This is the story of a gaggle of kids growing closer to Jesus through the Blessed Mother in an experience of beauty and prayer.
It was September of 2020 when I came across the Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children. I remember seeing a preview of one of the illustrations in the book and thinking how beautiful it was.
I’ll be the first to admit that a 33-day consecration was not something I ever thought I could commit to doing with four kids in remote school while I was working from home. We were working hard to stay on schedule and on task, and the idea of adding “one more thing” seemed impossible.
My children and I always pray in the morning before school and it’s no secret that our family already has some close ties to our Blessed Mother, but a consecration seemed like it would be much more involved than our “pajamas and prayer” morning routine. Cautiously optimistic, I ordered our copy of the book, and we began our consecration in October, a month into our remote school year.
We didn’t choose a specific consecration date —but there is a very helpful list of start and end dates in the book to help families choose one that is meaningful. We opted for the “little way” approach in order to avoid that phenomenon that happens to families all too often. You know the one: it starts out with grand ideas and bold intentions, and then fizzles out after a number of failed starts, epic meltdowns, or other unexpected interruptions leading to a sense of failure for the parents and a pile of cranky kids? We didn’t want that. We wanted the experience to be meaningful, and we didn’t care how long it took, and that is exactly what happened.
Each day, we started our morning looking at that day’s artwork. Everyone could take as long as they wanted to look at the picture before passing it on. We would read the reflection together, and then the kids could answer whichever question or questions provided in the book that they wanted to. Sometimes they just wanted to tell me what they thought Mary was feeling in the picture, or how it reminded them of something they’d seen or heard before.
My older children appreciated the illustrations with symbols tucked into them, like the fleur de lis, images from the Old Testament, or baby Jesus swaddled in stars. The simple, open-ended questions and the beautiful artwork were enough to keep our family talking, asking questions, and praying in a new way, all month long.
Some days we would read about an apparition we didn’t know much about and we’d look for more information online. Other days, someone would come to me hours later with a thought about that day’s entry and want to share, like when we asked, “What do you think it was like in heaven when Mary was crowned queen?” and my 6 year-old daughter came to me later that afternoon and said, “I bet it was like the best party ever!” Our Blessed Mother was holding their hands, guiding them closer to her Son, one kid-friendly step at a time.
The end results weren’t anything miraculous. We see the impact of our consecration in little ways, which seems appropriate for our “little way” of approaching the consecration. For example, sometime during Advent, I was tucking my daughter into bed and she said to me, “I love Mary so much. She is the best mom in the whole world. And you’re the second best!” That my children have come to love our Blessed Mother in such a deeply personal way has been a beautiful gift of faith for our family. They see Mary’s love for her Son, and Christ’s love for each of us reflected in our love for each other. This is the heart of our role as a domestic church: to be Christ’s love in the world.
Almost a year later, as we approach the start of a new school year, we still like to open the book and look at the artwork, talk about our favorite names for Mary from the Litany of Loreto, and ask Mary to pray for us. We never thought we could undertake a big commitment like consecration with four kids in remote school, amid a pandemic, but we made it.
If you’ve ever looked longingly at completing a Marian Consecration and thought to yourself, “maybe when the kids are older,” give this book a chance. The Lord may be calling your family to a deeper spiritual exercise from right where you are, as just you are.
Visit the Marian Consecration page for more information on Unleash The Gospel’s partnership with Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children and to view samples of the beautiful illustrations. Families can visit OSV Catholic Bookstore and use the code UTG to purchase Colleen’s book at a discounted rate through September 17, 2021.