Day 2 of 33 days to Marian Consecration

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By Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC

Today's Prayer:
Come, Holy Spirit, living in Mary. Prepare me to give myself fully to living out this true
and solid devotion.

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DAY 2
St. Louis's Influence on the Church

There's a story from St. Louis de Montfort's life that particularly expresses his passion, which we pondered just yesterday. In the town of Pontchâteau, St. Louis inspired the peasants to build a huge monument to the Passion of Christ on a neighboring hill. For 15 months, hundreds of peasants volunteered their skills and labor to build it. When completed, it stood as a massive structure, a real labor of love, and on the day before it was supposed to be dedicated by the bishop, word got back to Louis that his enemies had convinced the government to destroy it. (They had lied to the authorities, saying that the structure was actually meant to be a fortress against the government.) When Louis received this disappointing news, he told the thousands of people who had gathered for the blessing ceremony, "We had hoped to build a Calvary here. Let us build it in our hearts. Blessed be God."

One thing about doing the Lord's work: It doesn't always turn out according to our plans. For example, St. Louis surely had planned that his monument to Christ would last more than a day. Yet the saint obediently accepted the destruction of his plans and blessed God. Because of this kind of detachment from his own will and attachment to God's, Louis became an instrument used by God to accomplish even mightier works. So, although his physical monument was destroyed, Louis's teaching eventually became a huge edifice in the Church that exercised great influence on many Popes and on Catholic spirituality. Indeed, de Montfort's passionate labors paid off in the end, even if he didn't see the fruit himself.

As we are just beginning our preparation for consecration to Jesus through Mary, let's ponder some of the support various Popes have given to St. Louis's teaching. May the testimony of their support strengthen our resolve to journey on to Consecration Day, and may it help us to trust that our consecration truly will bear great fruit in our lives, even if we don't yet fully understand how.

Blessed Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) stated that St. Louis's devotion to Mary is the best and most acceptable form.

Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) not only beatified de Montfort in 1888 but granted a Church indulgence to Catholics who consecrate themselves to Mary using de Montfort's formula. Moreover, this Pope was reportedly so influenced by St. Louis's efforts to spread the Rosary that he wrote 11 encyclicals on this preeminent Marian devotion.

Saint Pope Pius X (1903-1914), like Leo XIII, also recommended de Montfort's teaching on Mary to the faithful. In fact, he granted a plenary indulgence in perpetuum (in perpetuity) to anyone who would pray de Montfort's formula for Marian consecration, and he offered his own apostolic blessing to anyone who would simply read True Devotion. This Pope so strongly encouraged the faithful to follow de Montfort's path of Marian devotion because he himself had experienced its power. In fact, in his Marian encyclical Ad Diem Illum, the saintly Pope expressed his own dependence on de Montfort in writing it, which becomes obvious when one compares it with True Devotion. The Pope's encyclical continually reflects the tone and spirit of de Montfort's classic work as evidenced by sentences like this: "There is no surer or easier way than Mary in uniting all men with Christ."

Pope Pius XI (1922-1939) simply stated, "I have practiced this devotion ever since my youth."

Venerable Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) canonized St. Louis in 1947 and, in his homily for the Mass of canonization, referred to de Montfort's Marian teaching as "solid and right." Then, when the Pope addressed the pilgrims who had come for the canonization, he said that de Montfort leads us to Mary and from Mary, to Jesus, thus summarizing the meaning of Marian consecration.

Saint Pope John Paul II(1978-2005) promoted de Montfort's teaching more than any other Pope. We'll learn more about this during the fourth week of the retreat. It's enough here to recall two amazing facts: First, that John Paul's papal motto was Totus Tuus ("totally yours"), which he took directly from de Montfort's shorter prayer of consecration; second, that John Paul described his reading of True Devotion to Mary as a "decisive turning point" in his life.


Day 1 of 33 days to Marian Consecration

Today's Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, living in Mary.
Help me to make this retreat with generosity and zeal.


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By Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC
This week, we'll focus on the example and words of the first great prophet of Marian consecration. We'll begin by learning about his life, and then we'll ponder the essential aspects of his Marian teaching. [Please note: We do not have space here to cover every essential element of de Montfort's teaching. Omitted elements will be covered in later weeks.]

DAY 1
The Passionate Saint of Brittany

Take a look at a map of France. Now notice something about its shape. See how one part sticks way out almost as if it were running away from the rest of the landmass, ready to dive off into the Celtic Sea? That jutting arm in the northwest of the country is called "Brittany," and that's where St. Louis de Montfort grew up.

There's something special about Brittany that seems to have had an influence on St. Louis: its Celtic roots. Brittany is considered one of the six Celtic nations, meaning that the Celtic language and culture still survive. (So, scratch that part about Brittany being ready to dive into the Celtic Sea. It's already in and swimming.) And one part of Celtic culture seems to have seeped deeply into the heart of St. Louis: the high-spiritedness of its warriors.

From ancient times, Celtic warriors have struck terror in the hearts of their enemies. If you've ever seen the movie Braveheart, you know what I mean. Think of the fearless figure of Sir William Wallace (played by Mel Gibson) and his crazy crew of Scottish Highlanders who take on an English enemy many times their size. This shows something of the Celtic fighting spirit, but the real life version is even more intense.

