When the fullness of time at last came, and God’s plan of salvation reached its moment of highest climax, all the energies of divine love became focused in a single place. God’s love is like an ocean, immense and immeasurable in its greatness, and yet, from the very beginning of time this love has found a resting place in those who were small and needy. From the time of Adam and Eve, through Noah, Abraham, David, and the Prophets, God has been at work revealing himself to the littlest and the least, to the poor who are considered nothing in this world. Yet in them, because of the simplicity of their lives as his children, his love is made beautifully manifest, and the immensity of his glory is made known in them. In a humble and lowly woman of Galilee, this energy of divine love was at last focused in utmost intensity, like the ocean being poured out into a thimble…and being contained within it!
The angel Gabriel came to the village of Nazareth, to a young virgin named Mary, and revealed to her that God was asking for her permission to be conceived as child within her womb. When she accepted this invitation, the Holy Spirit descended upon her and the Son of the Father was begotten within her. She sheltered and cherished him within her for nine months, living an interior life of love and prayer, and then she brought him forth into the world in Bethlehem. She nursed him, cared for him, mothered him, taught him, and lived at his side through the thirty years that he himself lived a life of silence and hiddenness.
Together they were indeed “little ones” of God, poor, insignificant, and counted as nothing in the eyes of the world. God came to us in the person of Jesus and united himself to us in all of our brokenness and need, sanctifying this place by his loving presence. And Mary shows us, through the virginal love with which she accepted God’s invitation, how we ourselves are to receive the One who comes to us.
This descending movement of God, however, was not complete until the Son identified himself completely with us in loving compassion. After a few short years of preaching and active ministry, Jesus was arrested and condemned, tortured and killed in the most inhumane and humiliating way. There at the foot of the Cross of Crucifixion, his mother stood, united to him in a love and compassion that was stronger even than death.
He gave himself for the life of all, the Son of God, God himself, descending into our darkest place, and lifting us up in his arms. Here he loves us in the depths of our brokenness, our sin, and our shame, and precisely by loving us, he heals and transforms us. Liberating us from all that holds us bound, and pressing us close to his tender Heart, he breaks the bonds of death and the tomb, and draws us all back into the joy of his Father. And as he pours himself out as a perfect gift, Mary stands before him, receiving and reciprocating this gift of his love. As he breaks beyond the barrier of death, she is present; as he unleashes life, she is there, awaiting him in vigilant faith and hope.
Man and Woman, together united in mutual self-giving: this is what God intended for our first parents in the Garden of Eden, yet from which they turned away in sin, failing to trust in the pure love of their heavenly Father. Nonetheless, after many years of suffering—yet concealing a never-dying romance between God and his unfaithful Bride—at the tree of the Cross, this mystery is again restored. Indeed, it is brought to fulfillment in a way infinitely more beautiful than at first. In the union between Jesus and Mary each one of us, a child of the heavenly Father, is conceived and brought to birth. The beloved disciple, who stands at Mary’s side and hears Jesus words, “Woman, behold your son…Behold, your Mother,” is indeed standing in the place of each one of us. We are invited, like him, to receive her into our home, into our inmost heart and all that relates to us, and to surrender ourselves, also, completely into her care.
In this, she has only one desire, to fashion Jesus freely and fully within us, to draw us into Jesus, in whom we shall find the fullness of joy, the deepest truth of who we are, as well as the communion with God and with others for which our hearts were created and most deeply long.
Jesus is the one who has given Mary to us as our Mother, who has entrusted us into her maternal care, so that she may gently mother as she mothered Jesus himself. Yes, Jesus was indeed the first person to entrust himself into the care of Mary, and he invites us to do as he has done. He invites us to imitate him, indeed, to do more than imitate him. He opens up his own Heart and his life to us entirely…to allow us to enter in. And he shares himself entirely with us, asking us to allow him to perpetuate his own mystery as the Son of Mary and the Son of the Father in our own person, to abide in the beauty of the same relationships that he lived and continues always to live.
He invites us to become, and to remain, a little child in the arms of our most tender Mother. He asks us to live with her, always at her side, entirely trusting in her, each day and each moment of our life. He asks us to walk with her to the foot of his Cross, where he so deeply yearns for our own loving compassion—a compassion that she herself helps to fashion and mature within us. In this way, truly discovering who we are as children of God, and allowing this gift to blossom within us, we also find ourselves drawn into the awesome nuptial embrace between God and the world, the intimate communion that alone satisfies the deepest longings of our heart.
