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.