Mary, our help and refuge

Our consecration to Mary, praying her rosary daily are invaluable in the spiritual battles of life

By Bishop Richard F. Stika

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

A woman prays with a rosary at the Marian shrine in Knock, Ireland, Oct. 10, 2021. (CNS photo/Cillian Kelly)

A life-changing consecration. The words spoken by the angel of the Lord to St. Joseph in a dream were not meant for him alone but are for each of us to heed as well: “Do not be afraid to take Mary into your home”—that is, into your heart.

And we best do so by consecrating ourselves “to Jesus through Mary”—as baptized Catholics, we need the help of our Mother in growing ever closer to Christ. And in these times of growing evil and intensifying attacks upon the Church, Our Lady is a sure refuge and defense against Satan’s fury.

The home our heart should be. 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 why the Church urges us to be consecrated through the hands of Mary to Jesus, because, more than anyone, she can bring us closer to Christ and help us 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.

Sacred and set apart. 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.

Strengthening our baptismal life. 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.

A perfect renewal. The great Marian saint, St. Louis de Montfort, states 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, then, that “the more one is consecrated to Mary, the more one is consecrated to Jesus.” Our consecration to Mary is summed up in this short exclamatory prayer— “I am all Thine, and all that I have belongs to Thee, O my sweet Jesus, through Mary, Thy holy Mother.”

Saying “yes” to God. 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. And our personal consecration strengthens our “yes” to the divine will.

Mary’s fiat. So, who better than Mary to help us in responding “yes” to God in living out daily our baptismal vows and promises? As our Mother, she desires to help us every day to share in own her “fiat” to God, as at the Annunciation, so that our heart, too, 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.

What Satan hates so much. To invite Mary into our heart is to also invite the Holy Spirit as well and makes her “fiat” fruitful and grow in our heart. And there is nothing that Satan hates more than Mary’s fiat echoing in our heart, which “crushes” his efforts to turn our heart away from God with his “Non serviam,”—”I will not serve.”

This is why he also hates the rosary so much. The famous Vatican exorcist, Father Gabrielle Amorth (1925-2016), shared how during one exorcism, Satan said to him through the possessed person, “Each Ave Maria of the rosary is a blow to my face. If Christians knew the power of the rosary, it would be the end of me.” Perhaps this explains why the rosary is now being publicly called a “symbol of extremism.”

Power of humility. Indeed, the rosary is one of the greatest weapons we have in our spiritual arsenal. And the reason for this is simple—Mary is the “woman” of Genesis 3:15 who through Jesus crushes the head of the serpent.

The great “saint of the rosary,” St. Louis de Montfort, speaks of how the devil, in a certain sense, fears Mary even more than God himself, saying, “Because Satan is so full of pride, he suffers infinitely more by being beaten and punished by a little and humble handmaid of the Lord.” As the rose is the “crown of flowers,” so the rosary is the crown of Mary’s children by which we triumph over evil. For good reason is she called, among her many titles, “Our Lady of Victory.”

Living Mysteries. When we pray the rosary, we reflect upon the most essential mysteries of our faith—mysteries not of past events, but of living, present, and saving mysteries:

  • Those called Joyful that bring us to encounter Christ our true joy;
  • Those called Luminous for the divine light that penetrates the darkness of sin and illuminates our hearts with Christ’s love as our Bridegroom;
  • Those called Sorrowful that give meaning and purpose to all our sufferings when united with Our Redeemer’s upon the Cross;
  • And those called Glorious that give us to rejoice in the promise of everlasting life with Jesus and Mary, strengthening and steadying the steps of our pilgrim journey to our heavenly home.

Our Lady’s plea. Let us heed, then, the urgent plea of Our Lady of Fatima to “Pray the rosary every day” and consecrate ourselves to her Immaculate Heart—be the “extremist” that Satan fears most! And consecrate yourself to St. Joseph, who, for good reason, is called “terror of demons.”

May you always be well armed with the rosary and their help in your spiritual combat.

To learn more about making a consecration to Mary and to St. Joseph, the following books are highly recommended:  Father Michael Gaitley’s book, “33 Days to Morning Glory,” St. Louis de Montfort’s masterpiece, “True Devotion to Mary,” and Father  Joseph Calloway’s excellent book, “Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father.”

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