Preparing for Marian Consecration

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Fr. Steve Mateja decided to lead a bunch of us at Our Lady of Good Counsel in a 33 day retreat, ending in a Mass on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord tomorrow where we will consecrate ourselves to Mary. Our retreat started on December 31st, and I joined on that day while attending the Mass for Mary, Mother of God. However, since our celebration lasted through midnight, I technically began the retreat a day late. 🙂

What is Marian consecration? Basically, it is giving all of yourself to Mary. You are entrusting yourself to Mary, in the same way that Jesus entrusted Mary to John (the beloved disciple) and John (standing for all of humanity) to Mary at the foot of the Cross. This consecration is to be a whole-hearted giving of self. Nothing should be held back from the blessed Mother.

In the past, I haven’t had or felt a strong connection to Mary. I’m sure she’s a great saint and an amazing woman. Clearly. But I just didn’t have a great relationship with her. And I was still working on my relationship with the Trinity. These relationships are always capable of further growth. I just feel, in my personal journey, that it is time to reach out to the Blessed Virgin.

As I was participating in the retreat, there is a day where we are reflecting on what this consecration means and we are told, “When we fully consecrate ourselves to Mary, we lose the unconditional right to distribute the value of our prayers and good actions to others.”

This took me aback for a moment. Because I’ve always been “in charge” of my prayers and intercede for others routinely. Does this mean that I can’t pray for specific other people any more? What am I agreeing to?

Luckily, Fr. Michael Gaitley, who wrote this retreat, anticipated my questions and answered them in the next couple paragraphs. Basically, you can still pray as you always do, but you leave it up to Mary as to the direction of the efficacy of your prayers. So, if I fast and pray that the spiritual benefit of that fasting will be applied to person X, I give Mary the authority to re-direct that spiritual benefit to person Y of her choosing, who may be in more need of that spiritual gift.

Why is this okay?

First, because Mary always makes the good things that we give her more perfect. So, whatever meager spiritual benefit someone may receive from my efforts will be increased at the hand of Mary, if I give them to her. This makes sense on a couple different levels. What son would refuse a request made by his mother? And surely a son who is perfect would not refuse his mother. So Jesus would not refuse a request made by His mother, Mary. Also, in James, we learn that the prayers of holy men are especially heard by God. The holier one is, the more efficacious one’s prayers. And who is holier than the woman who was born without sin, lived without sinning, and is now reigning in glory in Heaven with her Son?

Second, Mary is never outdone in generosity. “If we are so generous as to give her the right to distribute the grace of our prayers and good works, she will surely be especially generous to our loved ones. In fact, she’ll take even better care of our loved ones than we ourselves can.” This reminded me of a (traumatic) section in the book, “The Gift of Faith” where we were told to have no attachments, including attachments to people we loved. We are to give them over to God and trust in Him entirely, giving Him everything that we are, all that we have, and everything that we hold dear.

This is a hard thing to do. For me in particular, it’s not so hard to give *myself* wholly to God and submit to His Will; He can do with me whatever He wants. I don’t care so much for what happens to me, but I care everything for those I love. To give them, wholly, to another, is difficult.

But what am I worried about, though? That Mary or Jesus would love them less than I do?

Clearly, this worry is unfounded. And so, I’m going into this consecration tomorrow with all of my reservations put to rest. I do not enter into things lightly and have a keen desire to live with integrity. So, when I promise something, I mean it. Fr. Gaitley tells us that Marian consecration is a serious commitment, and I intend to do my best to live that out.

Everything will change tomorrow, because after the consecration, she will live in my heart and I will live in hers.

Please pray for me.

Reflections and Questions on Revelation

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Since I have a flaw in me that makes me like to finish things, especially tasks on a list, I have been working on finishing up some things from last semester, including some Bible study questions from Revelation.

What made me write this post was a question from one of the “Application” sections:

In the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant was carried by the people of God into their greatest battles. What are the ways we can carry Mary, the New Ark of the Covenant, with us in the spiritual battles we face today? — Jeff Cavins and Thomas Smith, 34.

Early last week, I had this freaky dream. The dream itself wasn’t particularly scary yet rather intense and bewildering, but believe me when I say that I woke up immediately and could not shake this sense of fear and even a sense of the presence of something evil. So I spoke to my bedroom saying something like, “If there’s anything in here which is not of God, leave now! Because He is more powerful than you and will not let anything bad happen to me!” I felt a little better, but was still uneasy. I started praying a string of Hail Marys, over and over. I peeked into every room in my house, just to make sure things “looked normal.” This is not normal behavior for me.

