| All for the Heart of Jesus through the Heart of Mary!
Consecration to Mary: PART V
Mother of Our Unity: Becoming the Family of God
By Sr. Sara Marie, SCTJM
“Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one…I will make [your name] known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them” (cf. John 17:11, 26).
One of the titles of Mary is “Mother of our Unity.” The first question we may ask is why do we speak about Mary when we speak about unity? What is the role of the Blessed Mother in unity? Though there are many answers, we will speak about a few. First, she is the Mother of Christ, the Theotokos – the God-bearer. In her womb, she holds the whole Christ – the head, and the Body which is the Church. Therefore, she contains the whole Church within her very self. She holds the unified Church within her. In this sense, we can say that she preserves this unity and sustains it because of her motherhood – the Church is fully united within her womb. Therefore, when we consecrate ourselves to Mary, we consecrate ourselves to the Church and to Jesus who is the Head. We consecrate ourselves to living in union with the Church and her Head who is Jesus; for we cannot live in the womb of Mary without also living in union with the Church and her Head.
This leads us to the next aspect of unity – she is also the perfect model of unity with God. She held nothing back from His presence in her. Their hearts were in perfect union with one another. Every part of Our Lady – thoughts, words, actions, heart, soul, will – was always in perfect union with God. Therefore, we can see that she already lives what we are called to live. Furthermore, she brought about this union between God and man for the very first time when she allowed God and man to unite in her womb, and she continues to do this today and for eternity. When we consecrate ourselves to Mary, we also receive the grace to grow in our union with God. We receive a part of Mary’s heart, thereby allowing ourselves to live more like she did – in perfect union with God.
Furthermore, she is the Mother of our Unity because she is the Mediatrix of all grace. How is this related? At the root of unity is the concept of communion. The words communicate and communion come from the same root that is derived from the word for unity or oneness or sharing. To communicate means to “make something common.” As we have seen in Mary, she communicates the very Person of Christ. Therefore, when she communicates Christ she “makes Him common” between us, her, and Him. When we communicate Christ, we become united in the very Gift we have communicated – in other words, communication brings about communion. To communicate the Lord means that not only do I give Him to another who lacks it, but that I also receive Him and we now participate together in Love. We share Love, and we also gain the gift of one another. In reality, we enter together into a reality – the reality of Christ living in the womb of Mary. In the act of communication we become more united with Christ and with one another. This means that Our Lady, who perfectly and totally communicates the fullness of grace, is united with each one of us in a way beyond what we can understand because this communication brings about communion. As well, it also means that she, in and through her person, with the power of Christ, brings about the full unity of the Church.
In summary, by the grace of God, Our Lady brought about union in the beginning, continues to bring it about today, and sustains and preserves this union that she brings about. Therefore, when we too allow grace to flow and in and through us we also bring about union – union between God and man and between man and man. When we consecrate ourselves to Mary, we receive the grace to participate in her power to unify. We, like her, become instruments of unity for the Church.
Enfleshing Unity through the Family
But what does this all mean? What does it mean to live in union, to have unity? We have said before that spiritual realities, to have meaning for us, must be translated into the realities of our everyday life. Our faith must be enfleshed, incarnated. So how do we live out unity with God in our lives? The answer is family. For what is the Trinity but a “family” of three Persons living in perfect union with one another? The Lord gives us the family in order to live our unity in our lives. Moreover, the Church herself is the Family of God – therefore, we live out our unity in a very particular way within the family of the Church. As Mother of the Church, Mary is the Mother of our Unity. She, in a very particular way, cares for and brings about the unity of her Family. As Mother, she has a great desire to see her children united in heart, mind and soul. She desires that they are all together “under the same roof,” united in Love, purpose and mission. In other words, Our Blessed Mother makes us a family. This was the final part of Our Lady’s mission on earth – to make a family. We see this clearly at Pentecost. The Apostles were gathered in prayer with whom? Our Blessed Mother. Her presence brought the Spirit Who united them as one cohesive whole – reversing the tower of Babel where the Family of God was broken and scattered. On Pentecost, the Church was born from the Mother who was present with them. I believe we can safely say that the remainder of her years on earth, before she was assumed into heaven, she dedicated her time, sacrifices, and prayers to the formation of this new Family of her Son – the Church. When we consecrate ourselves to Mary, we become a family. How beautiful and powerful! Consecration to Mary unites us together as family.
She, as the Mother of this one Family, desires that we act and live as one single family. She desires that we act together, think together – which means that we act and think with the Head who is Christ. She desires that each one of us has the same mission and same goal. As family, we desire to have one unified heart, one unified mind, one unified soul so as to have one single goal, to run with one single mission. This is where the power of our Family lies – in our unity. For example, if someone is running a marathon, he needs the cooperation of the whole body in order to run well and finish the marathon. The whole body – legs, arms, lungs, heart, mind, stomach, back, in short everything – needs to function properly. As many as there are parts that are not working toward this same goal, there will be more difficulty in running the marathon. The same is true of the Body of Christ. To be truly spiritually fruitful, to be able to run “so as to win the prize” (cf. 1 Cor 9:24), to be able to be effective as Church, we must fully be a family. And of what does this consist? It means that we are united with the Head and act according to His direction and desires.
