By Elizabeth Costa
Prior to dying on the cross, Jesus gave Mary to us to be our Heavenly Mother:
"Woman, behold, your son... Behold, your mother." (John 19: 26-27 NAB)
This means her mission and desire are to get each of us closer to her Son—and ultimately to Heaven. In True Devotion to Mary, St. Louis de Montfort said that Mary is "the surest, easiest, shortest, and the most perfect means" to becoming a saint. This doesn't only apply to us adults, but also to our children.
I look back on my childhood, and I didn't realize until recently that my parents consecrated me to Mary. Last year I happened to come across the “Consecration to Mary” prayer on an app on my phone and clicked on it:
My Queen and 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 whole being without reserve. Wherefore, good Mother, as I am your own, keep me, guard me, as your property and possession. Amen.
I read it and smiled; it’s the same prayer I prayed in Portuguese every night with my parents at the end of the Rosary. At the time I didn't even understand what consecrating myself to Mary meant.
Beginning a devotion to Mary at a young age greatly benefited my soul. My Portuguese heritage helped keep Mary a part of my life through the celebrations of many of her feast days, especially Our Lady of Fatima. I chose her name as my Confirmation name.
Mary always seemed to make these subtle nudges in my life. She came to me while serving in ministry, and I felt her in times of hardship. I especially felt Mary near me when my daughter had to have open heart surgery in 2009. It is said that the scent of roses is present at the sites of Marian apparitions, and during the entire time I was away from my precious little girl, I could smell Mary’s roses. I felt like Mary was gifting me that scent to bring me comfort.
In 2015 I consecrated myself to Jesus through Mary with many of the lovely women of The Daughters of Mary. Then earlier this year I came across the book, Marian Consecration for Children by Carrie Gress. Like 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley, Gress’ book follows a thirty-three-day preparation that leads to consecration on a Marian feast day.
I told the kids about it and asked them if it was something they were interested in doing for themselves. My two oldest, ages nine and eleven, enthusiastically said “yes!” in unison. My children chose the Feast of Our Lady of the Assumption, which is also our parish's patroness, for the feast of their consecration.
During this month of preparation, my children remembered to do the daily reading, and we had fruitful discussions about what we learned. We learned about young Saints who had a beautiful devotion to Mary and the impact that they had on the Church. One of our favorite Saints was St. Nellie, who in her short life influenced Pope Pius X.
We also learned about the great impact that Mary has had on the world throughout time. Many music composers have written pieces for Our Lady. In football there is the “Hail Mary” pass. Even the ladybug is named after Our Lady.
With each day that passed, I could see my kids’ love for Mary grow, along with an understanding of the reasons why we should have a devotion to her and how she can get us closer to her Son.
I realized that these opportunities to grow closer to Christ and build a relationship with Him and his Blessed Mother are essential for my children’s growth and development into future Saints. The encounters my children have now will help them take ownership of their faith and will provide them with the tools to choose right from wrong, virtue over vice, and humility over pride so that they glorify God in all they accomplish.
It is so easy to look at my kids and think they are mine. I have so many hopes and dreams for their future—sports, academics, career, etc. My biggest hopes and dreams for them should be that they will choose to follow Christ and grow in holiness.
Even though they have been entrusted to me to raise, they are ultimately God's children and one day they will—I pray—return to Him. I hope to become more intentional about giving my children—God’s children—more opportunities to learn more about the loving God and Mother they have, who only desire eternity with their children.
"Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14)
Elizabeth Costa lives in California with the love of her life, and they are raising four beautiful souls for Christ. Elizabeth and her husband enjoy ministering together to young people, and they are also passionate about the Sacrament of Marriage and all related to the domestic church—the family. Elizabeth enjoys time with friends and family, hikes, and trips to the coast.