Grace, Light, & Understanding in Marian Consecration – Finally!

Two days before the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, I woke already tired. For the past several weeks, I’d been on an arduous journey of Marian Consecration. In about 48 hours the Consecration would be done. I wasn’t giving up on doing it someday, but there were too many unanswered questions for me to consecrate myself now.

In the quiet darkness before my boys awoke, I got a cup of tea, wrapped myself in the blanket I’d left on the couch the night before, and again pulled up Leila’s email. This morning I would give her words the attention they deserved.

She began…“Trust the Church. Lean not on your own understanding.” Leila didn’t know it, but, “Lean not on your own understanding,” was the verse I clung to after the Sandy Hook massacre. When my eyes closed and tears stung my lids, I could still see those little faces. I may never know why Sandy Hook happened, but if we could trust the Lord with such pure little souls, how else would He want us to trust? Was Leila’s use of this Scripture another coincidence that wasn’t coincidence or just a common Christian catchphrase?

I reviewed consecration readings and discussions from the only two meetings that hadn’t been snowed out. I thought of the woman whose priest said it was fine to divorce her husband. I feel very strongly that too many priests take the easy way out by encouraging divorce. By easy, I mean easy for them in this world!

It’s easy to say, Walk away. Look how you struggle. Change what’s challenging so there are better days ahead.

It’s hard to say, Stay where you are. Look in the mirror. Challenge yourself to change yourself so there are better days ahead.

Hearing a priest encouraged divorce, when he was expected to say stick it out and should have gone further by encouraging genuine reunion, was upsetting but not surprising. Not every priest is destined for sainthood. Some are plain, old, wishy washy men.

Church teachings are never wishy washy.

I thought of the nightmare of my annulment experience, of how badly the tribunal judge had treated me, and of how close I’d come to leaving the Catholic Church. I thought about mistakes that priest had made.

I also thought of the kindness of the priest who led the tribunal office and how this busy, important man had taken me into his corner office, patiently read through our transcript, and spoken gently to me.

I remembered how my understanding grew in the peaceful acceptance. I understood the weight placed on the men making annulment decisions and how serious a duty it is to interpret whether Sacraments are genuine. Priests have the unenviable responsibility to discern the will of God and the ability of two human beings to love fully decades after vows were exchanged. Men make mistakes, but Marriage and annulment are not mistakes. On that, I could trust the Church.

The priest may have been wrong to encourage divorce, but he was not the Church. Every time I question something, it is based on my own understanding or another human’s explanation of it, not Church teachings.

Divorce is evil; even priests make mistakes.

The Church, in doctrine, does not make mistakes.

In Marian Consecration, who was making the mistakes?

Was it me as a human or the Church as divinely founded?

Could all those saints have been wrong? What about my seeing the Lord and Mary on the path as clearly as I had? Were they not standing side by side? Were they not calling to me, opening their arms to me together? Had they ever loosened their hold on one another to draw me to them?

They had not.

Maybe I could trust the Church, but it was more Trust and Verify than blind trust. I was ready to move on to the next part of Leila’s email and my new understanding.

Leila’s use of the word, “ENJOY,” bothered me.

I write of pain, suffering, and wrongs many brush aside in divorce, but I couldn’t live in such pain. I have five active boys, a job I love, a coaching business helping women Embrace Joy after divorce, and amazing friends, family, and entire small town. I honestly believe I live in real Joy (Well, most of the time anyway! 😉 )

Why was I having such a hard time with Leila’s use of the word ENJOY? I had little time to reflect, but I was in no rush. I would not be making this consecration so there was no need to push an understanding I was not 100% certain of.

Besides, it was time to get my boys up and get us all to school.

Happiness vs. Joy:

Leila’s wording made me question, as I have before, the difference between happiness and Joy. I thought of how the two relate to divorce and my feeling that I was cheating on God. Leila and the consecration director, without knowing it, had both said the devil wanted to stop my devotion to Mary. Were their words simply another coincidence or could I trust these two faithful women to know more than I? How did this tie in with happiness vs. Joy?