Finally, from this most intimate embrace, in which, through the Virgin Mary and with her, we allow Jesus to abide in us, and we abide in him, we spontaneously bear fruit for the good of others. In other words, through our trusting acceptance of the love that God bears for us, and our loving surrender to him in return, we let ourselves be caught up into the romance ever being played out between God and the world.
This romance has found its most profound meeting-point in Mary, and from her it has spread out to all. When we draw close to her, she draws us into the intimacy that she shares with her Son, and, in him, with the Father, irradiated with the beauty and light of the Holy Spirit. Abiding in this place without ceasing, we also find ourselves transparent to the outpouring of God’s light into the hearts of others, into the darkness of our world which is thirsting so deeply for the healing and saving love of God.
Our brothers and sisters yearn for God so deeply, whether they know it or not. So let us, who indeed recognize this thirst within us, surrender ourselves entirely to God through the hands of Mary, so that we may every day live more and more deeply in him, and allow him to live in us. This intimacy, which Mary wants to open up to us and to share with us, and yet which is unique to each of us as if it were ours alone, cannot but be an explosive force for the salvation of our brothers and sisters whom God yearns so passionately to draw back to himself.
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There are many books that have been written as aids in preparing for “consecration” to Mary. Saint Louis de Montfort, who played such a pivotal role in awakening and promoting this movement of surrender to Jesus through Mary, has benefited many people. There are also more contemporary adaptations, further developments, such as Father Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Morning Glory, which summarizes and unites the teaching of other great Marian saints: Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Saint Teresa of Calcutta, and Saint John Paul II. These present reflections, while enriched by these approaches, nonetheless seek to express a different word…or, more accurately, to express this same word in a different way.
Mary is the Mother of each and all of us, and she never ceases to draw near to us and work among us. She seeks to create a space within our hearts and our lives for the love of God. She seeks to lead us back to the God for whom we long. We are often so broken that we struggle to make this journey, and she tries to help us along the way, just as any mother would. In her own virginal purity and maternal love she gazes upon us with a penetrating gaze, a gaze that shares in the gaze of God himself. Yet often it is precisely this gaze of God that we find most difficult to understand and to accept. The brokenness and shame of our hearts can hinder us from allowing ourselves to be looked upon with love. But it is precisely this gaze of love that, penetrating us and touching our woundedness, healing and transfiguring us, gives birth to the joy and gladness for which we long.
How then can we learn to let ourselves be looked upon by our loving God? We can allow Mary into our lives, she who was looked upon by God in the most intense of ways, chosen to be Daughter, Bride, and Mother of God. We can allow her to foster this receptivity within us, she who is, above everything else, a little child of the heavenly Father. And here she is indeed not raised up far from us, but right at our side, a little one just as we are little. She knows, more than anyone else, what it means to be a child of God, for she lived this reality herself, free from all the woundedness and dullness of sin that we experience, and also walked most intimately with the true Son of the Father, who is her Son as well.
In being looked upon with love by the Virgin Mother, as well as especially by the heavenly Father, we will find ourselves healed, freed, and transformed, and will discover that we too are beginning to look upon others with eyes of love, within the light that has first bathed us in its radiance.
This emphasis on heart-healing through relationship with Mary—this is the approach of these reflections, which are intended either to be an avenue for entrusting oneself to Mary for the first time, or for renewing and deepening this entrustment. They will do this, not by focusing on the external elements of such consecration, which can be found elsewhere (such as the historical development or devotional practices), but on seeking to lead the reader into a more intimate relationship with God through the Virgin Mary.
As was said, these reflections are intended to facilitate the process of heart-healing, healing of the wounds we have received through original and personal sin, as well as through the other circumstances or persons in our life that have hurt and wounded us. Only in the healing encounter with the love of God will we find blossoming the sanctity for which God created us, sanctity which is nothing else than the joy of loving relationship with God and with every person.
The words shared here are, thus, intended to help us bring all that we are, our brokenness as well as our beauty, to Mary, who will carry us to the healing and cherishing love of the Trinity. In this way, hopefully, a deeper, more spontaneous, and more intimate relationship with Mary will develop, allowing her to free us from everything that hinders us from rejoicing in the joy of being children of God. And, of course, in her we will find ourselves abiding ever more deeply against the loving Heart of Jesus, held by him close to the Father, and sharing with them the Spirit of love who first overshadowed Mary in the beginning of this beautiful story.