As a convert to Catholicism, I struggled for many years to understand the place that Mary has in the life of every Christian believer. I understood that she played an important role in Salvation history – that without Mary, Jesus could not have been born into the world. I understood that she was a model of humility, someone we should all aspire to imitate. I also knew that she was our Blessed Mother who loves each one of her children – and I wanted to love her back. But I didn’t know how. I knew things about her, but I didn’t know her – and you can’t love someone you don’t know. On top of that, I worried that if I did come to love Mary, my love for her would somehow diminish my love for Christ. I thought that loving Mary would make her more important than she ought to be.
I need not have worried. In his book, Gift and Mystery, Pope Saint John Paul II shared the story of his own journey with Mary. He wrote, “At one point I began to question my devotion to Mary, believing that, if it became too great, it might end up compromising the supremacy of the worship owed to Christ. … I was greatly helped by a book by Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort entitled Treatise of True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. There I found the answers to my questions. Yes, Mary does bring us closer to Christ; she does lead us to him, provided that we live her mystery in Christ.”1 In Crossing the Threshold of Hope, he wrote, “Thanks to Saint Louis of Montfort, I came to understand that true devotion to the Mother of God is actually Christocentric, indeed, it is very profoundly rooted in the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity, and the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption.”2 John Paul II’s devotion to Mary was so great that, inspired by St. Louis, he adopted the motto, Totus Tuus – “I Am All Yours” – when he was elected pope in 1978.
When I first sought out a copy of St. Louis de Montfort’s book, it was because I wanted to draw closer to Christ. I felt that I had gone as far as I could on my own in my spiritual life. I knew that there was more, but I didn’t know where or how to find it. Pope Saint John Paul II’s words inspired me to think that perhaps Mary was the key to my spiritual journey – and as it turned out, he was right. As I began to read, I started to see my relationship with Jesus and Mary in an entirely new light.
Necessity of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary
St. Louis helped me to understand that because the world was unworthy to receive Jesus, God chose to give Him to us through the hands of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There is nothing in His plan that has changed today. Just as Mary bore Jesus into the world two thousand years ago, she continues to bear Him into our hearts today. “As she was the way by which Jesus Christ first came to us, she will be the way by which He will come the second time, though not in the same manner,”3 explained St. Louis. “The Blessed Virgin is the means which Our Lord took to come to us; she is also the means we must take to go to Him.”4
It is through Mary that God has chosen to dispense all His graces to us. St. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote, “God has filled Mary with all graces, so that men may receive by her means, as by a channel, every good thing that comes to them.”5 St. Louis echoed these words, saying, “She distributes all His gifts and graces to whom she wills, in the measure she wills, how she wills and when she wills; nor does He give any heavenly gift to man which does not pass through her virginal hands.”6
Mary is uniquely fit for this role, having been preserved from the stain of original sin from the moment of her conception. She alone was worthy to receive Jesus into her womb. It was through Mary’s “yes” to God’s invitation that she became not only the Mother of Jesus, but also the Mother of the Church. Just as God is our Father, so Mary is our Mother. She loves us with a maternal care that is at once tender, personal, delicate, and compassionate. She asks only that we give ourselves over to her love and protection. She intimately understands our every care and sorrow; she knows what it is to stand at the foot of the Cross.
Mary’s prayers and requests have much power with God. He cannot resist her prayer because it is always humble, always conformed to His Will. She is His beloved Mother, and He has given her so much authority that she almost seems to have the same power as God.7 It was at Mary’s request that Jesus changed the water into wine at Cana. At her urging, He embarked on His earthly mission (cf. Jn 2:1-10).
Mary Cares for Those Who Are Devoted To Her
By giving ourselves to Mary, we give ourselves to her Son. This is because the more the Holy Spirit finds Mary in our souls, the more active the Holy Spirit becomes in forming Jesus within us. St. Louis de Montfort tells us that Mary serves those who are devoted to her in the following ways:
1. Mary loves them.
- Mary loves all those who love her in a special way. “She loves them tenderly, more tenderly, than all the mothers in the world together. … She watches for favourable opportunities to do them good, to ennoble and enrich them.”8
- She gives us good counsel.
- She strips us of our natural inclinations, self-love, self-will, and all attachment to creatures, purifying us of our stains, impurities, and sins.
- She cleanses us and renders us worthy to appear before our Heavenly Father.
- She strengthens us to carry the yoke of the Lord and to work wonders for the glory of God and the salvation of others.
