Giving Ourselves Completely to Mary
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Monsignor Charles M. Mangan
I am pleased to be able to present the following text, "Consecration to Mary," written by Father Gabriele Amorth, S.S.P. (1925- ), a member of the Society of Saint Paul, who is the Chief Exorcist in the Diocese of Rome. A prolific author, Father Amorth gave the following discourse in Saint Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, on Saturday, May 14, 2005--six weeks to the day after the death of Pope John Paul II--during a ceremony honoring Our Lady of Fatima connected to the First "Day of the Pilgrim."
I have translated this text from Italian into English.
May the words of Father Amorth inspire us to give ourselves completely to Our Blessed Mother. She awaits our self-surrender.
Consecration to Mary
by Father Gabriele Amorth, S.S.P.
It is beautiful to speak of the Consecration to Mary in this Basilica in which a Pope whom we all have in our hearts presented TOTUS TUUS ("Totally yours") to the world.
But let us deepen the concept of consecration. To consecrate something is to separate it from profane use in order to use it exclusively for worship of God. Therefore, consecration can be made only to God. Why then do we consecrate ourselves to Mary? Because of her role in the plan of Redemption, in which she is always associated to Christ. Mary is wholly a reference to Christ. Therefore, consecration to her has the aim of belonging entirely to Jesus. Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort (1673-1716), the great apostle of consecration to Mary, calls it "Consecration to Jesus through Mary" (Ad Iesum Per Mariam), and spread that famous short formula: "I am all Yours and all that I have I offer to You, my lovable Jesus, through Mary, Your most holy Mother."
But let us see first the Biblical texts which demonstrate that God associated Mary to Jesus in the entire plan of the Redemption. I choose three.
1. Genesis 3:15. Adam and Eve sinned. God casts them out of earthly paradise--the Garden of Eden--but gives a great hope for the Redeemer to them, with those words we usually call the Protoevangelium or "First Gospel": "I will place enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers; she will crush your head . . . ." It is the Offspring of the Woman, that is her Son, Who defeats Satan. But the Mother is so associated to the work of the Son, that painters and sculptors rightly represent Mary in the act of crushing the head of the serpent. "Jesus came to destroy the works of Satan." (1 John 3:8)
2. Saint Luke 1:26-38. The Annunciation. Here the association of Mary in the work of the Redemption reaches its culminating point. The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (1962-1965) does not hesitate to say: "The Father of mercies willed that the Incarnation should be preceded by the acceptance of her who was predestined to be the mother of His Son . . . ." (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 56) The Divine Maternity of Mary is the center of her mission and greatness. God wanted to give Jesus through Mary to us.
3. Saint John 19:25-27. At the foot of the Cross. Also in that supreme moment of the Redemption Mary associates herself entirely to the Son. The same Council will say the strongest and newest word: Mary "lovingly consent(ed) to the immolation of this victim which she herself had brought forth." (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 58) To what did she consent? To the Will of God: as the Father wants, so Jesus wanted and Mary wants.
Our consecration to Mary is a following of the Will of God Who wanted to make use of Mary because Jesus became incarnate and accomplished the work of the Redemption.
Consecration to Mary has a very ancient history. We present the recent great consecrations of the world. The most solemn was that pronounced by Pope John Paul II on March 25, 1984, in union with all the Bishops of the world, which led to the collapse of the Communist regime without a shot being fired.
But consecration has a very remote history. Already in the third century the oldest Marian prayer, the Sub Tuum Praesidum ("We fly to Thy Patronage"), presents a people that entrusts itself to Mary: "We fly to Thy Patronage, O Holy Mother of God, despise not our prayers in our necessities, but ever deliver us from all dangers, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin." Thus, we find repeatedly consecrations throughout the centuries. Consider the very beautiful formula of consecration of Saint Ildephonsus of Toledo (+667), even if the first to use the expression "consecration to Mary" was Saint John Damascene (+749).
Throughout the Middle Ages there is a contest between cities and villages that entrust themselves to Mary, often presenting her with the keys of the city, in beautiful ceremonies. But it is in the seventeenth century that the great national consecrations begin: France, 1638; Portugal, 1644; Austria, 1647; Poland, 1656 . . . the consecration of Italy to Mary was later, in 1959, because national unity had not yet been achieved and the previous proposals remained unactualized.
After the apparitions of Fatima, consecrations were increasingly multiplied. We recall the first consecration of the world, pronounced by Pope Pius XII in 1942, followed in 1952 by the consecration of the Russian peoples. Many others followed. The consecration to the Immaculate Heart always concluded each Peregrinatio Mariae ("Pilgrimage of Mary"). And we remember how Pope John Paul II, in his first stop in the different countries of the world, always consecrated every nation to Mary.
