Reflections on the 33 Days to Morning Glory
By Monsignor Tucker
This is the 3rd time that I have gone through the Consecration since July. I was inspired by Fr. Michael Gaitley on retreat in June and I decided to renew my consecration on the feast of the Assumption on August 15th. During those 33 days I started talking with a group of men from the parish that I meet with on Thursday mornings and they were interested in the consecration so we concluded on October 8th, the birthday of Mary. During retreat I had decided that it would be good to have a consecration to Mary in the Parish, and since the 8th of December is the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the patroness for the Diocese and the beginning of the year of Mercy, I thought it would be a perfect time for a consecration to Mary.
What I have done, is something that Fr. Gaitley points out in his book. You can and are encouraged to consecrate yourself to the Blessed Virgin Mary at least annually on any feast day of Mary, and you’re even encouraged to make the consecration more frequently. I can attest, that reading the same reflections 3 times in the course of 5 months has not been boring, but I pick up new reflections each time.
Living the Marian Consecration (see below for weekly Consecration blogs from Monsignor)
I was truly inspired by the consecration to Mary on December 7th and 8th. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, and I hoped that I wouldn’t be standing in Church by myself after Masses. I did not take an exact count, but I would say there were somewhere between 150 and 200 people that consecrated themselves to Mary on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. When I would turn around to give everyone a blessing after finishing the prayer of consecration, I was met by smiling faces. There were so many that commented, “Thank you Father for doing this, it was awesome”, or “I have always made my consecration privately and I really enjoyed making it with others!”
Now you may be asking, “How do I live my consecration to Mary?” St. Louis de Montfort and St. Maximillian Kolbe answer this question somewhat differently. St. Louis is very strict in his direction for prayer after consecrating oneself to Mary. Every prayer needs to be offered to Jesus through Mary. Whereas, St. Maximillian states that once we have given ourselves totally to Mary, it is unnecessary to always begin prayer with Mary to Jesus, since she is now always present. The example of a husband always having his wife in his heart while he is doing his everyday work expresses the idea of Mary’s continual presence after consecration. Whether we are saying the “Our Father” or the “Hail Mary”, Mary is present in our offering and fills our hearts with more love and devotion as we offer our prayers.
The two things that we need to focus on are daily conversion and devotion to Mary.
Since sin separates us from God and saddens the Holy Trinity and Mary, we need to pray daily for conversion, to stay free from both mortal and venial sins. As we work on overcoming the habits of sin that we have formed, our hearts and our actions will be more filled with love for God and for others.
There are many devotions that we can make a part of our spiritual lives. As people consecrated to Mary, these devotions need to be a daily part of our spiritual lives now. The most important of these is the recitation of the rosary. We do what we can each day, and if it is not possible for us to pray the entire rosary daily, we can pray a decade. As we pray the rosary, we can either focus on the mystery and our thoughts may stay on Jesus, or we may focus on the Hail Mary’s. Either way, we are forming a devotion to Mary, which is essential to our consecration.
When there are important decisions to make, or if there are situations in our lives that are in serious need of divine help, our prayers should be directed to the Virgin Mary. We are now called to put our trust in her powerful intercession and we are called to turn over our intentions to her and trust in her distribution of the graces as needed. Our Mother loves us and cares for us, and we daily thank her and ask for her intercession. If you don’t have a statue of Mary or a picture of her in your home you should get one. There are so many beautiful images of Mary, and their presence in our homes helps us remember her love for us, and they lift our hearts to a greater love for her.
Now that we are consecrated to Mary, and as we daily live our devotional lives with her at the center, we will find ourselves growing ever closer to Jesus. Don’t be anxious about doing this right, rather be patient and the beauty of our consecration to Mary will unfold. Congratulations on your consecration to Mary and becoming a member of Mary’s militia who are ordered to bring the love of Jesus to everyone you meet!
Week 4 (see below for weeks 1, 2 & 3)
We are nearing the day of Consecration! Only five days away is the eve of the Immaculate Conception, and that will be the first opportunity for a group consecration. After Mass Monday evening and then after the Masses on Tuesday I will be available by the Marian altar to lead people in the consecration. We will recite together the consecration that is printed in the back of the book.
This week has been a good reflection on the importance of making our consecration to Mary. These reflections are at the heart of the inspiration I received to renew my consecration and to offer this to our parish. The readings this week focus on Mary and the process that she went through to understand her role as our mother and intercessor. Mary states that she pondered everything in her heart. As we reflect, or ponder the words of scripture we think about the design God had for Mary to be our mother and our intercessor. The Angel Gabriel announces to Mary God’s plan for her to be the mother of Jesus. In this announcement, God is entrusting himself to Mary! I believe this is a good enough reason for us to do the same! In this entrustment of God to Mary, marvelous gifts come to us; none less than our Savior and the redemptive graces that flow from His cross.
