Pope John Paul II finds the core of how we should live out our entrustment to Mary in words from the Gospel of John, "And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home" (Jn 19:27). In other words, he understands the attitude of entrustment as bringing Mary into everything that makes up one's inner life. As the "Pope of Suffering," he also gives a "co- redemptive" emphasis to his theology of Marian entrustment. He does this when he points out that she who was most fully united to Christ in his redemptive consecration of himself on the Cross helps us to unite ourselves to this same consecration. In other words, Mary helps us to "offer up" our own crosses; she reminds us not to waste our suffering; and she gives us the courage to be "co-redeemers" with Christ (see Col 1:24) — of course, in a way that is subordinate and united to Christ. What we see in all these saints and blesseds, however they express it, is that we should draw close to Mary, lovingly depend on her, speak to her from our hearts, have confidence in her powerful intercession, and share with her our joys, sorrows, and sufferings. Having said this, being consecrated to Mary is not based on feelings or even a constant mindfulness of Mary, as beautiful as such mindfulness is. According to St. Maximilian Kolbe, the proper attitude of those who are consecrated to Mary flows not so much from reason or emotions but from the will: It is not at all necessary that the thought of the Immaculata should occur to [one's] mind ... for the essence of our union with her does not consist in thought, memory, or sentiment, but in our will. I continue to say: we belong to her even if we do not constantly repeat this concrete offering [of a particular action to her], because we consecrated ourselves to her once, and we have never taken back our consecration. [E]ven when we are not thinking of it ... [Mary] directs every one of our actions, prearranges all the circumstances, repairs the damage of our falls and leads us lovingly toward heaven, and through us she is pleased to implant good ideas, sentiments, and examples everywhere in order to save souls and lead them to the good Jesus. So, while St. Louis de Montfort says, "We must never go to our Lord except through Mary," Kolbe teaches us that this going through her does not always have to be a conscious act. He would surely say that it's a good thing to explicitly turn to Mary, but it's not necessary to do this every time we turn to Jesus. He believes that once we've consecrated ourselves to Mary and develop an habitual dependence on her, we always do go to Jesus with her, even if we're not thinking of it. It's like this: Let's say a husband loves his wife and has to leave for a business trip, far from home. While he's travelling, meeting with clients, and filling out reports, his wife is still with him, in his heart, even if he's not explicitly thinking of her. So it is with us when Mary is in our hearts. When we're fully consecrated to Mary, when we've developed a relationship of childlike dependence on her motherly care, she's always with us whenever we pray, just as Jesus is always with us whenever we pray to the Father. This latter point is true, for example, even if we don't explicitly turn to Jesus when we say, "Our Father." Kolbe's main idea here is that the Father, the Son, and Mary, who is always united with the Holy Spirit (while remaining a creature), do not live along parallel lines. Rather, Jesus, Mary, and the Holy Spirit are always united together in one movement "upward" to the Father, and whenever we turn to one of them, we join all of them in their one upward movement. In other words, they're not in competition; they don't take away from each other. Rather, they form a unity and work as a team — though with different roles — to bring all back to the Father. I'd like to emphasize one important point before we conclude: While it's true that the effects of Marian consecration hold even when we're not thinking about Mary, living the consecration does require some effort. After all, deep relationships require communication and work, and this definitely applies to our relationship with Mary. The "communication" part refers to developing a loving dependence on her and turning to her in prayer, which we've already learned about in this section and about which we'll learn even more in the next. The "work" part refers to avoiding sin, which breaks both Jesus' and Mary's Hearts. Let me be clear: To be fully consecrated to Mary does not mean we won't still sin. However, it does mean that we should have a sincere resolution to avoid at least all mortal sin and that we should truly strive to grow in virtue and holiness. This is such a crucial part of Marian consecration that, as you'll recall, de Montfort begins his prayer of consecration with a renewal of our baptismal promises to reject Satan (sin) and follow Jesus Christ more closely. In conclusion, if we're fully consecrated to Mary, then she works in our lives, augments our good works, and cares for us and our loved ones even when we don't have recourse to her. Moreover, with the Holy Spirit, she leads us to Jesus regardless of whether or not we're thinking of her. Such is the power of her motherhood. Such is the power of Marian consecration! Because of the greatness of this gift, we should strive all the more to unite ourselves with Mary and aim to do everything through her, with her, and in her. At least out of gratitude, we should make it our aim to have an attitude of growing mindfulness of and dependence on her. Yet there should be more at work here than just trying to be grateful to Mary. For the more we belong to her, the more she can use us to accomplish God's most perfect will. Indeed, the more we unite ourselves to Mary the more she can bring us into the deepest possible intimacy with Jesus. This is a mystery that she herself will teach us, a lesson we'll learn more from the experience of her loving care than from studying it in books. DEVOTION To help us deepen our attitude of loving dependence on Mary, it's a good idea to practice Marian devotions, especially those that are most connected to Marian consecration. Preeminent among these is the Rosary. The Rosary fosters in us the attitude that I just described in the previous section. When we pray the Rosary, our focus should be on the mysteries of the life of Jesus. Yet the "Hail Marys," which faithfully flow in the background, foster in us the habitual attitude of being with Mary even as we're going to Jesus. In other words, even if we aren't thinking of the words of each Hail Mary, the words are still there, helping us to contemplate Christ. For a full treatment of the Rosary, see Appendix Two [available in the book 33 Days to Morning Glory]. Other Marian devotions treated in Appendix Two are the scapular, miraculous medal, Chaplet of the 10 Evangelical Virtues, and the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows. Marian devotions not treated in Appendix Two but that deserve mention and a brief description are novenas, icons, pilgrimages, feast days, confraternities, and spiritual reading. NOVENAS. From the Latin word "novem," meaning nine, a novena is typically a nine-day period of prayer to obtain special graces or to implore particular petitions. Novenas tend to convey a sense of urgency. Prayed every day for nine days, the prayer can be as simple as a single Hail Mary or as elaborate as the Litany of Loreto. (See Appendix One for this prayer [available in the book 33 Days to Morning Glory].) Sometimes, an intention is so urgent that we don't have nine days beforehand to pray. For instance, maybe you've just been granted a job interview, but it's scheduled for this afternoon! Well, you might try Blessed Mother Teresa's "flying novena," whereby one prays nine Memorare's in a row. (For the text of the Memorare prayer, see Appendix One [available in the book 33 Days to Morning Glory].) Mother Teresa would often pray this novena whenever big problems or difficulties arose that needed an immediate dose of great grace. It's reported that she often experienced miraculous effects by praying it. ICONS. Icons, or any tasteful images or representations of Jesus, Mary, the angels, or the saints, serve to turn our minds and hearts to God as they remind us of his presence and the loving intercession of Mary, the angels, and the saints. In 787, the Second Council of Nicea declared that holy images (including those of Mary) are to be used and venerated. When we venerate an image (be it a picture, statue, etc.), we're showing a sign of reverence toward the person whom the image represents. In our busy lives, placing pictures of Mary in our homes and even in our cars can remind us that she is always with us. We can also keep our favorite prayer cards in a pocket or purse. If you'd like to purchase a prayer card with the image from the cover of this book, please see the ad at the back [available in the book 33 Days to Morning Glory]. P ILGRIMAGES. Pilgrimages lead us from the everyday rhythm and distractions of life to a graced place of prayer and encounter with the Lord. There are many Marian shrines and pilgrimage destinations around the U.S. and the world.