1. By it we
give ourselves completely to God
135. This first
motive shows us the excellence of the consecration of ourselves to
Jesus through Mary.
We can conceive of no higher calling than that of being in the service
of God and we believe that the least of God's servants is richer,
stronger, and nobler than any earthly monarch who does not serve God.
How rich and strong and noble then must the good and faithful servant
be, who serves God as unreservedly and as completely as he possibly
can! Just such a person is the faithful and loving slave of Jesus in
Mary. He has indeed surrendered himself entirely to the service of the
King of kings through Mary, his Mother, keeping nothing for himself.
All the gold of the world and the beauties of the heavens could not
recompense him for what he has done.
136. Other congregations, associations, and confraternities set up in
honour of our Lord and our Blessed Lady, which do so much good in the
Church, do not require their members to give up absolutely everything.
They simply prescribe for them the performance of certain acts and
practices in fulfilment of their obligations. They leave them free to
dispose of the rest of their actions as well as their time. But this
devotion makes us give Jesus and Mary all our thoughts, words, actions,
and sufferings and every moment of our lives without exception. Thus,
whatever we do, whether we are awake or asleep, whether we eat or
drink, whether we do important or unimportant work, it will always be
true to say that everything is done for Jesus and Mary. Our offering
always holds good, whether we think of it or not, unless we explicitly
retract it. How consoling this is!
137. Moreover, as I have said before, no other act of devotion enables
us to rid ourselves so easily of the possessiveness which slips
unnoticed even into our best actions. This is a remarkable grace which
our dear Lord grants us in return for the heroic and selfless surrender
to him through Mary of the entire value of our good works. If even in
this life he gives a hundredfold reward to those who renounce all
material, temporal and perishable things out of love for him, how
generously will he reward those who give up even interior and spiritual
goods for his sake!
138. Jesus, our dearest friend, gave himself to us without reserve,
body and soul, grace and merits. As St. Bernard says, "He won me over
entirely by giving himself entirely to me." Does not simple justice as
well as gratitude require that we give him all we possibly can? He was
generous with us first, so let us be generous to him in return and he
will prove still more generous during life, at the hour of death, and
throughout eternity. "He will be generous towards the generous."
2. It helps us to imitate Christ
139. Our good
Master stooped to enclose himself in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, a
captive but loving slave, and to make himself subject to her for thirty
years. As I said earlier, the human mind is bewildered when it reflects
seriously upon this conduct of Incarnate Wisdom. He did not choose to
give himself in a direct manner to the human race though he could
easily have done so. He chose to come through the Virgin Mary. Thus he
did not come into the world independently of others in the flower of
his manhood, but he came as a frail little child dependent on the care
and attention of his Mother. Consumed with the desire to give glory to
God, his Father, and save the human race, he saw no better or shorter
way to do so than by submitting completely to Mary.
He did this not just for 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 those years of submission and dependence
than he would have given by spending them working miracles, preaching
far and wide, and converting all mankind. Otherwise he would have done
all these things.
What immeasurable glory then do we give to God when, following the
example of Jesus, we submit to Mary! With such a convincing and
well-known example before us, can we be so foolish as to believe that
there is a better and shorter way of giving God glory than by
submitting ourselves to Mary, as Jesus did?
140. Let me remind you again of the dependence shown by the three
divine Persons on our Blessed Lady. Theirs is the example which fully
justifies our dependence on her. The Father gave and still gives his
Son only through her. He raises children for himself only through her.
He dispenses his graces to us only through her. God the Son was
prepared for mankind in general by her alone. Mary, in union with the
Holy Spirit, still conceives him and brings him forth daily. It is
through her alone that the Son distributes his merits and virtues. The
Holy Spirit formed Jesus only through her, and he forms the members of
the Mystical Body and dispenses his gifts and his favours through her.
With such a compelling example of the three divine Persons before us,
we would be extremely perverse to ignore her and not consecrate
ourselves to her. Indeed we would be blind if we did not see the need
for Mary in approaching God and making our total offering to him.
141. Here are a few passages from the Fathers of the Church which I
have chosen to prove what I have just said: "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).
"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.
"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).
"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).
142. St. Bernard tells us that God, seeing that we are unworthy to
receive his graces directly from him, gives them to Mary so that we
might receive from her all that he decides to give us. His glory is
achieved when he receives through Mary the gratitude, respect and love
we owe him in return for his gifts to us. It is only right then that we
should imitate his conduct, "in order", as St. Bernard again says,
"that grace might return to its author by the same channel through
which it came to us".
This is what we do by this devotion. We offer and consecrate all we are
and all we possess to the Blessed Virgin in order that our Lord may
receive through her as intermediary the glory and gratitude that we owe
to him. We deem ourselves unworthy and unfit to approach his infinite
majesty on our own, and so we avail ourselves of Mary's intercession.