Living as a Body
First, imagine a body in which a part removes itself from the body to “go off on its own.” We know what will happen to that part: if the hand were to cut itself off from connection to the body, the hand will die. The same is true for us – if we cut ourselves off from our Head and try to instead to pursue our own wills instead of the will of the Head, we will die. “Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches…without me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).
Now imagine a body that refused to listen to the signals of the brain, in which each part is doing whatever it wants; that body would be considered seriously ill – it would not survive. Even if one part decided to rebel, the body would be in serious trouble. How could a body run a marathon if the legs decided it was time to rest? Could a person ever write a book if the hands decided it was more important to feed the poor? This is of fundamental importance for our own lives. The “hands” may have all good intentions – for example, feeding the poor – but if the body needs to write a book at a given moment, then the hands impede the body from progressing in its current task. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Mt 7:21). The same is true for us – we can imagine ourselves trying to do all kinds of beautiful things for God, but none of them bear fruit unless they are the Lord’s will for us. Jesus told St. Maria Faustina, “My daughter, know that you give Me greater glory by a single act of obedience than by long prayers and mortifications” (Diary, 894). We must understand that we benefit the Body only when we listen to the Head.
In a sense, it is absurd to imagine a body in which every part developed a mind of its own and decided to “do its own thing” because we know that a body like this would not be alive. However, this is precisely what happens in the Church – we each represent a “part” of the Body of Christ. Therefore, our fundamental duty as a part of this Body is to determine what the Head wants us to do at any given moment. If we go off to “do our own thing” then we are hurting the Body – no matter how “good” our task seems. If we are not obeying the Head, we are rendering the Body ineffective. Our power lies in our unity. Only a unified Body, working together toward the same goal, can successfully accomplish its mission. Therefore, our first duty as members of the Body is not action, but prayer. It is in prayer that we are able to first learn what part of the Body we are and then what we are to “do” at any given moment. Prayer helps us discern the movements of the Spirit for our times so we know where He is blowing (cf. Jn 3:8).
This does not only require us to listen to the Head – Christ – but it also requires that we listen to the “little heads” of our families and organizations that we are part of. We should place ourselves at the service of those in authority to see where they desire to move and go. Families should move together as a unit. It is not about always coming up with new ideas, but finding the common vision and putting our creativity to use in trying to accomplish that vision. Prayer will allow us to listen to the Head (and all those who serve as “head” within the Church) to know His will and the path down which He is taking us as a Body; then, and only then, are we correct in acting.
Who better to do this than Mary who is not only the Mother of the Church, the Mother of our Unity, but who, at every moment of her life heard and did the will of God? Furthermore, Mary is the Church in its splendor and perfection (Ratzinger, Mary: the Church at the Source p. 30); in her the unblemished Church already exists (Lumen Gentium, 65). Therefore, when we consecrate ourselves to her, we consecrate ourselves to the whole and perfect Body that has all its parts functioning properly, doing as they should. We consecrate ourselves to a Body that always does the will of the Head in its perfection, fullness and totality. When we consecrate ourselves to Mary, the Mother of our Unity, we are given the grace to become more fully part of the Family and to live as a healthy member of this Family – by listening to the Head and acting in union with the rest of the Body.
Being Who We are Called to Be
In terms of acting toward the same goal, each part has a particular goal and a particular mission. However, the Body as a whole has one, common two-fold mission: the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls. Every single act in the Body should have this as their ultimate goal; our acts are good, efficacious, and meritorious to the extent that they have this as their intention. When our acts are tainted with desires for self-glory and self-exultation, when our acts look to harm a soul instead of bringing that soul closer to its eternal home, when they are tainted by fear and self-love – then they not only cease to help the Body, but they bring it harm. Therefore, this is the first thing we should examine in our own hearts – the purity of intention of our acts. Purely intentioned acts are the first pre-requisite to union with the Body. Who better to show us how to do this than Our Lady? Each of her acts was motivated purely by love for God and love for men. Never did she place herself first, but instead last. When we consecrate ourselves to Mary, we consecrate ourselves to a purely intentioned love that places God and others before ourselves. When we consecrate ourselves to her, we receive the graces to act more purely in our lives.
