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Neela Kale Answers:
Question: I’ve read/learned about consecrating oneself to Jesus through Mary and have held off on doing this until I learn more and pray more about it. I just finished a novena to St. Maximillian Kobe and learned there is the Militia Immaculata which has a consecration. I knew about the consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the St. Louis de Monfort consecration, so now I’m a bit confused and hence my trepidation in consecrating myself. How do you know which consecration to follow? Please don’t tell me any are fine, I’m sure they all are, but I want to understand what’s the difference? Why do people choose one over the other?
The idea of consecration to Mary stems from the teaching that Mary, of all human beings, is the most closely conformed to Christ. Thus dedication to Mary is a way of being more closely united with Christ. Notice the emphasis in the prayer of St. Louis of Montfort, an eighteenth century French priest: “I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ… I choose [Mary] this day for my mother….” St. Maximilian Kolbe also promoted this devotion, founding the Militia Immaculata as an evangelization movement seeking the intercession of Mary for the conversion of sinners. While the particular words in the prayers vary, they all express the same desire for Mary’s protection and help. You’ve actually answered your own question: All of these devotions are fine, and the differences among them are more of style than of substance. Choose the prayer and style that most helps you to give yourself to Christ. Perhaps a friend or relative introduced you to a particular prayer, or a specific wording simply strikes you. Like any acts of popular piety, these devotions are appropriate to the extent that they help a person deepen his or her faith and live with greater love for God and for neighbor. The Church recognizes them as pious practices, and some people find them a source of great help and comfort. Others are not strongly attracted by them, and neither does the Church oblige anyone to take part in these practices.
You may find helpful the section on “Veneration of the Holy Mother of God” in the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, particularly number 204 on consecration and entrustment to Mary (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_ccdds_doc_20020513_vers-direttorio_en.html).