It has been about one year since I first prayed the thirty days of preparation for Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. In that year, life has been very busy. And while I take time for daily quiet prayer which includes the Rosary, as well as praying the family Rosary on most evenings, for the last few months, something has been gnawing at me.
“Do you feel that you need more in your prayer life?” my spiritual director asked during the course of our conversation.
“Yes, that’s it,” I answered. “Something’s missing from my prayer life. I feel like I’m in a routine of repeating the words but not really living them.”
Before renewing the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, I am following the preparation prayers through out the month of May. My guide is the book written by Fr. Hugh Gillespie, SMM, Preparation for Total Consecration to Jesus Christ Through Mary According to St. Louis de Montfort. This is the book I used the first time I made the Total Consecration and the prayers as well as Fr. Gillespie’s insights into the teachings of St. Louis de Montfort are inspiring.
There is a danger that those of us who spend much of our time trying to follow what our Blessed Lord admonished (feeding the hungry, clothing the naked – in other words, performing much needed corporal acts of mercy) can sometimes be so focused on “doing” for the Lord and for our neighbours that we forget to first “be” before the Lord. And when we feel that nagging in our soul, we try to silence it with more “doing.”
If we take the time to stop and take an honest look at ourselves, we may find that we have become so caught up with the importance of all the good things we are doing that we have forgotten that the real reason we are performing all those corporal works of mercy is because of our love for the Merciful One. The spirit of the world has crept into our good works. Because of our weak human nature, “even our best efforts in the service of the Gospel are coloured by our pride, our selfishness, our desire to be noticed, our resentments and our self-interest.”
Father Gillespie explains that for St. Louis de Montfort “consecration is never simply the gesture of a moment, but a fundamental movement of self-giving and self-surrender, an act of radical belonging to the Lord through Our Lady, that asserts itself in every aspect of life.” Just as in sacramental marriage, love compels us to surrender ourselves entirely to our spouse, so too our love for the Lord should compel us to undergo a “radical surrender of oneself into the life of Jesus Christ.” But just as we sometimes take our spouse for granted, we can take the Lord for granted and we ignore Him. And that’s when the gnawing in our soul tells us that we have to re-evaluate our lives and renew our self-surrendering commitment to Him.
The month of May is a providential time for renewal since it is the month of our Blessed Mother. The way of renewal is to follow the two basic movements of de Montfort spirituality” “emptying [my]self of the spirit of the world and filling [my]self with the spirit of Jesus Christ.”
“The path of Total Consecration draws its strength from an intimate participation in the life of Jesus Christ himself, who, in the Mystery of his Incarnation, took upon himself the form of a slave and entrusted himself completely into the hands of his Blessed Mother. The act of self-gift and self-surrender that one makes in the Act of Total Consecration is an act made in union with and in honour of this great act of self-gift and self-surrender of Jesus Christ who consecrates himself, in Mary, to the glorification of his Father and to the achievement of our salvation…. The life of the one who is consecrated must be, therefore, a life lived in celebration of this great Mystery.”