143. Moreover, this devotion is an expression of great humility, a
virtue which God loves above all others. A person who exalts himself
debases God, and a person who humbles himself exalts God. "God opposes
the proud, but gives his graces to the humble." If you humble yourself,
convinced that you are unworthy to appear before him, or even to
approach him, he condescends to come down to you. He is pleased to be
with you and exalts you in spite of yourself. But, on the other hand,
if you venture to go towards God blindly without a mediator, he
vanishes and is nowhere to be found. How dearly he loves the humble of
heart! It is to such humility that this devotion leads us, for it
teaches us never to go alone directly to our Lord, however gentle and
merciful though he may be, but always to use Mary's power of
intercession, whether we want to enter his presence, speak to him, be
near him, offer him something, seek union with him or consecrate
ourselves to him.
3. It obtains many blessings from our Lady
144. The Blessed
Virgin, mother of gentleness and mercy, never allows herself to be
surpassed in love and generosity. When she sees someone giving himself
entirely to her in order to honour and serve her, and depriving himself
of what he prizes most in order to adorn her, she gives herself
completely in a wondrous manner to him. She engulfs him in the ocean of
her graces, adorns him with her merits, supports him with her power,
enlightens him with her light, and fills him with her love. She shares
her virtues with him - her humility, faith, purity, etc. She makes up
for his failings and becomes his representative with Jesus. Just as one
who is consecrated belongs entirely to Mary, so Mary belongs entirely
to him. We can truthfully say of this perfect servant and child of Mary
what St. John in his gospel says of himself, "He took her for his own."
145. This produces in his soul, if he is persevering, a great distrust,
contempt, and hatred of self, and a great confidence in Mary with
complete self-abandonment to her. He no longer relies on his own
dispositions, intentions, merits, virtues and good works, since he has
sacrificed them completely to Jesus through his loving Mother. He has
now only one treasury, where all his wealth is stored. That treasury is
not within himself: it is Mary. That is why he can now go to our Lord
without any servile or scrupulous fear and pray to him with great
confidence. He can also share the sentiments of the devout and learned
Abbot Rupert, who, referring to the victory which Jacob won over an
angel, addressed our Lady in these words, "O Mary, my Queen, Immaculate
Mother of the God-man, Jesus Christ, I desire to wrestle with this man,
the Divine Word, armed with your merits and not my own."
How much stronger and more powerful are we in approaching our Lord when
we are armed with the merits and prayers of the worthy Mother of God,
who, as St. Augustine says, has conquered the Almighty by her love!
146. Since by this devotion we give to our Lord, through the hands of
his holy Mother, all our good works, she purifies them, making them
beautiful and acceptable to her Son.
(1) She purifies them of every taint of self-love and of that
unconscious attachment to creatures which slips unnoticed into our best
actions. Her hands have never been known to be idle or uncreative. They
purify everything they touch. As soon as the Blessed Virgin receives
our good works, she removes any blemish or imperfection she may find in
147. (2) She enriches our good works by adorning them with her own
merits and virtues. It is as if a poor peasant, wishing to win the
friendship and favour of the king, were to go the queen and give her an
apple - his only possession - for her to offer it to the king. The
queen, accepting the peasant's humble gift, puts it on a beautiful
golden dish and presents it to the king on behalf of the peasant. The
apple in itself would not be a gift worthy of a king, but presented by
the queen in person on a dish of gold, it becomes fit for any king.
148. (3) Mary presents our good works to Jesus. She does not keep
anything we offer for herself, as if she were our last end, but
unfailingly gives everything to Jesus. So by the very fact we give
anything to her, we are giving it to Jesus. Whenever we praise and
glorify her, she sings today as she did on the day Elizabeth praised
her, "My soul glorifies the Lord."
149. At Mary's request, Jesus accepts the gift of our good works, no
matter how poor and insignificant they may be for one who is the King
of kings, the Holiest of the holy. When we present anything to Jesus by
ourselves, relying on our own dispositions and efforts, he examines our
gift and often rejects it because it is stained with self-love, just as
he once rejected the sacrifices of the Jews because they were imbued
with selfish motives.
But when we present something to him by the pure, virginal hands of his
beloved Mother, we take him by his weak side, in a manner of speaking.
He does not consider so much the present itself as the person who
offers it. Thus Mary, who is never slighted by her Son but is always
well received, prevails upon him to accept with pleasure everything she
offers him, regardless of its value. Mary has only to present the gift
for Jesus graciously to accept it. This is what St. Bernard strongly
recommended to all those he was guiding along the pathway to
perfection. "When you want to offer something to God, to be welcomed by
him be sure to offer it through the worthy Mother of God, if you do not
wish to see it rejected."
