The world tells us that friendships between women are filled with catty remarks, judgmental attitudes and backstabbing. But the Marian example shows feminine friendships filled with humility, authentic joy and heart-to-hearts.
Over the past couple of weeks, The Blessed Mother and I have gotten a lot closer as soul friends. The mornings that I have during my babysitting job are usually spent on a nature walk, where I say a rosary and chat with Mary. We have quite a bit to talk about these days, with a lot of changes and vocation discernment. Especially with my desires to stay home with littles, I wanted an example of someone who dedicated her life to the Lord's vocational plan for her as a mother.
Who better to imitate than the Blessed Virgin herself? Her humility, gentleness, caring spirit and docility to God's will are all character traits of hers that I am no where close to accomplishing myself. Which is why I'm renewing my Marian consecration this summer and delving further into Mary's Immaculate Heart.
What is Marian Consecration?
You're renewing your what? If that's the question you had after reading that last section, let's take a crash course through what a Marian Consecration is. St. Louis de Monfort, a French saint, had a special devotion to the Blessed Mother. He introduced the concept of consecrating oneself to Mary in the 18th century, and the practice has only bloomed from then. Great saints such as Mother Teresa, John Paul II, and Maximilian Kolbe have entrusted themselves to Jesus through Mary.
Louis de Monfort's practice of total consecration is made up of seven components: acknowledging one's own unworthy state, deepening one's faith like Mary did, giving God pure love, becoming totally confident in God and Mary's abilities, joining with the spirit of Mary, transforming into the likeness of Christ, and giving all the glory to Christ.
The book that I use for my Marian Consecration is by Michael E. Gaitley, MIC. It's called 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat In Preparation for Marian Consecration. It goes through St. Louis life, as well as some major rock star saints who loved the Blessed Virgin. After 33 days of preparation, you end on one of the great Marian feast days and consecrate yourself to Mary at the end.
A Marian Slave After my first Marian consecration last summer, I adventured down to the local hardware store and picked out 6 inches of chain. I looped it around my ankle and used a pair of pliers to set it in place. I plan on wearing it to the grave.
Let me tell you, it's sometimes inconvenient wearing a chain around your ankle. For instance, I usually have to buy a half size up on my shoes now that I have a chain to account for. I know what you're thinking: This seems a little extreme - a chain? What does it symbolize?
St. Louis de Montfort wrote about the practice of wearing a chain after the consecration prayer as a physical symbol of total consecration to Mary.
"Thus set free, we are bound to Jesus and Mary not by compulsion and force like galley-slaves, but by charity and love as children are to their parents. "I shall draw them to me by chains of love" said God Most High speaking through the prophet. Consequently, these chains are as strong as death, and in a way stronger than death, for those who wear them faithfully till the end of their life. For though death destroys and corrupts their body, it will not destroy the chains of their slavery, since these, being of metal, will not easily corrupt. It may be that on the day of their resurrection, that momentous day of final judgment, these chains, still clinging to their bones, will contribute to their glorification and be transformed into chains of light and splendor. Happy then, a thousand times happy, are the illustrious slaves of Jesus in Mary who bear their chains even to the grave."
The chain on my ankle has become a symbol of something deeper - a desire to bind my wandering heart to Mary. Why Mary? Why not directly to Christ? Because Christ loves His Mother. One of my favorite stories about the interaction between Christ and Mary is John 2:1-12. Mary sees the groom and bride have run out of wine. So she turns to Christ and ask Him to work a miracle, even though it's not His time yet. She simply turns to the servants and says "Do whatever He tells you." Mary knows Christ's heart - He is her son after all. So who better to bind myself to? The Blessed Mother acknowledges my desires and heart aches and brings them before her son for me. What a gem.
Are you interested in consecrating yourself to the Blessed Virgin? Check out Deacon Keith's article on more Marian theology. After you're ready to start your consecration, there are a couple of options. You can go with the original St. Louis de Monfort's approach, join myself and Father Gaitley on the 33 day miniature retreat, and even focus on the most recent Marian Saint, Pope John Paul II with this specific retreat with his writings.