And finally let us go deeper in understanding the significance of consecration. It is a dense and engaging act, which increasingly has been emphasized in the life of the Faithful and in the same life of the Church. But let us attend to a very important fact: the act of consecration per se is not an end in itself but instead is a commitment that is experienced daily. A few years after he made the first consecration of the world in 1942, Pope Pius XII said in 1946: "To gather abundant and lasting fruits from the consecration to Mary, it is necessary to intend the true sense, understand all that it signifies, assume faithfully all its obligations."
To that end I propose six points of reflection.
1. The first reason that helps us to understand the importance of consecration to Mary is the example of God the Father, Who gave Jesus through Mary to us, entrusting Him to her. It follows that consecration is to recognize the Divine Maternity of Mary and to entrust ourselves to her, as Jesus entrusted Himself to her: from her He was born and grew under her guidance. Hence, to consecrate ourselves to Mary is to imitate the example of Jesus Who entrusted Himself to her. We can truly say that Jesus is the first consecrated to Mary.
2. The consecration to Mary is a means by which we live the fullness of our first consecration to God, which is that of Baptism. Therefore, it is a pledge to live the Baptismal promises with fidelity. And since Mary lives entirely for Jesus and leads everyone to Him, consecration to Mary tends to unite us more closely to the Redeemer, until we can say with Saint Paul: "I no longer live but it is Christ Who lives in me . . . ." (Galatians 2:20)
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3. Consecration is a commitment to imitate Mary who not only is the Mother of the Lord but is also the most faithful disciple, the one who always said her unconditional "yes" to God. Therefore, it is a commitment to imitate, with her help, her virtues. In particular she is the Immaculate, and this compels us in the fight against sin. She is the very humble servant of the Lord; this compels us to battle against our pride. She is very obedient to God and so she encourages us to seek to do in everything the Will of God. At her school, that is in obeying her, we are certain of obeying God.
4. To consecrate ourselves to Mary is to welcome her into our life, after the example of John to whom Jesus said from the Cross: "Behold, your Mother." (Saint John 19:27) And John performed a gesture of acceptance that is very exemplary for us. The Greek text, eis ta idia, is translated in various ways: "he received her among his spiritual goods" . . . "he received her into his house." I like the translation chosen by the current Pontiff Benedict XVI when he gave the Homily during the Funeral of Pope John Paul II. He preferred the translation: "he took her as his own." To do all with Mary, through, in and for Mary.
On her part, Mary has taken very seriously her Maternity over us: she treats us, loves us, educates us and provides all for us as sons and daughters. Our concern--and it is one of the ends of consecration--is to recognize this Spiritual Maternity, to welcome Mary into our life, to be docile to her so that her presence and her maternal action over us are experienced, while she does not tire of repeating to us, as to the servants of the Wedding of Cana, "Do whatever He will tell you." (Saint John 2:5)
5. One cannot welcome Mary if he does not also welcome his brothers and sisters, who are all sons and daughters of Mary. It is to put into practice the New Commandment of Jesus: "Love one another as I have loved you." (Saint John 15:12) It is essential and does not admit of exclusions. I add here that certain common phrases, like "I believe in God, but I do not believe in priests, or I do not believe in the Church" do not make sense especially if one is consecrated to Mary, who is the Mother of the Church.
6. And one cannot leave out a concluding thought: we consecrate ourselves to Mary also because we trust in her powerful intercession. We are needy of everything, and Mary is the Mediatrix of All Graces. God made her so great, so powerful, to our advantage. The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council tells us that Mary, assumed into Heaven, continues her maternal work over us, until we see each other safely in Paradise. (See the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 62, 69) We recommend ourselves to Mary in all our necessities, but especially so that she may pray for us "now and at the hour of our death": they are the two principal moments of life.
I finish with a thought that Pope John XXIII expressed on the occasion of the consecration of Italy to Mary in 1959: "The Holy Virgin does not come and arrange consecration for her Son. Consecration to Mary means fervent, irrevocable and generous consecration to the Divine Savior, to His law, to His Church."
At the end we will make the renewal of the consecration to Mary. May each person say with sincerity on leaving this Basilica: "Totus Tuus, O Mary!"
This pamphlet is available from Eternal Life (902 W. Stephen Foster Ave., Bardstown, KY 40004) and may be obtained by calling 1-800-842-2871. The imprimatur was granted to this pamphlet by His Excellency the Most Reverend Paul J. Swain, D.D., Bishop of Sioux Falls.
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