St. Louis de Montfort’s Total Consecration
One of the ways that we, as the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist, pray very specially is through what is called the total consecration to Mary by a very beautiful saint, St. Louis de Montfort. I’m going to talk a little bit about him before I explain this consecration.
St. Louis de Montfort lived in the mid 18th century, and he was a diocesan priest who became a third order Dominican. He had a radical love of the Blessed Mother and the Eucharist. If he believed, he believed totally. If he loved, he loved totally. There was such a radicalism to him that people either really loved him, or really didn’t. He was one of the earliest writers in Mariology, one of the first to write about the Blessed Mother with a deep love.
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Now, you wouldn’t love the Mother of God if you didn’t also love the Son. It would make no sense not to love them both. Catholics worship God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but we have a different kind of great devotion to the Mother of God because Jesus certainly loved His Mother.
God loved the Mother of the second person of the Blessed Trinity, so it makes sense that if we miss Her, we’ve missed a huge hunk of our spirituality.
The whole world becomes so much more alive when we clue into the perfect woman’s heart, with no original sin, and chosen out of all the women that will ever live to mother God Himself. The link between the Eucharist and Mary is that Mary carried the Eucharist – the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ Himself – within Her for nine months. And then, of course, when He was born, She was the Mother, who stood faithfully beside Him, who suffered with Him, and who also knew his infinite wisdom.
The beautiful book that St. Louis de Montfort wrote is about eternal wisdom. He even began a community of sisters to reflect that beautiful teaching, The Daughters of Wisdom. He was very passionate about Jesus and Mary. He traveled throughout France and became well known. However, as I said, he met a few people who didn’t agree with him. He would build shrines to Mary, and his enemies would tear them down. But he would go back and rebuild. Tearing things down doesn’t necessarily involve God, and I think that’s very important for us to remember with this great saint that suffered from those who did not appreciate his teaching. He even proposed that his teaching would disappear for 100 years. If you know the French Revolution and all its sorrow and heartache, then you understand why he was able to know, through the grace of God, that this teaching would disappear and yet have a resurrection similar to Christ.
Most of the popes throughout the last century or so made that total consecration to Mary. Many popes were influenced by St. Louis de Montfort and his teaching. In the 19th century, Pope Leo XIII granted indulgences for practicing de Montfort’s method of Marian consecration. Pope Pius IX considered it to be “the best and most acceptable form of Marian devotion.” Pope Pius XII, who was pope during World War II, also made total consecration to Mary. Where would you turn if you were leading the world spiritually during the horrors of a world war? I think you would say, “Mother of God, you knew this suffering. You watched your Son go through it. Will you help our fallen world that is so messed up and suffering, and stop the rivers of blood that are being shed in so many countries?” Those thoughts and prayers continue today. From the human standpoint, we know how difficult it is to give your life for Christ, and therefore, we rely totally on God.
Another pope who loved this total consecration, Pope St. John Paul the Great, is canonized. Coming from Poland, a land very rich in Marian devotion, he tells us that even as a young man working in the salt quarries, that someone gave him a book and said, “Karol, read this book sometime when you’re working.” The book was Total Consecration to Mary. At his death, that book was found in one of his desk drawers.
Now, what does Pope John Paul II say about this devotion? He recalls, “I read this book many times with right personal spiritual awe. Then I understood that I could not exclude the Lord’s mother from my life without neglecting His Will.” His personal motto was always “totus tuus” taken from St. Louis de Montfort. If you were able to go to Rome when he was pontiff, and go behind the Vatican, there’s a large hill, and in flowers constantly was the shield of John Paul II saying, “Totus tuus Maria”, translating to “Totally yours Mary.” And what did that shield have? It simply had a large cross. He knew who he was about. Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected. And below that was the large M for Mary. Everyone questioned, “Is there anything else that you want to reflect? This is too simple.” He would say, “No, it says everything I choose to say to the world to Jesus, through Mary.”
I mentioned in the past that every morning our community renews our total consecration to Mary right after our Eucharistic adoration. What more perfect time to do it? Jesus brings us to His Mother. His Mother brings us to Jesus. And that line-up all comes to perfect completion. I plan on going to heaven in obedience to my vocation, walking beside the Mother of God.
St. Louis de Montfort gives us an example. He said, “If we want to scale the heights, if the mountaintop is heaven, and we’re down here on Earth, how do we best do that? Get our gear together? We could plod along by ourselves hoping that we don’t misstep. How difficult is that? If the top of the mountain is heaven, we better make it. So how do we know that we can do this? I will propose to you a second method: that we give ourselves to Mary. She, being our mother who is always waiting for us to ask, throws down the ladder. And we simply climb up. She is at the top bringing us up ever closer.”
Is that much more safe and secure? We don’t have to do things alone. How many people live in the agony of thinking that only “I” can do anything? Self is never going to be enough to cut it. We need to give what I call Holy Vulnerability to the Mother of God and say, “I can’t do this, Mary. You see my heart, you know that I really want to meet you and your Son. How can I do that? Can I entrust myself to you?”
And this is what she will say: “I’ve been waiting and praying for you to do that. Now I’m going to ask you to trust me totally because I can’t do anything by less than 100%. Every moment I will be with you, and even when you’re praying I want you to entrust your prayer intentions to me.”
Some people get confused about that. If they don’t hang onto their intentions, they aren’t going to get answered. How silly can we be not to trust the Mother of God with our intentions? When would you look at your mom and say, “Mom, I don’t trust you. I’m going to do things myself. I don’t need you in my life.” Where would we go if we didn’t have a mother that we trust? When our mothers hopefully go to heaven, we use them more now than we did then because they understand our hearts and intentions even more. If Mary is glancing in another direction, my mom is telling her, “Don’t forget my daughter. She’s after you.” Because I have given everything to God through the Mother of God, I will never be lacking for that totality.
So consider making the total consecration to Mary according to St. Louis de Montfort. It’s the fastest, easiest, most beautiful, most hopeful act to take. You don’t have to worry quite so much because Mary’s putting that into the heart of her Son. So thank you for being here. And let’s pray for one another and a greater devotion to Jesus through Mary.
Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, OP is a Foundress and Vocations Director for the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. Her podcast “And The Truth Shall Set You Free” can be downloaded every Friday at 1:00 p.m. EST from iTunes. The podcast can be seen on YouTube at GoLEDigital.