Looking for ideas to deepen your faith? Father Boniface Hicks, OSB, joins Father Dave to discuss new resources on Marian consecration and prayer. A Benedictine monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey, Father Boniface recently released his book, “The Fruit of Her Womb: 33 Day Preparation for Total Consecration to Jesus” as well as “Personal Prayer,” an online course from Emmaus Academy.
They begin by discussing the online program, which is based on Father Boniface’s previous book, “Personal Prayer: A Guide for Receiving the Father’s Love.” The course includes videos from Father Boniface that he says, “take you into the heart” of the book. He continues, “I co-authored it with my own spiritual director [Father Thomas Acklin, OSB] who’s been in the monastery for 45 years and done a ton of spiritual direction to get into the experience of [prayer]. We really tried to be honest about what it’s like to face silence, what it’s like to face dryness, [and] how prayer is relational and vulnerable. [We also cover] how our humanity comes into our prayer, [for example, in the form of] falling asleep…or lots of distractions.”
Father Dave adds, “I think sometimes we don’t relate to prayer as it truly is, which is our relationship with God. So like any relationship, there are going to be ups and downs…It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Father Boniface agrees, “If you want to deepen your relationship, it needs time and commitment, but also vulnerability; exposing our weakness and really sharing that with the Lord. Then learning to listen to how he speaks to us; he speaks in a principal way through his word, and through the Sacraments. And how do we hear that?”
Fr. Boniface continues, “It’s really the encounter of two freedoms: our human freedom and God’s divine freedom. It’s not going to simply be an extension of my will, as if I did all the right things and then it’s always going to have the same result. [God is] a real person, and he doesn’t simply do everything we want him to do. So learning to actually relate with him is part of the beautiful journey.”
Next, they discuss Father Boniface’s new book, which is centered on Marian consecration, the act of fully entrusting oneself to Mary, typically through following several concrete actions. He explains how St. Louis de Montfort originated this practice, which involves 33 days of prayer and reflection to deepen our relationship with Jesus through Mary.
Fr. Boniface reflects on how Mary’s womb nurtured and protected Jesus before his birth, and she can show us similar tenderness throughout our own 33-day consecration. “We are trusting [Mary] radically, but we’re also receiving from her radically,” Fr. Boniface says. “In fact, we’re receiving from her exactly what we need to be transformed into Jesus, because the way that she nourished him is the way that she will and wants to nourish us.”
He compares Marian consecration to Baptism. “In Baptism, we were immersed in [a proverbial] womb – waters, if you will – and the baptismal waters of the Church, the womb of the Church, to be transformed into Jesus, to be reborn,” Fr. Boniface says. “All of us are being formed according to the heart and mind of Christ. So it’s really an intensification of Baptism. Then it has this very tender maternal quality to it that I think most of us can appreciate and really grow in.”
“This is the place that Jesus himself entered into, he became very little, he became needy, he became open to the love that he could receive from a human mom and a human dad,” Father Boniface reflects. “Joseph and Mary nourished him, cared for him, raised him and [Jesus] surrendered himself to them. So the path that [Jesus] chose is a path that we also can find, no matter where we are on the popularity and worldly power spectrum; all of us can be little and cared for by Mary.”