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 of the Church.
Yet does it not also come even earlier? The first consecration to Mary occurs 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. At the moment when Christ is winning, with his precious Blood, the reconciliation of the world to God, 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 catecheses, 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.
This has been driven home for me in making a visit to a chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe on her feast day. There, I find the chapel overflowing with flowers, each as a personal gift to the Virgin of Guadalupe. I witness devout pilgrim after pilgrim coming to Our Lady, some approaching her on their knees. There are so many people, yet they each have their own personal story. They each have their particular needs that are so urgent and pressing. Tears are often flowing from their unique faces. They each have their distinctive way of relating to Our Lady. And Mary as Mother deals with each of them on personal terms.
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 as she has entered into the realm of Eternity. Mary’s 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 her as our Mother. We hear the words of Mary echo to us today. “[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.
This post was originally published on UpperGarden.org and is reprinted here with permission.
Image courtesy of Unsplash.