The Blessed Mother has millennia of experience as protector.
By design, only 50 of those years were formally in the Diocese of Phoenix, which marks its golden jubilee on Dec. 2. Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted sees this as a perfect time to reinforce the need for families to pray together by consecrating their families and themselves to Jesus Christ through the Blessed Virgin Mary.
It’s a natural follow up in response to what St. Paul asks of the Philippians — make my joy complete — and what the bishop expounded upon in his apostolic exhortation, “Complete My Joy.” Its latter parts recall the Blessed Mother as “Evangelist Extraordinaire” and declares that “her intercession for our families is key to winning the spiritual battle again in our time.”
A 33-day preparation period leading up to a Marian feast day when a consecration prayer is offered.
➤ Start on Oct. 19 to complete the consecration on Nov. 21, Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
➤ Start on Nov. 5 to complete the consecration on Dec. 8, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
➤ Start on Nov. 9 to complete the consecration on Dec. 12, diocesan Solemnity of Our Lady of Guadalupe
The preference is to complete the consecration by Dec. 12, the diocese’s patronal feast day and formal conclusion of the Jubilee Year of the Family.
What does it mean to ‘consecrate’ one’s family to Mary?
Marian consecrations often involve a 33-day preparation period which end on the vigil of a Marian feast day. That next day, the individual or family offers a prayer of consecration. A sample one is found on the back flap of Fr. Michael Gaitley’s “33 Days to Morning Glory,” a small Do-It-Yourself retreat guide in preparation for a Marian consecration. Many parishes are handing them out. They can also be ordered online at shopmercy.org.
“Morning glory refers to a new way of life in Christ,” the Marian priest explains. He made his first consecration to Jesus through Mary as a freshman in college after a friend gave him a copy of St. Louis de Montfort’s book, “True Devotion to Mary.” Verbiage on the back about a consecration being a “short, easy, secure and perfect” way to become a saint spoke to him. The Diocese of Phoenix invites the faithful to use St. de Montfort’s version as another option. It can be followed online at catholiccompany.com.
St. John Paul II’s consecration using St. de Montfort’s version marked such a turning point in his life that St. de Montfort’s words, “Totus Tuus,” became his papal motto. Fr. Gaitley cited the modern-day U.S. as the second largest consecration to Our Lady in history.
Fr. John Parks, diocesan vicar for evangelization, said that consecrating oneself to Jesus through Mary unites a heart with the greatest evangelizer of the 20th century. A united front can help prepare Catholics for the final battle over family and marriage that a Fatima visionary described.
“I’ve heard pastors say it’s a game-changer. When you do it, it’s real — the spiritual effects of consecrating your parish or family to Mary,” Fr. Parks said.
Others across the diocese can attest to the power of a Marian consecration. Joseph Castorino has led the effort for fellow St. Daniel parishioners twice already this year in English and is leading one in Spanish beginning Nov. 9. He will share an introduction to the spirituality and practice Oct. 28.
Castorino has seen so much grace since making — and continually renewing — his consecration on New Year’s Day 2007, that he is willing to offer advice for Italian speakers too. His first consecration was in response to a homily invitation. Castorino had previously never heard of it. Once he noticed St. de Montfort recommended the reconsecration be made at least once per year a couple of years ago, he upped his game. Castorino now does it about seven times per year.
His initial 33-day preparation period was, for lack of a better term, normal. “But when it came to Consecration Day, after Mass when I prayed the Act of Total Consecration — near a very beautiful statue of Our Lady, which remains very special to me, even to this day — I experienced an outpouring of God’s love and joy and peace in a way that I really almost can’t even begin to describe,” Castorino said.
That moment marked a gradual turning point. Life became more meaningful and fulfilling. “In particular, I think it may have been the small things and the small decisions in my life that gradually started to bring about the most profound changes in my heart,” he said.
Guiding the young
Meghan Baillargeon, mother of a toddler, 8-year-old and 11-year-old, also knows about the impact of Marian consecrations. She co-led her family through one about a year ago through Holy Heroes. She has noticed a profound difference in home and family life, but also cautioned that those changes can be “a very simple, subtle way where it shifts your focus on a daily basis to what is more important in life.”
Baillargeon said her children are more aware of their faith, particularly her middle child. “They have this great honor for Mary. And they know to look to her to intercede,” Baillargeon said.
➤YouTube.com/HolyHeroes and search for “Marian Consecration Family Adventure” playlist
➤“Consecration to Mary for Little Ones” by Kimberly Fries, for grades 3 and younger
➤ “Marian Consecration for Children” by Carrie Gress, for grades 4 and up
She saw that again this fall as she helped launch a family ministry at Our Lady of Joy Parish in Carefree. One of their first gatherings was for a family consecration in September. She said 18 families and about 20 individuals participated. “We had four dads carry Mary in. All the families processed with roses. We presented them at her feet,” Baillargeon said.
Kid-friendly consecration guides helped them prepare with weekly, kid-led Rosaries before the Vigil Mass and monthly Eucharistic Adoration helping maintain their devotions.
Realizing that the consecration may not be suited for all ages, diocesan leaders are also encouraging school communities to pray a nine-day novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe instead. The hope is for students to take that prayer home over the weekend. Some schools have already posted weekend prayer reminders and guides on social media.
San Francisco de Asís students in Flagstaff began their novena on the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary last month. It coincided with grade-level spiritual retreats focused on three apparitions of Mary. School staff reflected on the “33 Days to Morning Glory” before the school year began.