Sunday, August 7, 2016

33 Days: Consecration

Prayer of Consecration

Okay, so you’re ready to make your consecration. Now you’ll need the right prayer. You can use either the one that follows, one from the saints, or one that you write yourself. Whatever prayer you use, I recommend that you recite it after attending Mass or even after receiving Holy Communion  (if there’s time). If you can’t get to Mass, you can still make the consecration — Mass is highly recommended but not essential. With or without Mass, after you recite the consecration prayer, I suggest that you sign it, date it, and keep it in a safe place. (When I renew my consecration annually, I like to recite the prayer from the original copy and then sign and date it again.) Anyway, once again, here’s the 33 Days to Morning Glory Prayer of Consecration that summarizes the main ideas of our four Marian giants:

I, ____________, a repentant sinner, renew and ratify today in your hands, O Immaculate Mother, the vows of my Baptism. I renounce Satan and resolve to follow Jesus Christ even more closely than before.

Mary, I give you my heart. Please set it on fire with love for Jesus. Make it always attentive to his burning thirst for love and for souls. Keep my heart in your most pure Heart that I may love Jesus and the members of his Body with your own perfect love. Mary, I entrust myself totally to you: my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions. Please make of me, of all that I am and have, whatever most pleases you. Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for bringing the greatest possible glory to God. If I fall, please lead me back to Jesus. Wash me in the blood and water that flow from his pierced side, and help me never to lose my trust in this fountain of love and mercy. With you, O Immaculate Mother — you who always do the will of God — I unite myself to the perfect consecration of Jesus as he offers himself in the Spirit to the Father for the life of the world. Amen.

33 Days: Day 33

Putting It All Together

For the last four days, we’ve been reviewing the last four weeks of our retreat. During these days, we’ve not only been reviewing the material, we’ve also begun to put together all that we’ve learned. I say we’ve begun to put it together. We’re probably not yet at a point where we can grasp the manifold truth of Marian consecration “in a single gaze,” as John Paul put it. To get to this point, a unifying statement may be helpful, something like the “First Principle and Foundation” that St. Ignatius of Loyola came up with to summarize and give clarity and focus to his spirituality. Actually, I think we need more than just a statement. We need a prayer, something we can frequently repeat, even everyday, that not only reminds us of the meaning of our consecration but actually expresses the gift of ourselves to Jesus through Mary. While several of the saints we’ve learned from during these past weeks have written excellent prayers or “formulas” of consecration, I’m not going to present their formulas here. (If you’re interested, I’ve included them in Appendix One.) Instead, I’m going to present an updated prayer of consecration that combines the main insights we’ve covered during the retreat. Even though I’m no saint, I feel confident to do this because I’m making use of the actual words and ideas of all four of the Marian saints of our retreat. Moreover, I feel emboldened to compose this new prayer because of the words of Pope Pius XII on the occasion of St. Louis de Montfort’s canonization:
True devotion … aims essentially at union with Jesus under the guidance of Mary. The form and practice of this devotion may vary according to time, place, and personal inclination. Within the bounds of sound and safe doctrine, of orthodoxy and dignity of  worship, the Church leaves her children a just margin of liberty. She is conscious that true and perfect  devotion to Our Lady is not bound up in any particular modes in such a way that one of them can claim a monopoly over the others.
Inspired by these words and taking the liberty the Pope gives us, I offer the following updated prayer of consecrationthat aims to capture the essentials of what we’ve learned during our retreat. Now, if it doesn’t fit with your personal  inclination, don’t worry. You can always take the liberty to write your own prayer or use one written by the saints. Anyway, here’s a summary statementof what we’ve learned, a statement that’s also a prayer from the heart:
I, ____________, a repentant sinner, renew and ratify today in your hands, O Immaculate Mother, the vows of my Baptism. I renounce Satan and resolve to follow Jesus Christ even more closely than before. Mary, I give you my heart. Please set it on fire with love for Jesus. Make it always attentive to his burning thirst for love and for souls. Keep my heart in your most pure Heart that I may love Jesus and the members of his Body with your own perfect love. Mary, I entrust myself totally to you: my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions. Please make of me, of all that I am and have, whatever most pleases you. Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for bringing the greatest possible glory to God. If I fall, please lead me back to Jesus. Wash me in the blood and water that flow from his
pierced side, and help me never to lose my trust in this fountain of love and mercy. With you, O Immaculate Mother — you who always do the will of God — I unite myself to the perfect consecration of Jesus as he offers himself in the Spirit to the Father for the life of the world. Amen.
Tomorrow, you’ll consecrate yourself (or re-consecrate yourself) totally to Jesus through Mary. And that’s great! To do this, though, you’ll need a prayer of consecration. Whether you use the one I just presented, one from the saints, or one of your own making, I encourage you to meditate on its meaning today. Such meditation on the prayer of consecration is a perfect preparation for Consecration Day

33 Days: Day 32

St. Pope John Paul II

Three words summarize what we learned from St. John Paul II: (1) Mother, (2) “Entrust-acration,” and (3) Mercy. Let’s ponder each one in turn.

MOTHER John Paul’s teaching on Marian consecration not only carries with it his authority as Pope but also the authoritative weight of an Ecumenical Council, because he repeats and deepens Vatican II’s teaching on Mary. Therefore, his teaching actually constitutes the mind and heart of the Church today, and we should pay particular attention to it. So what is the mind and heart of the Church telling us about Mary? It’s pointing to Mary’s maternal mediation. It’s saying she’s our mother in the order of grace. It’s proclaiming the Good News that God has given us a spiritual mother who prayerfully, lovingly attends to our growth in grace and holiness. This new motherhood of Mary in the life of the Church, in the life of each of one of us, is the constant, consoling, beautiful background to everything we’ve said about Marian consecration — or what John Paul often calls “entrustment.”

ENTRUST-ACRATION Seeing Mary standing at the foot of the Cross next to his beloved disciple, John, Jesus said, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then, to John, “Behold, your mother” (Jn 19:26-27). These words summarize what we already covered in the last point, that Mary is our spiritual mother. But then we read the next verse, “Then the disciple took her into his home.” Here is the heart of our response to Jesus entrusting us to Mary as our mother: We are to then entrust ourselves to her by taking her “into our homes.” In other words, we’re to take her into our inner life, into all that concerns us. We are to let her into our joys and sorrows, hopes and fears, plans and activities. When we let Mary into our lives, when we entrust ourselves to her care, she intercedes for us, consoles us, and gives us courage and strength to unite ourselves more fully to Jesus’ own consecration of himself for the life of the world. In other words, she brings us to the Cross of Jesus, which is the final meaning of Jesus’ self-consecration, and she inspires us to spend ourselves for the salvation of the world, to take up our part in the work of redemption. As we take up our cross, as we live within Christ’s own consecration, we may become spiritually thirsty, desolate, and tired. That’s when Mary carries us to the pierced side of Christ, the Fountain of Mercy, where we find a ceaseless source of strength and holiness. Thus, to John Paul’s mind, entrustment to Mary leads to our consecration to Christ. In other words, one might say it’s a movement of “entrust-acration.”

MERCY Ultimately, Marian consecration leads us to Divine Mercy. Acts of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary lead to acts of trust in the Merciful Heart of Jesus. We see this in the story of Fatima and Pope John Paul, and especially in the Pope’s homily during his pilgrimage to Fatima in 1982, a pilgrimage of thanksgiving “to the mercy of God … and the Mother of Christ” for having saved his life. In that homily, John Paul repeatedly pointed out how Marian consecration leads us to the pierced Heart of Jesus, the Fountain of Mercy. This connection is part of the will of Jesus himself, who said to Sr. Lucia in 1936 that he wills the consecrationto Mary’s Heart “because I want my whole Church to acknowledge that consecration [that my mother requested at Fatima] as a triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, so that it may extend its veneration later on, and put the devotion to
this Immaculate Heart beside the devotion to My Sacred Heart.” Jesus wants to extend veneration and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary because she leads us most perfectly to him and helps us to receive the infinite mercy of his Heart.

Today’s Prayer: Spend the day pondering John Paul’s Marian teaching as it is summarized by these three words: Mother, Entrust-acration, and Mercy.

33 Days: Day 31

Blessed Mother Teresa

Three words summarize what we learned from Blessed Mother Teresa: (1) Thirst, (2) Heart, and (3) Covenant. Let’s ponder each one in turn.

THIRST … [Our Lady] was the first person to hear Jesus’ cry “I Thirst” with St. John, and I am sure Mary Magdalen. Because Our Lady was there on Calvary, she knows how real, how deep is His longing for you and for the poor. Do we know? Do we feel as she? Ask her to teach … . Her role is to bring you face to face, as John and Magdalen, with the love in the Heart of Jesus crucified. Before it was Our Lady pleading with Mother, now it is Mother in her name pleading with you —“listen to Jesus’ thirst.”
Let us try in a special way to come as close as the human heart can come to the Heart of Jesus and try to understand as much as possible Jesus’ terrible pain caused to him by our sins and His Thirst for our love. Thank God our Lady was there to understand fully the thirst of Jesus for love. She must have straight away said, “I satiate Your thirst with my love and the suffering of my heart.”
So let us ask Our Lady to help us understand.

