What is consecration and why do it?

Archdiocese of Denver prepares for consecration Oct. 13 to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Therese Bussen

On Oct. 13, the 100th anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila will consecrate the Archdiocese of Denver to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

“Mary wishes to assist us, through her Immaculate Heart, in bringing the world back to God. This is why I am encouraging people to join me in consecrating themselves, their families, parishes, and the archdiocese to her Immaculate Heart,” Archbishop Aquila said.

The act of consecration will take place at the end of a Marian prayer service at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, and Archbishop Aquila invites parishes across the archdiocese to participate, either in attending the service at the cathedral, or within their own parishes through a livestream.

For those who wish to participate in the consecration of the archdiocese, making an individual consecration is a great way to do so. The normal length of preparation is 33 days, which would mean the 33-day start would be Sept. 11 for consecration on Oct. 13.

But why should we consecrate ourselves as individuals, and what is it?

 

What’s a consecration?

Consecration means “to make holy.” When one makes an act of consecration, it is made ultimately to God with the understanding that our consecration is a serious commitment on our part to respond faithfully to God’s grace at work in our lives.

When consecrating ourselves to Our Lady, we are consecrating ourselves to Jesus through Mary. As Pope John Paul II explained, “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 opened 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” (May 13, 1982).

“Consecration to the Mother of God,” says Pope Pius XII, “is a total gift of self, for the whole of life and for all eternity; and a gift which is not a mere formality or sentimentality, but effectual, comprising the full intensity of the Christian life – Marian life.” This consecration, the Pope explained, “tends essentially to union with Jesus, under the guidance of Mary.”

 

Why consecrate the diocese?

While there is a long history of consecration to Mary, the practice of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is closely linked to the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. During the third apparition, on July 13, 1917, Our Lady said to the three little shepherds: “God wishes to establish the devotion to her Immaculate Heart in the world in order to save souls from hell and bring about world peace, and also asked for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart.”

Pope Pius XII consecrated the Church and the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Oct. 31, 1942, as World War II continued to rage on. “To you, to your Immaculate Heart, in this tragic hour of human history, we confide our fortunes, putting ourselves in your hands,” the Pope prayed.

John Paul II did the same on May 13, 1982, and again on March 25, 1984, at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Holy Year of the Redemption, in union with many of the bishops around the world. On Oct. 8, 2000, he made an act of entrustment of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the new millennium.

Between them, Pius XII and John Paul II consecrated the Church and the entire world to Mary a total of eight times. On Oct. 13, 2013, Pope Francis renewed the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and dedicated his pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima.

The Archdiocese of Denver has never before been consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver rededicated the Archdiocese of Denver to the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 8, 2004, 150 years after the establishment of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

The act of consecration to Mary “establishes a relationship of love with her in which we dedicate to her all that we have and are,” says Saint John Paul II. “This consecration is practiced essentially by a life of grace, of purity, of prayer, of penance that is joined to the fulfillment of all the duties of a Christian, and of reparation for our sins and the sins of the world” (Sept. 26, 1986).

 

Consecration of the Archdiocese of Denver will take place Friday, Oct. 13 at 7:30 – 9 p.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and in participating parishes. For more information on the event and on consecration, or to learn more about preparation, visit archden.org/heartofmary.

COMING UP: Recovering a sense of celebration

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

With the seemingly ever-increasing number of days dedicated to celebrating various causes or events, the Church presents us with the season of Advent, a time of preparation that can help us recover a true sense of celebration.

More than 100 years ago, no less than Friedrich Nietzsche, the frequent critic of traditional values, warned that people were losing the ability to truly celebrate. “The trick is not to arrange a festival,” he said, “but to find people who can enjoy it.”

As a society, we have found so many occasions to celebrate that one digital marketer created the Days of the Year website to keep track of everything from Flossing Day to more serious things like Native American Heritage month. This flurry of partying is amplified by social media posts, likes, and shares, but one is hard pressed to give convincing reasons for commemorating things like Squirrel Appreciation Day.

As a culture, we need to recover the reasons we celebrate and feast, and that must start with one of the greatest events in human history, the moment when God entered human history as a man, which we celebrate at Christmas.

Truly celebrating an occasion, according to the theologian and philosopher Josef Pieper, involves more than just having a good time. It involves participating in “the utmost perfection to which man may attain … the partaking of the utmost fullness that life has to offer.” In other words, through our celebration we connect with and express our longing for the eternal, to be with the God who is love, truth, and mercy for eternity.

Pieper explains this in his book In Tune with the World by saying, “to celebrate a festival means: to live out, for some special occasion and in an uncommon manner, the universal assent to the world as a whole.” And the most radical assent to the world and creation, he says, is to praise God for it, to recognize the gift and beauty of creation.

Pope Francis picked up the theme of celebration in his 2015 series of reflections on the family. During his August 12 general audience, the Holy Father defined celebration as “first and foremost a loving and grateful look at work well done. … It’s time to look at our home, our friends we host, the community that surrounds us, and to think: what a good thing! God did this when he created the world. And he does so again and again, because God is always creating, even at this moment!”

In just a few days, we celebrate Thanksgiving. For many people, the holiday is focused on family, the food, drinks and entertainment rather than the reason for celebrating – giving thanks to God for his provision and blessing. But if we can reconnect with the reason for celebrating, we will experience a deeper, more authentic joy.

Advent, which begins on December 3, presents us with another period of time to direct our hearts and minds toward the great gift of Christ’s coming at Christmas and his eventual Second Coming, when the longing of all creation for eternity will be satisfied.

Pope Francis has noted that the family “is endowed with an extraordinary ability to understand, guide and sustain the authentic value of the time for celebration. How beautiful family celebrations are, they are beautiful! Sunday celebrations in particular.”

Some of the ways that families and individuals can prepare for joyfully celebrating these great gifts include, using an Advent wreath, celebrating the Feast of St. Nicholas, blessing the Christmas tree, reciting the “O Antiphons,” celebrating the Marian Feasts of the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Our Lady of the New Advent, and making sacrifices in pursuit of spiritual growth. All will lead us to a deeper encounter with Jesus Christ!

During this holiday season, I encourage everyone to rediscover the reasons we celebrate, which open us to the transcendent and help us become people who can truly enjoy the feast.