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Saint Louis de Montfort
TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL FRENCH BY
REVEREND FREDERICK WILLIAM FABER, D.D.
Copyright © 1863 by Robson,
Levey, and Franklyn, London, UK.
book was originally published in 1863, translated from the original
French of Saint Louis de Montfort.
Paintings by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, a 17th Century Spanish Baroque artist and others.
work is published for the greater Glory of Jesus Christ through His
Blessed Pope Pius IX (1846–78): Declared that Saint Louis De Montfort’s devotion to Mary was the best and most acceptable form of devotion to Our Lady.
Pope Leo XIII (1878–1903): Granted a Plenary Indulgence to those who make Saint Louis De Montfort’s act of consecration to the Blessed Virgin. On his deathbed he renewed the act himself and invoked the heavenly aid of Saint Louis De Montfort, whom he had beatified in 1888.
Pope Saint Pius X (1903–14): “I heartily recommend True Devotion to The Blessed Virgin, so admirably written by [Saint] De Montfort, and to all who read it grant the Apostolic Benediction.” . . .”There is no surer or easier way than Mary in uniting all men with Christ.”
Pope Benedict XV (1914–22): “A book of high authority and unction.”
Pope Pius XI (1922–39): “I have practiced this devotion ever since my youth.”
Pope Pius XII (1939–58): “God Alone was everything to him. Remain faithful to the precious heritage, which this great saint left you. It is a glorious inheritance, worthy, that you continue to sacrifice your strength and your life, as you have done until today.”
Pope Paul VI (1963–78): “We are convinced without any doubt that devotion to Our Lady is essentially joined with devotion to Christ, that it assures a firmness of conviction to faith in Him and in His Church, a vital adherence to Him and to His Church which, without devotion to Mary, would be impoverished and compromised.”
Blessed Pope John Paul II (1978–2005): “The reading of this book was a decisive turning-point in my life. I say ‘turning-point,’ but in fact it was a long inner journey . . . This ‘perfect devotion’ is indispensable to anyone who means to give himself without reserve to Christ and to the work of redemption.” . . .“It is from Montfort that I have taken my motto: ‘Totus tuus’ (‘I am all thine’). Someday I’ll have to tell you Montfortians how I discovered De Montfort’s Treatise on True Devotion to Mary, and how often I had to reread it to understand it.”
Vatican Council II (1962–1965): ‘The maternal duty of Mary toward men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. All her saving influence on men originates not from some inner necessity, but from the divine pleasure. It flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on His mediation, depends entirely on it and draws all its power from it.’ . . . ‘The practices and exercises of devotion to her recommended by the Church in the course of the centuries [are to] be treasured.’ (Lumen Gentium: 60, 67).
This unique version includes two books in one; The original and best ‘True Devotion to Mary,’ translated from the French by Father Faber and a 33-Day ‘Preparation for Total Consecration’ along with Scripture Readings and Prayers. This version of True Devotion to Mary has the original Latin along with the English and uses the numbered format like other versions of this book. It also includes paintings by a famous 16th century artist, Bartolome Esteban Murillo.
A Treatise on the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin or True Devotion to Mary is considered the greatest book on the Blessed Virgin Mary ever written and has been recommended and practiced by eight Popes. This is the original ‘scrupulously faithful’ translation by Father Frederick William Faber. The great Marian Pope, Blessed Pope John Paul II practised this Devotion to Mary, in his Letter to the Montfort Fathers he says:
“A work destined to become a classic of Marian spirituality was published 160 years ago. St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort wrote the Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin at the beginning of the 1700s, but the manuscript remained practically unknown for more than a century. When, almost by chance, it was at last discovered in 1842 and published in 1843, the work was an instant success, proving extraordinarily effective in spreading the “true devotion” to the Most Holy Virgin. I myself, in the years of my youth, found reading this book a great help. There I found the answers to my questions, for at one point I had feared that if my devotion to Mary became too great, it might end up compromising the supremacy of the worship owed to Christ. Under the wise guidance of St. Louis Marie, I realized that if one lives the mystery of Mary in Christ this risk does not exist. In fact, this Saint’s Mariological thought is rooted in the mystery of the Trinity and in the truth of the Incarnation of the Word of God.”
“My 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. It is a lived teaching of outstanding ascetic and mystical depth, expressed in a lively and passionate style that makes frequent use of images and symbols.”
“All our perfection,” St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort writes, “consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ; and therefore, the most perfect of all devotions is, without any doubt, that which most perfectly conforms, unites and consecrates us to Jesus Christ. Now, Mary being the most conformed of all creatures to Jesus Christ, it follows that, of all devotions, that which most consecrates and conforms the soul to Our Lord is devotion to his holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to Mary, the more it is consecrated to Jesus (Treatise on True Devotion, n. 120).”
“When we praise her, love her, honour her or give anything to her, it is God who is praised, God who is loved, God who is glorified, and it is to God that we give, through Mary and in Mary (Treatise on True Devotion, n. 225).”
Saint Louis-Marie Grignon De Montfort was a Catholic Priest and Missionary in Brittany and Vendee, France. He was born in Montfort-sur-Meu in 1673 and died in 1716. He was canonized by Pius XII in 1947. His feast day is on April 28th. He is considered one of the early proponents of the field of Mariology as it is known today, and a candidate to become a Doctor of the Church.
From his childhood, he was indefatigably devoted to prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, and, when from his twelfth year he was sent as a day pupil to the Jesuit college at Rennes, he never failed to visit the church before and after class. He joined a society of young men who during holidays ministered to the poor and to the incurables in the hospitals, and read for them edifying books during their meals. At the age of nineteen, he went on foot to Paris to follow the course in theology, gave away on the journey all his money to the poor, exchanged clothing with them, and made a vow to subsist thenceforth only on alms. He was ordained priest at the age of twenty-seven, and for some time fulfilled the duties of chaplain in a hospital. In 1705, when he was thirty-two, he found his true vocation, and thereafter devoted himself to preaching to the people. During seventeen years he preached the Gospel in countless towns and villages. As an orator he was highly gifted, his language being simple but replete with fire and divine love. His whole life was conspicuous for virtues difficult for modern degeneracy to comprehend: constant prayer, love of the poor, poverty carried to an unheard-of degree, joy in humiliations and persecutions.
The following two instances will illustrate his success. He once gave a mission for the soldiers of the garrison at La Rochelle, and moved by his words, the men wept, and cried aloud for the forgiveness of their sins. In the procession which terminated this mission, an officer walked at the head, barefooted and carrying a banner, and the soldiers, also barefooted, followed, carrying in one hand a crucifix, in the other a rosary, and singing hymns.
Saint Louis De Montfort’s extraordinary influence was especially apparent in the matter of the Calvary at Pontchateau. When he announced his determination of building a monumental Calvary on a neighbouring hill, the idea was enthusiastically received by the inhabitants. For fifteen months between two and four hundred peasants worked daily without recompense, and the task had just been completed, when the king commanded that the whole should be demolished, and the land restored to its former condition. The Jansenists [heretical sect] had convinced the Governor of Brittany that a fortress capable of affording aid to persons in revolt was being erected, and for several months five hundred peasants, watched by a company of soldiers, were compelled to carry out the work of destruction. Father de Montfort was not disturbed on receiving this humiliating news, exclaiming only: “Blessed be God!”
This was by no means the only trial to which Grignion was subjected. It often happened that the Jansenists, irritated by his success, secure by their intrigues his banishment form the district, in which he was giving a mission. At La Rochelle some wretches put poison into his cup of broth, and, despite the antidote which he swallowed, his health was always impaired. On another occasion, some malefactors hid in a narrow street with the intention of assassinating him, but he had a presentiment of danger and escaped by going by another street. A year before his death, Father de Montfort founded two congregations—the Sisters of Wisdom, who were to devote themselves to hospital work and the instruction of poor girls, and the Company of Mary, composed of missionaries. He had long cherished these projects but circumstances had hindered their execution, and, humanly speaking, the work appeared to have failed at his death, since these congregations numbered respectively only four sisters and two priests with a few brothers. But the blessed founder, who had on several occasions shown himself possessed of the gift of prophecy, knew that the tree would grow. At the beginning of the twentieth century the Sisters of Wisdom numbered five thousand, and were spread throughout every country; they possessed forty-four houses, and gave instruction to 60,000 children. After the death of its founder, the Company of Mary was governed for 39 years by Father Mulot. He had at first refused to join de Montfort in his missionary labours. “I cannot become a missionary,” said he, “for I have been paralysed on one side for years; I have an affection of the lungs which scarcely allows me to breathe, and am indeed so ill that I have no rest day or night.” But the holy man, impelled by a sudden inspiration, replied, “As soon as you begin to preach you will be completely cured.” And the event justified the prediction. Saint Louis-Marie Grignon De Montfort was canonized by Pius XII in 1947.
Saint Louis-Marie Grignon De Montfort
IT WAS in the year 1846 or 1847, at St. Wilfrid’s, that I first studied the life and spirit of the Venerable Grignon de Montfort; and now, after more than fifteen years, it may be allowable to say, that those who take him for their master will hardly be able to name a saint or ascetical writer to whose grace and spirit their mind will be more subject than to his. We may not yet call him Saint; but the process of his beatification is so far and so favourably advanced, that we may not have long to wait before he will be raised upon the altars of the Church.
There are few men in the eighteenth century who have more strongly upon them the marks of the Man of Providence than this Elias-like Missionary of the Holy Ghost and of Mary. His entire life was such an exhibition of the holy folly of the Cross, that his biographers unite in always classing him with St. Simon Salo and St. Philip Neri. Clement XI made him a missionary-apostolic in France, in order that he might spend his life in fighting against Jansenism, so far as it affected the salvation of souls. Since the apostolical epistles it would be hard to find words that burn so marvellously as the twelve pages of his prayer for the Missionaries of the Holy Ghost, to which I earnestly refer all those who find it hard to keep up, under their numberless trials, the first fires of the love of souls. He was at once persecuted and venerated everywhere. His amount of work, like that of St. Antony of Padua, is incredible and, indeed, inexplicable. He wrote some spiritual treatises, which have already had a remarkable influence on the Church during the few years they have been known, and bid fair to have a much wider influence in years to come. His preaching, his writing, and his conversation were all impregnated with prophecy, and with anticipations of the latter ages of the Church. He comes forward, like another St. Vincent Ferrer, as if on the days bordering on the Last Judgment, and proclaims that he brings an authentic message from God about the greater honour and wider knowledge and more prominent love of His Blessed Mother, and her connexion with the second advent of her Son. He founded two religious congregations—one of men, and one of women—which have been quite extraordinarily successful; and yet he died at the age of forty-three, in 1716, after only sixteen years of priesthood.
It was on the 12th of May 1853, that the decree was pronounced at Rome, declaring his writings to be exempt from all error which could be a bar to his canonisation. In this very treatise on the veritable devotion to our Blessed Lady, he has recorded this prophecy. “I clearly foresee that raging brutes will come in fury to tear with their diabolical teeth this little writing, and him whom the Holy Ghost has made use of to write it; or at least to envelop it in the silence of a coffer, in order that it may not appear.” Nevertheless, he prophesies both its appearance and its success. All this was fulfilled to the letter. The author died in 1716, and the treatise was found by accident by one of the priests of his congregation at St. Laurent-sur-Sevre, in 1842. The existing superior was able to attest the handwriting as being that of the venerable founder; and the autograph was sent to Rome, to be examined in the process of canonisation.
All those who are likely to read this book love God, and lament that they do not love Him more; all desire something for His glory—the spread of some good work, the success of some devotion, the coming of some good time. One man has been striving for years to overcome a particular fault, and has not succeeded. Another mourns, and almost wonders while he mourns, that so few of his relations and friends have been converted to the faith. One grieves that he has not devotion enough; another that he has a cross to carry, which is a peculiarly impossible cross to him; while a third has domestic troubles and family unhappinesses, which feel almost incompatible with his salvation; and for all these things prayer appears to bring so little remedy. But what is the remedy that is wanted? what is the remedy indicated by God Himself? If we may rely on the disclosures of the Saints, it is an immense increase of devotion to our Blessed Lady; but, remember, nothing short of an immense one. Here, in England, Mary is not half enough preached. Devotion to her is low and thin and poor. It is frightened out of its wits by the sneers of heresy. It is always invoking human respect and carnal prudence, wishing to make Mary so little of a Mary that Protestants may feel at ease about her. Its ignorance of theology makes it unsubstantial and unworthy. It is not the prominent characteristic of our religion which it ought to be. It has no faith in itself. Hence it is that Jesus is not loved, that heretics are not converted, that the Church is not exalted; that souls, which might be saints, wither and dwindle; that the Sacraments are not rightly frequented, or souls enthusiastically evangelised.
Jesus is obscured because Mary is kept in the background. Thousands of souls perish because Mary is withheld from them. It is the miserable unworthy shadow which we call our devotion to the Blessed Virgin that is the cause of all these wants and blights, these evils and omissions and declines. Yet, if we are to believe the revelations of the Saints, God is pressing for a greater, a wider, a stronger, quite another devotion to His Blessed Mother. I cannot think of a higher work or a broader vocation for anyone than the simple spreading of this peculiar devotion of the Venerable Grignon de Montfort. Let a man but try it for himself, and his surprise at the graces it brings with it, and the transformations it causes in his soul, will soon convince him of its otherwise almost incredible efficacy as a means for the salvation of men, and for the coming of the kingdom of Christ. Oh, if Mary were but known, there would be no coldness to Jesus then! Oh, if Mary were but known, how much more wonderful would be our faith, and how different would our Communions be! Oh, if Mary were but known, how much happier, how much holier, how much less worldly should we be, and how much more should we be living images of our sole Lord and Saviour, her dearest and most blessed Son!
I have translated the whole treatise myself, and have taken great pains with it, and have been scrupulously faithful. At the same time, I would venture to warn the reader that one perusal will be very far from making him master of it. If I may dare to say so, there is a growing feeling of something inspired and supernatural about it, as we go on studying it; and with that we cannot help experiencing, after repeated readings of it, that its novelty never seems to wear off, nor its fulness to be diminished, nor the fresh fragrance and sensible fire of its unction ever to abate. May the Holy Ghost, the Divine Zealot of Jesus and Mary, deign to give a new blessing to this work in England; and may He please to console us quickly with the canonisation of this new apostle and fiery missionary of His most dear and most immaculate Spouse; and still more with the speedy coming of that great age of the Church, which is to be the Age of Mary!
F. W. Faber,
Priest of the Oratory
Presentation of our Blessed Lady,
“GOD wishes that His holy Mother should now be more known, more loved, more honoured, than ever she has been; and this will no doubt come to pass, if the predestinate will enter, by the grace and light of the Holy Ghost, into the interior and perfect practice which I will discover to them.” These words of the venerable servant of God, Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort, cannot fail to interest our piety, and to inspire us with a lively desire of learning from him so excellent a practice of honouring the most holy Virgin.
He had been drawn from his earliest infancy, in quite a particular fashion, to the love of this Queen of Angels; and in a conversation which he had with his intimate friend Monsieur Blain, two years before his death, the pious missionary confessed to him that God had favoured him with an extraordinary grace, which was the continued presence of Jesus and Mary in the bottom of his soul. This word was a mystery to Monsieur Blain; but we shall see the explanation of it in this little treatise. We shall see revealed to us there the heart of him who knew no fairer name than the slave of Jesus in Mary. We do not, however, pretend to say that this explanation will be equally understood by all. We must remember here that word of the Eternal Wisdom, “Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them to the little ones.” It has been said in the Life of the venerable servant of God, that his history will never be understood except by a Christian. It has this in common with the lives of a great number of the servants of God. We may say also that this little work will never be understood by a Christian who is too much a stranger to the maxims of humility and evangelical simplicity, and that the wise of this world will find themselves shocked at the lessons of true wisdom which they will read without penetrating their sense. Animalis homo non percipit ea, quce sunt Spiritus Dei. Stultitia enim est illiy et non potest intelligere,’ quia spiritualiter examinatur. The man who guides himself only by natural light does not comprehend the things of the Spirit of God. They seem to him follies, because they can only be judged by a supernatural light which he has not got. But let us hasten to add, that sincere and simple souls will relish the manna hidden in the pious and touching instructions of the virtuous priest who consumed his life in evangelising the poor. They will bless Divine Providence for the treasure. They will feel themselves penetrated with love for Jesus and Mary, in reading these burning pages, which the man of God wrote in the fervour of his prayer, without ever losing sight of the presence of our Divine Saviour and His holy Mother. . . . In conclusion, let us say a few words on the discovery of this treatise.
At the time of the French revolution in 1793, the manuscripts which the house of the Missionaries of St. Laurent-sur-Sevre possessed were hidden in the neighbouring farms, where they remained buried in dust for many years. Later on, those which were found were put into the library of the missionaries. But this little treatise was not at that time recognised, as was the case with some others also composed by the venerable founder of the Company. It was not till 1842 that one of the priests of the house of St. Laurent found it by chance in the library, where it had been put without being recognised, after having been mixed up with a great number of imperfect books. “After I had read a few pages,” says the priest, “I took it, hoping to find it useful for making a sermon on our Lady. I read by chance the place where he speaks of his Company of Mary. I recognised the style and thoughts of our venerable founder, and his way of addressing his missionaries; and after that, I had no doubt the manuscript was his. I took it to our superior, who identified the handwriting.”
The Son of God has made Himself Man; but it was in Mary and by Mary. God the Holy Ghost has formed Jesus Christ in Mary; but it was only after having asked her consent by one of the first ministers of His court.
God made Man has found His liberty in seeing Himself imprisoned in her womb. He has made His Omnipotence shine forth in letting Himself be carried by that blessed Virgin. He has found His glory and His Father’s in hiding His splendours from all creatures here below, and revealing them to Mary only. He has glorified His Independence and His Majesty, in depending on that sweet Virgin, in His Conception, in His Birth, in His Presentation in the Temple, in His Hidden Life of thirty years, and even in His Death, where she was to be present, in order that He might make with her but one same sacrifice, and be immolated to the Eternal Father by her consent; just as Isaac of old was offered by Abraham’s consent to the Will of God. It is she who has suckled Him, nourished Him, supported Him, brought Him up, and then sacrificed Him for us.
