CONSECRATION TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY
FOR THE TRIUMPH OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Luigi Ciappi, O.P.
The proclamation of Our Lady as Mother of the Church, which was done personally by Pope Paul VI at the end of the third session of Vatican II (on November 21, 1964), was not merely an act of the Magisterium and of pastoral government; it was crowned by an act of cult: the consecration of mankind to the Mother of the Church. In this way Pope Paul confirmed and renewed the consecration performed by Pope Pius XII on October 13, 1942, on the occasion of the message broadcast by radio to the Portuguese nation.
"Our Predecessor Pius XII of venerated memory", said Pope Paul, "not without inspiration from on high, solemnly consecrated the whole world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We hold it fitting to remember this act of consecration today in particular. We intend to entrust to our heavenly Mother the entire human family, with its problems, its anxieties, its legitimate aspirations and ardent hopes."
Another very important gesture in regard to the Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was made by Pope Paul on May 13, 1967, on the 50th anniversary of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin in Fatima, when he requested all Catholics to renew their consecration personally. In the Apostolic Exhortation, 'Signum Magnum', We read: "We exhort all the sons of the Church to renew personally their consecration to the Immaculate Heart of the Mother of the Church, and to live personally this noble act of worship through a life increasingly in conformity with the Divine Will, in a spirit of filial service, and devoted imitation of their Heavenly Queen."
The Purpose of Consecration
But it is logical to wonder what is the motive, the object, and the aim of Consecration to Mary. Is it perhaps a decorative and superfluous act of Marian piety, or does it belong, on the contrary, to the full flowering of our faith in the intimate, exceptional role that Mary has played and still plays in the mystery and the history of salvation, in union with Christ and the Church? And if this is so, what is the importance of such an act of faith and cult of the Blessed Virgin in regard to the triumph of the Kingdom of God? How much does it say for the victory over the forces of evil, of which Satan is the supreme and personal ruler? To speak of consecration, that is, of total dedication of the human being with his problems, anxieties, legitimate aspirations and hopes, to another created person, however holy and sublime, may sound like an offence against God and Jesus Christ, and a humiliating loss of our freedom. And this seems even more true when the subject of the consecration is the whole of humanity. Is not God, in fact, the only Being to whom man owes all of himself, both as an individual, or a society, seeing that he is the Author, Guardian and ultimate end of individuals as of the human community? Undoubtedly! Since the total dedication of the human person is reserved to God, One and Three, and to the God-man, it can be extended to a human creature only if and insofar as the latter shares in the divine sovereignty, and is subordinated to the supreme consecration to God. (C. Feckes, The Consecration of the Church and the World to Mary, in 'Mariologia', P. Straeter, III, Page 169). Well, Mary both as Mother of God and as intimate co-operator with the Son in the plan of redemption, shares to a certain degree, even if to a minor extent, and dependent on him, the rights of spiritual sovereignty over all redeemed creatures; and she exerts them not to her own advantage and glory, but in regard to the triumph of the reign of truth, sanctity, love, justice and peace of her Son.
Marys Title to Consecration
This sublime association of Mary with the Person, the mission, and the glorification of Jesus Christ, King of the universe, had been pre-announced in the enmity of both against the diabolic serpent (Gen. 3.15, Pius IX, Bull "Ineffabilis Deus"); it had been freely accepted by Mary in the Fiat to the message of the Angel Gabriel in the Annunciation ("Lumen Gentium" no. 56.); and it had been contemplated by the Apostle John, (Apoc. 12, 1; Ap. Exhort. "Signum Magnum"). Thus it constitutes the clear and very valid title that Mary has to the consecration to her Immaculate Heart, on the part of individuals, families, the Church, the nations and the whole world. Nor can it be objected that total dedication of a human being is not valid unless it is conscious and free. In truth, parents have the right to consecrate their children to Christ and to Mary; the Pastors of the Church their spiritual flocks; the heads of states and national Episcopates their respective nations; "the Vicar of him who was given every power in Heaven and on earth (Matt. 28, 18.) the human race (Pius XII Radio-message to the Portugese nation in Discorsi IV, 160.), because all men as individuals and collectively, are called by God, the Sovereign Lord of all, their only highest good, to benefit from the fruits of redemption for their greater temporal good, and for the gaining of eternal life. Therefore no wrong is done to any of themeven if they are unaware or reluctant on account of ignorance or ill willif they are committed and directed to the enjoyment of true and inestimable benefits. The right to religious liberty, guaranteed to all men by Vatican II, while it excludes coercion in the act of faith and religious practice, is compatible with the moral duty that individuals and society have towards true religion and the only Church of Christ (Decr. Dignitatis Humanae, n. 1.), and so towards the Divine Saviour and the Mother of the Church.
If the supreme reason for consecration to Mary is her divine maternity, and the secondary reason her role in the mystery of salvation, it is right that this act should be carried out on our part with explicit reference to the Immaculate Heart of our Heavenly Mother. Redemption was, in fact, an act of mercy: above all on the part of God the Father who so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son that he might give all men eternal life (John. 3. 16.) ; then on the part of Christ, who "through the Eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God" (Heb. 9. 14.) to propitiate divine justice offended by the sins of the whole world; and lastly on the part of Mary, who is truly Mother of the members (of
. because she co-operated with charity in the birth of the children of the Church, who are the members of the Head. (Const. "Lumen Gentium", 53.). For this reason Popes Pius XII and Paul VI have consecrated humanity not only to Mary, for her sublime dignity as Mother of God, but also to her Immaculate Heart, in view of her maternal, immense and pure love for humanity, the victims of the hatred of Satan, so that her love may lead us back to the love of the Heart of Jesus and the love of God.
The Kingdom of God is the supreme end of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This will be lasting if it is the fruit not so much of teaching and laws but rather of the charity of Christ, that overcomes all hostilities, unites and binds all minds and hearts in respect for the rights of God. The immediate end, on the other hand, of this consecration is to win, by the irresistible power of filial love, the maternal patronage of Mary, and to conform our sentiments and action to hers, thus more easily conforming to the will of Christ and Our Heavenly Father. "May the Immaculate Heart of Mary shine before the gaze of all Christians as the model of perfect love of God and of our neighbour". (Ap. Exhort. "Signum Magnum 25).) Love overcomes all! The hymn of charity sung by the Apostle in the first letter to the Corinthians (c. 13) is the very hymn of the Kingdom of God; a hymn that re-echoes the Magnificat that burst forth from Mary to the merciful love of the Omnipotent, in reply to the greeting from her cousin Elizabeth.
Weekly Edition in English
15 August 1968, page 5
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