Total Consecration -- If it's so important, why doesn't the church mandate it?


#1

To be perfectly honest, these types of Marian devotions make me extremely uncomfortable. I was hoping someone could answer some specific questions for me about this concept of total consecration.

First of all, the name. I know the official name of this devotion is Total Consecration to Mary through Jesus, but most of the time it’s just referred to as Total Consecration to Mary, including what I assume is the most popular website for the devotion. The number one hit on Google which points to the calendar that you spoke about calls the devotional act “Total Consecration to Mary.” This is troubling, because if you totally consecrate yourself to Mary, where does that leave Jesus?

Next, there are several references on that site and in the writings of St. Louis de Montfort that seem to be incongruous with Catholic teaching in the Catechism. For example according to de Montfort, there are plenty of “secrets” that are revealed only to those who consecrate themselves to Mary and pray the Rosary. There’s a word for this in Catholicism–Gnosticism, and it’s a heresy. If you could explain to me how it’s not Gnosticism, I’d appreciate it.

Here are a few of the quotes from de Montfort that I find uncomfortable.

“The difficulty, then, is how to arrive at the true knowledge of the most holy Virgin and so find grace in abundance through her. God, as the absolute Master, can give directly what he ordinarily dispenses only through Mary, and it would be rash to deny that he sometimes does so. However, St Thomas assures us that, following the order established by his divine Wisdom, God ordinarily imparts his graces to men through Mary. Therefore, if we wish to go to him, seeking union with him, we must use the same means which he used in coming down from heaven to assume our human nature and to impart his graces to us. That means was a complete dependence on Mary his Mother, which is true devotion to her.”

So basically de Monfort is saying that we are never free to pray to Jesus–we need to pray to Jesus through Mary. Always. Here he is again:

“We must never go to our Lord except through Mary, using her intercession and good standing with him. We must never be without her when praying to Jesus.”

And finally, to me, the most disturbing quote of all:

“Chosen soul, this devotion consists in surrendering oneself in the manner of a slave to Mary, and to Jesus through her, and then performing all our actions with Mary, in Mary, through Mary, and for Mary.”

Nothing about that sounds even vaguely idolatrous to you? Even as a Catholic, I have a hard time stomaching that, and for Protestants we are trying to convince that we do not worship Mary, they will never be able to get over a quote like that from a canonized saint. The Catechism, by the way, has none of this, and certainly (as you correctly stated) does not require any devotional activity to ensure that God hears our prayers. In fact, all of these devotional activity seems to only have one source–de Montfort himself.

Can you please help me make sense of this? I do not ask these questions out of spite or ill-will, but with an honest heart searching for the truth in the Gospel.


#2

I agree with you and would also value some insight on the total consecration issue. I recognise and value the important role Mary plays in the church and in Heaven. But for all her exalted status and importance, Mary is not on a level with God.


#3

I find it a bit disturbing myself. I wonder how the Church can even allow this :shrug:


#4

A person who goes through the consecration to our Blessed Mother is consecrating their self also to our Lord Jesus Christ, as their two hearts are as one. Mary was given to us as the foot of the cross, and when she sees us she sees Jesus! Actually, the De Montfort consecration, as he explains it, is a profound renewal of our baptismal vows.

In referring to “secrets”, the more I ponder Jesus and Mary and the mysteries of our faith, the better I get to know the depth of the love that God has for me. Compared to Jesus, our Blessed Mother is nothing and she knows it. She is sinless and so humble that she allows the light of the Blessed Trinity to shine through her as the sun shines through a window pane that has no smudges on it.

When one has a spouse or a dear friend for a long time, you get to know things about them that are inspiring. How much more so with Our Lord and Blessed Mother!

The evil one hates Mary because she is full of grace and is a creature of the human race, unlike the evil one who once was a very bright angel.

I forgot who said this but I have seen it many times…“Mary is God’s revenge on satan.”

