Totus Tuus

To Jesus, through Mary.

"Be Not Afraid” - these were the opening words of Saint John Paul 2’s papacy. A key component of JP2’s spiritual life was a fearless devotion to our Heavenly Mother. He renewed his consecration to her every day, and took the words Totuus Tuus, translating to "totally yours," as his episcopal and papal motto. While we may all understand the direct translation of this phrase, today let’s focus on the weight these words hold. When we say the words “Totus Tuus,” the true intent is total devotion to Jesus through his mother, Mary.

After losing his mother at the age of nine years old, John Paul entrusted himself into the arms of his Heavenly Mother: Mary. Many people struggle with the idea of turning to Mary in prayer: why wouldn’t we just go directly to Jesus? Because: Jesus has given us his mother as our spiritual mother. She is our heavenly advocate, interceding on our behalf. Many of us have no problem asking others here on Earth to pray for us instead of simply praying to Jesus on our own - so why should we hesitate to ask those in Heaven to do the same? Saint Paul says in scripture that God grants blessings, “in answer to many prayers.” If the prayer of a righteous man or woman on earth can obtain great grace from God, imagine the influence that a prayer from our savior’s mother can achieve in Heaven! Moreover, we know from a familial point that every good son loves to see his mother honored. Jesus and Mary are no exception - it warms Jesus’ heart to see us venerate his mother and entrust ourselves in her loving protection. He knows better than anyone that if Mary was capable of protecting & nurturing the son of God, she is capable of protecting your heart as well.

Thus, we know that our love for Mary never conflicts with our love for Christ. In all his prayers to Our Lady, John Paul 2 recognized this - acknowledging that Mary acts as our intercessor, obtaining graces from God for our purification. No one can love Mary to the point of excluding Jesus because it is Mary’s job to lead us to closer intimacy with her son. In his speech at World Youth Day, JP2 emphasized this, saying,

Jesus gives his Mother to you so that she will comfort you with her tenderness. She will discharge her ministry as a mother and train you and mold you until Christ is fully formed in you. This is why I now wish to repeat the motto of my episcopal and pontifical service: "Totus tuus."(completely yours) Throughout my life I have experienced the loving and forceful presence of the Mother of Our Lord. Mary accompanies me every day in the fulfillment of my mission as successor of Peter. Mary is the Mother of divine grace, because she is the Mother of the Author of grace. Entrust yourselves to her with complete confidence! (John Paul II, Message of the Holy Father John Paul II for the 18th World Youth Day, March 8, 2003, 3-4.)

In a letter to the Montfort religious family later that same year, John Paul continued to iterate on the meaning behind his motto, totus tuus, saying,

The motto Totus tuus is inspired by the teaching of St Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort. These two words express total belonging to Jesus through Mary: 'Tuus totus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt', St. Louis Marie wrote, and he translates his words: 'I am all yours, and all that I have is yours, O most loving Jesus, through Mary, your most holy Mother' (Treatise on True Devotion, n. 233). This Saint's teaching has had a profound influence on the Marian devotion of many of the faithful and on my own life.

Through his dedication to the rosary, Our Lady (under all her titles), and the consecration to Jesus through Mary, John Paul became a beautiful model of what it means to live a life consecrated to the Mother of God. He recognized the importance of the role our heavenly mother plays in our lives, and embraced it, setting an example that the rest of us can follow. Today we can wear and speak the words, totus tuus, knowing that in doing so we dedicate ourselves to a life fulfilling the will of Christ through the woman who knows him best: his mother.

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