“Breathing is not only the sign but even the cause of life. In like manner, the Name of Mary, continually on the lips of her clients, not only proves the presence of supernatural life, but also causes and preserves it and gives them strength for everything.” (St. Germanus)
“The Mother of God contained the infinite God under her Heart, the God whom no space can contain. Through her the Trinity is adored, demons are vanquished, Satan is cast out of heaven, and our fallen nature is assumed into heaven.” (St. Cyril of Alexandria)
“I am sure you do not want to experience any refusal on God’s part toward you. Then do not offer Him anything—neither good works nor prayers—without entrusting them into the hands of Mary.” (St. Bernard)
The saints overflow with love in their devotion to Mary who is truly the Daughter of God the Father, the Mother of God the Son, and the Mystical Spouse of the Holy Spirit. She is also the Mother of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, and of greatest importance, Mary is your Mother and my Mother in the order of grace.
In this brief essay we would like to highlight the fruits of consecration of our lives to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Mary can place us on the highway to holiness; drawn by her prayers, words, example, and presence we will be able to glorify God in this life and for all eternity in heaven!
1. GLORIFY GOD WITH MARY. By consecrating our lives to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary we will be glorifying God all the more with our whole being. This is confirmed by Mary in her canticle of praise The Magnificat, in these words: My soul does magnify the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior… ( 1:47) Mary intercedes for us by her powerful prayers and helps us to glorify God in our lives. Saint Ignatius states in Principle and Foundation that we are called to Praise God. Mary helps us to carry out this most noble aspiration!
2. OBEDIENCE TO JESUS. In the Gospel Mary speaks only seven times. Her words are splendid pearls of wisdom and advice. For that reason, one of her titles is Our Lady of Good Counsel. The last words recorded of Mary in the Gospel is found in the context of the Wedding Feast of Cana (Jn. 2:1-12) in which Mary intercedes to resolve an enormous problem—running out of wine at the Wedding Feast. Her words are few but of profound impact and meaning for all of us: Do whatever He tells you. (Jn. 2:5) What Mary is really saying to the whole world and to us individually is simply this: Listen to the words of Jesus and obey, or put into practice His words. Therefore, Mary does not deflect us from Jesus, or block our union with Jesus, but strengthens our bond of union with Jesus. For this reason, Saint Louis de Montfort asserts with passion: Mary is the quickest, shortest, and easiest path to Jesus. We might even say that Mary is the SHORTCUT to Jesus, and of course, to God the Father.
3. UNION WITH THE MOST BLESSED TRINITY. We believe in one God and three Persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Mary has a most intimate union with the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity. As mentioned earlier, Mary is the Daughter of God the Father, the Mother of God the Son, and the Mystical Spouse or Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, true devotion to Mary and consecration to Mary will definitely fortify our relationship and union with the Blessed Trinity. Mary’s union with the Trinity is pure, spotless, perfect. She can help us to establish a deeper union with God Himself, which is the purpose of our existence on earth.
4. MARY ENHANCES OUR PRAYER LIFE. A constant struggle for followers of Jesus is that of constancy, growth, and perseverance in our prayer life. Prayer can be the easiest and at the same time the most difficult activity in our spiritual life. Easy because we can pray in any time and place, and use any words that we like; hard because the devil, the flesh, and the world work to prevent us from the indispensable practice of prayer. Consecration to Mary instills in our heart a real desire to pray more, to pray better, and to persevere in this practice that will lead us to heaven. Remember the words of Saint Augustine: He who prays well, lives well; he who lives well, dies well; he who dies well, all is well!
5. MARY HELPS US TO OVERCOME A MODERN CRUSHING LONELINESS. One of the most painful features of modern life is that of a certain crushing loneliness that many experience, such that many even want to give up on life. Consecration to Mary can greatly alleviate and conquer the feeling of loneliness, the experience of feeling abandoned. One of the favorite titles of Saint Ignatius in his devotion to Mary was in Italian: La Madonna de La Strada—meaning, Our Lady of the Way. In Spanish there is a very well known and loved song: Santa Maria del Camino—Our Lady of the Way. All of this boils down to the reality that Our Lady desires, as a good Mother, to be with us, to accompany us, to walk with us on our path of life that leads us to eternal life. In other words, we are never alone because Mary, our dear and loving Mother, is with us every step along the way to heaven. How consoling this truth!