150. Does not human nature itself, as we have seen, suggest this mode
of procedure to the less important people of this world with regard to
the great? Why should grace not inspire us to do likewise with regard
to God? He is infinitely exalted above us. We are less than atoms in
his sight. But we have an advocate so powerful that she is never
refused anything. She is so resourceful that she knows every secret way
to win the heart of God. She is so good and kind that she never passes
over anyone no matter how lonely and sinful.
Further on, I shall relate the story of Jacob and Rebecca which
exemplifies the truths I have been setting before you.
4. It is an excellent means of giving glory to God
devotion, when faithfully undertaken, is a perfect means of ensuring
that the value of all our good works is being used for the greater
glory of God. Scarcely anyone works for that noble end, in spite of the
obligation to do so, either because men do not know where God's
greatest glory is to be found or because they do not desire it. Now
Mary, to whom we surrender the value and merit of our good actions,
knows perfectly well where God's greatest glory lies and she works only
to promote that glory. The devout servant of our Lady, having entirely
consecrated himself to her as I have described above, can boldly claim
that the value of all his actions, words and thoughts is used for the
greatest glory of God, unless he has explicitly retracted his offering.
For one who loves God with a pure and unselfish love and prizes God's
glory and interests far above his own, could anything be more
5. It leads to union with our Lord
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. We would have to pass through spiritual darkness, engage in
struggles for which we are not prepared, endure bitter agonies, scale
precipitous mountains, tread upon painful thorns, and cross frightful
deserts. But when we take the path of Mary, we walk smoothly and
It is true that on our way we have hard battles to fight and serious
obstacles to overcome, but Mary, our Mother and Queen, stays close to
her faithful servants. She is always at hand to brighten their
darkness, clear away their doubts, strengthen them in their fears,
sustain them in their combats and trials. Truly, in comparison with
other ways, this virgin road to Jesus is a path of roses and sweet
delights. There have been some saints, not very many, such as St.
Ephrem, St. John Damascene, St. Bernard, St. Bernardine, St.
Bonaventure, and St. Francis de Sales, who have taken this smooth path
to Jesus Christ, because the Holy Spirit, the faithful Spouse of Mary,
made it known to them by a special grace. The other saints, who are the
greater number, while having a devotion to Mary, either did not enter
or did not go very far along this path. That is why they had to undergo
harder and more dangerous trials.
153. Why is it then, a servant of Mary might ask, that devoted servants
of this good Mother are called upon to suffer much more than those who
serve her less generously? They are opposed, persecuted, slandered, and
treated with intolerance. They may also have to walk in interior
darkness and through spiritual deserts without being given from heaven
a single drop of the dew of consolation. If this devotion to the
Blessed Virgin makes the path to Jesus smoother, how can we explain why
Mary's loyal servants are so ill-treated?
154. I reply that it is quite true that the most faithful servants of
the Blessed Virgin, being her greatest favourites, receive from her the
best graces and favours from heaven, which are crosses. But I maintain
too that these servants of Mary bear their crosses with greater ease
and gain more merit and glory. What could check another's progress a
thousand times over, or possibly bring about his downfall, does not
balk them at all, but even helps them on their way. For this good
Mother, filled with the grace and unction of the Holy Spirit, dips all
the crosses she prepares for them in the honey of her maternal
sweetness and the unction of pure love. They then readily swallow them
as they would sugared almonds, though the crosses may be very bitter. I
believe that anyone who wishes to be devout and live piously in Jesus
will suffer persecution and will have a daily cross to carry. But he
will never manage to carry a heavy cross, or carry it joyfully and
perseveringly, without a trusting devotion to our Lady, who is the very
sweetness of the cross. It is obvious that a person could not keep on
eating without great effort unripe fruit which has not been sweetened.
155. (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. A man who is obedient and submissive to Mary will sing
of glorious victories over his enemies It is true, his enemies will try
to impede his progress, force him to retreat or try to make him fall.
But with Mary's help, support and guidance, he will go forward towards
our Lord. Without falling, retreating and even without being delayed,
he will advance with giant strides towards Jesus along the same road
which, as it is written, Jesus took to come to us with giant strides
and in a short time.
156. Why do you think our Lord spent only a few years here on earth and
nearly all of them in submission and obedience to his Mother? The
reason is that "attaining perfection in a short time, he lived a long
time", even longer than Adam, whose losses he had come to make good.
Yet Adam lived more than nine hundred years!
Jesus lived a long time, because he lived in complete submission to his
Mother and in union with her, which obedience to his Father required.
The Holy Spirit tells us that the man who honours his mother is like a
man who stores up a treasure. In other words, the man who honours Mary,
his Mother, to the extent of subjecting himself to her and obeying her
in all things will soon become very rich, because he is amassing riches
every day through Mary who has become his secret philosopher's stone.