This week a parishioner came up to me and said, “reading this book , has been great; it has reminded me that Mary has never failed to intercede for me, and there are so many graces that have come to me through my prayers to Mary”. The scriptural references continue to help us understand Mary’s role in our spiritual lives. When Jesus says, “whoever does the will of my Father is brother and sister and mother to me”, he expresses the primary role of His mother. Her role is first to do the will of the Father, and in that she is a mother. She lives like her Son, who stated that He is focused on “His Father’s business”. Mary took these words and pondered them. She started thinking, “What is God’s will for me, what is the business that He wants me to focus on?” Jesus tells us about God’s will for her, and the business that she needs to focus on from the cross. Jesus proclaims from the cross that she is “our mother”. She is given the role to lead us in our spiritual lives to her Son. When she heard his words “I thirst”, she knew that He was thirsting for us, and the she has the responsibility to lead us to her Son.
Our consecration brings Mary into our homes and into our daily lives. We entrust ourselves to her motherly care and this will change our lives forever. In her work she brings us to Jesus and we present our difficulties, our brokenness, our blindness, and we are healed and strengthened by Him. I will continue my reflections next week, since there is a need to understand clearly how we put our consecration into practice on a daily basis. It is also good to think about the fact that our consecration is preparing us to enter in the year of Mercy that begins on December 8th. During our retreat in June, Fr. Gaitley presented the consecration in this way, and I thought I need to renew my consecration, and I need to bring this to the parish. I’m truly looking forward to the celebration of the Immaculate Conception next week and to our consecration. I will be praying for everyone in these remaining days, and I’m sure that Mary is going to bless these last days of preparation for the consecration.
Week 3 (see below for weeks 2 & 1)
I’ve been thinking about the radical gift of our entire selves to Mary. As we heard in the readings from the first week, we are instructed to give our entire being to Mary, “our soul…our body…our exterior gifts of fortune…and our interior and spiritual goods”. In my prayer yesterday I was thinking about this gift and I came to another reason why it makes sense to give everything to her.
First of all, as I say often, the gifts that we have to give are really insignificant, and to make them a beautiful offering to Jesus we can give them to Mary and she will make them beautiful. As I mentioned previously, we may be afraid to give everything to Mary, because we want some control in our lives and if we give everything, then we may feel that we have nothing. That is precisely the problem! Many times we define ourselves with the things that we have, such as good work, relationships, material possessions, and even our intellectual or spiritual gifts. When we give everything to Mary, she draws us closer to Jesus, and then we discover that He truly is the source of happiness and peace that our souls have been searching for.
In this week’s readings, Mother Theresa instructs us to reflect on the words of Jesus from the cross. The words, “I thirst” are spoken to each one of us; not asking us to satisfy his physical thirst, but that he desires or “thirsts” to quench our thirst. He thirsts for our love, and for our recognition of His great love for us. As Mother Theresa wrote to her sisters; “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”. Who does Jesus want to be for you; for me? Who does He want us to be for Him?
A poem written by Fr. Robert Hugh Benson expresses it clearly for me: “Let me tell you how he treats me now. He supplies all my wants. He give me more than I dare ask. He anticipates my every need. He begs me to ask for more. He never reminds me of my past ingratitude. He never rebukes me for my past follies…Let me tell you further what I think of him. He is as good as he is great. His love is as ardent as it is true. He is as lavish of his promises as he is faithful in keeping them. He is as jealous of my love as he is deserving of it. I am in all things his debtor, but he bids me call him friend”.
Too many times we can fall into the trap of trying to earn someone’s love. Jesus’ love is freely given, and he wants us to respond in kind, without any masks or motives, just a simple loving response to perfect love. If we respond to the offense by another with the question “what did I do?” or “how could I get them to treat me better”, we may be trying to earn love. Love is a free gift of ourselves, that is, the person God made us to be. We don’t love with a gift in hand, we love with nothing in hand, in a sense heart speaking to heart, person to person when we give everything to Mary and ask her to distribute the gift in a way that is pleasing to Jesus.
We still need to work hard to use our gifts and talents to the best of our ability for the good of others, and to please God. Giving our gifts to Mary to present to her Son we need to present the best gift we can offer, not for our own recognition, but because that is what is expected of us. When we give our gifts completely to Mary and let her take care of them, then criticism or a lack of appreciation for our efforts does not affect us, because it is not ours anymore. We have given it away; we have nothing and she has presented a perfect gift to Jesus for us.
The bottom line is that we want to love Jesus, and be His friend. Mary will take us there, if we give our whole selves to her. I hope that you have a great Thanksgiving holiday! Take time to reflect on Jesus love for you and let Mary return the gift of your love for your family and friends to Jesus perfectly.
Week 2 (see below for Week 1 Entry)
In our reading this week Fr. Michael Gaitley explains the question that St. Maximillian Kolbe struggled with for most of his life. The title Mary used for herself in communicating with St. Bernadette at Lourdes, “I am the Immaculate Conception” was most confusing to him. Fr. Kolbe spent most of his life reflecting on that title, and worked to understand it. The title is key to our understanding of the importance of our consecration to Mary.
