The Consecration of the Human Race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Fr. Garrigou- Lagrange here explains the bigger picture: beyond the personal consecration to Mary, the whole social order depends on Her as well. Although written in 1932, the article even offers a keen analysis of contemporary politics.
Before the great perils of the present hour that no one ignores, one feels the need to have recourse to the redemptive Love of Christ and to have recourse to it through the most powerful intercession, that of Mary Mediatrix.
A good number of the French bishops, meeting together at Lourdes at the Second National Marian Congress, on July 29, 1929, expressed to the Sovereign Pontiff their desire for a consecration of the human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This desire had already been formulated some years previously by the pastors of several dioceses in France and Italy.1
For the evil from which we are suffering the most, they saw no other efficacious remedy than an appeal full of faith and confidence to the great mediators that God has given us because of our weakness. In the economy of salvation, as in the piety of the faithful, Mary is inseparable from her Son and, more than anyone, she can bring down upon us by her prayer all the graces that the merciful Love of the Saviour wants to give us. It is not surprising, then, that after the consecration of the human race to the Sacred Heart, the idea was formed of making a similar consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.2
One of the great dangers of the present hour, obviously, is international Communism, a materialist movement that denies the existence of God, of the future life, that destroys the dignity of the human person, the family, and the country. It seeks to conquer Europe and dreams about a world-wide revolution which would be the end of Christianity and all religion, according to the program of the atheist league of those who deny God which Bolshevism is spreading in several countries.
In order to resist this Communist movement, in various places there is a nationalism arising, which, when it is not merely defensive but offensive, often surpasses just limits; it can elevate certain people who were bogged down in a completely egotistical individualism, but it can also bring down those who were living in a Christian spirit, a higher and more universal notion of the great spiritual needs of every human soul. Here and there exaggerated nationalism tends even to become a pagan adoration of the State, more or less deified. And in order to react against a form of materialist naturalism, some fall into another form of the same error, to the detriment of the life of souls, who can thus become so disorientated that they can no longer find the true path.
Certainly, we must have in our hearts a love for our family and our country that goes to the point of heroism, but one feels also more and more the need to ascend above this human conflict between Communism and nationalism by a deeper contact with the superior sources of life by sincere prayer, inspired by a great spirit of faith and confidence in God.
The more virtuous souls, those who have more faith and zeal, among the peoples that so many conflicts divide, feel the need of a common prayer that unites before God the profoundly Christian souls of different countries in order that the kingdom of the Lord might progressively come in us. Without Him, peace, the tranquillity of order, can not be firmly restored and maintained in the life of individuals, in the family, the State, and among nations.
In order to render this common prayer of all believers more confident and more efficacious, all we have to do is recall and live the doctrine of Christ, head of humanity and of the City of God, as St. Augustine liked to say, the city which begins here below and is consummated in eternal life. It is towards it, under the direction of the Saviour and the Church, that all men, of whatever race they may be, must tend; in it must be united the souls of good will of all the countries of the world as in the Fatherland par excellence.
The Saviour came precisely so that men of all races and all peoples might have the life that never ends: “ut vitam habeant, et abundantius habeant.”
With this idea, at the beginning of the century, Leo XIII consecrated to the Sacred Heart the whole human race, not just the faithful, but also the non-believers, the Muslims, the Buddhists, even those who call themselves atheists, all men, in order to place them, by this consecration, more fully in the stream of graces that come from Christ, who died for all without exception. As St. Thomas teaches,3 when a child, even a non-believer, arrives at the age of reason, he must choose between the path of duty, which leads to God, the sovereign good, or the path of disordered pleasure, which leads us to love ourselves above all things and turn away from God. At that moment the soul of the child, even a non-believer, is solicited by an antecedent grace, by a divine prevention. If he doesn’t resist, he takes the straight road, which leads finally, from grace to grace, right up to a good death and salvation. Certainly the consecration of the human race to the Sacred Heart put the souls of non-believers under a more intense influence of graces of light, attraction, and strength.
Today, before the perils that threaten us, several bishops have thought it fitting to ask the Holy Father to renew this consecration by praying Mary Mediatrix, Mother of all men, to present it herself to her Son.
