Consecration to the
Immaculate Heart of Mary
According to the Spirit of St. Louis de Montfort's
TRUE DEVOTION TO MARY
Fr. Nicholas A. Norman
DIRECTOR THE CONFRATERNITY OF MARY QUEEN OF ALL HEARTS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1949
CONSECRATION TO MARY
Like the word devotion, the word consecration is also used strictly and loosely. In the latter sense, it means a more or less comprehensive resolve to be united to Mary and work with her and through her to obtain the greater honor and glory of God and union with Him. Strictly, and by definition, it means "to set aside something as sacred, for sacred uses." This is precisely what the Act of Consecration of St. Louis effects.
How often in prayer we use the phrase: "I consecrate myself," and afterwards cannot explain very clearly just what we have done, or how we differ from what we were before. But the one who has made this Act knows definitely what he has done and the new order into which he has introduced himself. He will say:
"I am now a willing and happy slave of love to my Queen Mother and to my Eternal King. I do not bow my head in shame at this slavery, for I serve my Queen, I wear her livery, her mantle encompasses me. She now holds title to me, by my own will, and to all my goods temporal and spiritual, internal and external. She does not necessarily deprive me of the use of any or all of them, but nothing belongs to me any more, and my use of them depends upon her good pleasure. Her love is my reward, and it is all-sufficient. To her I have surrendered any dominion I might otherwise have over all my merits, past, present and future, insofar as I am able to do so. I have given to her all the value of my prayers of petition, and all my acts of satisfaction and atonement. But I know that my Queen is immeasurably more generous than I will ever be, and I have no fear that I or anyone else will ever suffer for what I have done by my consecration. All space cannot contain the ocean of love that is Mary, and though I should walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear, for Mary is with me.
"Loving her and serving her, I love and serve my King, for this is His will. She will invest me and adorn me, and some blessed day I shall enter into their unveiled presence, never to be parted from them, throughout all ages of ages."
SCOPE OF THE OBLATION
What do we surrender to Mary for her use and possession?
All that we can and may.
ALL THAT WE CAN:
The merits of every good work are divided into three parts: the one that we cannot give away, and is our inalienable possession; the one that we must give away, for we are members of the Mystical Body, and as such labor not for ourselves alone, but for the whole Body, and the one that it is up to us to keep or give away. It is this last we surrender, without attaching any strings to our offer.
ALL THAT WE MAY:
Sometimes by virtue of our state of life we are bound to apply some of the fruits of our actions for a specific purpose. The priesthood cannot reject the request of the laity to offer the Holy Sacrifice for their specific intentions.
Now it must be remembered that the value of the Mass is infinite, and so can be offered for a number of intentions at the same time. It must be remembered that the priest derives a very special benefit of the Mass, so do the acolytes, and also those who attend, and of course, those for whom it is offered. All that belongs to him as a result of the Holy Sacrifice the priest is free to surrender to Mary, but not the rest. Nor is the priest inhibited by the Act of Consecration from accepting Mass intentions; it is his duty to be at the disposal of the faithful to offer sacrifice for them.
The pastor of a parish is required by the Church to offer Mass on Sundays and some other days for his people. He is not free to dispose of the fruits that belong to his people, only those which belong to him.
The religious who are required by rule or obedience to offer prayers for some particular intention are not free to give these away, even to Mary, nor does she expect it. She is far more concerned with our obligations than we are ourselves, and would not accept them for other purposes. Of course all petitions must go through her to the Throne of God, and our wills should concur in sending these petitions through her.
Indeed, so much is Mary interested in our obligations, that when we surrender to her all that we are free to give, she will take care of these demands first, and far better than ever we would do by ourselves. For she is not swayed by our personal and mundane likes and dislikes. Do we not pray hardest for the things in which we are interested personally, and often pay but little heed to the things that God and Mary are interested in-----the extension of His Kingdom, the spiritual welfare of people we do not know or for whom we have an aversion, for the Pope and the leaders of the Church of Christ, for the sick, the dying, the discouraged, the tempted, and other things too numerous to mention?
