Francisco de Zurbaran (1598-1664)
HER presence was tangible, her voice clear as she spoke in my heart after I received the Blessed Sacrament at Mass. It was the next day after the Flame of Love conference in Philadelphia where I spoke to a packed room about the need to entrust oneself totally to Mary. But as I knelt after Communion, contemplating the Crucifix hanging over the sanctuary, I pondered about the meaning of “consecrating” oneself to Mary. “What does it mean to give myself totally to Mary? How does one consecrate all his goods, past and present, to the Mother? What does it really mean? What are the right words when I feel so helpless?”
It was at that moment I sensed an inaudible voice speak in my heart.
When a little baby cries out for its mother, it neither articulates clear words nor expresses itself perfectly. But it is enough for the child to cry, and the mother comes quickly, picks him up, and fastens him to her breast. So too, my child, it is enough to simply cry out “Mama” and I will come to you, fastening you to the Breast of Grace, and give you the graces you need. This, in its simplest form, is Consecration to me.
Since then, these words have transformed my relationship with Mary. Because I have often found myself in situations where I cannot pray, cannot find the strength to put the right words together, and so I simply say, “Mama!” And she comes. I know she comes, because she is a good Mother who runs to her children whenever they call. I say “runs”, but she is never far away to begin with.
As I pondered this profound maternal image, which penetrated the very depths of my being, I sensed Our Lord add these words:
Pay attention, then, to everything she tells you.
That is, Our Mother is not passive. She does not coddle our vanity nor stroke our egos. Rather, she gathers us up in her arms in order to bring us closer to Jesus, to strengthen us to become better apostles, to nurture us that we may become holier. And so, after we cry out Mama, thereby “attaching” ourselves to she who is “full of grace”, then we need to listen to her wisdom, teaching, and guidance. How? Well, this is why yesterday I said that we must pray, pray, pray. For it is in prayer that we learn to hear the Good Shepherd’s voice, whether He is speaking directly to our hearts, through His mother, or through another soul or circumstance. Thus, we need to be enrolled in the school of prayer so we can learn to be docile and receptive to grace. In this way, Our Lady can not only nurse us, but raise us into the full stature of Christ, into full maturity as Christians. cf. Eph 4:13
By way of analogy, I recall again here when, several years ago, I made my first consecration to Our Lady after a thirty-three day preparation. It was in a small Canadian parish where my wife and I were married several years before. I wanted to make a small token of my love toward Our Mother, and so I popped into the local pharmacy. All they had were these rather pathetic looking carnations. “I’m sorry, Mama, but this is the best I have to give you.” I took them to the church, placed them at the feet of her statue, and made my consecration.
That evening, we attended the Saturday night vigil. When we arrived at the church, I glanced over to the statue to see if my flowers were still there. They weren’t. I figured that the janitor probably took one look at them and tossed them away! But when I looked to the other side of the sanctuary where the statue of Jesus was, there were my carnations perfectly arranged in a vase! In fact, they were decorated with “Baby’s Breath”, which wasn’t in the flowers I bought. Immediately, I understood in my soul: when we give ourselves to Mary the way that Jesus entrusted His entire life to her, she takes us as we are—small and helpless, sinful and broken—and, in the school of her love, makes us copies of herself. Several years later, I read these words that Our Lady spoke to Sr. Lucia of Fatima:
He wants to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. I promise salvation to those who embrace it, and those souls will be loved by God like flowers placed by me to adorn His throne. —Blessed Mother to Sr. Lucia of Fatima. This last line re: “flowers” appears in earlier accounts of Lucia’s apparitions; Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words: Sister Lucia’s Memoirs, Louis Kondor, S.V.D., p, 187, Footnote 14.
Mary is a mother, and we are her children—given one to another beneath the Cross. Jesus says to you and I today:
Behold, your mother. (John 19:27)
Sometimes, all we can do in those moments—especially when standing before our own crosses—is to say “Mama,” and take her into our hearts… as she takes us into her arms.
From that hour the disciple took her into his home. (John 19:29)
I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul. (Psalm 131:1-2)
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|1.||↑||cf. Eph 4:13|