Serious Theology

Marian Consecration

Today I began 33 days of preparation to consecrate myself to Mary, following St Louis de Montfort’s instructions, and ending with consecration on the feast of the Presentation of Mary. I’ve done the consecration before on the same feast, and am renewing the consecration this time. Please pray for me, that I will give myself fully and hold nothing back.

Marian consecration is one of the most beautiful of all the devotions in the Church. It is perhaps the summit of all true spirituality.

We consecrate ourselves to Mary, because she is perfectly consecrated to God, and we wish to be united to Mary in her consecration. I once wrote the following:

‘God gave Himself to us by giving Himself to Mary. We are saved through God giving Himself to Mary in Jesus Christ, and through Mary’s “yes”, her giving herself up to God in Jesus Christ. God gave Himself through Mary, and we must receive God, be given up to God, through Mary’s “yes”.’ (https://asalittlechild.wordpress.com/2018/11/12/marys-teaching/)

I really want to double down on this point. We are saved through Mary’s fiat to God. When she said yes at the annunciation, she said yes on behalf of the whole universe, welcoming Jesus into creation. To be saved is to be united to Mary in saying yes, in surrendering and consecrating ourselves to God and welcoming Jesus to be conceived in us.

And this yes, this surrender and consecration and welcome, are simply who Mary is, through and through. From the first moment of her existence, her Immaculate Conception, she was claimed wholly for God. And at every moment following she gave herself wholly to God. We can see this in the annunciation, but also in every single Marian feast: God has claimed her entirely for His own, and she gives herself entirely to Him. The entirety of her being is caught up in loving God back. She is love returning love. To be saved is to be united to Mary.

Please pray for me to make this consecration well.

God bless you

Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth

Is prayer a form of escape from the world? Is that the ultimate aim of Christian life – to leave this world behind and instead to dwell with God in heaven? Are we to live for the next life, and not for the present life?

Well, yes and no.

Yes, because we are made for God and for eternal life, and we must renounce all finite distractions that would keep us from Him. Our destiny is the fullness of life in God Himself and nothing less. We are told again and again to deny ourselves, to renounce the world, and to live for God alone. We must not fall into thinking that prayer or spirituality or the Christian faith are concerned primarily with improving this world and this life. The Christian faith has a far larger vision.

‘If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God.’ [Colossians 3:1-3]

But no, because Jesus came to save the world. He didn’t come to save us out of the world, He came to redeem the entirety of creation with us in it.

‘For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.’ [Romans 8:20-21]

So then, how can we have both yes and no? We save the world with Jesus, but only in renouncing it with Him. ‘Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose it shall preserve it.’ [Lk 17:33] In the same way, whoever seeks to save the world will lose the world, but whoever shall renounce the world will save it.

Jesus saves us and saves the world by the sacrifice He made upon the cross, present at every mass. In this sacrifice, He renounces absolutely everything, His life, His body, His soul, everything He loves and cares for (including you and me), offering it all to the Father. It is in this offering that we are saved. We are sinners, and do not have the purity of heart to truly offer ourselves to God, except by being united to Jesus’s own self offering.

This is the goal of Christian life and the heart of Christian prayer and spirituality. We renounce ourselves and the whole world, and offer it all up to God, united to Jesus’s offering upon the cross. Or to express it differently, we let go of our selves, of every finite thing, of every desire to control and possess and consume, and we entrust it all to God, to Him who is eternal love, uniting ourselves and all the cosmos to the holy sacrifice of the mass.

So then, what does this renunciation and salvation look like? For now, it looks like loving the world, but refusing to grasp at it, even in thought. It looks like placing ourselves and everything in our lives into Love’s everlasting hands. And in the end, it looks like the resurrection of the entire universe.

God bless you.

To love Mary is to love Jesus; to love Jesus is to love Mary

I previously wrote,

‘God gave Himself to us by giving Himself to Mary. We are saved through God giving Himself to Mary in Jesus Christ, and through Mary’s “yes”, her giving herself up to God in Jesus Christ. God gave Himself through Mary, and we must receive God, be given up to God, through Mary’s “yes”.’

(https://asalittlechild.wordpress.com/2018/11/12/marys-teaching/)

Mary is the one who accepts Jesus, into her soul, into her womb, and into the universe itself, and it is through her accepting Jesus that we accept Him. She is the one who surrenders her entire life and soul to Jesus, and it is by her surrender that He has taken possession of the world. She is the one who loves Jesus perfectly, giving Him everything and withholding nothing, and it is by her gift that we have been given to Him. She is truly Janua Coeli, the gate of heaven. The salvation of the world was achieved on the cross, but it was received, in all its fulness, in the heart and in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Why do we love Mary? Because she is the one who loves Jesus Christ our Lord like no other. She is the mother of God. Her love for Him contains within itself all of the love, in all of creation, for all of time. It is all summed up and perfected in her humble fiat, “let it be done unto me according to your word”, the words that express her entire life. She is the one who gives Him everything.

So when we love Mary, we are loving the one who loves God. And in loving her, we become one with her, and are joined to her, so that she loves God in us, and we love God in her.

And when we love Jesus, we wish to be one with Him, we wish to welcome Him completely into our lives and our hearts, we wish to surrender ourselves perfectly to Him. That is, we wish to be one with the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In short: to love Mary is to love Jesus, and to love Jesus is to love Mary.