As just mentioned, although we have a common goal and mission, each part also has a particular goal and mission within the Body. We see this in our own human bodies. Each cell in the body has the same DNA, but they have become specialized and distinct to carry out a particular task in the body. Blood cells are very different than muscles cells – in look and in function. However, at the heart of each is the same DNA that guides them all. The same is true for the Body or Family of the Church. Each person, each group, has a particular mission within the Church – though all are guided by the same common goal: “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit” (1 Cor 12:7). Therefore, jealousy and envy bring about great harm to the Body and her mission; for what are jealousy and envy but wanting to be a part that we are not? When this happens, a “part” becomes so caught up in desiring to be something else that it ceases being what it is – to the detriment of the whole Body. The Body’s “success” lies in each part being what it is supposed to be. This is why one of the great calls of Venerable John Paul II was, “Family, be who you are!” We do not need to look to extraordinary things in order to fulfill our mission. We fulfill our mission simply by being what we are supposed to be. St. Paul was clearly experiencing this problem in Corinth, and it impelled him to write the following:
Now the body is not a single part, but many. If a foot should say, "Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body," it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. Or if an ear should say, "Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body," it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended. If they were all one part, where would the body be? But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I do not need you," nor again the head to the feet, "I do not need you." Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor…If (one) part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. Now you are Christ's body, and individually parts of it. (1 Cor 12:14-27).
Therefore, we must eliminate all sentiments of envy, jealousy and competition from our hearts. We are one Body, united in one mission, and our successes are shared. The good of one is the good of all. Therefore, the proper mentality of a part of the Body is, first, to be content with what it is and the mission it has been given. If we have been made an armpit – praise God! If we have been made a toenail – praise God! If we have been made the heart – praise God! For God’s will for us is perfect, and will bring about our own happiness as well and the happiness of the Body. If we fight the will of the Lord, we bring our about our own misery and the harm of the Body.
Second, each part must work hard to fulfill its own mission – and it will not do this if it is concentrated on fulfilling a mission that is not proper to it. We must keep our minds and hearts focused on the task the Lord has given us – not anyone else’s. When we stand before the Lord on judgment day, He will not ask us about anyone else’s mission and how well they fulfilled it – only our own. We cannot allow ourselves to become distracted or taken off-course by sentiments of competition, jealousy, resentment, judgment, or criticism. Our mission is unique and individual, and we must fulfill it. When we begin looking at others and how they are fulfilling their mission, we expend energy that could have been used to fulfill our own.
Finally, the parts of a Body must work together. As St. Paul wrote above, the parts are inexorably united, and the suffering and joy of one leads to the suffering and joy of the whole. Therefore, even more so does a spirit of envy and competition bring harm to the Body. Each member should look not only how to be who he is, but he should also look to see how he can help the other members. In other words, we must have an other-centered mentality. Competition looks for the success of one at the expense of the other; this will destroy the Body. True unity always looks to uplift and build the other and the whole before itself. This requires self-sacrifice. For example, in the event of sunburn, cells become so damaged that, if left alive, they will actually bring harm to the body. The cells actually have a method of self-recognition built into them that makes them “self-destruct” if they are damaged too much. This is called cell apoptosis. This demonstrates to us that, first, we are always to have the greater good of the whole before our own good. And second, it means that we are to “die to self” whenever we are doing harm to the Body. We must “die” to everything in us that is sinful, selfish, immature, irresponsible, and harmful to the Body. And we must begin to live in love, so we may instead uplift and build up the Body. The fundamental principle is that our personal actions have consequences for the Body – for good or for bad. Our Holy Father Benedict XVI explains, “Every gesture of charity and of genuine devotion to Christ does not remain a personal event, does not concern only the relationship between the individual and the Lord, but concerns the whole body of the Church, it is contagious: It infuses love, joy, light” (Homily, March 29, 2010). Therefore, let us live placing ourselves last and the Lord and His Body first, so that we bring life, love and joy.
Therefore, all of our gifts, talents and treasures should be shared and used for the sake of the Body. They are not given to us for our own personal sake or use. They are given for the common good. We must begin to see our gifts as they are – gifts. We did not make them; we did not bestow them on ourselves. Each time we look to hoard our gifts for our own personal gain or satisfaction, we act as greedy misers – we look to hoard what is meant to b given away. The gifts we have been given were given to us so that we can put them to use for the good of many others.
Again, we look to Our Lady who was always perfectly who she was called to be. Her whole life she remained Immaculate – without sin. With the entirety of her being, at every moment of her life, she perfectly fulfilled the role the Lord had given to her, placing her whole self and all she was before the Lord, in order to be used as He pleased for the good of all men. She never allowed sin, narrow-mindedness or selfishness to prevent her from being who she was. Therefore, when we consecrate ourselves to Our Lady, we consecrate ourselves to her that was always precisely who she was called to be – then, now, and always. When we consecrate ourselves to Our Lady, we too are given the graces to be who we are called to be, to fulfill the mission that God has given us. Just like Our Lady, we are given the grace to look to God and others before ourselves, to place ourselves before God and man as a gift to be used for the good of all.