O admirable and incomprehensible dependence of a God, which the Holy Ghost could not pass in silence in the Gospel, although He has hidden from us nearly all the admirable things which that Incarnate Wisdom did in His Hidden Life, as if He would enable us, by His revelation Body. God the Son has of that at least, to understand something of its price! Jesus Christ gave more glory to God the Father by submission to His Mother during those thirty years than He would have given Him in converting the whole world by the working of the most stupendous miracles. Oh, how highly we glorify God, when, to please Him, we submit ourselves to Mary, after the example of Jesus Christ, our Sole Exemplar!
At the marriage at Cana He changed the water into wine; but it was at Mary’s humble prayer; and this was His first miracle of nature. He has begun and continued His miracles by Mary, and He will continue them to the end of ages by Mary also.
If Moses, by the force of his prayer, arrested the anger of God against the Israelites, in a manner so powerful that the Most High and infinitely merciful Lord, being unable to resist him, told him to let Him alone, that He might be angry with and punish that rebellious people, what must we not with much greater reason think of the prayer of the humble Mary, that worthy Mother of God, which is more powerful with His Majesty than the prayers and intercessions of all the Angels and Saints both in heaven and on earth?
The most infallible and indubitable sign by which we may distinguish a heretic, a man of bad doctrine, a reprobate, from one of the predestinate, is that the heretic and the reprobate have nothing but contempt and indifference for our Blessed Lady, endeavouring by their words and examples to diminish the worship and love of her openly or hiddenly, and sometimes under specious pretexts. Alas! God the Father has not told Mary to dwell in them, for they are Esaus.
St. Augustine, surpassing himself, and going beyond all I have yet said, affirms that all the predestinate, in order to be conformed to the image of the Son of God, are in this world hidden in the womb of the most holy Virgin; where they are guarded, nourished, brought up, and made to grow by that good Mother until she has brought them forth to glory after death, which is properly the day of their birth, as the Church calls the death of the just. O mystery of grace, unknown to the reprobate, and but little known even to the predestinate!
Mary has produced, together with the Holy Ghost, the greatest thing which has been, or ever will be, which is a God-Man; and she will consequently produce the greatest things that there will be in the latter times. The formation and education of the great Saints, who shall come at the end of the world, are reserved for her. For it is only that singular and miraculous Virgin who can produce, in union with the Holy Ghost, singular and extraordinary things.
§ 1. That Mary has received from God a great domination over the souls of the elect; for she cannot make her residence in them, as God the Father ordered her to do, and form them in Jesus Christ, or Jesus Christ in them, and strike the roots of her virtues in their hearts, and be the indissoluble companion of the Holy Ghost in all His works of grace—she cannot, I say, do all these things unless she has a right and domination over their souls by a singular grace of the Most High, who, having given her power over His only and Natural Son, has given it also to her over His adopted children, not only as to their bodies, which would be but little matter, but also as to their souls.
It is this which the Holy Ghost seems to have prophesied in the fifty-eighth Psalm, of which these are the words: Et scient quia Dominus dominabitur Jacob, et finium terrce; convertentur ad vesperam, et famem patientur ut canes, et circuibunt civitatem—“And they shall know that God will rule Jacob, and all the ends of the earth; they shall return at evening, and shall suffer hunger like dogs, and shall go round about the city.” This city which men shall find at the end of the world to convert themselves in, and to satisfy the hunger they have for justice, is the most holy Virgin, who is called by the Holy Ghost the City of God.
§ 1. Because she hid herself in this world, and put herself lower than the dust by her profound humility, having obtained of God and of His Apostles and Evangelists that she should not be made manifest.
§ 2. Because, being the masterpiece of the hands of God, as well here below by grace as in heaven by glory, He wishes to be glorified and praised in her by those who are living upon the earth.
§ 3. As she is the aurora which precedes and discovers the Sun of Justice, who is Jesus Christ, she ought to be recognised and perceived, in order that Jesus Christ may be so.
§ 4. Being the way by which Jesus Christ came to us the first time, she will also be the way by which He will come the second time, though not in the same manner.
§ 5. Being the sure means and the straight and immaculate way to go to Jesus Christ, and to find Him perfectly, it is by her that the holy souls, who are to shine forth especially in sanctity, have to find our Lord. He who shall find Mary shall find life; that is, Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. But no one can find Mary who does not seek her; and no one can seek her, who does not know her: for we cannot seek or desire an unknown object. It is necessary, then, for the greater knowledge and glory of the Most Holy Trinity, that Mary should be more known than ever.
§ 6. Mary must shine forth more than ever in mercy, in might, and in grace, in these latter times: in mercy, to bring back and lovingly receive the poor strayed sinners who shall be converted and shall return to the Catholic Church; in might, against the enemies of God, idolaters, schismatics, Mahometans, Jews, and souls hardened in impiety, who shall rise in terrible revolt against God to seduce all those who shall be contrary to them, and to make them fall by promises and threats; and, finally, she must shine forth in grace, in order to animate and sustain the valiant soldiers and faithful servants of Jesus Christ, who shall do battle for His interests.
§ 7. And, lastly, Mary must be terrible to the devil and his crew, as an army ranged in battle, principally in these latter times, because the devil, knowing that he has but little time, and now less than ever, to destroy souls, will every day redouble his efforts and his combats. He will presently raise up new persecutions, and will put terrible snares before the faithful servants and true children of Mary, whom it gives him more trouble to surmount than it does to conquer others.
But the power of Mary over all the devils will especially break out in the latter times, when Satan will lay his snares against her heel; that is to say, her humble slaves and her poor children, whom she will raise up to make war against him. They shall be little and poor in the world’s esteem, and abased before all, like the heel, trodden underfoot and persecuted as the heel is by the other members of the body. But in return for this, they shall be rich in the grace of God, which Mary shall distribute to them abundantly. They shall be great and exalted before God in sanctity, superior to all other creatures by their animated zeal, and leaning so strongly on the divine succour, that, with the humility of their heel, in union with Mary, they shall crush the head of the devil, and cause Jesus Christ to triumph.
They shall be a burning fire of the ministers of the Lord, who shall kindle the fire of divine love everywhere, and sicut sagittce in manu potentis—like sharp arrows in the hand of the powerful Mary to pierce her enemies.
They shall be the sons of Levi, well purified by the fire of great tribulation, and closely adhering to God; who shall carry the gold of love in their heart, the incense of prayer in their spirit, and the myrrh of mortification in their body; and they shall be everywhere the good odour of Jesus Christ to the poor and to the little, while they shall be an odour of death to the great, to the rich, and to the proud worldlings.
These are the great men who shall come. But Mary shall be there by the order of the Most High, to extend His empire over that of the impious, the idolaters, and the Mahometans. But when and how shall this be? God alone knows.
It is for us to hold our tongues, to pray, to sigh, and to wait—exspectans exspectavi.
We hear them sometimes speak of devotion to Thy holy Mother, not for the purpose of establishing it and persuading men to it, but to destroy the abuses which are made of it, while all the time these teachers are without piety or tender devotion towards Thyself, simply because they have none for Mary. They regard the Rosary, the Scapular, and the Chaplet as devotions proper for weak and ignorant minds, and without which men can save themselves; and if there falls into their hands any poor client of our Lady, who says his Rosary, or has any other practice of devotion towards her, they soon change his spirit and his heart. Instead of the Rosary, they counsel him the seven Penitential Psalms. Instead of devotion to the holy Virgin, they counsel him devotion to Jesus Christ.
O my sweet Jesus, have these people got Thy spirit? Do they please Thee in acting thus? Is it to please Thee, to spare one single effort to please Thy Mother for fear of thereby displeasing Thee? Does devotion to Thy holy Mother hinder devotion to Thyself? Is it that she attributes to herself the honour which we pay her? Is it that she makes a side for herself apart? Is it that she is an alien, who has no union with Thee? Does it displease Thee that we should try to please her? Is it to separate or to alienate ourselves from Thy love to give ourselves to her and to love her?
“Tu es Christus, pater meus sanctus, Deus meus pius, rex meus magnus, pastor meus bonus, magister meus unus, adjutor meus optimus, dilectus meus pulcherrimus, panis meus vivus, sacerdos meus in aeternum, dux meus ad patriam, lux mea vera, dulcedo mea sancta, via mea recta, sapientia mea praeclara, simplicitas mea pura, concordia mea pacifica, custodia mea tota, portio mea bona, salus mea sempitema.”
“Christe Jesu, amabilis Domine, cur amavi, quare concupivi in omni vita mea quidquam praeter te Jesum Deum meum? Ubi eram quando tecum mente non eram? Jam ex hoc nunc, omnia desideria mea, incalescite et effluite in Dominum Jesum; currite, satis hactenus tardastis; properate, quo pergitis; quaerite quam quaeritis. Jesu, qui non amat te, anathema sit; qui te non amat, amaritudinibus repleatur.”
“O dulcis Jesu, te amet, in te delectetur, te admiretur omnis sensus bonus tuae conveniens laudi; Deus cordis mei et pars mea, Christe Jesu, deficiat cor meum spiritu suo, et vivas tu in me, et concalescat spiritu meo vivus carbo amoris tui, et excrescat in ignem perfectum, ardeat jugiter in ara cordis mei, ferveat in medullis meis, flagret in absconditis animae meae; in die consummationis meae consummatus inveniar apud te. Amen.”
I have desired to put in Latin this admirable prayer of St. Augustine, in order that those who understand Latin may say it every day, to ask for the love of Jesus, which we seek by the divine Mary.
[The translator thinks it well to give the prayer in English, and without throwing it into the small print of a note:]
Thou art Christ, my holy Father, my tender God, my great King, my good Shepherd, my one Master, my best Helper, my most Beautiful and my Beloved, my living Bread, my Priest for ever, my Leader to my country, my true Light, my holy Sweetness, my straight Way, my excellent Wisdom, my pure Simplicity, my pacific Harmony, my whole Guard, my good Portion, my everlasting Salvation.
Christ Jesus, sweet Lord, why have I ever loved, why in my whole life have I ever desired, anything except Thee, Jesus my God? Where was I, when I was not in Thy mind with Thee? Now, from this time forth, do ye, all my desires, grow hot, and flow out upon the Lord Jesus; run—ye have been tardy so far; hasten whither ye are going; seek whom ye are seeking. O Jesus, may he who loves Thee not be anathema; may he who loves Thee not be filled with bitterness!
O sweet Jesus, may every good feeling that is fitted for Thy praise love Thee, delight in Thee, admire Thee, God of my heart, and my Portion! Christ Jesus, may my heart faint away in spirit, and mayest Thou be my life within me! May the live coal of Thy love grow hot within my spirit, and break forth into a perfect fire; may it burn incessantly on the altar of my heart; may it glow in my innermost being; may it blaze in hidden recesses of my soul; and in the day of my consummation may I be found consummated with Thee! Amen.
§ 1. To trees planted along the waters of grace in the field of the Church, who ought to bring forth their fruit in their seasons;
§ 2. To the branches of a vine, of which Jesus Christ is the stock, and which must yield good grapes;
§ 3. To a flock of which Jesus Christ is the shepherd, and which is to multiply and give milk;
§ 4. To a good land, of which God is the labourer, in which the seed multiplies itself, and brings forth thirty-fold, sixty-fold, and a hundred-fold.
Jesus Christ cursed the unfruitful fig-tree, and gave sentence against the useless servant, who had not made any profit on his talent. All this proves to us that Jesus Christ wishes to receive some fruits from our wretched selves, namely, our good works, because those good works belong to Him alone: Creati in operibus bonis in Christo Jesu—“Created in good works in Christ Jesus,”—which words show both that Jesus Christ is the sole principle, and ought to be the sole end of all our good works, and also that we ought to serve Him, not as servants on wages, but as slaves of love. I will explain myself.
By common service amongst Christians a man engages himself to serve another, daring a certain time, at a certain rate of wages or of recompense.
By slavery a man is entirely dependent on another for his whole life, and must serve his master without pretending to any wages or reward, just as one of his beasts, over which he has the right of life and death.
§ 1. A servant does not give all he is, all he has, and all he can acquire by himself or by another, to his master; but the slave gives himself whole and entire to his master, all he has and all he can gain, without any exception.
§ 2. The servant exacts wages for the services which he performs for his master; but the slave can exact nothing, whatever assiduity, whatever industry, whatever energy, he may have at his work.
§ 3. The servant can leave his master when he pleases, or at least when the time of his service shall be expired; but the slave has no right to quit his master at his will.
§ 4. The master of the servant has no right of life and death over him, so that if he kill him like one of his beasts of burden, he would commit an unjust homicide; but the master of the slave has by the law a right of life and death over him, so that he may sell him to anybody he likes, or kill him, as if he stood on the same level as one of his horses.
§ 5. Lastly, the servant is only for a time in his master’s service; the slave is for always.
§ 1. First, thoroughly recognise, by the light of the Holy Ghost, our inward corruption, our incapacity for every good thing useful for salvation, our weakness in all things, our inconstancy at all times, our indignity of every grace, and our iniquity in every position. The sin of our first father has spoilt us all, soured us, puffed us up and corrupted us, as the leaven sours, puffs, and corrupts the paste into which it is put. The actual sins which we have committed, whether mortal or venial, pardoned though they may be, have nevertheless increased our concupiscence, our weakness, our inconstancy, and our corruption, and have left evil consequences in our souls.
Our bodies are so corrupted that they are called by the Holy Ghost bodies of sin, conceived in sin, nourished in sin, and capable of all sin—bodies subject to thousands of maladies, which go on corrupting from day to day, and which engender nothing but disease, vermin, and corruption.
Our soul, united to our body, has become so carnal, that it is called flesh. “All flesh having corrupted its way,” we have nothing for our portion but pride and blindness in the spirit, hardness in the heart, weakness and inconstancy in the soul, concupiscence, revolted passions, and sicknesses in the body. We are naturally prouder than peacocks, more grovelling on the earth than toads, more vile than unclean animals, more envious than serpents, more gluttonous than hogs, more furious than tigers, lazier than tortoises, weaker than reeds, and more capricious than weathercocks. We have down in our own selves nothing but nothingness and sin, and we deserve nothing but the anger of God, and the everlasting hell.
The practice which I am about to disclose is one of these secrets of grace, unknown by the greater number of Christians, known even to few of the devout, and practised and relished by a far less number still. But in order to begin to disclose this practice, let us consider a fourth truth, which is a consequence of the third.
Let us say boldly with St. Bernard, that we have need of a mediator with the Mediator Himself, and that it is the divine Mary who is the most capable of filling that charitable office. It is by her that Jesus Christ came, and it is by her that we must go to Him. If we fear to go directly to Jesus Christ our God, whether because of His infinite greatness, or because of our vileness, or because of our sins, let us boldly implore the aid and intercession of Mary our Mother. She is good, she is tender, she has nothing in her austere or repulsive, nothing too sublime and too brilliant. In seeing her, we see our pure nature. She is not the sun, who, by the vivacity of his rays, blinds us because of our weakness; but she is fair and gentle as the moon, which receives the light of the sun, and tempers it to render it more suitable to our capacity. She is so charitable that she repels none of those who ask her intercession, no matter how great sinners they have been; for, as the Saints say, never has it been heard since the world was the world, that anyone has confidently and perseveringly had recourse to our Blessed Lady, and yet has been repelled. She is so powerful that never have any of her petitions been refused. She has but to show herself before her Son to pray to Him, and straightway He grants her desires, straightway He receives her prayers. He is always lovingly vanquished by the breasts, the yearnings, and the prayers of His dearest Mother.
§ 1. Because we have this treasure, which is worth more than heaven and earth put together, in frail vessels—Habemus thesaurum isturn in vasis fictilibus—in a corruptible body, and in a weak and inconstant soul, which a mere nothing disturbs and dejects.
§ 1. False devotions to our Blessed Lady in order to avoid them; and;
§ 2. The true devotion in order to embrace it.
In conclusion, among so many practices of true devotion to our Blessed Lady, I will explain more in detail, in the second part of this treatise, which is the most perfect one, the one most agreeable to our Lady, the most glorious to God, and the most sanctifying to ourselves, in order that we may attach ourselves to it.
§ 1. The critical devotees;
§ 2. The scrupulous devotees;
§ 3. The external devotees;
§ 4. The presumptuous devotees;
§ 5. The inconstant devotees;
§ 6. The hypocritical devotees; and;
§ 7. The interested devotees.
These kind of false devotees and of proud and worldly people are greatly to be feared. They do an infinite wrong to the devotion to our Lady; and they are but too successful in alienating people from it, under the pretext of destroying its abuses.
These are the favourite sentences constantly in their mouths: “To what end are so many chaplets, so many confraternities, and so many external devotions to the Blessed Virgin? There is much of ignorance in all this. It makes a mummery of our religion. Speak to us of those who are devout to Jesus Christ” (yet they often name Him without uncovering: I say this by way of parenthesis). “We must have recourse to Jesus Christ; He is our only Mediator. We must preach Jesus Christ; this is the solid devotion.” What they say is true in a certain sense, but it is very dangerous, when, by the application they make of it, they hinder devotion to our Blessed Lady, and it is, under the pretext of a greater good, a subtle snare of the evil one. For never do we honour Jesus Christ more than when we are most honouring His Blessed Mother. Indeed we only honour Mary that we may the more perfectly honour Jesus, inasmuch as we only go to her as to the way in which we are to find the end we are seeking, which is Jesus.
They will not believe us when we tell them that their devotion is only an illusion of the devil, and a pernicious presumption likely to destroy their souls. They say that God is good and merciful; that He has not made us to condemn us everlastingly; that no man is without sin; that they shall not die without confession; that one good Peccavi at the hour of death is enough; that they are devout to our Lady; that they wear the scapular; and that they say daily, without reproach or vanity, seven Paters and Aves in her honour; and that they sometimes say the Rosary and the Office of our Lady, besides fasting, and other things. To give authority to all this, and to blind themselves still further, they quote certain stories, which they have heard or read—it does not matter to them whether they be true or false—relating how people have died in mortal sin without confession; and then, because in their lifetime they sometimes said some prayers, or went through some practices of devotion to our Lady, how they have been raised to life again, in order to go to confession, or their soul been miraculously retained in their bodies till confession; or how they have obtained from God at the moment of death contrition and pardon of their sins, and so have been saved; and that they themselves expect similar favours.