After the prayer that remains always in the Heart of Our Lord, and which is like the soul of the sacrifice of the Mass that is celebrated unceasingly all over the world, the greatest prayer, the one that is strongest against the spirit of evil, against the spirit of pride which divides individuals, classes and peoples, is the prayer of Mary.
God wills not to accord certain benefits except in answer to fervent supplications, except when a certain number of souls will have truly given the first place in themselves to supernatural charity and sanctification, above and beyond natural activity.
The conflict that divides souls at this time is above all spiritual, a conflict between the imprescriptible rights of God and the so-called rights of atheistic reason that does not want to admit the order of grace and the divine gift of Redemption which is proclaimed incessantly by the Church.
This reason, which claims as a right its absolute autonomy or independence, often prefers to deny itself, to deny the validity of its own first principles, rather than admit the existence of God, the author of salvation.
In order to triumph in this battle, we must put above all things the spirit of the three theological virtues, the spirit of faith, of confidence in Providence, and of love of God and of souls. Without this supernatural spirit, what could all the effort of human science do, finally, against the evils of atheism and materialism and against the evils of an even worse false idealism that doesn’t conserve of God anything but the name and that turns towards man himself the adoration due to the Creator?
The gravity of the present evil comes from the reversal of the scale of values: salvation is sought in the solution to economic crises, from which is born the unemployment we see presently, and these crises are insoluble if one turns away from the true last end of human activity and from the help from above without which one cannot attain this end. The pursuit of pleasure and earthly interests makes the great majority of men completely forget the first line of Christian doctrine: “I was created and put in the world in order to know God, love Him, serve Him and by these means obtain eternal life.” Little by little this doctrine of our true last end is replaced by another that is formulated without the least allusion to God, to the Sovereign Good: “The end of man is the full development of his personality.” And this development is sought by making the secondary, exterior and derivative activity the principal one, and the principal one secondary.
Thus man ends up practically loving himself more than God; the axis of his life has changed. The vivifying principle being no longer at its true place, everything declines. The secondary activity itself that one wanted to place too high, by preferring it to what is primary, ends up being worth nothing. It is like an organism where the overdevelopment of certain organs, at the expense of the principal ones, brings on death. The salt loses its savor and is no longer worth anything, as the Gospel says. That is what happens, little by little, when one prefers natural activity, intellectual and social activity, to the spirit of faith, confidence in God, and charity, when one prefers natural virtues to theological virtues. Even very elevated souls would thus come to lose their savor by neglecting what is primary; such would be the priest who ends up rushing through his Mass in 15 minutes in order to give himself up to activity that he would pursue without any fruit because he would no longer have the true light.
Little by little the scale of values is completely reversed and the full development of the personality to which one aspires makes one think of the personality of him who said: “Non serviam,” rather than the personality of the saints who had understood that this full development consists in dying to the self which is made up of pride, self-love, and unconscious egoism, in order to live truly by God and for God.
This path leads to the destruction of all wisdom. Instead of judging all things by their highest cause and by their last end, one judges what is greater by what is lowest, by the things that are most material. Utility, which has no meaning except in relation to an end, becomes the last end. This reversal of the scale of values or of order obviously banishes all peace, which is defined as the tranquillity of the order established by God.
In the midst of such general confusion, to what superior force must we have recourse?
If we knew where we could find the holiest soul on earth at this time, many would be happier to listen to her rather than the greatest philosopher or the greatest statesman of our time.
No one knows here below where this soul, holier than all others, is found. This soul herself, more than anyone, knows the price of the hidden life like that of St. Alexis, or St. Benedict-Joseph Labre, a holy Curé of Ars, a St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus. Her prayer must certainly be singularly efficacious.
But if we don’t know where to find the holiest soul of our generation, we do know where to find the supreme Pastor, who has the infallibility to guide us, and we know also which is, after the holy soul of Christ, the soul that is incontestably the holiest of all human generations, and the soul whose prayer is the most powerful. It is most certainly the soul of Mary.
It is the prayer of Mary, Mother of all men, that will obtain for us from the Saviour the strength we need in the general confusion of the present hour.
