This devotion consists then in giving ourselves entirely to the Blessed Virgin, in order to belong entirely to Jesus through her.
-St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort
True Devotion to Mary, No. 121.
These words by St. Louis de Montfort, the great promulgator of Marian consecration, well sum up the means and the goal of consecration to Jesus through Mary. Far from being simply an added or isolated Marian piety, consecration to Jesus through Mary represents a crowning of Marian devotion, a new and dynamic Marian dimension of the Christian life that has been enthusiastically encouraged by the Church through both invitation and example.
What Is Marian Consecration?
Marian consecration is fundamentally a promise of love and a gift of self that gives all that the Christian is and does completely and directly to the Mother of the Lord, which thereby allows her to unite us to her Divine Son in ways simply not possible without her powerful maternal intercession. Consecration to Jesus through Mary is to give oneself entirely to Mary in a self-donation of love that enables the Mediatrix of all graces to use her full intercessory power to keep a person faithful to his or her baptismal promises to Jesus Christ.
Brief History of Marian Consecration
Consecration to Mary has a long and rich tradition in the Church. An early patristic understanding of this gift of self to the Mother of Jesus was seen in the form of referring to oneself as a servus Mariae, or a “servant” or “slave,” to the Mother of God. The expression, “slave of Mary” was also modeled in a secondary sense after the scriptural expression used by St. Paul of being a “slave of Jesus Christ” (cf. Rom 1:1; Phil 1:1; etc.), which likewise is meant as a complete filial (a son or daughter-like) gift of self.
Although more foreign to contemporary usage, the term “servant” or “slave” was not understood in a depersonalizing or degrading sense. Rather, it was a succinct expression used by several Church Fathers and doctors to indicate a fully voluntary and whole-hearted dependence on the Mother of Christ.
The Christian practice of becoming a “slave of Mary” dates back at least to the fifth century as contained in various African sermons. (1) For example, the great Eastern doctor of the Church St. John Damascene (d.749), referred to himself as a “slave of the Mother of God” and authored the following prayer form of Marian consecration in the eighth century:
O Lady, before you we take our stand. Lady, I call you Virgin Mother of God and to your hope, as to the sure and strongest anchor we bind ourselves; to you we consecrate our mind, our soul, our body, all that we are…. (2)