To summarize, the Family into which we are entering is a supernatural family. “Becoming a disciple of Jesus means accepting the invitation to belong to God's family, to live in conformity with His way of life: ‘For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother’” (CCC 2233). This Family is one that rises above natural bonds of affection and gives us a supernatural love and affection for others that is actually deeper than any natural bonds. (In turn, natural bonds, when elevated by supernatural bonds are made infinitely stronger and more real). Consecrating ourselves to the Mother of our Unity helps to rise above simple natural affection for people. It places a love in us that causes us to love people with a deep and authentic love that cares for the true good of souls; that causes us to desire to see all souls rest in their final home of heaven; that causes us to want the true good of the Body and each individual. Consecrating ourselves to Our Lady gives us the grace to look beyond ourselves; it destroys our delusions of autonomy and self-sufficiency that make us believe we can do it all on our own; it helps us to understand that we need her and we need one another. Consecration to Mary banishes from our hearts any sort of competition or envy that seeks to see ourselves rise and others fall. It helps us to destroy this selfishness and to desire that all parts excel and flourish. It banishes a narrow view that only sees “me” and looks instead to the good of the “we.” A hand cannot survive without the rest of the body. No part is anything on its own. Through Our Blessed Mother, we come to understand the fundamental rule for living as part of the Body – a total giving of self for the common good of the Body. We are called, not to live for ourselves as individual parts, but to give our whole self for the good of the whole. We do not live for our sake, but for the sake of the other, for the sake of the Church, for the sake of God. The hand gives itself to the body in order to be of service to it. We give ourselves and all our gifts over to the Head in order to see how He desires us to use them.
The Holy Spirit of Unity
To bring this full circle, we know that the Holy Spirit Himself is unity (cf. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith, p. 42). Since the Holy Spirit brings about unity, we must call down the presence of the Holy Spirit to the Church and to our hearts. If we are living a life in the Spirit, we will be sources of unity. He is also Love – in this way we come to understand that Love is union and communion with one another. If we lack union, we lack love. Love brings about unity, and unity allows us to love. Therefore, we can measure the depth of our love by evaluating our unity. The Holy Spirit comes into our hearts so that we can live in intimate union with Him, but also so we can live in union with each other. Therefore, in this consecration, we make an act together, as a Body. We are saying that together we desire to unite ourselves, that together we desire to live as one, with one mind and heart, moving toward the same goal – the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls. In this act, we become unified in purpose. Together, we come to desire to seek salvation as a family. In this act of consecration we become a Family – more than we were before. Who better to bring this unity through the Spirit about than the Spouse of the Spirit and the Mother of us all? In this consecration to the Blessed Mother, we consecrate ourselves to her who was the Spouse and Temple of the Holy Spirit, who had the fullness of the Spirit in her Heart, and she who is Mother of the Family. She unifies because she is the Home of the Spirit, the Home of Love.
That They All May be One
The prayer of the Heart of Jesus to the Father as He was preparing to enter into His Passion was a prayer for unity – that they all be one. And not only unity, but the very unity that is present between the members of Trinity. We should take a moment to contemplate the depths of unity to which we are destined – the very depths of the unity of God Himself. This is what the Lord desires for us – to have no other mind, no other heart, no other love, no other soul than that of God’s mind, God’s heart, God’s love, and God’s soul; and He wants all of this to have to same union together. He wants all of us – individually and as a Family – to be united to Him in the fullest and most perfect way possible for creatures. We must bow down before the Love that desires to bestow such a gift on such unworthy and ungrateful creatures. This is why the total and complete gift of our very selves into the hands of God is the only worthy response to Love which offers Himself so fully to us. God wants to be one with us. He holds nothing back – He gives His full Self and only wants that we open ourselves to the depth, height, length and width of His infinite love. So let us go forward together, as a Family, to consecrate ourselves to the Mother of Unity, so that we come to live in the same perfect union with God in which she herself lived. Let us consecrate ourselves to Love, so that we may live in union with Love and that we may living in loving union with one another.
Therefore, we join ourselves to Mary to proclaim our own fiat so that the Holy Spirit may enter us and so that Jesus may be conceived in a new and profound way in our hearts. For “the Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price” (Rev 22:17). Because “it is not by measure that he gives the Spirit” (Jn 3:34). The Bride and Spirit and “those who hear and are thirsty” say “come, Lord Jesus.” With Mary the Bride, let us call from our hearts, “Come.” Uniting ourselves to the Heart of Our Lady, let us call to Him with our thirsty hearts to receive Him anew and make Him flesh again through our flesh. The Spirit and the Bride same “Come.” Therefore, we come and unite ourselves with the Spirit and the Bride and allow ourselves to be made into a Family.
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