Today is the feast of St. Louis de Montfort, who died on this day nearly 200 years ago. St. Louis was French priest who tirelessly promoted both devotion to and consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In honor of this feast day, and in preparation for the 100th anniversary of the Blessed Mother’s apparition at Fatima on May 13, I would like to share with you an excerpt from my book, Mary’s Way, about the impact consecrating myself to Mary made on my life. I would also like to ask you to prayerfully consider consecrating your life to Mary—it is nothing short of life changing! Two wonderful resources for the consecration are “Preparation for Total Consecration According to St. Louis Marie de Montfort” and a newer version of the consecration, “33 Days to Morning Glory,” which I am reading now to renew my own consecration on May 13. It is excellent and very enlightening!
Also, I am excited to let you know that Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God will be offered by Ave Maria Press at a 25% discount for Mother’s Day. You can order the book at this link using the code MOM2017.
Blessings and grace to you and yours this Easter season.
From Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God, p. 92-95
Mary, the Woman for All Women
The second nut to crack—the heart problem I had concerning Mary—was harder, as it involved serious questions about my identity as a woman and about my own ongoing conversion. Would I be willing to be changed that I might embrace Mary as the model of my own femininity? Was I prepared to lay down the notions of womanhood in which I had been formed, making space for something new, such as accepting the idea that Mary’s way—and not the way of radical feminism—is the life-giving way for women? And would I let Mary lead me by the hand as I sought to love Jesus and as I tried to help my children find Christ in a post-Christian culture that has lost him almost completely? It was in the midst of pondering these questions not long after my return to the Catholic Church that some- one mentioned to me St. Louis Marie de Montfort’s “Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary.”
Anyone who has made the thirty-three-day consecration to Mary’s Immaculate Heart can tell you how powerful and life changing it is, just as the women in our parish Rosary group told me one providential day. Peggy, who had recently made the consecration herself, was sharing with the group what a profound impact it had on her relationship with the Lord and how much personal healing she had received by making it. Always looking for ways to grow deeper in faith, I went to the Catholic bookstore and bought a copy of St. Louis Marie de Montfort’s little gem of a book Preparation for Total Consecration.
While I must admit that I was somewhat taken aback by de Montfort’s seventeenth-century language of making oneself a “slave” of Mary, as well as by the thought of giving myself entirely to her, I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to complete the consecration. Jesus tells us to judge a tree by its fruit (Mt 7:18), and shortly after consecrating myself to Mary amazing fruit began to appear in my life.
The first thing I experienced was long-sought-after forgiveness for the men who had hurt me in life, especially the person who had abused me. Though I had prayed for several years to forgive in obedience to Jesus’ words, “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you” (Mt 6:14), I still felt nothing but intense anger toward the perpetrator. And while I know that forgiveness is an act of the will—not a feeling—I desired to be free of angry, negative emotions and their impact on my life and family. I clearly remember the day the feelings came that matched the decision I had made to forgive, and they in no uncertain terms came on the heels of my consecration to Mary.
I was alone in our master bedroom when I was spontaneously overcome with such a powerful sense of mercy and forgiveness for my abuser that it caused me to drop to my knees weeping in prayer. It was as though a river of pent-up hurt was released from my heart all at once, matched by a river of tears. Not long after that day, I started to become aware of the unfavorable, combative thoughts I entertained about men as they were occurring in my mind. I began to renounce them as they took shape interiorly, extracting myself spiritually and emotionally from the “man-hating” feminism that had formed me. I can emphatically say that all this lent itself to what happened next—letting go of my defenses against the authority of the Church, including and especially the men who run it. This ushered in what I like to call my “third conversion,” that is, accepting the teaching of the Catholic faith in its entirety, including its magisterium or teaching of office. (My first adult conversion was when I gave my life to Christ in an evangelical church at the age of twenty-three. The second was when I returned to the Catholic Church five years later.)
In the long run, accepting the Church’s authority led me to experience liberating healing in so many areas of life, especially in my relationship with God the Father. My consecration to Our Lady caused the dominoes to begin to fall in my heart and mind, softening me and making me more pliable in the hands of God. And isn’t this the very essence of Marian spirituality? We, like Mary, utter an unceasing “may it be done to me” to the Lord, letting God have his way in us?
I can’t say that it happened all at once, but the change in me was nothing short of miraculous. And instead of costing me my voice, my power, and my independence, as I had feared, giving myself to Mary caused me to become more completely yoked to Christ, who gave me an authentic voice, true power, and real freedom.
So why do we need Mary? We need Mary because her love and example humanizes us, tenderizes us, and makes us more welcoming of Christ. She teaches us in flesh and blood what it means to be a Christ-bearer—one who receives the Word, believes the Word, conceives the Word, and gives birth to him in a broken, sinful world. Further- more, she shows us how to persevere in suffering, and her intercession helps us to stand steady before it, especially before suffering that involves our children. For Mary, of all women, understands intimately how a mother is cut to the heart when she sees her offspring hurting.
Consecrating my family and myself to Mary was both a life changer and a game changer for all of us, the fruit of which is still unfolding in our lives. After all, Our Lady’s greatest joy is to point us to Jesus and say, “Do whatever he tells you.”