33 days to morning glory

Through the month of March, the chapel at Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries is full every Thursday after school with students and teachers preparing to consecrate themselves to Jesus through Mary. The "33 Days to Morning Glory" Marian consecration is a tradition started several years ago and is led by John Paul religion teachers Gerard-Marie Anthony and Mae Salitisky.

"A consecration is how somebody gives themselves to another person, and it involves three things: presence, a free choice and a connection of hearts," said Anthony.

Jesus speaks of the perfect way to consecrate ourselves in His prayer of John 17, in which He prays for all to be consecrated to the Father in truth. The Father gave His Son to mankind (consecrated) through Mary, so we in turn give ourselves (consecrate) to Jesus through Mary. By following her, we can fulfill our baptism and proclaim the glory of God.

"This is where you find your purpose in life," Anthony said. "God doesn't love us for what we can do for Him or what we can give Him. He loves us because we are His children."

The 33-day "retreat" focuses on a different saint each week who has given everything to Mary: St. Louis de Monfort, St. Maximillan Kolbe, Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata and St. John Paul II. It tries to show how Mary "knows your infinite worth in His eyes," said Salitsky. "It is her joy to clue you in on how ardently and deeply her Son loves and thirsts for you."

The hope for students participating in the four-week Marian consecration is that they more fully come to know the true mercy and sacrifice of God and to always follow Mary's example of faith.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016