Living Total Consecration Throughout the Liturgical Year
One way to grow toward a perfect Marian devotion is to informally renew your Total Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary in conjunction with the feasts and holy days of the Church year. This was the topic of discussion at the Conference Day hosted by the Regina Cordium Praesidium on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. The conference was held at the Montfort Spiritual Center in Bay Shore, NY where thirty-five attendees gathered for the Rosary, Mass and a presentation given by Fr. Hugh Gillespie, SMM.
Before the discussion of consecration renewal, reference was made to True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and The Secret of Mary, both written by St. Louis de Montfort. These books are invaluable to anyone who is intending to make a total consecration, or who would like to renew their consecration, since these writings provide a fullness of understanding and perspective on the process of consecration and the living out of this consecration.
The term “consecration,” means to set aside for a sacred purpose. As consecrated individuals, do we intend to set ourselves aside and trust ourselves to Mary’s care for the purpose of safety? This is a good intention, but according to Fr. De Montfort, safety is not the goal. The better goal is total consecration, which says: “Mary, I give all I have to you. Do what you want with it.” If one seeks total consecration to Mary, he will set aside everything for the purpose of being brought to the kingdom because he ultimately desires a complete belonging to Jesus Christ.
Total consecration is so important that we want to make sure we take the time to do it well. During St. Louis De Montfort’s suggested 33-day preparation, a four-step process is introduced and practiced: (1) renunciation of the world, (2) knowledge of self, (3) knowledge of Mary, and (4) knowledge of Jesus. De Montfort then suggests that consecration day, when the specific consecration prayer is recited, be a carefully chosen Marian feast day. A well done preparation and consecration lead one to a greater devotion to Mary.
A greater devotion to Mary leads one toward a perfect devotion, which requires what St. De Montfort calls holy slavery. St. De Montfort uses the expression holy slavery to illustrate that a total belonging to Mary requires the behaviors and actions similar to those of a good slave. A good slave does not always wait to be told what to do. He is not indifferent, or worse, rebellious. Rather, he knows what his master wants and goes to get it; he embraces his station in life, learns it, and then lives it. A slave of Mary lives each day in a state of being personally devoted to her. He will do all things through Mary, with Mary, in Mary, and for Mary so that all things can be performed “more perfectly through Jesus Christ, with Jesus Christ, in Jesus Christ, and for Jesus Christ.” This is the great work of living Total Consecration.
After learning in greater detail the meaning, purpose and process of total consecration, it is easy to understand that frequent, if not daily, informal renewal in rhythm with the liturgical calendar can be a critical component to living out total consecration. While a formal renewal of Total Consecration is completed on a Marian feast day, informal renewal can take place on any or all feast/holy days in the Church year. The preparation for renewal can be applied over the course of several days, within just one day, or even within just one hour. The length of time is not significant. However, the necessary ingredients are the basic four steps, or movements from St. De Montfort’s 33-day process. The key to this type of renewal is its use of the four movements in combination with the Church calendar. The movements can be focused on giving oneself to Jesus through Mary in light of each particular upcoming feast/holy day, and can be accomplished in a number of ways depending on the time-length available for the preparation.
As long as the four movements are performed and a brief version of the consecration prayer is recited, consecration renewal has taken place. Understanding renewal in this way makes it extremely accessible for celebrating a variety of feasts and encourages an increase in knowledge of the Church’s holy days; additionally, the Church’s rhythm becomes one’s own rhythm. Frequent renewal provides opportunities to give all to Jesus by giving all to Mary during the movements and on the feasts, encouraging the practice of perfect devotion.
It is important to note that adopting the total consecration process into the liturgical calendar using the rhythm of the four movements also retains the authenticity of the spirituality of St. Louis de Montfort, as he has said, that if you embrace the devotion of total consecration, the Holy Spirit is going to teach you. Let us pray that the Spirit continues to reveal to us the true depths of this devotion and its possibilities for bringing the world to Jesus through Mary.
If you are interested in learning more about how to informally renew and live your Total Consecration, you may want to read Fr. Hugh’s recently published book, Living Total Consecration.