PERFECT CONSECRATION TO THE IMMACULATE
To Revive the Authentic Spirit of St. Francis
in the Orders of Friars Minor
It was from the Crucifix of San Damiano, that Our Lord Jesus Christ received St. Francis in the service of His Church, when He said, “Francis go and repair My Church, which, as you can see, if falling into ruin.”
Later Our Seraphic Patriarch, went to live at the Portiuncula, taking the Immaculate Virgin to be his Queen, Mother, and Advocate. It was from this consecration that his devotion to the Apostolic Life was born; for just as She had counseled the first disciples, “Do whatever He tells you,” so did St. Francis make the putting-into-practice-of-Christ’s-teachings the implicit and fundamental norm of his consecrated life.
Hence to follow faithfully and authentically in the footsteps of St. Francis it is necessary to embrace unreservedly this Marian consecration of the Seraphic Patriarch: to make one’s own that simple spirit of faith and obedience which is the teaching of Our Lady’s evangelical counsel at Cana.
Obligations of this Marian Consecration
In virtue of this consecration one obliges oneself to observe the Regula Bullata explicitly and principally in virtue of the evangelical counsel given by Our Lady to the servants at Cana: “Do whatever He tells you.” This vow first of all entails that true devotion to Our Blessed Mother taught by Pope St. Pius X:
“For to be right and good, worship of the Mother of God ought to spring from the heart; acts of the body have here neither utility nor value if the acts of the soul have no part in them. Now these latter can only have one object, which is that we should fully carry out what the divine Son of Mary commands. For if true love alone has the power to unite the wills of men, it is of the first necessity that we should have one will with Mary to serve Jesus our Lord. What this most prudent Virgin said to the servants at the marriage feast of Cana she addresses also to us: “Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye” (John ii., 5). Now here is the word of Jesus Christ: “If you would enter into life, keep the commandments” (Mt. xix., 17). Let them each one fully convince himself of this, that if his piety towards the Blessed Virgin does not hinder him from sinning, or does not move his will to amend an evil life, it is a piety deceptive and lying, wanting as it is in proper effect and its natural fruit.” (Ad diem illum laetissimum, Feb 2, 1904: para. 17)
This vow is the first principle for the restoration of the Order. The goal of this Marian vow of consecration is conformity with the will of the Immaculate Virgin in all things, viz. to love what She loves, as She loves it, to the extent She loves it, for the reason She loves it; indeed it obliges one to love Her love and to make conformity to the charity burning in the Immaculate Heart of Mary the first, principle, primary, and only way to the perfection of charity for God and neighbor. Since the consecrated life proposed by the Holy Rule is that perfect evangelical life which Our Most High Lord Jesus Christ taught to the Apostles for the good of the entire Church, the matter of this vow is to be the observance of Regula Bullata according to the mind of Our Seraphic Patriarch, as this has been declared and approved by the Supreme Pontiffs.
In addition to the obligations of the precepts of the Rule, the Marian vow of consecration obliges a more intensive and focused service of the Immaculate Virgin in all aspects of vocation and mission. The pursuit of conformity to the will of the Immaculate Virgin is to be spiritual goal of the one who makes this vow. The ever more rapid acceleration of conversion and sanctification in the entire Church by means of conformity to the will of the Immaculate is to be the ultimate apostolic objective of those who make this vow. The more perfect assimilation of the constitutions and observances to the will of the Immaculate is to be the legislative goal of those who make this vow.
Total consecration (St. Louis Marie de Montfort) obliges a complete and entire offering of self and possessions to the Immaculate Virgin and in Her service as a slave of love. Unlimited consecration (St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, OFM Conv.) obliges that such an offering be without limitation in any respect whatsoever, just as a thing and property is possessed by its owner. Perfect consecration (St. Francis of Assisi) obliges not only both of these offerings and the dispositions proper to them, but a renunciation of all human prudence by the adoption of the prudence of the Immaculate Virgin Mary so as to attain to a perfect conformity of will with Her.
This renunciation disposes one to begin a journey towards perfect conformity in mind and heart with the Immaculate, which is to say, towards perfect conformity to the mind and heart of the Redeemer Himself. And hence, this consecration aims to fulfill what Our Most High Lord Jesus Christ Himself taught: “When perfected, the disciple will be like his Master.” (Lk 6:40) This renunciation includes and requires in practice the perfect and faithful observance of the Holy Rule according to the mind of St. Francis. In this manner the Marian Vow of perfect consecration arrives more rapidly, securely, and harmoniously at the perfect imitation of Christ Crucified.
Since this Marian vow of consecration requires the intention to live the evangelical counsel given by Our Lady at Cana, there flows from this several essential subordinate obligations, without which the vow cannot profit the soul. These are to be counted as immediate objects of the vow:
- a) An entirely Catholic assent of the mind to the Magisterium of Christ and His Church, especially that of the ordinary and extraordinary Papal Magisterium.
- b) Persevering obedience to the legitimately elected Successor of St. Peter, the Roman Pontiff, and the bishops of the Catholic Church canonically united with Him in the Apostolic College.
- c) The observance of all legitimate, ecclesiastical discipline in regards to both liturgy and canon law.
- d) The absolute primacy of the pursuit of the perfection of charity by means of prayer, the worthy reception of the sacraments, the practice of virtue, penance, reparation and the mortification of the interior and exterior senses, the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
- e) The willingness to accept the gift of laying down one’s life for Christ, His Church, and Her dogmatic and doctrinal teaching on matters of faith and morals.
- f) The willingness to put into practice any of the evangelical counsels not precepted in the Holy Rule (and which are not contrary to the positive obligations of their state), especially, that of being sent by one’s legitimate superiors, for a legitimate reason, to whatever place in creation, according to the precept given by Our Lord to the Apostles: “… go make disciples of all nations … teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Mt 28:19a,20a)