I ordinarily attend daily Mass at Sacred Heart Church in downtown Peoria. Last Monday (March 25), I saw my parents at noon Mass and talked to them after the Mass. My mom told me that it was the 58th anniversary of her consecration to the Mother of God. I knew that she had made her consecration years ago, but I was not aware of the actual date.
In his book, True Devotion to Mary, Saint Louis de Montfort explained what consecration to the Blessed Mother is and what a person needs to do to prepare for and follow through with a consecration. According to de Montfort, the actual consecration should take place on one of our Lady’s feast days and should be repeated on that day each year thereafter.
March 25th is the feast day of the Annunciation. That’s when the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced to her that she had been chosen to be the Mother of God.
I asked my mom what date she made her initial consecration and she said that it was on March 25, 1961. At that time, she was 29 years old and had eight children.
I was three and a half years old when Mom made her consecration. Twenty years later, she gave me de Montfort’s book as a gift. I made my consecration on August 15, 1985, the feast day of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven. At that time, I was 28 years old. Last August (August 15, 2018) was the 34th anniversary of my consecration.
Some of my brothers and sisters like to tease me and my younger sister Anna Maria Jude because we’re the most like Mom when it comes to religion. Basically, we’re considered “extremists” who tend to go too far in living and sharing our faith with others.
One relevant question that a person could ask is, “Why out of a family of 17 children are there only two children who take after their mom in their fervor, intensity, and passion for the Catholic faith, and their strong desire to share their faith with anyone who will listen to them?”
I’m going to share one of my theories about this topic.
At the age of 29, when my mom made her consecration, she was so overwhelmed with her “job” as a wife and mother that in desperation, she reached out to our Lord’s mother for help. The thought that was likely going through her mind at that time was, “There’s got to be more to life than this!”
The year before (1960), my mom had been bedridden for several weeks before and after she delivered twins — her seventh and eighth children. The three-bedroom house that my dad had built for our family was bursting at the seams, so during the same year that my mom made her consecration (1961), Dad built a two story, four-bedroom addition to our house to accommodate our growing family.
Rather than turning to medication or counseling for relief, my mom asked the Mother of God for help. What other female could have empathized and understood her more than the Mother of God? To learn more about our Lady’s role in God’s plan for salvation, my mom read Saint Louis de Montfort’s book, True Devotion to Mary.
As she was learning more about the Blessed Mother and preparing for her consecration, my mom had a three-and-a-half-year-old son (me) who was following her around and observing and listening to everything she was saying about her newfound discovery of what the Mother of God could do for her.
Only a small minority of Catholics have ever made the consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Why? Because before a true consecration can be made, a person must give his or her life to God through and with the assistance of His holy mother Mary. That person must be willing to promise that he or she will do everything in their power to advance the Kingdom of God on Earth in accordance with the direction and assistance of the Mother of God.
As a little boy who followed his mom around, listening to her words and observing her actions, I had a front-row seat to a real-life drama that was unfolding in real time right before my eyes. While I don’t remember what she said or did, I still had the opportunity to observe and absorb firsthand what true devotion to God and His holy mother was all about. Could that be one of the reasons that I’m so much like my mom in my religious beliefs?
But I told you that it was me and my sister Anna who were most like our mom in the religious person department. Why Anna? What did she observe and absorb as a young child in the home we grew up in?
Anna was born in 1965. It was at that time that the Vietnam war was raging. My mom was horrified because there was talk that the United States was going to reinstitute the draft if the war escalated any further. I have a very clear memory of the anguish that Mom went through worrying about what the future held for our family and our country.
While the U.S. had 23,000 troops in Vietnam in 1964, by the time Anna was born, President Lyndon B. Johnson had already begun the process of increasing U.S. ground combat troop levels. By 1967, the total number of U.S. military personnel in Vietnam was close to 500,000.
Our government ended up reinstituting the draft in 1969, and periodic draft lotteries were conducted until 1973. The draft lotteries that took place during the early 1970s were for boys who were born between 1952 and 1956. My two older brothers — Jerry and Mike — were born during those years.
Between 1965 and 1972, the draft funneled more than 2,000,000 American men into the U.S. military. The war officially ended on April 30, 1975, when the last few Americans who were in Vietnam were airlifted out of the county. The draft was also formally terminated in 1975, the year that I turned 18.
During the Vietnam war years, there was a U.S. anti-war movement that resulted in massive turmoil, protests, and riots. In an effort to flood Heaven with prayers, my mom and her friend, Phyllis Bohart, established the Queen of Peace of Crusade, a not-for-profit corporation that was created for the purpose of spreading the message of Fatima and promoting the daily recitation of the rosary throughout the world.
As part of that effort, Mom had monthly meetings at our house with her co-founder Phyllis and several other individuals who were assisting them with the crusade. During those years, Mom ordered thousands of rosary beads, wire, and crucifixes, so her army of children could make rosaries by hand that could be given to anyone who was willing to pray the daily rosary. In addition to making rosaries, Mom regularly set up an assembly line around our dining room table, so her children could help her make green scapulars to pass out to people.
During those years, Mom also spoke at various events and to groups about our Lady’s role in the church and her message to humanity to reform their lives and pray for peace in the world. She reminded everyone that if they really wanted peace in our country and the world, we needed to follow our Lady’s plan for daily prayer.
While all this was going on, there was a beautiful little girl with dark hair and dark eyes who at the age of two, three, four, and five followed my mom around the house and absorbed everything she said and did. Years later at the age of 32, while she was in the process of having 10 children, my sister Anna and her husband Peter organized a perpetual adoration program at the Church of Saint Timothy, in Maple Lake, Minnesota. Anna had previously made her consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1982, when she was 17 years old.
My wife and I organized the perpetual adoration program at Saint Philomena Church. It started out as a part-time program during lent in 1991 and was later launched as a perpetual adoration program on October 1, 1994.
Do you know what happens every time a person develops a long-term relationship with the Mother of God? She uses her influence to bring that person closer to her Son. And she presents the person’s needs, desires, fears, disorders, and the person’s physical, mental, and emotional health issues to her Son. Over time, her Divine Son responds to her in the same way that He responded to her after she alerted Him about the issue of a shortage of wine at the wedding at Cana. He performs miracles!
Notice what the Mother of God did after my sister and I made the consecration. Over time, she helped us to develop a strong love for and desire to be with her Son, so much so, that we organized perpetual adoration at the churches where we were members. In my mom’s case, our Lady influenced her to organize a national prayer movement that had as its goal, peace in the world.
I wonder what Jesus saw, heard, and absorbed when he was a little boy following his mother around the house. There is no doubt that she had an immense amount of influence over His human behavior and beliefs. It was His mother who was primarily responsible for the initial development of His human faith and love for God the Father.
I feel sorry for the millions of young children who will never have an opportunity to listen, watch, and absorb what a holy mother does when she has a burning desire to know, love, and serve God.