“Marian Consecration at the Foot of the Cross” (4/13/2019)
Fr. Ignatius John Schweitzer, OP
St John Damascene, from the 8th century, prays these words of consecration to Our Lady—words which we can make our own, “O Lady, we bind our hope to you, as to a most secure and firm anchor. Today we offer ourselves to you. To you we consecrate our mind, soul, body, in a word, ourselves entirely, and with psalms, hymns, spiritual canticles, we honor you with all our power.” “For you, acting as a mediatrix and becoming the ladder of God descending to us…you brought together what had been rent apart…[Christian men and women] are taken up into heaven…You who have won for us and brought us all good things.” (Hom I on the Dormition, 199-201).
We find in these words of this doctor of the Church, John Damascene, a beautiful prayer to Mary and a total consecration to our Blessed Mother. In it, we find Mary as Mediatrix. Like Jacob’s ladder from Gen 28, the things from heaven come down through Mary and things from earth ascend to heaven through Mary as she shares in the mission of her Son, Jesus Christ. This act of total consecration to Mary comes so early in the Tradition.
Yet does it not come even earlier? We are celebrating a votive Mass of Our Blessed Mother at the Foot of the Cross. At the moment when our salvation is being accomplished by Jesus on the Cross, he says to his Mother, “Woman, behold your son!” and he says to his beloved disciple, “Behold your mother!” Is this not the first total consecration to Mary our Blessed Mother? “Woman, behold your son!” Disciple, “Behold your mother!” Although these words are simple and few, the crucial context in which they are spoken show their utter significance. Mary is made the mother of every disciple of Jesus. It was among the last gifts of Jesus to his Church, that he has given Mary to each of us as our Mother. “Behold your mother!”
St. John Paul II, in his Theotokos catechesis, stresses that Mary’s motherhood is a personal and unique relationship with each one of us in our individuality. John Paul II says, “On the cross Jesus did not proclaim Mary’s universal motherhood with formality, but established a concrete maternal relationship between her and the beloved disciple. In the Lord’s choice we can see his concern that this motherhood should not be interpreted in a vague way, but should point to Mary’s intense, personal relationship with individual Christians” (190). Mary’s personal relationships with you and with me.
Ask a mother of a large family if she loves each of her children in a unique way? If she’s a good mother, she surely does. And somehow through the Holy Spirit, Mary’s heart is so expanded, to embrace each of her children individually as unique persons, especially in eternity. Mary’s Immaculate Heart embraces you and embraces me personally and uniquely.
Our Lady of Fatima once said to Lucia who was suffering much because of the Apparitions, “My daughter, Are you suffering a great deal? Don’t lose heart. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God” (163). What tender concern Our Lady shows to Lucia’s personal situation! To each of us too, who was made a son or daughter of Mary at the foot of the Cross, our Blessed Mother speaks these words to us, My son, “My daughter…Don’t lose heart. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”
Mary holds each of us in her heart as a place where we can find refuge. In her heart we have a place where we can meet the Lord in the intimacy of a mother’s heart. In our total consecration to Mary, she beholds us as her sons and daughters and we behold our Mother. We hear the words of Mary echo to us today in this chapel. My son, “My daughter…Don’t lose heart. I will never forsake you. My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.” Amen.