While Fr. Joshua Waltz prepared his homily for the All Saint’s Day Mass at St. Mary’s Central High School in Bismarck, he recalled a phone call from his brother Fr. Justin.
“Don’t forget, if you plan to make the Total Consecration to Mary with me on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, (December 8) the preparation starts on November 5.”
This would be Fr. Josh’s sixth time doing the thirty-three-day devotion that ends in consecration to Mary thus giving permission for her to form, discipline, and mold him into a true follower of Christ.
The Total Consecration to Mary was originally introduced by the French, Saint Louis de Montfort during the early 18th century as a formal act of consecration to Mary, so through her, one is consecrated to Christ. He taught that the goal is “holiness” through the gradual sanctification of the soul by turning away from self-love towards the love of God through Mary. St. Louis composed a spiritual formula of prayers, Scripture, and spiritual exercises which is contained in his book Total Consecration: To Jesus Through Mary.
Fr. Josh said the devotion first caught his attention when he read that Pope John Paul II had done it and said it changed his life. “His Latin motto was, ‘Totus Tuus,’ which in Latin means, ‘All Yours,’” said Fr. Josh. “That was St. Louis de Montfort’s motto.” It is an abbreviation of a more complete form of entrustment to the Mother of God.
As Fr. Josh thought of his plan to begin this devotion with his brother, the idea came to him to invite St. Mary’s students and their parents to join him. During his homily, Fr. Josh explained.
“It’s a way in which you come to a greater love of Jesus through the heart of Mary,” he said. “Mary helped form the heart of Jesus; she taught him to love and pray. We can go to her and ask her to form our heart.”
He said further that Jesus came to the world through Mary and he comes to us in our hearts through her. “Throughout Scripture, Mary is constantly forming us for Jesus. At Cana, the problem was brought to her and she immediately took it to Jesus.”
Those who wanted to make the Total Consecration, were told to text Fr. Josh’s phone with the message, “I’m in.” He would get everyone a copy of the book Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary According to St. Louis De Montfort by Fr. Hugh Gillespie. It contains the three-part devotion: emptying yourself of the spirit of the world, experiencing the heart of Mary and coming to know her, and the last week is spent coming to know the heart of Christ.”
People could complete the designated prayers on their own, or join him at St. Mary’s during lunch or right afterschool when he would lead them in the daily devotion. The final Total Consecration could be made on individually or anyone could join Father Josh at St. Mary’s on December 8 to pray it together.
“High school kids are always up for a challenge,” Fr. Josh said in an interview, “So I thought maybe as many as thirty or forty would sign up.” Instead, he was happily overwhelmed to receive texts from100 students and then another 50 from parents.
Fr. Josh ordered books the next day—Friday—and needed them shipped right away to begin on Monday. Next-day shipping would not have been a problem for Montfort Publications in New York, except for the fact that they had just been hit by Hurricane Sandy and were without power.
Edith Matlock, Operations Manager for Montfort, took Fr. Josh’s call. “We were completely down, but he needed the books right away,” she said. “The only way to do that was overnight them with UPS but their automated system was down.”
Edith understood the urgency and did not want to disappoint 150 people for so important an endeavor. She said a prayer and asked for Mary’s help. “I was able to get a hold of a UPS driver and we did everything manually, even the labels. We understood how important it was so we were happy to be able to do this.” The books arrived the morning of November 5, just in time to being that day over the lunch break.
Fr. Josh said that even though he’s already completed this devotion five times previously, each time is personally challenging. “Sometimes I sit down and realize I need to take God more serious. He was not messing around when he told us to be perfect,” Fr. Josh said. “Too often we think we are good enough and put it on cruise control. Total Consecration is a jump start to holiness through Mary and once a slave to Mary, always a slave to Mary, but I can’t think of a better person to be a slave to.”
Anna Loomis, a senior at St. Mary’s, said she was interested right away. “ I liked the idea of making a lifestyle choice to grow closer to God,” she said. “It takes a commitment because you can’t miss a day but it’s putting the focus on something greater than yourself.”
Julie Schaffner was one of the parents who signed up to participate.
“I thought that since we would be preparing for Advent, it was a perfect time to become closer to Mary and better understand her role in Jesus’s life,” she said.
It was not until the weekend that Julie discovered that her daughter Katelyn, a junior, was also going to make the Total Consecration.
“It’s touching and reassuring to be doing this together,” she said. “It’s not as time consuming as I had thought it would be—ten to thirty minutes– depending on which part of the book you are at and if you say a rosary every day.
Julie said that participating in this devotion has impacted her life. “It has enlightened me that I should be filling myself with the spirit of Jesus Christ rather than the spirit of the world,” she said. “It is changing my focus and deepening my relationship with Jesus and Mary and even the relationship with my family by taking away the blinders that interfere with those relationships.”
For more information about the True Devotion to Mary, Lighthouse Catholic Media offers a CD by Fr. Lance Harlow, which is available online or at any Lighthouse kiosk.
You can also find complete audio and information here at the Total Consecration portion of the New Evangelizers site.
Books that provide the guided program are :
- 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael E. Gaitley MIC
- True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis De Montfort
- Or the updated version, Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary According to St. Louis De Montfort by Fr. Hugh Gillespie
Copyright 2014, Patti Maguire Armstrong