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 AND FATIMA
The story of the apparitions at Fatima is too well known now to need detailed repetition here. The whole Catholic world has heard how Our Lady appeared on May 13, 1917 to three Portuguese children, Lucy, Jacinta and Francis, and then again once each month until the following October, when she sealed her testimony with the great miracle of the sun. Through the years, further revelations were made by Our Lord and Our Lady to Lucy, all of which are summed up in the title: "The Message of Fatima."
In the briefest possible words, the Message of Fatima stressed three things:
ROSARY REPARATION CONSECRATION
These were not simple requests; the Message was marked by ominous urgency.
The call to the Rosary was not new. She had already spoken at Lourdes of the need of that great prayer. Neither was the call to Reparation. That too she had stressed at the same time. Moreover, in the preceding century Jesus had likewise made known the need of atonement, in the revelations of His Sacred Heart.
What was new was the call to devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the consecration to that Immaculate Heart. It was made known that it was the will (not the desire, nor request, nor hope, but the will) of the Heavenly Father that all the world be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart.
Let us review the evidence for this statement, which has been challenged by some.
We quote from the Crusade of Fatima by Fr. John De Marchi (Kenedy, 1948, page 47 sq.).
"Our Lady explained: You have seen Hell-----where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them God wants to establish throughout the world the devotion to my Immaculate Heart.
"If people will do what I tell you, many souls will be saved, and there will be peace. The war is going to end.
"But if they do not stop offending God, another and worse war will break out in the reign of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that it is the great sign that God gives you that He is going to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, hunger, persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father.
"To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays.
"If they heed my requests, Russia will be converted and there will be peace. If not, she shall spread her errors throughout the world, promoting wars and persecutions of the Church; the good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated; in the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, which will be converted, and some time of peace will be given to the world . . .
"Do not tell this to anyone. To Francis [Francisco], yes, you may tell it." (C. F. p. 47).
In 1927, Lucy received permission to tell of this vision of Hell and the urgent need for devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. (C. F. p. 155).
It was in 1927, while she was praying in the convent chapel at Tuy, Spain, where she was then stationed, that she received permission from Heaven to reveal the first two parts of the secret, the vision of Hell and the urgent need for devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
"Two years later, in 1929, Our Lady again appeared to Lucy while she was praying in the chapel at Tuy. This was the time chosen by our Lady to fulfill her previous request: 'I shall come to ask the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart: . . . If they heed my request, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace.' Our Lady explained that this consecration should be made by the Holy Father in unison with all the Bishops of the world." (C. F. 155).
But nothing was done for many years. Then in 1940, Lucy wrote to the Bishop of Leiria:
"In 1940, Lucy wrote again to the Bishop of Leiria expressing her regret that the consecration had not yet been made. 'Would that the world knew the hour of grace that is being given it and would do penance.' Then she wrote directly to Pope Pius XII at the command of her spiritual directors, telling him the exact request of Our Lady. Lucy asked for the consecration of the world to Mary's Immaculate Heart with a special mention of Russia.
"The Pope deliberated long and prayerfully upon this request of Mary. In 1942, the Clergy and people of Portugal celebrated the silver anniversary of the apparitions of Fatima. On the last day of October of the same year, the Bishops of the country gathered at the shrine to join with the Holy Father in fulfilling the request of Our Lady. The Pope at that time consecrated the Church and the world to her Immaculate Heart, including the people of Russia by these words:
"'Give peace to the peoples separated from us by error or by schism and especially to the one who professes such singular devotion to thee and in whose homes an honored place was ever accorded thy venerable icon (today often kept hidden to await better days); bring them back to the one fold of Christ under the one true Shepherd. . .' Six weeks later, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, in the presence of 40,000 people, the Holy Father repeated this consecration at St. Peter's in Rome. This consecration was a decisive event in the history of the world; it marks the beginning of a new era, the Age of Mary.
"The following spring, our Blessed Lord appeared to Lucia to express the joy of His Heart over this consecration. Lucia tells about it in a letter to the Bishop of Gurza, her spiritual director.
"'Your Excellency; Lucia wrote, 'The good Lord has already shown me His pleasure in the act of the Holy Father and the various Bishops, although incomplete according to His desire . . .'
[Father Norman then goes on to explain that each one of us must also consecrate ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.]
In May, 1948, Pope Pius XII issued an encyclical to the whole world, calling upon every family and every diocese to concur in this consecration.
Consecration and Reparation are closely allied. The reparation which the Lord now seeks is the sacrifice of self necessary to obtain union with Him, the sacrifice involved in the perfect observance of the duties of our state of life. Consecration to the Immaculate Heart is union with Mary, the most efficient and admirable means for finding Jesus, loving Him, doing His will to perfection, and of obtaining with Him eternal union.
