Fr. John Hardon explains Pope John Paul II's emphasis on true devotion to Mary, using St. Louis de Montfort's approach.
Consecrations take place on Marian feast days, such as the Assumption which is coming up and involve a 33 day preparation period in which you read reflections, scripture and do daily prayers which increase with each day. People who want to prepare, will need to begin on July 13th. St. Louis de Montfort's preparation is found in the book below, which you can find in most Catholic bookstores, especially in advance of Marian feast days. If you can't find it locally, the folks at Aquinas & More will be glad to sell it to you (click the pic below)
St. Louis de Montfort's writing style can be difficult for some to comprehend. I highly recommend during this time to watch Fr. Corapi's talk on the Total Consecration (click that pic at the top for details). Also, it is good to find yourself a priest who is Marian. Chances are, he is consecrated - just ask. This way, as you read part of the prep and run into something that is difficult to comprehend or accept, you can discuss it in order to understand, rather than dismiss it. I say it is important to find a Marian priest because some priests are indifferent to her, or worse. All of the priests at Grotto highly recommend the Total Consecration, and for anyone discerning a vocation, it's the first thing they are told to do - to turn themselves over to Mary who will lead them to her Son. She is not the object of worship, but an avenue for grace.
Also, you will need a good confessor during this preparation time. Why? Mary cleans house. I've talked to many who encountered it during the preparation and experienced it myself. Having a confessor enables you to unload as the Holy Spirit purges the soul. If you live locally, I can tell you that Assumption Grotto is probably the confessional of Detroit with many people stopping in just for this purpose. Don't come if you are not patient though as the priests take careful time with people. The best time to come is on Saturdays when confession is between 2:30-3:30. We also have confessions before the 9:30 and 12:00 Masses, but you will not get the kind of time that you would get on Saturdays because lines are generally long and confession runs through to the Gospel. Do let the priest know that you are preparing yourself for the Total Consecration.
If you cannot get the book immediately, there is one place which has the entire consecration prep online, but don't depend on this as it is difficult to get overly reflective at a computer screen. Also, the site - Fisheaters, which is rated red at Catholic Culture for fidelity is something I prefer not to reference, even though they have many strengths, but in this case, it is the ONLY place I can find the entire consecration online. The book is thin and can be stuffed in your car, your purse, taken to work for lunchtime, etc.
Some practical tips:
- Find a time during the day that you will have a high probability of getting through the prayers. In the beginning you may only need about 10-15 minutes. Later, the Rosary is added to the daily regimen. Towards the end, with the Rosary, you will need about 30 minutes, but remember this is for 33 days and is not something you will be required to continue. But, the Rosary should follow you into your spiritual life. If you struggle with praying the Rosary, I recommend using the mysteries as they are found at the Rosary Confraternity's website because they have a scriptural reflection for each of the Hail Mary's in every mystery.
- Many people start out enthusiastically, but then fail to finish due to lack of time. You have to ask if you really need that prime-time television program, or if you need to spend all that time on the web, or doing some other activity, which is part of the purging process. It's sad when we can't find 15-30 minutes daily to give to God, our Creator, but can place ourselves in front of a TV or computer for hours daily.
- Many people start out enthusiastically, but fail to finish due to lack of motivation. There is a common misconception about prayer: If I feel good about my prayer time, then my prayers are good. If I don't get anything out of my prayer time, then my prayers are not good. This is a problem even with people and the Mass and is the result of what I call "my butterfly and me" catechesis, which was all fluff and no substance. Understand this, we do not pray for what WE GET. We pray for what WE GIVE to God - our time, and it is so much more precious to Him when you least feel like praying, or feel you are not getting anything out of it. God will often grace us with consolations or good feelings when we begin prayer to entice us. But He will then test us to see if we will remain with Him by withdrawing those consolations. Our love for God is put to the test when he pulls those consolations: Do we come for them, or out of pure love for God. The best prayer is not a prayer of petition, but one of adoration, where we love God purely for His sake, not ours. Bottom line: Your motivation should not be your own satisfaction. Rather, your motiviation should be satisfying God.
- Start your daily preparation with prayer to the Blessed Mother and to your Guardian Angel to aid you with understanding. Also ask them to give you the grace of accepting those things you do not understand, based on faith. Often times, when we submit ourselves humbly, the understanding is infused at a time we don't expect, such as while standing in line at a grocery store, or while working in the workshop. Don't hesitate to turn to Catholic forums to ask questions about what you are reading, but again - seek out sources well versed in Marian devotion.
- If you miss a day, don't give up. It is not a requirement to do all 33 days of prep in order to do the consecration. Circumstances come up, but do plan your day. If it means getting up 30 minutes earlier to get your prayers in, do so, even if it means getting to bed 30 minutes earlier. If you do miss a day, do read the reflection as it builds each day.
- It helps some people to get through the prep when they are preparing with other people. If you can't do this at your parish, start an online thread and you will find many others doing the consecration. It is a great place to dialogue about the writings of de Montfort. But, take great care that you are not spending so much time discussing the preparation, that you neglect to do it. My recommendation: Don't engage in online discussions until you have done your daily prep. Get it behind you, then enter discussions.
- Put a smile on your face no matter how tough it gets and avoid neglecting charity for the sake of getting your prayers done. Charity is the fruit of a good spiritual life. Something is not right if you are snapping at your spouse, your kids or your co-workers when you get interrupted. This is why it is important to find a quiet time to do this. Involve the family if you can, but don't force anyone. Let them know what you are doing and find a special place to pray and hopefully you won't be disturbed. But, don't brush off a friend who stops by during your prayer time or neglect something else. You are in developing new, spiritual habits through the preparation so try to find a time that you can use permanently. I personally find that it is easiest very early in the morning when phones and door bells don't ring.
I may edit this, so check back in the next day or two!
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