The prayer of Mary is universal in the largest sense of the word. The Blessed Virgin prays not only for all individual souls on earth and in Purgatory, but also for families and for all the peoples who must live under the radiance of the light of the Gospel, under the influence of the Church. She prays that the kingdom of God and of Christ Jesus might come everywhere in the world and take the place of the reign of covetousness and pride.
The merciful love of Mary for all men surpasses that of all the saints together. Consequently, her prayer is very powerful against the spirit of division that opposes to each other individuals, classes and peoples. If a formal pact with the devil to which one fully consents can have horrible consequences in the life of a soul, what spiritual effect will not be produced by a consecration to Mary that is made with a great spirit of faith and is renewed each day with a greater fidelity? The supplication of the Virgin for us is that of a very clairvoyant, very loving, very powerful Mother who watches continually over her children, over all men who are called to receive the fruits of Redemption. He who consecrates every day to Mary all his labors, all his spiritual works, and all he undertakes experiences this. He finds again faith and confidence when all seems lost.
If our personal consecration to Our Lord by Mary, as explained by St. Louis de Montfort, can, when we live it, bring down upon us great graces of light, love and strength; if she thus makes us enter more deeply into the mystery of the Communion of saints, what would not be the fruits of a consecration of the human race made to the Saviour by Mary herself, at the request of the common Father of the faithful, especially if, in the circumstances we find ourselves in, all the believers of different countries unite in order to live by it, in a fervent prayer often renewed at the moment of the Mass?
Above internationalism, which refuses to recognize the spirits and traditions of different peoples, and nationalism, which often forgets the higher aspirations of humanity, must rise the “supranationalism” of the Catholic, that is universal, Church, which must unite souls of different nations under the same light of the Gospel, in the same supernatural hope and the same love of God. May the Mother of the Saviour deign by her prayer to place the believing souls of different peoples under the radiance of this word of Christ: “And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, as we also are one” (Jn. 17:22).
In order to obtain this grace, prayerful souls should often do their mental prayer with Mary, uniting themselves very intimately to her dazzling purity and her merciful love for sinners. Prayer done in this way with the Virgin brings peace, even in the most anguished hours when one thinks of the dangers that threaten so many souls who risk damnation. In the great questions of God’s universal will of salvation and predestination our intelligence could easily go astray, either in the direction of Pelagianism, or in the opposite direction of Calvinism, but when one prays intimately the Mother of God, it isn’t rare that, without the noise of any words, and only as a mother can, she makes descend in us, with something of her gentleness and holiness, the light of life that pacifies all things. She reminds us that we are under the governance of God and that His merciful love shines out upon souls, even those of non-believers, in order to “make them desire truth and salvation more than we think.”
What is the most precious thing we can offer to Mary for the salvation of souls?
Masses. More than anyone she knows the price of the Precious Blood of her Son. And she continues to unite herself to His oblation while teaching us to do it ourselves as well. Concretely, for some time now, the initiative has been taken to have Masses celebrated every day for each one of the three following great intentions: for Russia, for the conversion of China and Japan, and for that of the Muslims and the other infidels of Africa. It is good as well to have the holy sacrifice celebrated for the countries where persecution rages, as in Spain and in Mexico, while uniting oneself to these Masses with a veritable spirit of prayer and penance or reparation.
The first bulletin of the Eucharistic Union for the Conversion of the Muslims recalls these words of Fr. Charles de Foucauld, who died a victim of his generous love for the infidels:
Every man must appear to us as a brother covered, as with a mantle, with the Blood of Jesus….What must we not give to souls whose price is the blood of Jesus?…He died for each one of them. Every Christian must be an apostle. Do all I can for the salvation of non-believing peoples with a perfect forgetfulness of myself. The good a soul does is completely proportionate to her interior spirit…
Offer your life to God, by the hands of Our Mother, the Most Holy Virgin, in union with the sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ and all the intentions of His Heart.
All your sufferings, all your tears, are souls.
Never lose a communion by your own fault; a communion is worth more than a life, more than all the goods of the world, more than the whole universe, it is God Himself, it is Me, Jesus.—A Mass glorifies God more than the praise of all the angels and the martyrdom of all men. The martyrdom of all men and the adoration of all the angels is something finite, a Mass is infinite.
