Lights! Camera! Consecration?
They were asked to come, and they did.
They were told they would be on camera, and — yep — that couldn't be avoided.
They were told they were going to be inspired, and they certainly were.
In what could be an historic moment in promoting devotion to the Blessed Mother, about 25 guests gave the better part of two days on Jan. 13-14, to serve as audience members for a film production that will undoubtedly set "hearts afire."
Father Michael Gaitley, MIC, was filmed giving six talks on Marian consecration based on his new book, 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Marian Consecration. The event transformed the living room of the Marian's monastery in Stockbridge, Mass., into a studio with a set, cameras, and lighting. The filming was in preparation for the launch of the Marians' new small-group, parish-based program that includes consecration to Jesus through Mary. The talks are being made into DVDs that the Marians will offer as an integral aspect of the small group program — part of the Marians' new evangelization effort called Hearts Afire: Parish-based Programs for the New Evangelization (HAPP).
"Consecration to Jesus through Mary is an incredible, powerful tool toward sainthood," Fr. Michael said as the taping began. "It's such a great tool for holiness, but few have heard about it."
The filming was a festive affair thanks to Fr. Michael's powerful talks, which toggled between deep spiritual insights and captivating — often humorous — personal witness.
Food, refreshments, and comic relief were provided between filming by Megan Carlotta, Kelly Wahlquist, Sarah Chichester, and Valerie Laurizio — organizers of the filming. Kelly, Sarah and Valerie are members of the Association of Marian Helpers' Evangelization Department, which is overseen by Fr. Michael.
"I can sum up my experience in assisting in this HAPP production with three words," said Valerie, "Mercy + Mary = Joy! It was an amazing experience and I pray that the groups that watch these talks are as moved and inspired as I am."
A Deeper Path
In a break in the filming on Saturday, audience member Juan F. Cabrera of New Jersey said he had known very little about the history and spiritual benefits of Marian consecration before he was invited to attend the taping.
"I'm learning about the consecration at a time when I was hoping for another path … deeper into my Catholicism," he said. "This will be invaluable."
He added, "Hearing the talks, I can't see myself not consecrating myself to Mary. I mean, how could you not?"
We interviewed some of the participants.
Here's Liliana Soto-Cabrera:
Juan F. Cabrera:
In the Image of Her Son
Father Michael explained in the taping that, by means of Marian consecration, we give ourselves to Mary to be formed into the image of her Son, Jesus. Saint Louis de Montfort (1673-1716), author of the seminal book on Marian consecration, True Devotion to Mary, described total consecration to Jesus through Mary as "the surest, easiest, and most perfect means" to becoming a saint.
In his book, Fr. Michael updates and modifies the 33-day consecration regimen typically followed to prepare for such a blessing.
"Updated, because since St. Louis de Montfort's death there have been even more insights into Marian consecration by great contemporary saints of Marian consecration, namely St. Maximilian Kolbe, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and Blessed John Paul II," said Fr. Michael. "So it's an updated version of the consecration preparation, because it includes these other three Marian giants who have most dramatically added to the beauty and richness of consecration spirituality."
With 33 Days to Morning Glory, the Marians seek to reenergize their charism to spread devotion to Mary Immaculate. But the book — and the filming — also begin a new chapter in the Marians' evangelization efforts to lead people into an encounter with our Merciful Savior.
Enter the new parish-based study program Hearts Afire: Parish-based Programs for the New Evangelization (HAPP). HAPP is designed "to set hearts on fire with love of God and neighbor and to inspire works of mercy in our families, parishes, and communities."
An Encounter with Christ
The parish-based programs take advantage of numbers — small numbers. The idea is to bring together small groups within parishes with the intention of renewing faith and inspiring people with the love of God. Once that happens, it cannot help but follow that people will translate their zeal into action, inspiring works of mercy in their families, friends, and communities.
Hearts Afire will officially be introduced on the live broadcast on EWTN during the Divine Mercy Sunday celebration on Eden Hill on April 15. So tune in and join co-hosts Fr. Michael and Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC, as they share the details of the program and how you can get involved.
For more information, visit allheartsafire.org. And be sure to watch the live broadcast on EWTN of the Divine Mercy Sunday celebration on Eden Hill on April 15.