Totally Yours

I’ve started this post so many times.

Each time I stop. I come up with every excuse why I shouldn’t publish this. It isn’t time. I’ll offend people. Some won’t understand, and I could turn them away. Even now that I’ve finally mustered the courage, I’m still a little hesitant.

Because I’m going to talk about Mary, my relationship with her and my total consecration to her.

I have found that nothing so divides us Christians quite like the Eucharist and the Blessed Mother. And yet, I am reading over and over again in the conversion stories I have been posting that it is most often these two that drew them to Catholicism. Almost by contradiction, Mary and the Eucharist end up being the most unifying and edifying elements of the faith.

These converts have given this cradle Catholic the courage she needed to finally tell this story.

Years ago, I went on a camping trip with my college group. One morning, I got up early before anyone else except for a dear friend who took advantage of our solitude to tell me, “Mary told me you need to make the consecration.”

Um, what?

The consecration, as first laid out by St. Louis de Montfort, requires that one place oneself entirely at the disposal of Jesus Christ as His slave of love by the hands of the Blessed Mother. In brief, this means that a person gives themselves freely and entirely to Mary – all they have, all that they are, any of the merits of their good works and prayers, past, present and future – all for her to give perfectly to Jesus and to direct as she sees fit. Montfort describes it as a perfect renewal of our baptismal promises, fully living what St. Paul prescribed in his letters to be a slave of Jesus. In return, she becomes our great recourse and God’s chosen channel of graces to those who devote themselves in this way to her. (For more on the consecration, see the link at the end of this post.)

Even as a cradle Catholic, I was creeped out. To hand over everything, not even to Jesus directly, but to His mother? Hard pass, friend!

I didn’t doubt that what my friend said truly was from Mary, and also from God, but I was so put off by what the consecration required and what it would mean. The thought that I would ever willfully relinquish control over my life was both a terrifying and ridiculous prospect.

But it nagged at me for the next year. Mary said I should make the consecration. How could I rebuff the Mother of God?

After I graduated college rudderless as to my future plans, I applied for an internship in DC on a whim and waited impatiently to hear if I had gotten the job. One unassuming morning, I woke up and thought, “Emily, just do it. Stop defying and make the consecration. Find a date and do it.” Still in bed, I scrolled through lists of Marian feast days on my phone, and ended up choosing October 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The consecration is preceded by 33 days of preparation, which in this case began on September 4.

Kneeling before Our Lady of the Rosary, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC

That same afternoon, I went to noon mass. As the priest walked out to begin, my phone rang. It was the intern coordinator. After a second’s hesitation, I quickly slipped out to answer. I had gotten the internship. The start date? September 4.

I felt as though Mary was telling me that I not only needed this consecration, but that it would be tied to something very big in my life.

That internship, which I frankly took on a whim, turned into the most amazing experience of my life. I remained on full time after the internship working for a wonderful man, developing skills, talents and confidence that were previously untapped that I will utilize for the rest of my life. Not to put this detail last, but I met my husband in that office as well.

Five years after that adventure began, I left to stay home full time with my daughter. My last week at work began on September 4. Mary was with me yet again to give me strength and comfort as I ended one stage of life and embarked on another.

Perhaps it was all coincidence, but I believe that God is too big for all of this to be purely chance. When I gave myself to Mary, she took me under her mantle, and has been guiding, directing and affirming my steps ever since with more gentleness, patience and acuity than I will ever be able to comprehend. In the past 7 years of being consecrated, Mary has set about to change me from the inside out, to mold me into a person whose desire in life is to seek what is pleasing to God. (I adamantly admit that her work is very far from done.) Through her gentle instruction and patience even when I resisted, she has helped me bear crosses, pray with more boldness and abandonment, and opened my eyes to the myriad ways, small and big, that God moves in and blesses my life. She’s become a calm, quiet and constant force in my life, content only when I place my trust in her Son.

Now Emily, why do you attribute all this to Mary? Isn’t it dishonoring to God, and even idolatry, to say that she was the one orchestrating all of this?

I must admit that I have thought this from time to time. But we can see over and over in Scripture that God has never had a problem going through humans to work His divine plan, that doing so detracts nothing from His omniscience and divinity, rather it manifests His deep and profound love for us. It stands to reason that of all humans, it is His mother who is the most highly qualified to be the means for bringing us to Him, since she was the means through which He chose to come to us as man.

I can truly say that in all my years as a Catholic before this consecration – even having the most personal of all relationships with Him in receiving the Eucharist – my faith, my knowledge and my love of Jesus Christ has never grown like it has until I gave myself to His mother.

Because Mary is not the end. She would never allow herself to be so. There have been times when I have sought her and only her, times in my anger at Jesus that I couldn’t go to Him for help. In those times, she was there. She, being a creature, could understand and relate to my creaturehood, my doubts, and my frustrations, most especially as a woman.

Without fail, every time I have gone to her, she met me where I was, gently guiding me through my trials, my questions, anything that comes up, straight to Jesus, slowly, with the great care and attention that a mother uniquely knows to provide for her child.

Evelyn on the day of her Baptism, with Our Lady of Grace, her middle-name-sake, looking on.

With Mother’s Day this weekend, and May being Mary’s month, I can’t think of a more perfect time for me to finally honor my dearest Mother, and proclaim the beautiful work God has allowed her to perform in my life.

Ad Jesum per Mariam.

To Jesus through Mary!

Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.

St. Maximilliam Kolbe, Catholic priest. Killed at Auschwitz, August 14, 1941.

For more on what Catholics actually believe about Mary and where it is in Scripture: click here.

For more about the Marian Consecration according to St. Louis de Montfort: click here.