Consecration to Our Lady may be expressed in many different forms,
and can be understood, explained, and lived in many different
ways, although the doctrinal basis and the substance are the
same. By consecrating yourself to Mary you pledge to become her
instrument, performing all your actions through, with and in
Mary, for she points the way to the heart of Jesus. As the Second
Vatican Council teaches, calling upon Mary's intercession "does
not hinder in any way the immediate union of the faithful with
Christ, but on the contrary fosters it" (Lumen Gentium 60).
Therefore, coming "To Jesus through Mary" through our
Marian consecration is not an extraordinary way of worshipping
God and bringing about our sanctification; rather, it is the
should we consecrate ourselves to Mary?
A. Mary is not the Creator;
she is not the Redeemer. She never substituted herself for God.
But it was God's will that Mary would have a special role in
our Christian life and sanctification. It is a universal role
assigned to her by God. In perfect union with her Son and subordinate
to him, the Second Vatican Council calls her "our mother
in the order of grace" (Lumen Gentium 61).
Mary became the prototype of total consecration when, at the
beginning of the New Testament, she said "yes" to becoming
the mother of God. She was chosen to help us in our consecration
through her intercession and maternal care, thus disposing us
to develop the gifts of God that we received in Baptism. She
is the perfect example of the Church, and the model for all the
faithful. In her perfect spiritual sensitivity to the Holy Spirit's
inspiration, she is God's creaturely masterpiece.
The ultimate goal of the MI and Marian consecration is to bring
about the reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and hasten the conversion
of individuals, families, society and the whole world into the
"civilization of love" as called for by our Holy
Father, Pope John Paul II.
exactly is meant by
consecration to Mary?
A. Consecration to Mary
is conformity to the "perfect means" which Jesus chose
to unite himself with us and vice versa. Consecration heightens
the depth of our commitment to Christ. It explicitly states that
our ultimate goal and end is God. By consecrating yourself to
Mary, you pledge to become her instrument to perform all your
actions through, with and in Mary, for she points the way to
are the fundamental distinctions between the de Montfort and
A. St. Maximilian Kolbe
and St. Louis de Montfort have very different ways of presenting
this total offering and its goals, because of their different
historical, cultural and spiritual backgrounds. Yet we can affirm
that there is a complementary originality between the two saints'
doctrines of consecration to Mary.
De Montfort developed the teaching of Holy Slavery or Bondage
to Mary, which has nurtured the spiritual life and Marian devotion
of numberless souls, including Pope John Paul II. De Montfort
clearly and properly states that the purpose of this consecration
is to possess Christ as the Eternal and Incarnate Wisdom. His
devotion is heavily based on "expropriation" (emptying
oneself of one's possessions and oneself) until one's personal
point of Calvary is reached. De Montfort viewed Holy Slavery
or Bondage as a most "perfect renewal of the vows and promises
Kolbe on the other hand, emphasized consecration to Mary under
her title of the Immaculate Conception, and gave it a specific
apostolic purpose: "to gain the whole world for the Immaculata
so as to bring about, as soon as possible, the kingdom of the
Sacred Heart of Jesus". His view of consecration was that
of incorporating oneself into the mystery and mission of the
Immaculate Mother of God for the conversion and sanctification
of all souls, beginning with oneself.
Kolbe also wanted Marian consecrants to collectively join themselves
to one another in a spiritual solidarity by enrolling into an
authorized spiritual movement and corporately becoming Our Lady's
instruments---her maternal presence and activity---within the
Church and throughout the world.
St. Maximilian aware of
St. Louis de Montfort's writings?
A. There is no doubt that
Kolbe was aware of the great Marian apostle, St. Louis de Montfort.
Kolbe had written with great enthusiasm about his treatise "True
Devotion," an incomparable systematic doctrinal work on
Marian spirituality. In one article he commented on St. Louis'
insights by highlighting the interesting history of de Montfort's
treatise and then quoted various passages concerning the future
apostles of Mary in light of the MI's ultimate purpose.
It should be noted that in "True Devotion," de Montfort
himself predicts an age to come where consecrated apostles---"servants,
slaves and children of Mary"---would emerge "who, like
a burning fire, shall kindle the fire of divine love everywhere."
