While books like Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children by Colleen Pressprich introduce children to the more basic, repetitive precepts of Marian consecration through an easily relatable form, Blythe Marie Kaufman’s Child Consecration calls more profoundly to the mature child, one who can better understand the complex spiritual elements of the devotion and the “harvesting of divine gifts.”
Kaufman’s introductory story is perhaps the book’s most unique element. Day one opens by detailing the gardening endeavors of young Daisy under the perfect knowledge and attentiveness of her mother, a true expert in cultivating a harvest from the most immature seeds.
Her description is enticing and mesmerizing; the young child hears the beginning of an intensely important and concentrated effort to cultivate a feast from seeds, while the older child is immersed in the imagery and perfect guidance of Mother, who remains “right by little Daisy’s side” throughout the endeavor, illuminating each small action, from the depth the seed must be placed in the soil to the temperateness of the water and the seedlings’ proximity to light.
It is a simple story defined by intimate details of relationship, between the seeds and their environment and their young gardener, between Daisy and her mother, between Mother and Father, and ultimately, between Daisy and Father. Though Daisy is responsible for the success of her harvest, she avoids fruitless efforts and struggles in her obedience to Mother. It is also Mother who presents the harvest to Father, as Daisy allows her to arrange the feast to most please him.
“He had put her in charge of helping the children with their seeds. It was a good thing because it would have been much more difficult without her help.”
Following Daisy’s story, Kaufman transitions to a more traditional style of consecration, with daily reflections and prayer incorporating scripture and quotations from St. Louis de Montfort and St. Therese. She therefore introduces the participant to the saint who shaped the tradition and the one who best amplified Daisy’s simple and “little way.” In doing so she well prepares children for more traditional forms of consecration while impressing, with great eloquence, the necessity of remaining close to the mother of the Lord.
The steady increase in prayer Kaufman’s consecration requires over the course of 33 days aptly mirrors the spiritual growth and subsequent fruits of the Christian life over time. As Daisy’s harvest reaches fruition, so does the great and consequential benefit of her labor, with well-cared for seeds multiplying out and beyond the confines of the house and the garden.
Perhaps the most notable and unexpected point of Kaufman’s introductory story is the description of Mother’s physical inabilities. Ever present, ever guiding, gentle and firm, all-knowing and all-loving, Mother is unable to physically complete the work she sets Daisy out to accomplish. Kaufman describes her as lacking the use of her hands, and denoting, in this jarring image, the great undertaking Mother directs us to complete on our own in the physical world. Her guidance must be wholly attended to for she cannot complete the work for us.
While the younger child can certainly meditate on the mystery of the work of the gardener and the reward of the harvest, it is the older child that will likely dwell more deeply on Daisy’s great and definitive tasks, understanding that the harvest is the final offering and the initial seeds cherished.
Child Consecration is as much a fruitful spiritual experience for parents as it is for children, with allegorical language both providing and demanding interior reflection. Ultimately, Kaufman’s devotion reminds us all of our own childishness in our endeavor to bear fruit for Christ, and the Mother gifted to us so that we in turn could produce an abundance of gifts for Him, echoing Him out into the world.