ONLY IN OUR TIMES
The motherhood of Mary
foundation of the consecration.
Even if consecration to Mary finds its roots since the beginnings of the Marian cult and has been expressed by the faithful of various ages with different formulae and modalities, it has however been considered a practice that sprang from the overabundant affection of souls particularly enamoured of Mary.
Even theology, in its attempt to justify this special relationship of the faithful with Mary, confined itself to demonstrate its validity and spiritual usefulness.
The reason which justifies and pleads for the consecration of all mankind to Mary is based on her universal motherhood – real maternity – as stated by the Vatican II.
The motherhood of Mary, that embraces the universal Church, proclaimed by Paul VI at the close of the third part of the Vatican Council II, even if it had been intuitively known and witnessed in the course of history by many illustrious Fathers and Doctors of the Church, has only become fully enlightened in our days.
Consecration is nothing but the maternity of Mary, consciously accepted and lived out by every believer.
Consecration means belonging exclusively! The term ‘consecration', which is used to mean ‘belonging to God', always remains unique and exclusive and cannot apply, with the same meaning, to any other created being.
The issue concerning the lawfulness of consecration to someone who is not God, in our case is resolved when we consider that the nature of belonging to Mary must be located in the specific relationship that exists between mother and child.
It is a part of the salvific plan of God that Mary be our mother with regard to the grace and therefore it must be respected! In conclusion, , we can say that it was God who consecrated us to Mary by making us her children.
Another objection is to consider the consecration superfluous, compared to the radical baptismal consecration.
In fact consecration to Mary is rightly connected to this baptismal consecration: it is the recognition and acceptance of her maternal role with regard to the life of grace that was generated through baptism. Therefore, far from superimposing itself and obscuring the baptismal consecration, the Marian consecration strongly underlines the necessity of maternal action, in order of the birth and growth of such a life.
The biblical foundation of the motherhood of Mary can be found in John 19, 26-27: “Then Jesus seeing there His mother and the disciple He loved beside her, said to his mother:“ Woman, this is your son”. Then He said to the disciple:“ This is your mother”. And from then onwards the disciple took her to his home”.
That Mary consciously accepted her maternity towards the disciple is quite clear, but it is equally clear that the disciple also consciously accepted this new relationship with the Mother of Jesus.
It is now a common belief that the disciple, to whom Mary was entrusted as mother by the dying Jesus, is the prototype of all the disciples of Jesus, or rather of all men, because all are called in Christ to salvation. Every Christian is asked therefore to open himself to accept Mary and take her as his mother in the same way that she was accepted as his mother by John.
Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is, in short, nothing but the concrete and conscious acceptance of her maternity in our lives in conformity with the salvific plan of God.
HOW DOES ONE LIVE THE CONSECRATION?
Many are those who have written how to live our filial relationship ( of consecration) to Mary. By offering ourselves to her as docile sons, we allow her to make us share the mystery of her “pure and unconditioned acceptance of God through faith, hope and charity”.
Salvation, in fact, consists in accepting Christ in our lives. The existence of Mary is, to the highest degree, pure acceptance of Christ, even more than the apostle Paul did, who said:
”I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer me who lives, but Christ lives in me. This is life in the flesh I live it by faith in the Son of God ”(Gal. 2,20).
Mary wants to rouse in the hearts of her children her faith, hope and charity which are indispensable for a real and fruitful acceptance of Christ in us. From this point of view, we can speak of “Mary's ministry – as well as of mystery - identifying it in the transference to her children of her capacity to accept Christ, our salvation.
WHAT CAN BE THE MEANING OF A MEDAL?
A medal nothing else can mean but that it is a “sign”. Even the medal known as “the miraculous medal” is nothing but a “sign” whose value comes from what it signifies. Indeed, in itself, it can have neither miraculous nor magical prerogatives. The sign language, and still more the symbol language, is the most suited to express the realities pertaining to the world of the Sacred.
The medal which reminds us, in a specific way, of his own consecration to Mary must be considered a distinctive sign of belonging to her and not only just a sign of simple devotion, as it might be for any other of her images. Besides being a sign of belonging, it also becomes a witness.
