True Devotion to Mary
True Devotion from the writings of Saint Louis Marie de Montfort
Mary is Necessary to All Men to Attain Salvation
The learned and pious Jesuit, Suarez, the erudite and devout, Justus Lipsius, doctor of Louvain, and many others have proved invincibly from the sentiments of the Fathers (among others, Saint Augustine, Saint Ephrem, Deacon of Edessa, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Saint Germanus of Constantinople, Saint John Damascene, Saint Anselm, Saint Bernard, Saint Bernadine, Saint Thomas and Saint Bonaventure,) that devotion to our Blessed Lady is necessary to salvation, and even in the opinion of Œcolampadius and some other heretics it is an infallible mark of reprobation to have no esteem and love for the holy Virgin; while on the other hand, it is an infallible mark of predestination to be entirely and truly devote to her. …
“To be devout to you, O holy Virgin,” says Saint John Damascene, “is an arm of salvation which God gives to those whom He wishes to save.”
Still More Necessary to Those Called to a Special Perfection
If devotion to the most holy Virgin Mary is necessary to all men simply for working out their salvation, it is still more so for those who are called to any special perfection; and I do not think any one can acquire an intimate union with Our Lord and a perfect fidelity to the Holy Ghost without a very great union with the most holy Virgin, and a great dependence on her assistance.
It is Mary alone who has found grace before God without the aid of any other mere creature; it is one through her that all those who have since found grace before God have found it at all; and it is only through her that all those who shall come afterward shall find it. She was full of grace when she was greeted by the Archangel Gabriel, and she was superabundantly filled with grace by the Holy Ghost when He covered her with His unspeakable shadow; and she has so augmented this double plenitude from day to day and from moment to moment that she has reached a point off grace immense and inconceivable — in such wise that the Most High has made her the sole treasurer of His treasures and the sole dispenser of His graces to enable, to exalt an to enrich whom she wishes; to give entry to whom she wills into the narrow way of Heaven; to bring whom she wills, and in spite of all obstacles, throughout the narrow gate of life; an to give the throne, the scepter and the crown of king to whom she wills. Jesus is everywhere and always the Fruit and the Son of Mary; and Mary is everywhere the veritable tree who bears the Fruit of Life, and the true Mother who produces it.
I have said that this would come to pass, particularly at the end of the world and indeed presently, because the Most High with His holy Mother has to form for Himself great saints who shall surpass most of the other saints in sanctity as much as the cedars of Lebanon out grow the little shrubs, as has been revealed to a “holy soul” whose life has been written by M. De Renty.
These great souls, full of grace and zeal, shall be chosen to match themselves against the enemies of God, who shall rage on all sides; and they shall be singularly devout to our Blessed Lady, illuminated by her light, strengthened with her nourishment, led by her spirit, supported by her arm and sheltered under her protection, so that they shall fight with one hand and build with the other. …
Characteristics of True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin
1. Interior: True devotion to Our Lady is interior, that is, it comes from them and and the heart. It flows from the esteem we have for her, the high idea we have formed of her greatness, and the love which we have for her.
2. Tender: It is tender; that is, full of confidence in her, like a child’s confidence in his loving mother. This confidence makes the soul have recourse to her in all its bodily and mental necessities, which much simplicity, trust and tenderness. It implores the aid of its good Mother at all times, in all places and above all things; in its doubts, that it may be enlightened; in its wonderings, that it may be brought into the right path; in its temptations, that it may be supported; in its weaknesses, that it may be strengthened; in its falls, that it may be lifted up; in its discouragements, that it may be cheered; in its scruples, that they may be taken away; in the crosses, toils and disappointments of life, that it may be consoled under them. In a word, in all the evils of body and mind, the soul ordinarily has recourse to Mary, without fear of annoying her or displeasing Jesus Christ.
3. Holy: True devotion to Our Lady is holy; that is to say, it leads the soul to avoid sin and to imitate the virtues of the Blessed Virgin, particularly her profound humility, her lively faith, her blind obedience, her continual prayer, her universal mortification, her divine purity, her ardent charity, her heroic patience, her angelic sweetness and her divine wisdom. These are the ten principal virtues of the most holy Virgin.
