May 14, 2013, Tuesday — The Consecration

Francis’ pontificate consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima

As requested by Pope Francis in at least two personal telephone calls, the cardinal archbishop of Lisbon, Patriarch Jose da Cruz Policarpo, yesterday consecrated the papacy of Pope Francis, in a ceremony in Fatima, Portugal, to Our Lady of Fatima.

This shows the profoundly Marian devotion of this present Holy Father, and suggests that other consecrations to the Virgin may come in the weeks and months ahead.

The Rorate Caeli website, among others, posted the following news report from the Catholic News Service:

FATIMA, Portugal (CNS) — Entrusting Pope Francis’ pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima, Cardinal Jose da Cruz Policarpo of Lisbon, Portugal, asked Mary to give the pope courage and strength, particularly as he moves to renew and reform the Catholic Church.

“Give him the gift of discernment to know how to identify the ways of renewal of the church; give him the courage not to hesitate to follow the ways suggested by the Holy Spirit; support him in the hard hours of suffering to overcome with the charity the trials that the renewal of the church will bring,” the cardinal prayed May 13, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima.

“We consecrate to you, Our Lady, mother of the church, the ministry of the new pope,” he prayed. “Fill his heart with the tenderness of God that you experienced so that he can embrace all the men and women of our age with the love of your son Jesus Christ.”

Cardinal Policarpo recited the prayer, which he wrote himself, at the end of a Mass concluding a major international pilgrimage to Fatima for the feast day marking the 96th anniversary of the apparition of Mary to three children.

The Portuguese cardinal, who participated in the conclave that elected Pope Francis, said the new Pope had asked him twice to consecrate his pontificate to Our Lady of Fatima. He also asked Mary to give Pope Francis “the desire to be a pilgrim to this shrine.”

But Pope Francis was not the only object of a special consecration during the mid-May pilgrimage; at a Mass May 12 at the Fatima shrine, Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro entrusted to Mary all the young people who are preparing to attend World Youth Day in Rio with Pope Francis in July.

What is the meaning of such a consecration?

From a Catholic website comes this definition of consecration.

Consecration (nowadays also called dedication or entrustment) is a well-known term in the history of spirituality. It has biblical roots, and became the quest of many saints and spirituals through the centuries. Martyrs, virgins, monks are so-called consecrated persons…

But what is the meaning of consecration (dedication or entrustment)?

1. God consecrates

In a strict and primary sense, there is room only for one type of consecration, the one made by God himself. Only God can appropriate a human being and make him/her sacred. God communicates his holiness to us; he gives us participation in his holiness. He is our creator and wants us to be in his image. This transformation into his likeness is the foremost meaning of consecration.

2. Consecration is a response

Our consecration is therefore essentially a response to his call. In acquiescing, we bind ourselves to a consecration that comes from God. We consecrate ourselves to belong to the Lord in a new way. In fact this new way is the only way by which we truly become who we are. The foremost example of God-human consecration is Jesus Christ himself. He is the “Anointed,” meaning he totally belongs to God. When, by a free act of his person (intelligence, will, affection), he accepts the mission for the salvation of the world (Jn 17, 19; 30) he consecrates himself. This is what we call his subjective consecration in response to the objective consecration of his being which occurred in his humanity at the moment of the Incarnation.

3. Consecration in Christ through baptism

Christ imparts to his disciples and followers a very special belonging to God. He gives us his own life by making us participants in his own consecration. This happens in baptism. Baptism is our first and most important consecration. Baptism is our objective consecration. With Christ and through him we are destined and commissioned to the glory of God and the salvation of the world. There is a radical meaning to this mission: through baptism we do not belong to ourselves anymore but to Christ who imparts his life to us.

4. A consequence of baptism

What we commonly regard as consecration–our subjective consecration through promises, renewal of baptismal promises, confirmation, and vows–is consecration by voluntary adherence to what baptism has made of us. We promise to live as sons and daughters of God, and thus fulfill subjectively our objective consecration. All consecrations which follow baptism are rooted in this primary act of our Christian vocation.

5. Consecration to Mary

Can we consecrate ourselves to Mary? Mary is not the Creator, she is not the Redeemer. She is the opposite of a Goddess; she never substituted herself for God. But it was God’s will that Mary had something to do with our Christian life, with our sanctification. It is a role assigned to her by God. In perfect union with her Son and subordinate to him, the Vatican II Council calls her “our mother in the order of grace” (LG 61). Let us not forget that Mary is the prototype of perfect consecration at the beginning of the New Testament. She was chosen to help us in our consecration through her intercession and by her maternal care, which disposes us to receive the gift of God we receive in baptism. She is the perfect example of the Church, and the model of all faithful. In her extreme spiritual sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s inspiration she is God’s creaturely masterpiece.

All consecrations to Mary have this Spirit-oriented (meaning Christocentric and theocentric) meaning. Consecration to Mary is consecration to the “perfect means” (Montfort) which Jesus chose to unite himself with us and vice versa. Consecration to Mary heightens the depth and truth of our commitment to Christ. Consecration to Mary must explicitly state that our ultimate goal and end is God (Holy Spirit; Christ our Lord). Consecrations to Mary where one pledges to perform all actions “through Mary, in Mary, and for Mary” are in fact a pledge to perform them more perfectly through Jesus Christ, with him, in, and for him. Dedication to the Heart of Mary must therefore maintain the vital unity between the Heart of Mary and the Heart of Jesus. We must confide ourselves to the Heart of Mary in view of our consecration to God. We offer ourselves to this divine consecration through Mary, for she points the way to the heart of Jesus.


“I pray for you, but I ask you to pray for me, because I am in need of your prayers. Three ‘Hail Marys’ for me…” —Pope Francis, Saturday, May 4

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