by Dana Petricka
Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary…pray for me as I write this blog!
Our Blessed Mother Mary has been someone I have always wished I had a better relationship with, but I never really knew how to. Growing up, I wasn’t catechized well in my Catholic faith, and I was heavily involved in a non-denominational ministry at my high school. Of course, little was ever mentioned about Mary. I learned a lot about Jesus, which was integral to my faith life, but Mary remained a figure in the Bible who I only thought about at Christmas time when we would read about the Nativity story.
In college, I began to learn more about my Catholic faith than I ever had in my life, and I was thirsting for knowledge. I was also first introduced to the dogmas and doctrines on Mary, such as the Immaculate Conception and other devotions that I had a hard time grasping, at this time. “Why was Mary focused on so much when we have Jesus?” I thought.
I remember many of my friends from my Newman Center at North Dakota State University wore these cool looking chain link bracelets around their wrist, and I wanted one. One day I finally asked where they got them, and one of my friends replied that he had consecrated himself to Mary and that was the outward sign of his consecration. I was a little disappointed and pretty weirded out.
“Consecration to Mary?” I thought. “No wonder why the Protestants think we worship Mary.” Thankfully, my trust in the Catholic faith made it possible for me to know that Mary must be an integral piece of our faith puzzle. I knew we did not worship her, contrary to popular belief, but because of my lack of knowledge about Mary, I didn’t know what to think about her at all.
It wasn’t until a year ago, 5 years after I began to learn about Mary and develop a devotion to the Rosary, that I finally understood what it meant to have a relationship with our Blessed Mother, and also be consecrated to her. Within the past 2 to 3 years, Mary was unknowingly stalking me and dropping hints about the consecration. I even talked to my roommate multiple times about consecrating ourselves to Mary, but what held me back was a knowledge of what the total consecration to Mary meant. “If I consecrate myself to Mary,” I thought, “I want to be able to explain to others what it means so they aren’t as weirded out as I was about it when I first learned about the total consecration to Mary.”
The biggest obstacle in my understanding of the importance of consecrating myself to Mary was why. Why don’t we just go straight to Jesus? Wouldn’t Mary just get in the way?
Ironically, Mary did get in the way. One day I went to pray in front of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in Adoration. I sat down in the front and noticed that a giant statue of Mary was in the way and I could not see Jesus. I would move a little to the left or a little to the right, but I could not move enough to not have any part of the statue blocking my view. All the sudden, it occurred to me: I was not supposed to move. The Lord wanted me to get to Him through Mary.
This is what Mary is all about. All she can do is point us to her Son, Jesus. Her whole life glorified Him, her soul proclaimed the very greatness of the Lord. Once I realized this (which didn’t just occur overnight), my whole attitude changed toward Mary. It was no longer about a fear that I was taking any glory away from the Lord himself by honoring her, but rather, I knew that I was glorifying Jesus EVEN MORE when I honored his mother. That is one of the commandments: to honor our mother and father. If Mary is Jesus’ mother and ours as well, why wouldn’t he want us to honor her? In fact, I believe he cringes at the many who show her dishonor through ignoring Mary or distorting her role.
I began reading a book called True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort in preparation to make my consecration. Through reading this book, it became even more clear to me that I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by consecrating myself to Mary. By now, you might be wondering, “What does it mean to consecrate yourself to Mary?” Basically, it means that one is bound to Mary as their mediator to Jesus and maintains a special relationship with Mary through prayer and devotion. There are multiple ways to “officially” consecrate yourself to Mary through a series of prayers, typically for 33 days. For more information on the prayers for the total consecration to Mary, I highly suggest reading either The True Devotion to Mary with Preparation for Total Consecration by St. Louis de Montfort or 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-it-yourself Retreat by Fr. Michael E. Gaitley.
In the teachings of St. Louis de Montfort, he explains why Mary is the mediator to Jesus, the Mediatrix of Grace. If Jesus is the only mediator to God, and Jesus is God and man, it makes perfect sense to have a mediator between us and the God-Man, Jesus. Mary is that mediator. Mary takes our messy, dirty, worldly, imperfect prayers, cleans them up, purifies them, and places them on a silver platter to take before the King, Jesus. St. Louis de Montfort even goes so far as to say that the King cannot deny the Queen (Mary) anything. ANYTHING! Whoa. If that’s enough reason not to pray through the intercession of Mary, I don’t know what is.
Now that I have consecrated myself to Mary, I am beginning to see more clearly why Jesus was pushing this on me so intently. Mary embodies every virtue that I most commonly find myself lacking in: patience, gentleness, humility, kindness, love, the list goes on and on. I always find it easy to identify more with the saints who were impulsive go-getters, such as Peter and St. Ignatius of Loyola. I get fired up easily and quickly want to be on the defensive. What did Mary do? According to scripture, she pondered all things in her heart. Her mode of attack was one of patience and prayer. In Mulieris Dignitatem, the encyclical by Blessed John Paul II (soon-to-be-saint) on the Dignity of Women, he states, “Women will find their identity in who they are called to be most perfectly in Mary.” The perfection of woman is in Mary. My sisters, we can look to Mary as our model in who we are called to be as women. My brothers, look to Mary as a model for your spouse. I’ve heard it said that men often times marry women who are similar to their mothers. Why not our Heavenly Mother as well, as she is the model of perfection for women? All people, men and women alike, can find Mary as a role model in trust, as she is the only human ever to walk the face of the earth who did not sin and rebel against God.
Last but not least, I want to make it clear that Mary is a model of perfection not by her own will, but by the will of God. Mary is only made perfect (without sin) through Jesus just like all of us, but she was made perfect from the moment of her conception by the will of God in order to be a pure and spotless vessel to bring Christ, God himself, into the world.
My brothers and sister, during this month of the Holy Rosary, the month of October, let us pray to grow one step deeper in our relationship with our Blessed Mother Mary. Maybe it’s to say one Hail Mary every night. Maybe it’s just to think about Mary or pray for one of the many virtues she embodies. Maybe it is to begin praying the rosary or to be able to concentrate more on the mysteries while praying. Maybe it is to consecrate yourself to Mary as your mediator to Jesus. Whatever it is, I pray that God may increase our faith one step at a time. Mary, Mediatrix of Grace…pray for us!
Dana Petricka is the Coordinator of Youth Ministry at St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus, IN. She is in her second year as the Coordinator of Youth Ministry. Prior to, she was a FOCUS (The Fellowship of Catholic University Students) Missionary on the IUPUI campus in Indianapolis for two years and on the campus of EIU (Eastern Illinois University) for one year.
“Me with my baby nephew, Boaz Robert Stanley” 🙂