Sunday, December 15, 2013

Total Consecration to Jesus - What's Mary Got to Do With It?

What does it mean to be consecrated to Jesus through Mary? St. Louis De Montfort wrote the book on the subject. It is popularly known as True Devotion to Mary. De Montfort himself though, spoke of the devotion to Mary he prescribed as being "a perfect consecration to Jesus Christ." As difficult as this may be for some Christian brothers and sisters to understand, that is Marian devotion's raison d'etre. What De Montfort espoused was entrusting ourselves to Jesus' Mother, our Mother, totally and completely. We ask the Holy Spirit to join our hearts to Mary's - that the grace that was in her, the complete and total commitment she had to her Son Jesus, will be participated in by us as well. Sounds heretical? It sounded very foreign to me too, but after years of looking at it and seeing its fruits in others, such as John Paul II, I espouse it as well.

The Apostles themselves gave us the doctrinal foundations! Listen to this beautiful image given us by the Apostle Peter, "Come to Jesus, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God's sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:4-5). The Apostle Paul developed it further, teaching that "we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another" (Romans 12:5). In being fused to Jesus, we find ourselves then, at the level of the soul, mysteriously joined to one another. As a result, Paul could teach that "If one member of the Body suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together" (1 Cor.12:26); and could even claim, "in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church" (Colossians 1:24).

And so, the grace that is in one member of the Body can be of benefit to all. And who received the grace to love Jesus with a perfectly pure heart from the moment of conception? Who was a disciple to Him like no one else in the cosmos? Our Mother Mary! As the angel Gabriel said, she is the "Kecharitomene," the one who is "completely filled" with God's grace. She is the Church's ultimate success story, God's greatest masterpiece of grace! Now that's the living stone that I want to be fitted to, the cell of the Body that I want to be functioning alongside. The grace that God gave her disposed her to overcome every difficulty and give herself to Him without reserve, so that the Holy Spirit could fashion Jesus within her. I want that grace that God poured into Mary, to yield to Him as she did! My soul, of itself, is still so underdeveloped, has so many impediments that prevent the Holy Spirit from moving it the way He wishes.

Do you remember your Old Testament? The great prophet Elijah told his pupil Elisha to ask a favor of him before he (Elijah) was assumed into heaven. Elisha's request? "I pray you, let me inherit a double share of your spirit" (2 Kings 2:9). And that was exactly what Elisha got! Well, there's no way we can receive a "double" portion of the grace Mary did - since as Mother of the Incarnate Word she received more than all of the angles and saints put together! - but she and the Holy Spirit sure want us to participate in it! They want us to tap into it to accelerate our spiritual growth. Again, as Paul said, "we are members of one another." To share in the grace given to Mary's soul is to make ourselves ever more docile instruments of the Holy Spirit, more perfect disciples of Christ Jesus! And this brings me back to that thought I was struck by earlier this week:

I was meditating on the third Luminous Mystery, Jesus' Proclamation of the Kingdom. My mind turned to that episode when Jesus was preaching, and He was told that His Mother and family were outside. He looked at those sitting around Him and said, "Here are my mother and my brethren! Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother" (Matt.12:49-50). I've always understood Jesus to be saying that we are to share in the mission of His Mother, the mission of doing God's will by giving Him our flesh and allowing Him to "enter the world" through us. And that's true. But for the first time, I recognized Jesus' words as having a deep fulfillment in this idea of being consecrated to Him through spiritual union with Mary. It is "common" to think of ourselves as Jesus' brothers and sisters, but mother strikes us a bit strange. Not when we conceive of it as our souls being knit to Mary's by the Holy Spirit though. Not when we understand it as being allowed to share in that beautiful grace that was hers - becoming completely fluid in the Hands of the Spirit, so that He can form Christ Jesus in our souls as He did within the womb of Mary.

We become completely Mary's (as Jesus did in the Incarnation), so that we may become more perfectly Jesus'. Our Lady stands before us today as she did Juan Diego, "Am I not here, who is your Mother?"

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