Many bishops around the world, during the prevalent coronavirus pandemic, have consecrated their countries to the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God and Our Mother. Pope Francis himself offered heaps of prayers to Mary in order that COVID-19 will be ended as soon as possible from our midst. The question that invites a thorough answer is the following: Why do we consecrate ourselves to Mary? What is the value in consecrating ourselves and others to the Mother of God?
What is normally meant by the term consecration? Biblically speaking, to be consecrated essentially means to be put apart for God alone. Hence, the consecrated person is the exclusive property of God and solely for His glory. The exemplar par excellence of such a consecration to God is Jesus. As the Letter to the Hebrews shows us, He is the one who was sent into the world to fulfill the Father’s will. In Hebrews 10:9 we find: Lo, I have come to do thy will. Jesus’ consecration is perfect since it stems from his human and divine will which decisively lived the greatest commandment to its minutest detail. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind... You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:37.39). Since Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of these two commandments combined in one, it was logically obvious that He could affirm, with authority, His moral tenure in front of the Father. I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me (John 14:6). Jesus’ complete faithfulness to His Father’s will made him put forward another important claim regarding his Messianic identity: And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth (John 17:19).
In virtue of our common baptism we Christians are all consecrated to the Father, through the Son and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Hence, if the baptismal consecration lies at the basis for all the other consecrations the prayer of consecration is merely a deepening of that baptismal consecration. If there is a person who can serve as a real model and an effective aid of what it means to follow Christ closely is surely Mary. Luke’s and John’s Gospels powerful explain to us both Mary’s YES as well as its serious consequences. In Luke 1:38 we read: Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word. Whereas in John 19:26-27 we come across this important detail: When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
What these two lines suggest is that when one consecrates himself and herself to God through Mary it also means that s/he is acknowledging her maternal mission which Mary received at Calvary at the foot of the Cross directly from Her Son. On the other, our act of consecration to God through Mary is to follow closely Jesus’ example who was born from her womb in His Incarnation. Thus, and in so doing, He consecrated Himself to Mary. And, if Jesus, the Son of God made Man, did consecrate himself to Mary by being one with her, who are we, sinners, not to pursue His example?
That is why in his Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, written in 1712, the great Marian apostle of Brittany in France, St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort (1673-1716) writes:
As all perfection consists in our being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus it naturally follows that the most perfect of all devotions is that which conforms, unites, and consecrates us most completely to Jesus. Now of all God’s creatures Mary is the most conformed to Jesus. It therefore follows that, of all devotions, devotion to her makes for the most effective consecration and conformity to him. The more one is consecrated to Mary, the more one is consecrated to Jesus. That is why perfect consecration to Jesus is but a perfect and complete consecration of oneself to the Blessed Virgin, which is the devotion I teach; or in other words, it is the perfect renewal of the vows and promises of holy baptism… That by this devotion we give to Jesus all we can possibly give him, and in the most perfect manner, that is, through Mary’s hands. Indeed we give him far more than we do by other devotions which require us to give only part of our time, some of our good works or acts of atonement and penances. In this devotion everything is given and consecrated, even the right to dispose freely of one’s spiritual goods and the satisfactions earned by daily good works (no. 120. 123).
By Her Son’s merits, thanks to which she was conceived without sin, Mary prevails on and has the final victory over Satan and his destroyed kingdom of sin and death. Therefore, by consecrating ourselves to Mary, you and me will become powerful instruments in her hands so that Satan is defeated and God’s Kingdom on earth is spread everywhere. The famous Polish Franciscan priest who died in Auschwitz on August 14 1941 as a martyr, and was himself a great devotee of the Virgin Mary, St. Maximillian Kolbe, rightly observes: “Modern times are dominated by Satan and will be more so in the future. The conflict with Hell cannot be engaged by men, even the most clever. The Immaculata alone has from God the promise of victory over Satan. However, assumed into Heaven, the Mother of God now requires our cooperation. She seeks souls who will consecrate themselves entirely to her, who will become in her hands effective instruments for the defeat of Satan and the spreading of God’s kingdom upon earth.”
Because Mary is “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, “in this singular way … cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Saviour in giving back supernatural life to souls. Wherefore she is our mother in the order of grace” (Lumen Gentium, no.61). Who, more than the Mother of Our Redeemer, the one who fully cooperated with Her Son in all that He is and did for us and for our salvation, can help us model our life on Him? Do her pure, faithful and maternal prayers not help us to let His Spirit dwell in and through us?
And if no better person can lead us to Jesus other than His beloved and Our Mother, why not starting our day with the following consecration formula which surely helps us surrender oursevles, as Her Son’s disciples, to her love? How can the Father not give tremendous weight and completely heed to the prayers of her who continually interecedes with Jesus on our behalf? She, the immaculate Virgin, conceived without sin and assumed body and soul into the heavenly glory? Here is the powerful consecration to Mary which St Louis Marie de Montfort left to us:
This day, with the whole court of heaven as witness, I choose you, Mary, as my Mother and Queen. I surrender and consecrate myself to you, body and soul, with all that I possess, both spiritual and material, even including the spiritual value of all my actions, past, present, and to come. I give you the full right to dispose of me and all that belongs to me, without any reservations, in whatever way you please, for the greater glory of God in time and throughout eternity.