In Jesus and Mary,

Dorothy


#5

I just can’t rap my head around the consecration to Mary.

1 Timothy 2:5(NABRE)

For there is one God.
There is also one mediator between God and the human race,
Christ Jesus, himself human

That is all we need. Jesus and only Jesus.


#6

Agreed. Which is why the Marian title of co-mediatrix also makes me uncomfortable.


#7

The Church has exhorted in the strongest language St. Louis de Montfort’s devotion to Mary, including just about every Pope over the past 100 years.

The Church doesn’t **mandate **it, IMHO, because it would create a burden that, frankly, many, many people would fall under. To be perfectly honest, most Catholics are lukewarm enough as is without having even more obligations put on top of things. Devotion to Mary is a means to perfection and a means to be a Saint for those few who are actually serious about all this “religion” stuff and aren’t playing around. How many Catholics perform the duties they owe God out of justice, let alone those deeds they should pursue out of charity, such as de Montfort’s devotion to Mary?

If there’s something that you find uncomfortable about all of this, well, that’s to be expected.

Not because of any fault on the part of Total Consecration. Absolutely not.

But because we live in an age of immanentism that makes absolutely every truth of the Catholic faith open to be conformed to the impulses of our own emotions and feelings. Not liking something is enough for many to throw away truth. To be even more frank, our age is so effeminate, so unable to set aside its comforts in order to pursue something difficult, that we look for teachings that are easy and happy-clappy, and we run away from anything that would cause us even a hint of pain.

The fact of the matter is that it is not our job to dictate to the Church what does or does not conform with God’s revelation. That is clearly the sin of usurpation, it is a lack of piety, and of humility, and of modesty, and of decorum, it is a lack of trust in the Church, and I could go on and on. Moreover, while learning more and more about the faith is a requirement, going too far into nuances of theology that are beyond our state in life is not. A little theology can be a dangerous thing, as can overestimating what we think we know. We are called to be faithful to our state in life, and for most of us, that does not involve pursuing theology to a scholarly level so that we can, in true prudence and without a hint of rashness, disagree with those Popes who have exhorted us to take very seriously certain devotions.


#8

Yes, I agree.


#9

boatofcar,

Have you read True Devotion in its entirety? In the book he anticipates and deals with some of your concerns.

As to the name, one can be devoted or consecrated to more than one person, totally. Are you totally devoted to your country? your spouse? This does not exclude total devotion to God. It’s not like we have to divide up our devotion between them; our devotion to each is unique. In other words, the “total” in Montfortian consecration refers to the extent of our devotion to her, not of our devotion generally–though true devotion to Mary is an expression of devotion to Jesus.

Also bear in mind that St. Louis writes in a 17th / 18th c. French Catholic style that is rather florid and effusive. Don’t read it like a theological reference or catechism, but as a piece of spiritual writing. As to your charge of Gnosticism, please provide a quotation so that we can deal with something he actually says.

Regarding your problem passages, you write: “So basically de Monfort is saying that we are never free to pray to Jesus–we need to pray to Jesus through Mary.”

No, he never says we cannot pray directly to Jesus. Going through Mary doesn’t mean we never approach Jesus, but that we want Mary to accompany us. Perhaps St. Louis is a bit emphatic in saying his devotion is “necessary”, but the Church teaches that graces are generally given through Mary anyway, so we may as well honor her as Mediatrix.

As to, “with Mary, in Mary, through Mary, and for Mary” and the like, please read it in context. If we only gave our Lord an ounce of the reverence and worship due to him, the fitting veneration we give to Mary and the saints would rightly seem as nothing in comparison.

This is part of the problem some people have today with the cult of the saints. The externals of public worship have been brought so low that the adoration of God is ostensibly nothing greater than the veneration some give to the saints, nay it is ostensibly less. But there is most certainly a world of difference between adoration and veneration – though the two are interrelated, since the saints are those whom the object of our adoration has associated with himself.