I confess that, in order to be truly devout to our Blessed Lady, it is not absolutely necessary to be so holy as to avoid every sin, though this were to be wished; but so much at least is necessary, and I beg you to lay it well to heart:
§ 1. To have a sincere resolution to avoid, at least, all mortal sin, which outrages the Mother as well as the Son.
§ 2. I would add also that to do violence to ourselves to avoid sin, to enrol ourselves in confraternities, to say the Rosary or other prayers, to fast on Saturdays, and the like.
§ 1. interior,
§ 2. tender,
§ 3. holy,
§ 4. constant, and;
§ 5. disinterested.
§ 1. To honour her as the worthy Mother of God, with the worship of hyperdulia; that is to say, to esteem her and honour her above all the other Saints, as the masterpiece of grace, and the first after Jesus Christ, true God and true Man;
§ 2. To meditate her virtues, her privileges, and her actions;
§ 3. To contemplate her grandeurs;
§ 4. To make to her acts of love, of praise, of gratitude;
§ 5. To invoke her cordially;
§ 6. To offer ourselves to her, and unite ourselves with her;
§ 7. To do all our actions with the view of pleasing her;
§ 8. To begin, to continue, and to finish all our actions by her, in her, and with her, in order that we may do them by Jesus Christ, in Jesus Christ, with Jesus Christ, and for Jesus Christ our Last End. We will presently explain this last practice.
§ 1. To enrol ourselves in her confraternities, and enter her congregations;
§ 2. To join the religious orders instituted in her honour;
§ 3. To publish her praises;
§ 4. To give alms, to fast, and to undergo outward and inward mortifications in her honour;
§ 5. To wear her liveries, such as the rosary, the scapular, or the little chain;
§ 6. To recite with attention, devotion, and modesty, the holy Rosary, composed of fifteen decades of Hail Marys in honour of the fifteen principal mysteries of Jesus Christ, or five decades, which is the third of the Rosary, either in honour of the five Joyous Mysteries, which are the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity of Jesus Christ, the Purification, and the Finding of our Lord in the Temple; or in honour of the five Sorrowful Mysteries, which are the Agony of our Lord in the Garden of Olives, His Scourging, His Crowning with Thorns, His Carrying of the Cross, and His Crucifixion; or in honour of the five Glorious Mysteries, which are the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Ascension, the Descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, the Assumption of our Blessed Lady body and soul into Heaven, and her Coronation by the Three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity. We may also say a Chaplet of six or seven decades in honour of the years which we believe our Lady lived on earth; or the little Corona of the Blessed Virgin, composed of three Our Fathers and twelve Hail Marys, in honour of her crown of twelve stars, or privileges; or the Office of our Lady, so universally received and recited in the Church; or the Little Psalter of the holy Virgin, which St. Bonaventure has composed in her honour, and which is so tender and so devout that one cannot say it without being melted by it; or fourteen Our Fathers and Hail Marys in honour of her fourteen joys; or some other prayers, hymns, and canticles of the Church, such as the Salve Regina, the Alma, the Ave Regina ecelorum, or the Regina eceli, according to the different seasons; or the Ave Maris stella, the O gloriosa Domina, the Magnificat, or some other practices of devotion of which books are full;
§ 7. To sing or have sung spiritual canticles in her honour;
§ 8. To make her a number of genuflexions or reverences, while saying, for example, every morning, sixty or a hundred times Ave Maria, Virgo fidelis, to obtain from God the grace by her to be faithful to the graces of God during the day; and then again in the evening, Ave Maria, Mater misericordice, to ask pardon of God by her for the sins that we have committed during the day;
§ 9. To take care of her confraternities, to adorn her altars, to crown and ornament her images;
§ 10. To carry her images, or to have them carried, in procession, and to carry a picture or image of her about our own persons, as a mighty arm against the evil spirit;
§ 11. To have her images or her name carved, and placed in churches, or in houses, or on the gates and entrances into cities, churches, and houses;
§ 12. To consecrate ourselves to her in a special and solemn manner.
§ 1. With a good and pure intention to please God only, to unite ourselves to Jesus Christ as to our Last End, and to edify our neighbour;
§ 2. With attention, and without voluntary distraction;
§ 3. With devotion, equally avoiding precipitation or negligence;
§ 4. With modesty, and a respectful and edifying care of the postures of the body.
Hence it comes to pass, that the most perfect consecration to Jesus Christ is nothing else but a perfect and entire consecration of ourselves to the Blessed Virgin, and this is the devotion which I teach; or in other words, a perfect renewal of the vows and promises of holy Baptism.
§ 1. Our body, with all its senses and its members;
§ 2. Our soul, with all its powers;
§ 3. The exterior goods of fortune, whether present or to come;
§ 4. Our interior and spiritual goods, which are our merits and our virtues, and our good works, past, present, and future.
In a word, we must give her all we have in the order of nature and in the order of grace, and all that may become ours in future in the orders of nature, grace, and glory; and this we must do without any 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 honour of belonging to Jesus Christ by Mary and in Mary, even though that sweet Mistress were not, as she always is, the most generous and the most grateful of creatures.
§ 1. By this devotion, we give to Jesus Christ, in the most perfect manner, inasmuch as it is by Mary’s hands, all we can give Him, and far more than by any other devotions, in which we give Him either part of our time, or a part of our good works, or a part of our satisfactions and mortifications; whereas here everything is given and consecrated to Him, even to the right of disposing of our interior goods, and of the satisfactions which we gain by our good works daily. This is more than we do even in a religious order. In religious orders we give God the goods of fortune by the vow of poverty, the goods of the body by the vow of chastity, our own will by the vow of obedience, and sometimes the liberty of the body by the vow of cloister. But we do not by those vows give Him the liberty or the right to dispose of the value of our good works; and we do not strip ourselves, as far as a Christian man can do so, of that which is dearest and most precious to Him, namely, his merits and satisfactions.
For every Christian, before his Baptism, was the slave of the devil, seeing that he belonged to him. He has in his Baptism, by his own mouth or by his sponsor’s, solemnly renounced Satan, his pomps and his works; and he has taken Jesus Christ for his Master and Sovereign Lord, to depend upon Him in the quality of a slave of love. This is what we do by the present devotion. We renounce, as is expressed in the formula of consecration, the devil, the world, sin, and self; and we give ourselves entirely to Jesus Christ by the hands of Mary. Nay, we even do something more; for, in Baptism, we ordinarily speak by the mouth of another, namely, by our godfather or godmother, and so we give ourselves to Jesus Christ not by ourselves but through another. But in this devotion we do it by ourselves, voluntarily, knowing what we are doing.
Moreover, in holy Baptism, we do not give ourselves to Jesus by the hands of Mary, at least not in an expressed manner; and we do not give Him the value of our good actions. We remain entirely free after Baptism, either to apply them to whom we please or to keep them for ourselves. But, by this devotion, we give ourselves to our Lord expressly by the hands of Mary, and we consecrate to Him the value of all our actions.
I answer them as follows:
§ 1. That it is not credible that our parents, friends, and benefactors, should suffer any damage from the fact of our being devoted and consecrated without exception to the service of our Lord and His holy Mother. To think this, would be to think unworthily of the goodness and power of Jesus and Mary, who know well how to assist our parents, friends, and benefactors out of our own little spiritual revenue, or by other ways.
§ 2. This practice does not hinder us from praying for others, whether dead or living, although the application of our good works depends on the will of our Blessed Lady. On the contrary, it is this very thing which will lead us to pray with more confidence; just as a rich person, who has given all his wealth to his prince, in order to honour him the more, would beg the prince all the more confidently to give an alms to one of his friends who should demand it. It would even be a source of pleasure to the prince to be given an occasion of proving his gratitude toward a person who had stripped himself to clothe him and impoverished himself to honour him. We must say the same of our Blessed Lord and of our Lady. They will never let themselves be outdone in gratitude.
This objection, which comes from self-love and ignorance of the generosity of God and His holy Mother, refutes itself. A fervent and generous soul who gives God all he has, without reserve, so that he can do nothing more; who lives only for the glory and reign of Jesus Christ, through His holy Mother, and who makes an entire sacrifice of himself to bring it about—will this generous and liberal soul, I say, be more punished in the other world because it has been more liberal and more disinterested than others? Far, indeed, will that be from the truth! Rather, it is toward that soul . . . that our Lord and His holy Mother are the most liberal in this world and in the other, in the orders of nature, grace and glory.
If we can conceive on earth no employment more lofty than the service of God—if the least servant of God is richer, more powerful and more noble than all the kings and emperors of this earth, unless they also are the servants of God—what must be the riches, the power and the dignity of the faithful and perfect servant of God, who is devoted to His service entirely and without reserve, to the utmost extent possible? Such is the faithful and loving slave of Jesus in Mary who has given himself up entirely to the service of that King of Kings, by the hands of His holy Mother, and has reserved nothing for himself. Not all the gold of earth nor all the beauties of the heavens can repay him.
This good Master has not disdained to shut Himself up in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, as a captive and as a loving slave, and to be subject and obedient to her for thirty years. It is here, I repeat it, that the human mind loses itself when it seriously reflects on the conduct of the Incarnate Wisdom, who has not willed, though He might have done so, to give Himself to men directly, 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 and little babe, dependent on the cares and nourishment 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 of His life, like other children, but for thirty years! He gave more glory to God His Father during all that time of submission and dependence to our Blessed Lady than He would have given Him if He had employed those thirty years in working miracles, in preaching to the whole earth, and in converting all men, seeing that His heavenly Father and Himself had ruled it thus: Quce placita sunt ei, facio semper. Oh! how highly we glorify God, when, after the example of Jesus, we submit ourselves to Mary!
Having, then, before our eyes an example so plain and so well known to the whole world, are we so senseless as to imagine that we can find a more perfect or a shorter means of glorifying God than that of submitting ourselves to Mary, after the example of her Son?
“Duo filii Mariae sunt, homo Deus et homo purus, unius corporaliter, et alterius spiritualiter Mater est Maria” (St. Bonaventure and Origen).
“Mary has two sons, the one a God-man, the other, mere man. She is Mother of the first corporally and of the second spiritually” (St. Bonaventure and Origen).
“Haec est voluntas Dei, qui totum nos voluit habere per Mariam, ac proinde si quid spei, si quid gratiae, si quid salutis, ab ea noverimus redundare” (St. Bernard).
“This is the will of God who willed that we should have all things through Mary. If then, we possess any hope or grace or gift of salvation, let us acknowledge that it comes to us through her” (St. Bernard).
“Omnia dona, virtutes gratiae ipsius Spiritus Sancti, quibus vult, et quando vult, quomodo vult, et quantum vult, per ipsius manus administrantur” (St. Bernardine).
“All the gifts, graces, virtues of the Holy Spirit are distributed by the hands of Mary, to whom she wills, when she wills, as she wills, and in the measure she wills” (St. Bernardine).
“Quia indignus eras cui donaretur, datum est Mariae, ut per illam acciperes quidquid haberes” (St. Bernard).
“As you were not worthy that anything divine should be given to you, all graces were given to Mary so that you might receive through her all graces you would not otherwise receive” (St. Bernard).
This is precisely what our devotion does. We offer and consecrate all we are and all we have to the Blessed Virgin, in order that our Lord may receive through her mediation the glory and the gratitude which we owe Him. We acknowledge ourselves unworthy and unfit to approach His Infinite Majesty by ourselves; and it is on this account that we avail ourselves of the intercession of the most holy Virgin.
It is this which makes him approach our Lord without servile or scrupulous fear, and pray to Him with great confidence. It is this which makes him enter into the sentiments of the devout and learned Abbot Rupert, who, making an allusion to the victory that Jacob gained over the angel, said to our Blessed Lady these beautiful words: “O Mary, my Princess, Immaculate Mother of a God-Man, Jesus Christ, I desire to wrestle with that Man, namely, the Divine Word, not armed with my own merits, but with yours.” O Domina, Dei genitrix Maria, et incorrupta Mater Dei et Hominis, non meis, sed tuis armatus meritis, cum isto Viro, seu Verbo Dei, luctari cupio (Rup. Prolog. in Cantic.)
Oh, how strong and mighty we are with Jesus Christ, when we are armed with the worthy merits and intercession of the Mother of God, who, as St. Augustine says, has lovingly vanquished the Most High.
§ 2.1. She purifies them of all the soil of self-love, and of that imperceptible attachment to the creature, which slips incessantly into our best actions. As soon as they are in her most pure and fruitful hands, those same hands, which have never been sullied or idle, and which purify whatever they touch, take away from the present which we make to her all that was spoilt or imperfect about it.
I shall bring forward presently the true figure of these truths in the history of Jacob and Rebecca.
§ 1. It is an easy way. It is the way which Jesus Christ Himself trod in coming to us, and in which there is no obstacle in arriving at Him. It is true that we can attain to divine union by other roads; but it is by many more crosses, and strange deaths, and with many more difficulties, which we shall find it hard to overcome. We must pass through obscure nights, through combats, through strange agonies, over craggy mountains, through cruel thorns, and over frightful deserts. But, by the path of Mary, we pass more gently and more tranquilly.
We do find, it is true, great battles to fight, and great hardships to master; but that good Mother and Mistress makes herself so present and so near to her faithful servants, to enlighten them in their darknesses and their doubts, to strengthen them in their fears, and to sustain them in their struggles and their difficulties, that in truth this virginal path to find Jesus Christ is a path of roses and honey compared with the other paths. There have been some Saints, but they have been in small numbers, who have passed by this sweet path to go to Jesus, because the Holy Ghost, faithful Spouse of Mary, has by a singular grace disclosed it to them. Such were St. Ephrem, St. John Damascene, St. Bernard, St. Bernardine, St. Bonaventure, St. Francis of Sales, and others. But the rest of the Saints, who are the greater number, although they have all had devotion to our Blessed Lady, have not on that account, or at least very little, entered upon this way. This is why they have had to pass through ruder and more dangerous trials.
§ 2.1. Because he is every day amassing treasures, by the secret of that philosopher’s-stone—Qui honorat matrem quasi qui thesaurizat;
§ 2.2. Because it is the bosom of Mary which has surrounded and engendered a perfect man, and has had the capacity of containing Him whom the whole universe could neither contain nor comprehend—it is, I say, in the bosom of Mary that they who are youthful become elders in light, in holiness, in experience, and in wisdom; and that we arrive in a few years at the fulness of the age of Jesus Christ.
§ 4.1. It is a secure way, because the practice which I am teaching is not new. M. Boudon, who died a little while ago in the odour of sanctity, says, in a book which he composed on this devotion, that it is so ancient we cannot fix precisely the date of its commencement. It is, however, certain that for more than seven hundred years we find traces of it in the Church.
St. Odilon, the abbot of Cluny, who lived about the year 1040, was one of the first who publicly practised it in France; as is remarked in his life.
Cardinal Peter Damien relates that, in the year 1036, the Blessed Marino, his brother, made himself a slave of the Blessed Virgin in the presence of his director, in a most edifying manner. He put a rope round his neck, took the discipline, and laid on the altar a sum of money, to mark his devotion and consecration to our Lady; and he continued this devotion so faithfully during his whole life, that he deserved to be visited and consoled at his death by his good Mistress, and to receive from her mouth the promise of Paradise in recompense for his services.
Cesarius Bollandus mentions an illustrious cavalier, Vautier de Birbac, who, about the year 1500, consecrated himself to the Blessed Virgin.
This devotion was also practised by several private persons up to the seventeenth century, when it became public.
Father de Los Rios, the Augustinian, devoted himself, with his intimate friend, Father Roxas, to spread this devotion, both by preaching and writing, through Spain and Germany. He composed a thick volume, called Hierarchia Mariana, in which he treats, with as much piety as learning, of the antiquity, excellence, and solidity of this devotion.
Father Stanislas Phalacius, the Jesuit, increased this devotion wonderfully in Poland.
Father de Los Rios, in his work just cited, quotes the names of princes, princesses, dukes, and cardinals, of different kingdoms, who embraced this devotion.
Cornelius a Lapide, as much recommended for his piety as for his profound erudition, having received a commission from several theologians to examine this devotion, did so with great maturity and deliberation, and praised it in a manner which we might have expected from his well-known piety; and many other distinguished persons have followed his example.
The Jesuit Fathers, always zealous in the service of our Blessed Lady, presented, in the name of the Congreganists of Cologne, a little treatise on this devotion to the Duke Ferdinand of Bavaria, who was then Archbishop of Cologne. He gave it his approbation, and permission to print it; and exhorted all the parish-priests and religious of his diocese to promote the devotion as much as ever they could.
It is clear, then, that this devotion is not new; and that if it is not common, it is because it is too precious to be relished and practised by all the world.
It is quite true that the view of other creatures, however holy, may perhaps at certain times retard divine union. But this cannot be said of Mary, as I have remarked before, and shall never weary of repeating. One reason why so few souls come to the fulness of the age of Jesus Christ is because Mary, who is as much as ever the Mother of the Son, and as much as ever the fruitful Spouse of the Holy Ghost, is not sufficiently formed in their hearts. He who wishes to have the fruit well ripened and well-formed must have the tree that produces it; he who wishes to have the fruit of life, Jesus Christ, must have the tree of life, which is Mary; he who wishes to have in himself the operation of the Holy Ghost must have His faithful and indissoluble Spouse, the divine Mary, who makes Him fertile and fruit-bearing, as we have said elsewhere.
It is an easy road, because of the fulness of the grace and unction of the Holy Ghost, which fills it to overflowing. No one wearies there; no one walking there has ever to retrace his steps. It is a short; road, which leads us to Jesus in a little time. It is a perfect road, where there is no mud, no dust, nor the least spot of sin. Lastly, it is a secure road, which conducts us to Jesus Christ and life eternal in a straight and secure manner, without turning to the right hand or to the left. Let us, then, set forth upon that road, and walk there day and night, until we come to the fulness of the age of Jesus Christ.
§ 1. Takes all scruple and servile fear from the soul, with everything that is capable of contracting, imprisoning, or confusing it;
§ 2. He enlarges the heart by a firm confidence in God, making it look at Him as a Father; and;
§ 3. He inspires us with a tender and filial love.
