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: The shock of forgiveness

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Every so often, the media will pick up a story that serves as a potent reminder of what it means to be a Christian. That’s because living as a Christian in today’s post-Christian society is an unusual way of living, contrary to what the rest of society might say about it. It is not “outdated.” It is not “irrelevant.” It is radical, countercultural and, to some, even incomprehensible.

On Oct. 2, the trial of Amber Guyger came to a close. Guyger, a former Dallas police officer, was charged with the murder of Botham Jean, a 26-year-old man who lived in the same apartment complex as Guyger. On Sept. 6, 2018, she walked into Jean’s apartment, thinking it was hers, saw Jean sitting there on the couch, and after giving verbal commands, shot him twice, killing him. It was an absolute tragedy and played into the ongoing national conversation about police behavior toward people of color (Guyger is white; Jean is black).

What I want to focus on is a particular moment that came at the end of Guyger’s trial, after she had been sentenced to 10 years in prison. Jean’s younger brother Brandt took to the witness stand to address his brother’s killer directly. He wasn’t planning on saying anything during the trial but changed his mind at the last minute. A prompting of the Holy Spirit? I think yes, based on what happened next.

“I hope you go to God with all the guilt, all the bad things you may have done in the past,” Brandt told Guyger. “If you are truly sorry … I forgive you. If you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you.” He continued, “I’m not going to say I hope you die … I personally want the best for you … I don’t even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you, because I know that’s exactly what Botham would want … and the best would be: give your life to Christ. Giving your life to Christ would be the best thing that Botham would want you to do.”

But it didn’t stop there. Brandt was bold enough to ask the judge if he had permission to give Guyger a hug. He was granted it, and they embraced for over a minute, Guyger weeping into Brandt’s shoulder, just as some of us might do were we to be embraced by Christ.

Botham Jean’s younger brother Brandt Jean hugs former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger after delivering his impact statement to her in Dallas, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. Guyger has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing her black neighbor in his apartment, which she said she mistook for her own unit one floor below. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP, Pool)

Brandt has every reason to hate Guyger. This woman gunned down his innocent brother who had his whole life ahead of him and was given a lighter sentence than what she originally faced. Those in the courtroom and watching on TV wouldn’t have been shocked to hear Brandt tell Guyger that he hopes she rots in hell. No, the shock from those in the courtroom – and subsequently, the rest of the nation – came when Brandt did the exact opposite.

With those words and the simple act of embracing his brother’s killer, Brandt gave the world an incredible witness to the forgiveness Christ calls us to live as Christians. Of course, you can count on the bickering voices of social media and pundits to take this powerful moment and exploit it for their own agenda, but that’s because many of them don’t understand. It is not normal in our culture to forgive. It is also not easy. And that’s what makes witnessing something like this so shocking. It was not supposed to happen, but it did. It defied every expectation. Make no mistake about it: Brandt was living his call to be more like Christ in that moment. And it is exactly this moment – this shocking moment – that we are able to get a glimpse of what it is to be a Christian.

Following Jesus does make for quite a shock. And it is that shock that we are called to bring to the rest of the world, just as Brandt Jean did.