Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How Proverbs 31 Strengthens my Fandom for Batman and Desire for Consecration

Principles of Biblical Study I with Dr.  Bergsma is one of my favorite college courses ever. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Jacob and I are blessed to sit for an hour and learn the covenantal theology of the Old Testament, as well as reflect on the meaning, purpose, historical facts, and any other awesome aspect of the Old Testament. Today in class, we discussed the book of Proverbs. And Proverbs 31 is awesome.

Many people are familiar with Proverbs 31 as being "that chapter about a wife," but actually don't reflect much about the chapter.

Who can find a woman of worth? Far beyond jewels is her value. Her husband trusts her judgment; he does not lack income. She brings him profit, not loss, all the days of her life. She seeks out wool and flax and weaves with skillful hands. Like a merchant fleet, she secures her provisions from afar. She rises while it is still night, and distributes food to her household, a portion to her maidservants. She picks out a field and acquires it; from her earnings she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength; she exerts her arms with vigor. She enjoys the profit from her dealings; her lamp is never extinguished at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle. She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy. She is not concerned for her household when it snows—all her charges are doubly clothed. She makes her own coverlets; fine linen and purple are her clothing. Her husband is prominent at the city gates as he sits with the elders of the land. She makes garments and sells them, and stocks the merchants with belts. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and laughs at the days to come. She opens her mouth in wisdom; kindly instruction is on her tongue. She watches over  the affairs of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband, too, praises her: “Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all.” Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Acclaim her for the work of her hands, and let her deeds praise her at the city gates. (Proverbs 10-31)

  •  First off, note the cool Marian imagery. "Her children rise up and call her blessed." Um, "blessed among women," anyone? "Distributes food to her household"--Mary bore Jesus, our Eucharistic Food of Eternal Life.  " She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy." Remind anyone of Mary, extending her hands down to her children? 

Yup, Mary is cool. 

  • Here, at the end of the Book of Proverbs, the Sacred Author had to choose a symbol for wisdom--a "poster child" for a truly wise person. The Sacred Author could have chosen a warrior, a sage, a prophet, a priest, a scholar, etc. Who was chosen? 

A housewife. 

  •   What does this housewife do that is so incredible? Well, look back at Proverbs 31: she provides food and clothes for her household, she builds up the community of her household, and she shows love to the poor, among other aspects. In other words, a common housewife brings life to others, and she joyfully fulfills her duties. No super strength or superpowers, just a heart ready to serve others. 
Which brings me to...BATMAN.

Batman is fantastic. I think my real exposure to Batman/appreciation for him started to grow in middle school, when I met a certain friend (cough Jessica cough) who happened to like Batman a lot. In the years since, I have faithfully watched the movies as they have come out, once worn a Batman costume to the movie theater and mall a week after Halloween , purchased "Batman: the movie" (which was made in the 1960s with Adam West--I LOVE this movie!!!), and have carried a general love and appreciation for Gotham's hero in my day-to-day life. No, I'm not the biggest or craziest fan out there, but I do like the Masked Vigilante.
What's one of my favorite aspects of Batman?

He's normal.

Well, not completely normal. But he doesn't have any superpowers, like Spiderman, Superman, or the Hulk. Not only that, but Batman is sacrificial. He sets his reputation and life on the line for others, dedicating himself to the betterment of the world. In his day-to-day life as Batman, Bruce Wayne sets his life apart for a greater purpose than just living for himself. And by living for others, setting himself apart for others, Bruce Wayne becomes one of the great superheroes.

How can we be Catholic Batmans?


By consecrating ourselves to Jesus through Mary, we set apart our lives, giving all that we have entirely to Mary, so that she may bring us intimately to Jesus. Every act, every word, every possession that we have becomes Mary's. By formally consecrating ourselves to Mary, we give her the right to form us into perfect disciples of Jesus Christ. Mary is polite; she wants to work in our lives in radical ways, but she won't force us into anything. By consecrating ourselves to Mary, we give our fiat, so that she may completely shape our lives to act with the will of God.

"Total Consecration to Mary consists in surrendering oneself in the manner of a slave to Mary, and to Jesus through her, and then performing all our actions with Mary, in Mary, through Mary, and for Mary"~St. Louis de Montfort. 

Consecration to Mary isn't just 33 days of lots of prayers and meditations. Consecration to Mary is a way of life. Setting your own desires and life apart for Mary and Jesus to work radically in and with. 

I always thought that the only way to consecrate myself to Mary was using St. Louis de Montfort's process and method. It's a beautiful preparation process, stocked with awesome prayers, readings, and litanies. However, I've known people who get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of litanies and prayers for each day. There's also a consecration to Mary according to St. Maximilian Kolbe (the Militia Immaculata movement) but I must confess I do know little about it. (It is a very apostolic consecration, encouraging people to go out, and the Militia Immaculata was partially created to combat the evils of Freemasonry).

 Interestingly enough, a Missionary of the Immaculate Conception, Fr. Michael Gaitley, wrote a book (33 Days to Morning Glory), which looks like another fantastic way to prepare for total consecration. Fr. Michael, who gave a talk on the FUS campus Tuesday evening, described this method as "finals friendly;" a one-page-a-day of meditation, so that the individual may truly meditate and pray with the meaning of consecration to Mary. I've always used St. Louis de Montfort's process to consecrate myself and renew that consecration each year, but this year, Jacob and I are using the 33 Days to Morning Glory method, coupling it with a daily Rosary. I'm excited to see Mary continue to work in our lives and the lives of others! 

For those of you who have consecrated yourselves once, I highly encourage you all to practice the reconsecration each year, and continue living the consecration to Mary each and every day. For those of you who haven't consecrated yourselves (and maybe have never heard of it), I recommend researching Marian Consecration more, and looking into the different processes. And hey, it's 33 days to purify your life and heart even more to give yourself wholly to Jesus through Mary. Even trying the consecration once won't do you harm. 

It's good to have solid prayer lives and devotion to Mary, but we can never become complacent. We must continually seek growth in love and devotion to Jesus and Mary. Consecration (and reconsecration) is a fantastic way to continually grow deeper in love with our Blessed Virgin. 

"Whoever bears the mark of devotion to Mary, God recognizes as His own."- Saint Alphonsus Liguori