Blythe Kaufman is a wife, mother of three children, endodontist, and associate professor at the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine. She is also the founder of the Children’s Rosary®, an international prayer group movement for children and author of the book Children’s Rosary: A Prayer Group Movement for Children.
She has written a new book, Child Consecration: To Jesus through Mary—Following in the Spirit of St. Thérèse, the Little Flower, which she says “was not something I was looking for or sought out.” It began, she states, with an inspiration that came one evening that included most of the opening allegory. “Immediately,” she explains, “I understood that I was being called to work on a consecration book that children could use in which St. Thérèse would be an integral part.
She prayed and fasted over many months, and the book unfolded. “Little ideas would come often in daily Mass for how Scripture could be explained in simple ways through the central allegory of the book. In prayer, with St. Louis de Montfort’s classic book True Devotion to Mary in hand, I began to see how the principal components of the consecration journey to Jesus through Mary could be expressed in ways which might be easier to grasp for souls, even those as young as 4 or 5.”
Due to family demands, she would have to put the book writing aside for a time, but “then with fresh eyes I could take it up when my duties as a mother allowed.”
She took nearly three years to write the book, not wishing to rush any part of it. She explains, “At each iteration, the book was taken in prayer to Our Lady. With a heart full of love, I asked Our Blessed Mother to help in guiding its completion. The final product is one that is a gift of grace, and all glory should be given to God and many thanks to Our Blessed Mother for her intercession.”
The end product is a consecration journey consisting of 33 consecutive days of readings and prayers followed on the 34th day with a consecration to Jesus through Mary.
She spoke recently with CWR about the book.
CWR: You follow the format of the Consecration of St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary and you incorporate the spirituality of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. How does it work?
Blythe Kaufman: This consecration journey follows the format proposed by St. Louis de Montfort. The foundation of St. Louis de Montfort’s consecration is the book True Devotion to Mary. The consecration journey included here seeks to unpack this classic book in a way young people can understand. Child Consecration: To Jesus through Mary—Following in the Spirit of St. Thérèse, the Little Flower weaves the principal components of the St. Louis de Montfort Consecration through a lens of spirituality identified with St. Thérèse, the Little Flower. It is characterized by simplicity, confidence, and trust. This book helps souls to grow in simplicity and approach God in a more child-like manner. As St. Thérèse has shown, approaching God in this way helps souls to reach the heights of sanctity.
CWR: You propose some start dates for the 33-day consecration. Why is it helpful to start on these dates?
Blythe Kaufman:The consecration preparation can be started at any time, but we do recommend, as St. Louis de Montfort did, that the 33rd day of preparation end on a vigil of a Marianfeast. We provide a list of possible Marian Feasts to conclude your Consecration in the book, but this is not an exhaustive list.
CWR: What are the benefits of child consecration, and who should do it?
Blythe Kaufman:This consecration journey to Jesus through Mary is the request we make to Mary to bring a soul entrusted to her under her mantle of protection. The soul brings all it has—past, present and future—to be placed at the disposal of Mary. In turn, Our Lady takes the soul by the hand and guides it to its true home in heaven while cultivating a multitude of fruits. This book, day by day explains, often in parable form, why a soul would seek out such protection. By the last day of preparation, the individual understands the great gift we have in having a heavenly Mother who wishes only to help us.
This book is well suited to adults, priests and children as young as four or five years old. The benefit of introducing this to young children is that they can be formed in holiness when as St. Thérèse calls it, “they are soft as wax upon which one can imprint either virtue or vice.” It seems that so often individuals discover the great treasure of a consecration to Jesus through Mary later in life after a circuitous path in their faith journey. How happy are souls who from a tender age have had the protection and guidance of their heavenly Mother to help them follow the straight path.
Bishop John Keenan of Paisley, Scotland in the foreword of the book encouraged every parent, teacher, and priest to read this book He said, “I encourage every parent, teacher and priest to read this book, quite unique in these times. . . . Were I a parent, this would be my number one Marian book for my family. As a pastor of souls I pray many parents will take it up, confident that it has within it the grace to bring in a great harvest for the Church and the world in the generations too that lie ahead.”
CWR: Why is the child consecration important at this time in the history of the Church?
