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A Catholic Newbie’s Take on Total Consecration to Mary

Consecration to MaryA year ago, I could never have imagined myself doing this. 10 years ago, I would have thought I’d lost my mind :). But never say never is a lesson I’ve learned over and over and over! What am I doing? I am consecrating myself to Mary.

At the beginning of my Catholic conversion, I did not feel a particular affection for Mary. I certainly had nothing against her, but I guess I didn’t feel I knew her very well. Other things drew my attention like the Benedictines and the Liturgy of the Hours. But in year two, the year I actually became Catholic, Mary began to draw me to her.

At first, I went from praying the rosary occasionally and sometimes once weekly to once a day. Boy, did that draw me closer to Mary! I began to read about saints who had a particular devotion to her and I desired to know more about Mary. I read Marge Fenelon‘s “Imitating Mary,” which is a great read on relating Mary to our own lives. It looks at each of the stories in the Bible about Mary and contemplates how she might have felt and how we can relate as women and mothers.

Then, I felt called to read some of the works of St. Louis de Monfort, a saint who was a true devotee to Mary. This is where I learned about Total Consecration to Mary. This is a tough concept to get your mind around, and as you read this, if this is new to you, I encourage you just to ponder it. Let it float around in your head, read more and keep contemplating before you make up your mind. It takes some study to truly understand the concept, and once you get, I promise, you’ll really get it! Remember, never say never! Here goes…

Total Consecration involves giving yourself and the merits of your works here on earth to Mary for safekeeping and for distribution. So all the sufferings and sacrifices I undergo, all the penances I place on myself and all the good works I do are given to Mary for her to dole out as grace to whomever she deems. AND, it involves offering yourself as a “slave” to Mary to let her mold you within her womb in the image of her son.

So on first read, this is a scary and revolutionary prospect. I definitely almost had jaws fall open as I read it myself. But I kept reading because I wanted to understand it. The Church has approved it, approved all of St. Louis’ writings and many popes have consecrated themselves. So it MUST be something good :).

Lots of people get stuck on “slave” and “letting Mary collect and distribute the merits of our works.” This takes humility and trust. “Slave” is a word St. Paul used many times in a good way. If we are slaves to Christ, which in this instance we are through the guidance of his mother Mary, it’s good! He will direct us and use us for good! For saving souls! He knows infinitely more than we do. Shouldn’t we trust his guidance rather than our own? Surrendering our will to his is a biggie, but reaps untold benefits not just for our souls but for all souls.

Secondly, I had the hardest time with the idea that I couldn’t direct my works toward the benefit of certain people any more. So here’s what I did. I decided that “just today” I would give to Mary the benefit of my works and see how it felt. Well, gosh darn, it felt great, so I did it again and again and again. I haven’t done Total Consecration yet (I’m going through the process with Gary Zimak to be finished October 7), but I’m still giving Mary all my works and you would not believe the miracles and amazing things that have happened to me. None of the people I pray for have suffered, and in fact, it seems, that they’ve benefited all the more. Gary Zimak says that Mary takes your merits and multiples them, so there’s more to go around. So perhaps Mary decides not only to help the family member you’ve prayed for, but is able to help another soul in purgatory or across the world, as well.

I have seen my family members healed, take 180-degree mental turns, had an opportunity to work with someone I never could have imagined, and so much more. That said, I have also been “pruned” and “molded” quite a bit too. It’s a bit painful and unpleasant, but I see what’s happening. God is taking things away from me that I don’t need and giving me infinitely better things; that’s just part of the molding. It’s truly awe-inspiring.

So I think I’m on the right path… I KNOW I’m on the right path. We may still need to get our brains to understand the concept, but let me tell you, your soul will get it!

I’ll talk more about Total Consecration in future blog posts, as there’s a lot more to it and I don’t want anyone to think it’s about worshiping Mary. It’s instead about taking advantage of Mary’s guidance, wisdom and parenting (which God chose to use to raise his only Son for THIRTY years) to bring us more quickly and more perfectly to her son. I like to think of the mystery of the finding in the temple. Mary is our guide to find Jesus and he’s always in his Father’s house.

Anyone already done Total Consecration? How did it change your life? Please send any questions you have and I’ll do my best to answer them as a Consecration Newbie :). Blessed Virgin, Pray for Us!

