Oh, Lord, To Love You More
Totus Tuus - Totally Yours. This, more than anything, is what I desired of my life.
One of my first posts, a year and a half ago, was about how God shaped my heart to desire His Glory. God has since changed my desire. Anyone can give glory to someone - think of the soldiers that gave great glory to conquerors like Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire, or the Champions that fought in the place of the king to settle disputes. Achilles was one of the great Greek glories.... but he despised the rulers. You can bring glory to someone you don't necessarily love. And I realized that I didn't just want to serve God - I wanted to love Him. I didn't just want to be His soldier. I wanted to be His bride, His lover.
This was a distinction I did not make until after I graduated college and had time to sit and stop being a Martha and start being a Mary. After graduation, I had almost 8 months of no job, so I spent lots of time in the Adoration Chapel, sitting as the feet of Jesus and learning to simply be still and listen to Him. Those first few months in particular were some of the best in my life because I learned so much about myself, my Lord, and my Love.
At that point in time, the cry of my heart changed from the mantra of "Glory be to you" to "Jesus, I want to love you more." And more specifically "How can I love you more?" So, I sought how best to get to know and love Him more. And He answered my prayer in quite the unexpected way.
An Unsettling Proposition
The principle tool he used to plant the seed he would then water and grow was my dear friend, Leah. I had not - and still have not - met many young people with a fire and soul that radiates a beautiful love for Christ. That was one of the first things that struck me when I met her, and it hasn't dimmed. If ever there was a girl in crazy love with God, it's her. And I wanted it.
Some of you may have seen the chain I wear on my left wrist, and several of you have asked me about it. Well, Leah wore one long before I did, and when I inquired about it, she told me about a consecration to Jesus through his Mother, a Holy slavery to Jesus, through Mary.
And I admit, I balked. Before I really knew anything about this consecration, I wrote a post telling about how I loved Mary, but even so, I balked. Though I doubted it was something weird, wrong, or heretical, I couldn't shake the East Texas sensibilities that said "We always go straight to Jesus" and "Any mediator just gets in the way" and such. Honestly, it troubled me, because though I loved the Rosary, I couldn't reconcile this idea with my understanding of serving and loving Christ. So, I said, "It may work for her, but it isn't the best for me." And I ignored it for months.
But as it would happen, as I suddenly had time on my hands and was spending lots of time with Jesus in the Chapel, the book the consecration is based on found its way into my hands. So, me being me, sat down and said, "Okay, Jesus. I'll read it. You know my thoughts on it." I opened the book and started with the introduction
Once I understood that St. Louis de Montfort used overstatement/hyperbole as his literary device, I began to see the beauty he preached, but I was still uncertain. His language was sometimes beautiful, sometimes harsh, sometimes even confusing. But I read the book in three days - and only because I forced myself to stop at the end of each of his sections.
Afterwards, I remember being torn and conflicted. Part of me yearned to do the consecration, but the larger part was terrified. It went against the sensibilities I had been influenced by living in East Texas where Mary is brought out at Christmas and then shoved back in the closet, where saying Mary's name was taboo, where the Rosary was a chain that would drag you straight to the pits of Hell.
So, I dropped to my knees and went to the Only One Whose opinion mattered - My Lord and Savior.
Before I continue, I must clarify something for those of you who don't know me very well. I'm not a visual person. I don't image things well. I "think" in ideas, emotions, connections.... not images. However, as a teen, I was told to make a place in my mind that was a place consecrated specially to God. Try as I might, the best I ever "conjured" was a gold place. Well, that had started changing when I was at Mass or in the Adoration chapel or meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary (the mysteries of the Life of Christ). Every so often, Jesus would join me in my special place. Sometimes He was the King of Heaven, but usually, He was the Humble Shepherd and Carpenter. He would come, talk to me, listen to me, and just be with me. To clarify, this wasn't an image per se, but a deep spiritual understanding - a vision of the soul, if you will, not the eyes.
That day, I was immediately immersed in my Golden Place, and I begged Jesus to show me how to love Him. He appeared to me that day, resplendent in Glory. He was the King of Majesty - He was too great to be seated on the throne of majesty, so majesty was seated upon Him. He was the very epitome and definition of Majesty, Glory, and Power. He was clothed in rich garments, crowned and adorned with precious jewels. He was the Lord of the Universe, the God that created the world, He who sits with the earth as His footstool, the King of my heart, the Lord of my soul. He was all this and more, and my soul was filled with such desire to serve and worship Him, to love Him as He deserved, so I begged again.
"How can I love you?"
He asked me if that is what I wanted. "Yes!" I replied. "To love you more is all I desire!"
"Are you sure?" He asked.
"You are certain?"
"Yes!" I replied again, beginning to feel a little like Peter at this point. But His smile was worth it. The Lover of my soul shone through those kind eyes and special smile. I could feel in my bones that He knew that was desire.
Then He reached to the corner and pulled His Mother over and set her in front of Him. "Go to Her." He said. And with those words, I felt such peace, such focus, and such clarity, that it nearly brought tears to my eyes -- it nearly brings to my eyes even just remembering it! So I started the consecration.
And I cannot tell you what a change it has made in me. My love for Jesus multiplied in ways I could never have predicted. My spirituality changed, and I was made more awake, alive, and aware. My fingers began to fill my journals with words that I knew were meant for my heart, not from my heart. My lips spilled words I never conceived as they were needed, and my heart gained an understanding of Jesus I never attained before with all my studies and searching.
Jesus and Mary taught me what the consecration was about - going to Mary as one went to a Mother. Going to she who lived every stage of His life, to she to whom Jesus came to us through. But in going to her, I do not actually go to her. For she herself said, "My soul magnifies the Lord." St. Louis de Montfort said it well when he said, "She is an echo of God, speaking and repeating only God. If you say 'Mary' she says 'God.'"
She has no desire to bring glory to herself. She says little in the gospels, and what she does say all points to our Lord. "I am the handmaid of the Lord." "My soul magnifies the Lord," "All will call me blessed because of what He has done for me," "Do what He tells you."
She desires only to bring us closer to Him.
By loving her, I only love Our Lord more. Fulton Sheen said it very well
"As one cannot go to a statue of a mother holding a child and cut away the mother without destroying the child, so neither can one have Jesus without His Mother. Could you claim as a friend one who, every time he came into your home, refused to speak to your mother or treated her with cold indifference? Jesus cannot feel pleased with those who never give recognition to or show respect for His Mother. Coldness to His Mother is certainly not the best way to keep warm a friendship with Him. The unkindest cut of all would be to say that she was is the Mother of our Lord is unworthy of being our Mother."
By going to her we do not circumvent Jesus. Rather we are going to she who knew Him best, she who bore Him, who walked with Him - all to better know Him. If devotion to Mary does not lead us closer to Jesus, then it is not true devotion to Mary.
"We never give more honour to Jesus than when we honour His Mother, and we Honour her simply and solely to honour him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek - Jesus, her Son." ~St. Louis Marie de Montfort
"Let us not imagine that we obscure the glory of the Son by the great praise we lavish on the Mother; for the more she is honored, the greater is the glory of her Son. There can be no doubt that whatever we say in praise of the Mother gives equal praise to the Son." ~St. Bernard of Clairvaux
"Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did." ~St. Maximilian Kolbe
"Let those who think that the Church pays too much attention to Mary give heed to the fact that Our Blessed Lord himself gave ten times as much of His life to Her as He gave to His Apostles." ~Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen