Are Consecration Requirements Arbitrary?
by Theresa Ann Knothe, International Coordinator of the Marian Catechist Apostolate
The Consecration made to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, signifies our desire to love Christ more, and our dedication to bring Christ to others. ( Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke)
The Consecration as a Marian Catechist is a matter of love for Christ, His Church, and His people. It is an act of self-offering, and a firm commitment to the mission and purpose of the Marian Catechist Apostolate. Let me explain why it is so very important to conduct the Consecration in the manner requested by our International Director, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke. It is a misconception, that the preparation for Consecration, and the actual Consecration Ceremony, are simply administrative paperwork and unnecessary hoops that you must jump through to be consecrated.
A Consecrated Marian Catechist is a member of the Marian Catechist Apostolate headquartered in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, who has completed the required doctrinal and spiritual formation, and has made the Solemn Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Documentation of the formation is needed, along with a written request for Consecration from each individual, to the International Director, prior to the Consecration. The Solemn Consecration is to be done during the Mass, after the homily, using the prayer found on page 169 of the Catholic Prayer Book, by Father John A. Hardon, S.J., founder of the Marian Catechist Apostolate. Since the Consecration commitment is for one year, it is to be renewed in the same manner, every year, on the date chosen by the International Director. A written request for a dispensation is needed when this cannot be adhered to. A Consecrated Marian Catechist has fulfilled all of these requirements.
It is important to follow the Consecration directives given by Cardinal Burke because the Marian Catechist Apostolate is a lay apostolate, canonically established, as a public association of the faithful. The Church recognizes it, to participate in the mission of forming, educating, and nurturing catechists, spiritually and doctrinally, for the teaching and living of the Catholic Faith. Through the Act of Consecration, you offer yourself publicly to this work of the Church, and the Church receives and accepts this offering, as stated in the Code of Canon Law (canon 306). Christ accepts your offering through the Church, and gives His blessing through the priest. It is more important than first realized, because it is more than just an act you wish to accomplish on your own. Church law disciplines it for the good of the whole Church.
A personal consecration, such as Saint Louis De Montfort’s, done privately and individually, is very different. It is a promise between God and you, but it does not give you the rights and privileges, and other spiritual benefits, granted by the Church through canonically recognized associations of the faithful. Church law governs your Act of Consecration as a Marian Catechist, and it assures you of special graces. In your commitment of service to Christ through His Holy Catholic Church, for the mission of the Marian Catechist Apostolate, you become part of the mission of a canonically established association in the Church. Therefore, this promise is not just between God and you.
Your Consecration as a Marian Catechist is made in a spirit of love for God, and for your neighbor. It is a generous gift of yourself to serve Christ and His Church, through the handing on of the Catholic Faith, and its practice. The requirements to become a Consecrated Marian Catechist are not arbitrarily chosen. They are planned and implemented according to the requirements of Church law, under the direction of Cardinal Burke. I hope this gives you a better understanding of the Consecration, and the importance in following the directives given by the International Director.
Originally published in The Tilma, Summer 2003