1. Every Christian is fundamentally and primarily consecrated in baptism. Through baptism, the Christian is consecrated to the Holy Trinity. The mission of Jesus, “to baptize them in the name …” (Mt. 28:19) means this: “to baptize them in the service of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.”
2.1 If we analyze what the baptism of an adult person involves, we will see that the first initiative comes from God who, by his grace, calls the human person to faith and conversion. In the second moment, this person responds to this call and vocation, by coming to baptism freely and in faith. In the act of baptism itself, it is God who consecrates the person being baptized. As St. Augustine says, “It is Christ himself who baptizes.” (Tract. in Ioannis Evang., 6, 7). Christ makes the baptized person holy. The baptized person is consecrated (“theologically passive”; the agent here is God.) This baptismal consecration, in one way or another, is renewed in every sacrament.
2.2 Every baptized person is bound to live in a way that is in keeping with the character of a “holy person,” that is, as one consecrated to the service of the Holy Trinity. This implies not only the effort to live a personal life of holiness, but also the generous striving to give evangelical witness in the world. The Christian who lives a life of holiness, is truly a witness to Christ; this witnessing life will of course include a confession of faith explicitly made (in word). It is for this that he/she has been consecrated in baptism; for this that Confirmation comes with further strength and energy; for this that the Eucharist is received as food and nourishment. These three steps in Christian initiation all lead to the same objective. Every other gift of the Spirit invites him/her to move forward, with fidelity, toward the same purpose. Thus every Christian is not only called to his/her own conversion, but he/she must be a servant of the conversion of others, of all peoples, and servant of their oneness in the Holy Spirit.
2.3 The spiritual tradition of the Church, however, also recognizes other “consecrations” which come after baptism. These are acts by which the Christian commits himself/herself, in one way or another, to lead a more stable way of life which will enable him/her to fulfill more readily the consecration of baptism, and to live that consecration in all its consequences.
Thus, all other post-baptismal consecrations have no other purpose than the baptismal consecration itself. In these other consecrations there must be found both the desire and will for personal holiness and authentic apostolic intent.
2.4. The way we speak of these post-baptismal consecrations shows the profound difference between them and the consecration which God himself makes of the baptized person in baptism. When we speak of post-baptismal consecrations, we say the person consecrates himself/herself (in the reflexive mode, rather than the theologically passive mode).
2.5. We must point out that a person makes these acts of consecration under the influence of grace, which impels him/her to an ever fuller gift of self. On the other hand, the Christian who thus consecrates himself/herelf to God, asks God to receive his/her oblation and to give the grace necessary for living out this consecration in life itself.
3. The same spiritual tradition of trhe Church also recognizes consecration to Mary. Let us not wonder (or be surprised) that the term of these acts of consecration, at first blush, is a human person. In truth, Mary is not the “absolute term” of these acts. Every act of consecration to serve Mary and to imitate her, seeks — through her — more closely and more deeply to serve and imitate the Lord Jesus himself.
4. The personal consecrations made to the heart of Jesus and the heart of Mary take these hearts as points of reference for more fully fulfilling, in life, the baptismal consecration.
This implies that a person commits himself/herself to considering, venerating and thus, under the impulse of grateful love, imitating the inner life of Jesus and the inner life of Mary, which the word “heart” really means. “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” (Mt. 11:29; St. Ambrose, in De virginibus, 2: 7 applies this text to Mary). Further, this implies that such a person hopes to receive grace to live in this way of holiness through the intercession of Jesus and of Mary, and this intercession itself comes forth from their hearts.
5.1. We cannot demand that the structures of the spiritual life should correspond, in all rigor, exactly and strictly with the harmony and balance of the total complex of the Christian faith. Often enough, it is really impossible to demand this total balance from popular piety.
5.2. However, we should try to have the mystery of salvation, in which Mary is so closely associated with Christ her Son, reverberate “correctly” in the spiritual life. This means that we must make the effort to have the consecration to the heart of Mary understood in such a way, and explicitly expressed in such a way that it is seen as the way by which a person ultimately consecrates himself/herself to Christ. For the imitation of Christ, and in fact the imitation of his inner life, is the ultimate term (even if a never fully-attainable term) of the spiritual life. (This has been understood thus from the very beginnings of Christianity.)
5.3. Similarly, it is fitting that the consecration to the heart of Jesus should be joined with the consecration to the immaculate heart of Mary. Thus, a person who begins with one of the two hearts always really consecrates himself/herself to both hearts. This linking-up reflects the indivisible Alliance, which truly exists between the heart of Jesus and the heart of Mary.
6.1. The words of Jesus, “And I sanctify myself for them so that they too may be sanctified in truth” (John 17:19) illuminate the meaning of collective consecrations, even the consecration of the entire world, to the hearts of Jesus and Mary.
6.2. The person who pronounces the act of consecration, consecrates himself/herself, that is, he/she commits himself/herself to live a life which imitates “the inner states” of these two hearts. He/she also entrusts all those referred to and included within the formula of consecration to the protection of the heart of Jesus and/or the heart of Mary (cf. John Paul II, the Act of consecration/entrustment of the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, 13 May 1982).
6.3. Thus can we understand the desire of the Holy Father that as many faithful as possible should join him in making these acts of consecration so that they may all join him in begging for the ever more efficacious help of the hearts of Jesus and Mary.