Confessions of a Reluctant Devotee

Blah, blah, blah.

I started typing out the history of my faith life just now. But I bored myself and figured that wasn’t a good sign. Someday if we meet in real-life, real-time, we should go out for gluten-free pizza and talk about our experiences of faith and I’ll elaborate there. But, not here.

Instead I will say this: I renewed my Marian consecration today after 33 days of preparation with prayers and reflections to St. Louis de Montfort.

I can hear the crickets from here.

What am I talking about? And why would I do that?

Me, Seminarian-before-he-was-a Father Ryan, and Christine that first year at Marytown. We were so young.
Me, Seminarian-before-he-was-a Father Ryan, and Christine that first year at Marytown. We were so young.
I asked those questions myself before I made my initial consecration (prayer written by St. Maximilian Kolbe). I was sitting on the carpet in the basement of a Franciscan Friary, if I recall correctly.

My thought-process was probably something like this:

I really liked Jesus. I loved Him, actually (still do). Up until that point I had realized that Jesus didn’t want to make my life all lame and dark and miserable…rather, it was Him who gave my truest adventures, my dearest friends, my deepest experiences. He showed me love and color and joy and beauty.

People* who had previously prayed these prayers of consecration assured me that dedicating my life to-Jesus-through-Mary was about weaseling even closer to the heart of Christ. (Only they didn’t use those terms.)

Pieta. Snapped this in May.
Pieta. Snapped this in May.
I remember sitting on the carpet with a few fears. The first is that I would lose my street-cred as a Christian to my Protestant brothers and sisters if I developed a Marian devotion. (I will tell you a funny story later that ties into this!) I was also afraid that I might somehow lose my friendship with Christ if I started this relationship “on the side” with Mary. Heh.

But I also wanted more. If the promises were true, that I could know Christ better and serve Him better, then I wanted that. If this would take me on the “ride of my life” (exact words) and I could serve the church and the world with more insight into the heart of Jesus…I wanted that too, man.

I think I made a deal with Jesus (ha!) that I would test it out. And, if it didn’t work then I would forsake my consecration and just be friends with Jesus again.

Sometimes I can be such an idiot.

Ignorance, ignorance.

Whatever. The important thing is that I prayed the prayer of consecration in the chapel the next day.

…If it pleases you, (so the prayer goes) use all that I am and have without reserve…

"Not the final step but, rather, the first step." Making our consecration.
“Not the final step but, rather, the first step.”
Making our consecration.

They were right, by the way, those people who invited me to consecrate my life to Mary.

“After you’re consecrated,” they said, “HOLD ON. Because Mary is about to take you for the ride of your life.”

Darn straight.

“Being consecrated to Mary,” they said, “is like being on a roller coaster.”

Dear God, yes. And what a ride it has been.

It’s been like this: inexplicably, I’ll feel a whisper in my heart that is both terrifying and very, very exciting.

“Pro-Life Club.” “Pilgrimage through Europe.” “The Jeweler’s Shop.” “Circus.” “Camino de Santiago.”

And then I’ll whisper back, “I have no idea how to do that.”

“I know. Do it anyway.”

Bam. Source.
Bam. Source.
So it has gone. So it has been. Thanks be to God.

I have two images of Mary in my mind. The first is her at the Wedding in Cana: noticing a short-coming, prodding her Son, alerting the staff, and then sitting back and watching miracles happen. Mary: the woman backstage pulling the strings.

Fleur-de-lis. Harvested from teh 'net.
Fleur-de-lis. Harvested from teh ‘net.
The second is the Fleur-de-lis. I have a Chaldean friend who explained to me that the three petals of the design represent the three members of the Trinity: Father, Son and Spirit. The band at the bottom represents Mary, binding them. For God the Father created Mary, God the Son was incarnate in her womb through God the Holy Spirit. It’s crazy talk. (And I love when I see the Fleur-de-lis on shirts and what not…I’m all, “That person must have a devotion to the Blessed Mother!) Mary: forever linked to the Holy Trinity as Daughter, Mother, Spouse.

I promised a funny story, here it is. While preparing for the Camino de Santiago I felt that it was the Mary of the Wedding-Feast-at-Cana who summoned our little band of pilgrims, calling them from across North America. While walking the Camino we happened to strike up a conversation with some pilgrims from Georgia, I believe (the state, not the country). Now, even though the Camino de Santiago is traditionally a religious pilgrimage, the route is now walked for different purposes…like sightseeing or personal challenge. These Georgian pilgrims, though, shared that they were with a church group. So my mind jumped into the religious sphere.

They were like, “How does your group all know each other?”

One of my pilgrims replied, “Somehow or other we all know Nell.”

And I was like, “But, really, they were all brought together by Mary, like in the Wedding at Cana.”

And they were like, “We’re Puritans.”

And I was like, “I’m an idiot.”

And then I ran away.

Not even kidding.

(Well, mostly. I don’t think I said it out loud. But I did run away. We were at a downhill)

Ha.

That’s me, though: still nervous that I’ll say the wrong thing about my devotion and someone will end up confused or think that I’m a crazy-cult person or I don’t know JESUS or blah blah blah. Because of this, I don’t talk about this that much…even though I feel like it has dumped a ton of graces into my life, even though I cherish the ways that Mary has brought me closer to Christ, even though I feel like my consecration has been an explosion of awesome in my life/ soul/ world.

So, I’ll say it today.

This is me on more adventure than you could press me to imagine. Insanity-Camino 2013.
This is me on more adventure than you could press me to imagine. Insanity-Camino 2013.
I’ve consecrated my life to Mary.

I’ve told her that she can do whatever the crud she wants with my life because I trust that she’ll do it for Jesus.

I knelt in the church today, the Feast of the Assumption, and prayed a few pages of prayer with a friend:

I hand over to you (part of the prayer went) and consecrate, as your slave,
my body and my soul,
my goods, both interior and exterior,
and even the value of my good actions, past, present and future,
leaving to you an entire and full right to dispose of me
and of everything that belongs to me, without exception,
according to your good pleasure,
for the greater glory of God, in time and in eternity.

It’s crazy, I know.

It’s crazy because, you know, totally entrusting yourself to someone else.

It’s crazy because other people (like St. Maximilian Kolbe) did this consecration thing and ended up DEAD IN A CONCENTRATION CAMP.

It’s crazy because: independence, freedom, ‘merica. We don’t believe in this kind of thing.

But it’s also crazy because it has worked for me. I’ve seen miracles/ love/ holiness/ grace happen.

And probably many of you don’t need the graces like I do. Maybe you’re super holy without the help of Mary. But, if you’ve ever wanted more grace, more life, more awesome that is intimate knowledge of the beating, loving heart of Christ, I say: why not?

You should totally consider consecrating yourself to Mary.

Love,

Nell

*People who had been consecrated to Mary including St. Maximilian Kolbe, Blessed John Paul II, Mother Teresa, Fr. Pio Maria, etc. Basically, all of the cool people. Don’t take my word for it, though, ask Bad Catholic.

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