Pope John Paul II’s motto was “Totus Tuus,” the result of a deep, enduring devotion to Mary that grew strong when he was a young man, after reading the writings of St. Louis de Montfort, an 18th-century French priest. He then performed a 33-day consecration to Jesus through Mary. This devotion carried through his ministry as a priest, bishop and pope.
“At first, it had seemed to me that I should distance myself a bit from the Marian devotion of my childhood, in order to focus more on Christ,” wrote Pope John Paul II in “Crossing the Threshold of Hope.” “Yet thanks to the writings of Saint Louis of Montfort, I came to understand that true devotion to the Mother of God is actually Christocentric, indeed, it is very profoundly rooted in the Mystery of the Blessed Trinity, and the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption.”
Pope John Paul spread devotion to Mary throughout his pontificate through general audiences, homilies, pastoral letters and encyclicals.
In his encyclical dedicated entirely to Mary, Redemptoris Mater (“On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life of the Pilgrim Church”), John Paul declared a Marian Year, performed a scriptural exegesis on Mary, explained her role in the life of Christians and the Church, encouraged devotion to Our Lady and praised the fruits of Marian consecration. (You can read about it here.)
Our Sunday Visitor’s “Totus Tuus: A Consecration to Jesus Through Mary with Blessed John Paul II” is a fresh look at Marian consecration. It takes the themes and structures of Louis de Montfort and incorporates the teachings and insights of John Paul.
After 33 days of preparation, consecration typically takes place on a Marian feast. Another option is the feast of St. Louis de Montfort, which is April 28, one day following the canonization of Pope John Paul II.
What is consecration?
Consecration is an act of surrender — an “entrustment” to Mary, as John Paul II put it. Its purpose is to deepen relationship with God through Mary, who was given to the Church as spiritual mother by Jesus Christ on the cross. Mary guides, directs and nurtures her children. Her only desire is lead them to her Son.
As outlined by St. Louis de Montfort, consecration is Christocentric, Trinitarian, rooted in the mysteries of the Incarnation and redemption, includes baptismal renewal and is a total gift of self.
How does it work?
The “Totus Tuus” consecration spans the typical 33 days (symbolic of Christ’s 33 years here on earth). It is broken into four sections with different themes: a preliminary 12-day-period to immerse oneself in the fundamentals of Christian life, a week on the knowledge of self, a week on the knowledge of Mary and then a week on the knowledge of Jesus.
Each day includes an act of penance, a prayer to the Holy Spirit, a way to form your desire, contemplation with Scripture or a reflection from John Paul II or St. Louis de Montfort, resolutions, closing prayer and journaling. It takes at least 15 minutes.
An excerpt from ‘Totus Tuus’
This reflection is from the first day of consecration:
From Blessed John Paul II:
“When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman” (Gal 4:4). The fullness of time coincides with the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, of the Son who is of one being with the Father, and with the mystery of the Redemption of the world. In this passage, Saint Paul emphasizes that the Son of God was born of woman, born under the Law, and came into the world in order to redeem all who were under the Law, so that they might receive adoption as sons and daughters.
And he adds: “Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying ‘Abba! Father!’” His conclusion is truly comforting: “So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir” (Gal 4:6-7). Paul’s presentation of the mystery of the Incarnation contains the revelation of the mystery of the Trinity and the continuation of the Son’s mission in the mission of the Holy Spirit.
The Incarnation of the Son of God, his conception and birth, is the prerequisite for the sending of the Holy Spirit. This text of Saint Paul thus allows the fullness of the mystery of the Redemptive Incarnation to shine forth (NMI, 1).
[Mary] is the way that leads to Christ: indeed, she who “at the message of the angel received the Word of God in her heart and in her body” (LG, 53) shows us how to receive into our lives the Son come down from heaven, teaching us to make Jesus the center and the supreme “law” of our existence. (Gen. Aud., January 10, 1996)
- Return to the words and phrases to which you are most drawn by the Lord. Ponder them reflectively.
- Pray from your heart, conversing with the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and/or Mary.
- Pause and receive from God in silent prayer.
To consecrate on April 28, the process should begin on March 26. Find the book here on OSV.com.
Jennifer Rey is the web editor of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing.