Updated: Jan 10
"Devotion to Our Lady is not an ornament to the Catholic system, a prettiness or superfluity, or even a help, one out of many, which we may or may not use. It is an integral part of Christianity."
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We mentioned this in our list of suggested new year's resolutions (view the full list here), but I wanted to dedicate an entire post to de Montfort consecration, because of 1) how important it is, and 2) how much confusion surrounds it. Now, most people might disagree with me about the confusion part, but I speak from experience: I thought I knew everything there was to know about Marian consecration—and even said de Montfort's act of consecration in front of the Blessed Sacrament—but I didn't realize how much I didn't actually know about it until I finally read True Devotion to Mary. So today I'm going to try and break it all down for you, so that you can 1) consecrate yourself this year, or 2) formally renew your consecration. We'll talk about all the details and some suggestions below.
What Is a Marian Consecration?
There are many prayers out there consecrating oneself to the Blessed Virgin, either to herself or her Immaculate Heart. This type of consecration, however, that St. Louis de Montfort proposes, actually has the character of a vow. So, while there are many people who would say, "Oh yes, I'm consecrated to the Blessed Virgin! I pray such-and-such prayer every day," (obviously, this is very commendable and recommended), there is a distinct difference between those prayers and the more formal and solemn consecration that St. Louis de Montfort suggests. I make this distinction, not to look down on those who say or have said consecration prayers to the Blessed Virgin—this is wonderful!—but to invite them to a deeper consecration on top of that. It is easy to think they are the same thing, but as far as I can tell—and I'm no theologian—they are not.
Now, as for what this consecration to Jesus through the Blessed Virgin entails, the short answer is: everything. You are giving her not only your temporal goods, but your spiritual goods as well, meaning all of your merits. I don't want to spend too much time on this here: the best way to understand fully what this type of consecration consists of is to read True Devotion to Mary. This was St. Louis de Montfort's book dedicated to explaining this consecration. If he devotes an entire book to it, I will not presume to do it justice by one or two paragraphs in a blog post. Get the book and read it... before you plan your consecration. I'm serious! Since this has the character of a vow, it requires preparation to make it, and preparation to decide to make it.
How Do You Do It?
As I said, this is a big event that requires preparation. St. Louis de Montfort recommends 33 days of preparation for it (involving different things each week), and he recommends doing it on a Marian feast day. So the first thing to do is to pick the feast day on which you will make your consecration. Some things to keep in mind while making this decision:
Do I have any big life events going in the weeks leading up to my consecration day that would impede the preparation process? (exams, big trips, etc.)
Is it close enough to today that I will actually get it done? (If you plan it 6 months from now, it can be hard to actually make sure you do it—you might not be as motivated as you are now!)
Is it far enough away that I have time to prepare? (You need 33 days before your consecration day—consecration day would be the 34th day, technically—plus about a week to read True Devotion before the 33 days begin. Pater and I easily got in done in a week by spending about 30 minutes a night reading it. This also sets up the preparation period well, because you already have time carved out for it—the time you previously spent reading.)
Will I be able to receive Holy Communion and make my act of consecration in front of the Blessed Sacrament? (If you pick a feast that is during the week, check the daily Mass schedule to make sure you can go—if you are unsure, you could do one that falls on a Sunday.)
Here is a list of possible feast days, made by Fish Eaters with new and traditional dates (Source):
Once you pick your feast day, work backwards, so that you have 33 days to prepare before the feast day (you could have a few extra days in between your preparation period, but don't make it too many). Then, work back another week or so so that you can decide when to start reading True Devotion to have it read before the official preparation process.
If you have already made this formal consecration, the yearly renewal of it works the exact same way. The only difference being, if you have already made your act of consecration, you will say the words as a renewal—on the same feast day as you made the original consecration, of course. Keep in mind, you can do this as a family, with your spouse, or as a group of friends. The consecration is still personal, but the accountability really helps!
First, you need a copy of True Devotion—it doesn't matter what kind or where you get it. You can read it online for free here—no excuses!
Next, you need something to help with the thirty-three period. A word of advice: although 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Gaitley is very popular, and usually free, I would not use this for preparation. From what I can tell, it does not meet the requirements for preparation that St. Louis de Montfort lays out (please correct me if I'm wrong in the comments!). If you made your consecration using this, no worries—so did I! Just renew it, but this time, using St. Louis de Montfort's method.
Now, he lays out his method in True Devotion. Once you read that, you will know what to do, and technically don't need any more supplies. However, some books out there make it easier to remember everything, and those are fine, just make sure they fulfill St. Louis de Montfort's requirements. Fish Eaters does a great job laying out what to do each day here.
Finally, you will need supplies for your consecration day. You will need a hardcopy of your act of consecration to sign on the day of your consecration—if your book doesn't come with one, just print it out (here is a nice .pdf). You will need to decide on some sort of almsgiving, penance, or mortification for that day to go along with your consecration. That day, you will also need to go to Confession (or within 8 days prior) and receive Holy Communion, but St. Louis de Montfort covers all of that and what to do afterwards in his book. You will also want some sort of chain as a remembrance of your consecration. It can go around your wrist, neck, waist, or ankle, and be store bought or homemade. You've got over a month to decide and prepare it!
If you're not sure you want to do it, read the book. If you are confused, read the book. If you don't understand what it means or what it entails or how it changes you or why you would want to do it in the first place, read the book. Maybe you don't have much devotion for the Blessed Virgin to speak of—do not let that stop you. When I began my first consecration (the one using the Fr. Gaitley book), I had little to no regard for the Blessed Virgin at all (it was shortly after converting, and the Blessed Mother was a mental hurdle I just hadn't overcome yet that had been ingrained in me as a Protestant). I made it very imperfectly—I honestly don't even know if it was actually done properly enough to count!—but I can easily pinpoint the beginning of my love for the Blessed Virgin to that process, however weakly it began.
2020 is the year for you to totally consecrate yourself to Jesus through Mary. None of us know if we will get a 2021—much less a month or so to do it, so now is the time to start! If you have already consecrated yourself, renew it—especially if you have never done so using the St. Louis de Montfort method—and try to encourage one other person to do it, too. We need souls totally consecrated to Jesus through the Blessed Virgin now more than ever to combat the growing evil in our world—do your part, and then spread this devotion far and wide!