UNLIMITED CONSECRATION TO THE IMMACULATE
THE IMPORTANCE OF OUR LADY
Our prime objective is to spread the message of Jesus Christ to the whole world, through a total consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary, for the salvation of all souls. It is through an abandonment to the protection of Our Lady that we can come into union with Christ most perfectly, for it is through Her that Christ entered the world, and it must be through Her that we enter into His presence. As Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort writes in his masterpiece, True Devotion to Mary, ‘The Son of God became man for our salvation but only in Mary and through Mary’.
This devotion to the Blessed Virgin characterised the life of Saint Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan Order. He is considered to be one of the greatest Marian saints in the Church’s history. In fact, we read in the Second Life of Thomas of Celano that Francis’ love for Mary was ‘inexpressible’. His own words help us to better understand his ardent love for Our Lady:
“Hail holy Lady, most holy Queen, Mary, Mother of God, Virgin made Church, chosen by the most Holy Father in Heaven, whom He consecrated with His most holy beloved Son and the Paraclete Spirit! You in whom was and is all plenitude of grace and all good!”
~ St. Francis of Assisi
As Franciscans, we are inspired by this beautiful devotion of our Seraphic Father, and we seek to imitate this great Saint in consecrating ourselves entirely to Mary in order to give ourselves entirely to Christ. This is the foundation of our way of life, which is characterised by our vow of unlimited consecration to our Lady.
WHAT IS UNLIMITED CONSECRATION?
Consecration means the giving or binding of oneself. In this context it involves a mutual commitment between the baptized soul and its Mother. A commitment of love and good will on the part of the soul, and a commitment of protection and benevolence on the part of Mary make a fruitful consecration possible. Bond and commitment, however, have different degrees of intensity depending on the degree of consecration.
Unlimited consecration of oneself to the Immaculate as Her “absolute property” means the realisation of the full union of love with the Immaculate to the point of maximum assimilation and identification with Her.
The “absolute property” of the Immaculate par excellence is the Infant Jesus, enclosed within the womb of the Immaculate, Ever Virgin. After Him is St Joseph, Husband of Mary and unrivalled icon of the unlimited consecration to Her, by his ineffable spousal and virginal union with the Immaculate.
OFFICIAL ACT OF CONSECRATION TO MARY
OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN MARY KOLBE
Maximilian Mary Kolbe, the great Franciscan saint and martyr of charity, was totally consecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He took the consecration of the great Saint Louis Grignon de Montfort even further by becoming the absolute “possession and property” of the Virgin Mary. This prayer was written by Saint Maximilian himself to be used as an official act of consecration to our Lady. The friars recite this prayer to renew their consecration to Our Lady:
“O Immaculata, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you. I, (name), a repentant sinner, cast myself at your feet humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and property. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most pleases you.
If it pleases you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what was said of you: “She will crush your head,” and, “You alone have destroyed all heresies in the world.” Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter, you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.”
AS A VOW
Building upon the example of Saint Maximilian, the Marian Franciscans take a private vow of unlimited consecration to the Immaculate, called the Marian vow, in addition to the vows of obedience, poverty and chastity. In particular, the Marian vow is a promise made to God of unlimited donation-consecration of oneself to the Immaculate as Her “absolute property” in order to hasten the coming of Christ’s Kingdom in the whole world.
It is this Marian vow which achieves the closest possible union, in this life, with the Most Holy Virgin, thus exceeding the expectations of the great saints who, like St. Louis de Montfort and St. Maximilian Kolbe, lived and spread the practice of an unlimited consecration to the Immaculate Conception.
This vow is an unlimited consecration to the Immaculate Conception. It is the total donation of one’s whole self, of one’s entire life, of one’s faculties, both physical and spiritual, to the Immaculate, and, through Her, to God. This gift, which the consecrated soul offers to his Mother and Queen, is a perfect sacrifice that man offers (of himself). It is the holocaust of reparation with which the individual responds to the call of Heaven, with the knowledge that it will benefit his soul and the souls of others.
This Marian vow, then, enrols us fully into the army of Mary, and makes us stand on the front lines of the battle between the Woman and the serpent (Gen 3:15). We fight in this battle through our donation, prayer and sacrifices. All of these acts, when entrusted to the immaculate hands of the Virgin, will benefit our souls and the souls of others more than we can ever imagine.