complete consecration to Mary
120. As all
perfection consists in our being conformed, united and consecrated to
Jesus it naturally follows that the most perfect of all devotions is
that which conforms, unites, and consecrates us most completely to
Jesus. Now of all God's creatures Mary is the most conformed to Jesus.
It therefore follows that, of all devotions, devotion to her makes for
the most effective consecration and conformity to him. The more one is
consecrated to Mary, the more one is consecrated to Jesus.
That is why perfect consecration to Jesus is but a perfect and complete
consecration of oneself to the Blessed Virgin, which is the devotion I
teach; or in other words, it is the perfect renewal of the vows and
promises of holy baptism.
121. This devotion consists in giving oneself entirely to Mary in order
to belong entirely to Jesus through her. It requires us to give:
Our body with
its senses and members;
Our soul with its faculties;
Our present material possessions and all we shall acquire in the
Our interior and spiritual possessions, that is, our merits, virtues
and good actions of the past, the present and the future.
In other words,
we give her all that we possess both in our natural life and in our
spiritual life as well as everything we shall acquire in the future in
the order of nature, of grace, and of glory in heaven. This we do
without any reservation, not even of a penny, a hair, or the smallest
good deed. And we give for all eternity without claiming or expecting,
in return for our offering and our service, any other reward than the
honour of belonging to our Lord through Mary and in Mary, even though
our Mother were not–as in fact she always is–the most generous and
appreciative of all God's creatures.
122. Note here that two things must be considered regarding our good
works, namely, satisfaction and merit or, in other words, their
satisfactory or prayer value and their meritorious value. The
satisfactory or prayer value of a good work is the good action in so
far as it makes condign atonement for the punishment due to sin or
obtains some new grace. The meritorious value or merit is the good
action in so far as it merits grace and eternal glory. Now by this
consecration of ourselves to the Blessed Virgin we give her all
satisfactory and prayer value as well as the meritorious value of our
good works, in other words, all the satisfactions and the merits. We
give her our merits, graces and virtues, not that she might give them
to others, for they are, strictly speaking, not transferable, because
Jesus alone, in making himself our surety with his Father, had the
power to impart his merits to us. But we give them to her that she may
keep, increase and embellish them for us, as we shall explain later,
and we give her our acts of atonement that she may apply them where she
pleases for God's greater glory.
123. It follows then: (1) that by this devotion we give to Jesus all we
can possibly give him, and in the most perfect manner, that is, through
Mary's hands. Indeed we give him far more than we do by other devotions
which require us to give only part of our time, some of our good works
or acts of atonement and penances. In this devotion everything is given
and consecrated, even the right to dispose freely of one's spiritual
goods and the satisfactions earned by daily good works. This is not
done even in religious orders. Members of religious orders give God
their earthly goods by the vow of poverty, the goods of the body by the
vow of chastity, their free will by the vow of obedience, and sometimes
their freedom of movement by the vow of enclosure. But they do not give
him by these vows the liberty and right to dispose of the value of
their good works. They do not despoil themselves of what a Christian
considers most precious and most dear– his merits and satisfactions.
124. (2) It follows then that anyone who in this way consecrates and
sacrifices himself voluntarily to Jesus through Mary may no longer
dispose of the value of any of his good actions. All his sufferings,
all his thoughts, words, and deeds belong to Mary. She can then dispose
of them in accordance with the will of her Son and for his greater
glory. This dependence, however, is without detriment to the duties of
a person's present and future state of life. One such duty, for
example, would be that of a priest who, by virtue of his office or
otherwise, must apply the satisfactory or prayer value of the Holy Mass
to a particular person. For this consecration can only be made in
accordance with the order established by God and in keeping with the
duties of one's state of life.
125. (3) It follows that we consecrate ourselves at one and the same
time to Mary and to Jesus. We give ourselves to Mary because Jesus
chose her as the perfect means to unite himself to us and unite us to
him. We give ourselves to Jesus because he is our last end. Since he is
our Redeemer and our God we are indebted to him for all that we are.
2. A perfect renewal of baptismal promises
126. I have said
that this devotion could rightly be called a perfect renewal of the
vows and promises of holy baptism. Before baptism every Christian was a
slave of the devil because he belonged to him. At baptism he has either
personally or through his sponsors solemnly renounced Satan, his
seductions and his works. He has chosen Jesus as his Master and
sovereign Lord and undertaken to depend upon him as a slave of love.
This is what is done in the devotion I am presenting to you. We
renounce the devil, the world, sin and self, as expressed in the act of
consecration, and we give ourselves entirely to Jesus through Mary. We
even do something more than at baptism, when ordinarily our godparents
speak for us and we are given to Jesus only by proxy. In this devotion
we give ourselves personally and freely and we are fully aware of what
we are doing.
