There are times when a mere book can be life-changing. One such book is entitled True Devotion to Mary, by Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, a spiritual introduction to the Marian devotion known as Total Consecration to Our Lady.
Saint Louis de Montfort was a French prelate who died in 1716. Written in his contemporary language, True Devotion to Mary can present something of a challenge to the modern reader. For example, the term “holy slavery” is used to describe the relationship of the faithful to Jesus and to Mary, but only to signify the total sublimation of oneself for love of them. Despite this minor hurdle, the book is an invaluable resource for understanding Our Lady’s role in salvation history and in our own faith formation.
Total Consecration to Our Lady is a spiritual way of life termed by Saint Louis “an easy, short, perfect and secure way of attaining union with Our Lord” (True Devotion to Mary, No. 152); by it, we are really consecrating ourselves to Jesus through Our Lady, reflecting the Christocentric nature of all true devotion to Mary.
In her humility, Our Lady desires no attention for herself but points us always to her Son. She is the person who enjoys the most sublime union with Jesus; it follows that becoming closer to her will bring us closer to Him. Total Consecration perfects our baptismal vows as “we renounce the devil, the world, sin and self; and we give ourselves entirely to Jesus Christ by the hands of Mary” (No. 126).
Pope Saint John Paul II credited True Devotion to Mary with great influence on the evolution of his fervent devotion to Our Lady from his youthful first encounter with the book. The familiar phrase Totus Tuus, or “totally yours,” emblazoned on his Papal coat of arms, reflects the devotion’s aim of total self-donation to Jesus through Mary.
A 33-day period of preparation precedes the formal Act of Total Consecration which is made on any Marian feast day. For example, if February 2nd, the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, is our desired date of consecration, our preparation would begin on December 31st (and what better way to begin a new year!). Daily prayers and reflections take us through a series of exercises comprising our spiritual preparation for Consecration.
A companion resource, Preparation for Total Consecration according to Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, guides us through the 33-day preparation process, offering all the necessary prayers and readings in an easy-to-follow format.
An additional, far more recent source for guidance on this spiritual journey can be found in the highly popular book entitled 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Marian Consecration by Father Michael E. Gaitley, MIC.
Father Gaitley has adapted the method outlined by Saint Louis in a format more attractive to some modern readers. He presents the traditional core teachings within a framework built upon the lives and teachings of Saint Louis and also three contemporary figures whose spirituality is renowned – Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Blessed (now Saint) Mother Teresa, and Blessed (now Saint) Pope John Paul II. Each of these offers a unique perspective on the profoundly beautiful devotion of Total Consecration.
These four saintly companions, one per week, walk us through Father Gaitley’s retreat format of brief daily readings based on Marian spirituality. The remaining five days of the 33-day total are dedicated to a review of the main concepts presented during the previous weeks.
Deepening our relationship with the Mother we share with the Son of God by Total Consecration can have a profound effect on us and on those we love as it enfolds throughout our lives. The will of God can reveal itself one day at a time for us, just as it did for Mary. In surrendering all we possess to Jesus through Mary, we slowly begin to understand what before we were incapable of comprehending. Following Mary’s lead and dying to self, we allow God and His will to become all to us.
Whichever format we choose – Saint Louis’ original classic, or the more current retreat-style of Father Gaitley – surrendering our all to Our Lady is supremely relevant in our complex, troubled world today. It is a powerful tool by which we can literally change that world – traveling together on the sure, safe, holy road to Jesus through Mary.
This Sunday, September 8, is Our Lady’s birthday. What more perfect birthday gift could we offer her?
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Click here for more information on Saint Louis’ method of preparation for Total Consecration, including free print resources.
Let Johnnette Williams read St. Louis’ classic book for you in this new audiobook.