By Sister Marie Day
On October 18, 1914, Father Kentenich and the young members of the Marian Sodality first entered together into the covenant of love with the Blessed Mother. Father Kentenich spoke of this covenant as a total and mutual exchange of hearts, goods, and interests. Since then, thousands of people worldwide have joined in this same covenantal exchange. As Father Jonathan Niehaus explains,
Through this exchange one grows in love, in one’s own overall spiritual life and in the ability to fulfill one’s mission. In the Catholic experience, Mary has proven to be an outstanding covenant partner, leading persons and nations, communities and generations to a deeper fervor of love and commitment to Christ and the Triune God (200 Questions about Schoenstatt, 46).
What a treasure the covenant of love is for us! We renew it daily, using the “Little Consecration” prayer traditionally ascribed to St. Louis de Montfort:
My Queen, My Mother, I give myself entirely to you,
and to show my devotion to you,
I consecrate to you this day
my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart,
my entire self without reserve.
As I am your own, my good Mother, guard me and defend me
as your property and possession. Amen.
Father Kentenich himself offers us a reflection upon this powerful prayer, phrase by phrase:
My Queen, My Mother
We acknowledge the Blessed Mother here as our Queen, as Queen of the universe, as Queen of our hearts. This acknowledgement of the Queenship of Mary was later expressed in our family through the life stream of crownings… There is a crown over the picture of the Blessed Mother in every Schoenstatt Shrine! Through it we recognize her as our Queen.
The Blessed Mother is our mother, too! She became our mother in the moment she spoke her Fiat. She was named our mother and the mother of the whole world in the last testament of Our Lord: ‘Behold your Son! Behold your mother!’ (Jn 19:26). Here is the establishment of the covenant of love through the lips of the dying Lord (Quoted in Father Joseph Kentenich, Schoenstatt’s Covenant Spirituality, edited by Fr. Jonathan Niehaus, 182-83).
I give myself entirely to you.
In the words that follow, the covenant prayer makes this even clearer and more tangible: ‘My Queen, My Mother, I give myself entirely to you…’ We can more readily understand this self-surrender when we know that we are dealing with a covenant, a mutual covenant. Our Lady will then respond to this declaration each time by reminding me: I want to give myself entirely to you; whenever you give yourself entirely to me, I give myself entirely to you! For this reason, we commonly speak of our covenant of love as a mutual exchange of gifts and a mutual exchange of hearts (Quoted in Schoenstatt’s Covenant Spirituality, 183).
And to show my devotion to you, I consecrate to you this day…
Thus the prayer is not satisfied with the proposition of a grand scheme for my whole life. It becomes concrete… for today. Our Lady will then say to us, ‘I consecrate myself to you this day, for the coming twenty-four hours. Today I will take care of you: today I give myself entirely to you. You are never alone. Moreover, it is not only I who am with you. With me, Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Father are also nearby (Quoted in Schoenstatt’s Covenant Spirituality, 188).
As Father Kentenich points out, the text of the prayer now delves more and more deeply into daily life by being more concrete:
My eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart…
A meditation from the Schoenstatt Family in Chile adds beauty and depth to our reflection upon this all-encompassing list:
I consecrate to you my eyes which in yours so pure and clear have found their heaven. My Queen, in the depth of your eyes my eyes search for the countenance of the Father. In every person, may my eyes find all the beauty that the Creator gave them.
From your eyes, Mary, give my eyes the innocence of Paradise to admire and be joyful.
From your eyes, Mary, give mine the simplicity of children’s eyes. Take all the evil from them. Mother, teach my eyes to discover readily the needs of my neighbor; give my eyes your warmth.
So that my eyes may never look at themselves, help them to perceive with love the slightest wish of Jesus.
I consecrate to you my ears. Yes, my ears which at times are so closed to others and so slow to understand. Mother, make my ears recognize our Lord’s voice as he calls me by my name, as he awaits me; Our Lord’s voice that comes to me like a gentle breeze; that breaks in like a storm.
Mother, open my ears for him. You who knew how to listen, make his words take root in my heart and please close my ears to the temptations of the devil and to all and everything that leads from you.
I consecrate to you my mouth.I consecrate to you, Queen, my mouth that I may sing the song for which I was created.
Mother, fill my words with your truth and sweetness, that they may not harm or offend. Like your song, may my song proclaim the wonders of the Lord, in my song may his words shine forth, to heal pain, to banish darkness, to bring peace and teach the song of eternal hope.
I consecrate to you, my heart. I consecrate whatever I own, even the most intimate, even the most tender.
I consecrate to you my heart, the one you already know, the one that fights and rebels, the one that needs you and calls you, the one that knows your heartbeat and starts to follow.
I consecrate my heart, for only your love and the love of God can satisfy this heart completely. I open my heart to you with all its poverty and its riches. In my heart you are the only Queen.
Mother, give me a heart like yours, purify my imperfections, break its narrowness, do it without compassion, destroy all barriers. Make my heart wide and beautiful like yours; gate of heaven, shelter of peace, fire of ardent love, fountain of living waters, home for the world.
My entire self without reserve. I consecrate to you my life, totally, my being which others see only from the outside but which you know so very well. Yes, my being in which dwells the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; yes, my entire self that in its need, cries out for redemption (Manuscript publication, December 1976).
Surrendering all to the Blessed Mother in our covenant of love, we are totally hers. As the prayer concludes we can be assured that she will guard us, defend us, protect us, and be victorious over the evil powers in and around us. We are her property and possession, her instruments ready to do battle for the moral and religious renewal of the Church and world. What greater reality can there be than to belong to her and to be her instruments in the Kingdom of God!
In closing, we dare to believe and to live Father Kentenich’s words:
God is a faithful God, and the covenant of love he entered into thirty years ago [now 107 years ago] will not come to an end. On our part we have only to try again and again to remain faithful to him as he is to us. Then, even more than until now, our history will become a single great march of victory of God’s power, kindness, and faithfulness (Quoted in Father Joseph Kentenich, Your Covenant, Our Mission, edited by Peter Wolf, 63).