When I think of motherhood, I go back to when I was seven years old when my grandmother passed away from lung cancer. It was first time I had ever lost someone that I loved. I spent lots of time with my grandmother, who I called “Nanay” (‘mother’ in Tagalog), especially as my parents often worked late nights.
At the funeral mass, we said goodbye to our Nanay. I didn’t know how to say goodbye to someone forever. It was new to me. So I cried. I turned away from where my Nanay was laying in her casket and reached out for someone to bury my weeping face in—and immediately, there was my own mother ready to receive me. I screamed and cried into her like a pillow and I was able to pour out my grief. So it’s natural for me to think of this experience when it comes to reflecting on the motherhood of the Virgin Mary: the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of the Church, and my spiritual Mother.
My relationship with Mama Mary has definitely changed—I started praying to the Virgin Mary as a chore. This all changed in 2011, when I went on pilgrimage to Medjugorje in Bosnia as part of my trip to World Youth Day in Madrid. Despite the controversy surrounding Medjugorje, the frequent, faithful, and authentic devotion to Mary was still present. I found myself not only calling upon the intercession of Mary in prayer, more than ever, but I also began to reach out to her as my Mother.
The next year, I would have the opportunity to deepen my relationship with Mary. I came across a devotion written by St. Louis de Montfort that led one to make a Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. Consecration, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is an act that would make one “set apart for a Deity”, in this case, Jesus. In totally consecrating yourself to Jesus, you would set yourself apart for Him. Your perspective of self changes radically. You no longer live for yourself, for your parents, for your boss, or for your priest. You live for Jesus, so much so, that total consecration has been called a “holy slavery”.
But then that last suffix of the title of that devotion got me thinking—Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. What did that mean? If I’m totally consecrated to Jesus, why does Mary have to be involved?
As a Catholic, I venerate, honour, and love Mary, but I do not worship her. I love her as I love my mother. My Nanay. I ask for Mary’s prayers, knowing that she is in the loving presence of God, and that she can pray for me directly before His presence.
But as a Catholic, my relationship with Mary is not a simple dispensary of graces and favours obtained through her intercession. To me, she is a real, live, loving and active Mother. In my time of need, in my time of anguish, when I need comforting, when I need peace, or when I simply need to weep, I can turn around and my Mother Mary is there ready to receive me as a Mother.
Mary is involved in the Total Consecration to Jesus because in consecrating one’s self to Jesus, we know His human life so much more intimately and deeply. We come to know what it was like for Jesus to be a son. We come to know what it was like for Jesus to have a mother’s love protecting, nurturing, and comforting Him.
Total Consecration to Jesus takes 33 days of preparation and one day to make the consecration. In that preparation, we enter Mary’s spiritual womb in order to know Christ’s life more fully. And Mary nurtures us in her womb. She sings to us, and carries us when we cannot carry ourselves. There is no closer intimacy to knowing Christ than to know firsthand, through prayer, where He came from—the beautiful vessel, the woman, the Mother Mary.
Mary can be your Mother, too. She is the Mother of the Church, after all. You can sign up to receive a free book containing instructions for preparation for Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary (by way of St. Louis de Montfort, who composed the devotions). Pick a Marian feast to make your consecration, and let the Mother of Jesus be a mother to you too.
Joseph (please call him Joe, unless you’re mad at him and need his attention) is a 23 year old Catholic musician, youth minister, poet, and upcoming VINE missionary with Catholic Christian Outreach. He loves coffee, old guitars, pretending to know how to play every instrument, and falling in love. Maybe in Heaven, he can have a beard like St. Joseph.