“As all perfection consists in our being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus, it naturally follows that the most perfect of all devotions is that which conforms, unites, and consecrates us most completely to Jesus. Now of all God’s creatures, Mary is the most conformed to Jesus. It therefore follows that, of all devotions, devotion to Her makes for the most effective consecration and conformity to Him. The more one is consecrated to Mary, the more one is consecrated to Jesus .. Our Blessed Lady, in Her immense love for us, is eager to receive into Her virginal hands the gift of our actions, imparting to them a marvellous beauty and splendour, and presenting them Herself to Jesus most willingly. More glory is given to Our Lord in this way than when we make our offering with our own guilty hands.”
Saint Louis de Montfort, the great Apostle of the Cross and Rosary, wrote these words some three hundred years ago, in his ‘Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary’. He proposed a consecration to Jesus through Mary which was the culmination of a process of discernment, preparation and interior renewal; it was not a singular act, but the first step on a path seeking sanctity, a journey which would be life-long and completed only in Heaven. He counselled that the desire to make this consecration was a signal grace obtained by the Blessed Virgin, one not given to all, and one which places great responsibility on the soul who makes it; it has the character of a vow made to the Lord, through, with and in His own Mother.
In our own day, one of the greatest advocates of this path to sanctity as set out by Saint Louis, was our own Saint John Paul the Great. Indeed, the motto he took as Pope – ‘Totus Tuus’ (‘all Yours’) is taken from Saint Louis’ True Devotion, for the Holy Father had made this consecration in his youth; much later, he would speak of it from time to time, and he would acknowledge the immense blessings it had continuously brought him throughout his life as a man, as a Priest, as a Bishop and as Pope.
Personally, I had the grace of making this Consecration to Jesus through Mary, using the process and formula advocated by Saint Louis, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, 8th December 1981. And like Pope John Paul, I can attest to the enormous blessings it has brought, the great graces it has procured, despite my unworthiness of them, and the continual kindness of the Mother of the Lord. She has never once failed me in my needs and She has always been close by, even though I have often wandered far from Her. I have renewed my consecration several times since then, once at the Chapel on the Rue du Bac in Paris, where the Blessed Virgin gave the world the Miraculous Medal through Saint Catherine Labouré.
At the present time, this idea of consecration has seen something of a resurgence. There are a number of books these days which recommend such a consecration, often using the writings of Saint Louis and his own process, as a framework. An excellent example of this is the consecration proposed by Father Michael Gaitley MIC, which has been taken up by a great many souls over the last few years. This is no surprise, for Saint Louis predicted that such a time would come.
Also at the present time, this idea of consecration is perhaps in the minds of many because of the centenary of Our Blessed Lady’s appearances at Fatima, which we celebrated one week ago along with the canonisation of our newest Saints, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, who were privileged to see the Mother of God at Fatima in 1917, and who became shining lights of sanctity and of devotion to Jesus through Mary.
With all of this in mind, I was delighted recently to learn that our Bishop, Joseph Toal, intended to consecrate our Diocese of Motherwell to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Our Diocese was erected on 25 May 1947 as a suffragan See of the Archdiocese of Glasgow. Bishop Toal was formerly Bishop of Argyll and the Isles. He was appointed to lead the Diocese of Motherwell in April 2014, having served for a time as Apostolic Administrator after the departure of Bishop Devine. Our Diocese has been graced to provide the Church with several notable figures in the history of the Church in Scotland – Cardinal Winning, Archbishop Cushley, Bishop Nolan and Emeritus Bishop Taylor all came from the Diocese of Motherwell.
The diocese is filled with good men and women and – thank God – there is a rich history of strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary; this is evident in the erection of the National Shrine of Our Lady at Carfin Grotto, which thrives with a very full schedule throughout the pilgrimage season.
The Consecration of the Diocese of Motherwell took place at Mass earlier today, 20th May 2017, in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Good Aid, presided over by Bishop Toal. Prior to Mass, the Lord was adored, exposed in the Blessed Sacrament, whilst Confessions were heard and the Rosary was prayed. As the Mass began, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was processed solemnly into the Cathedral, having arrived from the Cathedral of Saint Andrew in Glasgow, where it has been venerated over the past week.
In his homily, Bishop Toal spoke very beautifully on the message of Fatima, noting that it centres on conversion, prayer, reparation and, in short, ‘a change of heart’. This is what the Blessed Virgin calls us to. Bishop Toal spoke about his own experiences of visiting the shrine at Fatima, where there is a strong sense of penance and reparation.
He also spoke about the newest Saints of the Church, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, canonised last week. He said these two children remind us of the very special place which children occupy in life generally and in the Church specifically – adding that it is to children that we must hand on the fullness, beauty and sanctity of our Faith. At the conclusion of the Mass, Bishop Toal made the solemn Act of Consecration of the Diocese of Motherwell to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, asking Her blessing upon all of us.
Saint Louis de Montfort tells us that when we are consecrated to Jesus through Mary, we can be certain that She will procure for us wonderful and numerous graces, also that She will produce wonderful effects which flow from our consecration to Her. These graces and effects go far beyond ourselves. This will certainly apply as much to the consecration of a Diocese as to the consecration of a particular soul.
Today, I pray that for our Diocese, this Act of Consecration made by Bishop Toal will result in great graces obtained through the motherly intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary – that She will obtain for each of us that ‘change of heart’ of which the Bishop spoke, and that She will sanctify and transform us all, and lead us ever closer to Her Son, Our Lord.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.