4. Constant: True devotion to Our Lady is constant. It confirms the soul in good, and does not let it easily abandon its spiritual exercises. It makes it courageous in opposing the world in its fashions and maxims, the flesh in its wearinesses and passions, and the Devil in his temptations; so that a person truly devout to our Blessed Lady is neither changeable, irritable, scrupulous nor timid. It is not that such a person does not fall, or change sometimes in the sensible feeling of devotion. But when he fails, he rises again by stretching out his hand to his good Mother. When he loses the taste and relish of devotion he does not become disturbed because of that; for the just and faithful client of Mary lives by the faith (Hebrews 10:38) of Jesus and Mary, and not by natural sentiment.
5. Disinterested: Lastly, true devotion to Our Lady is disinterested; that is to say, it inspires the soul not to seek itself but only God, and God in his holy Mother. A true client of Mary does not serve that august Queen from a spirit of lucre and interest, nor for his own good, whether temporal of eternal, corporal or spiritual, but exclusively because she deserves to be served, and God alone in her. He does not love Mary just because she obtains favors for him, or because he hopes she will, but solely because she is so worthy of love. It is on this account that he loves and serves her as faithfully in his disgusts and drynesses as in his sweetnesses and sensible fervors. He loves her as much on Calvary as at the marriage feast of Cana.
There are numerous other practices of true devotion toward the Blessed Virgin… but after all, I loudly protest that, having read nearly all the books which profess to treat of devotion to Our Lady, and having conversed familiarly with the best and wisest men of these latter times, I have never known nor heard of any practice of devotions toward her at all equal to the one which I now wish to unfold, demanding from the soul, as it does, more sacrifices for God, ridding the soul more of itself and of its self-love, keeping it more faithfully in grace and grace more faithfully in it, uniting it more perfectly and more easily to Jesus Christ, and finally being more glorious to God, more sanctifying to the soul and more useful to our neighbor than any other of the devotions to her.
Slavery to Mary: a Perfect and Entire Consecration of Oneself to the Blessed Virgin
This devotion consists, then in giving ourselves entirely to Our Lady, in order to belong entirely to Jesus through her. We must give her,
- Our body, with all its senses and its members;
- Our soul, with all its powers;
Our external deeds, which are our merits and our virtues, grace and glory; and this we must do without the reserve of so much as one farthing, one hair, or one least good action; and we must do it also for all eternity; and we must do it, further, without pretending to, or hoping for, any other recompense for our offering and service except the honor of belonging to Jesus Christ through Mary and in Mary — as though that sweet Mistress were not (as she always is) the most generous and the most grateful of creatures.
It makes us imitate the example of Jesus Christ
This good Master (Our Lord Jesus Christ) did not disdain to shut Himself up in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, as a captive and as a loving slave, and later to be subject and obedient to her for thirty years. It is here, I repeat, that the human mind loses itself, when it seriously reflects on the conduct of the Incarnate Wisdom Who will to give Himself to men — not directly, though He might have done so, but through the Blessed Virgin. He did not will to come into the world at the age of a perfect man, independent of others, but like a poor babe, dependent on the care and support of this holy Mother.
He is that infinite Wisdom Who had a boundless desire to glorify God His Father and to save men; and yet He found no more perfect means, no shorter way to do it, than to submit Himself in all things to the Blessed Virgin, not only during the first eight, ten or fifteen years, but for thirty years! He gave more glory to God, His Father during all that time of submission to and dependence on our Blessed Lady than He would have given Him if He had employed those thirty years in working miracles, in preaching to the whole world and in converting all men — all of which He would have done, could He have thereby contributed more to God’s glory. Oh, how highly we glorify God when, after the example of Jesus, we submit ourselves to Mary!
Happy and a thousand times happy is the the generous soul that consecrates itself entirely to Jesus through Mary as a slave of love after it has shaken off by Baptism the tyrannical slavery of the Devil!