His Total Consecration
Pope John Paul II exhorted us to follow the Total Consecration of St. Louis because by consecrating our lives to Our Lady, we imitate God Himself. When he was a Cardinal, he said, “the need of entrusting oneself to Mary… flows directly from the integral logic of the faith, from rediscovery of the whole divine economy and from an understanding of its mysteries.” He went on to explain, “the Father in heaven demonstrated the greatest trust in mankind by giving mankind His Son. ( See John 3:16). The human creature to whom He first entrusted Him was Mary, the woman of the Protogospel (see Genesis 3:15), then Mary of Nazareth and Bethlehem, and until the end of time she will remain the one to whom God entrusts the whole of His mystery of salvation.” (Sign of Contradiction, Karol Wojitla, The Seabury Press).
When Pope John Paul II was a young man clandestinely studying for the priesthood during the Nazi occupation of Poland, St. Louis’ treatise on True Devotion to Mary providentially came into his hands from a simple tailor-mystic, Jan Tyranowski. He initially met two obstacles in studying it: first the fear that devotion to Our Lady would detract from the precedence of Christ and second the Baroque style of the book’s language. He soon overcame both of these obstacles.
He found that our inner relation to the Mother of God derives from our connection with the mystery of Christ. Therefore, there is no question of the one preventing us from seeing the other. In spite of the book’s Baroque style, he found that it dealt with something fundamental and it was not enough merely to have read it once. He remembered carrying the book on himself for a long time, even to the sodium factory where he worked resulting in its spotting with lime. He continually went back to certain passages and declared that the reading the book was a decisive turning point in his life. (Be Not Afraid, pp. 125-127).
Father Faber wrote, “One perusal will be very far from making (one a) master of it. If I may dare to say so, there is a growing feeling of something inspired and supernatural about it, as we go on studying it; and with that we cannot help experiencing, after repeated readings of it, that it’s novelty never seems to wear off, nor its fullness to be diminished, nor the fresh fragrance and sensible fire of its unction ever to abate.” (True Devotion to Mary, pp.xxii-xxiii).
Pope John Paul II wrote :
“Perfect devotion to Mary” – that is how the author of the treatise puts it – that is, the true knowledge of her, and confident surrender to her, grows with our knowledge of Christ and our confident surrender to His person. What is more, this “perfect devotion” is indispensable to anyone who means to give himself without reserve to Christ and to the work of redemption. Grignion de Montfort even shows us the working of the mysteries which quicken our faith and make it grow and render it fruitful. The more my inner life has been centered on the mystery of the redemption, the more surrender to Mary, in the spirit of St. Louis de Montfort, has seemed to me the best means of participating fruitfully and effectively in this reality, in order to draw from it and share with others its inexpressible riches. (Be Not Afraid, pp. 125-126).
Pope John Paul II singled out only St. Louis and his treatise on True Devotion to Mary among all of the other teachers and works of Marian spirituality. (Mother of the Redeemer, 48). He said, “The Marian dimension of the life of the disciple of Christ is expressed in a special way precisely through this filial entrusting to the Mother of Christ, which began with the testament of the Redeemer on Golgotha. Entrusting himself to Mary in a filial manner, the Christian, like the Apostle John welcomes the Mother of Christ into his own home and brings her into everything that makes up his inner life… .” (Mother the Redeemer, 45).
He said, “Consecrating ourselves to Mary means accepting her help to offer ourselves and the whole of mankind to Him who is holy, infinitely holy; it means accepting her help – by having recourse to her motherly heart which, beneath the Cross was open to love for every human being, for the whole world – in order to offer the world, the individual human being, mankind as a whole, and all the nations to Him who is infinitely holy.” (The Sun Danced at Fatima, Joseph Pelletier, Image Books, pp. 204 – 205.)
During the 160th anniversary of the publication of True Devotion to Mary, Pope John Paul II sent a letter to the religious of the Montfort family. He wrote:
I found the answer to my perplexities due to the fear that the devotion to Mary, if excessive, might end by compromising the supremacy of the worship owed to Christ.
Under the wise guidance of St. Louis-Marie, I understood that, if one lives the mystery of Mary in Christ, such a risk does not exist.
As is known, in my episcopal coat of arms the motto “Totus Tuus” is inspired by the doctrine of St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort. These two words express total belonging to Jesus through Mary.
“Totus tuus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt”, “I am all yours, and everything of mine belongs to you, my beloved Jesus, through Mary, your holy Mother.” Mary accompanies us in our pilgrimage of faith, hope and charity toward an ever more intense union with Christ, only Savior and Mediator of salvation – to find Jesus Christ perfectly, to love him tenderly, and to serve him faithfully.
Every time that you honor Mary, Mary praises and honors God with you. St. Louis-Marie contemplates all the mysteries beginning with the Incarnation, which takes place at the moment of the Annunciation. Mary appears as the true earthly paradise of the New Adam, the “virgin and immaculate earth” from which he has been formed.
She is also the New Eve, associated to the New Adam in the obedience that repairs the original disobedience of man and woman. Through this obedience, the Son of God enters into the world. The Cross itself is already mysteriously present in the instant of the Incarnation.
St. Louis-Marie wrote, “All our perfection consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ. … Now, from Mary being the creature most conformed to Jesus Christ, one learns that, among all the devotions, the one that most consecrates and conforms a soul to Our Lord is devotion to Mary, His holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to Mary, the more consecrated it will be to Jesus Christ.”
The Cross is the culminating moment of Mary’s faith: Through this faith, Mary is perfectly united to Christ in His despoliation. … This is, perhaps, the most profound kenosis of faith in the history of humanity.
On Easter Sunday 2005, a week before he died, Pope John Paul II attempted to give his Easter Address in St. Peter’s Square. However, he stood motionless at the window and was unable to speak. He made the Sign of the Cross three times and waved to the great crowd gathered below. According to his personal secretary, Bishop Dziwisz, the Pope seemed sad and exhausted by his unsuccessful attempt to speak. He looked into his secretary’s eyes and said, “Maybe it would be better for me to die if I can’t fulfill the mission that has been entrusted to me. Thy will be done…. Totus Tuus.”
Bishop Dziwisz believed that Saint John Paul II was not expressing desperation, but submission to God’s will. This was the fulfillment of his Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary.