Sunday, 9 October 2016

Consecration of West Moors Parish to Our Lady

Today I'm going to lead the parish in doing something that more perfectly roots us in our baptism.
In our first reading (2Kgs 5:14-17) we heard how Naaman the leper was purified by washing in the water –that act, in the light of the New Covenant, is a type of the purification that was made of each of us in our own baptism.
In our second reading (2 Tim 2:8-13) we heard how we must die with Christ if we are to live with Him. Baptism was the definitive act by which we died to our old fallen self that we might love in the resurrected Christ.
Baptism, however, isn't a one-off piece of magic that involves no effort on our part. Rather, if it is to be effective, it is something we must re-immerse ourselves in repeatedly. One of the ways of doing this is by an act of ‘consecration’, and, in particular, by doing this to Our Lady.

So, today, I'm going to consecrate the parish to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I'm doing this today for a number of reasons: first, because it’s October, which is her month; second, because it’s a natural thing for me to be doing as your new parish priest (even though I'm sure other parish priests have done this before me, it should be done and re-done, renewed); and, third, I'm doing this following the pattern of Pope Francis who consecrated first his papacy and then re-consecrated the whole Church to Our Lady -on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, which is this week (13th October)(see here).
I’m sure many of us can recall the image of him, the very first day of his papacy, directly going to the Church of St Mary Major to lay flowers at her shrine (see here).

But what is a Marian consecration? And, How does it benefit us?

A consecration is when something is DEDICATED TO something. In a Marian consecration we dedicate ourselves to her. We offer her our lives, and all that is part of them: our hopes and fears, joys and sufferings, our good deeds, the crosses we carry –everything, we consecrate it all to her. The practice of doing this, of giving ourselves to Our Lady, is both ancient and new.
It’s new because it regained a new impetus after the call for this in the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima in 1917, and the fact that Pope Francis had this consecration made for him in Fatima on that feast day is a reminder of that. We might also think of the motto of Pope St John Paul II, “Totus Tuus” (‘All Yours’) –which meant “All Mary’s”.
But it’s also ancient. The phrase of John Paul II was a quote from Saint Louis Marie de Montfort who is particularly known for articulating of the meaning of consecrations and Marian consecrations. And we’ll be using a text adapted from him in a few minutes in our consecration.

The consecration prayer of St Louis de Montfort refers us back to an original consecration, the consecration that was made of us in our baptism. In that consecration God consecrated us to Himself. In that consecration, by the action of the Holy Spirit, we were conformed to the image of the Son, and became adopted children of the Father.
When we, ourselves, make a prayer of consecration what this does is re-new and deepen that original consecration, it expresses our choice and desire to live out that consecration.

But who is the one who can best help us be consecrated to God? Surely, the one who was herself most perfectly consecrated to God, namely, Our Lady. She was chosen before all time to be the Immaculate Mother of the Divine Son. She was chosen and consecrated in this role not just for her sake, or for God’s sake alone, but for OUR sake, that God might enter our world through her, that we might become united to Him through the union of the human and Divine that occurred within her consecrated womb.

She is the one who was given to us as OUR mother too, “behold your mother” (Jn 19:27), said Jesus as He hung on the Cross for us, and saw His loving mother there at His feet. And now, she is the loving and powerful mother who looks out for us from heaven. And when we give ourselves into her hands we give ourselves into the hands of one who loves us more than we love ourselves; one who, as the Mother of Divine Wisdom, knows best what to do with what we offer her –our deeds, our prayers, our merits; one who will most effectively direct all things to the Lord to whom she herself was so beautifully consecrated.
So, who helps us grow in our consecration to God? Well, as Pope Francis shortly before making his consecration, “Our Lady is the mother who helps Christians grow

So, in a few moments, in the conclusion of the bidding prayers, I will pray as your parish priest, consecrating the parish to her, that she will be our mother and lead us to God. And at the conclusion of that prayer I’ll invite you to join in the consecration words: renewing your baptismal consecration, making it your own, all through the hands of the one who was consecrated to God for our sake.

Consecration of our Parish of St Anthony of Padua, West Moors,
to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
on 8-9th October 2016 (the nearest Sunday to the feast of Our Lady of Fatima)

Shortly after being elected, Pope Francis consecrated first himself (13th May 2013) and then the Church entrusted to his care (13th Oct 2013), to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. These two dates marked the anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima in 1917. In making this consecration he was responding to Our Lady’s request at Fatima and repeating consecrations made by every pope since Pius XII.
Following a similar pattern, Fr Dylan consecrated his parish appointment to Our Lady on the night of his Induction as Parish Priest and is now leading the parish itself in consecrating it to her Immaculate Heart.

Fr Dylan, alone, will pray:
O Immaculate Heart of Mary,
Queen of Heaven and Earth,
and our tender Mother,
in accordance with your ardent wish made known at Fatima,
and in union with Pope Francis’s consecration to you
of himself, his papacy, and the Church,
I consecrate to your Immaculate Heart:
and this parish entrusted to my care,
I consecrate and commit to you all the members of this parish,
beginning with the weakest ones,
the unborn, the sick, the disabled, and the elderly.
I commit to you our families, our children, our young people,
the single and the widowed.
I pray especially for dysfunctional, hurt and broken families,
for those seeking meaning in life but failing to find it.
Help the unemployed, the lonely and the desperate.
I pray for those who are away from the parish,
and are distant from the Church.
Holy Mother, by your powerful intercession,
obtain for us all the graces we need,
And call down the Holy Spirit, your spouse,
to heal and sustain us,
To lead and conform us to the image of Christ your Son.

Please join Fr Dylan in saying together:
We, the parishioners of St Anthony’s,
renew and ratify today in your hands,
O Immaculate Mother,
the vows of our Baptism.
We renounce forever Satan,
all his works,
and all his empty promises.
We give ourselves entirely to Jesus Christ,
to be more faithful to Him
than we have ever been before.
In the presence of all the heavenly hosts
we choose you this day,
for our Mother.
We deliver and consecrate to you,
our bodies and souls,
our goods, both interior and exterior,
and even the value of all our good actions,
past, present and future;
that you will dispose of them as you know best,
for the greater glory of God,
in time and in eternity.

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