This month’s Front Porch Friday features my dear friend, Julie McCann. Listen, as this mother’s heart teaches us how to mature in our own love and devotion to our Blessed Mother. Sit back, grab a hot cup of Autumn goodness, and join us on the Front Porch where we hope you experience a community of trust and understanding as you journey through this life.
My Marian Consecration
By Julie McCann
I was totally unprepared when God chose to give me the gift of His Blessed Mother. I thought I loved Mary as much as any rosary-praying, scapular-wearing Catholic could. But I was so wrong. At thirty-three years old I found myself a mother of ten, fighting an uphill battle within my marriage and ignoring a seriously lukewarm relationship with my faith. It was at this point in time our good God enrolled me in the school of His Heavenly Mother.
The phone rang. It was my best friend Betty Ann. She called to ask if I wanted to attend a fully paid retreat for the weekend. Even though she said retreat, I heard escape. Betty Ann had registered for three days at the St. Paul Center about an hour away from home. Her children were sick so she was unable to leave. Not wanting the reservation wasted, Betty Ann very generously asked me if I wanted to go in her place. My mind was racing. Is it possible? Can I leave all my duties and just go? Would my husband agree to fly solo for three days with our ten children so I could go on a retreat? I gave my friend a tentative yes and thanked her warmly for the opportunity. The gratitude was both genuine and deceptive. I thought the idea of a retreat was boring, but the briefest consideration of liberation from my crazy life for a few days was unabashedly glorious. I only mention this shameful mindset to demonstrate how much God was willing to condescend to bless me in spite of my bad will.
My husband wholeheartedly consented. I was out the door and on the road before either of us had time to change our minds. I arrived at the retreat house and mingled politely among the other participants. As we were given a tour of the modest facility, I privately winced a little realizing television would not be part of the itinerary. Notwithstanding, I was still intent on using the weekend for a more indulgent time of rest and relaxation.
A bell rang and a group of approximately forty to fifty women were ushered into the main conference hall for introductory remarks as well as the first talk. A woman by the name of Marianne stood before us on the stage in a simple skirt and blouse. Hanging over her shoulders and outside her clothing was the largest scapular I had ever seen; it almost completely covered her torso. This in-your-face scapular piqued my curiosity and summoned my attention.
I was being introduced to the concept of ‘Total Consecration to Mary’. Marianne delivered her message in a striking manner. She communicated with such undisguised affection describing how consecrating yourself to the Mother of God was the shortest and surest path to sanctity. She was able to convey the information about ‘the what, why and how’ of consecration while completely enrapturing my thoughts.
Grace was opening my mind, heart and spirit and flooding my soul. Resistance was futile.
I stayed up most of the night reading a booklet called The Secret of Mary by Saint Louis-Marie deMontfort. The introduction was almost foreboding. The author asks (I’m paraphrasing) Predestinate soul, do you want to know a secret?” He continues by sharing the conditions of knowing it. The secret, if acted upon will secure your salvation; the secret, if ignored will turn into poison and result in your damnation. Obviously, there is a serious responsibility in agreeing to know the secret, and should not be sought from a disposition of vain curiosity. Spoiler Alert: The secret is Total Consecration to Mary. God, in His mercy, had confided in me a secret which I didn’t deserve to know.
Saturday was a day of mind-blowing revelation. Before the retreat, I was of the opinion that it was proper to hold Mary in a place of honor. Jesus desired for us to love her because He loved her. However, if I prayed about something really “important” I felt it was more advantageous to go right to the top and speak directly with God Himself. Well, that day I changed my perception. It was explained to me that Jesus came to us through Mary His Mother and in perfect imitation of Him, He wanted us to go to Him through Mary His Mother. The supposition not only appealed to my logic but also seemed compatible with the way God typically does things, with beautiful and poetic symmetry. He came through her to come to us and we go through her to come to Him. I was converted.
It’s difficult to try and identify all the knowledge I acquired that weekend. I felt truly blessed to be able to assimilate the overall concept: Total Consecration is the unrestricted gift of self to the Holy Mother of God, made for love of Jesus. All of one’s being, actions, and possessions are freely given over to Mary. The Immaculate then chooses to dispose of them for the greatest glory of God, for the optimal salvation of souls, and for our own sanctification according to her good pleasure. Meditating on this reality, I understood the commitment was daunting. Upon consecration a certain surrendering was necessary; my finances, my health, my choices of entertainment, and even my very children would ultimately belong to my Heavenly Mother. But somehow I knew, I had already given my fiat and signed the contract in my soul.
On Sunday, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered, the last day of the retreat. I wanted to pour out my gratitude for my newfound relationship with Mary. I spoke with her as a small child speaks to their own mother. I asked Our Lady what would be the most pleasing way to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion. Without hesitation, I heard words from my heart saying “Come into my womb.” Surely I was imagining things! I resisted heartily. What business would a sinner like me have in occupying space in the Blessed Virgin Mary’s womb? I was annihilated by the very thought of it. Again, my heart spoke, more firmly and insistently “Come into my womb.” The words penetrated my defenses. “Oh please good Mother, don’t let me offend you or Jesus.” I acquiesced to her sweet invitation. Following the tender prompts, I mentally placed myself in Our Lady’s womb as I approached the Communion rail. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I received Him. It would be impossible to describe the sweet exchange of love in those precious moments occurring someplace between Heaven and earth. Suffice it to say, I have never experienced a Communion like that, before or since. A celestial flame took residence in my heart and I would soon bring it home to set others on fire. I am genuinely humbled to be privy to the secret called Mary. I preface most stories about my life as happening either “before” or “after” my consecration; it changed everything.
Oh, sanctifying disruption! Completely and utterly convicted, I knew life would never be the same. I will always be grateful for the retreat where I discovered the divine shortcut: to Jesus through Mary.