I thought it fitting, therefore, to end with not only a Marian tip but, arguably the most powerful way to draw closer to Jesus: Consecration to Mary. The following is a list of the twelve words Fr. Michael Gaitley uses to capture the heart of Marian Consecration. This is a quick summary and, if you haven't already, I highly recommend getting a copy of his book, "33 Days to Morning Glory."
Baptism: Our ability to live fully for Jesus comes from the life-giving waters of baptism. Its in this mysterious sacrament that we enter into his life, death, and resurrection. We can do all things in Christ who strengthens us because, through baptism, he literally dwells in us. We become temples of the Holy Spirit, and share in the mission of redemption. Do I see baptism as a responsibility, as a mission? Do I realize that my strength to live for God comes from Christ in the gift of baptism?
Gift: In baptism we receive all that is Christ's. That includes his mother. This is a gift from the Lord to us, and the Consecration is an invitation not only to receive that gift but to offer ourselves as a gift in return. Am I willing to give myself to Mary, to let her truly be my spiritual mother and to allow myself to truly become her spiritual child?
Mystery: The gift of Mary's spiritual motherhood is a mystery that goes far beyond our earthly experience. This was part of God's plan from all eternity. Mary is the vessel of grace for the world, the physical channel through which the love of her Son is poured forth into the created world. Her relationship with the Holy Spirit is spousal - but even more intimate than spousal! In some mysterious way, Mary is a finite reflection of the purity and fruitfulness that is the uncreated Immaculate Conception, the eternal Immaculate Conception, the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. She is "full of grace," and he (the Holy Spirit) moves in her with perfect freedom, so perfectly that she conceives and bears Christ. She has become the vessel through which the Holy Spirit pours the love of Christ into the world. She has become the New Eve, the "mother of the living," for all grace flows through her and into the Body of her Son, the Church. (might want to read that one a few times)
Militia: Consecration is personal but its not a private affair. The Holy Spirit is raising up an army of 'soldiers', a Church united in the arms of a mother, and ready to defeat the wiles of the devil, our spiritual enemy. Scripture tells us that God has put enmity (a "spiritual chasm") between the devil and the woman, and the Consecration unites us perfectly to her. The Holy Spirit is raising up an army that the devil can't touch, the Militia Immaculata, as St. Maximillian Kolbe calls it.
Love: The spiritual life is always a free choice. Its the freedom required for love. In order to unite perfectly to Mary and live fully as her spiritual children, we have to really love her. Have I experienced the tender love of Mary? Am I growing in a tenderness toward her? How can I love her more fully?
Thirst: No one shares in the suffering of Jesus more fully than his mother. She was there; she witnessed his agony. She experienced not just the physical thirst of his bruised and broken body but the deeper, spiritual thirst of his heart. He longs to be our savior and so few allow his merciful love in. Mary knows the thirst of her Son and she longs to quench it. Her mission is to bring us to him, to teach us the depths of his love, and to help us open our hearts fully to receive him as savior, that his thirst and our own may be quenched.
Covenant: The exchange of hearts is nothing less than a covenant. Consecration to Mary is a covenant exchange. It's the making of a family. She becomes our mother, and we become her sons and daughters. In exchange for you, Blessed Mother, I give you me. That's a covenant. Jesus offers this to the Father on the cross and he offers it to us in the Eucharist. He's drawing us into his relationship with the Father, and his relationship with Mary will help open our hearts to receive this divine reality.
Mother: Through this exchange of hearts, this covenant, she really becomes a mother to us. In Scripture, it says that the Beloved Disciple "took her into his home." If we want to let Mary be our mother we must do the same. She must be taken in and made a part of our lives. She must be present in our homes, in our prayers, and even in the love we pour into our relationships. Do I love with Mary's love? Do I pray in and with the heart of Mary? How can I increase this devotion in my life?
Entrustment: The true consecration is the self-consecration of Jesus to the Father. The Consecration to Mary is meant to help us enter more perfectly into Jesus' self-consecration. We entrust ourselves to Mary because not only do we love her as a mother but we know that her entire mission is to lead us deeper into the heart of her Son. Just as the apostles prayed with Mary in the Upper Room as they awaited Pentecost, so too do we pause - throughout each day - at the feet of Mary, and pray for our own rebirth. Trust, and the Spirit will come.
May our efforts to lead people closer to Jesus be truly Marian. May our trustful surrender to his will become abundant channels of grace, and may we too become bearers of Christ to the world.
1 - Share Yourself 2 - Know the Kerygma 3 - Pray. Especially When You Don't Have Time.
4 - Collaborate 5 - Invite. Invite. Invite. 6 - Be Cheerful 7 - Do the Task at Hand
8 - Don't Forget Recess 9 - It Begins with a Smile 10 - The Topic is Always Jesus
11 - The WIIFM Principle 12 - Recapture the Enchantment 13 - Learn to Use Youtube
14 - The Art of Accompaniment 15 - The Art of Listening
16 - Eat Food. It's Part of Evangelization 17 - Everything Leads to Liturgy
18 - Self-love Can Still Be Other-centered 19 - It Will Never Be Perfect, Don't Stress
20 - The "Student" is the Whole Family 21 - Catechesis is a MEANS of Evangelization 22 - The 5 Means of Evangelization 23 - The Christian Life is Service 24 - Doctrine is for Prayer. 25 - From Evangelization to Immanuelization 26 - Humility, Love, and 'Eucharistic' Anticipation 27 - People Change People 28 - Salvation History is Our Story 29 - Mutual Forgiveness 30 - Fraternal Correction 31 - Build-Up Families 32 - Affirmative Orthodoxy 33 - Emphasize the Mission 34 - Talk about Tithing 35 - Recognize Bondage 36 - Encourage Ignatian Discernment 37 - Be Patient. It's a Process. 38 - The Thresholds of Conversion 39 - What... or, better yet, Who is the Parish? 40 - There's no place like a Home 41 - The Etymology of Respect 42 - Connect People 43 - To Receive is to Give 44 - Be Intentional. 45 - Three Birds, One Stone 46 - The Ecclesial Method 47 - The Liturgy of the Hours 48 - The Papal Take on the Preferential Option 49 - The Real Meaning of Apology 50 - Follow the Leaders 51 - Renew the Imagination