Is not this to love our neighbour perfectly? Is not this to be the true disciple of Jesus Christ, who is always to be recognised by his charity? Is not this the way to convert sinners without any fear of vanity; and to deliver souls from Purgatory, without scarcely doing anything but what we are obliged to do by our state of life?
But we must remark that, inasmuch as our good works pass through the hands of Mary, they receive an augmentation of purity, and consequently of merit, and of satisfactory and impetratory value. On this account they become more capable of solacing the souls in Purgatory and of converting sinners than if they did not pass by the virginal and liberal hands of Mary. It may be little that we give by our Lady; but, in truth, if it is given without our own will, and with a disinterested charity, that little becomes very mighty to turn the wrath of God, and to attract His mercy. It would be no wonder if, at the hour of death, it should be found that a person faithful to this practice shall, by the means of it, have delivered many souls from Purgatory, and converted many sinners, though he shall have done nothing more than the ordinary actions of his state of life. What joy at his judgment! What glory in his eternity!
On the other hand, by this devotion we confide all we possess to the Blessed Virgin, who is faithful; we take her for the universal depositary of all our goods of nature and of grace. It is to her fidelity that we trust them. It is on her power that we lean. It is on her mercy and charity that we build, in order that she may preserve and augment our virtues and merits, in spite of the devil, the world, and the flesh, who put forth all their efforts to take them from us. We say to her, as a good child to his mother, and a faithful servant to her mistress, Depositum custodi—“My good Mother and Mistress, I acknowledge that up to this time I have, by your intercession, received more grace from God than I deserve; and my sad experience teaches me that I carry this treasure in a frail vessel, and that I am too weak and too miserable to keep it safely of myself. I beseech you, therefore, receive in trust all which I possess, and keep it for me by your fidelity and power. If you keep it for me, I shall lose nothing; if you hold me up, I shall not fall; if you protect me, I shall be sheltered from my enemies.”
Leave not your gold and silver in your coffers, which have been already broken open by the evil spirits, who have robbed you. Those coffers are too little, too weak, too old, to hold a treasure so precious and so great. Put not the pure and clear water of the fountain into your vessels, all spoilt and infected by sin. If the sin is there no longer, at least the odour of it is, and so the water will be spoilt. Put not your exquisite wines into your old casks, which have had bad wine in them; else even these wines will be spoilt, and perhaps break the casks, and be spilled upon the ground.
Pour, pour into the bosom and the heart of Mary all your treasures, all your graces, all your virtues. She is a spiritual vessel, she is a vessel of honour, she is a marvellous vessel of devotion—Vas spirituale, vas honorabile, vas insigne devotionis. Since God Himself has been shut up in person, with all His perfections, in that vessel, it has become altogether spiritual, and the spiritual abode of the most spiritual souls. It has become honourable, and the throne of honour for the grandest princes of eternity. It has become wonderful in devotion, and a dwelling the most illustrious for sweetnesses, for graces, and for virtues. It has become rich as a house of gold, strong as a tower of David, and pure as a tower of ivory.
Figure of this Consecration in the History of Jacob Receiving the Blessing of Isaac through the Offices of Rebecca
This is the history, as the Holy Ghost relates it. I will afterwards add the explanation of it.
Isaac, having been surprised by the voice, which he thought was Jacob’s voice, made him come near him. Having touched the skins with which his hands were covered, he said that the voice truly was the voice of Jacob, but that the hands were the hands of Esau.
After he had eaten, and, in kissing Jacob, had smelt the odour of his perfumed garments, he blessed him, and wished for him the dew of heaven and the fruitfulness of earth. He made him lord over all his brethren, and finished his blessing with these words, “Cursed be he that curseth thee, and let him that blesseth thee be filled with blessings.”
Isaac had hardly finished these words when Esau entered, and brought with him what he had captured while out hunting, in order that his father might eat it, and then bless him. The holy patriarch was surprised with an incredible astonishment when he understood what had happened. But, far from retracting what he had done, on the contrary he confirmed it, for he saw too plainly that the finger of God was in the matter. Esau then uttered great cries, as the holy Scripture remarks, and loudly accusing the deceitfulness of his brother, he asked his father if he had but one benediction; being in this point, as the holy Fathers remark, the image of those who are too glad to ally God with the world, and are fain to enjoy the consolations of heaven and the consolations of earth both together. At last Isaac, touched with the cries of Esau, blessed him, but with a blessing of the earth, subjecting him to his brother. This made him conceive such an envenomed hatred to Jacob, that he waited only for his father’s death, in order to kill him. Neither would Jacob have escaped death, if his dear mother Rebecca had not saved him from it by her industries, and by the good counsels which she gave him, and which he followed.
§ 1. Esau, the elder, was strong and robust of body, adroit and skilful in drawing the bow, and in taking much game in the chase.
§ 2. He hardly ever stayed in the house; and putting no confidence in anything but his own strength and address, he only worked out of doors.
§ 3. He took very little pains to please his mother Rebecca, and indeed did nothing for that end.
§ 4. He was such a glutton, and loved eating so much, that he sold his birthright for a mess of pottage.
§ 5. He was, like Cain, full of envy against his brother Jacob, and persecuted him beyond measure.
§ 1. They trust in their own strength and aptitude for temporal affairs. They are very strong, very able, and very enlightened in earthly business; but very weak and very ignorant in heavenly things—In terrenis fortes, in ecelestibus debiles.
As to Jacob, the younger:
§ 1. They are sedentary, and home-keepers, with their Mother. In other words, they love retirement, and are interior. They give themselves to prayer; but it is after the example and in the company of their Mother the holy Virgin, the whole of whose glory is within, and who, during her whole life, so much loved retirement and prayer. It is true that they sometimes appear without, in the world; but it is in obedience to the will of God, and that of their dear Mother, to fulfil the duties of their state. However apparently important their outward works may be, they esteem still more highly those which they do within themselves, in their interior, in the company of the Blessed Virgin. For it is within that they accomplish the great work of their perfection, compared with which all their other works are but infant sports. It is on this account that, while sometimes their brothers and sisters are working outwardly with much energy, success, and skill, in the praise and with the approbation of the world, they, on the contrary, know by the light of the Holy Ghost that there is far more glory, more good, and more pleasure, in remaining hidden in retreat with Jesus Christ their Model, in an entire and perfect subjection to their Mother, than to do of themselves wonders of nature and grace in the world, as so many Esaus and reprobates do. Gloria et divitice in domo ejus—“Glory for God and riches for men are to be found in the house of Mary.”
Lord Jesus, how sweet are Thy tabernacles! The sparrow has found a house to lodge in, and the turtle-dove a nest for her little ones. Oh, happy is the man who dwells in the house of Mary, where Thou wert the first to make Thy dwelling! It is in this house of the predestinate that he receives succour from Thee alone, and that he has disposed the steps and ascents of all the virtues, to raise himself in his heart to perfection in this vale of tears. Quam dilecta tabernacula tua !
§ 2.1. That she may receive them as things which belong to her;
§ 2.2. That she may kill them, and make them die to sin and self, in stripping them of their own skin, and their own self-love, and by this means to please Jesus her Son, who wills not to have any for His disciples and friends but those who are dead to themselves;
§ 2.3. That she may prepare them for the taste of our Heavenly Father, and for His greatest glory, which she knows better than any other creature; and;
§ 2.4. That by her cares and intercessions this body and soul, thoroughly purified from every stain, thoroughly dead, thoroughly stripped, and well prepared, may be a delicate meat, worthy of the mouth and the blessing of our Heavenly Father.
Is not this what the predestinate do, who relish and practise the perfect consecration to Jesus Christ by the hands of Mary, which we are now teaching them, by way of testifying to Jesus and Mary an effective and courageous love?
The reprobate tell us loudly enough that they love Jesus, and that they love and honour Mary; but it is not with their substance, it is not up to the point of sacrificing to them their body with its senses, their soul with its passions, as the predestinate do. These last are subject and obedient to our Blessed Lady, as to their good Mother; after the example of Jesus Christ, who, of the three-and-thirty years He lived on earth, employed thirty to glorify God His Father, by a perfect and entire subjection to His holy Mother.
The reprobate, on the contrary, putting all their trust in themselves, only eat with the prodigal what the swine eat. They eat earth like the toads, and, like the children of the world, they love only visible and external things. They have no relish for the sweetnesses of Mary’s bosom. They have not that feeling of a certain resting-place, and a sure confidence, which the predestinate feel in the holy Virgin, their good Mother. They are miserably attached to their outward hunger, as St. Gregory says, and make not so much as a pretence of having any taste for the sweetness which is prepared within themselves, and within Jesus and Mary.
The reprobate, on the contrary, are unhappy during their life, at their death, and for eternity, because they do not imitate our Lady in her virtues, but content themselves with sometimes being enrolled in her confraternities, reciting some prayers in her honour, or going through some other exterior devotion.
O holy Virgin, my good Mother, how happy are those (I repeat it with the transports of my heart)—how happy are those who, not letting themselves be seduced by a false devotion towards you, faithfully keep your ways, your counsels, and your orders! But how unhappy and accursed are those who abuse your devotion, and keep not the commandments of your Son—Maledicti omnes qui declinant a mandatis tuis!
I. She loves them: Ego diligentes me diligo—“I love those who love me.” She loves them;
I.I. Because she is their true Mother; and a mother loves her child, the fruit of her entrails;
I.II. She loves them out of gratitude, because they effectively love her as their good Mother;
I.III. She loves them because, being predestinate, God loves them—Jacob dilexi, Esau autem odio habui;
I.IV. She loves them because they are all consecrated to her, and are her possession and her inheritance—In Israel hcereditare.
She does not love them only with affection, but with efficacy. Her love for them is active and effective, equal to that of Rebecca for Jacob, and far beyond it. See what this good Mother, of whom Rebecca was but the type, does to obtain for her children the blessing of our Heavenly Father.
§ 3.1. She kills them, and makes them die to the old Adam.
§ 3.2. She flays, and strips them of their natural skin, their natural inclinations, self-love, their own will, and all attachment to creatures.
§ 3.3. She cleanses them of their spots, their vilenesses, and their sins.
§ 3.4. She dresses them to the taste of God, and to His greatest glory; and as it is Mary alone who knows perfectly what that divine taste is, and what that greatest glory of the Most High, it is Mary alone who, without making any mistake, can accommodate and dress our body and soul for that taste infinitely exalted, and for that glory infinitely hidden.
§ 4.1. She clothes us in the clean, new, precious, and perfumed garments of Esau the elder—that is, of Jesus Christ her Son—whom she keeps in her house—that is to say, whom she has in her own power. She is the treasurer and eternal dispenser of the merits and virtues of her Son, which she gives and communicates to whom she wills, when she wills, as she wills, and in such quantity as she wills; as we have seen before.
§ 4.2. She covers the neck and hands of her servants with the skins of the kids she killed; that is to say, she adorns them with the merits and value of her own proper actions. She kills and mortifies, it is true, all that is impure and imperfect in them, but she neither loses nor dissipates one atom of the good which grace has done there. On the contrary, she preserves and augments it, to make it the ornament and the strength of their neck and their hands; that is to say, to fortify them, and to help them to carry the yoke of the Lord, which is worn upon the neck, and to work great things for the glory of God, and the salvation of their poor brethren.
§ 4.3. She bestows a new perfume and a new grace upon their garments and adornments, in communicating to them her own garments, merits, and virtues, which she bequeathed to them by her testament, when she died; as said a holy religious of the last century, who died in the odour of sanctity, and learnt this by revelation. Thus all her domestics, faithful servants and slaves, are doubly clad in the garments of her Son and in her own—Omnes domestici vestiti sunt duplicibus. It is on this account that they have nothing to fear from the cold of Jesus Christ, who is white as snow—a cold which the reprobate, all naked, and stripped of the merits of Jesus and Mary, cannot for one moment bear.
§ 1. First, then, He gives them His double benediction, the benediction of the dew of Heaven, De rore ecelesti—that is to say, of divine grace, which is the seed of glory; Benedixit nos in omni benedictione spiritali in Christo Jesu; and then the benediction of the fat of the earth, De pinguedine terrce—that is to say, the good Father gives them their daily bread, and a sufficient abundance of the goods of this world.
§ 2. Secondly, He makes them masters of their other brethren, the reprobate. But this primacy is not always apparent in the world, which passes in an instant, and where the reprobate are often masters—Peccatores effabuntur et gloriabuntur; vidi impium superexaltatum et elevatum. But it is nevertheless a true primacy; and it will appear manifestly in the other world for all eternity, where the just, as the Holy Ghost says, shall reign over the nations, and command them—Dominabuntur populis.
§ 3. Thirdly, His Majesty, not content with blessing them in their persons and their goods, blesses also those who shall bless them, and curses those who shall curse and persecute them.
Rebecca made Jacob come near to his father’s bed. The good man touched him, embraced him, and even kissed him with joy, being content and satisfied with the well-dressed viands which he had brought him; and having smelt with much contentment the exquisite perfume of his garments, he cried out, Ecce odor filii mei sicut odor agri pleni, cui benedixit Dominus—“Behold the odour of my son, which is like the odour of a full field that the Lord hath blest.” This odour of the full field which charms the heart of the Father is nothing else than the odour of the virtues and merits of Mary, who is a field full of grace, where God the Father has sown His only Son, as a grain of the wheat of the elect.
Oh, how a child, perfumed with the good odour of Mary, is welcome with Jesus Christ, who is the Father of the world to come! Oh, how promptly and how perfectly is such a child united to his Lord! But we have shown this at length already.
This is the interpretation of [the history of Jacob and Esau] that great and ancient figure of predestination and reprobation, so unknown, and so full of mysteries.
§ 1. By the light which the Holy Ghost will give you by His dear Spouse, Mary, you will understand your own evil, your corruption, and your incapacity for anything good, which is not God’s free gift to us, either as Author of nature or of grace. In consequence of this knowledge, you will despise yourself. You will only think of yourself with horror. You will regard yourself as a snail, that spoils everything with its slime; or a toad, that poisons everything with its venom; or as a spiteful serpent, only seeking to deceive. In other words, the humble Mary will communicate to you a portion of her profound humility, which will make you despise yourself, despise nobody else, but love to be despised yourself.
§ 4.1. Because you will not be approaching to Jesus by yourself, but always by that good Mother;
§ 4.2. Because, as you have given her all your merits, graces, and satisfactions, to dispose of at her will, she will communicate to you her virtues, and will clothe you in her merits, so that you will be able to say to God with confidence, “Behold Mary Thy handmaid; be it done unto me according to Thy word,”—Ecce ancilla Domini, fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum;
§ 4.3. Because, as you have given yourself entirely to her, body and soul, she, who is liberal with the liberal, and more liberal even than the liberal, will in return give herself to you in a marvellous but real manner, so that you may say to her with assurance, Tuus sum ego, salvum me fac—“I am thine, holy Virgin; save me:” or, as I have said before, with the Beloved Disciple, Accepi te in mea, “I have taken thee, holy Mother, for all my goods.” You may also say with St. Bonaventure, Ecce, Domina, salvatrix mea, fiducialiter agam et non timebo, quia fortitudo mea, et laus mea in Domino es tu; and in another place, Tuus totus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt; O virgo gloriosa, super omnia benedicta, ponam te ut signaculum super cor meum, quia fortis est ut mors dilectio tua. “My dear Mistress, who saves me, I will have confidence and will not fear, because you are my strength and my praise in the Lord. . . . I am altogether yours, and all that I have belongs to you; O glorious Virgin, blessed above all created things! I will put you as a seal upon my heart, because your love is as strong as death.” You may say to God, in the sentiments of the prophet, Domine, non est exaltatum cor meum, neque elati sunt oculi mei; neque ambulavi in magnis, neque in mirabilibus super me, si non humiliter sentiebam; sed exaltavi animam meam: sicut ablactatus est super matre tua, ita retributio in anima mea—“Lord, my heart and my eyes have no right to extol themselves, or to be proud, or to seek great and wonderful things. Yet even in this I am not humble; but I have lifted up and encouraged my soul by confidence: I am like a child, weaned from the pleasures of earth, and resting on its mother’s lap; and it is on that lap that all good things come to me” (see Psalm cxxx.).
§ 4.4. What will still further increase your confidence in her is, that you will have less confidence in yourself. You have given her, in trust, all you have of good about you, that she may have it and keep it; and so all the trust you once had in yourself has become an increase of confidence in her, who is your treasure. Oh, what confidence and what consolation is this for a soul, who can say that the treasure of God, where He has been pleased to put all He had most precious, is his own treasure also! Ipsa est thesaurus Domini. It was a Saint who said she was the treasure of the Lord.
St. Augustin calls our Blessed Lady forma Dei—“the mould of God:” Si formam Dei te appellem, digna existis—“The mould fit to cast and mould gods.” He who is cast in this mould is presently formed and moulded in Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ in him. At a slight expense and in a short time he will become God, because he has been cast in the same mould which has formed a God.
§ 7.1. Because, doing your actions by our Blessed Lady, as this practice teaches you, you abandon your own intentions and operations, although good and known, to lose yourself, so to speak, in the intentions of the Blessed Virgin, although they are unknown. Thus you enter by participation into the sublimity of her intentions, which are so pure, that she gives more glory to God by the least of her actions—for example, in twirling her distaff or pointing her needle—than St. Lawrence by his cruel martyrdom on his gridiron, or even all the Saints by all their heroic actions put together. It was thus that, during her sojourn here below, she acquired such an unspeakable aggregate of graces and merits, that it were easier to count the stars of the firmament, the drops of water in the sea, or the grains of sand upon its shore, than her merits and graces. Thus it was that she gave more glory to God than all the Angels and Saints have given Him, or ever will give Him. O prodigy of a Mary! thou canst not help but do prodigies of grace in souls that wish to lose themselves altogether in thee!
I will only allude briefly to some exterior practices, which I do not call ‘exterior’ because we do them without any interior, but because they have something outward about them, to distinguish them from those which are purely inward.
They might also once a month, or even once a day, renew what they have done by these few words: Tuus totus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt—“I am all for Thee, and all I have belongs to Thee, O my sweet Jesus, by Mary Thy holy Mother.”