HEART A key to Mother Teresa’s understanding of consecration is “heart,” specifically, the Immaculate Heart. Recall her two prayers to Mary, “Lend me your heart” and “Keep me in your most pure heart.” Also, recall the importance of our imitating Mary’s pondering heart. Let’s start with the two prayers and then review Mary’s heart-pondering attitude. Lend me your heart. By this prayer, Mother Teresa was asking Our Lady to give her the love of her heart. In other words, she says “Mary, help me to love with the perfect love of your Immaculate Heart.” Remember, Mother Teresa’s passionate desire was to satiate the thirst of Jesus for love, and she wanted to do this in the best possible way. What better way to love Jesus than with the perfect, humble, immaculate heart of his mother? Here, Mother Teresa found the secret to living out her vocation to the full: “Mary, lend me your Immaculate Heart.” Keep me in your most pure heart. Or, stated more fully, one prays, “Immaculate Heart of Mary, keep me in your most pure heart, so that I may please Jesus through you, in you, and with you.”116 This part of Mother Teresa’s consecration to Mary is the most profound. She’s not just asking for Mary’s heart to be in her but for her to be in Mary’s heart! So, this is a prayer to
love Jesus through Mary, in Mary, and with Mary. This is something more than simply having Mary lend us her heart. To understand this and live it requires a loving dependence and profound union with Mary. This is expressed more fully in the next section “covenant.” Pondering heart. Mother Teresa developed an “attitude of gratitude” by following the example of Mary who was always “pondering in her heart” the “good things” that God was doing in her life (see Luke 2:19, 51). Specifically, Mother Teresa followed this example through her fidelity to the examination of conscience. In other words, at the end of each day, she would ponder in her heart all the good things God had done for her that day and would reflect on how she was or was not fully responding to his love.

COVENANT Moved by an ardent desire to live in the closest union with you [Mary] possible in this life, so as to more surely and fully arrive at union with your Son; I hereby pledge to live the spirit and terms of the following Covenant of Consecration as faithfully and generously as I am able.

Today’s Prayer: Spend the day pondering Teresa’s Marian teaching as it is summarized by these three words: Thirst, Heart, and Covenant.

33 Days: Day 30

St. Maximilian Kolbe

Three words summarize what we learned from St. Maximilian Kolbe: (1) Mystery, (2) Militia, and (3) Love. Let’s ponder each one in turn.

MYSTERY Who are you, O Immaculate Conception? St. Maximilian gives us the key to this mystery: The Holy Spirit is the uncreated Immaculate Conception, and Mary is the created Immaculate Conception. She is perfectly united to the Holy Spirit, because she was conceived without sin, never sinned, and always does the will of God perfectly. She allows the Holy Spirit to  overshadow her, take possession of her soul, and bear fruit through her. The Holy Spirit delights in always working in and through Mary to save all the other creatures made in God’s image, first by bringing about the Incarnation in her womb and then by making use of her to form the image of her Son in all of the baptized. While Kolbe gives us the key to the mystery, he doesn’t fully unlock it. Rather, he invites us to ponder ever more deeply the relationship between Mary and the Holy Spirit, a relationship that goes even deeper than that of marriage.

MILITIA The name “Maximilian” means “the greatest.” Saint Maximilian Kolbe was given this name because his superiors recognized his immense natural and spiritual gifts. He accepted it because it corresponded to his heart of hearts: “I don’t just want to give God great glory but the greatest glory.” Kolbe recognized that the greatest way to give glory to God is to unite oneself to the creature who glorifies God most perfectly, Mary Immaculate. He also realized that the way to give God the greatest glory is not to do so just as one person, but to have a whole army (“Militia”) of people who give God the greatest glory. In fact, he wanted this army of the Immaculate (“Militia Immaculata”) to eventually get the whole world to give God the greatest glory, through her, and as soon as possible. While the goal of Kolbe’s program is the conversion of the whole world, it begins with oneself. One must first give himself completely to the Immaculata as her possession and property and stay in union with her and totally dependent on her. Then, one is to inspire others to give themselves to her and to live in total dependence on her, so she can use them as consecrated instruments to bring the whole world to the Merciful Heart of Jesus. “Through the Immaculata we will attain the ultimate purpose of the [Militia Immaculata], that is, the greatest possible glory to God.”

LOVE Kolbe was united to Mary through a dependence of love. He tells us that we also ought to love the Immaculata. How? By relying on her powerful intercession, experiencing her tender care, speaking to her from our hearts, letting ourselves be led by her, having recourse to her in all things, and trusting her completely. Recall his words, “My dear, dear brothers, our dear little, little mother, the Immaculate Mary, can do anything for us. We are her children. Turn to her. She will overcome everything.”
When we experience Mary’s tender care for us, we’ll fall more in love with her. But we have to speak with her. We have to ask her. Yet what if, even after many signs of her love and care, we still don’t feel love for the Immaculata or her love for us? Kolbe explains: Never worry that you do not feel this love. If you have the will to love, you already give a proof that you love. What counts is the will to love. External feeling is also a fruit of grace, but it does not always follow the will. Sometimes, my dear ones, the thought, a sad longing, as if a plea or a complaint, may occur to you: “Does the Immaculata still love me?” Most beloved children! I tell you all and each one individually, in her name (mark that: in her name!), she loves every one of you. She loves you very much and at every moment with no exception. This … I repeat for you in her name.

Today’s Prayer: Spend the day pondering Kolbe’s Marian teaching as it is summarized by these three words: Mystery, Militia, and Love.

33 Days: Day 29

St. Louis de Montfort

Three words summarize what we learned from St. Louis de Montfort: (1) Passion, (2) Baptism, and (3) Gift. Let’s ponder each one in turn.

PASSION Recall that St. Louis inherited his father’s fiery temper. This could have led to disaster, but Louis consecrated himself to Jesus through Mary. He allowed Mary to take charge of his life and to do with him as she willed. And what did Mary do with him? She set him on fire. She transformed his unholy anger into a blazing holy fire. She acted with her Spouse, the Holy Spirit, to fill Louis with passion and zeal for Christ, and he proceeded to set all of Brittany on fire with a love for Jesus the Incarnate Wisdom — and not only Brittany. De Montfort’s inspiring teaching blazed through the centuries, igniting saints, popes, and even poor sinners with a burning love for God. We may not have been born with St. Louis’s fiery temper, but we could all use a portion of his zealous spirit. We could all use a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit, who stirs souls into flame and fills them with holy fire. How do we invite this fire? How do we call it down? By imitating de Montfort’s example of going to Mary, depending on Mary, and being with Mary. For, as Louis himself says, when the Holy Spirit, Mary’s spouse, finds a soul united to Mary, “He flies there. He enters there in His fullness; He communicates Himself to that soul abundantly, and to the full extent to which it makes room for His spouse.” The Holy Spirit wants to work his wonders even in our day. He wants to raise up new saints, great saints. Why, then, does he do so, so rarely? According to de Montfort, it’s because he rarely finds in us a sufficiently great union with Mary. In this final stretch that leads to Consecration Day, may we go with great zeal to give ourselves completely to Mary and allow the Holy Spirit to fly to us and fill us with holy passion and fire.

BAPTISM Saint Louis places his devotion to Mary squarely within the mystery of Christ.The best example of this is how he begins his formula for consecration with a renewal of baptismal vows; for Baptism is all about Christ. At Baptism, we’re transformed into members of the Body of Christ, made into “other Christs.” Baptism also has to do with the Holy Spirit. I say this because it was the Holy Spirit who first formed Christ, and it is the Holy Spirit who continues to form other Christs — the members of Christ’s Body — at every Baptism. Now, who does the Holy Spirit use to form Christ? He uses Mary, even though he has no absolute need of her. So, for example, he made use of Mary at the Annunciation, which led to the birth of Jesus Christ our Savior. He made use of Mary just before Pentecost, which led to the birth of the Body of Christ, the Church. He makes use of Mary at every Baptism, which gives birth to “other Christs,” the members of his Body. The Holy Spirit always makes use of Mary to give birth to Christ! And the more he finds a soul that is united to Mary “the more active and mighty He becomes in producing Jesus Christ in that soul, and that soul in Jesus Christ.” It is fitting, then, that de Montfort has us renew our baptismal promises in the context of giving ourselves to Mary. For it is her job, with the Holy Spirit, to bring the grace of Baptism to its fulfillment. Baptism isn’t the end; it’s a marvelous beginning, a gloriously new morning. Yes, it transforms us, making us into members of Christ’s Body — but there’s more work to be done. Baptism is an already-but-not-yet reality. It already makes us into Christ (as a member of his Body) but not yet fully formed in Christ. After Baptism, we still have to grow in Christ, and it’s Mary’s job to oversee and nurture this growth, with the Spirit. Thus, there’s no question of de Montfort’s devotion to Mary “taking us away from Christ.” Mary’s whole goal is to lead us to Christ and to bring us to the point where we can say with St. Paul, “It is no longer I that live but Christ” (Gal 2:20). The whole goal of true devotion to Mary is our ongoing, post-baptismal transformation in Christ.