The one who puts all into the hands of Mary knows that all his obligations will be taken care of to the extent of the means he places in her hands. He can rest assured too, that all his prayers and works will be used for the greater honor and glory of God. When we specify our intentions, they may be good, but we cannot be certain that they are the ones that God prefers. But when we surrender all into the hands of Mary, we know for certain that they will redound to His greatest honor and glory, because she knows what He prefers and will use them for that purpose.
Like the husband who puts his paycheck into the hands of his wife, a capable and good manager, knows that all bills will be paid promptly, if he gives her enough money with which to pay them, and that the best possible use will be made of the remaining money; so we can be absolutely certain and content that when we place everything in Mary's hands, she will do the same for us. All we have to do is to give her enough.
NO ONE THE LOSER
Making this offering will never occasion loss on our part nor on the part of anyone else.
"If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children," said Our Lord, "how much more will your Father, Who is in Heaven, give good things to them that ask Him?" (Matt. 1:11). And we might add, for it is true, ". . . and Mary!"
All the generosity imaginable in us earthbound mortals is no more than a spark of the generosity of God, Who is Generosity and Love, and of the generosity of Mary, His faithful image.
No generous person will ever wish to be outdone in generosity. The Heavenly Father will never allow it to happen to Him, neither will Mary. Generous giving will meet with generous return. Unlimited giving will meet with undreamed of returns. The more we give, the more we shall get back. This is the way of God, and of Mary, His beloved spouse.
But what about spiritual bouquets, and prayers that others request us to say for them? Can we continue to promise these things if we make the Act of Consecration?
Indeed we can. But how is this possible, if we have surrendered title to all that we can give away?
Let us suppose that a little child has saved up his money to buy Christmas presents, a sum insignificant to his parents, but vast to him. But when the time comes to buy, his love for his mother proves so great that he spends all his money on a present for her, and has nothing left for the others. The day comes to present the gift to her, and she exclaims: "But my dear, you have spent all your money on me; you have nothing left for anyone else!" and he answers: "I know, but I love you so much I couldn't help it." If that mother has ample means, will she allow his friends to go without gifts? Will she not herself be generous to them, singing in her heart because of her child's love?
Mary has the infinite Treasury at her command. When we give her our all, is there nothing left to give to others? Of course we cannot demand her to do so, but he who knows the Heart of Mary knows what she will do!
But what if we have already deeded all our merits to the Poor Souls in the Heroic Act of Charity? Are we not forever enjoined from making the Act of Consecration, having nothing further to give away?
No, we are not.
No one is impeded from making a more perfect act by reason of a less perfect one previously made. The Act of Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary is more perfect than the Heroic Act of Charity, magnificent and sublime as that unquestionably is.
Sanctity is proportioned to our conformity to the will of God. There is greater conformity to God's will in the Act of Consecration than in the Heroic Act. The latter designates the recipient; there is a string attached to the gift. The former leaves God utterly unfettered; conformity of will is complete.
Can we be absolutely sure that God would not prefer to use our good works, at least sometimes, to lead souls to Him who are still in this life, and who would otherwise be lost? What brings more glory to Him: to place additional souls before the Throne forever, souls who would never get there otherwise, or to shorten the exile of those who are already His?
But if we have made the Heroic Act, and now make the Act of Consecration, will not the Poor Souls be the losers? Not at all.
The supreme love, trust and Confidence evoked in making and living the Consecration will bring a new wealth of graces that would never have been ours had we not made the Act. But once we have made it, we may rely on Our Lady to payoff the mortgage on our good works, and to give to the Poor Souls all that they otherwise would have been entitled to, and still have a lot left over, for them and for the other intentions close and dear to her Immaculate Heart.
CHILDREN AND THE ACT OF CONSECRATION
Some are disturbed by anxious fears when the Consecration is preached to children, fearing that the little ones cannot comprehend sufficiently the implications and sublimity of this Act.