It is perfectly true that these external badges are not essential, and a person who has embraced this devotion may very well go without them; nevertheless, I cannot refrain from warmly praising those who, after having shaken off the shameful chains of the slavery of the devil, in which original sin, and perhaps actual sins, had engaged them, have voluntarily surrendered themselves to the glorious slavery of Jesus Christ, and glory with St. Paul in being in chains for Jesus; chains a thousand times more glorious and precious, though of iron, than all the golden collars of emperors.
First, it is to remind the Christian of the vows and engagements of his Baptism, of the perfect renewal he has made of them by this devotion, and of the strict obligation under which he is to be faithful to them. As the man who shapes his course more often by the senses than by pure faith easily forgets his obligations towards God, unless he has some outward thing to remind him of them, these little chains serve marvellously to remind the Christian of the chains of sin, and of the slavery of the devil, from which Baptism has delivered him, and of the dependence on Jesus which he has vowed to Him in Baptism, and of the ratification of it which he has made by the renewal of his vows. One of the reasons why so few Christians think of their baptismal vows, and live with as much license as if they had promised no more to God than the heathen, is because they do not wear any external badge to make them remember it.
Thirdly, it is to guarantee ourselves from the chains of sin and the devil, and to be beforehand with them; for we must wear either the chains of iniquity, or the chains of charity and salvation: Vincula peccatorum aut vincula charitatis.
These may be expressed in four words: to do all our actions by Mary, with Mary, in Mary, and for Mary; so that we may do them all the more perfectly by Jesus, with Jesus, in Jesus, and for Jesus.
It is on this account that St. Ambrose says: Sit in singulis Marice anima, ut magnificet Dominum; sit in singulis spiritus Marice, ut exultet in Deo—“Let the soul of Mary be in each of us to magnify the Lord, and the spirit of Mary be in each of us to rejoice in God.” A soul is happy indeed, when, like the good Jesuit lay brother, Alphonso Rodriguez, who died in the odour of sanctity, it is all possessed and over-ruled by the spirit of Mary, a spirit meek and strong, zealous and prudent, humble and courageous, pure and profound.
Let us remember, I repeat it for the second time, that Mary is the great and exclusive mould of God, proper to make living images of God, at small cost and in a little time; and that a soul which has found that mould, and has lost itself in it, is presently changed into Jesus Christ, whom that mould represents to the life.
§ 1. The soul shall be nourished with the milk of grace and maternal mercy;
§ 2. It shall be delivered from its troubles, fears, and scruples; and;
§ 3. It shall be in safety against all its enemies—the world, the devil, and sin—who never have an entrance there. It is on this account that Mary says that they who work in her shall not sin: Qui operantur in me, non peccabunt; that is to say, those who dwell in Mary’s spirit shall fall into no considerable fault, lastly;
§ 4. The soul shall be formed in Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ in it, because her bosom is, as the holy Fathers say, the chamber of the divine Sacraments, where Jesus Christ and all the elect have been formed.
Glory to Jesus in Mary!
Glory to Mary in Jesus!
Glory to God Alone!
§ 2. You must renounce your corrupt interior, and your dispositions, however good your own self-love may make them look.
§ 3. You must renew your consecration by saying, Tuus totus ego sum, et Omnia mea tua sunt—I am all thine, my dear Mistress, with all I have.
§ 4. You must implore that good Mother to lend you her heart, that you may receive her Son there with the same dispositions as her own. You will represent to her that it touches her Son’s glory, to be put into a heart so sullied and so inconstant as yours, which would not fail either to lessen His Glory or to destroy it. But if she will come and dwell with you, in order to receive her Son, she can do so by the dominion which she has over all hearts; and her Son will be well received by her, without stains, and without danger of being outraged or destroyed. Deus in medio ejus, non commovebitur. You will tell her confidently, that all you have given her of your good is a little matter to honour her; but that by the Holy Communion you wish to make her the same present as the Eternal Father gave her, and that you will honour her more by that than if you gave her all the goods in the world; and, finally, that Jesus, who loves her alone, still desires to take His pleasure and His repose in her, even in your soul, though it be filthier far and poorer than the stable where He made no difficulty to come, simply because she was there. You will ask her for her heart by these tender words: Accipio te in mea omnia, prcebe mihi cor tuum, O Maria!—“I take you into all my things, turn to me thy heart, O Mary!”
After Holy Communion
ST. LOUIS DE MONTFORT’S formula of total consecration to Jesus through Mary is not to be taken lightly. This is evidenced from the fact that the Saint himself advocates a serious preparation consisting of twelve preliminary days, in which the soul endeavours to rid itself of the spirit of the world as opposed to the spirit of Christ.
This is followed by three weeks of prayer and meditation during which the soul strives to acquire a better knowledge of self (First Week), of Mary (Second Week), and of Jesus Christ (Third Week). Though this preliminary period is strongly recommended, it is obvious that the length of time devoted to such a preparation may vary according to one’s personal needs and circumstances.
This culminates in the final Act of Consecration to the Blessed Virgin that you may renew yearly or monthly, or even every day by giving all your actions to Mary. One of the most fruitful ways to carry out this consecration in your every-day life is to say the Holy Rosary every day.
EXAMINE your conscience, pray, practice renouncement of your own will; mortification, purity of heart. This purity is the indispensable condition for contemplating God in heaven, to see Him on earth and to know Him by the light of faith. The first part of the preparation should be employed in casting off the spirit of the world which is contrary to that of Jesus Christ. The spirit of the world consists essentially in the denial of the supreme dominion of God; a denial which is manifested in practice by sin and disobedience; thus it is principally opposed to the spirit of Christ, which is also that of Mary.
It manifests itself by the concupiscence of the flesh, by the concupiscence of the eyes and by the pride of life. By disobedience to God’s laws and the abuse of created things. Its works are: sin in all forms, then all else by which the devil leads to sin; works which bring error and darkness to the mind, and seduction and corruption to the will. Its pomps are the splendor and the charms employed by the devil to render sin alluring in persons, places and things.
Today’s Reading: Matthew 5:1–19
And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain, and when he was set down, his disciples came unto him. And opening his mouth, he taught them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God. Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you. You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men. You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Today’s Reading: Matthew 5:48, 6:1–15
Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect. . . . Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven. Therefore when thou dost an almsdeed, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honoured by men. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But when thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth. That thy alms may be in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee. And when ye pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, that love to stand and pray in the synagogues and corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men: Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. But thou when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee. And when you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens. For they think that in their much speaking they may be heard. Be not you therefore like to them, for your Father knoweth what is needful for you, before you ask him. Thus therefore shall you pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our supersubstantial bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil. Amen. For if you will forgive men their offences, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your offences. But if you will not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your offences.
Today’s Reading: Matthew 7:1–14
Judge not, that you may not be judged, For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again. Any why seest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye; and seest not the beam that is in thy own eye? Or how sayest thou to thy brother: Let me cast the mote out of thy eye; and behold a beam is in thy own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam in thy own eye, and then shalt thou see to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. Give not that which is holy to dogs; neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turning upon you, they tear you. Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh, receiveth: and he that seeketh, findeth: and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. Or what man is there among you, of whom if his son shall ask bread, will he reach him a stone? Or if he shall ask him a fish, will he reach him a serpent? If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more will your Father who is in heaven, give good things to them that ask him? All things therefore whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you also to them. For this is the law and the prophets. Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!
Today’s Reading: Imitation of Christ: Book 3, Chapters 7, 40
That man has no good of himself, and that he cannot glory in anything Lord, what is man, that Thou art mindful of him; or the son of man, that Thou visit him? What has man deserved that Thou should give him grace? Lord, what cause have I to complain, if Thou forsakest me, or what can I justly allege, if what I petition Thou shalt not grant? This most assuredly, I may truly think and say: Lord I am nothing, I can do nothing of myself, that is good, but I am in all things defective and ever tend to nothing. And unless I am assisted and interiorly instructed by Thee, I become wholly tepid and relaxed, but Thou, O Lord, art always the same, and endurest unto eternity, ever good, just and holy, doing all things well, justly and holily and disposing them in wisdom.
But I who am more inclined to go back, than to go forward, continue not always in one state, for I am changed, seven different times. But it quickly becomes better when it pleases Thee, and Thou stretchest out Thy helping hand: for Thou alone, without man’s aid can assist me and so strengthen me, that my countenance shall be more diversely changed: but my heart be converted and find its rest in Thee alone.
He who would be too secure in time of peace will often be found too much dejected in time of war. If you could always continue to be humble and little in your own eyes, and keep your spirit in due order and subjection, you would not fall so easily into danger and offense. It is good counsel that, when you have conceived the spirit of fervor, you should meditate how it will be when that light shall be withdrawn.
Today’s Reading: Imitation of Christ: Book 3, Chapter 40
Wherefore, but I did know well, how to cast from me all human comfort, either for the sake of devotion, or through the necessity by which I am compelled to seek Thee, because there is no man that can comfort me. Then might I deservedly hope in Thy favor, and rejoice in the gift of a new consolation. Thanks be to Thee from Whom all things proceed, as often as it happens to me. I, indeed, am but vanity, and nothing in Thy sight , an inconstant and weak man. Where, therefore, can I glory, or for what do I desire to be thought of highly?
Forsooth of my very nothingness; and this is most vain. Truly vainglory is an evil plague, because it draws away from true glory, and robs us of heavenly grace. For, while a man takes complacency in himself, he displeases Thee; while he wants for human applause, he is deprived of true virtues. But true, glory and holy exultation is to glory in Thee, and not in one’s self; to rejoice in Thy Name, but not in one’s own strength. To find pleasure in no creature, save only for Thy sake. Let Thy Name be praised, not mine; let Thy work be magnified, not mine; let Thy Holy Name be blessed, but let nothing be attributed to me of the praise of men. Thou art my glory; Thou art the exultation of my heart; in Thee, will I glory and rejoice all the day; but for myself, I will glory in nothing but in my infirmities.
Today’s Reading: Imitation of Christ: Book 1, Chapter 18
On the Example of the Holy Fathers
Look upon the lively examples of the holy Fathers in whom shone real perfection and the religious life, and you will see how little it is, and almost nothing that we do. Alas, what is our life when we compare it with theirs? Saints and friends of Christ, they served our Lord in hunger and in thirst, in cold, in nakedness, in labor and in weariness, in watching, in fasting, prayers and holy meditations, and in frequent persecutions and reproaches. Oh, how many grievous tribulations did the Apostles suffer and the Martyrs and Confessors and Virgins, and all the rest who resolved to follow the steps of Christ! For they hated their lives in this world, that they might keep them in life everlasting. Oh what a strict and self-renouncing life the holy Fathers of the desert led! What long and grievous temptations did they bear! How often were they harassed by the enemy, what frequent and fervent prayers did they offer up to God, what rigorous abstinence did they practice!
What a valiant contest waged they to subdue their imperfections! What purity and straightforwardness of purpose kept they towards God! By day they labored, and much of the night they spent in prayer; though while they labored, they were far from leaving off mental prayer. They spent all their time profitably. Every hour seemed short to spend with God; and even their necessary bodily refreshment was forgotten in the great sweetness of contemplation. They renounced all riches, dignities, honors and kindred; they hardly took what was necessary for life. It grieved them to serve the body even in its necessity. Accordingly, they were poor in earthly things, but very rich in grace and virtues.
Today’s Reading: Imitation of Christ: Book 1, Chapter 18 (continued)
Outwardly they suffered want, but within they were refreshed with grace and Divine consolation. They were aliens to the world; they seemed as nothing and the world despised them; but they were precious and beloved in the sight of God. They persevered in true humility, they lived in simple obedience, they walked in charity and patience, and so every day they advanced in spirit and gained great favor with God. They were given for example to all religious, and ought more to excite us to advance in good, than the number of lukewarm to induce us to grow remiss. Oh! how great was the fervor of all religious in the beginning of their holy institute! Oh, how great was their devotion in prayer, how great was their zeal for virtue! How vigorous the discipline that was kept up, what reverence and obedience, under the rule of the superior, flourished in all! Their traces that remain still bear witness, that they were truly holy and perfect men who did battle so stoutly, and trampled the world under their feet. Now, he is thought great who is not a transgressor; and who can, with patience, endure what he has undertaken. Ah, the lukewarmness and negligence of our state! that we soon fall away from our first fervor, and are even now tired with life, from slothfulness and tepidity. Oh that advancement in virtue be not quite asleep in thee, who has so often seen the manifold examples of the devout!
Today’s Reading: Imitation of Christ: Book 1, Chapter 18
Of Resisting Temptations
As long as we live in this world, we cannot be without temptations and tribulations. Hence it is written in Job “Man’s life on earth is a temptation.” Everyone therefore should be solicitous about his temptations and watch in prayer lest the devil find an opportunity to catch him: who never sleeps, but goes about, seeking whom he can devour. No one is so perfect and holy as sometimes not to have temptations and we can never be wholly free from them. Nevertheless, temptations are very profitable to man, troublesome and grievous though they may be, for in them, a man is humbled, purified and instructed. All the Saints passed through many tribulations and temptations and were purified by them. And they that could not support temptations, became reprobate, and fell away.
Many seek to flee temptations, and fall worse into them. We cannot conquer by flight alone, but by patience and true humility we become stronger than all our enemies. He who only declines them outwardly, and does not pluck out their root, will profit little; nay, temptations will sooner return and he will find himself in a worse condition. By degrees and by patience you will, by God’s grace, better overcome them than by harshness and your own importunity. Take council the oftener in temptation, and do not deal harshly with one who is tempted; but pour in consolation, as thou wouldst wish to be done unto yourself. Inconstancy of mind and little confidence in God, is the beginning of all temptations. For as a ship without a helm is driven to and fro by the waves, so the man who neglects and gives up his resolutions is tempted in many ways.
Today’s Reading: Imitation of Christ: Book 1, Chapter 13 (continued)
Fire tries iron, and temptation a just man. We often know not what we are able to do, but temptations discover what we are. Still, we must watch, especially in the beginning of temptation; for then the enemy is more easily overcome, if he be not suffered to enter the door of the mind, but is withstood upon the threshold the very moment he knocks. Whence a certain one has said “Resist beginnings; all too late the cure.” When ills have gathered strength, by long delay, first there comes from the mind a simple thought; then a strong imagination, afterwards delight, and the evil motion and consent and so, little by little the fiend does gain entrance, when he is not resisted in the beginning. The longer anyone has been slothful in resisting, so much the weaker he becomes, daily in himself, and the enemy, so much the stronger in him. Some suffer grievous temptations in the beginning of their conversion, others in the end and others are troubled nearly their whole life. Some are very lightly tempted, according to the wisdom and the equity of the ordinance of God who weighs man’s condition and merits, and pre-ordaineth all things for the salvation of His elect. We must not, therefore, despair when we are tempted, but the more fervently pray to God to help us in every tribulation: Who, of a truth, according to the sayings of St. Paul, will make such issue with the temptation, that we are able to sustain it.
Let us then humble our souls under the hand of God in every temptation and tribulation, for the humble in spirit, He will save and exalt. In temptation and tribulations, it is proved what progress man has made; and there also is great merit, and virtue is made more manifest.
Today’s Reading: Imitation of Christ: Book 3, Chapter 10
That it is sweet to despise the world and to serve God
Now, will I speak again, O Lord, and will not be silent, I will say in the hearing of my God and my King Who is on high: Oh, how great is the abundance of Thy sweetness, O Lord, which Thou hast hidden for those that fear Thee! But what art Thou, for those who love Thee? What, to those who serve Thee with their whole heart? Unspeakable indeed is the sweetness of Thy contemplation, which Thou bestowest on those who love Thee. In this most of all hast Thou showed me the sweetness of Thy love, that when I had no being, Thou didst make me; and when I was straying far from Thee, Thou brought me back again, that I might serve Thee: and Thou hast commanded me to serve Thee. O Fountain of everlasting love, what shall I say of Thee? How can I forget Thee, Who hast vouchsafed to remember me even after I was corrupted and lost? Beyond all hope Thou showest mercy to Thy servant; and beyond all desert, hast Thou manifested Thy grace and friendship. What return shall I make to Thee for this favor? For it is granted to all who forsake these things, to renounce the world, and to assume the monastic life. Is it much that I should serve Thee, Whom the whole creation is bound to serve? It ought not to seem much to me to serve Thee; but this does rather appear great and wonderful to me, that Thou vouchsafest to receive one so wretched and unworthy as Thy servant. It is a great honor, a great glory, to serve Thee, and to despise all things for Thee, for they who willingly subject themselves to Thy holy service, shall have great grace. They shall experience the most sweet consolation of the Holy Spirit, Who for the love of Thee, have cast aside all carnal delight.
Today’s Reading: Imitation of Christ: Book 1, Chapter 25
On the Fervent Amendment of our Whole Life
When a certain anxious person, who often times wavered between hope and fear, once overcome with sadness, threw himself upon the ground in prayer, before one of the altars in the Church and thinking these things in his mind, said “Oh, if I only knew how to persevere,” that very instant he heard within him, this heavenly answer: “And if thou didst know this, what would thou do? Do now what you would do, and thou shall be perfectly secure.” And immediately being consoled, and comforted, he committed himself to the Divine Will, and his anxious thoughts ceased. He no longer wished for curious things; searching to find out what would happen to him, but studied rather to learn what was the acceptable and perfect will of God for the beginning and the perfection of every good work.
“Hope in the Lord,” said the Prophet, “And do all good, and inhabit the land, and thou shall be fed of the riches thereof.” There is one thing that keeps many back from spiritual progress, and from fervor in amendment namely: the labor that is necessary for the struggle. And assuredly they especially advance beyond others in virtues, who strive the most manfully to overcome the very things which are the hardest and most contrary to them. For there a man does profit more and merit more abundant grace, when he does most to overcome himself and mortify his spirit. All have not, indeed, equal difficulties to overcome and mortify, but a diligent and zealous person will make a greater progress though he have more passions than another, who is well regulated but less fervent in the pursuit of virtues.
Today’s Reading: Imitation of Christ: Book 1, Chapter 25 (continued)
But if thou observest anything worthy of reproof, beware thou do not the same. And if at any time thou hast done it, labor quickly to amend thyself. As thine eye observeth others, so art thou by others noted again.
How sweet and pleasant a thing it is, to see brethren fervent and devout, obedient and well-disciplined! How sad and grievous a thing it is, to see them walk disorderly, not applying themselves to that for which they are called! How hurtful a thing it is, when they neglect the purpose of their calling and busy themselves in things not committed to their care!