God bless you :)

P.S. I was inspired to write this after reading a chapter of ‘Let Yourself Be Led By The Immaculate’ by St Maximilian Kolbe. This is one of the very best books I’ve ever read, and I strongly recommend it, even if you didn’t like what I’ve written here. You can find it on Amazon kindle here

The Logos destroys the tyranny of the evil one

The Logos destroys the tyranny of the evil one, who dominates us through deceit, by triumphantly using as a weapon against him the flesh defeated in Adam. In this way he shows that what was once captured and made subject to death now captures the captor: by a natural death it destroys the captor’s life and becomes a poison to him, making him vomit up all those he was able to swallow because he had the power of death. But to humankind it becomes life, like leaven in the dough impelling the whole of nature to rise like dough in the resurrection of life (cf 1 Cor. 5:6-7). It was to confer this life that the Logos who was God became man – a truly unheard of thing – and willingly accepted the death of the flesh.

-St Maximus the Confessor (On the Lord’s Prayer)

Happy Easter! CHRIST IS RISEN!

Loving the unknowable God

All good Catholic theology and philosophy acknowledge that God is beyond knowing. He is utterly beyond our understanding, and beyond every concept we could ever come up with. It is to the point that, according to St Thomas Aquinas, we don’t even know what it means when we say that God exists.

So then, how are we supposed to love the Lord with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength? How can we love what we cannot know? What would such a love even look like?

To love is to desire the good of the other. That is, it is to desire the good that the other themselves are, to desire them to exist more fully, to come into their perfection and fulness. It also includes the desire of this good for ourselves.

What can we know of God? We know God as He reveals Himself, firstly in creation, in which every creature reflects something of God; secondly in the inspired scriptures, in which we see God moving and hear God speaking throughout history; thirdly in His Son, Jesus Christ, the fulness of God’s self revelation and action in history. And yet, all of this revelation does not negate the truth that God is completely beyond our power to know. So what does all of this revelation even reveal?

It tells us that God is love. That creation is loved into being, and exists as a reflection of His boundless goodness. That He cares for us, and moves within our history. That He is totally with us, joined in our joys and sufferings, giving Himself to us entirely.

We cannot grasp what God is. In fact, God is not a what at all. We cannot grasp Him because He is perfect self emptying love, pouring Himself out through all of eternity. You try to grasp Him and He has already gone, already fully emptied. We only know that He is, because we see how He fills up everything else.

So what is it to love the unknowable God? It is to desire His love to be fully expressed and received, both within ourselves and within all of creation. It is to surrender ourselves to His love for us, and be immersed in and transformed into His indiscriminate love for us all.

God bless you!

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

[1 John 4:7-12]

Jesus is the answer.

The difficulty of being a Christian is learning to really believe the above sentence. Jesus is the answer. It is not morality and it is not clever words and it is not any programme of action. It is not hidden from the masses and it is not available for a price. It is not something we earn or accomplish or even discover. It is not hard work and it is not natural gift and it is not good luck.

Jesus is the answer.

How am I meant to live? How can I make any sense of the chaos of my life? How am I to face my problems? Jesus.

By Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection, I am to live in this world. Accepting Him as my life, and following Him as best I can, and above all else, trusting Him, I am to face the world, with all of its confusion, indifference, and death.

And what’s more, we must reject every other attempt at an answer. No “Jesus + X”, whether it be a politics or a theology or a good work or anything else. Nothing else will do. Nothing else will ever save you.

As insane as this may sound, this, and nothing else, is Christianity. Hold on to this one truth no matter what.

Jesus is the answer.

‘True love is its own satisfaction’

‘Love is a going forth of the soul, not a contract; it is not the result of a convention, and is not to be acquired by agreement; it is spontaneous in its impulses, and likens us to itself; also true love is its own satisfaction. Its recompense lies in the object of its love; for whatever be that which we seem to love, if our real object be something else, it is really that something which we love, and not that by which our heart strives to attain it.’
– St. Bernard (On the Love of God)

Mary and the humility of God

Mary honoured and obeyed Jesus, her son, as her God; Jesus honoured and obeyed Mary, His creature, as His mother. In this we can see Mary’s perfect humility, and Jesus’s humility beyond perfection. Mary is as humble as humanly possible, but Jesus is as humble as only God can ever be. Mary is by grace immaculate, sinless, perfect; Jesus is by nature divine, the transcendent source and truth of all perfections.

Still today, in heaven, Mary honours and obeys Jesus, and Jesus honours and obeys Mary. Jesus is still fully human, and the fourth commandment still binds Him in heaven [though not as something external to Himself]. Their reciprocal love, honour and obedience will continue for eternity.

Why should Jesus honour Mary? Why should we honour our mothers? Because without them we would not exist. We owe absolutely everything to our mothers. Absolutely everything.

But how can I suggest that Jesus owes His existence to Mary, His own creature? How can He receive existence from one who receives existence from Him? How can a creature precede its Creator? How can the eternal Word of God depend on a temporal being? But if we deny this, we deny that she is His mother, and in doing so deny that He is truly a human. So how can I say this?

We must realise that the Word was always, eternally, Jesus. God does not suffer change. The eternal Word of God was already Jesus, son of God and son of Mary, before Jesus was conceived in Mary. Before Jesus was born in time, the eternal Word is the Jesus born in time. The gospel says, “And the Word was made flesh”, and while this was an event in time and a change in flesh, it was not an event in eternity or a change in God. The Word was eternally flesh, although that flesh was not always made.

The Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, is the son of Mary, conceived in her in time. Without Mary there is no Jesus. In this way, in being His mother in time, Mary exists from eternity within her Son. But this existence from eternity within the Word is the reason and source of Mary’s creation, and so she exists because of Jesus even more than He does because of her. Mary exists for Jesus.

Still, by God’s grace and humility, Mary is Jesus’s mother. By God’s grace and humility, she is owed honour by God Himself. By God’s grace and humility, she gave life to Life Himself.

Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.

God bless you!