Our parish has exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in between our 8am Mass, up until the 10am Polish Mass. It was here that I renewed my consecration to my Blessed Mother using the True Devotion formula. I thought there couldn't be a better place, to express this to my Mother, in front of Our Lord's Real Presence for this is where I am closest to all those who are in the presence of the Beatific Vision.
It had been many, many years since I had renewed my consecration, even though I believed in it and lived it through my daily offering of everything through my Mother's hands, receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion, asking my Mother to be present in my heart to receive her Son with me but looking back I can still see a level of superficiality to my actions.... I know now, that there were many more layers to peel and still far more beyond me, even as I write. (Oh, very much so!) I had been blessed in my late teens to have had this perfect devotion introduced to me by husband, his words during my first preparation still resonate for me to this day...So why so long in my renewal?.....I don't know, but I will tell you what changed things.
Over at 4Real at Hidden Treasure, Helen and Alice had suggested we study together, the True Devotion written by St Louis de Montfort and then share our thoughts and questions on this newly created board dedicated to Our Blessed Mother. We read the book chapter by chapter, reading a few paragraphs per night. Once it was read we started the preparation in late April to have it finish in time for our renewal today - the feast of Pentecost.
This was a godsend for me, it really was like digging for hidden treasure because that is precisely what I found - hidden treasure within the treasure I had always valued. My eyes were literally 'opened' more fully to the understanding of this 'holy slavery' particularly through the eyes of my own motherhood. (I think as a mother it is so easy to understand the beautiful motherhood of Mary.)
Can I share a newly learnt, beautiful gem? Mary's words at the Annunciation, "I am the handmaid of the Lord" here Our Lady is identifying herself as a 'slave' of God - that word handmaid, when it was first written, meant slave, not servant like we might understand that word today. We are only imitating Our Blessed Mother in this 'holy slavery'! We know she couldn't have given a better more perfect reply than that, why do we look for a better one for ourselves? Actually, here at Catholic Culture it is expressed more eloquently:
"As the Fathers never tired of retelling, Eve had ruined us by disobedience. Now, at the beginning of the restoration, all is obedience. Mary looked to the depths of her soul. She, the blessed among women, the one full of grace, the only one conceived immaculate, the Mother of God-what is her reaction? "Behold the handmaid of the Lord!" The word handmaid is but a poor translation of the original Greek word doule. For to us the word handmaid means merely a hired servant. But doule meant a slave girl. Here is an obedient humility to balance the proud disobedience of Eve. Mary had just been raised to the peak of all creation, yet she replies by calling herself a slave girl: "Be it done to me according to thy word." Heaven itself waited in obedience for this obedience. For, as St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, "At the Annunciation, the Virgin was asked to give her consent in the name of the whole human race." The world had been created by the fiat of the Word of God. Now the beginning of the recreation in grace is ushered in by the fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum of the one who calls herself the slave of the Lord."
My dear friends at 4Real had promised to pray for me - and I know that they have! I can't quite explain it but my feelings about my Mother and this devotion are different, it is not the new found knowledge either, it is more than that, it is the movings of grace - grace that they have interceded for on my behalf, I am indebted to these women!
I believe that the True Devotion is the perfect devotion in drawing ourselves closer to Christ, all saints had devotion to their Mother and we see great actions and depth of soul in those have lived the True Devotion, Pope John Paul II is a perfect example, his "Totus Tuus" was a signature of his complete giving of self to Jesus through the Blessed Mother. Here is a beautiful quote of his:
"Totus Tuus. This phrase is not only an expression of piety, or simply an expression of devotion. It is more. During the Second World War, while I was employed as a factory worker, I came to be attracted to Marian devotion. At first, it had seemed to me that I should distance myself a bit from the Marian devotion of my childhood, in order to focus more on Christ. Thanks to Saint Louis of Montfort, I came to understand that true devotion to the Mother of God is actually Christocentric, indeed, it is very profoundly rooted in the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity, and the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption".
[John Paul II in Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Arnoldo Mondadori Editori, 1994]
I hope to pass this devotion on to my children, if I could do that, I know I have not failed in my motherhood. We read many stories of Our Blessed Mother's great love for us through many of the miraculous and beautiful stories and apparitions throughout the ages, well known ones and lesser known ones, I know these stories will make them realise that this Mother LOVES us! I use children's books but also adult reading material, Joan Carroll Cruz's Miraculous Images of Our Lady is a perfect example of that.
I am such an imperfect mother and so I remind my children often that even when their imperfect mother fails them, they have a perfect mother they can always turn to who will never fail them! Also, I train the children in the very beginnings of True Devotion by the daily use of Leading the Little Ones to Mary - these little things will leave imprints and traces on their hearts that will be with them always and God willing be there for them at the hour of their deaths.