Be mindful of the purpose thou hast embraced, and set always before thee the image of the Crucified. Good cause thou hast to be ashamed in looking upon the life of Jesus Christ, seeing thou hast not as yet endeavored to conform thyself more unto Him, though thou hast been a long time in the way of God. A religious person that exercizeth himself seriously and devoutly in the most holy life and passion of our Lord, shall there abundantly find whatsoever is profitable and necessary for him, neither shall he need to seek any better thing, besides Jesus. O if Jesus crucified would come into our hearts, how quickly and fully should we be. A man fervent and diligent is prepared for all things.
It is harder toil to resist vices and passions, than to sweat in bodily labors. He that avoideth not small faults, by little and little falleth into greater. Thou wilt always rejoice in the evening, if thou spend the day profitably. Be watchful over thyself, stir up thyself, warn thyself, and whatsoever becometh of others, neglect not thyself. The more violent thou uses against thyself, the more shalt thou progress. Amen.
PRAYERS, examinations, reflection, acts of renouncement of our own will, of contrition for our sins, of contempt of self, all performed at the feet of Mary, for it is from her that we hope for light to know ourselves. It is near her, that we shall be able to measure the abyss of our miseries without despairing.
We should employ all our pious actions in asking for a knowledge of ourselves and contrition of our sins: and we should do this in a spirit of piety. During this period, we shall consider not so much the opposition that exists between the spirit of Jesus and ours, as the miserable and humiliating state to which our sins have reduced us. Moreover, the True Devotion being an easy, short, sure and perfect way to arrive at that union with Our Lord which is Christlike perfection, we shall enter seriously upon this way, strongly convinced of our misery and helplessness. But how attain this without a knowledge of ourselves’?
Today’s Reading: Luke 11:1–10
And it came to pass, that as he was in a certain place praying, when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him: Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And he said to them: When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.
And he said to them: Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and shall say to him: Friend, lend me three loaves, Because a friend of mine is come off his journey to me, and I have not what to set before him. And he from within should answer, and say: Trouble me not, the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. Yet if he shall continue knocking, I say to you, although he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend; yet, because of his importunity, he will rise, and give him as many as he needeth.
And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.
Today’s Reading: Imitation of Christ: Book 3, Chapter 13
Of the Obedience of One in Humble Subjection, After the Example of Jesus Christ
My son, he that endeavoreth to withdraw himself from obedience, withdraweth himself from grace; and he who seeketh for himself private benefit (Matt. 16:24), loseth those which are common. He that doth not cheerfully and freely submit himself to his superior, it is a sign that his flesh is not as yet perfectly obedient unto him, but oftentimes kicketh and murmureth against him. Learn thou therefore quickly to submit thyself to thy superior, if thou desire to keep thine own flesh under the yoke. For more speedily is the outward enemy overcome, if the inward man be not laid waste. There is no worse nor more troublesome enemy to the soul than thou art unto thyself, if thou be not well in harmony with the Spirit. It is altogether necessary that thou take up a true contempt for thyself, if thou desire to prevail against flesh and blood. Because as yet thou lovest thyself too inordinately, therefore thou art afraid to resign thyself wholly to the will of others. And yet, what great matter is it, if thou, who art but dust and nothing, subject thyself to a man for God’s sake, when I, the Almighty and the Most Highest who created all things of nothing, humbly subjected Myself to man for thy sake?
I became of all men the most humble and the most abject (Luke 2:7; John 13:14), that thou mightest overcome thy pride with My humility. O dust! learn to be obedient. Learn to humble thyself, thou earth and clay, and to bow thyself down under the feet of all men. Learn to break thine own wishes, and to yield thyself to all subjection.
Today’s Reading: Luke 13:1–5
Examples Inviting Repentance
And there were present, at that very time, some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answering, said to them: Think you that these Galileans were sinners above all the men of Galilee, because they suffered such things? No, I say to you: but unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower fell in Siloe, and slew them: think you, that they also were debtors above all the men that dwelt in Jerusalem? No, I say to you; but except you do penance, you shall all likewise perish.
True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Nos. 81 and 82
We Need Mary in order to Die to Ourselves
Secondly, in order to empty ourselves of self, we must die daily to ourselves. This involves our renouncing what the powers of the soul and the senses of the body incline us to do. We must see as if we did not see, hear as if we did not hear and use the things of this world as if we did not use them. This is what St. Paul calls “dying daily.” Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain and does not bear any good fruit. If we do not die to self and if our holiest devotions do not lead us to this necessary and fruitful death, we shall not bear fruit of any worth and our devotions will cease to be profitable. All our good works will be tainted by self-love and self-will so that our greatest sacrifices and our best actions will be unacceptable to God. Consequently when we come to die we shall find ourselves devoid of virtue and merit and discover that we do not possess even one spark of that pure love which God shares only with those who have died to themselves and whose life is hidden with Jesus Christ in him.
Thirdly, we must choose among all the devotions to the Blessed Virgin the one which will lead us more surely to this dying to self. This devotion will be the best and the most sanctifying for us.
Today’s Reading: True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, No. 228
During the first week they should offer up all their prayers and acts of devotion to acquire knowledge of themselves and sorrow for their sins. Let them perform all their actions in a spirit of humility. With this end in view they may, if they wish, meditate on what I have said concerning our corrupted nature, and consider themselves during six days of the week as nothing but sails, slugs, toads, swine, snakes and goats. Or else they may meditate on the following three considerations of St. Bernard: “Remember what you were -corrupted seed; what you are—a body destined for decay; what you will be -food for worms.” They will ask our Lord and the Holy Spirit to enlighten them saying, “Lord, that I may see,” or “Lord, let me know myself,” or the “Come, Holy Spirit.” Every day they should say the Litany of the Holy Spirit, with the prayer that follows, as indicated in the first part of this work. They will turn to our Blessed Lady and beg her to obtain for them that great grace which is the foundation of all others, the grace of self-knowledge. For this intention they will say each day the Ave Maris Stella and the Litany of the Blessed Virgin.
Imitation of Christ: Book 2, Chapter 5
We cannot trust over much to ourselves (Jer. 17:5), because grace oftentimes is wanting to us, and understanding also. Little light is there in us, and this we quickly lose by our negligence. Oftentimes too we perceive not our inward blindness how great it is. Oftentimes we do evil, and excuse it worse (Psalm 141:4). We are sometimes moved with passion, and we think it zeal. We reprehend small things in others, and pass over our own greater matters (Matt. 7:5). Quickly enough we feel and weigh what we suffer at the hands of others; but we mind not how much others suffer from us. He that well and rightly considereth his own works, will find little cause to judge hardly of another.
Today’s Reading: Imitation of Christ: Book 1, Chapter 24
Of Judgment, and the Punishment of Sinners
In all things look to the end; and how thou wilt stand before that strict Judge (Heb. 10:31) to whom nothing is hid, who is not appeased with gifts, nor admitteth excuses, but will judge according to right. O wretched and foolish sinner, who sometimes art in terror at the countenance of an angry man, what answer wilt thou make to God who knoweth all thy wickedness (Job 9:2)! Why dost thou not provide for thyself (Luke 16:9) against the day of judgement, when no man can be excused of defended by another, but every one shall be a sufficient burden for himself!
The Crafty Steward
And he said also to his disciples: There was a certain rich man who had a steward: and the same was accused unto him, that he had wasted his goods. And he called him, and said to him: How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship: for now thou canst be steward no longer. And the steward said within himself: What shall I do, because my lord taketh away from me the stewardship? To dig I am not able; to beg I am ashamed. I know what I will do, that when I shall be removed from the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. Therefore calling together every one of his lord’s debtors, he said to the first: How much dost thou owe my lord? But he said: An hundred barrels of oil. And he said to him: Take thy bill and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then he said to another: And how much dost thou owe? Who said: An hundred quarters of wheat. He said to him: Take thy bill, and write eighty. And the lord commended the unjust steward, forasmuch as he had done wisely: for the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.
Today’s Reading: Luke 17:1–10
On Leading Others Astray
And he said to his disciples: It is impossible that scandals should not come: but woe to him through whom they come. It were better for him, that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should scandalize one of these little ones.
On Brotherly Correction
Take heed to yourselves. If thy brother sin against thee, reprove him: and if he do penance, forgive him. And if he sin against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day be converted unto thee, saying, I repent; forgive him.
The Power of Faith
And the apostles said to the Lord: Increase our faith. And the Lord said: If you had faith like to a grain of mustard seed, you might say to this mulberry tree, Be thou rooted up, and be thou transplanted into the sea: and it would obey you.
But which of you having a servant ploughing, or feeding cattle, will say to him, when he is come from the field: Immediately go, sit down to meat: And will not rather say to him: Make ready my supper, and gird thyself, and serve me, whilst I eat and drink, and afterwards thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant, for doing the things which he commanded him? I think not. So you also, when you shall have done all these things that are commanded you, say: We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which we ought to do.
Imitation of Christ: Book 3, Chapter 47
That All Grievous Things Are to Be Endured For the Sake of Eternal Life
My son, be not wearied out by the labors which thou hast undertaken for My sake, nor let tribulation cast thee down ever at all; but let My promise strengthen and comfort thee under every circumstance. I am well able to reward thee, above all measure and degree. Thou shalt not long toil here, nor always be oppressed with griefs. Wait a little while, and thou shalt see a speedy end of thine evils.
Today’s Reading: Luke 18:15–30
Jesus and the Children
And they brought unto him also infants, that he might touch them. Which when the disciples saw, they rebuked them. But Jesus, calling them together, said: Suffer children to come to me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Amen, I say to you: Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a child, shall not enter into it.
The Rich Aristocrat
And a certain ruler asked him, saying: Good master, what shall I do to possess everlasting life? And Jesus said to him: Why dost thou call me good? None is good but God alone. Thou knowest the commandments: Thou shalt not kill: Thou shalt not commit adultery: Thou shalt not steal: Thou shalt not bear false witness: Honour thy father and mother. Who said: All these things have I kept from my youth. Which when Jesus had heard, he said to him: Yet one thing is wanting to thee: sell all whatever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. He having heard these things, became sorrowful; for he was very rich.
The Danger of Riches
And Jesus seeing him become sorrowful, said: How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God. For it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they that heard it, said: Who then can be saved? He said to them: The things that are impossible with men, are possible with God.
The Reward of Renunciation
Then Peter said: Behold, we have left all things, and have followed thee. Who said to them: Amen, I say to you, there is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive much more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.
ACTS OF LOVE, pious affection for the Blessed Virgin, imitation of her virtues, especially her profound humility, her lively faith, her blind obedience, her continual mental prayer, her mortification in all things, her surpassing purity, her ardent charity, her heroic patience, her angelic sweetness, and her divine wisdom: “there being,” as St. Louis De Montfort says, “the ten principal virtues of the Blessed Virgin.”
We must unite ourselves to Jesus through Mary—this is the characteristic of our devotion; therefore, Saint Louis De Montfort asks that we employ ourselves in acquiring a knowledge of the Blessed Virgin.
Mary is our sovereign and our mediatrix, our Mother and our Mistress. Let us then endeavor to know the effects of this royalty, of this mediation, and of this maternity, as well as the grandeurs and prerogatives which are the foundation or consequences thereof. Our Mother is also a perfect mold wherein we are to be molded in order to make her intentions and dispositions ours. This we cannot achieve without studying the interior life of Mary; namely, her virtues, her sentiments, her actions, her participation in the mysteries of Christ and her union with Him.
Today’s Reading: Luke 2:16–21, 45–52
And they came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child. And all that heard, wondered; and at those things that were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. And after eight days were accomplished, that the child should be circumcised, his name was called JESUS, which was called by the angel, before he was conceived in the womb. . . .
And not finding him, they returned into Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that, after three days, they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his wisdom and his answers. And seeing him, they wondered. And his mother said to him: Son, why hast thou done so to us? behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father’s business? And they understood not the word that he spoke unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.
Today’s Reading: The Secret of Mary: Nos. 23–24
True Devotion to Our Blessed Lady
If we would go up to God, and be united with Him, we must use the same means He used to come down to us to be made Man and to impart His graces to us. This means is a true devotion to our Blessed Lady. There are several true devotions to our Lady: here I do not speak of those which are false. The first consists in fulfilling our Christian duties, avoiding mortal sin, acting more out of love than with fear, praying to our Lady now and then, honoring her as the Mother of God, yet without having any special devotion to her. The second consists in entertaining for our Lady more perfect feelings of esteem and love, of confidence and veneration. It leads us to join the Confraternities of the Holy Rosary and of the Scapular, to recite the five or the fifteen decades of the Holy Rosary, to honor Mary’s images and altars, to publish her praises and to enroll ourselves in her modalities. This devotion is good, holy and praiseworthy if we keep ourselves free from sin. But it is not so perfect as the next, nor so efficient in severing our soul from creatures, in detaching ourselves in order to be united with Jesus Christ. The third devotion to our Lady, known and practiced by very few persons, is this I am about to disclose to you, predestinate soul. It consists in giving one’s self entirely and as a slave to Mary, and to Jesus through Mary, and after that, to do all that we do, through Mary, with Mary in Mary and for Mary We should choose a special feast day on which we give, consecrate and sacrifice to Mary voluntarily lovingly and without constraint, entirely and without reserve: our body and soul, our exterior property such as house, family and income, and also our interior and spiritual possessions: namely, our merits, graces, virtues, and satisfactions.
Today’s Reading: True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary: Nos. 106–110
Marks of authentic devotion to our Lady
106. First, true devotion to our Lady is interior, that is, it comes from within the mind and the heart and follows from the esteem in which we hold her, the high regard we have for her greatness, and the love we bear her.
107. Second, it is trustful, that is to say, it fills us with confidence in the Blessed Virgin, the confidence that a child has for its loving Mother. It prompts us to go to her in every need of body and soul with great simplicity, trust and affection.
108. Third, true devotion to our Lady is holy, that is, it leads us to avoid sin and to imitate the virtues of Mary. Her ten principal virtues are: deep humility, lively faith, blind obedience, unceasing prayer, constant self-denial, surpassing purity, ardent love, heroic patience, angelic kindness, and heavenly wisdom.
109. Fourth, true devotion to our Lady is constant. It strengthens us in our desire to do good and prevents us from giving up our devotional practices too easily. It gives us the courage to oppose the fashions and maxims of the world, the vexations and unruly inclinations of the flesh and the temptations of the devil. Thus a person truly devoted to our Blessed Lady is not changeable, fretful, scrupulous or timid.
110. Fifth, true devotion to Mary is disinterested. It inspires us to seek God alone in his Blessed Mother and not ourselves. The true subject of Mary does not serve his illustrious Queen for selfish gain. He does not serve her for temporal or eternal well-being but simply and solely because she has the right to be served and God alone in her.
Today’s Reading: True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary: Nos. 120–121
Nature of perfect Devotion to the Blessed Virgin or perfect consecration to Jesus Christ
120. As all perfection consists in our being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus it naturally follows that the most perfect of all devotions is that which conforms, unites, and consecrates us most completely to Jesus. Now of all God’s creatures Mary is the most conformed to Jesus. It therefore follows that, of all devotions, devotion to her makes for the most effective consecration and conformity to him. The more one is consecrated to Mary, the more one is consecrated to Jesus. That is why perfect consecration to Jesus is but a perfect and complete consecration of oneself to the Blessed Virgin, which is the devotion I teach; or in other words, it is the perfect renewal of the vows and promises of holy baptism.
121. This devotion consists in giving oneself entirely to Mary in order to belong entirely to Jesus through her. It requires us to give:
Our body with its senses and members;
Our soul with its faculties;
Our present material possessions and all we shall acquire in the future;
Our interior and spiritual possessions, that is, our merits, virtues and good actions of the past, the present and the future.
In other words, we give her all that we possess both in our natural life and in our spiritual life as well as everything we shall acquire in the future in the order of nature, of grace, and of glory in heaven. This we do without any reservation, not even of a penny, a hair, or the smallest good deed. And we give for all eternity without claiming or expecting, in return for our offering and our service, any other reward than the honour of belonging to our Lord through Mary and in Mary, even though our Mother were not—as in fact she always is—the most generous and appreciative of all God’s creatures.
Today’s Reading: True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary: Nos. 152–164
This devotion is a smooth, short, perfect and sure way of attaining union with our Lord, in which Christian perfection consists.
(a) This devotion is a smooth way. It is the path which Jesus Christ opened up in coming to us and in which there is no obstruction to prevent us reaching him. It is quite true that we can attain to divine union by other roads, but these involve many more crosses and exceptional setbacks and many difficulties that we cannot easily overcome.
(b) This devotion is a short way to discover Jesus, either because it is a road we do not wander from, or because, as we have just said, we walk along this road with greater ease and joy, and consequently with greater speed. We advance more in a brief period of submission to Mary and dependence on her than in whole years of self-will and self-reliance.
(c) This devotion is a perfect way to reach our Lord and be united to him, for Mary is the most perfect and the most holy of all creatures, and Jesus, who came to us in a perfect manner, chose no other road for his great and wonderful journey. The Most High, the Incomprehensible One, the Inaccessible One, He who is, deigned to come down to us poor earthly creatures who are nothing at all. How was this done? The Most High God came down to us in a perfect way through the humble Virgin Mary, without losing anything of his divinity or holiness. It is likewise through Mary that we poor creatures must ascend to almighty God in a perfect manner without having anything to fear.
(d) This devotion to our Lady is a sure way to go to Jesus and to acquire holiness through union with him. The devotion which I teach is not new. Indeed it could not be condemned without overthrowing the foundations of Christianity. It is obvious then that this devotion is not new. If it is not commonly practised, the reason is that it is too sublime to be appreciated and undertaken by everyone. This devotion is a safe means of going to Jesus Christ, because it is Mary’s role to lead us safely to her Son.
Today’s Reading: True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary: Nos. 213–225
Wonderful Effects of this Devotion
213. My dear friend, be sure that if you remain faithful to the interior and exterior practices of this devotion which I will point out, the following effects will be produced in your soul:
1. Knowledge of our unworthiness:
By the light which the Holy Spirit will give you through Mary, his faithful spouse, you will perceive the evil inclinations of your fallen nature and how incapable you are of any good. Finally, the humble Virgin Mary will share her humility with you so that, although you regard yourself with distaste and desire to be disregarded by others, you will not look down slightingly upon anyone.