- “She imparts new perfume and new gracefulness to those garments and adornments [with which she has clothed us – the garments of Jesus Christ, her Son] by adding to them the garments of her own merits and virtues.”9
- And finally, she obtains for us the blessing of the Heavenly Father, a blessing to which we have no right and which we would otherwise be unworthy to receive.
2. Mary provides them with everything that they need, body and soul.
“She nourishes them with the most delicious meats from the banquet of God: she gives them to eat the Bread of Life which she has formed.”10
3. Mary leads and directs her faithful servants according to the will of her Son.
“Mary, who is the Star of the Sea, leads all her faithful servants to safe haven; she shows them the paths of eternal life; she prevents them from taking dangerous steps; she leads them by the hand along the paths of justice; she upholds them when they are about to fall; she raises them when they have fallen; she chides them like a loving mother when they fail; and sometimes she even lovingly chastises them.”11
4. Mary defends and protects them from their enemies.
“Mary, the beloved Mother … hides them under her protecting wing as a hen does her chicks. She speaks, she lowers herself to them, she condescends to all their weaknesses. To guard them from the hawk and the vulture she hovers over them, and accompanies them as an army in battle array.”12
5. Mary intercedes for them.
“The fifth and greatest service which this loving Mother renders her faithful devotees, is to intercede for them with her Son, to appease Him with her prayers, to unite them to Him most intimately and to preserve that union. … Furthermore, when Mary has heaped her favours upon her children and faithful servants, when she has obtained for them the blessing of the Heavenly Father and union with Jesus Christ, she keeps them in Jesus Christ and keeps Jesus Christ in them. She guards them, watches over them day and night, lest they lose the grace of God and fall into the snares of their enemies … ‘She keeps the saints in their fullness’, and makes them persevere, as we have said, to the end.”13
Interior Effects of This Devotion
Mary leads us to know ourselves as we truly are. She strengthens our faith by sharing with us that great faith that she had during her life on earth, a faith that was greater than that of all the Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, and Saints.14 She fills us with the grace of a love so pure that we no longer act out of fear of God, but out of pure love for Him.15
Mary fills us with great confidence in God and in herself because we no longer approach Jesus by ourselves but always through His loving Mother, Mary. Because we have given her all of our merits, graces, and satisfactions to dispose of as she pleases, Mary shares her virtues with us and clothes us in her merits. This gives us the confidence to say to God: “Behold Mary Thy handmaid, be it done unto me according to Thy word.”16 Because we have given ourselves entirely to Mary – body and soul – she in turn gives herself entirely to us. Thus we, too, can join Blessed Pope John Paul II in saying, “Tuus totus ego sum et omnia mea tua sunt.” 17 I am all yours, and all that is mine is yours.
If we are faithful to this devotion, Mary’s spirit will take the place of our own to rejoice in God, our Saviour.18 Furthermore, “If Mary, who is the tree of life, is well cultivated in our soul by fidelity to the practices of this devotion, she will in due course bear fruit, and her fruit is none other than Jesus Christ.”19 Our faithful observance of this devotion gives more glory to Jesus Christ in one month than any other means of devotion over the course of many years.20
If you scroll down, you will find a short outline of the preparation for Consecration that St. Louis de Montfort recommends that we undertake annually. I will begin to prepare for the renewal of my own Consecration on November 5th. I would love for you to join me.
In closing, I share with you a little prayer that I say each morning: My Queen and my Mother, I give myself entirely to you; and in proof of my affection, I give you my eyes, my ears, my tongue, my heart, my whole being without reserve. Since I am your own, keep me and guard me as your property and possession. Amen.
– Sharon van der Sloot
1 Pope John Paul II, Gift and Mystery: On the Fiftieth Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination (New York: Doubleday, 1996), 28-29.
2 Pope John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, ed. Vittorio Messori, trans. Jenny McPhee and Martha McPhee (Toronto, Canada: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994), 212-213.
3 Saint Louis-Marie De Montfort, Treatise On The True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin (London: Baronius Press Limited, 2006), #50-4 & #50-5, 23. This is the same book recommended by Blessed Pope John Paul II (under the title, Treatise of True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin).
4 Ibid., #75, 38.
5 Quoted in St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary, 2nd ed. (London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1868; reprint Rockford, Illinois: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1982), 133. St. Bernard of Clarivaux (1090-1153) is a Doctor of the Church.