GIFT If only we have the courage to give ourselves completely to Mary, then we’ll experience Marian consecration as an incredible gift. Moreover, the more we give ourselves to her, the more we’ll experience the greatness of this gift. We give, and she gives back infinitely more. We give her our sinful selves, and she gives us her Immaculate Heart. We give her our own meager merits, and she not only augments and purifies them with her perfect love but gives us her infinitely greater merits and graces. We become empty after having given her all, and she fills us with the Spirit of God. She cares for our family, friends, and loved ones on our behalf — even better than we ourselves can. She anticipates our needs and orders every detail of our lives for the greater glory of God. The path of holiness with her is “a path of roses and honey” compared to walking it without being consecrated to her. Indeed, she makes even our crosses and trials into something sweet. Moreover, she protects us from temptation and the attacks of the evil one. Belonging completely to Mary is the quickest, easiest, and surest way to Jesus. If we were to fully realize how great a gift consecration to Jesus through Mary is, we’d almost never stop smiling and praising God for giving it.

Today’s prayer: Spend the day pondering de Montfort’s Marian teaching as it is summarized by these three words: Passion, Baptism and Gift.

33 Days: Day 28

Marian Entrustment (Part Two)

Let’s return to Fatima, where we started this week — but this time let’s go with St. John Paul II. Exactly one year after being shot in St. Peter’s Square, John Paul went to Fatima “in order to give thanks that the mercy of God and the protection of the Mother of Christ” had saved his life. On that occasion, he delivered a heartfelt homily that’s a rich source of the theology of Marian consecration and entrustment. The entire homily and Act of Entrustment are too long to cite here. So, I’m going to summarize. Specifically, I’m going to draw out from them the connection the Pope makes between consecration to Mary, Divine Mercy, and the redeeming consecration of Christ. Let’s start with the connection between Mary and Divine Mercy. Before we begin, a few things about Divine Mercy: (1) According to John Paul, Divine Mercy is the limit imposed by God on evil, the love of God in the face of evil; (2) Divine Mercy is symbolized by the pierced side of Christ and the blood and water that gushed forth from his side; (3) a central part of the modern Divine Mercy devotion is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which offers atonement and implores mercy for our sins and those of the whole world. In what follows, notice how these three aspects of Divine Mercy are central to the Pope’s most important homily on Marian consecration. The homily’s context is the widespread, “almost apocalyptic” evil of our time, an evil that “menaces,” that is “spreading,” and that gathers “like a dark cloud over mankind.” The Pope confesses that this evil causes “trepidation” in his heart. Despite this, he finds hope in “a Love more powerful than evil” which no “sin of the world can ever overcome.” This Love he identifies as “merciful Love.”
And what about this merciful Love? What does it have to do with Marian consecration? Everything. It has everything to do with consecration because Mary is the one who brings us to the source of merciful Love. Mary is the one who brings us to the love that is more powerful than evil. Indeed, as John Paul says in his homily, consecration to the Immaculate Heart means “drawing near, through the Mother’s intercession, to the very Fountain of Life that sprang from Golgotha.”102 What is this fountain of life? The Pope identifies it as “the Fountain of Mercy.” It’s the pierced side of Christ from which blood and water flowed as a source of grace and mercy. And it’s through this wound in Christ’s Heart that “reparation is made continually for the sins of the world.” Moreover, through this Fountain of Mercy, we find “a ceaseless source of new life and holiness.” The Pope goes on to explain that consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means “returning to the Cross of the Son.” It means bringing the world and all its problems and sufferings to “the pierced Heart of the Savior” and thus “back to the very source of its Redemption.” It means bringing the world, through Mary, to Divine Mercy! The power of the Redemption, the power of merciful Love, “is always greater than man’s sin and the ‘sin of the world’” and is “infinitely superior to the whole range of evil in man and the world.” Now, Mary knows the power of the Redemption, the power of merciful Love, better than anyone. In fact, John Paul says she knows it “more than any other heart in the whole universe, visible and invisible.” Therefore, she calls us not only to conversion but “to accept her motherly help to return to the source of Redemption.” For again, Mary’s task is to bring us to the Fountain of Mercy, to the pierced side of Christ, to his Merciful Heart. Essentially, then, consecrating ourselves to Mary “means accepting her help to offer ourselves and the whole of mankind” to the infinitely Holy God. It means entrusting ourselves to she who was most united to Christ’s own consecration: “Hail to you who are wholly united to the redeeming consecration of your Son!” It means entrusting ourselves to Mary’s prayers, that she may “help us to live with the whole truth of the consecration of Christ for the entire human family of the modern world.” In other words, consecrating ourselves to Mary means relying on her motherly intercession to help us offer ourselves more fully to Christ in his own consecration for our redemption. After putting himself and the world into Mary’s hands and Heart, after giving himself to she who is most wholly united to Jesus’ consecration, the Pope prays the heart of his act of  entrustment. Let’s conclude by pondering it deeply in our own hearts:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). It was precisely by reason of this love that the Son of God consecrated himself for all mankind: “And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth” (Jn 17:19). By reason of that consecration the disciples of all ages are called to spend themselves for the salvation of the world, and to supplement Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is the Church (see 2 Cor 12:15; Col 1:24). Before you, Mother of Christ, before your Immaculate Heart, I today, together with the whole Church, unite myself with our Redeemer in this his consecration for the world and for people, which only in his divine Heart has the power to obtain pardon and to secure reparation.

Today’s Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, living in Mary. Draw me in, with, and through Mary to the Fountain of Love and Mercy.

33 Days: Day 27

Marian Entrustment (Part One)

Now that we’ve completed our three-day, mini-retreat with Mary, we should have a clearer sense of Mary’s maternal mediation. This motherly mediation is the key that unlocks the whole theology of Marian consecration. And now that we have this key, we’re ready to learn exactly what John Paul means by Marian consecration, or as he usually refers to it, “Marian  entrustment.” To begin, we need to go back to the foot of the Cross. “Woman, behold, your son.” With these words, Jesus is entrusting all of humanity to Mary’s motherly care. He’s making her the spiritual mother of all. And as we learned yesterday, Mary fully accepted this gift “with burning love.” Next, Jesus speaks to John, the beloved disciple, who represents all of us: “Behold, your mother.” Jesus is now giving us a gift, the great gift of his mother as our spiritual mother. Do we accept this gift? Yes. At least we’re trying to (otherwise, we wouldn’t be making this retreat). But how do we accept it? This is the crucial question. According to Pope John Paul, the following Gospel text tells us how we are to accept Mary as our spiritual mother, “And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (Jn 19:27). The Pope describes this action with one word: “entrusting.” We see an example of this in the person of John, who entrusted himself to Mary, who was herself entrusted to John by Christ, “Behold, your mother.” John’s entrusting of himself to Mary is his response to Christ’s command from the Cross, but it’s not only that. It’s also a response to Mary’s “burning love” for us: “entrusting is the response to a person’s love, and in particular to the love of a mother.” John Paul goes on to describe the nature of this entrusting of oneself to Mary:
Entrusting himself to Mary in a filial manner, the Christian, like the Apostle John, “welcomes” the Mother of Christ “into his own home” and brings her into everything that makes up his inner life, that is to say into his human and Christian “I”: he “took her to his own home.” Thus the Christian seeks to be taken into that “maternal charity” with which the Redeemer’s Mother “cares for the brethren of her Son,” “in whose birth and development she cooperates” in the measure of the gift proper to each one through the power of Christ’s Spirit. Thus also is exercised that motherhood in the Spirit which became Mary’s role at the foot of the Cross and in the Upper Room.
This entrusting of oneself to Mary, which the Pope beautifully describes as taking her “into one’s own home,” should be understood as our following of Christ’s own example — he first entrusted himself to Mary at the Annunciation and then throughout the Hidden Life — and as his will for his disciples. After all, he himself initiates such entrustment, “Behold, your mother.” But why does Christ do this? Is it that he wants to distance himself from us? No. He’s bringing us closer to  himself by giving us to the one who is closest to him, the same one who directs everything to him, “Do whatever he tells you.” Mary wants to act upon all those who entrust themselves to her as children. “And it is well known,” says the Pope, “that the more her children persevere and progress in this attitude, the nearer Mary leads them to the ‘unsearchable riches of Christ.’" Again, this is so both because of the unique closeness of Mary to Christ and because of her special role of bringing others into the intimacy she shares with him. Tomorrow, we’ll see how this closeness of Mary to Christ, particularly in his consecration of himself for our sake, helps us make our own consecration to Christ. This is the whole purpose behind why we entrust ourselves to Mary: It’s so she can bring us even closer to Christ through her powerful prayers and motherly love.