The blood sacramentally poured out on the altar at every hour of the day is the blood of the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world. The sacrifice of the Mass, by thus perpetuating in substance the sacrifice of the Cross, applies to us its fruits and permits us to participate in it by the oblation and by Holy Communion.
Thus is fulfilled what is said in the Apocalypse:
Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ; because the accuser of our brethren is cast forth, who accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb. (Apoc. 12:10)
The daily celebration of Masses for Russia is not less important at the present hour. Nothing is more pitiful than the state in which this nation finds itself: the situation of children raised in atheism and enthusiasm for a progress that is purely material, the destruction of marriage and the family, the affliction of all those who still want to be faithful to their duties towards God and to strive for their salvation.
The spirit of evil fears nothing so much as a Mass, especially when it is celebrated with great fervor and when many unite themselves to it with a spirit of faith.
When the enemy runs up against some insurmountable obstacle, it’s because in a church some weak, poor priest has offered with faith the all-powerful victim and the blood of Redemption.
Let us remember that “Christ always living never ceases to make intercession for us” (Heb. 7:25). He does so especially at Holy Mass. At the precise moment when the words of the double consecration are pronounced, Jesus wills that they produce what they signify. He wills it at that precise moment and He does it. He wishes to continue thus to offer Himself in order to apply to the different generations of men the merits of His Passion and His death.
Following the example of Mary Mediatrix of all graces, and relying on her very powerful intercession, let us unite ourselves to this interior act of oblation that is always living in the Heart of Christ, and which is like the soul of the sacrifice of the Mass. Let us unite ourselves to it by the supernatural and generous acceptance of our daily sufferings. But let us offer above all the Precious Blood of her Son in a spirit of adoration, reparation, supplication and thanksgiving. The conversion of souls is the work of the Redeeming Blood.
The prayer that is most powerful over the Heart of Christ is that of Mary, universal Mediatrix, Mother of all men, who more than anyone, after her Son, knows the immense spiritual needs of the present hour.
“It is fitting,” wrote Cardinal Mercier, “that children express to their Father their most intimate desires.” We can hope that one day, when the providential hour will come, His Holiness Pius XI, called the Pope of the missions, in consideration of the wishes expressed by the bishops and the faithful, will consecrate the human race to the Holy Heart of Mary, so that she herself might present us more insistently to her Son. Let us turn to her with the greatest confidence, remembering the words that she addresses us in the liturgy: “Qui me invenerit, inveniet vitam, et hauriet salutem a Domino: He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.”
1 Some Italian bishops asked Leo XIII the authorisation to consecrate their dioceses to the Most Pure Heart of Mary; Bishop Dedolle, Bishop Touchet and Cardinal Couiné had proclaimed Mary Queen of the universe.
2 Father Deschamps, S.J., en 1914, Cardinal Richard, Archbishop of Paris, in 1906, Fr. Le Doré, Superior-General of the Eudists, in 1908 and 1912, Fr. Lintelo, S.J., in 1914, took the initiative of making petitions to the Sovereign Pontiff in order to obtain the universal consecration of the human race to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
By a collective act the bishops of France, at the beginning of the war, in December 1914, consecrated France. Cardinal Mercier, in 1915, in a pastoral letter on Mary Mediatrix, hailed Mary as Mother of the human race, as Sovereign of the world. Reverend Father Lucas, new Superior-General of the Eudists, and the Legion of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, approved by numerous bishops, obtained in a few months more than 300,000 signatures in order to hasten, by this consecration, the peace of Christ in the reign of Christ.
One must recall also the fact that in December 1836 the venerable Pastor of Notre-Dame des Victoires in Paris, while celebrating Mass at the altar of the Virgin, his heart broken at the thought of the fruitlessness of his ministry, heard these words: “Consecrate your parish to the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of Mary,” and, when the consecration was accomplished, the parish was transformed.
3 I-II, q. 89, a. 6: “Primum quod tunc homini cogitandum occurrit, est deliberare de seipso. Et si quidem seipsum ordinaverit ad debitum finem, per gratiam conseauetur remisionem originalis peccati: The first thing that a man things of at that moment is to deliberate about himself. And if he orientates himself to the due end, by grace he will receive the remission of original sin.”