CSD Book Club – 33 Days to Morning Glory (Week 2 of 7)
The “Surest and Quickest Way to Heaven”
Marian consecration basically means giving Mary our full permission (or as much permission as we can) to complete her motherly task in us, which is to form us into other Christs. Thus, by consecrating ourselves to Mary, each of us is saying to her:
Mary, I want to be a saint. I know that you also want me to be a saint and that it’s your God-given mission to form me into one. So, Mary, at this moment, on this day, I freely choose to give you my full permission to do your work in me, with your spouse, the Holy Spirit.
As soon as Mary hears us make such a decision, she flies to us and begins working a masterpiece of grace within our souls. She continues this work for as long as we don’t deliberately choose to change our choice from a yes to a no, as long as we don’t take back our permission and leave her. That being said, it’s always a good idea for us to strive to deepen our “yes” to Mary. For the deeper our “yes” becomes, the more marvelously she can perform her works of grace in our souls.
One of the greatest aspects of being consecrated to Mary is that she’s such a gentle mother. She makes the lessons of the Cross into something sweet, and she pours her motherly love and solace into our every wound. Going to her and giving her permission to do her job truly is the “surest, easiest, shortest and the most perfect means” to becoming a saint. What joy it is to be consecrated to Jesus through Mary! – 33 Days to Morning Glory, p. 26-27 (5th paragraph from the end of the Introduction)
In Mass the other day, Father recommended the movie The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945 version – based on the book by Oscar Wilde). He told us he watched it at the age of 14, and recognized at once the very precious nature of his soul, and need to take care of it every moment of his life.
Well, he didn’t have to recommend it twice. I have a 14 year old son, and I set about looking for the movie that very afternoon! Father was right. My boys and I watched the movie last night and they said they couldn’t imagine a scarier movie. The idea that the hideous damage done to one’s soul could be visible in a portrait was quite an eye-opener!
For those who haven’t seen the movie, it opens with an introduction to Dorian Gray, a beautiful and wealthy young man with a penchant for philanthropy. But he is unwittingly tempted to pride – a feeling he’d never recognized before – and he becomes terrified of losing his beauty through the aging process. Lost in thought, while staring at a large, recently painted portrait of himself, he makes a comment about how lovely it would be if the portrait of him could age, while he remained the same, and that he would give anything to keep from losing his youth – even his very soul.
As you can imagine, through some sort of enchantment, his offhanded wish comes true. Gradually, you see his decisions become fraught with selfishness and he loses all compassion for fellow human beings. As a result of his heartless behavior, virtually everyone with whom he comes in contact suffers greatly, even unto death.
What’s unique about this movie is not that a man turns to sin. We could have picked virtually any movie to witness human nature. No, what grabbed us was that his soul – a part of our being that is often neglected in our day to day decisions - was made visible for us. After his first willful decision to commit evil, he notices that his portrait has changed. Lines of evil have begun to appear around his eyes and his jaw is set in a cold manner.
Through the course of the movie, Dorian’s decisions lead him down a path of destruction. He begins to realize that his portrait is actually a visible image of his very own soul. It bears all the ugliness of his immoral life, while Dorian’s own appearance never changes.
I won’t spoil the end of the movie for you – but needless to say, I’m pretty sure neither of my sons will ever make a remark similar to Dorian’s – even in jest. And hopefully, they recognize the need to protect their souls from harm.
Today, my boys are at a one-day camp run by Doug Barry (of EWTN’s Life on the Rock). It is my prayer that after the negative message of last night, they are inspired today to run for protection into the arms of Jesus and Mary! For how can we be sure of our souls’ protection any other way?
Think about it. Dorian Gray was really no different from you or me, or anyone else. In fact, perhaps he was a much better person than I before being tempted. So how can I be sure I won’t fall to a similar temptation? Or one to which I am more susceptible? Perhaps some other form of pride? Or greed? Lust? Envy? And any number more?! I don’t have to make an outright pact with the devil! Little by little I can invite him in until – before I know it – my life becomes a hideous reflection of the soul that I’ve destroyed.
How can I trust such a priceless treasure as my soul to my own devises? To one who is corrupt? Who is weak and fraught with faults and short-comings?! I cannot! I must run to Jesus, my savior, through Mary, my beautiful mother! She will protect me!
Not only will she protect me and keep me from falling further, but with more skill than Michelangelo, she will take the hard marble stone that is my “self” and chisel away until every last remnant of coolness disappears and I become a likeness of her Son. As Father Gaitley says, “it’s Mary’s great God-given task, in union with and by the power of the Holy Spirit, to form every human being into ‘another Christ’…”
And the beauty of it, according to de Montfort, is that consecration is the surest and quickest way to become a saint. Gaitley even makes it sound easy – or at least “passive.” He says, “…every human being is invited to rest in the womb of Mary and be transformed there, by the power of the Holy Spirit, more perfectly into Christ’s own image.” What a beautiful word – rest.
When I compare my options, depending on my own devices versus handing everything over, I am so ready to formally consecrate myself to Jesus through Mary. I say formally, because I’ve given my life and the lives of my family over to Mary several times; but I’m very excited about the contemplation and meditation surrounding that promise over the next few weeks!
1. How do you feel about consecrating yourself to Jesus through Mary? Any concerns? Will this be a first for you, or are you renewing your consecration?
2. Open discussion: Feel free to comment on any topic from this past week’s reading.
Reading Assignment: You should have begun Day One on Sunday, April 28. If not, begin today, and plan to reach Day 9 by next Monday. Spend much time each day meditating on that day’s material.
NOTE: Please join us for a webinar with Father Gaitley, scheduled for May 18!
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