Today’s Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, living in Mary. Prepare me to entrust myself completely to Mary so she can bring me closer to Christ

33 Days: Day 26

Mary’s Retreat (Day Three)

Yesterday, at the wedding feast of Cana, we saw a glorious example of Mary’s motherly mediation. After this event, Mary surely pondered it deeply in her heart and discovered much about her maternal mediation. Yet Cana was not the most  important part of her preparation. The “crowning  moment” of her preparation — indeed, its full actualization — came at Calvary. At Calvary, Mary suffers with Christ. Through faith, she is “perfectly united with Christ in his self-emptying.” Through faith, she shares in the whole “shocking mystery” of his gift of himself out of love for us. Through faith, “the Mother shares in the death of her Son, in his redeeming death.” Before his death, Jesus has one more lesson for his perfect disciple, who has  followed him to the Cross and fully accepted to suffer with him. Seeing her standing at the foot of the Cross next to his beloved disciple, John, he says, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then, to John, “Behold, your mother” (Jn 19:26-27). With these words, Jesus gives Mary as Mother “to every single individual and all mankind.”91 According to John Paul, this “new motherhood of Mary” is “the fruit of the ‘new’ love which came to definitive maturity in her at the foot of the Cross, through her sharing in the redemptive love of her son.” This “new love,” says John Paul, actually causes a “transformation” in Mary’s motherhood such that she burns even more with love for all those for whom Jesus suffered and died. This idea that Mary, at the foot of the Cross, received a new, burning love for souls may remind us of Mother Teresa’s deep insight about Mary. Recall that, for Teresa, Mary is the one who took Jesus’ words “I thirst” most deeply to heart and that she helps others to take them to heart as well. Anyway, John Paul further reflects on Mary’s transformation in love:
[A]t the foot of the Cross there was … accomplished her maternal cooperation with the Savior’s whole mission through her actions and sufferings. Along the path of this collaboration with the work of her Son, the Redeemer, Mary’s motherhood itself  underwent a singular transformation, becoming even more  imbued with “burning charity” toward all those to whom Christ’s mission was directed. Through this “burning charity,” which sought to achieve, in union with Christ, the restoration of  “supernatural life to souls,” Mary entered, in a way all her own, into the one mediation “between God and men” which is the  mediation of the man Christ Jesus.
At Calvary, Mary’s preparation is ended. She has received the full gift of her universal spiritual motherhood and mediation, which is a unique cooperation in Christ’s work of redemption and a sharing in his mediation. After Jesus’ death on the Cross, we don’t hear about Mary exercising her new motherhood until the day before Pentecost, when the apostles, together with “the women and Mary the mother of Jesus and his brethren” (Acts 1:14), are devoting themselves to prayer in the upper room. John Paul comments, “We see Mary prayerfully imploring the gift of the Spirit, who had already  overshadowed her at the Annunciation.” He goes on to point out that Mary is the “discreet yet essential presence” that indicates the path of “birth from the Holy Spirit” first at the Annunciation and now at the birth of the Church. Mary’s new spiritual motherhood is deeply connected with the Church, “‘with maternal love she cooperates in the birth and development’ of the sons and daughters of Mother Church.” This birth and development has its source in the Church’s sacramental life, where Mary’s motherly mediation is particularly present. For instance, Mary is surely interceding and active with her Spouse, the Holy Spirit, when the Spirit transforms us into members of Christ’s body at Baptism. Moreover, she is just as present and active with her Spouse at Mass; for it is at Mass that Christ’s “true body born of the Virgin Mary” becomes present. Because of the centrality of the Eucharist in Christian faith and life, Mary is always striving to lead the faithful to it. As we close today’s reflection, which concludes the three days of “Mary’s spiritual motherhood retreat,” we should keep in mind one important point: Mary’s new motherhood is not some vague or abstract sort of thing. It’s concrete and personal. And even though it’s universal, it’s also intensely particular. Mary is yourmother. She is mymother. In this light, John Paul thinks it’s significant that Mary’s new motherhood on Calvary is  expressed in the singular, “Behold, your son” not “Behold, your billions of spiritual children.” The Pope gets to the heart of it when he says, “Even when the same woman is the mother of many children, her personal relationship with each one of them is of the very essence of motherhood.” In short: Mary is uniquely, particularly, personally your mother and my mother, and she doesn’t lose us in the crowd.

Today’s Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, living in Mary. Thank you for the gift of my loving Mother, Mary.

33 Days: Day 25

Mary’s Retreat (Day Two)

Yesterday, we began a “retreat within our retreat” by joining Mary’s retreat. In other words, we began to ponder the ways that Jesus prepared Mary to understand and fully embrace her new motherly role in the kingdom of God. Today, we continue this retreat at the wedding feast of Cana, where Mary’s motherly mediation gloriously shines forth. Let’s review the scene (Jn 2:1-12). The mother of Jesus is at a wedding feast, and Jesus and his disciples are also invited — presumably because of Mary. The wine runs short. Mary notices this, and brings it to the attention of her Son, “They have no wine.” Jesus seems to rebuke her, “Woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” Mary nevertheless tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” The servants follow Jesus’ orders to fill stone jars with water. Then the water becomes wine, and the disciples believe. Let’s now ponder deeply John Paul’s commentary on this scene. His words get to the heart of Mary’s role in our lives and explain why we should be seeking to consecrate ourselves to her:
[Cana] clearly outlines the new dimension, the new meaning of Mary’s motherhood. … [It is] a new kind of motherhood according to the spirit and not just according to the flesh, that is to say Mary’s solicitude for human beings, her coming to them in the wide variety of their wants and needs. At Cana in Galilee there is shown only one concrete aspect of human need, apparently a small one of little importance (“They have no wine”). But it has a symbolic value: this coming to the aid of human needs means, at the same time, bringing those needs within the radius of Christ’s messianic mission and salvific power. Thus there is a mediation: Mary places herself between her Son and mankind in the reality of their wants, needs, and sufferings. She puts herself “in the middle,” that is to say she acts as a mediatrix not as an outsider, but in her position as Mother. She knows that as such she can point out to her Son the needs of mankind, and in fact, she “has the right” to do so. Her mediation is thus in the nature of intercession: Mary “intercedes” for mankind. And that is not all. As a Mother she also wishes the messianic power of her Son to be manifested, that salvific power of his which is meant to help man in his misfortunes, to free him from the evil which in various forms and degrees weighs heavily upon his life. … Another essential element of Mary’s maternal task is found in her words to the servants: “Do whatever he tells you.” The Motherof Christ presents herself as the spokeswoman of her Son’s will, pointing out those things which must be done so that the salvific power of the Messiah may be manifested. At Cana, thanks to the intercession of Mary and the obedience of the servants, Jesus begins “his hour.” At Cana Mary appears as believing in Jesus. Her faith evokes his first “sign” and helps to kindle the faith of the disciples. … [T]he episode at Cana in Galilee offers us a sort of first announcement of Mary’s mediation, wholly oriented toward Christ and tending to the revelation of his salvific power.89 I’d like to highlight a few important points from this passage for us to ponder. (1) Not by necessity but by God’s choice, “the handmaid of the Lord” who does the Father’s will perfectly has a “right” as mother and mediatrix to point out to her Son the needs of mankind. Shouldn’t we have recourse to such a powerful Mother of Mercy with regard to our own needs and intentions? (2) Mary needs servants who will obey her words, “Do whatever he tells you.” Are we ready to be her servants so Jesus can begin his “hour” in our day? (3) It’s clear from the words “Do whatever he tells you” that Mary’s role is “wholly oriented toward Christ” and tends to the revelation of his saving power. Mary’s mediation, therefore, is in union with and subordinate to the one mediation of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Today’s Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, living in Mary. Remind me to ask for Mary’s powerful intercession in my times of need

33 Days: Day 24

Mary’s Retreat (Day One)

During this retreat, we’ve been pondering in our hearts certain truths of our faith that relate to Marian consecration. One might say we’re on a kind of “pilgrimage of faith” leading up to Consecration Day. During her earthly life, Mary, too, was on a kind of retreat and pilgrimage of faith. She, too, pondered in her heart different truths related to Marian consecration. After all, she didn’t discover all at once her vocation to be a spiritual mother and mediatrix. Like us, Mary needed to walk by faith while pondering in her heart. She, too, needed a time of preparation regarding her special role as our “mother in the order of grace.” Because Mary’s maternal mediation is so central to a proper understanding of Marian consecration, we’re going to spend the next few days making a retreat within our retreat. We’ll do this by peering in on Mary’s retreat. In other words, we’re going to accompany Mary along the way that God led her to progressively discover her vocation to be our spiritual mother and mediatrix. In some sense, Mary’s retreat begins at the Annunciation. By her “yes” to God, her “fiat,” she accepted her vocation to be the mother of Jesus. But did she also know that she was accepting the call to be the spiritual mother to all Christians as well? I don’t know. What I do know is that the whole mystery of the Annunciation gave Mary something amazing to ponder, something that happens to be deeply related to Marian consecration and entrustment. Let me put it this way: Who was the first  person to entrust himself to Mary? It wasn’t St. Louis de Montfort. It was God the Father. John Paul explains, “For it must be recognized that before anyone else it was God himself, the Eternal Father, who entrusted himself to the Virgin of Nazareth, giving her his own Son in the mystery of the Incarnation.” Mary surely marveled at this act of humility on God’s part. As she marveled and pondered it, might she have begun to have some inkling that God would later want the people he came to redeem to follow his example? Mary had many other things to ponder during her preparation to be ever more completely our mother in the order of grace. The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) offer several points of reflection that speak to Mary’s spiritual motherhood. Take, for example, the passage in the Gospel of Mark (3:31-35) where Mary and Jesus’ cousins are outside, wanting to see Jesus, and so they send for him and call to him. Jesus responds by asking, “Who are my mother and my bretheren?” Then, looking at those sitting around him, he says “Here are my mother and my bretheren! Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.” In giving this response, was Jesus being a bad son? No. He was being exactly the kind of son his Father wanted him to be. At the same time, he was preparing his mother for who he wanted her to be. Specifically, he was revealing to her the new filial bond of the kingdom that goes beyond the bonds of the flesh. In other words, he was pointing out the primacy of the spirit to the flesh, the primacy of the supernatural Fatherhood of God to the natural fatherhood (or motherhood) of man. It’s likely that Mary immediately grasped some of what Jesus was trying to teach her. After all, for years she had pondered in her heart another strange response of Jesus, the one he gave when she found him in the Temple after three days of sorrowful searching: “Did you not know I must be about my Father’s business?” (Lk 2:49). During his public ministry, Jesus was indeed completely concerned with his Father’s business. Now, a key part of this business involved preparing his mother for her new role in God’s kingdom. Jesus knew that “in the dimension of the Kingdom of God and in the radius of the fatherhood of God” Mary’s motherhood “takes on another meaning.” In the words reported by Mark that we read earlier, Jesus points to this meaning, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.” We can be sure that Mary pondered this in her heart and that she realized that by these words, Jesus was not rejecting her but rather preparing her. Can we be sure Jesus wasn’t rejecting Mary? Yes, we can. Even if Jesus’ words sound like he’s rejecting her, they aren’t. In fact, if we consider a similar passage in the Gospel of Luke (11:27-28), it’s clear that Jesus is actually blessinghis mother. In this other passage, “a woman in the crowd raised her voice” and said to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you.” Jesus responds in a way similar to what we read in Mark, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” At first reading, this may seem like a rebuke of Mary. But it’s not. After all, who heard the word of God and kept it better than Mary? Nobody. Thus, Jesus is actually blessing his mother, and she would have realized it. Mary is an incredibly perceptive woman, and she paid close attention to Jesus’ every word and action. The subtleties of his teaching were not lost on her, and she progressively came to realize the unfolding mystery of her own unique motherhood:
[A]s the messianic mission of her Son grew clearer to her eyes and spirit, [Mary] herself as a mother became ever more open to that new dimension of motherhood which was to constitute her “part” beside her Son. Had she not said from the very beginning: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38)? Through faith Mary continued to hear and to ponder that word … . Thus in a sense Mary as Mother became the first “disciple” of her Son, the first to whom he seemed to say: “Follow me” … .
What a joy it must have been for Jesus to have one disciple who fully understood him. What a consolation to his Heart to find such attentiveness to God’s Word! Tomorrow, we’ll reflect more on Mary’s attentiveness and how it led her to discover yet another aspect to her “part” beside her son in his work of salvation. This part does indeed involve, as John Paul wrote, a “new dimension of her motherhood.” Thus, at Cana, we’ll see that she gives birthto the faith of Jesus’ disciples by initiating his first miracle, which comes through her motherly attentiveness to human need.