Such fears were entertained for a long time, and indeed up to the recent past (1910) about something immeasurably more sacred than even the Act of Consecration. It had been unheard of for a long time to make it a practice of giving Holy Communion to children of seven years of age. What child, they argued, of those years could comprehend what he was doing when he received the incomparable Sacrament-----the Lord of the Universe, the King of Kings, the Infinite Splendor?
But Pius X, the saintly Flaming Fire of love for God, for children and for all mankind, cut through all vain reasoning, and despite all wonder and dismay issued his blessed Encyclical on Frequent Communion, and the little ones thronged to the altar all over the world to receive into their hearts, to embrace, and to be embraced by the Lover of Children. Thereafter the Lord has been allowed to come to them in their tender, formative years to bend the little tree His way, to flood with light and grace, before it may be too late.
Yes, the Holy Father knew that many of these children would later evict their Lord from their hearts by mortal sin. But He also reasoned that if they were so weak as to do that after having been fortified by the Sacrament, what would have happened to them had they not received this strength, in an ever-worsening world? But now early and frequent Communion is so dear to the hearts of the faithful that it will never again be taken from the little ones.
In the revelations vouchsafed to Lucy of Fatima, of which more will be said later, Heaven called for the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart.
"The world" means the children, too.
When St. Louis De Montfort wrote over two hundred years ago, he said that this devotion he was preaching was a secret, and was not to be told to anyone except those whose lives proved they would make the most of it. But the pronouncement of Heaven, the words that invited all the world, seemingly have rent the veil of the secret as was rent the veil of the Temple that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. That torn veil long ago bespoke the fact that the Law of Fear had ended, and the Law of Love had begun. Men, all men, were thereafter to approach the Lord their God with joyous affection, now shown forth in all His Love as Our Father. The invitation to universal consecration has rent the veil of the "Secret of Mary" and every man, every woman and every child is called to come forthwith to the embrace of Mary and to be sheltered under her mantle. Who will doubt that the Age of Mary has begun?
The devotion of St. Louis De Montfort is still unknown to the vast majority of men, but it is not due to the lack of warm praise and affection from the highest authorities in the Church.
Pope Leo XIII made the Act of Consecration and blessed the Confraternity of Mary Queen of All Hearts, the association of those who practice this devotion.
Pope Pius X granted the Apostolic Benediction to all who would read True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and raised the Confraternity to the dignity of an Archconfraternity.
Benedict XV declared the book to be "of such high authority and unction." (Letter to the Superior General of the Company of Mary).
Pope Pius XI replied to Cardinal Mercier, who had spoken to him of this devotion: "Not only do I know it, but I have practiced it from my youth." (T. D.-----Introduction).
Pope Pius XII canonized St. Louis and eulogized his writings.
Cardinal O'Connell, while Spiritual Director of the North American College in Rome. taught it and recommended it to his seminarians.
Cardinal Stritch made the Act of Consecration publicly when he erected the Confraternity of Mary Queen of All Hearts in his Archdiocese at St. Francis Xavier Church, Chicago, on October 17, 1946.
Father Faber spoke in 1862 the conviction and hopes of the now ever more rapidly increasing number of Mary's devoted children, old and young, cleric and lay.
"Jesus is obscured because Mary is kept in the background . . . God is pressing for a wider, a stronger, quite another devotion to His Blessed Mother . . . Oh, if Mary were but known, there would be no coldness to Jesus then! Oh, if Mary were but known, how much more wonderful would be our faith, and how different would our Communions be! Oh, if Mary were but known, how much happier, how much holier, how much less worldly should we be. and how much more should we be living images of our sole Lord and Saviour, her dearest and most blessed Son! . . .
"May the Holy Ghost, the Divine Zealot of Jesus and Mary, deign to give a new blessing to this work, and may He please to console us quickly with the speedy coming of the great age of the Church which is to be the Age of Mary!" (T. D.-----Preface).