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: Celebrate and support the sacred gift of life

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Editor’s Note: This column is adapted from Archbishop Aquila’s remarks to the 2018 Celebrate Life March, which took place on January 13th in front of the Colorado State Capitol building.

As we gather today to celebrate life, we must remember three things: 1) life is a gift, 2) life is sacred, and 3) rebuilding a culture of life requires joy.

We are here today to celebrate our joy over the gift of life. Every minute and every day we live presents us with an abundance of gifts that seem mundane and are often overlooked: our health, the gift of creation, or something as simple as having food on our plates. Above all, we should give thanks for the gift of life!

As people involved in protecting life at every stage, the challenge we face is not just one of providing resources to mothers and fathers in need or ensuring people battling a terminal illness have good palliative care. Our challenge is to also communicate to them that they are loved, that their unborn child or their own lives are gifts, no matter the circumstances.

Many of us fought in 2016 to prevent doctor-assisted suicide from becoming legal in Colorado, and one person who helped in that effort was a courageous man named J.J. Hanson. J.J. was a Marine veteran and father of two young children who was working for a real estate investment firm in Florida when he found out he had glioblastoma multiforme brain cancer. His doctors told him that it was a very aggressive cancer that meant he only had four months to live.

Despite his odds, J.J. resolved to fight. His motto was: “Every single day is a gift, and we can’t let that go.” What’s even more remarkable is the fact that J.J. dedicated his time and energy to fighting the legalization of assisted suicide around the country, all while undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments. There was hardly a speaking engagement or trip to testify before a legislature that J.J. turned down. His conviction that life was a gift propelled him to defend that gift however he could. As pro-life people, we need to have that same conviction.

Just about two weeks ago, on December 30th, J.J. was called home to the Father – three years beyond what doctors told him to expect. St. Anthony of Padua church in upstate New York, where his funeral was held, was filled with people who paid tribute to how J.J. inspired them to embrace every moment of life, no matter its difficulties as a gift, not something to be thrown away.

All of us are called to embrace life as J.J. did, and in doing so we will help recover the culture of life that is being neglected or forgotten as people cast God and truth aside.

I have said that life is a gift, and while that is true, it’s more than that. Life is also sacred. Life is sacred because it comes from God, the God who is love and who has loved us first. Our lives are also sacred because our beings are made in God’s image and likeness.

We are called to participate in the love of God and to see that every human being, from the moment of conception until natural death, is invited into relationship with God. We are called to ensure that life is set aside for God, that it is honored and recognized as sacred.

The struggle for so many today is that they do not even believe in a god; their only god is themselves. They truly do not believe in the God who is love. And because of this limited worldview, a person’s life can lose its value if their “quality of life” declines.

In the words of Pope Francis to participants in the 2013 Day for Life, “All life has inestimable value even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.”

When Jesus speaks about the Judgement of the Nations in Matthew 25, he tells us that life is always sacred by saying that when we love the weak and vulnerable, we are loving him.

The more that we can love the sacred gift of life and celebrate it with joy, the more we will contribute to building a true culture of life in the U.S.

A wonderful example of concretely loving the sacred gift of life is a story I recently heard about a 15-year-old Colorado teenager named Missy, who showed up with her parents at an abortion clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Missy was a sophomore in high school and was in her second trimester of pregnancy. As they approached the clinic, some pro-life volunteers who were parked nearby in a mobile crisis pregnancy van saw them and invited them inside. The volunteers learned that Missy wanted to complete high school and that this desire was pushing her to consider an abortion. One of the volunteers told Missy about how she was faced with the same choice as a teen and chose to keep her child. “It wasn’t easy, but it was amazing,” she reassured Missy.

Missy also worried about the father of the child not being around, to which her dad responded by taking her hand and saying, “I’ll be that man in your child’s life.”

This kind of accompaniment and willingness to heroically support the gift of life is vitally important to forming a culture that welcomes the unborn, the elderly, the disabled and the dying as a gift.

Building a culture of life begins by first receiving the love of the Father, who loves each of us as his sons and daughters. He never abandons us, even though we might abandon him or reject his love.

A culture of life grows when we share his love with others, helping them to embrace life as a gift and a joy, rather than a burden.

Life is a gift, it is sacred and our celebration of the joy of life helps build a culture of life.

I encourage you to be those who are unafraid to give witness to life. Be not afraid to give witness to life. Even though people might ridicule you, yell at you, or reject you, know that Jesus experienced it all so that you might have life, and life abundantly.

May God bless you and help you celebrate life in 2018!