Today’s Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, living in Mary. Help me to be faithful to heart-pondering prayer,  as was Mary.

33 Days: Day 23

Maternal Mediation

As one of our guides to Consecration Day, St. John Paul II is a triple gift. Not only is he a Marian saint, like our other three guides; not only is he brilliant and thoroughly trained in theology, like de Montfort and Kolbe; but he is also a Pope. Therefore, his words carry the teaching authority of the successor of St. Peter … and the authoritative weight of an Ecumenical Council! Well, this is true in the sense that his teachings on the Mother of God are deeply rooted in the authoritative Mariology of the Second Vatican Council. Because of this dependence on the Council, before we look to John Paul’s teaching on Marian consecration, let’s see what the Council has to say about Mary. (Tomorrow, we’ll begin to ponder how John Paul builds on Vatican II’s teaching.) One can find the main Marian teachings of Vatican II in the last chapter of the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, known by its Latin title, Lumen Gentium. The heart of these teachings has to do with what’s usually called Mary’s “maternal mediation.” Maternal mediation basically means that Mary is our spiritual mother (hence “maternal”) who assists us from heaven with her prayers and motherly care to help bring us to God (hence “mediation”). While the term “maternal” should be familiar, “mediation” may need some explaining. A mediator is someone who stands between two people for the sake of bringing them into unity. Thus, Jesus Christ is a mediator. He is the one who, after the Fall, stands between God and fallen humanity to bring us back into communion with God. And there’s only one, as St. Paul makes clear, “[T]here is one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ” (1 Tim 2:5). If there’s only one mediator between God and man, and if that one mediator is Jesus Christ, then why does the Second Vatican Council describe Mary as a mediator? Because God is generous. In other words, Jesus doesn’t keep his role as mediator to himself. He wants Mary — and not just Mary, but all Christians — to share in his one mediation, though in subordinate ways. For instance, each of us shares in Christ’s one mediation when we pray for one another “in Christ.” I mentioned a similar point in the  introduction when I wrote that God wants all of us to participate in his work of salvation. I also mentioned there that Mary has a uniquely important role in this work. Again, according to Vatican II, this special role is captured by the phrase “maternal mediation.” Among creatures, Mary’s role in the ongoing work of salvation is by far the most important. She was given such an important role “not from some inner necessity” on God’s part but “from the divine pleasure.” Again, we see God’s generosity in including us in the work of redemption, we the very same creatures he came to redeem. The following passage from Lumen Gentium summarizes Mary’s cooperation in this work both when she was on earth and now as she is in heaven: [T]he Blessed Virgin was on this earth the virgin Mother of the Redeemer, and above all others and in a singular way the generous associate and humble handmaid of the Lord. She conceived, brought forth, and nourished Christ. She presented him to the Father in the temple, and was united with him by compassion as he died on the cross. In this singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope, and burning charity in the work of our Savior in giving back supernatural life to souls. Wherefore she is our mother in the order of grace. This maternity of Mary in the order of grace began with the consent which she gave in faith at the annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, and lasts until the eternal  fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this salvific duty, but by her constant  intercession continued to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth  surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led to the happiness of their true home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix. This, however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator.85 So, while on earth, Mary cooperated with God’s plan of salvation “above all others,” particularly by giving birth to and caring for Jesus. Now in heaven, Mary still cooperates in a special way in God’s plan of salvation. Through her “constant intercession” and “maternal charity,” she brings us grace, mercy, and the “gifts of eternal salvation.” Tomorrow, we’ll begin to see how John Paul develops this teaching on Mary’s motherhood in the order of grace. For now, we can reflect on this great gift of God: Mary is our spiritual mother whose Godgiven task is to nurture us with tender care and the gifts and graces that come to us through her loving prayers.

Today’s Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, living in Mary. Fill my heart with praise to God for giving me Mary as my spiritual mother.

33 Days: Day 22

Mary’s Gift of Mercy

In 1917, while World War I raged, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. She told them that the war would end but if people didn’t convert, a worse war would follow and Russia would spread its errors throughout the world, causing more wars, martyrs, and persecutions of the Church. To prevent this, Mary asked that the Holy Father consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart and for people to make five consecutive “First Saturday” communions of reparation. In the end, she said, her Immaculate Heart would triumph. It’s interesting that Mary mentioned Russia. At the time, this was cause for confusion: Russia? Holy Russia? What errors would this devoutly Christian country spread throughout the world? And how could such a poor Russia exercise so much influence? (At this point in history, the Soviet revolution was in its infancy; the communist, atheist, totalitarian regime had not yet been established.) After Mary gave her prophesy about Russia, the children saw a vision involving a “bishop dressed in white,” who they understood to be the Pope. With great distress, they saw that he would suffer much and then be shot and killed. The children described what they saw only to Church authorities, who decided not to disclose it to the public. This became known as the last “secret” of Fatima.
Now, the very first apparition of Our Lady of Fatima happened on May 13, 1917, at 5 p.m. Exactly 64 years later, May 13, 1981, at 5 p.m., a small, open-air jeep rode out into St. Peter’s Square, carrying Pope John Paul II, who warmly greeted pilgrims gathered in the square. At one point, the jeep stopped so the Pope could take a little girl into his arms. After he gave her back to her jubilant parents, the jeep continued on its way through the sea of waving, cheering pilgrims. Suddenly, a gunman fired two shots at the Pope from close range. The first bullet grazed his elbow. The second struck him in the abdomen and ricocheted inside him, shredding intestines and piercing his colon. Miraculously, the bullet missed the main abdominal artery by one tenth of an inch. Had it been struck or even grazed, John Paul would have bled to death on the way to the hospital. Realizing this blessing, the Pope stated that “One hand fired, and another guided the bullet.”82 What hand guided the bullet? John Paul believes it was the hand of Our Lady of Fatima (the May 13th anniversary was not lost on him). In fact, after the shooting, he asked for the  envelope containing the last secret of Fatima, the one about the “bishop dressed in white.” Then, with Fatima much on his mind, he thought to consecrate the world to Mary’s Immaculate Heart as soon as possible, and he began composing an act of entrustment, which he solemnly prayed less than a month later. Even before this, within a week of the shooting, he repeated his own personal consecration to Mary in a recorded address to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square: “To you, Mary, I  repeat: Totus tuus ego sum.”83 On March 25, 1984, in St. Peter’s Square, before the official statue of Our Lady of Fatima that had been flown in for the occasion, John Paul made a more solemn entrustment of the world to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. He concluded the prayer with the following words:
Let there be revealed, once more, in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the redemption: the power of merciful Love! May it put a stop to evil!
May it transform consciences! May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the light of Hope!
After learning of the Pope’s solemn entrustment, Sr. Lucia, the lone survivor of the three Fatima seers, declared that it fully satisfied Our Lady’s original request. Five years later, the horrific, Soviet, totalitarian regime that had terrorized millions of people suddenly came to an end. That victory won, the Pope didn’t rest. What he once called the “century of tears” was far from over. To confront the ongoing evil and injustice in the world, he forcefully proclaimed, with growing frequency, the saving power of God’s “merciful Love.” His efforts to promote this message culminated in the establishment of the universal Feast of Divine Mercy Sunday in 2000 and a solemn Act of Entrustment of the world to Divine Mercy in 2002. Three years after this entrustment, the great Marian Pope, the great Mercy Pope, died on a first Saturday and the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday. Mary had saved his life at the dawn of his pontificate so that, through him, her divine Son could lead the Church to the victory of Mercy and the triumph of her Immaculate Heart.

