As an aid towards the renewal of our Consecrations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the feast of her Immaculate Conception, December 8, we will offer a few selections taken from the work, “The Mother of the Saviour: And Our Interior Life” by the great Thomist, Reverend Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.
Father Garrigou-Lagrange stated his purpose in that work was to explain the principle theses of Mariology in relation to our interior life of progress towards God. He remarked that he had noticed that often a theologian admitted some prerogative of Our Lady in his earlier years under the influence of piety and admiration of her dignity. A second period then followed when the doctrinal difficulties came home to him more forcefully, and he was much more reserved in his judgement.
Finally there came the third period, when, having had time to study the question in its positive and speculative aspects, he returned to his first position, not now because of his sentiment of piety and admiration, but because his more profound understanding of Tradition and theology revealed to him that the measure of the things of God—and in a special way those things of God which affect Mary—is more overflowing than is commonly understood.
“I have endeavoured to show how these three periods may be found exemplified in the process of St Thomas’ teaching on the Immaculate Conception. These periods bear a striking analogy to three others in the affective order. It has often been noticed that a soul’s first affective stage may be one of sense-perceptible devotion, for example to the Sacred Heart or the Blessed Virgin. This is followed by a stage of aridity. Then comes the final stage of perfect spiritual devotion, overflowing on the sensibility.”
And so, today we begin considering the Blessed Virgin Mary in the light of Father Garrigou-Lagrange’s three stages of the spiritual life.
CONSECRATION TO MARY
Consecration to Our Lady is a practical form of recognition of her universal mediation and a guarantee of her special protection. It helps us to have continual childlike recourse to her and to contemplate and imitate her virtues and her perfect union with Christ. In the practice of this complete dependence on Mary, there may be included—and St. Grignon de Montfort invites us to it—the resignation into Mary’s hands of everything in our good works that is communicable to other souls, so that she may make use of it in accordance with the will of her Divine Son and for His glory.
Simple Daily Consecration
“I choose thee this day, O Mary, in the presence of the whole court of Heaven, as my Mother and Queen. I give and consecrate to you as your slave my body and my soul, my interior and exterior possessions, and even the value of my past, present and future good actions, allowing you the full right to dispose of me and of all that belongs to me, without any exception whatever, according to your good pleasure, for the greater glory of God, in time and in eternity. Amen”
This offering is really the practice of the so-called heroic act, there being question here not of a vow but of a promise made to the Blessed Virgin. We are recommended to offer our exterior possessions to Mary, that she may preserve us from inordinate attachment to the things of this world and inspire us to make better use of them. It is good also to consecrate to her our bodies and our senses that she may keep them pure. The act of consecration gives over to Mary also our soul and its faculties, our spiritual possessions, virtues and merits, all our good works past, present and future. It is necessary, however, to explain how this can be done. Theology gives us the answer by distinguishing what is communicable to others in our good works from what is incommunicable.
WHAT IN OUR GOOD WORKS IS COMMUNICABLE TO OTHERS?
There is, however, something in our good works which we can communicate to others whether on earth or in purgatory. There is in the first place the merit de congruo proprie, founded on the rights of friendship with God by grace. God gives grace to some because of the good intentions and good works of others who are His friends. There are, in the second place, our prayers; we can and should pray for our neighbor, for his conversion and his spiritual progress; we should pray also for the dying, for the souls in purgatory. There are finally our acts of satisfaction.
We can make satisfaction de congruo for others, for example, by accepting our daily crosses to help to expiate for their sins. We may even, if God moves us to do so by His grace, accept the penalty due to their sins as Mary did at the foot of the Cross, and thereby draw down the divine mercy on them. This the saints did frequently. An example is found in the life of St. Catherine of Siena. To a young Sienese whose heart was full of hate of his political enemies, she said:
“Peter, I take on myself all your sins, I shall do penance in your place; but do me one favor; confess your sins.” “I have been frequently to Confession,” answered Peter. “That is not true,” replied the saint. “It is seven years since you were at Confession,” and she proceeded to enumerate all the sins of his life. Confounded, he repented and pardoned his enemies.
Even without having all St. Catherine’s generosity, we can accept our daily crosses to help other souls to pay the debt they owe to the divine justice. We can also gain indulgences for the souls in purgatory, opening to them the treasury of the merits and satisfactions of Christ and the saints and hastening the day of their liberation.
There are, therefore, three things which we can share with others: our merits de congruo, our prayers, our satisfaction. And if we put these in Mary’s hands for others, we ought not to be surprised if she sends us crosses—proportionate, of course, to our strength—to make us really work for the salvation of souls.
WHO SHOULD MAKE THE CONSECRATION?
Who are those who may be advised to make this act of consecration? It certainly should not be recommended to people who would make it for merely sentimental reasons or through spiritual pride, and would not understand its true meaning. But those who are truly spiritual may be recommended to make it for a few days at first and then for some longer time; when finally they are prepared they may make it for their whole lives.
Someone may say that to give everything to Our Lady is to strip oneself, to leave one’s own debts unpaid, and so to add to one’s term in Purgatory. This is in fact the difficulty the devil suggested to St. Brigid of Sweden when she thought of making the act of donation to Mary. Our Blessed Lord explained, however, to the saint that the objection sprang from self-love and made no allowance for Mary’s goodness. Mary will not be outdone in generosity: her help to us will far exceed what we give her. The very act of love which prompts our donation will itself obtain remission of part of our Purgatory.
Others wonder if making the act of donation to Mary leaves them free to pray for relatives and friends afterwards. They forget that Mary knows the obligations of charity better than we do: she would be the first to remind us of them. There may even be some among our relatives and friends on earth and in purgatory who have urgent need of prayers and satisfactions, without our knowing who they are. Mary, however, knows who they are, and she can help them out of our good works if we have put them at her disposal.
Thus understood, consecration and donation make us enter more fully, under Mary’s guidance, into the mystery of the Communion of Saints. It is a perfect renewal of the baptismal promises.
(Reverend Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., “The Mother of the Saviour: And Our Interior Life”) My copy was through AbeBooks but is no longer available there nor can I find it on archive.org. I will post any new information I can find to help you obtain this excellent book.
Thank you for reading! I pray for you always.
Remember – Our Lady needs us to obey: First Saturdays of Reparation, daily rosary, at least 5 mysteries, wear her brown scapular and live your Total Consecration to her Immaculate Heart, offering daily duties in reparation and for the conversion of poor sinners.
† Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.