A GIFT FROM THE MOTHER
The medal that Our Lady asked to have coined is a gift: “I wish to give a sign, a gift of my love to all my children, my heart's favourites, whom I love and by whom I am loved, in order to show them the gratitude of my motherly heart”. It is a gift that is to be identified with her heart :“ I come (…) to give them a gift of my heart, so that they understand how much I love them”. .
Mary presents us with her heart, not only as an expression of her love, but also to enable us to love Jesus with her own love.
Moreover, it is a reminder to live the values of the consecration consistently and faithfully: “It will also be a reminder to many of my children, whom I love with tenderness, but who do not return my love”.
It would not be possible, without experiencing an interior conflict and uneasiness, to wear the medal, that has the value of a sign, living a life at variance with its meaning,
It seems that it is part of Our Lady's style to confirm, with particular signs, ecclesial events concerning her person-. The apparitions of the Immaculate Conception at Lourdes in 1858 took place just after the proclamation of this faith truth by the Church (Pious IX, 1854).
Wasn't perhaps the apparition to Saint Catherine Labouré ( 27th November 1830 ), to whom Our Lady asked to have the radiant medal (called miraculous) coined, a contribution from Heaven to encourage the proclamation of her Immaculate Conception?
If so, is it any surprise that she wanted to give a sign of particular approval, after the Church, granting her incessant request, had consecrated the whole world to her Immaculate Heart?
By granting credibility to this story, don't we risk to create a certain confusion in putting. beside the miraculous medal so rooted in the devotion of many Christians, another medal, it too specifically requested by the Blessed Virgin Mary?
In this way could not arise confusion at the expense of the transparency that must have the signs of Christian piety , only valid, useful and recommendable if they lift the spirit to the level of the represented reality?
Finally, is there not the risk of falling into the grotesque with these two medals making Mary seem in conflict with herself?
These hypothetical difficulties are only apparent. First of all, the value of the miraculous medal and its importance for popular devotion are certainly not questioned.
The medal, of which we speak, “gift and reminder” to live the consecration to Mary, has a meaning only for those who are consecrated to her Heart.
To wear it without being consecrated to Our Lady, would be like wearing the membership badge of a particular movement without actually being a member of it. One medal cannot replace the other!
This can be exemplified by the anology of rings . There are rings worn with different meanings and linked to events of greater or lesser importance in one's life ( for instance, the engagement ring, a ring in memory of the birth of a child, of a particular event in one's life and so on…) and there is the wedding ring, which, even if of a modest appearance, contains the richest significance: that of the marriage pact.
We might consider this medal as the sign of the reciprocal acceptance and belonging of the disciple to the Mother expressed through the “Consecration”.
It is not possible in this little descriptive book to deepen the symbolism of this medal whose essence and centre is the heart. This word “heart” – as J. Guitton wrote – is one of the most synthetic there is, because it gathers into the sign that it illustrates a pulsating Gospel, the essence of Christianism summed up by saint John in the axyom : “God is love”.
On the reverse of the medal, the symbol of the two hearts, closely united, almost tied by a crown of thorns, both surrounded by flames, hints at a symbology rather-recurring after Saint John Eudes.
Catholic piety often joins the love of the Son with the love of the Mother.
The union of Jesus and Mary in one single heart had already been taught by Saint John Eudes.
There is only one salvific sacrifice : that of Christ, fully received and lived in the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
It is for this reason that Mary said repeatedly to sister Chiara that her sacrifice was a single thing with Jesus' sacrifice.
“Jesus and Mary, I love you,
save all souls!”
“Jesus and Mary, I love you, save all souls!” is the invocation that proclaims the unity of supportive love that has saved us out of compassion.
This ejaculatory prayer on the other hand must not only mean, on the part of the one who recites it, the expression of a love that embraces two people at the same time, but still more an insertion in the loving relations of these two people, which is the same as saying: Jesus, I love you with Mary's love; Mary, I love you with Jesus' love.
“My Mother, trust and hope,
I entrust and abandon myself in you”
The writing that encircled her person “My Mother, trust and hope, in you I entrust and abandon myself” contains the essential elements for every consecration to Mary.
Furthermore the expression: ”I entrust and abandon myself in you” means that our taking roots in Mary makes possible, as it did for her, the trusting, indefectible faith, and the total abandonment to Christ, the only saviour, just as it is only in Him, through Him and with Him that our abandonment to the Father is possible.