Today’s Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, living in Mary. Have mercy on us and on the whole world!

33 Days: Day 21

‘Be the One’ (with Mary)

In case the list of 12 duties that we covered yesterday has got some of us feeling overwhelmed, today we’ll focus on a simpler way of remembering the essence of Mother Teresa’s consecration to Mary: “Be the one.” Or, more specifically, “Be the one, with Mary.” What does this mean? The main clue comes from the Offertory verse (Ps 68:21) for the Mass of the Feast of the Sacred Heart:
My heart had expected reproach and misery. And I looked for one that would grieve together with me, and there was none: and I sought one that would console me, and I found none.
Mother Teresa responds, “Be the one.” Be the one to console Jesus by satiating his burning thirst for love. She writes:
Tell Jesus, “I will be the one.” I will comfort, encourage and love Him. … Be with Jesus. He prayed and prayed, and then He went to look for consolation, but there was none. … I always write that sentence, “I looked for one to comfort Me, but I found no one.” Then I write, “Be the one.” So now you be that one. Try to be the one to share with Him, to comfort Him, to console Him. So let us ask Our Lady to help us understand.
That last sentence is key. We need Our Lady to help us understand the thirst of Jesus. She’s the one who consoles him best. She’s the spouse of the Consoler, the Holy Spirit. Through Mary, the Holy Spirit can help us understand what it means to be a consoler of the Heart of Jesus:
[Let] us try in a special way to come as close as the human heart can come to the Heart of Jesus and try to understand as much as possible Jesus’ terrible pain caused to him by our sins and His Thirst for our love. … Thank God our Lady was there to understand fully the thirst of Jesus for love. She must have straight away said, “I satiate Your thirst with my love and the suffering of my heart.”
Yes, we can thank God for Our Lady. She teaches us to “be the one” with her, consoling Jesus on Calvary. She helps us to “straight away” say, “Jesus, I satiate Your thirst.” But what exactly does this mean? What does it mean to satiate the thirst of Jesus? Two things: to console Jesus the Head of his Mystical Body and to console him in the members of his Body. How do we console Jesus, the Head of the Body? By being apostles of joy, which means “to console the Sacred Heart of Jesus through joy,” and we do this especially with Mary’s joy. For Mother Teresa continues, “Please ask our Lady to give me her heart.” Mary is the one who, despite her own trial of darkness, praises and thanks God in all things, smiles at him, and consoles him with her love. It’s simple and beautiful. Mother summarizes it by her trademark three virtues: total surrender to God, loving trust, and perfect cheerfulness. Basically, it’s to be as a child, with Mary, smiling at Jesus and loving him from the foot of the Cross. Now, how do we console Jesus in the members of his Body? By recognizing their thirst. Everyone thirsts: rich and poor, young and old, believer and unbeliever. Everyone has a restless heart for God, for man is a restless thirst. To console Jesus in others is to respond to their suffering, especially to that deepest, most universal suffering: the thirst for love. We should respond to this thirst in others not with indifference but with a gentle smile that says, “I delight that you exist, and I, too, understand the pain of the thirst.” Mother explains:
The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference towards one’s neighbor… .
[P]eople today are hungry for love, for understanding love which is much greater and which is the only answer to loneliness and great poverty.”81
By accepting her own thirst (with Mary’s help) and not runningaway from it, Mother Teresa could understand the thirst of others — both Jesus on the Cross and Jesus in her neighbor — and she became a true apostle of mercy and joy: a true missionary of charity.

Today’s Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, living in Mary. Help me to “be the one” to console Jesus with Mary.

33 Days: Day 20

A Consecration Covenant Yesterday, I said we need to get ready for our consecration to Mary by learning to recognize all the blessings that will start pouring in. Today, we’ll be shifting gears a bit. We’ll be preparing for Consecration Day by reflecting on how serious a commitment Marian consecration really is. This is an important part of our preparation because the more seriously we take it, the more seriously the Mother of God will take it. Mother Teresa will be
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particularly helpful to us today; for she took her consecration to Mary very seriously. Part of the reason Mother Teresa took her consecration so seriously has to do with her roots in Albanian culture. A key word in this culture is “besa.” Literally translated, this means “faith,” but its more complete meaning is “word of honor” and “to keep one’s promise.” Mother Teresa explains: [Besa] means even if you have killed my father and the police are after you, if I have given you my word, then even if the police kill me, still I will not disclose your name. In other words, to the mind of Mother Teresa, if you give your word to someone, you give yourself. Indeed, besa has a sacred character like a vow, oath, or covenant. Let’s reflect on that last word, “covenant.” This is how Mother Teresa  described her consecration to Mary. It’s a word that has rich, biblical meaning: It describes the bond of relationship between God and his people throughout salvation history. Such a bond is more than a contract, as scripture scholar, Scott Hahn, explains: [A] major difference between contracts and covenants may be discovered in their very distinctive forms of exchange. A contract is an exchange of property in the form of goods and services (“That is mine and this is yours”); whereas a covenant calls for the exchange of persons (“I am yours and you are mine”), creating a shared bond of interpersonal communion. Another feature of a covenant is that it usually entails certain rights and obligations. For example, in the marital covenant, a husband and wife have the right to enjoy one another in the spousal embrace of self-giving love, but they also have the obligation to care for and support one another “in good times and bad.” Mother Teresa also understood her “Covenant of Consecration” with Mary as having certain rights and obligations, and she communicated this Marian spirituality to her religious family, the Missionaries of Charity.
Fr. Joseph Langford, MC, inspired by Mother Teresa’s teaching on the Covenant of Consecration, spells out the details of a Missionary of Charity’s rights and duties in her relationship with Mary, listing 12 corresponding rights and duties. The list begins, significantly, with Mary having the duty to give “her spirit and heart” and ends with each Missionary of Charity having the “right” to enter into Mary’s heart and share her interior life. So, the two bookends of this covenant with Mary are Mother Teresa’s two prayers that we learned about earlier: “Lend me your heart” and “keep me in your most pure heart.” Everything in between is simply the terms of the relationship. Let’s conclude, then, by pondering the Missionaries of Charity’s Consecration Covenant with Mary, beginning with its introductory paragraph:
Moved by an ardent desire to live in the closest union with you possible in this life, so as to more surely and fully  arrive at union with your Son; I hereby pledge to live the spirit and terms of the following Covenant of Consecration as faithfully and generously as I am able.


Today’s Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, living in Mary. Help me to ardently make a Covenant of Consecration with Mary.

33 Days: Day 19

Heart-Pondering Prayer

Are you ready for your consecration to Mary? If not, then get ready! As I said in the beginning, after Consecration Day, everything changes. A gloriously new day dawns in our spiritual lives. Indeed, when we give Mary our “yes,” she begins to arrange all the events and details of our lives in such beautiful, tender, and loving ways. So, we need to get ready. Specifically, we need to get ready to recognize the multitude of mercies that will come to us through her Spouse, the Holy Spirit. Oftentimes, we don’t recognize the many gifts that God pours out to us in our daily lives. What we do recognize are daily annoyances, burdens, difficulties, and inconveniences. These win our attention. These get us complaining. These get us in a bad mood and sap our energy. Wouldn’t it be a tragedy if, after we started receiving even more gifts and graces through our consecration, we didn’t change this negative attitude? Yes, it would be. So, we need to get ready, and Mother Teresa will help us. Mother Teresa lived in some of the poorest environments on earth. She had to put up with burning heat, bad breath, stuffy rooms, nagging fatigue, endless responsibilities, bland food, hard beds, body odor, cold water bathing, and an agonizingly deep spiritual aridity. Yet, despite all this, she radiated joy. She smiled. She marveled at the good things God did in her life and in the lives of others, and she pondered the countless loving details arranged by Our Lady. Seeing and recognizing all this, she didn’t complain. How did Mother Teresa develop such a spiritual sensitivity and attitude of gratitude? What was her secret? Two things. First, she followed the example of Mary who was always “pondering in her heart” the “good things” that God was doing in her life (see Luke 2:19, 51). Of course, like Mother Teresa, Mary also lived in poverty and surely bore her share of darkness in prayer. Yet she also found God in the details, pondered his goodness in her heart, and responded with praise: “Magnificat!’ Indeed, she praised and thanked God in all things, because she found God in all things and pondered deeply in her heart his many signs of love.
Second, Mother Teresa followed the example of St.  Ignatius of Loyola, the soldier saint and master of practical prayer. Specifically, she lived his method of making a daily  examination of  conscience (“examen”), whereby one reviews the day, at the end of the day, in the presence of the Lord. Contrary to what people often think about the examen, it’s not simply a laundry list of sins. In fact, Ignatius directs people to spend most of their time reflecting not on sins but on the blessings of the day. It’s really an exercise in recognizing the good things God is doing in our lives and how we are or are not responding to his love. It’s an imitation of Mary’s attitude of heart-pondering prayer. God is always showering his love and mercy down on us in so many ways. It’s important that we begin to recognize these blessings and thank him for them, especially because this shower of blessings is going to turn into a torrent of grace once we consecrate ourselves to Mary. So, let’s get ready. Let’s remember that,  according to Mother Teresa, one important way that we live out our consecration is by recognizing God’s blessings and pondering them, with Mary, deeply in our hearts. Such heart-pondering prayer leads to praise and thanks, and praise and thanks sets us on fire with divine love.

