Monday, 13 October 2014

Totally Consecrated to the Lady who won at Lepanto

Batalla de Lepanto
Juan de Toledo, 1663-1665
Six days ago, on the seventh of October, 2014 A.D., I made my first consecration in Holy Slavery to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of Our Lady of the Rosary. Dear BF—himself a slave to Mary as the Queen of Heaven—said it was an occasion to celebrate! Since I want to keep being lousy at throwing parties (because it saves money and there's a lot of books I wanna read, you know?), I decided to write a post about it as a way of celebration. This is not meant to be a vanity post—there's really nothing to be vain about an eternal slavery—but I certainly feel that there is a need for some sort of witness of this "short and smooth path to holiness".

The Holy Slavery, formally called the Total Consecration to Jesus Christ through Mary by way of St. Louis de Montfort, is not a popular devotion anywhere. Dear BF is the only Catholic I know who is consecrated this way. St. Louis de Montfort himself wrote that this devotion is known by very few.

Why is it so, you ask? I'm guessing because it is unlike any other devotion: the Total Consecration is radical, intense, demanding, and it requires great trust in the Lord and His Blessed Mother. It is both an enemy and a cure to self-love. This site explains it well, so go read it.

I'm gonna write my consecration story in a Q&A format to make it easier for you to read :) Here we go!

When and how did you discover the Total Consecration?

Marc Barnes of Bad Catholic—such an awesome guy!—wrote about his own consecration, and his story was my first exposure to the devotion. I can't remember exactly when, though, but I do remember feeling mildly amazed yet overwhelmed. I mean, slavery? Come on. Does one really need to be that desperate? I decided it was worth my time to read some stuff about the Total Consecration, but I mentally categorised it as "nice to know"… maybe I'll do it someday, but certainly not now.

What made you finally decide to do it?

Here I can cite Dear BF as the catalyst. I can also cite the fact that St. Louis de Montfort was a Third Order Dominican, and everything Dominican simply excites me. Or, I can point to my friends with Carmelite spirituality, who on July 16 crowded my timeline with posts about the brown scapular—the scapular happens to be worn by consecrated slaves too.

But it all boils down to this: the Divine Providence.

There was no one big occasion that prompted me to do the Consecration. Looking back, there were only subtle hints and nudges, but I hadn't suspected anything. In fact, I wasn't the most devoted Catholic when it comes to Mary. Yes, I've always loved her statues, her icons, her symbols; I occasionally prayed the rosary and the three Hail Mary's novena; I knew all the answers to the common attacks against her, but that's it. My heart was not in it. I didn't have what you would call a personal relationship with Mary.

I must admit too: every time there was a prayer invoking Mary, I felt a faint cringe within. It wasn't out of disgust or hatred, but I think I was adamant to prove that I can be a Christ-centered Catholic. I didn't want to be the "typical" Catholic who's always ready to gather around the statue of Mary but is alien to the Adoration room. And sure enough, it was much easier for me to contemplate the face of the Blessed Sacrament than the face of the Blessed Virgin. Plus, being "Christ-centered" rings better for preaching to non-believers.

So if you think my Holy Slavery was the culmination of years of passionate Marian devotion, you couldn't be more wrong. It was the Divine Providence that worked the special grace in me. Otherwise, the mere idea would never occur.

[Now I'm not saying that the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament is wrong. On the contrary, it is wonderful, and it should go hand-in-hand with Marian devotion. Nevertheless, trying to reach Jesus on our own is futile work. We need someone who is very close to Jesus, someone who loves Him dearly and is loved specially by Him, and that is Mary, His mother. No other creature is loved by the Lord with a filial love, and no other creature can ever love the Lord with a motherly love. There's no way of being more Christ-centered than being Mary-centered, because Mary only wants to "magnify the Lord".]

St. Louis de Montfort, the badass

Why did you choose the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary as your day of consecration?