Too often in Marriage, people leave to pursue happiness when they long for Joy. The devil wants us to believe we should pursue happiness while God wants us to seek Him and receive Joy only He can give. How similar the differences between happiness and Joy seem. How much more confusing is it when God can use bad for Good and the devil can use good for bad!

How could one know the difference between what comes from God and is Good and what comes from Satan and is bad? How could I determine whether Consecration to Jesus through Marian devotion was giving the devil his happiness or God His Joy? How could we know which Good things are from God and which good things are from Satan?

I wrote a giant “t” on a blank page of the Consecration workbook. On the top of one side I wrote “Satan.” On the other I placed “God.” Under Satan I placed, “happiness.” Under God I wrote, “Joy.” I listed word pairs for Satan and God. I’ve included a (slightly) neater copy.

I saw just how similar SO many things from God and Satan are and how easily we can be deceived. Words sounded similar, like “pressure” versus “patience,” and words could be misinterpreted to mean the same thing but are very different like, “demand” versus “urgency.”

Two had no counter on Satan’s side:

Jesus & Holy Spirit

I quickly realized that every word on the God side applied to the Mother of Jesus Christ, Wife of the Holy Spirit. I realized the devil wants to deceive while Mary wants to enlighten. No one can both serve deception and enlightenment, Satan and God.

What’s more, the two that mean the MOST and are unmatchable on the God side came to us through Mary when they could have acted without her! If Mary was chosen by them for them to reach us, would they not want us to choose Mary to reach them?

Mary was not the ONLY way God could have come to us, but in God’s perfect plan, Mary was the best way. Isn’t that what the great saints had been saying was true for us? Perhaps going through Mary to get to God was not the only way, but in God’s perfect plan, it is the best way!

Rejecting God’s Spouse:

Maximillian Kolbe struggled to understand Mary calling herself the Immaculate Conception. I wondered at references to Mary in the Old Testament and God’s plan for her to be such a big part in our salvation from the beginning!

I thought of calling God My Father and My Creator and Jesus My Savior and My Brother but we call the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit. The reason we do not call Him My Holy Spirit was suddenly clear!

Mary was intimately united with God as spouse when she agreed to become pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Yet time after time we have rejected her. We have rejected her message, rejected her value, rejected her guidance, and rejected her ability to bring us to her Son, her Lord, and, yes, her Holy Spirit.

In Marriage, two flesh are joined as one, yet we know, despite cultural lies of transgenderism, a man is always a man and a woman is always a woman. Each part of the couple has individual dignity and unique roles to play in raising the family.

Mary and the Holy Spirit have a similar relationship. They are united, but separate. Mary is not the Holy Spirit. Mary is not God, but as one so intimately attached to God, they are as one. We haven’t made the Holy Spirit MY Holy Spirit because we have rejected his “other half.” By “other half,” I mean only a commonly understood term relating to spouse. The Holy Spirit is completely Whole even without Mary while Mary depends on the Holy Spirit for her support.

To grow in Love and understanding of the Holy Spirit, to make Him OURS, we must embrace Mary. What good spouse would encourage a friend to grow closer while that same friend rejects His wife? None! How much better is the Holy Spirit than the good spouses we know? We need to embrace Mary by taking Her, as Jesus said on the Cross, as our own and letting her take us as well!

In any Marriage, we must accept and embrace both the husband and wife if we are to grow the Marriage. To encourage one and defile the other only encourages divorce. The good spouse does not always reject a friend who is not fond of his wife, but limits are placed on the friendship and on the marital relationship and over time one or both suffer. We also see this with criticism between spouses and in-laws where a spouse must choose to honor his family or his spouse risking one or both relationships.

Just as the husband should put his wife above friends or family, the Holy Spirit protects and provides for Mary by putting her above our insults. When we reject Mary, we risk our relationship with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit and Mary cannot divorce as they are sinless and divorce is only for hard-hearted sinners. Since divorce cannot occur between the Holy Spirit and Mary, it can only occur between God and ourselves!

But that doesn’t have to be!

I was again on the path. God was near me as was Mary. They were smiling. Neither had forced my hand or demanded my decision. Again, Mary stood on the side of God on my T-chart!

A Mother’s Love Multiplied:

When my children whine about my having favorites (I don’t; they all drive me equally crazy!), I tell them, “A Mother’s love is multiplied not divided.” It’s also something I tell those who snidely comment on big families or, worse, ask if was trying for a girl.

I wrote, “A Mother’s love is multiplied not divided,” next to my T-chart. If this is true for someone as faulty as me, how much more would it be true for the Mother who had been crafted by God Himself to be more beautiful than the Ark of the Covenant? How much truer would it be for the Mother whose heart beat so close to the Son of God? How much truer would it be for the only woman created without sin? How much truer would it be for the Mother of our Lord who is also the Mother of our Church?

How could giving myself to Mary multiply, not her already beautiful Love, but my feeble attempts to love? How could my growing closer to her multiply my trust, understanding, and Love for the Holy Spirit, for her Son, for her Father? How could this Immaculate Mother help me Love human beings, God’s most incredible creations, as the Father wants them Loved?

How could Mary and her ability to multiply Love help bridge the gap caused by Adam and Eve’s divorce of God at the fall and my divorce of God each time I choose sin over charity? How could God and I grow closer when I finally accepted His wife and stopped trying to tear apart their relationship?

Embracing My Mary!

I had to take Mary as my own! Mary had to be MY Mary, just as Jesus was My Savior and God was My Father, Mary would have to be My Mary, not God, but My Mary, My Mother, the Mother all humanity longs for and all women long to be.

In Marriage, two are joined as one flesh but still separate. Mary was no God, but she was such a part of Him it was hard to tell where one ended and the other began. I’d seen that on my path. Why had I not seen it when it came to consecration?

God is Love. Mary is not Love, but she has a unique ability to multiply Love.

Love doesn’t ask us to choose between Good beings! Love rejoices in Love multiplied. Love rejoices in Joy and in freedom on the path, not in standing still in darkness, confusion, or uncertainty! Mary and the Lord are not in competition. Everything that is Good comes from God and is in Mary too. They wouldn’t fight one another for ownership of Goodness. Mary knows Goodness comes from God. God knows He gives Goodness away freely and He ENJOYS doing it! I didn’t have to choose between them. Their Love for one another and for me and mine for them only multiplies Love for all!

I was beginning to see the value behind Leila’s words and the meaning behind her use of the word, “ENJOY!”

The Family I’d Always Wanted:

I was on that path again. Mary’s arms opened to greet me and I flew to her embrace. She held me, cradling my head to her softness, comforting me, and welcoming me Home. The fears I’d had about choosing between her and God were gone. I could see God walking slowly toward us. I felt no urgency in Him or His step. There was only Joy and incredible Peace.

The best way I can describe that moment on the path is to say it is similar to the scene in Fireproof when Caleb’s father finally tells him his mother wrote The Resolution and Caleb realizes he should have loved her better all along!

I saw myself with my head buried in Mary’s chest as God walked to us slowly, patiently, gently, kindly. Mary still held me to her, not in possession but as a Mother should. God was right there with us, closer than He’d ever been, and we were the family I’d always wanted. There was no fighting. No jealousy. No competition. I didn’t have to choose between them. Loving one helped me Love both better.

Later, I thought of how real that path has been over the past weeks and how vividly that scene plays in my mind, where I see myself fleeing to Mary and God’s heart warmed by our embrace. I remember feeling a calmness and a rightness I’ve never felt before as I was wrapped in God’s perfect Love.

I realized how close we are to those we cannot see. I realized the Truth behind life continuing after death. I felt the presence of so many saints and angels there to help if only I’d call on them. I realized God is God and always will be, but He, in His perfect, unselfish Love, wants us to Love and call on one another, both those we interact with here and those who are ENJOY Heaven while waiting for us to interact with them.