"This is the penance which the good Lord now asks: the sacrifice that every person has to impose upon himself is to lead a life of justice in the observance of His Law. He requires that this way be made known to souls. For many, thinking that the word penance means great austerities and not feeling in themselves the strength or generosity for these, lose heart and rest in a life of lukewarmness and sin.
"Last Thursday, at midnight, while I was in chapel with my superiors' permission, Our Lord said to me: 'The sacrifice required of every person is the fulfillment of his duties in life and the observance of My Law. This is the penance I now seek and require" (C. F. p. 159).
What is called for is a return to the right order of living, to the order that would have existed had there been no Fall of our first parents, no Original Sin, no distortion of nature. The Fall sent the magnificent edifice of man's nature, and the world that was to serve him, crashing into ruins; Reparation is repairing the damage.
When a man loves the Lord with his whole heart and with his whole soul and with his whole mind and with all his strength, and his neighbor as himself for the love of God-----then he has done the repairing that God seeks, and in that one soul at least Reparation has been accomplished.
Nature before the Fall was like a beautiful city, with wide shaded streets, beautiful parks and stately mansions. After the catastrophe it is like that same city following a devastating air raid-bombed out, with its streets heaps of rubble, its parks gaunt, dead wastes, its lovely homes blackened and gutted. After the scourge has passed, it is up to the citizen to rebuild, and to remove the scars of war. Materials are available for the asking, but application must be made. The damage will not be fully repaired while one eyesore remains. If the owner will do nothing, it is up to the other citizens to see to it that he is aroused to a sense of responsibility, or to help him if he has been stricken down.
God wants all nature repaired, and put into the same order it was before the great disaster. Some will not do anything at all. Some must be awakened to their duty; others must be helped. Our responsibility for reparation does not end in ourselves. We are all one family under God. True reparation requires that the world come to believe this again, and to act its belief.
A homely example may serve to emphasize the need of reparation:
A father comes home at night after a trying day at the office. He just wants to sit down and relax and read his paper. The children begin to whine and fight. Their mother warns them that their father is in no mood to tolerate any annoyance. They do not listen, but begin to chase each other around the house, tripping over their father's feet. At last he gives them a slap, but it does no good. Their mother warns them again, yet they run around all the faster, tumbling over tables and chairs, knocking over lamps and vases. Then their father gives them a thorough trouncing, but scarcely has he sat down when they start up again, worse than before, throwing things and smashing windows.
What will a strong, determined, able-bodied father do then?
Our Lady appeared at Lourdes and said it was high time to stop this endless offending of God, and to get busy at once to put everything back in order and act like well-bred, considerate children. Her warning was disregarded; the Commandments were broken as always, and worse. The Eternal Father waited a long time, but in 1914 came the first World War, which was thought at the time to be a dreadful scourge, but was only a slap in view of what happened later. In 1917 she warned her children again, and told them with all possible urgency that they must behave, or else. Again she was ignored, and so came World War II and the pernicious errors that bereft civilization of its senses, and spawned the most ghastly horrors the world has ever known. And still man sins. God is still ignored; His punishments up to now have not brought the modern world one bit closer to Him. Nature is still substituted for the Creator, man still rejoices in the dim light of the human intellect and ignores the Light Divine, still they curse and perjure, profane the Sabbath, reject the principle of authority, trample on human rights, prostitute marriage, cheat, connive and steal, smear and slander.
The Lord of Might and Justice, of Sanctity and Truth-----what is He supposed to do? Does anything in Revelation indicate that this merry-go-round of service and disservice, fidelity and infidelity is to go on forever?
He is the God of patience beyond all patience, love beyond all love, but God is not mocked. The wheat and the tares will grow together until the harvest, but the Harvest will come, the tares will be burned, the wheat gathered into His barns.
God cannot again grant peace in our time unless first there is a profound moral revolution. We have behind us the shame of the decade which has come to be known as the Terrible Twenties, the era of hip flasks and flaming youth, when pleasure was god. And now, with the tremendous advances in science, the extraordinary achievements that come crowding and tumbling out of the laboratories, all designed to make this earthly life more completely satisfying, what would happen if God gave peace, and let unregenerated man rush back to his comfortable and enticing world? Can a sensible father give an irresponsible, bibulous adolescent an automobile?
A sensible father cannot grant all his children's whims, much as he would like to, because he knows they would become spoiled. There is nothing the Heavenly Father would like better than to make us happy, but unless we are morally strong we cannot stand much of the heady wine of temporal prosperity. Especially now, when man has gotten out of hand altogether, is it necessary for Him to use drastic measures. They must change or be lost. They have not listened to Him yet, and if they will not, they leave Him no alternative but to use sterner measures still.