St. Maximilian seems amply to fit this description. Besides the
written evidence, Friar Paul Moratti, one of Kolbe's more intimate
disciples, affirmed that he knew St. Louis de Montfort through
St. Maximilian. It is also known that the rector of the Seraphic
College in Rome, during the final years of St. Maximilian's ecclesiastical
studies, was Father Stephen Ignudi, an ardent follower of de
It was Father Ignudi who granted Maximilian and the six other
friars permission to gather together in the spirit of total consecration
and launch the Militia of the Immaculata movement.
is this different from the St. Louis de Montfort consecration?
A. The MI
has an apostolic thrust, i.e., each person is encouraged to find
some way, no matter how simple, to bring others to Our Lady.
The MI has as its goal the consecration of every person. MI consecration
is at heart a simple act of the will. St. Louis de Montfort has
a much more detailed preparation and his was primarily focused on
one's personal sanctification.
Q. I have
consecrated myself to Mary and am an MI member;
can I consecrate my children as well?
in the MI (which, of course, presupposes that one has totally
consecrated himself to the Immaculata), is open to all Catholics
over the age of reason (approximately age seven). A person can
consecrate himself only, as the act of total consecration must
proceed from the individual's free decision. Therefore one person
may not enroll another person; it is a SELF-consecration. This
does not mean, for example, that parents cannot consecrate their
children in some way, but there is a difference between consecration
and total consecration according to St. Maximilian.
does it mean to become an MI?
A. It means to become
Our Lady's instrument in her most loving hands. Only in this
way can we expect to reach our ultimate purpose, which is not
only the greater, but also the greatest glory of God. Hence,
all our efforts must be directed to this: that we allow ourselves
to be led, that we do nothing of ourselves, but only in the way
she wants and in the way she wants it.
To accomplish this we must unite our will with Mary's, whose
will was perfectly conformed to God's will. St. Maximilian once
wrote: "One who cannot bend his knees and beg in humble
prayer to know what she is, let him not expect to learn anything
more intimate about the Immaculata." And again, "You
will draw more knowledge about her and will be more inflamed
with her love directly from her heart than from all human words
Knowledge and understanding of the Immaculata, and hence of her
Militia, comes through humble prayer which is the indispensable
condition for all spiritual growth.
is enrollment in the MI?
A. It is the step of joining
the MI and becoming a recognized member of the MI movement. This
can be done by any Catholic above the age of reason who willingly
consecrates himself and registers himself at a local canonical
center of the MI or at the National Center of
the MI for the U.S. at Marytown.
does one enroll?
a day on which you consecrate yourself to Mary and request that
your name be recorded in the official MI register. This is preferably
done on a Marian feast day.
it be done on a Marian feast day?
A. This is not required
but clearly preferred as almost every month has a Marian feast
day. This makes it easier for you to keep track of the date you
made your total consecration.
wearing the Miraculous Medal required?
this is in accord with the wishes of the Immaculata that she
expressed during the Miraculous Medal apparition. On that occasion
she promised great graces to all who would wear this medal and
pray the prayer inscribed on the medal with great confidence.
Q. What is the position
of the MI on private revelation and reported apparitions?
The MI movement is closely associated with four Marian apparitions.
First, the appearances of Mary to Bernadette at Lourdes had a
profound effect on St. Maximilian Kolbe and his development of
the theology of the Immaculate Conception.
Second, Our Lady's appearances to St. Catherine Laboure resulted
in the promulgation of the Miraculous Medal - the "spiritual
bullet" that MIs wear or carry and promote.
Third, the Marian apparition to Alphonse Ratisbonne, leading
to his sudden and profound conversion, convinced St. Maximilian
of the power of the Miraculous Medal. Finally, Mary appeared
to St. Maximilian himself when he was just ten years old (and
possibly again while he was a missionary in Japan).
However, the MI as a movement
does not endorse or advocate any visionaries or locutionaries
who do not have the explicit approval of the Catholic Church.
Until such incidents are thoroughly investigated and approved
by the proper Church authorities, MIs should view such matters
with extreme caution. In expressing personal opinions on alleged
apparitions and the like, MIs should take care not to leave the
mistaken impression that they are expressing the position of
This is especially important
because, as an international public association of the faithful
under the Code of Canon Law, we received a mission to pursue
the goal of the MI - the conversion and sanctification of all
souls - "in the name of the Church" (Canon 313). In
addition, the MI comes under the direct jurisdiction of the Holy
For these reasons MIs have a special responsibility to be faithfully
obedient and deferential to the proper Church authorities in
all matters, including apparitions or locutions that have not
yet been investigated or approved by the Church. We must be careful
not to use the name of the MI to lend credence to such apparitions
The Catechism of the Catholic
Church states, "Throughout the ages, there have been so-called
'private' revelations, some of which have been recognized by
the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to
the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete
Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by
it in a certain period of history. . . . Christian faith cannot
accept 'revelations' that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation
of which Christ is the fulfillment." [no. 67].
