The Total Consecration is principally an interior devotion – it does not consist primarily in the recitation of many prayers, but in offering all that we do to Jesus through his Mother. Jesus has given us all things, including himself, through Mary; let us then give to this same Jesus all things, including ourselves, through Mary!
However, St. Louis-Marie de Montfort directs us to prepare for this act of Total Consecration with thirty-three days of short prayers and spiritual practices. By a unique set of circumstances, this preparation period begins this year on Ash Wednesday (February 22nd) in order to make the consecration on the Solemnity of the Annunciation (this year, March 26th) – for more about this rare parallel between the beginning of Lent and the preparation for the Total Consecration, see our earlier article [here].
In this article, we will consider what exactly we do in these preparation days. What prayers do I say each day, starting on Ash Wednesday, in order to unite this Lent with the Total Consecration?
Also, consider joining with others in the Total Consecration through Facebook [here].
But I don’t really understand what the Total Consecration is about!
Perhaps we do not yet fully understand what the Total Consecration is all about. That is ok, this is why St. Louis de Montfort gives us the thirty-three days of preparation! We will learn a great deal about this devotion during these preparatory days. Further, we will learn much about Mary and about our Savior.
Additionally, it may occur that, even after the thirty-three days, we do not feel quite ready to make the Total Consecration – that is fine! The days will most certainly not have been a waste. Indeed, it is not uncommon for individuals to make several attempts before finally feeling ready to make the consecration itself.
Throughout the season of Lent, during these days of preparation, we will be posting articles (about once every two days) describing various aspects of the Total Consecration.
Further, we strongly recommend St. Louis de Montfort’s book “The Secret of Mary” – it is a short summary of his spirituality and of the meaning of the Total Consecration, one may find it on-line [here].
You can order a hard-copy of “The Secret of Mary” [here]. This book is well worth your read – indeed, you may want to buy several copies, so as to give them to friends and family!
What do I do for the 33 days?
The thirty-three days of preparation are made up of twelve days in which we renounce the spirit of the world, followed by three weeks in which we seek knowledge of self, of Mary, and of Jesus (during each week, respectively). After the thirty-three days, we make the act of consecration.
St. Louis-Marie describes the preparatory days as follows [in the “True Devotion to Mary”]:
“227. Those who desire to take up this special devotion, (which has not been erected into a confraternity, although this would be desirable), should spend at least twelve days in emptying themselves of the spirit of the world, which is opposed to the spirit of Jesus, as I have recommended in the first part of this preparation for the reign of Jesus Christ. They should then spend three weeks imbuing themselves with the spirit of Jesus through the most Blessed Virgin. Here is a programme they might follow:
228. During the first week they should offer up all their prayers and acts of devotion to acquire knowledge of themselves and sorrow for their sins.
Let them perform all their actions in a spirit of humility. With this end in view they may, if they wish, meditate on what I have said concerning our corrupted nature, and consider themselves during six days of the week as nothing but sails, slugs, toads, swine, snakes and goats. Or else they may meditate on the following three considerations of St. Bernard: ‘Remember what you were - corrupted seed; what you are - a body destined for decay; what you will be -food for worms.’
They will ask our Lord and the Holy Spirit to enlighten them saying, ‘Lord, that I may see,’ or ‘Lord, let me know myself,’ or the ‘Come, Holy Spirit’. Every day they should say the Litany of the Holy Spirit, with the prayer that follows, as indicated in the first part of this work. They will turn to our Blessed Lady and beg her to obtain for them that great grace which is the foundation of all others, the grace of self-knowledge. For this intention they will say each day the Ave Maris Stella and the Litany of the Blessed Virgin.
229. Each day of the second week they should endeavour in all their prayers and works to acquire an understanding of the Blessed Virgin and ask the Holy Spirit for this grace. They may read and meditate upon what we have already said about her. They should recite daily the Litany of the Holy Spirit and the Ave Maris Stella as during the first week. In addition they will say at least five decades of the Rosary for greater understanding of Mary.
230. During the third week they should seek to understand Jesus Christ better. They may read and meditate on what we have already said about him. They may say the prayer of St. Augustine which they will find at the beginning of the second part of this book. Again with St. Augustine, they may pray repeatedly, "Lord, that I may know you," or "Lord, that I may see." As during the previous week, they should recite the Litany of the Holy Spirit and the Ave Maris Stella, adding every day the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus.
231. At the end of these three weeks they should go to confession and Holy Communion with the intention of consecrating themselves to Jesus through Mary as slaves of love. When receiving Holy Communion they could follow the method given later on. They then recite the act of consecration which is given at the end of this book. If they do not have a printed copy of the act, they should write it out or have it copied and then sign it on the very day they make it.
