By Isabel Crawford
I was born into a parish named Our Lady of the Assumption. My parents wisely saw it fitting to have me baptized when I was one-month old on the feast of Our Lady of the Assumption. On that day, my earthly godfather stood next to my parents as I was baptized, and I imagine my godmother, who my parents selected to be the Virgin Mother, came from heaven to join the invisible miracle of me being adopted as the daughter of God.
I wish I could say that from that moment on my life with Mary, the Mother of God, was special and amazing, but it was not. As a child, I saw her image as Our Lady of Fatima in my Portuguese home. Every night, I prayed a Portuguese Rosary with my parents, but many times it was a foreign language to me, and I just followed the chant without really praying the words or even understanding what I was doing.
As a teenager and young adult, I was ashamed to speak of Mary publicly, as my Protestant friends began to have an influence on my thinking and spirituality. I pushed her to the back of my life. I did not know much about her, and I was afraid to a certain degree of what I did not know. I knew she was a part of my Catholicism, but she seemed so far and mysterious, and the only people I really ever saw speaking of her were old Portuguese ladies in black dresses with veils over their heads, who prayed the Rosary constantly but could not answer any of my questions about her.
Then two years into my marriage, my husband and I began to notice that starting a family was not going to be as easy as we had anticipated. Childless, we decided to travel and explore, and we ended up taking a trip to Fatima, Portugal. We arrived in Fatima, having been sleep-deprived for almost twenty-four hours, in a negative state of frustration, tiredness, and impatience with each other.
It was in that state of anger and frustration that I stepped into the basilica of Our Lady of Fatima, and a supernatural force overtook me, left me in awe, and filled me with peace. It was an amazing experience. My husband and I both heard the call in those few days of visiting Fatima to pray the Rosary daily, which we have tried to do every single day for the following seventeen years after our trip.
I also asked, on that particular trip, for the first time in my life, for the intercession of Our Mother. I asked her for the gift of motherhood and children. That prayer was answered two years later with the birth of my daughter, and within a five-year period, we were gifted four beautiful children—one being born on the feast of Our Lady of the Assumption.
My life became a crazy-beautiful time of feeding babies, changing diapers, doing laundry, going without sleep, etc. My husband and I prayed the Rosary every day, but many times I was half asleep. Then, on December 1, 2013 I experienced what I refer to as my “conversion,” and with that conversion, eventually came the call to begin a women’s group.
As a group of us came together to read books and discuss our faith, another call surfaced. Someone mentioned a Marian Consecration, and I immediately agreed. I had absolutely no idea what a Marian Consecration was at the time, but my heart said “yes,” and we moved forward. We decided to use Father Michael Gaitley’s book 33 Days to Morning Glory as our preparation.
Over seventy women participated! As one of those women, I must admit there were several times that I asked myself, “What am I doing?” There were times I thought I should stop, because I was scared, and I didn’t understand why I had to go through Mary to get to Jesus. And yet, the internal call to keep going was too strong.
On May 31, 2015, I joined many other women in consecrating my life to Mary. That day, I also joined the leadership team for the women’s ministry in consecrating “The Daughters of Mary” ministry to Our Mother.
Looking back at my life and what has transpired since 2015, I am beginning to understand why St. Louis de Montefort stated that the surest and easiest way to becoming a saint was through Mary. I am not a saint. I am not even close! But my heart has taken a journey toward the Sacred Heart of Jesus at a pace that leaves my previous spiritual journey, before my consecration, in the dust. I have learned so much about our beautiful faith and its devotions. I have fallen in love with Our Mother and Jesus. My heart has changed for the better.
Those I love have seen significant changes in me. I am a completely different person internally than I was in May 2015. It is almost as if I had a heart transplant that day and exchanged my heart of stone for the Immaculate Heart of Mary so that I could love Jesus, her Son.
I am still on quite an adventure and journey towards becoming the saint I was created to be. I have my good days and my bad days, and I find myself in confession quite a bit. However, handing my life to my Mother and trusting she will lead me to her Son has been the most beautiful adventure of my life. I will be forever grateful that I was called to that moment, and now I challenge you to listen to the call you are hearing in your heart.
Come, surrender your life into the hands of a Mother who loves you beyond your understanding and wildest imagination, and have her take you by the hand and lead you to her Son, Jesus. You will never regret it!
You can learn more information about the Marian Consecration on The Daughters of Mary website.
Isabel is enjoying the adventure, beauty and challenges of living out her vocation of marriage with her love, Steve, and their four children. She works part time as a school psychologist and helps coordinate The Daughters of Mary women’s ministry. In her free time she enjoys drinking hot coffee (with creamer), reading about five books simultaneously, and taking quiet walks outside.