In holy baptism we do not give ourselves to Jesus explicitly through
Mary, nor do we give him the value of our good actions. After baptism
we remain entirely free either to apply that value to anyone we wish or
keep it for ourselves. But by this consecration we give ourselves
explicitly to Jesus through Mary's hands and we include in our
consecration the value of all our actions.
127. "Men" says St. Thomas, "vow in baptism to renounce the devil and
all his seductions." "This vow," says St. Augustine, "is the greatest
and the most indispensable of all vows." Canon Law experts say the same
thing: "The vow we make at baptism is the most important of all vows."
But does anyone keep this great vow? Does anyone fulfill the promises
of baptism faithfully? Is it not true that nearly all Christians prove
unfaithful to the promises made to Jesus in baptism? Where does this
universal failure come from, if not from man's habitual forgetfulness
of the promises and responsibilities of baptism and from the fact that
scarcely anyone makes a personal ratification of the contract made with
God through his sponsors?
128. This is so true that the Council of Sens, convened by order of the
Emperor Louis the Debonair to remedy the grave disorders of
Christendom, came to the conclusion that the main cause of this moral
breakdown was man's forgetfulness of his baptismal obligations and his
disregard for them. It could suggest no better way of remedying this
great evil than to encourage all Christians to renew the promises and
vows of baptism.
129. The Catechism of the Council of Trent, faithful interpreter of
that holy Council, exhorts priests to do the same and to encourage the
faithful to remember and hold fast to the belief that they are bound
and consecrated as slaves to Jesus, their Redeemer and Lord. "The
parish priest shall exhort the faithful never to lose sight of the fact
that they are bound in conscience to dedicate and consecrate themselves
for ever to their Lord and Redeemer as his slaves."
130. Now the Councils, the Fathers of the Church and experience itself,
all indicate that the best remedy for the frequent lapses of Christians
is to remind them of the responsibilities of their baptism and have
them renew the vows they made at that time. Is it not reasonable
therefore to do this in our day and in a perfect manner by adopting
this devotion with its consecration to our Lord through his Blessed
Mother? I say "in a perfect manner", for in making this consecration to
Jesus they are adopting the perfect means of giving themselves to him,
which is the most Blessed Virgin Mary.
131. No one can object that this devotion is novel or of no value. It
is not new, since the Councils, the Fathers of the Church, and many
authors both past and present, speak of consecration to our Lord or
renewal of baptismal vows as something going back to ancient times and
recommended to all the faithful. Nor is it valueless, since the chief
source of moral disorders and the consequent eternal loss of Christians
spring from the forgetfulness of this practice and indifference to it.
132. Some may object that this devotion makes us powerless to help the
souls of our relatives, friends and benefactors, since it requires us
to give our Lord, through Mary, the value of our good works, prayers,
penances, and alms-giving.
To them I reply:
(1) It is
inconceivable that our friends, relatives and benefactors should suffer
any loss because we have dedicated and consecrated ourselves
unconditionally to the service of Jesus and Mary; it would be an
affront to the power and goodness of Jesus and Mary who will surely
come to the aid of our relatives, friends and benefactors whether from
our meagre spiritual assets or from other sources.
(2) This devotion does not prevent us from praying for others, both the
living and the dead, even though the application of our good works
depends on the will of our Blessed Lady. On the contrary, it will make
us pray with even greater confidence. Imagine a rich man, who, wanting
to show his esteem for a great prince, gives his entire fortune to him.
Would not that man have greater confidence in asking the prince to help
one of his friends who needed assistance? Indeed the prince would only
be too happy to have such an opportunity of proving his gratitude to
one who had sacrificed all that he possessed to enrich him, thereby
impoverishing himself to do him honour. The same must be said of our
Lord and our Lady. They will never allow themselves to be outdone in
133. Some may
say, perhaps, if I give our Lady the full value of my actions to apply
it to whom she wills, I may have to suffer a long time in purgatory.
This objection, which arises from self-love and from an unawareness of
the generosity of God and his holy Mother, refutes itself.
Take a fervent and generous soul who values God's interests more than
his own. He gives God all he has without reserve till he can give no
more. He desires only that the glory and the kingdom of Jesus may come
through his Mother, and he does all he can to bring this about. Will
this generous and unselfish soul, I ask, be punished more in the next
world for having been more generous and unselfish than other people?
Far from it! For we shall see later that our Lord and his Mother will
prove most generous to such a soul with gifts of nature, grace and
glory in this life and in the next.
134. We must now consider as briefly as possible:
1) The motives
which commend this devotion to us,
2) the wonderful effects it produces in faithful souls,
3) the practices of this devotion.