2. A share in Mary’s faith
214. Mary will share her faith with you. Her faith on earth was stronger than that of all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles and saints.
3. The gift of pure love
215. The Mother of fair love will rid your heart of all scruples and inordinate servile fear.
4. Great confidence in God and in Mary
216. Our Blessed Lady will fill you with unbounded confidence in God and in herself: 1) Because you will no longer approach Jesus by yourself but always through Mary, your loving Mother.
5. Communication of the spirit of Mary
217. The soul of Mary will be communicated to you to glorify the Lord. Her spirit will take the place of yours to rejoice in God, her Saviour, but only if you are faithful to the practices of this devotion.
6. Transformation into the likeness of Jesus
218. If Mary, the Tree of Life, is well cultivated in our soul by fidelity to this devotion, she will in due time bring forth her fruit which is none other than Jesus.
7. The greater glory of Christ
222. If you live this devotion sincerely, you will give more glory to Jesus in a month than in many years of a more demanding devotion.
Today’s Reading: True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary: Nos. 12–38
“If you wish to understand the Mother,” says a saint, “then understand the Son. She is a worthy Mother of God.” Hic taceat omnis lingua : Here let every tongue be silent. My heart has dictated with special joy all that I have written to show that Mary has been unknown up till now, and that that is one of the reasons why Jesus Christ is not known as he should be. If then, as is certain, the knowledge and the kingdom of Jesus Christ must come into the world, it can only be as a necessary consequence of the knowledge and reign of Mary. She who first gave him to the world will establish his kingdom in the world.
With the whole Church I acknowledge that Mary, being a mere creature fashioned by the hands of God is, compared to his infinite majesty, less than an atom, or rather is simply nothing, since he alone can say, “I am he who is.” Consequently, this great Lord, who is ever independent and self-sufficient, never had and does not now have any absolute need of the Blessed Virgin for the accomplishment of his will and the manifestation of his glory. To do all things he has only to will them. However, I declare that, considering things as they are, because God has decided to begin and accomplish his greatest works through the Blessed Virgin ever since he created her, we can safely believe that he will not change his plan in the time to come, for he is God and therefore does not change in his thoughts or his way of acting.
Mary is the Queen of heaven and earth by grace as Jesus is king by nature and by conquest. But as the kingdom of Jesus Christ exists primarily in the heart or interior of man, according to the words of the Gospel, “The kingdom of God is within you,” so the kingdom of the Blessed Virgin is principally in the interior of man, that is, in his soul. It is principally in souls that she is glorified with her Son more than in any visible creature. So we may call her, as the saints do, Queen of our hearts.
DURING this period we shall apply ourselves to the study of Jesus Christ. What is to be studied in Christ? First the God-Man, His grace and glory; then His rights to sovereign dominion over us; since, after having renounced Satan and the world, we have taken Jesus Christ for our Lord. What next shall be the object of our study? His exterior actions and also His interior life; namely, the virtues and acts of His Sacred Heart; His association with Mary in the mysteries of the Annunciation and Incarnation, during His infancy and hidden life, at the feast of Cana and on Calvary.
Today’s Reading: True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary: Nos. 61–62
61. Jesus, our Saviour, true God and true man must be the ultimate end of all our other devotions; otherwise they would be false and misleading. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and end of everything. “We labour,” says St. Paul, “only to make all men perfect in Jesus Christ.” For in him alone dwells the entire fullness of the divinity and the complete fullness of grace, virtue and perfection. In him alone we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing; he is the only teacher from whom we must learn; the only Lord on whom we should depend; the only Head to whom we should be united and the only model that we should imitate. He is the only Physician that can heal us; the only Shepherd that can feed us; the only Way that can lead us; the only Truth that we can believe; the only Life that can animate us. He alone is everything to us and he alone can satisfy all our desires. We are given no other name under heaven by which we can be saved. God has laid no other foundation for our salvation, perfection and glory than Jesus. Every edifice which is not built on that firm rock, is founded upon shifting sands and will certainly fall sooner or later. Through him, with him and in him, we can do all things and render all honour and glory to the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit; we can make ourselves perfect and be for our neighbour a fragrance of eternal life.
62. If then we are establishing sound devotion to our Blessed Lady, it is only in order to establish devotion to our Lord more perfectly, by providing a smooth but certain way of reaching Jesus Christ. If devotion to our Lady distracted us from our Lord, we would have to reject it as an illusion of the devil. But this is far from being the case. As I have already shown and will show again later on, this devotion is necessary, simply and solely because it is a way of reaching Jesus perfectly, loving him tenderly, and serving him faithfully.
Today’s Reading: Matthew 26:1, 26–29, 36–46
And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended all these words, he said to his disciples: You know that after two days shall be the pasch, and the son of man shall be delivered up to be crucified . . .
. . . And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to his disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat. This is my body. And taking the chalice, he gave thanks, and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this. For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins. And I say to you, I will not drink from henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I shall drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father . . .
. . . Then Jesus came with them into a country place which is called Gethsemani; and he said to his disciples: Sit you here, till I go yonder and pray. And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to grow sorrowful and to be sad. Then he saith to them: My soul is sorrowful even unto death: stay you here, and watch with me. And going a little further, he fell upon his face, praying, and saying: My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh to his disciples, and findeth them asleep, and he saith to Peter: What? Could you not watch one hour with me? Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh weak. Again the second time, he went and prayed, saying: My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, thy will be done. And he cometh again and findeth them sleeping: for their eyes were heavy. And leaving them, he went again: and he prayed the third time, saying the selfsame word. Then he cometh to his disciples, and saith to them: Sleep ye now and take your rest; behold the hour is at hand, and the Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go: behold he is at hand that will betray me.
Today’s Reading: Imitation of Christ: Book 1, Chapter 1
Of the Imitation of Christ, and Contempt of all the Vanities of the World
He that followeth Me, walketh not in darkness (John 8:12), saith the Lord. These are the words of Christ, by which we are admonished, how we ought to imitate His life and manners, if we would truly be enlightened, and delivered from all blindness of heart. Let therefore our chiefest endeavour be, to meditate upon the life of Jesus Christ.
The doctrine of Christ exceedeth all the doctrine of holy men.; and he that hath the Spirit will find therein the hidden manna (Apocalypse. 2:17). But it falleth out that many who often hear the Gospel of Christ, feel little desire after it, because they have not the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9). But Whosoever will fully and with relish understand the words of Christ, must endeavor to conform his life wholly to the life of Christ.
What doth it avail thee to discourse profoundly of the Trinity, if thou be void of humility, and art thereby displeasing to the Trinity? Surely profound words do not make a man holy and just; but a virtuous life maketh him dear to God. I had rather feel contrition, than know the definition thereof. If thou didst know the whole Bible by heart, and the sayings of all the philosophers, what would all that profit thee without the love of God (1 Cor. 13:2), and without His grace?
Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity (Eccles. 1:2), except to love God, and to serve Him only. This is the highest wisdom, by contempt of the world to press forward towards heavenly kingdoms.
Today’s Reading: Matthew 27:36–44
And they sat and watched him. And they put over his head his cause written: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then were crucified with him two thieves: one on the right hand, and one on the left. And they that passed by, blasphemed him, wagging their heads, And saying: Vah, thou that destroyest the temple of God, and in three days dost rebuild it: save thy own self: if thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. In like manner also the chief priests, with the scribes and ancients, mocking, said: He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him now deliver him if he will have him; for he said: I am the Son of God. And the selfsame thing the thieves also, that were crucified with him, reproached him with.
Today’s Reading: Imitation of Christ: Book 4, Chapter 2
That the Great Goodness and Love of God Is Exhibited to Man in This Sacrament
In confidence of Thy goodness and great mercy, O Lord, I draw near, sick to the Healer, hungry and thirsty to the Fountain of life, needy to the King of Heaven, a servant to his Lord, a creature to the Creator, desolate to my own tender Comforter. “But whence is this to me,” that Thou comest unto me (Luke 1:43)? What am I, that Thou shouldest grant me Thine own self? how dare a sinner appear before Thee?
And how is it that Thou dost vouchsafe to come unto a sinner? Thou knowest Thy servant, and art well aware that he hath in him no good thing, for which Thou shouldest grant him this. I confess therefore mine own vileness, I acknowledge Thy goodness, I praise Thy tender mercy, and give Thee thanks for Thy transcendent love.
Today’s Reading: Imitation of Christ: Book 2, Chapter 7
Of the Love of Jesus above All Things
Blessed is he that understandeth (Psalm 119:1,2) what it is to love Jesus, and to despise himself for Jesus’ sake. Thou oughtest to leave thy beloved, for thy beloved (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37; Cant. 2:16); for that Jesus will be loved alone above all things.
The love of things created is deceitful and inconstant; the love of Jesus is faithful and persevering. He that cleaveth unto a creature, shall fall with that which is subject to fall; he that embraceth Jesus shall be made strong for ever.
Love Him, and keep Him for thy friend, who, when all go away, will not forsake thee, nor suffer thee to perish in the end. Some time or other thou must be separated from all, whether thou wilt or no. Keep close to Jesus both in life and in death, and commit thyself unto His faithfulness, who, when all fail, can alone help thee.
Thy Beloved is of that nature, that He will admit of no rival; but will have thy heart alone, and sit on His throne as King. If thou couldest empty thyself perfectly from all creatures, Jesus would willingly dwell with thee.
True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary: Nos. 257–260
There are some very sanctifying interior practices for those souls who feel called by the Holy Spirit to a high degree of perfection. They may be expressed in four words, doing everything through Mary, with Mary, in Mary, and for Mary, in order to do it more perfectly through Jesus, with Jesus, in Jesus, and for Jesus.
258. We must do everything through Mary, that is, we must obey her always and be led in all things by her spirit, which is the Holy Spirit of God. “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God,” says St. Paul. Those who are led by the spirit of Mary are children of Mary, and, consequently children of God, as we have already shown. Among the many servants of Mary only those who are truly and faithfully devoted to her are led by her spirit. I have said that the spirit of Mary is the spirit of God because she was never led by her own spirit, but always by the spirit of God, who made himself master of her to such an extent that he became her very spirit. That is why St. Ambrose says, “May the soul of Mary be in each one of us to glorify the Lord. May the spirit of Mary be in each one of us to rejoice in God.” Happy is the man who follows the example of the good Jesuit Brother Rodriguez, who died a holy death, because he will be completely possessed and governed by the spirit of Mary, a spirit which is gentle yet strong, zealous yet prudent, humble yet courageous, pure yet fruitful.
260. We must do everything with Mary, that is to say, in all our actions we must look upon Mary, although a simple human being, as the perfect model of every virtue and perfection, fashioned by the Holy Spirit for us to imitate, as far as our limited capacity allows. In every action then we should consider how Mary performed it or how she would perform it if she were in our place. For this reason, we must examine and meditate on the great virtues she practised during her life, especially: 1) Her lively faith, by which she believed the angel’s word without the least hesitation, and believed faithfully and constantly even to the foot of the Cross on Calvary. 2) Her deep humility, which made her prefer seclusion, maintain silence, submit to every eventuality and put herself in the last place.
Today’s Reading: Imitation of Christ: Book 4, Chapter 11
That the Blood of Christ and the Holy Scriptures Are Most Necessary unto a Faithful Soul
O most sweet Lord Jesus, how great is the pleasure of the devout soul that feasteth with Thee in Thy banquet; where there is set for her no other food to be eaten but Thyself, her only Beloved, and most to be desired above all the desires of her heart! To me also it would be indeed sweet, in Thy presence to pour forth tears from the very bottom of my heart, and with the grateful Magdalene to wash Thy feet with tears (Luke 7:38). But where is that devotion? Where that bountiful flowing of holy tears? Surely in the sight of Thee and Thy holy Angels, my whole heart ought to burn, and to weep for joy. For in this Sacrament I have Thee mystically present, hidden under another shape. For to look upon Thee in Thine own Divine brightness, mine eyes would not be able to endure; nor could even the whole world stand in the splendor of the glory of Thy majesty. Herein then Thou hast regard to my weakness, that Thou dost hide Thyself under this Sacrament.
True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary: Nos. 261–265
261. We must do everything in Mary. To understand this we must realise that the Blessed Virgin is the true earthly paradise of the new Adam and that the ancient paradise was only a symbol of her. There are in this earthly paradise untold riches, beauties, rarities and delights, which the new Adam, Jesus Christ, has left there. It is in this paradise that he “took his delights” for nine months, worked his wonders and displayed his riches with the magnificence of God himself. In this earthly paradise grows the real Tree of Life which bore our Lord, the fruit of Life, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which bore the Light of the world. In this divine place there are trees planted by the hand of God and watered by his divine unction which have borne and continue to bear fruit that is pleasing to him. Only the Holy Spirit can teach us the truths that these material objects symbolise. 262. The Holy Spirit speaking through the Fathers of the Church, also calls our Lady the Eastern Gate, through which the High Priest, Jesus Christ, enters and goes out into the world. Through this gate he entered the world the first time and through this same gate he will come the second time.
265. Finally, we must do everything for Mary. We take Mary for our proximate end, our mysterious intermediary and the easiest way of reaching him. Relying on her protection, we should undertake and carry out great things for our noble Queen. We must defend her privileges when they are questioned and uphold her good name when it is under attack. We must attract everyone, if possible, to her service and to this true and sound devotion. As a reward for these little services, we should expect nothing in return save the honour of belonging to such a lovable Queen and the joy of being united through her to Jesus, her Son, by a bond that is indissoluble in time and in eternity.
AT THE END of three weeks, we should go to confession and Holy Communion with the intention of giving ourselves to Jesus Christ in the quality of slaves of love, by the hands of Mary. After Communion, we should recite the consecration prayer—we ought to write it, or have it written, and sign it the same day the consecration is made. It would be well that on this day, we should pay some tribute to Jesus Christ and our Blessed Lady, either as a penance for our past unfaithfulness to the vows of Baptism, or as a testimony of dependence on the dominion of Jesus and Mary. This tribute should be one in accordance with your fervor, such as a fast, a mortification or an alms, or a candle. If but a pin is given in homage, and given with a good heart, it will be enough for Jesus, Who loves only the good will. Once a year at least, and on the same day, we should renew this consecration, observing the same practices during the three weeks.
You should aim to do the consecration on a Marian Feast day, like the Immaculate Conception. Here is a list of prominent Marian Feast days:
January 1—Mary, Mother of God
January 8—Our Lady of Prompt Succor
February 2—Purification of the Virgin
February 11—Our Lady of Lourdes
March 25—Annunciation by Archangel Gabriel (it may be either moved to the day before Palm Sunday should this date be on Holy Week; or to the Monday after the second Sunday of Easter if this date falls on either Friday or Saturday of Holy Week or during Easter Week)
April 26—Our Lady of Good Counsel
May 1—Queen of Heaven
May 13—Our Lady of Fatima
May 24—Mary Help of Christians
May 31—Mary, Mediatrix of all Graces
May 31—Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
June 27—Our Lady of Perpetual Help
July 16—Our Lady of Mount Carmel
August 2—Our Lady of Angels
August 5—Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major
August 15—Assumption into Heaven
August 21—Our Lady of Knock
August 22—Queenship of Mary
August 22—Black Madonna of Częstochowa
September 8—Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
September 12—The Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary
September 15—Our Lady of Sorrows
September 19—Our Lady of La Salette
September 24—Our Lady of Walsingham
October 7—Most Holy Rosary
November 16—Our Lady of Mercy
November 21—Presentation of Mary
December 8—Immaculate Conception
December 12—Our Lady of Guadalupe
1 day after Ascension of Jesus—Our Lady of Apostles
1 day after Pentecost—Our Lady of Holy Church
9 days after Corpus Christi—Immaculate Heart of Mary
O ETERNAL and Incarnate Wisdom! O sweetest and most Adorable Jesus! True God and True Man, only Son of the Eternal Father, and of Mary always Virgin! I adore Thee profoundly in the bosom and splendours of Thy Father during eternity; and I adore Thee also in the Virginal bosom of Mary, Thy most worthy Mother, in the time of Thine Incarnation.
I give Thee thanks for that Thou hast annihilated Thyself, in taking the form of a slave, in order to rescue me from the cruel slavery of the devil. I praise and glorify Thee for that Thou hast been pleased to submit Thyself to Mary, Thy holy Mother, in all things, in order to make me Thy faithful slave through her. But, alas! ungrateful and faithless as I have been, I have not kept the promises which I made so solemnly to Thee in my Baptism; I have not fulfilled my obligations; I do not deserve to be called Thy son, nor yet Thy slave; and as there is nothing in me which does not merit Thine anger and Thy repulse, I dare no more come by myself before Thy Most Holy and August Majesty. It is on this account that I have recourse to the intercession of Thy most holy Mother, whom Thou hast given me for a mediatrix with Thee. It is by her means that I hope to obtain of Thee contrition, and the pardon of my sins, the acquisition and the preservation of wisdom. I salute thee, then, O immaculate Mary, living tabernacle of the Divinity, where the Eternal Wisdom willed to be hidden, and to be adored by Angels and by men. I hail thee, O Queen of heaven and earth, to whose empire everything is subject which is under God.
I salute thee, O sure refuge of sinners, whose mercy fails to no one. Hear the desires which I have of the Divine Wisdom; and for that end receive the vows and offerings which my lowness presents to thee. I, [Name], a faithless sinner—I renew and ratify today in thy hands the vows of my Baptism; I renounce for ever Satan, his pomps and works; and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life, and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before.
In the presence of all the heavenly court I choose thee this day for my Mother and Mistress. I deliver and consecrate to thee, as thy slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions, past, present, and future; leaving to you the entire and full right of disposing of me, and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to thy good pleasure, to the greatest glory of God, in time and in eternity.
Receive, O benignant Virgin, this little offering of my slavery, in the honour of, and in union with, that subjection which the Eternal Wisdom deigned to have to thy Maternity, in homage to the power which both of you have over this little worm and miserable sinner, and in thanksgiving for the privileges with which the Holy Trinity hath favoured thee. I protest that I wish henceforth, as thy true slave, to seek thy honour and to obey thee in all things.
