CMRI’s Marian Spirit: Total Consecration to the Blessed Virgin
“I am all thine, and all that I have is thine, O most loving Jesus, through Mary, Thy most holy and Immaculate Mother.”
Every religious congregation possesses its own blend of spirituality or unique devotion — the Dominicans have the rosary, the Passionists promote meditation on the Passion and Death of Christ, the Jesuits honor in an special way the Holy Name of Jesus, to name just a few. The Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen has for its special devotion the practice of Total Consecration to the Blessed Virgin as taught by St. Louis Marie de Montfort.
St. Louis, in his famous treatise True Devotion to Mary, says that this devotion is unknown to many, understood by only a few, and practiced by an even smaller number. And yet he calls it, “a short, sure, perfect and secure” way to union with God. By this consecration, the soul gives itself “entirely to Our Lady, in order to belong entirely to Jesus through her.” One’s body, soul, interior and exterior goods — all are consecrated to Jesus through the hands of Mary. As the saint explains:
“By this devotion we give to Jesus Christ in the most perfect manner, inasmuch as it is by Mary’s hands, all we can give Him, and far more than by any other devotions in which we give Him either a part of our good works, or a part of our satisfactions and mortifications; because here everything is given and consecrated to Him, even the right of disposing of our interior goods and of the satisfactions which we gain by our good works day after day.”
St. Louis, describing this devotion says that it is interior, consisting more in an attitude of mind and sentiment of the heart, than in any exterior words or actions. It is tender, like the loving dependence a child has upon its mother. It is holy, in that it leads souls to increase in virtue, and to move steadily closer to God Himself. It is disinterested, in that the devotion is practiced primarily because the Blessed Virgin, blessed abundantly as the sinless Mother of God, is so worthy of our love and veneration. Lastly, true devotion to Our Lady is constant. Those who practice it are not shaken like the wind in their love and devotion, but remain steadfast in their practice of it, even in the face of temptation and trial.
The foundation of this devotion can be found in two incidents in the life of Mary which are related in the New Testament. The first is that of her visit to her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth, filled by the Holy Ghost with the knowledge of the great grace and privilege bestowed upon her young cousin, praises her with the words, “Blessed art thou among women....” (Luke 1:42). Mary’s humble reply is “My soul doth magnify the Lord...for He that is mighty hath done great things to me, and holy is His name....” (Luke 1:46-49). She offers the praise of her cousin immediately to God, the source of all goodness. Thus, in promoting devotion to Mary, the religious are assured that she in turn offers their prayers, sacrifices and praises to God as promptly as she did those of her cousin Elizabeth.
The second narrative is that of the wedding at Cana. The Blessed Virgin, ever attentive to the needs of others, notices that the young bride and groom have run out of wine and appeals to her Divine Son. At her word, despite His own acknowledgment that His “time had not yet come,” Jesus Christ works His first public miracle by turning water into wine. From this account one can easily see how promptly and powerfully the Blessed Virgin Mary intercedes for her children.
St. Louis de Montfort was by no means the first person to practice this devotion to Mary. Saints throughout Church history, like St. Ephrem, St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure, St. Anselm, St. Bernardine, St. Dominic, and St. John Damascene and many others, were known for their fervent devotion to and love for God’s holy Mother. St. Louis, however, was the first to publicly preach it in this form, and to define it as a unique devotion of the Church. During his lifetime he promoted it throughout France, establishing two religious congregations to ensure that its practice would continue. His original treatise, True Devotion to Mary, was lost after his death, and only discovered one hundred and twenty-six years later, in 1842. Since that time, the devotion has spread throughout the world, and received the approbation of many popes, including Pope St. Pius X.
The practice of Total Consecration is open to all persons with a sincere desire to love and please God, regardless of their state in life. It is performed with the complete confidence that Mary will act in their regard as she did in the New Testament accounts just cited. She will offer all one’s good deeds, prayers, and sacrifices to God, keeping nothing for herself. She thereby makes our simple and imperfect gifts more worthy of Him than they would otherwise be. Like a good Mother, she looks out for the needs of her children, obtaining from God by her own fervent prayers, the graces of which they stand in need.
St. Louis de Montfort recommends that preparation for this Consecration be made over a period of 33 days of special prayers and meditation. During this time, one prays to remove himself from the spirit of the world, to know himself more clearly as God knows him, and to know and love Jesus and Mary. Those who then choose to make this Total Consecration, or holy slavery as it is sometimes called, give themselves to the Blessed Virgin in the completest sense imaginable. In a simple ceremony they give and consecrate to Jesus through Mary their entire self, prayers, works, and goods, in order for her to use as she will. They become, as it were, her slaves, and seek thereafter to do all things “by Mary, with Mary, in Mary and for Mary.” In doing so, they imitate in a very real manner, the humble dependence and love Our Lord Himself had for her during His years on earth.
As beautiful as the devotion is in itself, an added incentive for practicing it is found in the words of Mary herself, during the apparitions in Fatima, Portugal. Our Lady told the children, “God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. I promise salvation to those who embrace it, and their souls will be loved by God as flowers placed by myself to adorn His throne.”
At no other time in the history of the world has such a devotion been more needed, for the powers of darkness are great in our day. The religious of CMRI, and all those who practice Total Consecration, join forces in the on-going battle for souls on the side of the Woman whose heel shall ever crush the head of Satan. This Consecration helps all who practice it faithfully, to fulfill in their daily lives, the words of the simple prayer, “Set thyself, O faithful Virgin, as a seal upon my heart, that in Thee and through Thee I may be found faithful to God.”
* For more information about this devotion, please read St. Louis Marie de Montfort’s book, True Devotion to Mary. This excellent work may be found on this website in the catalog listing of Mary Immaculate Queen Center.