole life dearly loved seclusion and prayer. It is true, at times they do venture out into the world, but only to fulfill the duties of their state of life, in obedience to the will of God and the will of their Mother.

No matter how great their accomplishments may appear to others, they attach far more importance to what they do within themselves in their interior life, in the company of the Blessed Virgin. For there they work at the great task of perfection, compared to which all other work is mere child's play. At times their brothers and sisters are working outside with great energy, skill and success, and win the praise and approbation of the world. But they [the saints] know by the light of the Holy Spirit, that there is far more good, more glory and more joy in remaining hidden and recollected with our Lord, in complete and perfect submission to Mary, than there is in performing by themselves marvelous works of nature and grace in the world....

Lord Jesus, how lovely is your dwelling place!1
In this consecration, I give all my possessions—corporeal and spiritual, present and future—to Mary, so that she may dispose of them as she wishes. In this way, I make her my superior in life. Mary, not to be outdone in generosity, lends me her virtues, and molds me perfectly to Jesus. (I remember reading the biography of a Carmelite nun; on the first day of her postulancy the superior took her to the foot of a statue of Mary and said, "ask her to make you a perfect spouse of Christ." This is what this little consecration is.)

Examine this verse (a favorite at this time of year):
...and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.2
The inn is the world, and there is no room for Christ in a heart full of worldliness.3, 4 Instead, Our Lady lays Jesus in the wood of the manger which, like the wood of Noah's ark, is a symbol of the Church. The Church, empty of all other glory, is able to receive Him.5 This consecration enables a soul to be empty, so that Christ can enter as He ordained: at the hands of Mary.

Please contact me with any questions about this devotion! Footnotes are after the jump.

1 Grignion, De Montfort, Louis-Marie. True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, Or, Preparation for the Reign of Jesus Christ. Bay Shore, NY: Montfort Publications, 1980. Print. 97.
2 Luke 2:7. I use the online Bible at the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB).
3"The world being unworthy," writes St. Augustine, "to receive the Son of God directly from the hands of the Father, he gave his Son to Mary for the world to receive Him from her." Quoted in True Devotion, 6.
4 While at TAC and in charge of the library's collection of prints, I noticed a small oil gem of the refusal at the inn. A sign printed "Mundus" hung over the door, and those inside the inn were carousing. Now, I cannot remember the artist or the name of the work.
5 Note how Mary also swaddles Christ. This is more mystical (harder to interpret), but I can think of some meanings beside the literal: it was cold (which is probably also true). They are not mutually exclusive. See St. Augustine's On Christian Doctrine for more about the infinite layers God places in Scripture.
  • These swaddling clothes prefigure His burial shroud
  • The clothes denote something we cannot understand, as St. Louis de Montfort says that Mary performs "many offices for [Christ] of which we, in our ignorance, would know nothing."*
  • A swaddled baby is quieted; Our Lord came humbly and quietly, even living for thirty years in privacy.
  • Anything holy is veiled to prevent profanation; Our Lord came to the Church, shrouded from human eyes by his body or by the accidents of bread and wine.
* True Devotion. 139, in the section on devotion to Mary and the Eucharist. He writes that if we receive the Eucharist with the heart of Mary, she performs these offices for Him within us in our postcommunion! How amazing!!

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