What is consecration?
Consecration means “to make holy.” God alone is holy, and only he can “make holy.” When one makes an act of consecration, it is always made ultimately to God with the understanding that our consecration is a serious commitment on our part to respond faithfully to God’s grace at work in our lives. This video below by Father Michael Gaitley has a great overview!
How do I prepare?
If God alone is holy, how can we consecrate ourselves to Mary?
An act of consecration to Mary is essentially an act of consecration to Jesus through Mary. As Pope John Paul II explained, “Consecrating ourselves to Mary means accepting her help to offer ourselves and the whole of mankind to him who is holy, infinitely holy; it means accepting her help—by having recourse to her motherly heart, which beneath the cross was opened to love for every human being, for the whole world—in order to offer the world, the individual human being, mankind as a whole, and all the nations to him who is infinitely holy” (May 13, 1982).
“Consecration to the Mother of God,” says Pope Pius XII, “is a total gift of self, for the whole of life and for all eternity; and a gift which is not a mere formality or sentimentality, but effectual, comprising the full intensity of the Christian life – Marian life.” This consecration, the Pope explained, “tends essentially to union with Jesus, under the guidance of Mary.”
Why is there a devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary?
As Pope John Paul II said, “We see symbolized in the Heart of Mary her maternal love, her singular sanctity and her central role in the redemptive mission of her Son” (Sept. 22, 1986).
Benedict XVI notes: “In Biblical language, the ‘heart’ indicates the center of human life, the point where reason, will, temperament and sensitivity converge, where the person finds his unity and his interior orientation. According to Matt 5:8, the ‘immaculate heart’ is a heart which, with God’s grace, has come to the perfect interior unity and therefore ‘sees God.’
“To be ‘devoted’ to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means therefore to embrace this attitude of heart, which makes the fiat—‘your will be done’—the defining center of one’s whole life” (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Theological Commentary on the Third Secret of Fatima).
What is the history of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary?
While there is a long history of consecration to Mary, the practice of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is closely linked to the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. During the third apparition, on July 13, 1917, Our Lady said to the three little shepherds: “God wishes to establish the devotion to her Immaculate Heart in the world in order to save souls from hell and bring about world peace, and also asked for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart.”
Pope Pius XII consecrated the Church and the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Oct. 31, 1942, as World War II continued to rage on. “To you, to your Immaculate Heart, in this tragic hour of human history, we confide our fortunes, putting ourselves in your hands,” the Pope prayed.
John Paul II did the same on May 13, 1982, and again on March 25, 1984, at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Holy Year of the Redemption, in union with many of the bishops around the world. On Oct. 8, 2000, he made an act of entrustment of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the new millennium.
On Friday, May 13, 1983 Bishop Thomas Larkin dedicated the Diocese of St. Petersburg to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In a letter from the diocesan archives, he wrote, the decision was “in response to a request from the Holy Father, John Paul II.”
Between them, Pius XII and John Paul II consecrated the Church and the entire world to Mary a total of eight times. On Oct. 13, 2013, Pope Francis renewed the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and dedicated his pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima.
What about the Sacred Heart of Jesus?
The quickest way to the heart of Jesus is through the heart of Mary. The Church sees Mary not as the goal, but as the guide, who always leads souls who honor her with true devotion—to her Son, especially to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. When we pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for help in time of need, she in turn points to her son, who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” and has a way of conveying to us what she said to the steward at Cana: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn. 2:5).
“Our act of consecration refers ultimately to the Heart of her Son,” John Paul II said, “for as the Mother of Christ she is wholly united to his redemptive mission. As at the marriage feast of Cana, when she said ‘Do whatever he tells you,’ Mary directs all things to her Son, who answers our prayers and forgives our sins. Thus by dedicating ourselves to the Heart of Mary, we discover a sure way to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, symbol of the merciful love of our Savior” (Sept. 22, 1986).
Doesn’t Marian devotion distract you from Christ?
Not according to Saint John Paul II, whose papal motto was “Totus Tuus” [Totally Yours], referring to Mary. He explains his motto in this way: “This phrase is not only an expression of piety, or simply an expression of devotion. It is more. During the Second World War, while I was employed as a factory worker, I came to be attracted to Marian devotion. At first, it had seemed to me that I should distance myself a bit from the Marian devotion of my childhood, in order to focus more on Christ. Thanks to Saint Louis de Montfort, I came to understand that true devotion to the Mother of God is actually Christocentric, indeed, it is very profoundly rooted in the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity, and the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption” (“Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” 1994).
What happens after the consecration?
“The act of entrusting ourselves to the Heart of Our Lady establishes a relationship of love with her in which we dedicate to her all that we have and are,” says Saint John Paul II. “This consecration is practiced essentially by a life of grace, of purity, of prayer, of penance that is joined to the fulfillment of all the duties of a Christian, and of reparation for our sins and the sins of the world” (Sept. 26, 1986).