JP II, St. Louis de Montfort inspire priest’s new book

Father Brian McMaster has written “Totus Tuus: A Consecration to Jesus through Mary with Blessed John Paul II.” It is published by Our Sunday Visitor. (Catholic Spirit photo)

By Mary P. Walker

Senior Correspondent

Updating a spiritual classic is risky, but Father Brian McMaster went forth in humility, faith and prayer to do just that in his new book, "Totus Tuus: A Consecration to Jesus through Mary with Blessed John Paul II."

When asked why he wrote the book, Father McMaster explained that when he was the associate pastor at St. Mary Catholic Center at Texas A&M University, he encouraged students to use St. Louis de Montfort’s book, "True Devotion to Mary," which includes 33 days of spiritual preparation culminating in a prayer of total consecration to Jesus through Mary.

Because St. Louis lived in the 18th century, the students often found his style of writing and language hard to follow. Father McMaster thought that someday he would like to make St. Louis’ work more accessible to a contemporary audience.

In addition, as a great admirer of Blessed John Paul II, Father McMaster thought that the late pontiff’s teachings and devotion to Mary could enrich the work of St. Louis. As a young man during the Nazi occupation of Poland, the future pope used St. Louis’ spiritual writings to make a total consecration of himself to Jesus through Mary. This spiritual preparation and consecration was such a profound experience that he adopted St. Louis de Monfort’s phrase "Totus Tuus" (Totally Yours) for his motto as bishop and pope.

Father McMaster believes that Blessed John Paul II’s devotion and relationship to Jesus through Mary enflamed the hearts of Catholics all over the world and even changed the course of history. His goal was to take the best of St. Louis’ writings and infuse them with the thought and spirit of Blessed John Paul II.

The work of St. Louis and Blessed John Paul II complement each other and have much to teach us today, he said.

"If God chose to use Mary to bring his presence into the world to save us, wouldn’t it also make sense for us to go through Mary to become more Christ-like and receive his presence into our hearts as well?" Father McMaster asked.

After he became director of Vocations for the diocese, on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, Father McMaster made a personal commitment to spend his day off writing this book. Faithful to St. Louis’ vision, the new book takes the themes and structures of his preparation for total consecration and incorporates the insight of Blessed John Paul II, while using language and examples familiar to contemporary Catholics.

One "addition" Father McMaster made was to add resolutions for actions to foster holiness. He explained that because St. Louis expected that consecration would be life changing, resolutions for holiness were certainly implied in his writings. This new book makes them a more explicit part of the process.

Like St. Louis, Father McMaster wanted to create both a prayerful and practical guide. To test his work, he asked a group of Texas A&M Catholic students, seminarians and Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist to use drafts of the manuscript and pray through the spiritual exercises. This diverse group was overwhelming positive about the book and provided valuable feedback. The students said that the book taught them how to pray, and the sisters were especially helpful with the nuances of the language of spirituality.

Although writing the book was a significant commitment of time, it was also an enjoyable spiritual journey for Father McMaster. He prayed to and believes his work was guided by St. Louis and Blessed John Paul II. He finished the manuscript at the St. Malo Retreat Center in Colorado, which the late pope visited when he came to the U.S. for World Youth Day in 1993. Father McMaster feels particularly blessed to have stayed in the same room, slept in the same bed, and hiked the same trails as Blessed John Paul II.

Father McMaster’s book, "Totus Tuus: A Consecration to Jesus through Mary with Blessed John Paul II," is available in bookstores and online. St. William Parish in Round Rock will host a free presentation by Father McMaster on Marian consecration on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. in the parish’s Sacred Heart Chapel. Afterwards, he will sign copies of his book, which will be available for purchase.

In addition to hoping that the book will yield many spiritual blessings in the lives of Catholics, Father McMaster also wants the book to provide temporal support for God’s work in the Austin Diocese. He is donating his advance and all royalties to St. Mary’s Catholic Center at Texas A&M University and the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.