Monday, February 20, 2012

Make this your best Lent ever, with St. Louis de Montfort

The season of Lent is meant to be a time of a great renewal in our baptismal vows. As the catechumens prepare to enter fully into the Church at the Easter Vigil, all of Christ’s faithful take this time as an opportunity to renew the grace of our own baptism.
Happily, this is precisely the goal of St. Louis-Marie de Montfort’s “Total Consecration” to Jesus through Mary. We have a unique opportunity this year to unite our Lenten devotion with the Total Consecration, since (on account of the rarest of circumstances) the thirty-three day preparation period for the consecration begins on February 22nd, Ash Wednesday.
The Total Consecration has only fit together with the beginning of Lent twelve times since de Montfort’s death, and it will not happen again until 2075. Hence, this is truly a most rare opportunity for us to consecrate this Lent to Jesus through Mary.
Please spread the word through Facebook [here]!

This most rare opportunity
To see just how rare this opportunity is, connecting Lent with the Total Consecration, please see our earlier article [here]. Briefly, the particular circumstances which allow the preparatory period to being on Febraury 22nd are most unique – ordinary, the preparation begins on either February 21st or the 22nd (on a leap year).
However, because of both the leap year and the transfer of the Solemnity of the Annunciation from March 25th to the 26th (on account of the Fifth Sunday of Lent), this year the preparation begins on February 22nd. This will not happen again until 2164.
Further, while the preparation for the consecration would begin on Ash Wednesday whenever Easter falls on April 7th (whether a leap year or not), even this will not occur until 2075 – and it happened was 1996.
Why the Total Consecration is a perfect Lenten devotion
Lent is principally about two things: The rejection of the spirit of the world, and the renewal of our baptism. This is precisely the focus of de Montfort’s Marian Consecration.
Harken to the words of St. Louis-Marie: “I have said that this devotion could rightly be called a perfect renewal of the vows and promises of holy baptism.  Before baptism every Christian was a slave of the devil because he belonged to him. At baptism he has either personally or through his sponsors solemnly renounced Satan, his seductions and his works. He has chosen Jesus as his Master and sovereign Lord and undertaken to depend upon him as a slave of love. This is what is done in the devotion I am presenting to you. We renounce the devil, the world, sin and self, as expressed in the act of consecration, and we give ourselves entirely to Jesus through Mary. We even do something more than at baptism, when ordinarily our god-parents speak for us and we are given to Jesus only by proxy. In this devotion we give ourselves personally and freely and we are fully aware of what we are doing.
“In holy baptism we do not give ourselves to Jesus explicitly through Mary, nor do we give him the value of our good actions. After baptism we remain entirely free either to apply that value to anyone we wish or keep it for ourselves. But by this consecration we give ourselves explicitly to Jesus through Mary's hands and we include in our consecration the value of all our actions.” (True Devotion, 126)
How to make the Total Consecration
The preparatory period consists of prayers said each day, together with certain spiritual exercises.
All of these are clearly laid out on-line [here]. You will find both a spiritual reading for each day (optional) and also the required prayers for each day.
What is most important is that we keep our heart and mind focused on the spiritual practices of the devotion. During the first twelve days (from Ash Wednesday, February 22nd to Sunday, March 4th), the recommended prayers are the Veni Creator Spiritus, the Ave Maris Stella, and the Magnificat together with the Glory be. All these prayers can be found [here].
An organized table of the plan for the consecration this Lent
February 22nd (Ash Wednesday)
Through March 4th (Sunday)
12 day preparatory period
March 5th – March 11th
First week: Knowledge of self
March 12th – March 18th
Second week: Knowledge of Mary
March 19th – March 25th
Third week: Knowledge of Jesus
March 26th
Solemnity of the Annunciation

And do not worry, I will be posting regularly on the spiritual practices to be carried out over the coming weeks. Further, the deeper meaning of this sacramental and fraternity will become more and more impressed upon the mind as well grow in our faith and in our love of the divine.

You can spread the word about the Total Consecration through Facebook.
Check it out [here]. "Join" it, "share" it, "like" it, and "invite" others!


Jeanne G. said...

I didn't realize that it was so rare for the dates to line up this way! My Dominican Lay Fraternity chapter presents the Total Consecration twice a year as a part of our chapter apostolate - we lead a group and do all the readings and prayers together once a week with a little discussion. I first made the Consecration in October and I'll be helping with the group and renewing my Consecration this Lent.

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