Long before I became Catholic, I was looking at a book in a Catholic college library. The book itself was extremely old and had not been touched in more than forty years. As I opened one of its pages, a holy card fell to the floor. On the front was Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart on the back was a short version of St. Louis de Montfort’s Consecration to Jesus through Mary.
I took the holy card and said the prayer on the back. I left it as a bookmark and promptly forgot about it.
Yet God truly works in mysterious ways and, sometimes, we need to open our eyes to see them. When I went to high school for Catholic school, the sisters were very much devoted St. Louis de Montfort and Holy Slavery. Together with spreading the message of Our Lady of Fatima, Holy Slavery part and parcel of what they did.
At the time, I thought Holy Slavery was one of those weird things that Catholics do. I heard about it a lot at school, but I never really understood what it was. Was it just like the Rosary except that you did all the time? Was it some kind of vow that you took in front of a statue of Mary? Why on earth was it called slavery? Couldn’t DeMontfort think of a better name for the devotion?
I carried those questions with me for a long time. Yet everywhere I went, I would encounter Holy Slavery. My copy of True Devotion was found accidentally lying alone on a table in the defunct seminary library where I found my Benedictine breviary.
There were also other signs, too. My first parish priest, for example, was extremely devoted to Holy Slavery and the Immaculate Heart. He didn’t push it on his parishioners, but we knew it was at the back of his head all the time. Once, he gave a series of sermons on Holy Slavery and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. At the time, I was really stubborn and didn’t get why this devotion was so important. But God opened my eyes and He allowed me to understand what it was that St. Louis de Montfort was doing.
You see, dear readers, Holy Slavery is exactly what it sounds like. When a man consecrates himself to Jesus through Mary, he gives Our Lord and Our Lady everything that he has. His body, soul, possessions, and anything else become theirs to be disposed of according to their will. By giving everything to Jesus through Mary, the soul becomes more docile to Divine Providence and the will of God. Our prayers and intentions are purified. We become less and less like the old man and put on the new.
Recently, I started to think about Holy Slavery in this way. A post by Anne made me realize something that I hadn’t thought about before: if it had not been for that holy card of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I would not have become a Catholic.
Suddenly, I could see Mary’s hand guiding me and showing me the way. It was Mary herself who had put those Benedictine breviaries in my hands. It was Mary who guided me to my first parish and allowed me to speak to Fr. V. about my conversion. She had been there all along guiding me to her Son. Indeed, it was Our Lord working thorugh Her that brought me to the Church.
As I meditated on this, I started thinking again about Total Consecration. I felt that the time was right to leave everything in my Mother’s hands and to take nothing for myself. Yet I still had nagging doubts about the devotion itself. What if I couldn’t live up to my vows?What if I was enthusiastic about it for six days and then gave it up for the rest of my life? What if I never made it through the 33 days of preparation that St. Louis recommended? What if? What if? What if? The questions just kept piling up higher and higher.
It was then that I asked Our Lord for a sign: “If you want me to be your Mom’s slave, Jesus, then give me a sign.”
The next day, I was going about my regular duties. For most of the day, I felt like something was off. I was really distracted when I prayed the Divine Office. I felt certain that the devil was trying to hound me out of my resolution, but I just kept on fighting.
Then I called a good friend of mine that I hadn’t heard from in a while. We got to talking and then I had my sign. God had answered my prayer. There it was, Our Lady wanted me to be her slave.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!