O admirable Mother, present me to thy dear Son as His eternal slave, so that as He hath redeemed me by thee, by thee He may receive me. O Mother of mercy, get me the grace to obtain the true Wisdom of God; and for that end put me in the number of those whom thou lovest, whom thou teachest, whom thou conductest, and whom thou nourishest and protectest, as thy children and thy slaves.
O faithful Virgin, make me in all things so perfect a disciple, imitator, and slave of the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ thy Son, that I may attain, by thy intercession, and by thy example, to the fulness of His age on earth, and of His glory in the heavens. Amen.
Qui potest capere, capiat.
Let him take who can take.
Quis sapiens, et intelliget haec?
Who is wise, and he shall understand these things?
Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blest,
and in our souls take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heavenly aid
to fill the hearts which Thou hast made.
O comforter, to Thee we cry,
O heavenly gift of God Most High,
O fount of life and fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.
Thou in Thy sevenfold gifts are known;
Thou, finger of God’s hand we own;
Thou, promise of the Father,
Thou Who dost the tongue with power imbue.
Kindle our sense from above,
and make our hearts o’erflow with love;
with patience firm and virtue high
the weakness of our flesh supply.
Far from us drive the foe we dread,
and grant us Thy peace instead;
so shall we not, with Thee for guide,
turn from the path of life aside.
Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
the Father and the Son to know;
and Thee, through endless times confessed,
of both the eternal Spirit blest.
Now to the Father and the Son,
Who rose from death, be glory given,
with Thou, O Holy Comforter,
henceforth by all in earth and heaven. Amen.
Hail, O Star of the ocean,
God’s own Mother blest,
ever sinless Virgin,
gate of heav’nly rest.
Taking that sweet Ave,
which from Gabriel came,
peace confirm within us,
changing Eve’s name.
Break the sinners’ fetters,
make our blindness day,
Chase all evils from us,
for all blessings pray.
Show thyself a Mother,
may the Word divine
born for us thine Infant
hear our prayers through thine.
Virgin all excelling,
mildest of the mild,
free from guilt preserve us
meek and undefiled.
Keep our life all spotless,
make our way secure
till we find in Jesus,
joy for evermore.
Praise to God the Father,
honor to the Son,
in the Holy Spirit,
be the glory one. Amen.
My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me Blessed. Because He that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and Holy is His name. And His mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear Him. He hath shewed might in His arm: He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away. He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy: As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His seed for ever. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
How to pray the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary:
A sign of the cross on the Crucifix and then the Apostles’ Creed;
An Our Father on the first large bead;
A Hail Mary on each of the three small beads with the following intentions (the theological virtues):
For the increase of faith
For the increase of hope
For the increase of charity
A Glory Be to the Father;
Announce the mystery
An “Our Father” on the large bead
A “Hail Mary” on each of the adjacent ten small beads;
A “Glory Be to the Father”;
(The Fatima Prayer is commonly added here, as a pious addition: “O My Jesus, Forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven. Especially those most in need of thy mercy.”)
Announce the next mystery, again an Our Father on the next large bead, followed by ten Hail Marys on the small beads, the Glory Be to the Father, (and Fatima Prayer) for each of the following decades;
In conclusion, Hail Holy Queen and a sign of the cross.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Father all powerful, have mercy on us
Jesus, Eternal Son of the Father, Redeemer of the world, save us.
Spirit of the Father and the Son, boundless life of both, sanctify us.
Holy Trinity, hear us.
Holy Ghost, Who proceedest from the Father and the Son, enter our hearts.
Holy Ghost, Who art equal to the Father and the Son, enter our hearts.
Promise of God the Father, have mercy on us.
Ray of heavenly light, have mercy on us.
Author of all good, have mercy on us.
Source of heavenly water, have mercy on us.
Consuming fire, have mercy on us.
Ardent charity, have mercy on us.
Spiritual unction, have mercy on us.
Spirit of love and truth, have mercy on us.
Spirit of wisdom and understanding, have mercy on us.
Spirit of counsel and fortitude, have mercy on us.
Spirit of knowledge and piety, have mercy on us.
Spirit of the fear of the Lord, have mercy on us.
Spirit of grace and prayer, have mercy on us.
Spirit of peace and meekness, have mercy on us.
Spirit of modesty and innocence, have mercy on us.
Holy Ghost, the Comforter, have mercy on us.
Holy Ghost, the Sanctifier, have mercy on us.
Holy Ghost, Who governest the Church, have mercy on us.
Gift of God, the Most High, have mercy on us.
Spirit Who fillest the universe, have mercy on us.
Spirit of the adoption of the children of God, have mercy on us.
Holy Ghost, inspire us with horror of sin.
Holy Ghost, come and renew the face of the earth.
Holy Ghost, shed Thy light in our souls.
Holy Ghost, engrave Thy law in our hearts.
Holy Ghost, inflame us with the flame of Thy love.
Holy Ghost, open to us the treasures of Thy graces.
Holy Ghost, teach us to pray well.
Holy Ghost, enlighten us with Thy heavenly inspirations.
Holy Ghost, lead us in the way of salvation.
Holy Ghost, grant us the only necessary knowledge.
Holy Ghost, inspire in us the practice of good. Holy Ghost, grant us the merits of all virtues.
Holy Ghost, make us persevere in justice.
Holy Ghost, be Thou our everlasting reward.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Send us Thy Holy Ghost.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, pour down into our souls the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, grant us the Spirit of wisdom and piety.
V. Come, Holy Ghost! Fill the hearts of Thy faithful,
R. And enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.
Let Us Pray. Grant, Omerciful Father, that Thy Divine Spirit may enlighten, inflame and purify us, that He may penetrate us with His heavenly dew and make us fruitful in good works, through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who with Thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, liveth and reigneth forever and ever.
Lord, have mercy on us,
Christ have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.
Mother of Christ, pray for us.
Mother of divine grace, pray for us.
Mother most pure, pray for us.
Mother most chaste, pray for us.
Mother inviolate, pray for us.
Mother undefiled, pray for us.
Mother most amiable, pray for us.
Mother most admirable, pray for us.
Mother of good counsel,pray for us.
Mother of our Creator, pray for us.
Mother of our Saviour, pray for us.
Mother of the Church, pray for us.
Virgin most prudent, pray for us.
Virgin most venerable, pray for us.
Virgin most renowned, pray for us.
Virgin most powerful, pray for us.
Virgin most merciful, pray for us.
Virgin most faithful, pray for us.
Preparation for Consecration, pray for us.
Mirror of justice, pray for us.
Seat of wisdom, pray for us.
Cause of our joy, pray for us.
Vessel of honor, pray for us.
Singular vessel of devotion, pray for us.
Mystical rose, pray for us.
Tower of David, pray for us.
Tower of ivory, pray for us.
House of gold, pray for us.
Ark of the covenant, pray for us.
Gate of Heaven, pray for us.
Morning star, pray for us.
Health of the sick, pray for us.
Refuge of sinners, pray for us.
Comforter of the afflicted, pray for us.
Help of Christians, pray for us.
Queen of angels, pray for us.
Queen of patriarchs, pray for us.
Queen of prophets, pray for us.
Queen of Apostles, pray for us.
Queen of martyrs, pray for us.
Queen of confessors, pray for us.
Queen of virgins, pray for us.
Queen of all saints, pray for us.
Queen conceived without Original Sin, pray for us.
Queen assumed into Heaven, pray for us.
Queen of the most holy Rosary, pray for us.
Queen of peace, pray for us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let Us Pray. Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, unto us Thy servants, that we may rejoice in continual health of mind and body, and by the glorious intercession of Blessed Mary, ever virgin, may be delivered from present sadness, and enter into the joy of Thine eternal gladness. Through Christ Our Lord.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Jesus, hear us.
Jesus, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Son of the living God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, splendor of the Father, have mercy on us.
Jesus, brightness of eternal light, have mercy on us.
Jesus, King of glory, have mercy on us.
Jesus, sun of justice, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Son of the Virgin Mary, have mercy on us.
Jesus, most amiable, have mercy on us.
Jesus, most admirable, have mercy on us.
Jesus, mighty God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Father of the world to come, have mercy on us.
Jesus, angel of great counsel, have mercy on us.
Jesus, most powerful, have mercy on us.
Jesus, most patient, have mercy on us.
Jesus, most obedient, have mercy on us.
Jesus, meek and humble, have mercy on us.
Jesus, lover of chastity, have mercy on us.
Jesus, lover of us, have mercy on us.
Jesus, God of peace, have mercy on us.
Jesus, author of life, have mercy on us.
Jesus, model of virtues, have mercy on us.
Jesus, lover of souls, have mercy on us.
Jesus, our God, have mercy on us.
Jesus, our refuge, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Father of the poor, have mercy on us.
Jesus, treasure of the faithful, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Good Shepherd, have mercy on us.
Jesus, true light, have mercy on us.
Jesus, eternal wisdom, have mercy on us.
Jesus, infinite goodness, have mercy on us.
Jesus, our way and our life, have mercy on us.
Jesus, joy of angels, have mercy on us.
Jesus, King of patriarchs, have mercy on us.
Jesus, master of Apostles, have mercy on us.
Jesus, teacher of Evangelists, have mercy on us.
Jesus, strength of martyrs, have mercy on us.
Jesus, light of confessors, have mercy on us.
Jesus, purity of virgins, have mercy on us.
Jesus, crown of all saints, have mercy on us.
Be merciful, spare us, O Jesus.
Be merciful, graciously hear us, O Jesus.
From all evil, Jesus, deliver us.
From mall sin, Jesus, deliver us.
From Thy wrath, Jesus, deliver us.
From the snares of the devil, Jesus, deliver us.
From the spirit of fornication, Jesus, deliver us.
From everlasting death, Jesus, deliver us.
From the neglect of Thine inspirations, Jesus, deliver us.
Through the mystery of Thy holy Incarnation, Jesus, deliver us.
Through Thy nativity, Jesus, deliver us.
Through Thine infancy, Jesus, deliver us.
Through Thy most divine life, Jesus, deliver us.
Through Thy labors, Jesus, deliver us.
Through Thine agony and Passion, Jesus, deliver us.
Through Thy cross and dereliction, Jesus, deliver us.
Through Thy sufferings, Jesus, deliver us.
Through Thy death and burial, Jesus, deliver us.
Through Thy Resurrection, Jesus, deliver us.
Through Thine Ascension, Jesus, deliver us.
Through Thine institution of the most Holy Eucharist, Jesus, deliver us.
Through Thy joys, Jesus, deliver us.
Through Thy glory, Jesus, deliver us.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Jesus.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Jesus.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
Jesus, hear us,
Jesus, graciously hear us.
Let Us Pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, Who hast said: Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you; grant, we beseech Thee, to us who ask the gift of Thy divine love, that we may ever love Thee with all our hearts, and in all our words and actions, and never cease from praising Thee.
Give us, O Lord, a perpetual fear and love of Thy holy Name; for Thou never failest to govern those whom Thou dost solidly establish in Thy love, Who livest and reignest world without end.
Hail Mary, beloved Daughter of the Eternal Father! Hail Mary, admirable Mother of the Son! Hail Mary, faithful spouse of the Holy Ghost! Hail Mary, my dear Mother, my loving Mistress, my powerful sovereign! Hail my joy, my glory, my heart and my soul! Thou art all mine by mercy, and I am all thine by justice. But I am not yet sufficiently thine. I now give myself wholly to thee without keeping anything back for myself or others. If thou still seest in me anything which does not belong to thee, I beseech thee to take it and to make thyself the absolute Mistress of all that is mine. Destroy in me all that may be displeasing to God, root it up and bring it to nought; place and cultivate in me everything that is pleasing to thee.
May the light of thy faith dispel the darkness of my mind; may thy profound humility take the place of my pride; may thy sublime contemplation check the distractions of my wandering imagination; may thy continuous sight of God fill my memory with His presence; may the burning love of thy heart inflame the lukewarmness of mine; may thy virtues take the place of my sins; may thy merits be my only adornment in the sight of God and make up for all that is wanting in me. Finally, dearly beloved Mother, grant, if it be possible, that I may have no other spirit but thine to know Jesus and His divine will; that I may have no other soul but thine to praise and glorify the Lord; that I may have no other heart but thine to love God with a love as pure and ardent as thine I do not ask thee for visions, revelations, sensible devotion or spiritual pleasures. It is thy privilege to see God clearly; it is thy privilege to enjoy heavenly bliss; it is thy privilege to triumph gloriously in Heaven at the right hand of thy Son and to hold absolute sway over angels, men and demons; it is thy privilege to dispose of all the gifts of God, just as thou willest.
Such is, O heavenly Mary, the “best part,” which the Lord has given thee and which shall never be taken away from thee-and this thought fills my heart with joy. As for my part here below, I wish for no other than that which was thine: to believe sincerely without spiritual pleasures; to suffer joyfully without human consolation; to die continually to myself without respite; and to work zealously and unselfishly for thee until death as the humblest of thy servants. The only grace I beg thee to obtain for me is that every day and every moment of my life I may say: Amen, so be it’s all that thou didst do while on earth; Amen, so be it’s all that thou art now doing in Heaven; Amen, so be it-to all that thou art doing in my soul, so that thou alone mayest fully glorify Jesus in me for time and eternity. Amen.
O most loving Jesus, deign to let me pour forth my gratitude before Thee, for the grace Thou hast bestowed upon me in giving me to Thy holy Mother through the devotion of Holy Bondage, that she may be my advocate in the presence of Thy majesty and my support in my extreme misery. Alas, O Lord! I am so wretched that without this dear Mother I should be certainly lost. Yes, Mary is necessary for me at Thy side and everywhere: that she may appease Thy just wrath, because I have so often offended Thee; that she may save me from the eternal punishment of Thy justice, which I deserve; that she may contemplate Thee, speak to Thee, pray to Thee, approach Thee and please Thee; that she may help me to save my soul and the souls of others; in short, Mary is necessary for me that I may always do Thy holy will and seek Thy greater glory in all things. Ah, would that I could proclaim throughout the whole world the mercy that Thou hast shown to me! Would that everyone might know I should be already damned, were it not for Mary! Would that I might offer worthy thanksgiving for so great a blessing! Mary is in me. Oh, what a treasure! Oh, what a consolation! And shall I not be entirely hers’? Oh, what ingratitude! My dear Saviour, send me death rather than such a calamity, for I would rather die than live without belonging entirely to Mary. With St. John the Evangelist at the foot of the Cross, I have taken her a thousand times for my own and as many times have given myself to her; but if I have not yet done it as Thou, dear Jesus, dost wish, I now renew this offering as Thou dost desire me to renew it. And if Thou seest in my soul or my body anything that does not belong to this august princess, I pray Thee to take it and cast it far from me, for whatever in me does not belong to Mary is unworthy of Thee. O Holy Spirit, grant me all these graces. Plant in my soul the Tree of true Life, which is Mary; cultivate it and tend it so that it may grow and blossom and bring forth the fruit of life in abundance. O Holy Spirit, give me great devotion to Mary, Thy faithful spouse; give me great confidence in her maternal heart and an abiding refuge in her mercy, so that by her Thou mayest truly form in me Jesus Christ, great and mighty, unto the fullness of His perfect age. Amen.
O Jesus living in Mary,
Come and live in Thy servants,
In the spirit of Thy holiness,
In the fullness of Thy might,
In the truth of Thy virtues,
In the perfection of Thy ways,
In the communion of Thy mysteries;
Subdue every hostile power
In Thy spirit, for the glory of the Father. Amen.
 See Vie de Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort (Le Clerc, Paris, 1839); also the Jesuit Father Cloriviere’s Life of him, 1785. Grandet’s Life of him (1724), as well as Bastide’s memoirs of fifty missions given with the servant of God, I only know by the quotations in the Life of 1839.
 The manuscript has been examined at Rome; recognised to be the work of the venerable servant of God; most minutely examined in its doctrine; and declared to be exempt from all error which could be a bar to his canonisation. [Editor’s note: He has been canonized by Pius XII in 1947 and is now recognised as Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort by the Catholic Church]
 Boudon says, in his Saint Esclavage, that the English Catholics were remarkable for this devotion in the seventeenth century.—F. W. F
 Editor’s Note. The French text shows the lower case for God. This is in accordance with Church teaching that by Sanctifying Grace, we receive “a created sharing in the Divine Nature.”
 Note from the French Edition. It may be thought that, since the time of the venerable servant of God, certain decrees of the Congregation of the Index have absolutely condemned this usage; but whatever may be the precise extent of the prohibition intended by these decrees, there seems to be nothing in them formally interdicting the using of little chains to private persons. We may see at the end of Collet’s Life of Boudon the remarks of that theologian, justifying the pious Arch-deacon of Evreux from the criticisms of which he was the object, by the occasion of his treatise Le saint Esclavage de la Sainte Vierge. He cites the decrees which he read in the edition of the Index of 1758, and which have been repeated in the subsequent editions. The words of the Index are as follows:
“Prohibentur imagines, numismata insculpta pro confraternitatibus mancipiorum Matris Dei, italice schiavi della Madre di Dio, sodales catenatos exprimentia. Item libelli in quibus eisdem confraternitatibus regulae praescribentur. Confraternitates autem quae catenulas distribuunt confratribus et consororibus, brachiis et collo circumponendas atque gestandas, ut eo signo beatissimae Virgini mancipatos se esse profiteantur, et quarum institutum in eo mancipatu praecipue versatur, damnantur et exstinguuntur. Societatibus vero quae ritum aliquem aut quodcumque aliud ad mancipatum ejusmodi pertinens adhiibent, praecipitur ut id statim rejiciant” (Index, Decreta generalia, § 3, n. 3).
“Forbidden images, carved on the coins of the brotherhood of slaves for the Mother of God, Italian schiavi della Madre di Dio, members of the fetters and to express. The book in which shall prescribe the rules of the brotherhood. Of the Confraternity of the chains which divide their brothers and sisters, and those who carry arms and neck circumponendas, as it the sign of the Most Blessed Virgin profess themselves to be enslaved, and the institution of which it chiefly turns, enslaved, and condemned out. Societies, however, that the duty of anyone or anything else pertaining to such adhiibent sold, prescribed, to immediately reject it “(History, general decrees, § 3, no. 3).”