By the time I came home from work, things were fine. Later in the week, I had a meeting with my spiritual director. She asked if I had had my house blessed (not yet), and suggested that I do so, and also that I speak with one of my pastors because he believes that dreams mean something. I got to talk with him yesterday, and he said that while he didn’t want to place too much emphasis on this, evil was real. Then, he prayed a blessing over me.

Reading the question, I realized that I had been doing that: bringing the new Ark into my spiritual battle. Sadly, I do not yet have the devotion to our Blessed Mother that I would like, but I know that when I am frightened or very sick, I still turn and run to my Mother for comfort. She’s a good one to run to. 🙂


Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. — Rev. 21:1

I don’t think this means that there will not be a beach or an ocean in Heaven. At least I hope not, since I love to swim! 🙂 I think this was more meant as an idiom, since the sea represented the feared unknown, “Here there be monsters,” and all that. So, with the coming of the new heaven and new earth, there will no longer be any fear or anything which is not known.


Throughout Revelation we have seen many temple furnishings (like the ark and the altar) and the heavenly Temple itself. In God’s new heaven, a temple cannot be found (21:22). What new reality has replaced the image and symbol of a temple? — Jeff Cavins and Thomas Smith, 49.

The Lord Jesus and God the Father are our new temple. We will worship in them and upon their foundation, within their light and place ourselves upon their altar, as a complete gift of ourselves to them.


Here’s another question that I have: the juxtaposition of

they were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green growth or any tree, but only those of mankind who have not the seal of God upon their foreheads; — Rev 9:4

with

The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot either see or hear or walk; nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their immorality or their thefts. — Rev 9:20-21.

v. 4 seems to be saying that those who are not marked as belonging to God would be the ones who would experience the plagues. However, v. 20-21 make it seem like the ones who SURVIVED the plagues were those who did NOT follow God. Now, I am confused.


Update, based on the comment below:
Rev 9:4 vs. Rev 9:20-21

I Choose For His Life

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

When the angel came before Mary and asked her if she would be the mother to God’s only Son, she replied, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”  In other words, what she said was, “I choose for His life.”  She completely submitted her life to the divine Will and choose for the Incarnation.  It wasn’t just choosing for an event, but choosing for a person.  It was deeply personal and profoundly significant.  Who knows what expectations and dreams Mary had for her life?  In that moment, she gave them all up.  Her life was now for her son, His son.

Driving in to work today, this was all I could think of.  As I’ve mentioned before, I find myself in a situation of spiritual motherhood or spiritual adoption.  To me, this is much more than just a commitment to pray for this individual.  Earlier in the year, I felt as if I was being asked about the depth of my commitment.  Was I willing to be like Mary and give all of myself to this?

Absolutely.

I am, as they say, “all in.”  I submit to God entirely in this.  My struggles for holiness are no longer merely for my own sanctification, but because prayers of holy men and women are more efficacious (James 5:16, 1 Peter 3:12).  So, I do good not for my sake but for his, and His.  Even my prayer is no longer my own.

On this great feast of Our Lady, I pray for her assistance, that I can, in some small way, mirror her complete self-gift and devotion to the Will of the Lord.  I continue to pray in affirmation, “I choose for his life.”  May my life be a worthy sacrifice for his benefit according to His Will.

Renovations

I had been intending to turn my third bedroom — the baby’s room — into a prayer room for quite a while now. However, it had accumulated so much junk that it was a daunting thought to clear it out and make something out of it. I had managed to put a chair in there, and clear a little path so I could exercise on the elliptical trainer, but that was about it. This is what the room looked like:
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I left it like this for a long, long time.

I won’t get into my Confession, but yesterday, Father gave as my penance that I would ask Mary to be my designer, and in particular that she would help me to do something with my house. I went to Michael’s and Office Max after Confession and randomly walked up and down the aisles, picking up things. I had some candles from some recent PartyLite gatherings recently.

This is what I came up with after some hard work yesterday evening:
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My little desk:
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My candles:
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And the other side of the room with my comfy chair and white board:
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Now, it will be much more functional as a prayer room! I just need to find a way to hang my picture….