The day Fr. Kolbe was arrested by the Germans he wrote his explanation of the title that Mary gave to herself. He knew that the title “Immaculate Conception” was in reference to the Holy Spirit. In our understanding of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit is the person that pours out to us the love of the Father and the Son. The intimate union of the Blessed Trinity, three persons in one God, bears fruit in our life, through the outpouring of their love in the person of the Holy Spirit. Fr. Kolbe was perplexed with Mary using the title of “Immaculate Conception for herself, but he came to understand that she is the created “Immaculate Conception”. This terminology explains the intimate union between Mary and the Holy Spirit.
As Catholics we believe that Mary was created by God free from Original Sin. Through an act of the Holy Spirit, Mary was immaculately conceived, and so she is referred to as the created “Immaculate Conception”. We also believe that Mary through the grace of God, responded favorably at every moment of her life to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and remained sinless throughout her life. Mary’s intimate union with the Holy Spirit, makes her the “spouse” of the Holy Spirit, and so everything that comes from her is perfect, not because of her, but because of the action of the Holy Spirit in and through her. Her son is Son of God, and is obviously perfect, and is the fruit of her womb. Her thoughts, words and deeds are also perfect because they are an affirmative response to her union with the Holy Spirit. Mary is not only the model disciple of Jesus in her response to the Holy Spirit, but she will help us to be model disciples through our consecration to her. In our consecration we give everything to her, and she presents it to Jesus, perfecting our offering. She also teaches us how to be perfect disciples when we pray and ask her for that help and guidance.
St. Maximillian Kolbe taught the friars that he guided about the importance of the consecration to Mary. He instructed them that through this consecration that they would form Mary’s army. He called them to be her soldiers and work to bring her son, Jesus to everyone that they met. Through our consecration to Mary, we want to follow that example. We want to ask Mary to guide us to act in the best way to make Jesus known to others. Jesus teaches us that “He is the way, the truth and the life and no one will come to the Father” except through Him. Mary, our mother, wants us to join her in making her son known throughout the world. She wants us to be her soldiers, fighting the good fight in a world that longs to know Jesus. In and through our consecration to Mary, let us become soldiers in her Army and make Jesus known to everyone!
This week is a reflection on the work of St. Louis de Montfort, who is the master of Marian Consecration. The two important things about a consecration to Mary are that it is a renewal of our baptismal promises and it is an intimate way to give ourselves to Mary. The consecration prayer written by St. Louis clearly states that we are rejecting sin and promising to follow Jesus and carry our cross after Him and to be more faithful to Him that we have ever been before. These promises are what our parents and Godparents made for us on the day of our Baptism. They were asked; “Do you reject Satan, and all his works, and all his empty promises?” They answered “Yes” for us, then when we were Confirmed, we answered those questions for ourselves, and now in this consecration we have a more radical and intimate way to affirm our answer to this profession of faith! This why Fr. Gaitley states that a consecration to Mary is the quickest way to become a saint! The consecration will lead us to reject sin!
The second part of the consecration is radical! I give myself totally to Mary, “in order to belong entirely to Jesus”. Our devotion to Mary needs to lead us to Jesus. St. Louis tells us that by giving ourselves to Mary, she will lead us to Jesus, and the gifts that we offer to Jesus will be taken to Him by Mary, and they will be more beautiful than what we could give by ourselves. St. Louis says that our gift must be complete, that is giving “our body…our soul…our exterior goods of fortune…our interior and spiritual goods” to Mary. Everything we are and possess is given to Mary, and she will direct and distribute those gifts in the best way. The example of the Queen presenting the gift to the King is easy to understand. Mary is the Queen of Heaven and God is pleased with everything that she has done, and continues to do. We want to please God and yet we know that our gifts, in comparison to Mary’s gifts, or the gifts of any of the saints is insignificant. Mary is going to help us make a beautiful gift to God, by taking the gifts we present and placing them on a beautiful silver platter and presenting them lovingly to God. We should want to present everything we have “our body…our soul…our exterior goods of fortune…our interior and spiritual goods” to Mary and we will offer a perfect gift to God.
As we get older we realize that we don’t have much control over things in our life. Our body begins to break down and we begin to loose energy and we eventually have to ask for help. We are in a sense forced by the breakdown of our bodies to let go of everything. In a consecration to Mary, we are freely choosing to let go of control and give everything to God through Mary. The point that Fr. Gaitley makes that sells me on giving everything to Mary, is that Jesus did this by becoming Man. He was conceived in the Blessed Virgin’s womb, giving complete control to Mary. Jesus, true God and Man gave himself completely to the care of Mary. If Jesus can do this then I should do this too!
Fr. Gaitley makes another great point to take away our worries about giving ourselves to Mary. He reminds us that Mary “cannot be outdone in generosity”. She gave herself completely to the will of God, “let it be done according to your will”. In her generosity, so knows how to generously give everything that she receives. When we give ourselves totally to her, she will generously and perfectly distribute those gifts in the best way possible. So, begin thinking as you pray, as you act charitably, as you carry the cross, as you love, to give those gifts to Mary, to be perfected and generously distributed.
That’s it for now – until next week – a reflection on St. Maximilian Kolbe!