Q. Are there any restrictions
on joining the MI?
Enrollment in the MI is open to all Catholics - laity and clerics
- over the age of reason, which is approximately seven years
of age. A person must enroll himself in the MI, since the act
of total consecration must proceed from an individual's free
decision. One person may not enroll another.
Q. May non-Catholics join
Membership is restricted to Catholics only, since the original
charter explicitly calls for MIs to pray and work for the conversion
of non-Catholics. As St. Maximilian writes, "[The object
is] to work for the conversion to God of all men, be they sinners,
or non-Catholics or unbelievers, in particular the Masons. .
This does mean that we should not encourage non-Catholics to
consecrate themselves to Our Lady. Through this openness to her
love and maternal mediation, she will certainly impart to them
graces for leading a better Christian life, and encourage them
to be open to the fullness of the truth found uniquely in the
Q. May I become a member
of the MI
through a "group" consecration?
A. Consecration to Mary
of parishioners by their pastors, of children by their parents,
of couples by the priest officiating at their wedding, of religious
by their superiors, or of priests by their bishop at their ordination,
is not "total"- and therefore not MI - unless the individual
through his or her own free will pledges Totus Tuus, "I
am totally yours Mary," or the Kolbean equivalent. If they
indeed make this personal pledge or consecration, then they must
formally enroll themselves at a canonical MI center.
Many Catholic parishes have undertaken consecration of the parish
to Mary, through a group ceremony whereby individual members
of the parish consecrate themselves totally to Mary. This is
to be encouraged and the National Center offers a "Parish
Consecration Kit" to make such undertakings as simple as
possible for busy parish priests.
In these cases, the parish might distribute enrollment forms
for completion by the individuals and might even mail them to
the National Center as a group on behalf of the individuals.
In such cases, because the individuals consecrate themselves
through their own free will - albeit in a group ceremony presided
over by a priest (or deacon) - their consecrations are indeed
"total" and MI.
Q. Do MI members have to
A. This question comes
up from time to time in telephone calls received by the national
center, and has been the subject of discussion by the MI crosstalk
group at CatholiCity's web site (www.CatholiCity.com).
The answer is not to be too
cute, but yes and no.
Yes, MIs as Catholics must observe the required fasting
and abstinence rules of the Church. These are the general rules:
1. Fasting on Ash Wednesday
and Good Friday by those from the ages of 18 and 59 (in the United
2. Abstaining from meat on Ash
Wednesday and all Fridays in Lent.
3. Fasting for one hour before
receiving Holy Communion.
It is appropiate that Catholics
abstain from meat, or observe some other form of self-denial,
on all Fridays (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1438).
No, MI members have no obligation to fast or abstain beyond
those that apply to Catholics in general. This is not say that
fasting or some other expression of penitence isn't highly
In his Summa Theologiae,
St. Thomas Aquinas commends fasting as a virtue when directed
to a virtuous purpose. Fasting is practiced for a threefold purpose,
he says: (1) to "bridle the lusts of the flesh"; (2)
to permit the mind to "arise more freely to the contemplation
of heavenly things"; and (3) to "satisfy for sins"
(2nd part of 2d part, question 147, Art. 1).
But bear in mind that a wrongful
purpose (or end) renders fasting (the object) corrupt. "An
evil end corrupts the action, even if the object is good in itself
(such as praying and fasting in order to be seen by men')"
(CCC, no. 1755). Jesus pointed out this same thing when he denounced
hypocritical public displays of self-denial (Mt 6:16-18).
St. Maximilian Kolbe is, of course, a heroic model of self-sacrifice.
Consider the words of our patron: "Penance for the sake
of penance would have no value; but it can be a helpful means
in striving to love God" (Will to Love, p. 101). St. Maximilian
cautions against taking on free-will mortifications when they
"may well favor self-love" (p. 107) instead of love
of God. However, "It would be good if everyone took upon
himself each day at least two or three small, insignificant penances
or mortifications, but regularly, especially say, throughout
Lent, in such matters as restraint and custody of the eyes, control
of the tongue from some lighter humor and the like. None of these
practices will hurt one's health, because after all, health we
must maintain to work for the glory of the Immaculata" (p.