Blythe Kaufman: Throughout history, God has supplied assistance through the Church to meet the challenges particular to each age. We are living in a particular time in history where secularism has become ubiquitous and many things seek to rob our children of their innocence. It is challenging to raise holy children with a multitude of distractions facing them at each turn. For such a time as this, we should turn to our heavenly Mother who wishes to help our children find the straight path to her Son. But we need to ask for her help as she never forces her help on anyone. This consecration journey is the request we make to our Blessed Mother for such assistance.
CWR: How did Bishop Keenan get involved in the book?
Blythe Kaufman: Several years ago, my family and I met Bishop Keenan at the World Meeting of Families in Ireland. He made a wonderful impression on us, and I remember when we met him that he pulled a rosary out of his pocket and mentioned he had been praying the rosary on his walk to the convention hall. We have remained in contact, and as the consecration book was being completed, I humbly shared a copy of it with him. It was my hope that he would think it worthy of some words of support. It was a wonderful surprise when I received back from him a beautiful foreword to the book. In reading the foreword, I learned that Bishop Keenan had been consecrated to Mary by his mother when he was a small child. Bishop Keenan mentioned in the foreword that he “often ponders whether the contours of my vocation as a priest and now bishop were marked out there and then in that simple act of entrustment.”
Bishop Keenan has chosen to use the book Child Consecration: To Jesus through Mary—Following in the Spirit of St. Thérèse, the Little Flower for his personal consecration. He is also inviting the priests, adults and children of his diocese and beyond to join him. The Consecration journey will begin on January 9, 2021, and conclude on February 11, 2021: the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. There is something very timely about finishing the consecration journey on a Marian feast that honors Our Lady under a title most often associated with healing. There is great need for both spiritual and physical healing today. It is also a beautiful act of humility that Bishop Keenan has chosen a consecration method that although well suited for adults can also be understood by children as young as 5 years old.
Bishop Keenan plans to do the prayers and readings of the 33 Day consecration live each night on Facebook. He will read them at 9 p.m. local time in Scotland which would be 4 p.m. ET. This would allow many in the U.S. to pray along with him. In a special way, he is inviting priests, adults and children. He has already invited the schools of his diocese to join him and 11 schools have responded that they will be doing the consecration preparation daily in the classroom.
CWR: Those who have endorsed your book include Cardinals Burke and Sarah. What words of encouragement or support did they offer?
Blythe Kaufman: His Eminence Cardinal Burke shared, “I highly recommend it to parents who wish to introduce their children to Marian devotion and thus help them to give their hearts, one with the Immaculate Heart of Mary, completely to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”
Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, stated, “Child Consecration: To Jesus through Mary—Following in the Spirit of St. Thérèse, the Little Flower is a wonderful means by which children can come to know God’s Blessed Mother in an easy and accessible way. . . . I commend this book to parents and teachers, who will find here a solid and ready means to develop the spiritual and devotional life of children, giving them a firm foundation from which to build their relationship with the Lord and his Church.”
Other comments have come from Bishop Paul Ssemogerere of the Kasana – Luweero Diocese of Uganda, who said, “As human beings, we are all called to live a life of holiness—a life easily attained and lived through the motherly guidance of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is a life which is fruitfully nurtured at our early stage of life as children. This book presents to children the true devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary which leads to a deeper and more perfect devotion to Jesus who calls all to a life of holiness. I commend this book to all who nurture the tender souls of children—the future of the Church, for through it they will be able to introduce many to the Mother of God who opens great realities of the faith to the simple-hearted, especially children, and also searches for them when lost.”
CWR: Anything else you’d like to share?
Blythe Kaufman: The illustrations were done by Abigail Ryan, a member of the Children’s Rosary. She began with the cover illustration at age nine and painted the remaining illustrations over a span of two years. There is something incredibly special about having illustrations to accompany the book done by a child. The sweet beauty and simplicity of the illustrations give a testament to the hearts of children and all they can give to Our Lord.
CWR: How does someone purchase a copy of the book?
We recognize that some people live in an area of the world where this book might not be available. Thus, in an effort to allow more people the ability to participate in this consecration journey, we have created an option to do this consecration free online.
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