October 9, 2015

33-day Marian devotion aims to bring people closer to Jesus

Dabrice Bartet, one of the coordinators of a 33 Days to Morning Glory Marian consecration group study at St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, adjusts a bouquet of roses next to the statue of Mary used during the group’s consecration service on Sept. 12 in the parish’s gym. (Photos by Natalie Hoefer)

Dabrice Bartet, one of the coordinators of a 33 Days to Morning Glory Marian consecration group study at St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, adjusts a bouquet of roses next to the statue of Mary used during the group’s consecration service on Sept. 12 in the parish’s gym. (Photos by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

Father Martin Rodriguez, associate pastor of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, stood next to a statue of Mary and addressed the small group of parishioners on Sept. 12, the feast of the Holy Name of Mary.

“There are two things every saint has,” he explained. “Every saint has devotion to the Eucharist, the real presence of Christ.

“And every saint has devotion to the Blessed Mother. What you’re doing is a wonderful thing to help you on your journey of faith toward heaven.”

The “wonderful thing” the group—which happened to number 33—was doing was a Marian consecration based on a book titled 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Marian Consecration (“33 Days”) by Marians of the Immaculate Conception Father Michael Gaitley.

“The whole focus of 33 Days is to bring people closer to Jesus through Mary,” said St. Monica parishioner Dabrice Bartet, who helped organize and coordinate the group study of the book at her parish.

Her co-coordinator, parishioner Kim Marks, had done the consecration two years prior on her own.

“It has definitely drawn me closer to Jesus, and that’s something that’s hard to put into words,” she said. “It’s all about [Mary’s] son.”

The concept of Marian consecration has been around for centuries. It was made most known by St. Louis de Montfort and his book Total Consecration, written in the early 1700s.

The 33 Days book involves 33 days of short readings—about two pages each—on the Marian teachings and devotions of St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximillian Kolbe, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and St. John Paul II.

On the 33rd day, which always ends on a Marian feast day, participants say a simple prayer of consecration asking to be drawn closer to Christ through his Blessed Mother.

Marks explained the benefits of Marian consecration using an analogy presented in the book.

“The job of the queen mother was to make a peasant’s gift beautiful for the king,” Marks said. “They were meager gifts, so she would put them on a pretty platter and present them to the king.

“It’s not that we don’t trust going to Jesus, but maybe we feel we lack the proper disposition. But if you go to Mary, she will guide you.”

Bartet and Marks utilized a program format that included the book as well as five weekly meetings with group discussion and DVD talks by Father Michael.

“It’s very simple,” said Bartet. “Those two pages a day, it’s not asking a lot, and it’s only 33 days.”

And doing it in a group setting “was easy because Father Michael does it all—all we had to do was have a TV and DVD player,” said Marks.

Bartet liked doing the study with others.

“I think there’s a benefit in doing it as a group,” she said. “Everyone has a different take. You get different perspectives to enrich your own experience and insights.”

Paul and Clara Kachinski of St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis have done the 33 Days consecration as individuals, and organized a study group in their parish two years ago.

Whether done individually, as a family, small church group or as a parish, “[Marian consecration is] a life-changing process,” Paul said. “It makes you aware of Jesus, Mary and how to behave to please God.

“The Baltimore Catechism said we were made to know God, to love him and to serve him in this world so we can be happy with him forever in heaven. [Marian] consecration helps you achieve that goal.”

Clara agreed.

“Tell Mary to tell Jesus what you need, and what can he do besides say yes to his mom, like he did in Cana,” she said. “She has a lot of influence on her son as an intercessor.”

And if nothing else, said Paul, 33 Days is “interesting, because you learn so much about Mary.”

As a convert to Catholicism, St. Monica parishioner Dorothy Alexander appreciated that learning component, as well as the program in general.

“I had done Christ Renews His Parish before, and I needed something else,” she said. “Since I’m a convert, I wanted to learn more about Mary. I really enjoyed the program and how much it allowed you to pray individually and then discuss as a group.”

Steven Payton, also a convert, had been reading St. Louis de Montfort’s Total Consecration before hearing about the 33 Days group study at St. Monica.

“I was excited to get to do it,” he said. “33 Days was easy to read, and it was very insightful.”

Unlike Alexander and Payton, St. Monica parishioner Marievalese Romain is a lifelong Catholic who has made Marian consecrations before. She wears only blue and white in honor of her consecration to Mary.

But she chose to participate in the 33 Days program because “I think anytime you rely on the Blessed Mother to draw you closer to Jesus, she will do it. If you want to have a better relationship with Jesus and grow closer to Jesus, I think you should do this.”

Bartet agreed.

Reflecting on Father Rodriguez’s comments that all saints have had a devotion to Mary, she recognized a call to Marian consecration.

“Marian devotion is important in our Catholic faith,” she said. “It seems like the world just keeps spiraling down. If we get more Marian warriors, people might start seeing some light in the world.” †

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