Amy Catherine Gasper
Youth and Young Adult Ministry Intern
St. Joseph University Parish
“Totus Tuus” is the Latin motto that I always keep in the back of my mind and that I try to live my life by. When it is translated into English, it means “totally yours.” Shortly after the election of Pope John Paul II, he chose his apostolic motto; the phrase he chose was “totus tuus.” Before his papacy, he had a strong devotion to our Blessed Mother, starting at the age of eighteen, and continued this devotion up unto his last breath. And to this day, he is just one of the many saints who have devoted their lives to Mary through the Marian Consecration.
Growing up Catholic, I always knew Mary as an important figure of the Catholic Church; however, my knowledge of the Blessed Mother was only what I heard from the pulpit at Mass and the occasional rosary before mass. And you cannot develop an intimate relationship with someone if you do not truly know them. Another reason as to why I fail to connect to Mary was due to the fact that I did not have a great mother-daughter relationship to compare it to. My relationship with my own mother was not the strongest, so I did not think that I needed another weak mother-daughter relationship in my life.
All of this changed during my freshman year of college. That year, I was introduced to the book, 33 Days of Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat In Preparation for Marian Consecration by Father Michael E. Gaitley. My eyes were opened to the fact that I was longing for a relationship with our Mother because there was not a strong mother-daughter relationship in my life. After this consecration and giving of myself over to her protection, I am now able to experience the unfathomable joy and love for Our Lady and a deeper more intimate devotion to her Son. And now, I would like to share with you this life changing experience.
The Marian Consecration is an act in which we consecrate ourselves to Mary. By doing this, we not only consecrates ourselves to Mary, but we also consecrate ourselves to Jesus through Mary. To give you an image of that, Mary is like a doorway that leads you directly to Christ. As Saint Louis de Montfort says “He gave Him to Mary in order that the world might receive Him through her.” If you take a second to think about it, it only makes logical sense that Mary would lead us closer to Christ when in fact she is the woman who said yes to God’s plan to bring Jesus into this world for all of us that way he can bring us the gift of eternal salvation.
In John 19:26-27 it states:
“When Jesus saw his mother and disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.”
What is beautiful about these verses is that the “disciple” represents each one of us. Jesus is presenting us to Mary and Mary to us causing this to be the exact moment in which she became our Mother. And we are called to bring Mary into our home just as the disciple did. The home that they are referring to is our hearts. We are all called to bring Mary into our hearts just as the disciple did at the foot of the cross. By opening our hearts to her, she is able to experience everything with us including our joy, sorrow, and fear. And during that time, Mary will be holding our hand and leading us to Jesus no matter what.
By having a devotion to our Blessed Mother, she has opened my eyes to see the relationship that I have with my own mother. Not only that, but my relationship with her has improved greatly over the past two years. When I began to open my heart to Mary, she opened my heart to everyone I encounter including my mother. And I am forever grateful for that because I know that I would not have been able to do this on my own.
One might wonder why might this devotion matter if they can just go directly to Jesus. Why must they have to go through another source like Mary? Well...by going through Mary to Jesus, you are able to grow in union with God because Mary’s desire is for us to grow closer to our Lord. Not only that, but according to St. Louis de Montfort, “true devotion to Our Lady is holy, that is, it leads us to avoid sin and to imitate the virtues of Mary. Her ten principal virtues are: deep humility, lively faith, blind obedience, unceasing prayer, constant self-denial, surpassing purity, ardent love, heroic patience, angelic kindness, and heavenly wisdom.” By obtaining these virtues, we place ourselves on the right path to achieve sainthood. Isn’t that our ultimate goal? We must become a saint, and bring ourselves and others to eternity with God? Because if it is, then what’s stopping you from devoting your life to our Blessed Mother?
Son of God, Husband, Father, and Friend.
The Rule of Saint Benedict has been the cornerstone of the monastic way of life for centuries. Saint Benedict stated the purpose of that rule is to foster and perfect the spiritual life in order “that in all things God may be glorified”. The end result is a set of core values of how to live in community, a learning experience, a “school for the Lord’s service”, that allows one to notice and eliminate personal fault, and to bring about truth and goodness within oneself for the sake of God and neighbor. One of the largest take-a-ways of the Rule of Saint Benedict was the Steps of Humility, the long and arduous path that aids in bringing about perfect humility. In prayer, Saint Bernard then wrote the “sequel” to the ascending Steps of Humility, aptly named, the Descending Steps of Pride.
As a young adult, I find it eerily easy to draw connections with my way of life and way of life described in the descending steps of pride....