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This homily was given at a Mass preceding the final act in the 33 Day Consecration of Saint Louis Grignon de Montfort, on the eve of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

In the life of the Church there are many things which go by different names. We talk about the Sacrament of Penance, or Reconciliation, or Confession. And in a similar way there are times when we describe different things with the same word. We know, for instance, that the blessing invoked by us over our breakfast cereal is different from that given by the Priest at the end of the Mass.

Such is the case also with a consecration. The word “consecration” means for something or someone to be set apart; to be set apart for God and entirely for God. We consecrate a chalice for use in the Mass, and once it is consecrated it can no longer be used simply for drinking wine; it has been set apart. The same is true of a church building, which is set apart for divine worship, for the Christian cult. Once consecrated, the building can no longer have other uses, other ends; it is for God and Him alone. This is also true in certain circumstances of people. The Church consecrates men and women to particular states of life. A Priest is consecrated to offer sacrifice, and is set aside for this work. A Religious woman or man is consecrated to offer his or her life in total offering to God, and in so doing is very often physically set apart from the world.

These examples provide a useful analogy for the sort of consecration which you are completing this evening. The Consecration to Jesus through Mary is not the same as this radical consecration, which confers something to the item or person. Rather your consecration tonight represents a decision to imitate certain elements of this rather specific understanding of consecration. And it does so not on its own merits—it’s not a half-baked consecration—but because it relates to the consecration you have already received in baptism; that moment in which you were set apart and given a new and perfect relationship with Christ, and thus with the life of the Most Holy Trinity.

The Church describes the Consecration to Jesus through Mary in this way: “It springs from a free, personal, mature decision taken in relation to the operation of grace and not from a fleeting emotion” (DPPL 204). In other words this consecration that you will complete this evening reflects the life of faith that is already at work within you. Your consecration is a “free, personal, mature decision” to live for fully and completely the consecration that is already yours in the baptismal life. For having come to this decision you are to be congratulated and at the same time thanked, because by it you show others something of the life of total love for God that is the universal call to holiness.

Father Garrigou-Lagrange, one of the most prolific theologians of the past century or so, described the Marian Consecration of Saint Louis Grignon de Montfort (which you are completing today) as the highest form of Marian devotion. Indeed, it expresses very fully the purpose of all Marian devotion, which is to move us into a deeper love for Christ Her Son. But as this consecration is different in kind from that permanent consecration or setting-apart we discussed earlier, it also requires from you not simply a willingness and complicity in the act this evening, but every day going forward. Living your consecration to Jesus through Mary, which is ultimately to live the baptismal life of all Christians with a particular intensity and ardour, means to say “Yes” to God not just tonight but every moment of every day. It means to make your life one continuous and resounding Fiat to the Lord’s will; a constant assent to all that He desires for you.

And this is why Mary plays such a central role. Our Lady is the one Who, above all others, shows us how to live the Christian life without reserve. Mary shows us how to be totally consecrated to Christ, how to be totally set apart for His will: Let it be done to me according to Thy word. In this consecration you are entrusting yourself to Mary, and seeking to follow Her example in such a way that you will be more open to growth in genuine holiness by a new and more intentional proximity to Her Divine Son. May Mary give you Her aid, and draw you (and through you, others) into an ever-deeper love for Christ and His Holy Church. Amen.