In chapter six of Divine Mercy for Moms, Sharing the Lessons of St. Faustina, Emily and I write about Mary, Mother of Mercy, the idea of Marian Consecration and consecrating your children to Mary. We wanted to have a better understanding of these practices to share with you, so I “asked an expert”. Today I share with you a piece written by our friend Keith Berube, who holds a B.A. and an M.A. in Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
I teach Theology and writing at Christ the Teacher College, and Theology, Mariology and also literature at Queen of Heaven Academy. I am currently studying toward a doctorate in Dogmatic Theology with a concentration in Mariology. My wife Pamela and I live in Columbus, Ohio with our five children, a menagerie of pets, and coffee. We attend St. Patrick Catholic Church, the same parish as Emily.
What does being consecrated to Mary mean?
St. Louis de Montfort writes that a person who is consecrated to Mary “…belongs all to Mary, and Mary belongs all to him” (True Devotion paragraph 179).
Yet it is often the case that even good Catholics inadvertently and subconsciously put up a sort of barrier, standing distant from Mary; aloof, you might say, as if they are relating to their not-too-well-liked boss. But neither God nor Mary want this distance, and indeed Mary desires a zero distance relationship; she desires to be one with her beloved (each of us) more than all of the most passionately loving moms and wives put together want to be one with their beloved.
Consecration to Mary is, obviously, a big deal; a real relationship begins. This is just as if you saw someone across the room who you know loves you but with whom you have not much spoken yet—once you decide to go over and begin a friendship, a new relationship is established. And consecration is truly like a sort of marriage since it is a covenant, an exchange of persons: “I am yours and you are mine.”
This relationship could never exist were it not that God gave it to us. Mary of course loves all. She offered her Son on the Cross for each person. But for those who are Catholic—that is, one who is baptized and receives (or will soon) the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of her Son in the Eucharist, and so truly becomes another Christ—in them she sees her Jesus, because we live his life, we are his body. Have you heard that song, “A Thousand Years”? One line goes like this: “Darling, don’t be afraid, I have loved you for a thousand years.” That lyric conveys reality more than the writer could have imagined, like an arrow hitting its target dead center. These are Mary’s words to us, with one modification only—it’s been over two thousand years that she has loved you.
Should I consecrate my children to Mary?
Yes! They already belong to her, given to her by God, carried in her womb, and won by her with her Son at the Cross. When you make a deliberate gift of your children or yourself to her, you let her act—she is freer to form such souls into the image of her Son. She is the mold chosen to form Christ in her womb, and this mold does not change when it comes to forming us into Christ; Mary is where all those destined for Heaven are molded into Christ (even if they don’t know it). Consecration to Mary, then, is a specific way to fully accept this extraordinary and totally undeserved gift from God—his masterpiece, his Daughter, the Princess—as our own beloved, and in so doing we place ourselves under her special protection.
Some may ask at this point, “But isn’t everyone under her protection?” True, she loves everyone, and she protects everyone—in so far as she is allowed! She will never force our free will. Read of Mary, Lady Wisdom, in Proverbs chapter 9: she calls out her invitation to everyone who will listen! But not everyone does listen, and of those who do not everyone goes to meet her. This is a mystery—the Saints say that those who will be saved are, generally speaking, those truly devoted to Mary, since she simply does not lose what she is given. Why are some not apparently given this grace? It is another mystery for which there are few answers in this world. However since love of Mary does result in Heaven (unless it is later knowingly, deliberately and persistently rejected until death), each of us should, as far as possible, bring others to Mary’s sweet embrace, beginning with our own children. There is no greater action you can take to assure your children are in Heaven than to consecrate them to her, and to do so from the very moment you know they are growing in your womb. There is no special trick to this: “Mary, this baby is yours.” Don’t wait, just do it.
For children, given the importance, you don’t want to wait to consecrate them to her. It simply takes an act of the will to make the offering. But then, pick a feast of Mary upon which to make the consecration of your children in a more obvious way: you can use an already composed prayer or you can write one from the heart, and it can be simple or complicated, short or long. You could also pray it after Mass or after the Rosary (the two things that keep us closest to her). When children are older, they can ratify that consecration with their own act of the will. (For an adult, given the great importance of this relationship, consecration deserves preparation and setting a date; but that is another article).
If I want to learn more about Mary, where should I go?