6 De Montfort, The True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, #25, 11.
7 Cf. Ibid., #27, 12.
8 Ibid., #202-203(i), 106-107.
9 Ibid., #206(iv)-3, 109.
10 Ibid., #208, 110.
11 Ibid., #209, 111.
12 Ibid., #210, 112.
13 Ibid., #211-212, 112-113.
14 Cf. Ibid., #213-214, 114.
15 Cf. Ibid., #215(iii), 116.
16 Ibid., #216(iv)-2, 116.
17 Cf. Ibid., #216(iv)-3
18 Cf. Ibid., #217(v), 118.
19 Ibid., #218(vi), 119.
20 Cf. Ibid., #222, 121.
Preparation for Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary
If you are interested in consecrating yourself to Jesus through Mary by means of the method recommended by St. Louis de Montfort, a wonderful resource is a small book entitled, Preparation for Total Consecration According to St. Louis de Montfort (Montfort Publications). It includes all of the information I have summarized below, along with the recommended prayers and texts for meditation.
There are six different Feast Days during the year on which we can consecrate ourselves to Jesus through Mary. They are:
- February 2nd: Feast of The Presentation of the Lord (preparation begins on Dec. 31st)
- March 25th: Solemnity of The Annunciation of the Lord (preparation begins on Feb. 20th)
- April 28th: Memorial of St. Louis de Montfort (preparation begins on March 26th)
- May 31st: Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Elizabeth (preparation begins on April 28th)
- August 15th – Solemnity of The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (preparation begins on July 13th)
- December 8th – Solemnity of The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (preparation begins on Nov. 5th)
The time of preparation lasts 33 days; the 34th day is the Day of Consecration. We begin with 12 days of preparation, followed by 3 weeks of prayer and meditation.
12 Days of Preparation: Theme – Spirit of the World
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5:8). These words of the Gospel remind us that purity of heart is “the indispensable condition for contemplating God in heaven, to see Him on earth and to know Him by the light of faith.”1 Therefore, St. Louis de Montfort recommends that we should begin with 12 days of preparation. During this time, our purpose is to rid ourselves of the spirit of the world in order to be filled with the spirit of Jesus Christ. We accomplish this through meditating on Scriptures and passages drawn from The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis. We finish our meditations each day by praying the Veni Creator, the Ave Maris Stella, and the Magnificat.
Week 1: Theme – Knowledge of Self
During this first week, we reflect on the miserable and humiliating state that we are in because of our sins. We prayerfully ask God to help us to know ourselves and to have contrition for our sins. Above all we strive to do everything in a spirit of humility. We continue to meditate on Scripture and passages drawn from The Imitation of Christ as well as from The True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin by St. Louis de Montfort. We finish our meditations each day by praying the Litany of the Holy Ghost, the Litany of the Blessed Virgin, and the Ave Maris Stella.
Week 2: Theme – Knowledge of Mary
In the second week, we strive to get to know the Blessed Virgin Mary better. We reflect on her interior life: her virtues, her actions, her participation in the mysteries of Christ, and her union with Him. We meditate on Scripture as well as on passages drawn from St. Louis De Montfort’s Secret of Mary and The True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. At the end of our meditations each day, we pray the Litany of the Holy Ghost, the Litany of the Blessed Virgin, and the Ave Maris Stella. We finish with St. Louis de Montfort’s Prayer to Mary, followed by the recitation of the Rosary.
Week 3: Theme – Knowledge of Jesus Christ
During week 3, we strive to grow in our knowledge of Jesus Christ through meditating on Scripture as well as passages drawn from The Imitation of Christ and The True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. We finish each day with the Litany of the Holy Ghost, the Ave Maris Stella, the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus, and St. Louis De Montfort’s Prayer to Jesus.
Day of Consecration
“At the end of the three weeks,” St. Louis writes, “we should go to Confession and Holy Communion with the intention of giving ourselves to Jesus Christ in the quality of slaves of love, by the hands of Mary. After Communion, we should recite the consecration prayer; we ought to write it, or have it written, and sign it the same day the consecration is made. It would be well that on this day, we should pay some tribute to Jesus Christ and our Blessed Lady, either as a penance for our past unfaithfulness to the vows of Baptism, or as a testimony of dependence on the dominion of Jesus and Mary. This tribute should be one in accordance with your fervor, such as a fast, mortification or an alms, or a candle. If but a pin is given in homage, and given with a good heart, it will be enough for Jesus, Who loves only the good will.
Once a year at least, and on the same day, we should renew this consecration, observing the same practices during the three weeks.”2
1 Preparation for Total Consecration according to Saint Louis Marie de Montfort (Bay Shore, NY: Montfort Publications, 2009), 1.
2 Ibid., 77.