Yes, reparation is the desperate need of our times, and the Divine call to offer it must be obeyed by every man, every woman and every child without delay. Perhaps "it is later than you think."
The demand for reparation should not frighten anyone, nor make him feel he is called to a repugnant, miserable task. Reparation is the fruit of love. Is love bitter and repellent? Is it hard to love what is good and beautiful? Should it be hard to love the All-Good, the All-Beautiful? Should it be hard to welcome the return of the right order, good and beautiful too? If we are conscious that we have behaved shamefully to a true friend, whose love has not been changed by our miserable disloyalty and cheap ingratitude, is it hard to go beyond our ordinary signs of friendship to convince him that we are truly sorry and wish to make amends?
That is all that God looks for, and we shall do that eagerly as soon as we love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul.
The decree of the Eternal Father that all the world be consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is simply the full flowering of the Divine Plan of reparation, of the rebuilding into a strong and perpetual order of peace and joy the nature of the children of men.
The exact formula for the consecration [Father means for each person, not the formula for the Consecration of Russia] was not revealed, nor were all of its essential components specifically stated. But the one who makes and lives the Act of Consecration of St. Louis De Montfort will be sure to obey the Divine injunction, for this act is all-embracing.
Love is giving; love is proved by sacrifice. When we give all, we love best. When we become a royal servant of Mary by giving her everything we have to give away, and really mean what we say and abide by our word, then love can do no more, except from then on to work unceasingly for the Queen, obeying her every wish and command, until at last with her faithful children all around her, never to be parted again, the Queen of Heaven and Earth is crowned Queen of the New Creation.
Consecration and the living of that consecration, the doing of everything Her Majesty wishes with alacrity and joy, the anticipating of her wishes, the seeking to surprise her, if that were possible, by trying to give more, the ceaseless endeavor to be perfectly united to her in thought and will, character, virtue and love, and through her, to her glorious Divine Son-----this is the full-blown rose of Reparation.
Reparation animated by Consecration, with the Rosary, giving the inspiration, the strength and the love for both, and for all they imply-----this is the Message of Fatima.
DUTY OF THE INDIVIDUAL
Salvation is an affair of each individual. So is the reparation now sought and demanded; so is the consecration.
We may draw down from Heaven by prayer and good works graces for others which will touch hearts of flint, but each must ultimately make his own decision to love God above all things. The final choice of salvation or damnation rests with the individual. No one can be saved against his will. He must personally concur with the graces won for him by the rest of the Mystical Body.
The reparation that God seeks is the aligning of all wills with His, the union of man with God. This is the primeval order. To satisfy the Divine will completely, each and every human will must concur in this restoration. No one can straighten a bent nature against its will. It must yield by a personal fiat to all that is being done for it. No one can assume that the penances of Trappists and Poor Clares, and the good works of good people everywhere, are going to take the place of his personal acquiescence and submission to the sweet yoke of God, so that he can ride into Heaven on their merits. In the ultimate analysis, it is the individual who must say: "I do."
So too is the Consecration an affair of the individual will. Both words are important: "individual" and "will."
It is an act of the will that is required, not a play of emotions. Some say acts of consecration, but only their feelings are aroused, not their will. This is like painting a house with whitewash; it looks all right until the winds and the rains and the storms come.
The consecration must be an act of the individual, for to mean anything, it must ultimately be an act of the individual will, and only the individual can command his own will.
The Holy Father gave a shining example to the world on December 8, 1942, by consecrating it to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. But He did not intend this to supply the need for personal concurrence in his action.
The Pope made up the train, the swift express that will bear us to the Heart of God. We must board it of our own free will. He set up the ladder to Heaven, and we must climb. He built the house, and we must live in it.
His Eminence, Samuel Cardinal Stritch, likewise gave resplendent example to his Archdiocese of Chicago and to all good people everywhere, when he knelt before the altar of St. Francis Xavier Church, Chicago, on the occasion of the opening of a solemn, perpetual novena to the Immaculate Heart of our Lady of Fatima, recited the Rosary, said prayers of love and praise, and made the sublime Act of Consecration of St. Louis De Montfort. He then issued an invitation to others to do the same by canonically erecting in that parish the Confraternity of Mary Queen of All Hearts, which has for its main object the making and the living of that Act of Consecration.
Having established the Confraternity, he personally signed his name in the Register as its first member.
The Vicar of Christ and a Prince of the Church, the one the head of the Church and the other the head of the largest archdiocese, one consecrating the world, the other giving the example of personal concurrence-----what more is needed to show men the way to the Heart of Mary and so to the Heart of God?
[Father is speaking again of each person's role in reparation, not the necessity of the Pontiff's consecrating by name, Russia, with all the bishops of the world joining him in their dioceses.]