My wounded notion of femininity was re-ordered, and blocks and distortions within my mind and heart began to fall away.
As tomorrow’s centennial anniversary of Mary’s first apparition at Fatima approaches, many Catholics are marking this special occasion by consecrating, or re-consecrating, themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I am happily in the second category.
After strongly encouraging an online friend, Mike, to make a Marian consecration, I decided to join him in the 33 Day Consecration to Mary’s Immaculate Heart culminating tomorrow on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima.
Why? Because consecrating myself to Mary totally changed my life.
Having been a child of the 60s and 70s, I had bought into many of the ideas that were impregnated into our culture by the movements and ideologies of that era, including the distorted notions that: 1) men are primarily “male chauvinistic pigs,” 2) “equality” as a woman means beating men at their own game, and 3) sexual liberation is the key to personal freedom and happiness.
A wounded notion of femininity had formed me as a young woman, and strong remnants of it still lingered within my mind and heart when I experienced an adult conversion to Christ and eventually, a “reversion” to Catholicism nearly 30 years ago. This battered understanding of femininity showed up in various ways in my life, from refusing to submit myself to a “bunch of old men in the Vatican” whom I believed had no business telling me what to do with my sex life, to harboring bitterness and anger toward various men who had hurt me. Equally strong was the sentiment that I did NOT want to be like the Blessed Mother, whom I perceived as a voiceless doormat.
Enter the Marian consecration.
A friend had told me about St. Louis de Montfort’s Total Consecration to Mary, and promised that consecrating my life to Mary would lead me closer to Christ. While growing closer to Christ appealed to me very much, the idea of making myself Mary’s “slave” (to quote St. Louis de Montfort’s language) definitely did not. Nevertheless, I took a leap of faith and completed the 33-day consecration anyway, a story that I share at length in my book Mary’s Way: The Power of Entrusting Your Child to God.
Shortly thereafter, unexpected fruit began to appear in my life as the blocks and distortions in my mind and heart began to fall like dominoes.
The first thing to go was my strong resistance to the authority of the Church, and by extension, the men who make up her hierarchy. Next to go was the unapologetic practice of contraception, and with it, my seemingly unresolvable objections to being open to life. Next was my overt opposition to the doctrines of papal infallibility and sacramental confession, as well as the dogmas of Mary’s Immaculate Conception and Assumption.
Almost miraculously, what previously seemed ridiculous to me began to make perfect sense, and I began to notice an inner shift concerning my self-concept as a woman—a shift that resulted in deep healing of my sexual wounds and sins and freedom from long-held unforgiveness and anger toward various men in my life. Additionally, a course correction ensued regarding my perception of Mary herself, whom I came to understand not only as a formidable woman of faith, hope and love, but as the Woman that all women are called to emulate; indeed, the graced ideal of femininity in which all women are meant to participate.
In no uncertain terms, all of this followed almost immediately upon my consecration to Mary, ultimately leading me to a greater love of Christ and the Church. Needless to say, I urge people everywhere I go to consecrate themselves to Mary, using either St. Louis de Montfort’s Preparation for Total Consecration, or a newer version of the consecration, Fr. Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Morning Glory.
The centennial anniversary of Fatima is the perfect time to join Mary’s growing army of devotees, an army I believe will be extremely instrumental in the realization of the New Evangelization of the Church and the world.
Are the graces of Marian consecration for women only, or can men also benefit from them? I’ll let Mike’s e-mail, which I received as he prepares to make his consecration tomorrow, speak for itself:
Just a quick note to say that this grace of a stronger or fuller devotion to St. Mary, the blessed mother of our Good Lord, has been so good for my spiritual life. I am very grateful to Jesus for this privilege. I really and truly now see her as my primary prayer partner, my glorified saintly spiritual director, and my own mother.
You were right: it makes for a very significant development in one’s relationship to Christ, His Body, and His Kingdom to put St. Mary in her rightful place, so to speak…
May the “Prince of Peace” (Is. 9:6) continue to be with you and your dear family,