I thought of the verse, “Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with you,” and realized this does not only apply to the living. Believing in the Mystical Body of Christ and the Communion of Saints means this applies to more than those living here on earth. It must apply to those who have passed on too.

Wouldn’t Mary be HUGE in that gathering in His name? Isn’t the Mother the one who usually organizes parties in ideal families? How would the Lord want us to plan through Mary as Mother of His Church while He plans our lives as Head of His Home?

I still don’t completely understand the Holy Spirit. It may be a long time before I do. I do understand though how hard it is to have a relationship with anyone when we choose to only love one part of who and feel, at best, lukewarm toward his spouse. I understood the Holy Spirit wants us to take Mary as our own. My Father, My Savior, My Mary, not as God, but as beloved spouse, as the Created Immaculate Conception, as the model of completeness and honor in Marriage and in eternity.

After five weeks of intense, daily struggle, it became clear! I finally understood devotion to Mary, and things changed instantaneously! A darkness swirled from the room, and it was as if a veil had been drawn from my eyes. I swear (This will sound weird), but when I GOT it, the room brightened! It actually, literally BRIGHTENED in a miraculous way I cannot explain! I was the only one home and hadn’t changed the lighting but everything was…clearer or cleaner or whiter or brighter or purer or something I can’t put into words.

I just know it to be true.

Another thing I know to be true…I’d begun this Marian Consecration as a nice thing to do to grow closer to God, but Marian Consecration was no nice thing. It was HARD work, and almost every minute I fought the urge to give up and succumb to what I’m now sure was the evil side of my T-Chart.

Thank God for Leila Miller and her incredible trusting Wisdom and insight, her kindness and patience, and her heart of gold! Truly God had used Mary to magnify Leila’s Love for humanity, and I could not be more grateful!

Nice is such an easy, convenient, wishy washy word. Understanding and embracing Church teachings is seldom easy or convenient in part because Church teachings are never wishy washy. I’d take the harder, less convenient but rock solid truth, the embrace of My Mary and My God, and the brighter light I saw any day.

It was now Thursday night. I had less than 36 hours until Consecration. If I were going to go through with it, which I now had no doubt I HAD to do, I had a lot of reading and pondering to catch up on!

Severe thunderstorms knocked out internet service this weekend and postponed this issue. Because of that, I will make one last post in this immediate series four weeks from the Consecration date. Although I will eventually add a follow up, this last post will talk about coincidences in Consecration and my gift for Consecration. You DON’T want to miss it. This post completes, not just Marian Consecration, but EVERYTHING I’ve done with Single Mom Smiling since it’s very beginning! 

Thanks so much for sticking with me,

& thanks Leila Miller YOU are AMAZING!!!

Other Posts About My Marian Consecration:

God Bless…

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4 Comments

  1. Jill on March 22, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    Strahlen–thank you so much for posting about your journey! I may be beginning a similar journey, but your revelation here has helped me understand Marian devotion so much more than anything I´ve read to this point. Thank you!



    • Strahlen on March 23, 2017 at 12:25 pm

      Jill, I was never big on Mary. I mean, I knew she is the Mother of Jesus and all, but really…? I cannot believe how I struggled with this Consecration or how *everything* kind of clicked literally two days before! This has been an incredibly eye opening experience and has changed and deepened my love for My Mary and so many others. I could write a book (or at least a couple dozen more blog posts 😉 ) on the subject!

      I can’t tell you how much I encourage you to take whatever you’re doing and go deeper! If I can help or encourage you in any way, please let me know! 🙂



  2. Roxane B. Salonen on March 2, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    Whew! That was long, but beautiful. I loved this so much: “Mary is not Love, but she has a unique ability to multiply Love.” I so wish we could talk in person again. I know we’d have a lot to share with each other on this topic! XOXO



    • Strahlen on March 5, 2017 at 2:40 pm

      Thanks Roxane, We had such a short time together face to face! I would love to get together again. I know it will happen in God’s time, but sometimes I get impatient! LOL There is SO much beauty to Mary and her reaching out to us. Hope this post wasn’t too long! LOL I have the tendency to ramble 😉



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