Saturday, February 22, 2014

33 Days to Morning Glory

Maybe because I miss my own mom who we lost a year ago, I have had Mary on my mind. I, like so many sinners, popes (John Paul II) and saints, made the consecration to Jesus through Mary according to St. Louis de Montfort's program years ago. It is a simple, nearly foolproof plan for sanctity, that begins with the consecration.

The theory is that God chose Mary to bear Jesus. He protected her from original sin (the Immaculate Conception) and, beginning with her free assent -- her fiat that echoes God's fiat lux in Genesis --  Mary has had a maternal hand in salvation history ever since.

Catholics and Orthodox alike rejoice in her title of "Mother of God." If Jesus was both fully God in his divine nature, and fully human in his human nature, then of course the title fits. A mother does not give birth to a nature (human), but a person (God).

Moreover, the Church continues to teach that Mary is your mom and mine. When Jesus looked down from the cross, and each of His few words was an agony, He told the apostle John, "Behold your mother." Was Jesus merely remembering to make provision for a widow with no children? No. John represents the whole human race, to whom Christ gives His very own mother. Therefore Mary must have a continuing and important role to play.

God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, chose to give God the Son to us through Mary, and she remains to this very day the channel of grace. The simplest way of explaining it is that the Holy Spirit leads us to Mary and Mary leads us to Jesus. In St. Louis de Montfort's consecration, we give ourselves to Jesus through the mother we share. Nothing is taken away from Jesus. This is true not only in theory, but in practice, as those who have followed St. Louis de Montfort's little devotion know.

The chief external practice is simply a variation of the familiar Catholic daily offering upon rising: "I am all yours, and all I have I give to you, most loving Jesus, through your most holy mother, Mary." (Totus Tuus was JPII's motto: All Yours.) If you have a medal from the Confraternity, you kiss it. The reader may discover more in the saint's True Devotion to Mary, which contains the whole program (available in Kindle format and print).

Preparation for consecration (or reconsecration) consists of 33 days of daily readings and prayers. Nothing difficult, but the biggest endorsement the Bear can give it is that it seems as though the devil goes to great lengths to disrupt it. The program is contained in True Devotion, but also in an updated version called 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley. Instead of the prayers and litanies of True Devotion,  Fr. Gaitley provides a simple teaching related to the devotion, and a prayer short enough to reflect upon throughout the day. That's the one I'm using this time.

The inner part of the devotion is that the "all yours" means everything, including even your spiritual merits. So, for example, if you say a rosary with your family, and meet all the usual requirements, you would receive a plenary (full) indulgence. In your consecration, however, you surrender that so it may benefit another soul. Think of it as a form of extreme spiritual poverty and radical trust in God.

This all made perfect sense to the devout of the 17th century. Today, purgatory and indulgences are never spoken of anymore, and Mary is thought of -- if at all -- an impediment to ecumenism. Still, St. Louis de Montfort's True Devotion is as theologically sound and spiritually enriching as when he first penned it.

33 Days to Morning Glory is a worthy modern addition to the Montfortian corpus. It plumbs some surprising depths of Mariology for a popular work, yet does it gently and in small pieces, as it takes you day-by-day through preparation for your consecration. The biggest difference between 33 Days and St. Louis de Montfort's classic True Devotion is the clear and up-to-date exposition of the devotion in lieu of the readings and longer prayers of the former. Having been through the Montfortian preparation three times, I am delighted by 33 Days. It should never replace True Devotion, but for many who might find it inaccessible, 33 Days may permit them to complete the program. For those renewing their consecrations, it is ideal for a new perspective. 

1 comment:

  1. Ty for the recommendation, Bear. I think this book will help me.


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