By: Nqobile Ngcobo I grew up a cradle Catholic with an understanding that God was somewhere ‘there’ and I was ‘here’. The idea of having a personal relationship with God had not crossed my mind. That all changed in my confirmation year when I went on a retreat where I first heard people’s testimonies about a personal Jesus. A Jesus that wanted to know my heart and love me. The weekend left me with one profound feeling – “I wanted to know this Jesus”. During the final Mass of the same retreat, a lady distributing communion was weeping as she held each piece of the Blessed Sacrament in her hand. I remember looking at her and thinking, ‘I want to feel that way about Jesus too’. As the years after that retreat passed by, I would periodically sit in Mass – about to receive the Eucharist – and remember that moment. One day whilst sitting in church, I found myself staring at a statue of Our Lady. It was a statue that I had looked at from childhood, but something was different. This time, I looked at the statue and actually saw Our Lady. I saw a kindness in her eyes that made me connect with her more. In that moment I knew in my heart that, if I wanted to know Jesus more, Mary would help me get there. Mary was the way for me to experience Jesus more profoundly and personally. And so began my relationship with Mary. It began with a simple request for her to help me love her Son more. Every Mass as I approached the Eucharist the prayer would remain, ‘help me love your Son more’. This somewhat simple prayer has grown into a relationship with Mary that has led me closer to Jesus. Mary was chosen perfectly by our Lord, to be His mother. In doing so, He was also choosing our perfect example of faith. An openness to God’s will. Her ‘yes’ to God to bare Jesus, is a model for us in how we can and should say ‘yes’ to God. Through doing so we can change the world, the way Mary’s ‘yes’ did. Through a relationship with Mary, we learn what it means to walk with Jesus, as she walked with Him all His life, even to the Cross. Through her, we learn what it means to contemplate the life of Jesus, particularly through the gift of the Rosary. Through her, we find Jesus. Mary is our example of faith, and she has been a beautiful example for me. A year ago I decided to consecrate myself to Mary. Marian consecration is a form of devotion to Mary so that through her we can be consecrated to Jesus Christ. True devotion to Mary was first introduced by St Louis de Montfort. The idea of consecration is to set our lives apart for Jesus, the same way that Mary set her life apart for God. When we imitate Mary in this act, we too give ourselves completely to Him. St Louis de Montfort described total consecration to Jesus through Mary as; “the surest, easiest, and most perfect means” to becoming a saint. This method of consecration has been built on by the writings of St Maximilian Kolbe about Marian consecration, and more recently by Fr Michael Gaitley in his consecration retreat titled, ’33 days to Morning Glory’. The method of consecration consists of preparing yourself for 33 days through prayer and reflection; emptying yourself of the things of the world. It ends with a prayer of consecration on the 34th day, preferably a Marian feast day. The final prayer is a vow to be consecrated to Jesus through Mary’s example and guidance. Although the idea of consecrating myself to Mary sounded good, I have to admit that I was not totally prepared for what I was entering into. Evaluating my life and seeking the ways in which I could pursue Christ more, was beautiful. Total consecration to Mary teaches us to live with complete surrender to God’s will. A journey which is difficult, but made sweeter by leaning on her. I once read a quote that said ‘being Marian is getting to heaven and having Jesus say, “my mom has been telling me all about you”’. How beautiful it is to think that Mary rejoices in teaching us about her Son and leading us closer into His loving arms. Mary has taught me to love Jesus more openly and to seek Him personally. She has taught me to contemplate Him, to surrender to His perfect will and cooperate with it freely. Mary has answered, and continues to answer my first and most earnest request of her; to help me love her Son more. Mary, Mother of God, pray for us. If you are interested in learning more about Marian Consecration, you can visit https://www.fisheaters.com/totalconsecration.html or http://33daystomorningglory.blogspot.co.za/p/consecration-prayer.html And read the following books: ‘True Devotion to Mary’ and ‘The Secret of Mary’ by St. Louis de Montfort 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley About Author: Nqobile Ngcobo I studied geology but I currently work in youth ministry. I love Jesus, coffee and pink roses. Above all, I’m just a catholic young woman trying to make it to heaven. I think St Therése and I will hang out there. I haven’t figured out how to adult yet, so until I do, I keep reminding myself that “Each woman who lives in light of eternity, can fulfill her vocation” – Edith Stein. Please pray for me, I’ll be praying for you.