Today’s Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, living in Mary. Help me to recognize and ponder in my heart all the good you do for me. DAY

33 Days: Day 18

The Immaculate Heart of Mary

Mary’s role is to bring us face to face with the love in the Heart of Jesus crucified. But what if when we’re there with him, “face to face,” we don’t feel moved? What if we stand before a crucifix, ponder the Lord’s Passion, and feel little or nothing? What if our hearts are hard and insensitive because of our sins? This happens. We all sin, and sin hardens hearts. Aridity and desolation also happen, regardless of our sins. Whatever the reason, our hearts can be cold and unfeeling, and this can be a problem. Thankfully, the one who has a sinless, perfect, immaculate heart will help us. She’ll give us her compassionate heart. She’ll even let us live in her heart! If only we’ll give her ours. During our week with St. Louis de Montfort, we learned that when we consecrate ourselves to Mary, we give our whole selves to her, and Mary then gives her whole self to us. The emphasis that week was on merits: If we give our merits to Mary, she gives her merits to us. This is a marvelous thing. Yet Mother Teresa gives a bit of a different emphasis to all this. Her concern is with the heart. In other words, her version of a total consecration to Mary focuses on a kind of exchange of hearts: We give Mary our hearts, and she gives us her Immaculate Heart. For Mother Teresa, this gift of Mary’s heart through consecration essentially means two things that are  expressed by two simple prayers: “Lend me your heart” and “Keep me in your most pure heart.” First, “Lend me your heart.” By this prayer, Mother Teresa asked Our Lady to give her the love of her heart. In other words, she says, “Mary, help me to love with the perfect love of your Immaculate Heart.” Remember, Mother Teresa’s passionate desire was to satiate the thirst of Jesus for love, and she wanted to do this in the best way possible. What better way to love Jesus than with the perfect, humble, immaculate Heart of his mother? Here, Mother Teresa found the secret to living out her vocation to the full: “Mary, lend me your Immaculate Heart.” But can Mary really give us her heart? Of course, there’s something piously poetic in this idea. Yet there’s truth in it. When Mother Teresa often said to Mary, “Lend me your heart,” she meant it. Did she suppose that the physical organ of her heart would be removed from her body and that Mary would come down from heaven and give her hers? Of course not. The physical organ of the heart is itself but a symbol of a deeper, spiritual reality. “The heart” refers to one’s inner life and the seat of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit. Now we come to the heart of the heart of the matter. Recall our week with St. Maximilian Kolbe and how he emphasized the bond between the Holy Spirit and Mary. He said that Mary is the spouse of the Holy Spirit and that their union goes even deeper than a spousal union. He went on to say things like this: “The Holy Spirit does not act except through the Immaculata, his spouse. Hence, she is the Mediatrix of all the graces of the Holy Spirit.”71 So, if we want to love Jesus completely, ardently, and perfectly — as did Mother Teresa — then we need his Spirit of Love, and Mary Immaculate brings him to us. Let us pray, “Mary, lend us your Heart. Bring us the Spirit. Pray that our hardened hearts would burn with love for Jesus. Help set our hearts on fire with love for him.” The second prayer is “Keep me in your most pure heart.” Or, stated more fully, one prays, “Immaculate Heart of Mary, keep me in your most pure heart, so that I may please Jesus through you, in you, and with you.” This part of Mother Teresa’s consecration to Mary is the most profound. She’s not just asking for Mary’s heart to be in her but for her to be in Mary’s heart! So, this is a prayer to love Jesus through Mary, in Mary, and with Mary. This is something more than simply having Mary lend us her heart. To understand and live it requires a loving dependence and profound union with Mary. The day after tomorrow, we’ll cover what this means and how we get there. Tomorrow, we’ll learn more about Mary’s attitude of heart.

Today’s Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, Living in Mary. Keep me in her most pure and Immaculate Heart.

33 Days: Day 17

The Visions of 1947

Several months after Mother Teresa first felt her “call within a call,” she experienced three visions that further expressed her calling. In the first vision, she saw a huge crowd of all kinds of people that included the very poor and children. The people in the crowd had their hands raised toward her and were calling out, “Come, come, save us — bring us to Jesus.” In the second vision, the same great crowd was there, and this time Mother Teresa could see the immense sorrow and suffering in their faces. She was kneeling near Our Lady, who was facing the crowd. Although she couldn’t see Mary’s face, she could hear what she said: “Take care of them — they are mine. — Bring them to Jesus — carry Jesus to them. — Fear not.”67 In the third vision, the same great crowd was there again, but they were covered in darkness. Despite this, Teresa could see them. Within this scene, Jesus hung on the Cross, and Our Lady was a little distance away. Teresa, as a little child, was just in front of Mary. Mary’s left hand rested on Teresa’s left shoulder and her right hand held Teresa’s right arm. Both of them were facing the Cross, and Jesus spoke to Teresa:
I have asked you. They have asked you, and she, My Mother, has asked you. Will you refuse to do this for Me — to take care of them, to bring them to Me?
Notice the role of Our Lady in these visions. She is there, helping Teresa to hear the desire of the Lord’s Heart and to see the suffering of the crowd. She is there as a Mother with her “little child,” facing Jesus and the crowd together. She gives comfort and support to Teresa, just as she did to St. John at the foot of the Cross. Father Joseph Langford, MC,  co-founder of the Missionaries of Charity Fathers, reflects on the meaning of these visions:
Without Our Lady, we would be … alone before the crosses of life, oblivious to Jesus in our midst. In times of trial, we are often like the poor in Mother Teresa’s vision, covered in darkness, unaware that Jesus is there in the midst of us. [W]ithout the fidelity [Our Lady] gave to Mother Teresa, the world would not have heard those words [I thirst], or seen them lived out, today.
It turns out that Our Lady was specially present to Mother Teresa not only in these visions but also during the original, September 10th grace. On the 50th anniversary of that blessed day, Mother shared something new: “If Our Lady had not been with me that day, I never would have known what Jesus meant when he said, ‘I thirst.’” What was Teresa getting at? What she meant comes to light when we reflect again on the Marian dimension of the March 25th letter on “I Thirst”:
… [Our Lady] was the first person to hear Jesus’ cry “I Thirst” with St. John, and I am sure Mary Magdalen. Because Our Lady was there on Calvary, she knows how real, how deep is His longing for you and for the poor. Do we know? Do we feel as she? Ask her to teach … . Her role is to bring you face to face, as John and Magdalen, with the love in the Heart of Jesus crucified. Before it was Our Lady pleading with Mother, now it is Mother in her name pleading with you —“listen to Jesus’ thirst.”
This passage gets to the heart of Mother Teresa’s relationship with Mary, and nothing summarizes it better than this golden line: [Our Lady’s] role is to bring you face to face … with the love in the Heart of Jesus crucified.

Today’s Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, living in Mary. Bring me face to face with the love in the Heart of Jesus crucified.

33 Days: Day 16

‘The Gift God Gave September 10th’

In the overview of Mother Teresa’s life that we reflected on yesterday, recall that one crucial event changed everything: the September 10th “call within a call,” the experience of Jesus’ thirst for love and for souls. For many years, Mother Teresa did not speak about this experience to anyone except her spiritual director. Then, four years before her death, on March 25, 1993, after reading a Lenten message of Pope John Paul II on “I Thirst,”64 she felt moved to reveal her secret in a letter to her Missionaries of Charity. Because this letter seems to reveal the heart of Mother Teresa better than anything else, I’ll now cite it at length, and it will constitute our entire reflection for today: After reading Holy Father’s letter on “I Thirst,” I was struck so much — I cannot tell you what I felt. His letter made me realize more than ever how beautiful is our vocation. … [W]e are reminding [the] world of His thirst, something that was being forgotten. … Holy Father’s letter is a sign … to go more into what is this great thirst of Jesus for each one. It is also a sign for Mother, that the time has come for me to speak openly of [the] gift God gave Sept. 10th — to explain [as] fully as I can what means for me the thirst of Jesus. … Jesus wants me to tell you again … how much love He has for each one of you — beyond all you can imagine. I worry some of you still have not really met Jesus — one to one — you and Jesus alone. We may spend time in chapel — but have you seen with the eyes of your soul how He looks at you with love? Do you really know the living Jesus — not from books but from being with Him in your heart? Have you heard the loving words He speaks to you? Ask for the grace, He is longing to give it. Until you can hear Jesus in the silence of your own heart, you will not be able to hear Him saying “I thirst” in the hearts of the poor.

