Praised Be Jesus!
I hope that everyone's doing well! This little write-up is going to be a bit different from my normal reflections and spirituality articles. (Well, maybe not completely different.) The next cycle for Marian Consecration begins on February 20, which will end with the Consecration on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation. What is Marian Consecration, you ask? Marian Consecration is an act in which we give our whole lives, graces, good works, and our own personal holiness into the hands of the Blessed Mother to do with, where it is needed. There have been many Saints throughout the centuries who have promulgated Marian Consecration, but none has perfected it in the way of Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, who created the process of 33 days of preparation based on one of his greatest works, True Devotion. I have made my Marian Consecration three times (two of those times in the same year), and I'm preparing to begin the process again with the Legion of Mary for the Annunciation, and I can attest that the Consecration has let loose an abundance of graces on my life.
The Consecration is usually made in conjunction with a Marian feast day with 33 days of preparation preceding it. (The feast day is not necessary, and you can also pick a date that's special to you.) Now, to the real point of this article! Over the years, many different methods of this preparation have been printed, and if you're starting out for the first time — or even if you're a veteran and looking for something new — the options can seem overwhelming. I have done three different versions of the Consecration, and I hope to make the experience a lot less hectic for anyone interested; so this leads us to... Tah-dah! My first ever book review!!! (I told you it would be different.) To aid you in your journey to Marian Consecration, I hope that this little review will be helpful to many of you and help you to pick the right method for yourself as you journey towards Marian Consecration.
1. Preparation for Total Consecration according to Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, by Montfort Publications
Affectionately called the "Little Brown Book," this method of preparation is the tried and true, and probably the most recognizable, book for Marian Consecration. Anyone who has ever made his or her Consecration, or has been interested in it, knows of this book. The book is small only 83 pages in length, but don't let the size fool you — this book packs a wallop! The book follows de Montfort's outline to the letter containing 12 days of preliminary preparation on the spirit of the world, and continues into three weeks, of the themes: Knowledge of self, Knowledge of Mary, Knowledge of Christ, and ends in Marian Consecration. Each section contains scripture and reflections from de Montfort about each theme to aid you in your meditation and preparation, accompanied by various devotions and prayers to be recited each day.
The book and the meditations are excellent — much more of a traditional approach — but in my own experience, this book is time consuming. At one point the book has you say various litanies and the rosary as your daily prayers, and if you're like me, finding time to get in all the prayers required was a struggle. Honestly, many times I gave up in the middle because it was just too time-consuming. I finally made my Consecration on August 15, 2012 for the first time using this book, even though I had owned it for years. For those who have more free time for solid formal prayer, or those who enjoy more traditional forms of prayer and meditation, this is the method of Consecration for you.
2. Preparation for Total Consecration to Jesus Christ, Through Mary, by Father Hugh Gillespie, SMM
Father Gillespie's Preparation for Marian Consecration is relatively new, having just been printed in 2012. This guide to preparation is slightly longer, at about 161 pages. This guide to Consecration follows the same format of the first book with the traditional three weeks of The Self, Mary, and Christ, but I find that the biggest difference in Gillespie's approach is that he cuts out a large chunk of devotional material and only requires two prayers to be said per day and also adds a daily resolution to help you live out the meditation of the day. I found this method to be more active and involved. The daily resolutions really help you apply the meditation of the day and connect the Consecration to our daily lives. I recommend this method of Consecration for those who still would like a traditional form of Consecration but either don't have the time for extensive formal devotional prayer or who would like a more active and hands-on approach to Consecration spirituality. I made my Consecration using this method on August 15, 2013.
3. 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Marian Consecration, by Father Michael E. Gaitely, MIC
This book is the newest form of Marian Consecration published to date, Father Michael E. Gaitley is a rather new spiritual writer who has made his mark by offering these do-it-yourself retreat books (he has another one called Consoling the Heart of Jesus, based on Ignatian spirituality). 33 Days to Morning Glory breaks away completely from the traditional Consecration format: It has no required daily devotional prayers, it doesn't follow the traditional breakdown of weeks, and it has a more spiritual reading feel than meditations. This method focuses on four weeks on the Consecration spirituality of four Marian giants: Saint Louis de Montfort, Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, and Blessed Pope John Paul II. Each week explores different aspects of Marian spirituality from the perspective of the person of that week. At first, I thought this method would be a watered-down version of the previous two, but I was pleasantly surprised at how the book expanded my knowledge on Consecration spirituality and how Father Gaitley unpacks and explains each facet of the Consecration (with a little bit of humor also). This is a perfect book for those who want to know more about Marian Consecration, especially those who are new to the spirituality, and those who are veterans who would like a better understanding. I made my Consecration using this method on December 8, 2013.
I really hope that many of you will consider making a Marian Consecration; its spiritual fruits are unmatched. I hope this little guide will help you in choosing which method is right for you, and do know there are more methods and books out there to explore.