What does it mean to consecrate (or entrust) yourself to Mary? Why should you do it?
A consecration to Mary is more accurately described as a consecration to Jesus through Mary. We go to Mary to get to Jesus, and she is the best possible person to lead us to Him.
Jesus wants us to have a close relationship with His Mother, as He revealed on the Cross:
“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:26-27)
The disciple whom Jesus loved is, in one sense, referring to the apostle John. But John is choosing his words very deliberately here. The disciple whom Jesus loves isn’t only John. It’s you, and me, and anyone who is trying to follow Him with a sincere heart. Jesus is giving Mary to us to be our mother. He’s asking us to take Mary into our homes, into our hearts. He’s entrusting us to Mary’s care. When we consecrate ourselves to Mary, we are simply doing what Jesus asks of us.
One of the great benefits of Marian consecration is that we place all of our petitions, our good works, and our sacrifices in her hands to distribute those graces as she sees fit. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue bringing our petitions to the Lord. But we are trusting that Mary knows how to bring the greatest good from our offerings. I actually find it liberating not to worry about what to pray for. I still pray for all kinds of things, but I trust that Mary is hearing my prayers and using them for the greatest good. I’m surrendering my meager offerings to her, so that as Queen, mother to the King, she can present them to Him and make them beautiful, and He will respond from His limitless love and mercy.
Another great benefit of Marian consecration is that it frees us from the cares of this world. Of course, we’ll still have crosses to bear in this world, but we can trust that Mary our mother is guiding us through all things and seeing us through all difficulties on her journey to her Son. A friend of Saint Maximilian Kolbe recalled that when things were going well he was happy, and “when things went badly he was still happy and used to say, “Why should we be sad? Doesn’t the Immaculata, our little mother, know everything that’s going on?’” Kolbe’s devotion to Mary led him to the ultimate sacrifice: he gave his life at Auschwitz so another could live. And he sang songs of praise with his fellow prisoners as the Nazis starved him to death. That is the level of inner peace consecration to Mary can give.
So how do you consecrate yourself to Mary? You say “yes” to it – just as Mary said “yes” to the angel Gabriel and agreed to become the mother of our Lord. You say a prayer. You give yourself to Mary. You give her permission to from you into a great saint.
There are many prayers of consecration to Mary. You can find several good options here, or you can use your own. However, before consecrating yourself to Mary, it is worthwhile to prepare yourself for consecration. Father Michael Gaitley’s book, 33 Days to Morning Glory, provides short daily reflections over a 33-day period in preparation for Marian consecration. Father Gaitley explores consecration to Mary through the words and deeds of four great saints:
- Saint Louis de Montfort, a 17th century French priest who literally wrote the book on Marian devotion
- Saint Maximilian Kolbe
- Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa)
- Saint Pope John Paul II
Pope Benedict XVI, speaking after the passing of John Paul II, who had entrusted himself to Mary, said, “We can be sure that our beloved pope is standing today at the window of the Father’s house, that he sees us and blesses us. Yes, bless us, Holy Father. We entrust your dear soul to the Mother of God, your Mother, who guided you each day and who will guide you now to the glory of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Of course any day is a good day to consecrate yourself to Mary, but a Marian feast day is a particularly good occasion. Fortunately there are several coming up:
- January 1 is the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God (begin the retreat on November 29)
- February 2 is the Presentation of the Lord (begin the retreat on December 31 – make it your new year’s resolution)
- February 11 is the the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (begin the retreat on January 9)
As Mary told Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta at Fatima, “I will be with you always, and my Immaculate Heart will be your comfort and the way which will lead you to God.”
Image: Leonardo da Vinci, The Annunciation (downloaded from Wikipedia Commons).