Never give up this daily intimate contact with Jesus as the real living person — not just the idea. How can we last even one day without hearing Jesus say “I love you” — impossible. Our soul needs that as much as the body needs to breathe the air. If not, prayer is dead — meditation only thinking. Jesus wants you each to hear Him — speaking in the silence of your heart. Be careful of all that can block that personal contact with the living Jesus. The Devil may try to use the hurts of life, and sometimes our own mistakes — to make you feel it is impossible that Jesus really loves you, is really cleaving to you. This is a danger for all of us. And so sad, because it is completely opposite of what Jesus is really wanting, waiting to tell you. Not only that He loves you, but even more — He longs for you. He misses you when you don’t come close. He thirsts for you. He loves you always, even when you don’t feel worthy. When not accepted by others, even by yourself sometimes — He is the one who always accepts you. My children, you don’t have to be different for Jesus to love you. Only believe — you are precious to Him. Bring all you are suffering to His feet — only open your heart to be loved by Him as you are. He will do the rest. You all know in your mind that Jesus loves you — but in this letter Mother wants to touch your heart instead. … That is why I ask you to read this letter before the Blessed Sacrament, the same place it was written, so Jesus Himself can speak to you each one. … His words on the wall of every MC chapel [“I Thirst”], they are not from the past only, but alive here and now, spoken to you. Do you believe it? If so, you will hear, you will feel His presence. Let it become as intimate for each of you, just as for Mother — this is the greatest joy you could give me. Mother will try to help you understand — but Jesus Himself must be the one to say to you “I Thirst.” Hear your own name. Not just once. Every day. If you listen with your heart, you will hear, you will understand. Why does Jesus say “I Thirst”? What does it mean? Something so hard to explain in words — if you remember anything from Mother’s letter, remember this — “I thirst” is something much deeper than Jesus just saying “I love you.” Until you know deep inside that Jesus thirsts for you — you can’t begin to know who He wants to be for you. Or who He wants you to be for Him. … [Our Lady] was the first person to hear Jesus’ cry “I Thirst” with St. John, and I am sure Mary Magdalen. Because Our Lady was there on Calvary, she knows how real, how deep is His longing for you and for the poor. Do we know? Do we feel as she? Ask her to teach … . Her role is to bring you face to face, as John and Magdalen, with the love in the Heart of Jesus crucified. Before it was Our Lady pleading with Mother, now it is Mother in her name pleading with you —“listen to Jesus’ thirst.” Let it be for each … a Word of Life. How do you approach the thirst of Jesus? Only one secret — the closer you come to Jesus, the better you will know His thirst. “Repent and believe,” Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our indifference,our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor — He knows your weakness, He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you. He is not bound by time. Whenever we come close to Him — we become partners of Our Lady, St. John,  Magdalen. Hear Him. Hear your own name. Make my joy and yours complete.

 Today’s Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, living in Mary. Help me listen to Jesus’ thirst.

33 Days: Day 15

Lover of the Heart of Jesus

Who is Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta? She’s easy to understand. All we really need to know are two words: “I thirst.” These words of the Heart of Jesus, spoken from his agony on the Cross, were Mother’s whole concern, her everything — and the same could be said of Our Lady. The deepest desire of the hearts of both Mother Teresa and the Mother of God is to satiate the thirst of the Heart of Jesus for love and for souls. In this sense, Mother Teresa’s life is a revelation of the Heart of Mary and presents one of the richest expressions of Marian consecration. We’ll reflect on the details of this revelation and example during many of the days that follow, but first let’s ponder an overview of her life as a whole. Mother Teresa’s home parish in her native Macedonia was fittingly called “Sacred Heart.” Fittingly, because as she herself said, “From childhood, the Heart of Jesus has been my first love.” This love may have begun when, at the age of five, she received the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus for the first time. On that occasion, she experienced the Lord’s own burning thirst for souls. Over the years, this thirst grew and blossomed into a conviction at the age of  that God was calling her to be a missionary. When she was 18, she joined the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (The Loreto Sisters) and applied to go to their missions in Bengal, India, where she was sent the next year. After a year of novitiate, Teresa was assigned to the Loreto community in Calcutta and appointed to teach at St. Mary’s Bengali Medium School for girls. The new sister would serve there for more than a decade and a half. Mother Teresa’s years at St. Mary’s were happy ones. She was a joyful, generous, hardworking sister. In fact, she was so generous with the Lord that, with the permission of her  spiritual director, she made an extraordinary vow: to refuse Jesus nothing. Five years later, Jesus tested this vow in a big way. On September 10, 1946, while on a train to her yearly retreat, the 36-year-old sister experienced what she described as “a call within a call.” The details of this call became clearer in the  subsequent weeks and months through a flood of mystical  experiences that included visions. At the heart of this call was the burning thirst of Jesus for love and for souls and a plea to Teresa to found the Missionaries of Charity religious congregation. Regarding the  latter, as if to remind her of the vow she had made, Jesus kept repeating to her, “Wilt thou refuse?” Mother Teresa did not refuse the Lord. After her retreat, she spoke with her spiritual director and, with his permission, contacted the bishop. When the bishop hesitated to approve her plans, she wrote to him: “Don’t delay, Your Grace, don’t put it off. … [L]et us take away from the Heart of Jesus His continual suffering.” In the same letter, she repeated this idea, “Let us bring joy to the Heart of Jesus, and remove from His Heart those terrible sufferings.” Eventually, the bishop gave his approval, and Mother founded the Missionaries of Charity, whose general purpose she described as follows: “To satiate the thirst of Jesus Christ on the Cross for Love and Souls.” From the beginning of the new congregation, Mother Teresa began to experience “such terrible darkness” in her soul “as if everything was dead.” At times, it seemed unbearable, and she frequently found herself on the brink of despair. In 1961, she received a light in this darkness. After a conversation with a holy priest, she realized that her painful longing was actually a share in the thirst of Jesus: “For the first time in this 11 years — I have come to love the darkness. — For I believe now that it is a part, a very, very small part of Jesus’ darkness and pain on earth.” Teresa’s experience of darkness and painful longing  continued to the end of her life. She found the strength to persevere because, as her spiritual director put it, she realized that the darkness was actually a “mysterious link” that united her to the Heart of Jesus. What about us? Do we yet realize the mysterious link between the darkness we sometimes experience in our own lives and that of the Lord’s suffering? Let us ponder Mother Teresa’s words on suffering that come from her own experience and so, like her, become better lovers of the Heart of Jesus:
Suffering has to come because if you look at the cross, he has got his head bending down — he wants to kiss you — and he has both hands open wide — he wants to embrace you. He has his heart opened wide to receive you. Then when you feel miserable inside, look at the cross and you will know what is happening. Suffering, pain, sorrow, humiliation, feelings of loneliness, are nothing but the kiss of Jesus, a sign that you have come so close that he can kiss you. Do you understand, brothers, sisters, or whoever you may be? Suffering, pain, humiliation — this is the kiss of Jesus. At times you come so close to Jesus on the cross that he can kiss you. I once told this to a lady who was  suffering very much. She answered, “Tell Jesus not to kiss me — to stop kissing me.” That suffering has to come that came in the life of Our Lady, that came in the life of Jesus — it has to come in our life also. Only never put on a long face. Suffering is a gift from God. It is between you and Jesus alone inside.63

Today’s Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, living in Mary. Help me to find the love of the Heart of Jesus hidden in the darkness.

33 Days: Day 14

Kolbe’s Prayer of Consecration

To conclude this week’s reflections on St. Maximillian’s teaching on Marian consecration, it will be good for us to get to know his actual prayer of consecration. We’ll now look at it in its three parts: (1) an invocation, (2) a plea to Mary, that she will receive us as her property, (3) a plea to Mary, that she will use us to gain other souls for her. The prayer begins with an invocation:
O Immaculata, Queen of heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you.

Here we have Kolbe’s favorite title for Mary, the “Immaculata.” As we learn from her apparition at Lourdes, this is her identity. For Kolbe, this is her most important identity, because it highlights her intimate union with the Holy Spirit. This invocation also brings in another part of Mary’s identity: Mother. Mary is the most humble, gentle, tender, and loving mother. Finally, another of Kolbe’s favorite titles is alluded to here, namely, Mediatrix of All Grace. For to Mary, “God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy.” The second part of the consecration prayer expresses a plea that Mary will receive us as her property:

I, (Name), a repentant sinner, cast myself at your feet humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and property. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most pleases you.52
Recall that de Montfort, in his formula of consecration, expanded and elaborated on what he was giving to Mary: body, soul, goods, merits, etc. Kolbe means the same thing as de Montfort, but he simplifies it by expressing his gift of himself to Mary with a concise statement: “[T]ake me with all that I am and have.” On the flip side, where de Montfort describes the purpose of his consecration with the simple, summary  statement, “for the greater glory of God,” it’s Kolbe who expands and elaborates. Thus, in the third part of his consecration prayer, Kolbe describes the purpose of his offering not simply as “the greater glory of God” but as the following:

If it pleases you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what was said of you: “She will crush your head,” and, “You alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world.” Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The boldness of the first sentence may easily be overlooked, but when we fully take it in, its boldness can be startling. Kolbe is asking Mary to use him to completely crush the reign of Satan! Perhaps he pulls back this incredible ambition (a little) when he says that he wants her to use him to help extend “as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.” Still, his boldness is incredible. He wants Mary to use him as her instrument — as much as possible — to crush Satan and extend the kingdom of God, the kingdom of the love of the Heart of Jesus. It’s interesting that Kolbe homes in on the Heart of Jesus, mentioning it two times. This isn’t a passing fancy. For  instance, it appears again when he gives the motto of his army of Knights of the Immaculate, the Militia Immaculata: “To lead all men and every individual through Mary to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.”54 We’ll learn more about the Heart of Jesus as a most perfect goal for our spiritual lives when we reflect on Blessed Mother Teresa and her teachings next week.

Today’s Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, living in Mary. Prepare me to give all to the Immaculata for the sake of the kingdom.