The Formation and Consecration of Marian Catechists

By His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, D.D., J.C.D.

The Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus signifies the dedication of the Marian Catechist to bring Christ to others, to draw others to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the fount of our salvation. The Consecration to the Sacred Heart is made through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, because it is Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer, who brings us to her divine Son and instructs us, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5). It is the mystery of the divine maternity of Mary and of her cooperation in the work of the Redemption which inspires Marian Catechists to imitate Mary by instructing the catechized to do whatever Christ asks of them.

Through the required spiritual practices, the Marian Catechist strives for an ever-deeper knowledge and love of Christ. The thirty-day Ignatian retreat sets the pattern for a way of life in which the Marian Catechist seeks daily the conversion of heart which leads to a more faithful following of Christ. Consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Marian Catechists invite Christ to reign in their hearts, in every aspect of their being. Frequent Mass and Holy Communion during the week, the Morning Offering, daily recitation of the Rosary and praying the Angelus twice daily, daily Examination of Conscience and frequent Confession, spiritual reading and meditation, and the Way of the Cross are the spiritual practices of the Marian Catechist.

The Consecration also signifies the mission of the Marian Catechist: to teach Christ to others, especially children and young people. Marian Catechists are at the heart of the new evangelization, the teaching of the Faith and its practice, as if for the first time, that is, with the zeal and energy of the first disciples of Our Lord and the first missionaries to our continent and nation. Spiritual formation for the Marian Catechist reaches a high point in the Consecration, by which the catechist is dedicated to seeking an ever-deeper knowledge and love of Christ, so that Christ can be communicated to others.

The Consecration does not represent an end point. It is not a static achievement. Rather, it marks a development in the spiritual life which must necessarily continue. The Marian Catechist who has made the Consecration commits himself or herself to ongoing spiritual formation. All of the spiritual practices of the Marian Catechists, in fact, produce a steadfast growth in knowledge and love of Christ. In the Marian Catechist Manual, Father Hardon reminds us, “Our spiritual life is the principal textbook from which we are to instruct others in the Catholic Faith” (n. 26).

Father Hardon calls the ongoing formation “lifelong formation,” and indicates four qualities expected of every Marian Catechist:

  1. study of the Word of God;
  2. familiarity with God;
  3. a spirit of prayer; and
  4. self-detachment.

These are described in numbers 11-15 of the Marian Catechist Manual.

The Marian Catechist is inspired to study the Word of God in order to be able to communicate Christ to others. The knowledge of the Marian Catechist must be complemented with a deep love of Christ, which can only come through prayer, the school in which we become familiar with God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Marian Catechist strives each day to live in the presence of Christ, whom he or she comes to know through participation in the Holy Mass, daily if possible, and daily prayers and devotions. Lastly, the Marian Catechist will practice self-detachment, placing his or her will in complete submission to what God asks.

Originally published in The Tilma, Summer 2001