6. MARY IS OUR LIFE, OUR SWEETNESS, AND OUR HOPE. One of the most well-known prayers directed to Mary is that of the HAIL HOLY QUEEN. In this prayer we lift up our mind and heart to Jesus through Mary with these inspiring words: Hail Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope… Therefore, in the midst of the trials, tribulations, afflictions, temptations, sorrows, and even failures in the drama of life, Mary comes to us and encourages us; she turns our bitterness into sweetness; she lifts us from moments of despair and fills up with hope and trust in God our loving Father. Jesus said: Our Father has us in the very palm of His hand and nobody can snatch us from His hand.
7. MARY GENTLY BUT FIRMLY LEADS US INTO THE CHURCH. A true and authentic devotion to Mary will necessarily lead us into the Church. The Second Vatican Council, in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, Chapter Eight, gave Mary the glorious title The Mother of the Church. It must be stated unequivocally that a true devotion and consecration to Mary will incorporate us more deeply into the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ which is indeed the Catholic Church. Jesus is the Head of the Church, Mary is the Mother, and we are the members of His Mystical Body, and sons and daughters of Mary.
8. MARY LEADS US TO THE EUCHARIST. Another highlight of consecration and devotion to Mary is that she attains for us an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Sacraments, but most especially in the most Holy Eucharist. Of great importance are the three most famous Marian approved Apparitions: Guadalupe (Mexico) in 1531, Lourdes (France) in 1856, and Fatima (Portugal) in 1917. In each of these apparitions Our Lady asked that a Church be built. Now there are three glorious Churches present in Mexico, France, and Portugal because they heeded the request of the Mother of God. Of course, the apex or high-point of these three Marian Churches is the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in which many receive Holy Communion—the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary. Our Lady received Jesus into her Heart and Soul at the Annunciation with her Fiat: Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word. And the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us. Mary’s fiat, which culminates in the Incarnation, is similar to our AMEN in receiving Jesus into our hearts in Holy Communion. (Pope Saint John Paul II) In other words, Mary wants us to love Jesus and receive Him into the very center of our lives in the Church, in the Holy Mass, in Holy Communion!
9. MARY LIFTS US UP WHEN WE FALL DOWN. Also in these Marian Sanctuaries—Guadalupe, Lourdes, and Fatima—there are confessionals and long lines of penitents. Mary is the sinless one, the most pure, the innocent one. But she knows that we are not; we were born sinners and will die sinners. As a good, loving, and tender Mother, Mary intercedes for us by her most powerful prayers, and attains the grace for us to return to the loving embrace of the Heavenly Father (Lk. 15:11-22: The Parable of the Prodigal Son). Mary, the Full of Grace motivates us by her prayers to have recourse to the Sacrament of God’s mercy called Confession, Penance, or Reconciliation. A true Mother always loves her children, but most especially the child who falls and is hurt and dirtied. This is the child the Mother runs to with her loving arms of tender healing!
10. MARY HELPS US TO GET TO HEAVEN. The greatest desire of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for all people in the entire world, but for each and every one of us individually, is that we arrive safely home in heaven! Saint Bernard penned one of the most beautiful poems on Mary, with the title STELLA MARIS. In short, we are sailors in the midst of the tempestuous sea; our ship can easily be filled with water, capsize, and sink. However, if we lift up our eyes to Mary STELLA MARIS—THE STAR OF THE SEA, then she will help with her all-powerful prayers to calm the winds, calm the sea, and dissipate the clouds so that we reach the port, we reach the harbor of salvation, heaven our eternal destiny.
In conclusion, we invite all to consecrate their whole life, their past, present, and future, their body, mind, soul, and emotions, their family, friends, and associates, their fears, worries, insecurities to Jesus through the most pure and Immaculate Heart of Mary, who indeed is ourLife, our Sweetness, and our Hope!
Father Ed Broom, OMV, is Associate Pastor of St. Peter Chanel Church in Hawaiian Gardens, California. He is a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary and was ordained by Saint John Paul II on May 25, 1986. Fr. Ed teaches Catholic Ignatian Marian Spirituality through articles, podcasts, a radio show, retreats and spiritual direction.