With the consecrations of the 8th and the 25th of December, the number of people consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary has risen slightly (by about a thousand). But it would be a shame to stop there : we have to keep promoting the consecration around us, and not only the consecration of individuals, but also that of communities. Because with the latter, we can attract graces for the whole community, even if not all of its members are personally consecrated to Our Lady. For example, the Portugese bishops consecrated Portugal in 1931 and 1938 ; Pope Pius XII consecrated the world on the 31st of October and the 8th of December 1942.
Here is a new example. In 1944, the villages of Saint Côme de Fresné, Asnelles and Meuvaines, situated a few kilometers from Arromanches (one of five ports chosen by the allies for the Normandy landings) urged their priest to consecrate the three villages to the Holy Virgin. The priest kept putting it off. Two days before the Landings, he finally agreed to do it. The three villages were consecrated to the Virgin Mary during the course of a public ceremony in front of Her statue in the village of Asnelles. On the morning of the Landings, an English brigade landed on the beaches situated just opposite the villages which were liberated at noon. Despite the tough battles, none of the villages were affected. The only person who died had left their village the week before the consecration ! (We have this story direct from one of the descendents of a family from this village.)
To be perfectly accurate, the concern here is with the consecration to Our Lady and not to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Because at the time, the message of Fatima was still barely known. In fact, it was only at the beginning of December 1927 that Sister Lucia, at the request of her director of conscience, began to reveal the first elements of the secret concerning the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. But the spirit remains the same.
With today’s ambience banning Nativity scenes in our town halls, it is difficult to imagine mayors organising the consecration of their municipalities to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. But there is nothing to stop us from asking our priest to consecrate our parish. Such a consecration is all the more recommendable as the very first request from Heaven for the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was precisely to ask for the consecration of a parish, that of Our Lady of Victories.
Situated in the middle of Paris, this parish had been ravaged by the Revolution ; of its 40,000 souls, only 40 people went to Sunday Mass. In 1836, after four years of effort to improve the situation, the parish priest, Abbé Desgenettes, despaired of having obtained such poor results. On the 3rd of December, a first Saturday of the month, whilst celebrating Mass, he heard, several times, an interior voice telling him « Consecrate your parish to the Immaculate Heart of Mary ». At first surprised, he did not want to believe it was real. But after consideration, he decided he would do it, thinking to himself that even if it didn’t do any good, it wouldn’t do any harm. Upon returning home, he drew up the statutes of an association of the Holy and Immaculate Heart of Mary for the conversion of sinners. The members of this association were committed to attending Mass and praying for the conversion of sinners every first Saturday of the month.
However, fearing to have been the victim of an illusion, he asked the Holy Virgin to kindly give him a sign that She was in fact the origin of this inspiration and that she accepted the association. The following Saturday, the Bishop of Paris, Monseigneur de Quelen approved the statutes and gave his accord for beginning, the following day, the proposed exercises of piety. On that day, Abbé Desgenettes announced from the pulpit to the congregation of ten who were attending High Mass that the same evening he would lead a service of devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. From that moment on, graces began to rain down on the parish. When Mass was over, two heads of families asked to confess. That evening, between 400 and 500 people were present for the service which had been announced that morning. Abbé Desgenettes had never before seen such a crowd at church.
This first event was followed by an uninterrupted series of signs. The next day, Abbé Desgenettes paid a visit to Monsieur de Joly, the last Lord Chancellor of Louis XVI, who was on his deathbed and who was refusing, categorically, to be helped by the sacraments. That day, he agreed to see his priest. After a few moments of conversation he asked to confess and died a saintly death four months later.
A few days afterwards, on the 12th of January 1837, Abbé Desgenettes opened the register for the association. Ten days later he had 214 inscriptions. The following year, the association was made into an archiconfrérie universelle. Five years after its creation it had two million members and 1,900 affiliated parishes. In 1848, Our Lady of Victories was the most frequented church in Paris. Since then, many people have obtained graces there : Alphonse de Ratisbonne ; Father Liberman, who discovered his vocation and celebrated his first Mass there ; Dom Bosco ; Saint Therese of Lisieux ...
The example of Our Lady of Victories should incite us to ask our priest to consecrate, or renew the consecration, of our parish to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Perhaps some people will object, saying that in France, particularly since the vow of Louis XIII, that many parishes are already consecrated to Our Lady. We should point out that this was the case with Our Lady of Victories. However, to get it back on its feet, Heaven asked Abbé Desgenettes to consecrate the parish to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He didn’t hesitate and the happy results of his prompt obediance were evident. Therefore, as well as individual consecrations, we should be working so that all the parishes in France consecrate themselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary between now and October 2017. Humanly speaking, this objective is perhaps impossible, but if even all those who consecrated themselves on the 8th and the 25th of December manage to have their parish consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, this would already be a good result.
Finally, on Saturday, don’t forget to pray for the conversion of sinners. On the 13th of July 1917, Our Lady asked us for the consecration to Her Immaculate Heart and the communion of reparation on the first Saturdays of the month, to give us peace, and the conversion of sinners. This Saturday will be the first, of the first Saturdays of the month of the Year of Mercy. So on this day, let us take communion to try to save a sinner. Doubtless, we will never know his name in this life. But perhaps, one day, when we (hopefully) arrive in Heaven, we will be welcomed by a soul telling us : Our Lady gave me this grace because of the communion you made on such a day.
Some news from the Project
In union of prayer in the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Yves de Lassus,
President, Cap Fatima 2017.