He dwells among us: A life-changing consecration

Jesus knocks on the door of our heart and longs to enter our house, where Mary needs to be

By Bishop Richard F. Stika

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.” –Matthew 1:20

The words spoken by the angel of the Lord to St. Joseph in a dream were not meant for him alone. They are for each of us to heed as well: Do not be afraid to take Mary into your home — into your heart. In May, when the Church celebrates the Blessed Virgin Mary in a special way, I urge you to consider something that will forever change your relationship with Jesus and, thus, your very life — your consecration “to Jesus through the hands of Mary.”

With his silent “yes” in response to God’s messenger, St. Joseph embraced the mystery of our salvation and took Mary into his home and into his heart. Likewise, in response to the words of Jesus from the cross, “Behold your Mother,” the disciple St. John took Mary “into his home” (John 19:26-27). And this is what we are all invited to do. This is the reason why I believe it is so important to be consecrated through the hands of Mary to Jesus, because more than anyone else, she helps to bring us closer to Christ and to better live our baptismal life in Him. After all, who can make our heart a better home for Jesus than His Mother and ours? This is the essence of Marian consecration.

Consecration means to “set apart” and “to make holy” something for sacred use or purpose. It is a total entrustment or dedication to God. When a chalice is consecrated, it is set apart for exclusive use in the holy sacrifice of the Mass — using it for anything outside this sacred purpose would be to desecrate it, to divest it of its sacredness. When our cathedral was dedicated, its consecration set it apart for the worship of God. No longer a building of brick, mortar, and steel, it became a sacred dwelling of God’s presence.

The most important personal consecration is that of our baptism, “the fundamental consecration of the Christian life” — our entrance into the very life of God. When we are baptized, we become a temple of the Holy Spirit, consecrated to Jesus Christ and set apart to “be built into a spiritual house to be a priestly people and to offer sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). Consecration then, be it a Marian consecration or the consecrated life as a religious or a bishop’s consecration in his episcopal ordination, only builds upon, enlarges, and strengthens one’s baptismal consecration.

The great Marian saint, Father Louis de Montfort, stated that a correct devotion to Mary is, in fact, a perfect consecration to Jesus Christ because “it is the perfect renewal of the vows and promises of holy baptism.” This is because in making our consecration we give our self entirely to Mary in order to belong entirely to Jesus through her. “Of all God’s creatures,” the saint reminds us, “Mary is the most conformed to Jesus.” It follows, he said, that “the more one is consecrated to Mary, the more one is consecrated to Jesus.”

Properly understood, consecration is always an action of God. Only God can consecrate. At Mass, it is not the priest who pronounces the words of consecration but Christ.

The priest acts in the person of Christ (in persona Christi) and is but the voice and hands of our Lord. Our personal consecration then is something that God does in which we participate with our freely given “yes” in response to His loving invitation for greater life in him. It is the Holy Spirit who inspires us and sows the seed of desire in our heart to say “yes” to God.

So, who better than Mary to help us in responding “yes” to God in living our daily baptismal vows and promises? As our mother, she desires to help us every day to share in her own “fiat” to God, as at the Annunciation, so that our heart also might always be a place of Christ’s conception and birth. As God the Father entrusted His Son to the tabernacle of Mary’s womb and home, so He invites us to entrust and to consecrate ourselves to her as our mother in living out our baptismal consecration.

I want to recommend two books that I pray will be life-changing for you. The first is Father Michael Gaitley’s book, 33 Days to Morning Glory. As the title suggests, he leads the reader through a 33-day preparation for one’s consecration to Mary in an easy to understand manner. In it, he covers the teachings of four great Marian saints — St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Teresa of Kolkata, and St. John Paul II. The second book I recommend is St. Louis de Montfort’s classic, True Devotion to Mary, a book that St. John Paul II called “the turning point” of his life. Though a book of a more classical style, it is a near-inexhaustible treasure trove of gems to reflect upon.

Jesus knocks upon the door of our heart and longs to enter our house (cf. Revelation 3:20). What joy will be the Lord’s when He enters and finds that the house is not ours, but the house of His mother and ours. Do not be afraid to take Mary into your home!

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