Often wearing nothing but blue battle paint, real Celtic warriors would work themselves into a blood-thirsty frenzy, rush into combat screaming their heads off, and wildly slash, bash, and slice away at their enemies with huge, two-handed swords. These fierce fighting men, despite their lack of discipline, armor, and order, were extremely effective in battle because of their unmatched passion and ferocity. Throughout history, nobody has wanted to mess with the crazy Celtic warriors.

St. Louis's dad, Jean Grignion, must have been descended from these wild-men warriors, for nobody wanted to mess with him either. In fact, he was known for having the most fiery temper in all of Brittany. As one author puts it, "He was a volcano frequently erupting." St. Louis, on the other hand, was as gentle as a lamb, right? Wrong. He confessed that his temper was just as bad as his father's. But Louis channeled his fiery passion not to threats and violence but to laboring for the greater Glory of God — well, except for the time he knocked out a couple of drunks who wouldn't stop heckling him while he preached. We can get a better sense of Louis's remarkable zeal if we reflect on his short but incredibly productive priestly life.

When he died in 1716, St. Louis was just 43 years old, having been a priest for only 16 years. Tireless labors to bring souls to Jesus through Mary, especially by his preaching an endless succession of parish missions, brought about his early death. As if these life-sapping labors weren't suffering enough, Louis had to bear vicious persecution from the clergy and Jansenist heretics, even to the point of being physically attacked and poisoned by them. Despite all this, our indomitable warrior kept advancing on the battlefield, continuously preaching his trademark path to Jesus through Mary. In fact, when leaders in the Church in France thought they had put an end to his work, Louis walked the thousand-mile journey to Rome and asked the Pope for his wisdom and counsel. The Pope not only told him to go back to France and continue preaching but awarded him the title "Apostolic Missionary." Obediently and joyfully, our saint returned to France where he continued to preach, write, and patiently bear his many sufferings out of love for Jesus, Mary, and souls.

St. Louis's passion and zeal lit a fire in a young Karol Wojtyła, the future Pope John Paul II. A few years before his death, the Pope was able to realize a lifelong dream and visit de Montfort's tomb. He said on that occasion, "I am happy to begin my pilgrimage in France under the sign of this great figure. You know that I owe much to this saint, and to his True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin."

Now what about us? Do we have a fire in our hearts as we begin this retreat? We should. Or at least we should strive for it. Desire and generosity are key ingredients to making a successful retreat. May Mary intercede for us, and may the Holy Spirit fill us with a passion to conscientiously make these days of retreat, despite any fatigue, distractions, or obstacles. And let's remember that what we may have to endure in terms of the discipline of prayer is nothing compared to what St. Louis went through, and he'll be interceding for us. Relying on his intercession and that of the Mother of God, let's resolve right now to dedicate ourselves to this retreat with the intensity and zeal of a Celtic warrior — though without all the face-paint and screaming.

33 days to Marian Consecration - What is it?

Sign up below to join us during the 33-days to Marian Consecration from Nov. 5th-Dec. 8th

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Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary truly is “the surest, easiest, shortest, and the most perfect means” to becoming a Saint, and the 33 days are the best way to dive in to such a blessing. - Father Michael Gaitley

“Mary, I want to be a Saint. I know that you also want me to be a Saint and that it’s your God-given mission to form me into one. So, Mary, at this moment, on this day, I freely choose to give you my full permission to do your work in me, with your Spouse, the Holy Spirit.”

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Marian consecration basically means giving Mary our full permission (or as permission as we can) to complete her motherly task in us, which is to form us into other Christs. Thus, by consecrating ourselves to Mary, each of us is saying to her we want her help to form us into Saints.

As soon as Mary hears us make such a decision, she flies to us and begins working a masterpiece of grace within our souls. She continues this work for as long as we don’t deliberately choose to change our choice from a yes to a no, as long as we don’t take back our permission and leave her. That being said, it’s always a good idea for us to strive to deepen our “yes” to Mary. For the deeper our “yes” becomes, the more marvelously she can perform her works of grace in our souls.

One of the greatest aspects of being consecrated to Mary is that she’s such a gentle mother. She makes the lessons of the Cross into something sweet, and she pours her motherly love and solace into our every wound. Going to her and giving her permission to do her job truly is the “surest, easiest, shortest and the most perfect means” to becoming a Saint. What joy it is to be consecrated to Jesus through Mary! (Source Father Michael Gaitley from his book, “33 Days to Morning Glory”)

How the 33 day Retreat Works:

Every week of this four-week retreat (plus five days for review), we’ll read about how one of our four giants (St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximillian Kolbe, Blessed Mother Teresa, St. Pope John Paul II) of Marian consecration lived out his or her consecration to Jesus through Mary. The goal will be not just to read about them and their teaching but, like Mary, to ponder their message in their hearts. So, for 33 days, we won’t be going through a long list of prayers. Rather, we’ll do our best to spend all day, each day, pondering the day’s teaching. As we know from Sacred Scripture, this heart-pondering attitude is specifically Marian (see Luke 2:19, 51), and it’s something we can do no matter how busy we are.

Our goal during these 33 days is to remain in an atmosphere of heart-pondering prayer.

Also, if you miss a day, that is ok! Do not be discouraged. Instead read the text for the day(s) you missed and keep going. The Lord knows what’s in our hearts, and if our desire truly is to make the consecration, we shouldn’t let any temptations stop us.

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