#10

You have answered your question in the title in this sentence. The church does not require belief in private revelation. (Such as St. Faustina’s Divine Mercy revelations or St. Montfort’s devotions). The church can declare them worthy of belief, but it does not require belief.

I personally don’t have strong Marian devotions. (The strongest my Marian devotions were, was when I was pregnant and due around Christmas). But I can see where people’s strong devotions to Mary come from. Mary would never draw one off the path of Christ, she would always point to Christ, and always have you follow his commands. A lot of Marian devotions use language that we are not familiar with and don’t use a lot. Namely, a love language that most people save for their significant other and eulogies. I am not familiar with the total consecration to Mary, so I cna’t comment on specific words or phrases.

I do know there are varieties of consecrations, one to St. Joseph, one to the Holy Spirit, etc. I would assume, in the nature of consecrations, all use exaggerated language to emotionally connect the devotee to the consecration.


#11

If I ask you to pray for me in a difficult situation, and you did pray for me, isn’t that being a mediator for me?

And it takes nothing away from our Lord Jesus Christ from being the One Mediator.


#12

By that token though, surely all the saints are co-mediators?


#13

Ad Orientem, I appreciate your thoughtful response. I’ll try to answer some of your points the best I can.

No, I haven’t, I’ve only read the first few pages, and the quotes from him on sites like I linked to in the OP. Is there a particular edition/translation you can recommend?

As to the name, one can be devoted or consecrated to more than one person, totally. Are you totally devoted to your country? your spouse? This does not exclude total devotion to God. It’s not like we have to divide up our devotion between them; our devotion to each is unique.

This just seems like the “full of grace” argument in reverse. If you’re “totally” invested in a company, all your money is there.

In other words, the “total” in Montfortian consecration refers to the extent of our devotion to her, not of our devotion generally–though true devotion to Mary is an expression of devotion to Jesus.

I am trying to wrap my head around this sentence and failing.

Also bear in mind that St. Louis writes in a 17th / 18th c. French Catholic style that is rather florid and effusive. Don’t read it like a theological reference or catechism, but as a piece of spiritual writing.

I’m not sure how to do that. I can read Aquinas, Augustine, and de Sales and not have to worry what kind of style it’s written in. Why should I need to here? I’m not being sarcastic, it’s a genuinely honest question.

As to your charge of Gnosticism, please provide a quotation so that we can deal with something he actually says.

From The Secret of Mary

1. Here is a secret, chosen soul, which the most High God taught me and which I have not found in any book, ancient or modern. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, I am confiding it to you…

A secret not found in any book? Including the Bible or in the Traditions of the Church? A secret you’re willing to share with me…if I qualify on your terms? That’s Gnosticism.

No, he never says we cannot pray directly to Jesus. Going through Mary doesn’t mean we never approach Jesus, but that we want Mary to accompany us. Perhaps St. Louis is a bit emphatic in saying his devotion is “necessary”, but the Church teaches that graces are generally given through Mary anyway, so we may as well honor her as Mediatrix.

May as well? That’s an odd way to present a teaching of the church.

As to, “with Mary, in Mary, through Mary, and for Mary” and the like, please read it in context. If we only gave our Lord an ounce of the reverence and worship due to him, the fitting veneration we give to Mary and the saints would rightly seem as nothing in comparison.

Can you please provide the context from the book that I’m missing? Because I don’t think there’s any context that can make me feel better about a passage that substitutes Mary’s name for the last sentence of a Eucharistic prayer.

This is part of the problem some people have today with the cult of the saints. The externals of public worship have been brought so low that the adoration of God is ostensibly nothing greater than the veneration some give to the saints, nay it is ostensibly less. But there is most certainly a world of difference between adoration and veneration – though the two are interrelated, since the saints are those whom the object of our adoration has associated with himself.

I have no problem with the cult of the saints. But I do have problems with Total Consecration.


#14

The entire world also has been consecrated at various times to the Sacred heart of Jesus and the Immaculate heart of Mary.

The apparitions at Akita were said to advocate a prayer of consecration to the Eucharistic heart of Jesus.

I do believe though it can be confusing to hear such strong language and claims in some of these very old writings.

If you read the catechism section on Mary there is no entry that claims she alone can dispense grace. According the the catechism all of the Church,triumphant and militant is capable of mediating grace . That is why we ask Mary and the saints for their prayers.


#15

They intercede for us when we ask them to, so along with us they are mediators with a small “m”. :slight_smile:

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the One Mediator.


#16

So Mary’s title of “co-mediatrix” does not impart any particular status? One could equally describe, let’s say Francis of Assisi as a “co-mediator”?


#17

Just to offer a couple more points:

(1) Everything I said after the above-quoted point shouldn’t be aimed at you, OP, so much as at the cultural air we breathe. It isn’t my intention to imply that, for example, you are an immantentist or a Modernist if you have a certain difficulty with a particular doctrine. It is my intention, on the other hand, to point out that we are not taught to submit to the Church in filial devotion as often as we are told we are free to make consistent private judgments.

(2) My tone in that post is a little grumpy, and I apologize if I admittedly got a bit worked up about this question. One of my faults is having difficulty understanding why people have certain doubts, and not being as charitable as I ought with those who suffer that type of temptation.


#18

Yes and no. Ultimately, Christ is the one mediator between God and man. It is only through His incarnation, death and resurrection that man can be reconciled to God. In Christ, the Word Incarnate, God and man become one. Yet the Church is the mystical extension of the incarnation- the body of Christ. The Church itself, including you and me, are called to share in Christ’s role as mediator. If we are to take His role as sole mediator too literally, it would contradict the Scriptures for Christ says “as the Father sent me so I send you…” (John 20:21) And “whosoever’s sin you forgive shall be forgiven…” (John 20:23) St Paul tells the faithful to imitate him as he imitates Christ (1 Cor 11:1). He also says that he rejoices in his sufferings for he makes up in his flesh “what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ.” (Col. 1:24) Finally, we are all exhorted to pray and intercede for one another. All of these are examples of the Church and her members participating in Christ’s role as mediator. If Christ is the only mediator and no one else can participate in that Role, He would directly appear to every soul and proclaim the Gospel…yet He sends others. The saints are His co-heirs…they share in His ministry.
Our Lady, as the perfect type of the Church and the perfect disciple of the Lord fulfills this role more completely and perfectly than any other saint. It was through her fiat that the incarnation occurred. It was through her that Christ, the source of all grace, came into the world. It was within her womb that God and man became one. And it was at the foot of the cross that she perfectly United her own sorrow to the sacrifice of her son as Simeon prophesied (“and a sword shall pierce your heart also…” Luke 2:35).


#19

I will share a portion of a document of Vatican II, from Section III titled “The Blessed Virgin and the Church” :

“By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix. This, however, is so understood that it neither takes away anything from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficacy of Christ the one Mediator.”

I quoted the above from #62 of that document. vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html

No, I don’t believe St. Francis of Assisi can be equally described as a “co-mediator”.


#20

I think Dorothy has done a great job explaining the devotion to Our Lord’s mother.
It saddens me greatly to have Our Lady the source of so much consternation for Catholics. That’s what I can’t wrap my head around. :shrug:
She’s so humble and pure. She always point us to her Son. She takes nothing for herself. If one could really understand how much Jesus loves His mother, in His humanity, we might cut her some slack. She didn’t come up with all these devotions. But holy people and theologians have surmised that she leads us to a fuller relationship with Her Divine Son. And they are correct.
She’s not just any old person. She’s the Mother of Christ.
On the last day, I don’t want Jesus to ask me why I was indignant about His mother.
She loves us as any mom does. I love her back. :heart:
The devotion of Our Lady Undoer of Knots is a favorite of Pope Francis. I highly recommend these prayers.
Peace.


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