I remember scrolling down through all the recommended days of consecration in hope of finding an easily memorised date. I also remember making a quick promise to myself that I would do this thing only if I find a date close to a special day, maybe to my own birthday. And, the feast day has to be relatable, something I know enough of, something I can easily contemplate, something near and dear to my life. Tall order, I know, guess I still wanted to evade the holy lure!

Apparently, the Blessed Mother wanted me more than I wanted her. My eyes fell on a date, September 4, just a day after my birthday. It's the date of beginning the 33-day preparation, and the consecration day, the 34th day, fell rightly on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary!

This is perfect because: 1) the rosary is THE ultimate Marian devotion, familiar to every Catholic; 2) the rosary is propagated by St. Dominic and his friars preachers, thus making it a Dominican devotion as well; and 3) the Battle of Lepanto, nuff said. As a Catholic living amidst Muslims, the miraculous victory at Lepanto is more than relatable: it's a great consolation and a tremendous reassurance, and an encouragement to always be steadfast in the True Faith.

It seems that the Blessed Mother herself chose the feast day for me :)

What happened after you completed the Consecration?

If you're asking about feelings, I can assure you that there was nothing spectacular. No divine hand-clappings, no fireworks, no heavenly choir, no violent demonic attacks (although there is at least one person who experienced this), no nothing. It felt like another ordinary day, just a bit different because I had to wake up very early to catch the 6 AM daily Mass.

The changes were subtle and internal, and they started to happen since the preparation period. They are rather difficult to describe, and I think I need another blog post for them. One that I can clearly describe is that now I can do everything with a new confidence, with a strange kind of freedom that can only be born of obedience, and also without pretense. I don't have to make myself believe I'm doing something for my own good, or for my family, or for my patients, or for world peace… I simply do it through Mary, with Mary, in Mary, and for Mary. She will take it all and use her divine wisdom from her Son to distribute the fruits to those most in need. There's nothing more relieving than that.

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So that's my story! Are you feeling called to be a slave of Jesus Christ through His mother? Then I urge you to do so in a like manner, preferably using the original Montfort version, like the one presented here. The effects are wonderful!

Are you already one? Share your story and bring souls to the Lord!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

From the Desert (Feast of St. Louis Bertrand, OP)

"From the desert you should go forth as a good preacher."

The Holy Spirit kept John in the desert, lest he see or come to know Christ, because of the importance of the testimony that he would give later concerning him.

John testified that he had never seen Christ until the moment that he saw the dove descending upon his head in the Jordan River.

I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, “On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.”

That was the place where the voice of the Father was heard speaking about the Son.

There the Holy Spirit adorned him with such great virtues—humility, meekness, and all the rest—that he came forth from the desert changed into that salt which would save the human race from corruption, changed into that light which would illumine the blind, changed into a fortified city where the holy and virtuous would find refuge.

This is the high office of a preacher, and from this it is clear that it demands such a preparation.

Why should you wonder, brother, that your teaching does not bring forth fruit, when you come to preach not from the desert but from the confused tumult of your own soul, not from the vicinity of virtue but of pride?

From the desert you should go forth as a good preacher. If Christ our Lord spent the whole night in prayer to send out his disciples to preach and to have their preaching bear fruit, what can a preacher accomplish without devotion?

If you do not come from the desert, your preaching will not bear fruit. And because you have the voice of Jacob but the hands of Esau, concern yourselves with being effective preachers.

Truly seek prayer, a place of retreat and solitude, otherwise you can never attain the reward of good preachers.

God called John to be a preacher and this was a great penance for him, for every state of life demands a certain amount of penance, if it is received from the hand of God. It is for God to place you upon that cross on which you ought to serve God. Truly it is not up to you to choose that cross, because although you may choose a heavier cross, you might not be saved by it since God has not placed you upon it. 

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Luis Beltrán (1526–1581)
from the Supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours for the Order of Preachers
Feast of St. Luis Beltrán, October 9th.