232. It would be very becoming if on that day they offered some tribute to Jesus and his Mother, either as a penance for past unfaithfulness to the promises made in baptism or as a sign of their submission to the sovereignty of Jesus and Mary. Such a tribute would be in accordance with each one's ability and fervour and may take the form of fasting, an act of self-denial, the gift of an alms or the offering of a votive candle. If they gave only a pin as a token of their homage, provided it were given with a good heart, it would satisfy Jesus who considers only the good intention.
233. Every year at least, on the same date, they should renew the consecration following the same exercises for three weeks. They might also renew it every month or even every day by saying this short prayer: ‘I am all yours and all I have is yours, O dear Jesus, through Mary, your holy Mother.’”
Making the Consecration this Lent
In order to assist in making the consecration this Lent, we will be posting (here, on the NTM blog) the prayers which St. Louis-Marie recommends for each of the periods during the preparation.
While many people use additional readings every day, these are not absolutely necessary. Indeed, what is most important is that we maintain the spirit of the devotion throughout the days of preparation – praying the good Jesus to give us freedom from the spirit of the world, and knowledge of self, of Mary, and of Jesus.
Insofar as it is helpful to some, we will also post links each week to certain readings which may be helpful for each day – but these readings are not required in order to make the consecration. The daily prayers are what St. Louis de Montfort expressly recommended.
Timeline from Ash Wednesday to the Annunciation
February 22nd, Ash Wednesday
Begin the first 12 days: Renounce the spirit of the world
March 5th, Monday
Begin the 1st week: Knowledge of self
March 12th, Monday
Begin the 2nd week: Knowledge of Mary
March 19th, Monday - Feast of St. Joseph
Begin the 3rd week: Knowledge of Jesus
March 26th, Monday - The Annunciation
Act of Consecration
The prayers of the first 12 days
You will find information on the Total Consecration, together with prayers and reflections for every day [here].
While St. Louis-Marie does not specify which prayers should be said in the first twelve days (in which we renounce the spirit of the world), the following may be helpful:
Spiritual practices of the first twelve days – Examine your conscience, pray, practice renouncement of your own will; mortification, purity of heart. This purity is the indispensable condition for contemplating God in heaven, to see Him on earth and to know Him by the light of faith. The first part of the preparation should be employed in casting off the spirit of the world which is contrary to that of Jesus Christ. The spirit of the world consists essentially in the denial of the supreme dominion of God; a denial which is manifested in practice by sin and disobedience; thus it is principally opposed to the spirit of Christ, which is also that of Mary.
It manifests itself by the concupiscence of the flesh, by the concupiscence of the eyes and by the pride of life. By disobedience to God's laws and the abuse of created things. Its works are: sin in all forms, then all else by which the devil leads to sin; works which bring error and darkness to the mind, and seduction and corruption to the will. Its pomps are the splendor and the charms employed by the devil to render sin alluring in persons, places and things.
Prayers for the first twelve days –
One might consider praying, during these twelve days, the Veni Creator Spiritus and the Ave Maris Stella (two hymns which de Montfort warmly recommended), together with the Magnificat (Mary’s hymn, from Luke 1:46-55) and the Glory be.
Veni Creator Spiritus
Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,
and in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.
O comforter, to Thee we cry,
O heavenly gift of God Most High,
O fount of life and fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.
Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;
Thou, finger of God's hand we own;
Thou, promise of the Father,
Thou Who dost the tongue with power imbue.
Kindle our sense from above,
and make our hearts o'erflow with love;
with patience firm and virtue high
the weakness of our flesh supply.
Far from us drive the foe we dread,
and grant us Thy peace instead;
so shall we not, with Thee for guide,
turn from the path of life aside.
Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
the Father and the Son to know;
and Thee, through endless times confessed,
of both the eternal Spirit blest.
Now to the Father and the Son,
Who rose from death, be glory given,
with Thou, O Holy Comforter,
henceforth by all in earth and heaven. Amen.
Ave Maris Stella
Hail, O Star of the ocean,
God's own Mother blest,
ever sinless Virgin,
gate of heav'nly rest.
Taking that sweet Ave,
which from Gabriel came,
peace confirm within us,
changing Eve's name.
Break the sinners' fetters,
make our blindness day,
Chase all evils from us,
for all blessings pray.
Show thyself a Mother,
may the Word divine
born for us thine Infant
hear our prayers through thine.
Virgin all excelling,
mildest of the mild,
free from guilt preserve us
meek and undefiled.
Keep our life all spotless,
make our way secure
till we find in Jesus,
joy for evermore.
Praise to God the Father,
honor to the Son,
in the Holy Spirit,
be the glory one. Amen.
My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. Because He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid; for behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because He that is mighty hath done great things to me; and holy is His name. And His mercy is from generation to generations, to them that fear Him. He hath showed might in His arm; He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat; and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath received Israel His servant, being mindful of His mercy. As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever. Amen.
Glory Be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.