“Our Lady of Fatima” (detail) by Chambers

In the midst of autumn homecomings, with high schools and colleges celebrating alumni with reunions and football games, I had a different homecoming this past weekend. I returned to the parish in which I grew up to give their annual women’s retreat.  It was at the parish I attended throughout middle school and high school, received the Sacrament of Confirmation, and attended high school youth group.  I was going to deliver the talks in the same gym where I played dodgeball and performed silly little talent shows. So many memories from childhood were tangible. But who would have ever thought I’d be there for this purpose?

At first it was a bit daunting—the prospect of preparing and delivering retreat talks to women who had known me when I was an awkward pre-teen, to peers who had grown up with me, to mothers of my friends and classmates, to people who had known me through high school and college. During the opening Mass of the retreat, I could feel myself begin to get nervous, which rarely happens before I speak and teach. I began to get second-thoughts and doubt myself.

Then, at the end of Mass, to commemorate the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, Father led us in a prayer of Marian consecration.

It was a prayer I had said frequently within the walls of that church building.  I had recited it with the parish on Marian feast days. We had prayed it every Sunday at youth group.  It was a prayer I knew well.  As we prayed it, I thought back to that day almost twenty-two years earlier when I made my consecration for the first time.

Would I ever had thought, twenty-two years ago, I would be leading the parish women’s retreat?

As I prayed the words, I couldn’t help but smile at Mary and Jesus.

“Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever most pleases you.”

Those are dangerous words to utter, aren’t they? Skeptics would say that I didn’t know what I was saying at that age, promising my life to Jesus through Mary. And perhaps I didn’t. Do we ever?

“Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.”

I’m not going to pretend I’m a superhero saving the world, or that I’ve saved any souls with what I’ve done for the past twenty-two years. But praying those words erased all the nerves I had going into that women’s retreat.  Because Jesus and Mary had my back.  Who would have thought that little sixth grader would someday be leading a parish women’s retreat? Jesus.

How has Marian consecration changed my life? I can’t point to one moment where my life was altered, or some dramatic moment that I can vouch is the result of Marian protection. But that’s not how the Lord usually works.

Today we celebrate the One Hundredth Anniversary of the final apparition of Mary at Fatima.  Many people have waited for this anniversary, questioning if something big is going to happen.

Perhaps by the time this is published and read, something dramatic will have happened. But I won’t be surprised if nothing dramatic happens. Why? Because that’s not how the Lord usually works. Sometimes He knocks people off horses, but usually He works through the quiet conversion of hearts. Sometimes He sends the sun dancing, but usually He just keeps the earth spinning each day.  Sometimes He saves Popes from assassin’s bullets and sometimes He intervenes in human history in dramatic ways, but mostly He works through us. Quietly. Lovingly. Faithfully.

What will entrusting your life to Jesus through Mary do? You might not notice at first. Because chances are the moment won’t be punctuated with drama. Your problems won’t disappear the next day, nor will you gain any superhuman abilities. But I guarantee, if you’re faithful, you’ll look back over the years and realize He was working. He was protecting you, He was guiding you, He was using the gifts and the talents he gave you.

The Blessed Mother didn’t come to Fatima so God would perform some grand miracle. She came to Fatima to call us to prayer. We only need the grand and dramatic because our faith is so weak. Rather than look for signs and wait for miracles, thank God for all the little miracles He’s worked every day in our lives. Quietly. Lovingly. Faithfully.

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