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My Favorite Bible Verse: Matthew 11:30

Gospel of Matthew 11:30Today I thought I’d share thus far my favorite Bible verse that I’ve come across. While the Bible isn’t new to me, knowing it intimately and well is and I feel like I’m discovering it for the first time.

We all have a passage or two that speaks to us and this is one that has spoken loudly to me when I’ve come across it in reading and in Mass. It provides me with a sense of comfort, calm and peace and reminds me THIS is the right path.

The verse is spoken by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 11, Verses 28-30:

“Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

We all carry heavy burdens in life. Don’t we want a way to rest, to allow someone to take the load for a little bit? My favorite is the last sentence which I repeat to myself in times of worry, in times of noise and in times of uncertainty. It is so very calming. I find myself declaring, “Yessss….!!!”

“Gentle” and “lowly” also stand out to me as key words. Humility is something I am working on and this is a reminder, and I love the thought of “gentle” Jesus. It makes Him seem so approachable.

How does this verse speak to you? What is your favorite Bible verse? Thanks for reading today and sharing your thoughts!

Embracing Humility

HumilityAs I reorder my life to be more in line with the Catholic church and what God asks of us to become more holy and more saintly, humility is a quality I come upon again and again. All through my life, it has been incredibly important to me for others to approve of what I have done – in work, in life, as a mom, as a wife. I thrive on compliments and am dismayed when someone doesn’t like work that I’ve done.

I think this speaks to the true essence of humility. Because I am concerned what others think, that is demonstrating too much pride. If I were humble, I would not care what others think. I would be doing the work for the work’s sake, to please God in that moment.

In the “Rule of St. Benedict,” the saint who developed a guide for the operation of monastaries, Benedict says we must remember that everything good we do comes from God, not us; that’s a lesson in humility. And one that I take to heart and remember in moments of pride. In fact, he lists 7 steps to humility that may not apply completely in today’s world, but which the essence of which certainly does. It’s a great, simple read and a wonderful guide to life.

I’ve also been reading some of the writings of Mother Teresa and I felt like she really explained humility well in the book “No Greater Love” (put that on your book list to read!). She says “Do not pursue spectacular deeds. We must deliberately renounce all desires to see the fruit of our labor, doing all we can as best we can, leaving the rest in the hands of God.” Also, “Never bother about people’s opinions. Be humble and you will never be disturbed. The Lord has willed me here where I am. He will offer a solution.” Beautiful…

And more recently I came across a Biblical passage noting, “God is the only judge.” Also, a great nugget to keep in mind when worry or sadness affects you based on someone else’s opinion.

Are others out there struggling with pride? Join me on this journey to become more humble and fully embrace humility. Let’s find joy in our daily work – from sweeping and laundry, to the office and our family – and do it not so someone will comment on a job well done, but because it will please God and is good for our family, ourselves and the world.

Humility at the Grocery Store

Humility is a big area that I feel I need to work on as a future Catholic and an admirer of Benedict’s Rule (a book written hundreds of years ago as a guide for monasteries). St. Benedict even outlines something like seven steps to humility!

I feel myself too wrapped up in self, focused on what do I need/want/feel like at any given moment. It is Christ’s and Catholic teaching to shift the focus to others. Christ was the original “servant leader,” washing the feet of his apostles. Benedict, in fact, instructs monks to welcome all visitors as Christ, washing their feet in a sign of humility.

So, while pondering all this one day, I found a perfect place to put it into practice: the grocery store! It was a busy day, and time and again I started to hurry past someone, only to stop and realize I need not be in such a hurry. Let this other person finish their task and THEN I can go.

How many times did I almost bump into someone going around a corner only to end up in the inevitable “dance” of who goes first? In a practice of humility, I determined to let whomever I bumped into go first. I am not the most important person; let them go.

I also found the opportunity to shine the light of Christ within me to all I saw. Why not smile at your fellow man and share a bit joy? You see so many people in the grocery store; that’s the chance to make everyone’s day just a bit brighter.

And in the parking lot, I determined to be patient, unhurried and defer to others.

Who knew one could learn a lesson in humility at the grocery? But as Benedict teaches, it’s in the little moments that make for a joyful life.

Where have you/can you practice humility?