Life Under the Banner of Love
“In the Holy Ghost’s union with (Mary), not only does Love join these two beings, but the first of the two (the Holy Ghost) is the entire Love of the Holy Trinity, while the second (Mary) is the entire love of creation; and thus in this union of heaven with all of earth, all uncreated love with created love; it is the summit of love.”
Total Consecration to the Immaculata
By original sin, each of us is separated from God and it is our life’s work to strive to return to God. The first step toward reunion with God, that is, the first rung on the ladder to God, is to make a firm decision of the will toward Mary. This setting out on the way to God is total consecration to Mary. We give ourselves completely to Mary as our Mother and our Queen, as our way to the final destination which is our Lord Jesus Christ. Devotion to Mary is an essential component to the imitation of Christ.
Now, consecration is not simply a pious sentiment made on a whim, it is an agreement, a vow, to make the total gift of oneself. Living this vow requires that one dispossess oneself and no longer act as proprietor and master but rather as a willing slave, conforming to our Lady’s wishes in all things. To understand, let’s look at our model, the Immaculate Mother herself.
The Immaculate Conception
St. Maximilian Kolbe tells us that when Mary said, “I am the Immaculate Conception”, she is confirming that she no longer possesses her being for herself, but is “pure relation to God’, that is, being-for-God. Inasmuch as she is completely united with the Holy Ghost, her spouse, she is utterly, completely consecrated to Him in her inmost being. In just this way, we must divest ourselves, down to the depths of our being; the Immaculata must take our whole life in her hands and thus give us to God.
In the words of St. Maximilian, “Only if we uproot from ourselves everything that comes from self and allow the Immaculata to lead us fully and completely, will we reflect her completely in ourselves.” And so we choose to be as much her own as she is God’s own. And she belongs to God to such an extent that she became His own mother. Father Stehlin adds, “We will voluntarily allow no room to any thought, wish, desire or idea that the Immaculata would not consent to. Such an attitude can become a habit only if we renew this act of self-giving again and again and keep it in mind.”
Our Constant Focus: the Immaculata
In her Immaculate Conception, Mary, our Model, began the return of creation to God, and as her children, we return with her. St. Maximilian tells us,
“In the Holy Ghost’s union with her, not only does Love join these two beings, but the first of the two (the Holy Ghost) is the entire Love of the Holy Trinity, while the second (Mary) is the entire love of creation; and thus in this union of heaven with all of earth, all uncreated love with created love; it is the summit of love.”Fr. Stehlin notes, “The true foundation of the spiritual life consists precisely of this: entirely from God, entirely in God, and entirely to God! Now the Immaculata can convey this foundation to her children. In the words of St. Maximilian: “When God spoke about Himself, He said to Moses, ‘I am Who am.’ That is, it belongs to My essence that I always have My being from Myself, without beginning. In contrast, the Immaculate Virgin has her beginning in God, is a creation, is a conception. Nevertheless, she is the Immaculate Conception.”
Thus, to the extent that we devote ourselves to her, she forms in us that magnificent foundation that God formed in her, for we are her children, after all. Fr. Stehlin refers to her work in us as “an unceasing declaration of war against the consequences of original sin.” Now, as we proceed along this path with Our Immaculate Mother as guide, she calls to our attention how greatly we have allowed the toxins of the secular world, and even the poisons of the modernist church to affect us, how often we have been guided in our actions by our wounded human nature, and the traces of self-love in our thoughts, words and deeds. We are then faced with the bitter, frustrating but very necessary battle over principles.
Let Go and Let Mary
This inner struggle will quickly defeat us unless we “let go and let Mary”. She knows the way. Father Stehlin reminds us that in the Immaculate Conception God teaches us through Mary of His unfathomable love and mercy for us; His infinite condescension to our mere nothingness, He gives us the love with which to love Him, granting us, superabundanty His love, His joy, His very life. Although our sins have blocked this flow of love, He offers us His mercy and forgiveness, and yet we brush that away as well. For we prefer in our arrogance to work our salvation out “in our own way”, relying on our own efforts. This astounding example of pride, which is deeply ingrained in us, can most effectively be countered by the Immaculata herself, once we learn total reliance on her.
For she is the perfect example, indeed the very personification of God’s mercy. She perfectly surrendered her “personhood”, divesting herself of all but her will which she surrendered in sweetest love to God in order to put no obstacles to His grace, that is, His life in her. Thus she became, in every fiber of her being, a reflection of God’s mercy. She is the perfect response to God’s call to “Be holy, as God thy Father is Holy.” Fr. Stehlin adds, “To the extent that we enter into her attitude of total receptivity, we allow God to be merciful to us again, to grant us superabundant gifts, beginning with the overwhelming gesture of the cleansing of our sins.”
Life Under the Banner of Love
“Entering into Mary’s heart therefore, is the beginning of life under the banner of love, which is, in fact, the only way that leads us back to God. Love, as the pattern of all virtues, gives to our whole moral life its value: “At the sunset of our lives we will be judged on our love”, says St. Therese of the Child Jesus. Not what we have done and accomplished but rather, how we have done it, i.e., with how much love, will determine the value of our life. Without supernatural love all our moral acts are only “a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal” (1Cor. 13, 1), but this love is given to us gratuitously in the heart of the Immaculata; therefore we can increase the value of the acts we perform in our daily life insofar as we do them in the Immaculate Heart. Thus, Mary becomes in the fullest sense “the Mother of Fair Love”.
Our Lady of Fatima requested of the children (and of us, her children as well!) “prayer and sacrifice”, and this is how we fulfill her request; through our Total Consecration, lived moment by moment. It is what gives the simple details of our humdrum existence its meaning and dignity. By living our consecrations, we allow the Holy Ghost, through Mary, to work the merciful will of God in this sinful world.
Mary, our model, treasured her Son in her heart. Profound silence, holy peace, and tender recollection characterize Mary’s relationship with Jesus. Thus, she teaches us something almost completely lost in our noisy, distracted time; prayer in quiet recollection, living in the presence of God. How can we achieve this? Through our Lady’s Rosary! Each morning, as we pray the mystery of the Annunciation, we accept our Lord Jesus into our soul with Mary’s sweet “Fiat!” And throughout this first rosary of the day, in each of the Five Mysteries, we hold Him tenderly in our heart, thus preparing ourselves in the sacred quiet of our prayerful vigil with Mary for the dreadful “busyness” of our day. These Joyful Mysteries are the school of the Maternity of Mary, and when we persist in them, we learn to cherish Him in our hearts, and gradually, this peace and joy of His sweet presence abides with us more and more.
† O Sweet and Purest Heart of Mary, intercede for us, your children, now and at the hour of our death.
† Most Precious Blood of Jesus, save us, save our priests!
† Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy Kingdom come! Viva Cristo Rey!
† St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!
† Remember, pray the rosary and confound satan!
~ by evensong, for love of the Immaculata
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin! Give me strength against thine enemies!