There is another quotation from Holy Scripture, "My old age will be
found in the mercy of the bosom". According to the mystical
interpretation of these words it is in the bosom of Mary that people
who are young grow mature in enlightenment, in holiness, in experience
and in wisdom, and in a short time reach the fullness of the age of
Christ. For it was Mary's womb which encompassed and produced a perfect
man. That same womb held the one whom the whole universe can neither
encompass nor contain.
157. (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
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.
God the Incomprehensible, allowed himself to be perfectly comprehended
and contained by the humble Virgin Mary without losing anything of his
immensity. So we must let ourselves be perfectly contained and led by
the humble Virgin without any reserve on our part.
God, the Inaccessible, drew near to us and united himself closely,
perfectly and even personally to our humanity through Mary without
losing anything of his majesty. So it is also through Mary that we must
draw near to God and unite ourselves to him perfectly, intimately, and
without fear of being rejected.
Lastly, He who is deigned to come down to us who are not and turned our
nothingness into God, or He who is. He did this perfectly by giving and
submitting himself entirely to the young Virgin Mary, without ceasing
to be in time He who is from all eternity. Likewise it is through Mary
that we, who are nothing, may become like God by grace and glory. We
accomplish this by giving ourselves to her so perfectly and so
completely as to remain nothing, as far as self is concerned, and to be
everything in her, without any fear of illusion.
158. Show me a new road to our Lord, pave it with all the merits of the
saints, adorn it with their heroic virtues, illuminate and enhance it
with the splendour and beauty of the angels, have all the angels and
saints there to guide and protect those who wish to follow it. Give me
such a road and truly, truly, I boldly say - and I am telling the truth
- that instead of this road, perfect though it be, I would still choose
the immaculate way of Mary. It is a way, a road without stain or spot,
without original sin or actual sin, without shadow or darkness,. When
our loving Jesus comes in glory once again to reign upon earth - as he
certainly will - he will choose no other way than the Blessed Virgin,
by whom he came so surely and so perfectly the first time. The
difference between his first and his second coming is that the first
was secret and hidden, but the second will be glorious and resplendent.
Both are perfect because both are through Mary. Alas, this is a mystery
which we cannot understand, "Here let every tongue be silent."
159. (d) This devotion to our Lady is a sure way to go to Jesus and to
acquire holiness through union with him.
(1) The devotion which I teach is not new. Its history goes back so far
that the time of its origin cannot be ascertained with any precision,
as Fr. Boudon, who died a holy death a short time ago, states in a book
which he wrote on this devotion. It is however certain that for more
than seven hundred years we find traces of it in the Church.
St. Odilo, abbot of Cluny, who lived about the year 1040, was one of
the first to practise it publicly in France as is told in his life.
Cardinal Peter Damian relates that in the year 1076 his brother,
Blessed Marino, made himself the slave of the Blessed Virgin in the
presence of his spiritual director in a most edifying manner. He placed
a rope around his neck, scourged himself and placed on the altar a sum
of money as a token of his devotion and consecration to our Lady. He
remained so faithful to this consecration all his life that me merited
to be visited and consoled on his death-bed by his dear Queen and hear
from her lips the promise of paradise in reward for his service.
Caesarius Bollandus mentions a famous knight, Vautier de Birback, a
close relative of the Dukes of Louvain, who about the year 1300
consecrated himself to the Blessed Virgin.
This devotion was also practised privately by many people up to the
seventeenth century, when it became publicly known.
160. Father Simon de Rojas of the Order of the Holy Trinity for the
Redemption of Captives, court preacher to Philip III, made this
devotion popular throughout Spain and Germany. Through the intervention
of Philip III, he obtained from Gregory XV valuable indulgences for
those who practised it.
Father de los Rios, of the Order of St. Augustine, together with his
intimate friend, Father de Roias, worked hard, propagating it
throughout Spain and Germany by preaching and writing. He composed a
large volume entitled "Hierarchia Mariana", where he treats of the
antiquity, the excellence and the soundness of this devotion, with as
much devotion as learning.
The Theatine Fathers in the seventeenth century established this
devotion in Italy and Savoy.
161. Father Stanislaus Phalacius of the Society of Jesus spread this
devotion widely in Poland.
Father de los Rios in the book quoted above mentions the names of
princes and princesses, bishops and cardinals of different countries
who embraced this devotion.
Father Cornelius a Lapide, noted both for holiness and profound
learning, was commissioned by several bishops and theologians to
examine it. The praise he gave it after mature examination, is a worthy
tribute to his own holiness. Many other eminent men followed his
The Jesuit Fathers, ever zealous in the service of our Blessed Lady,
presented on behalf of the sodalities of Cologne to Duke Ferdinand of
Bavaria, the then archbishop of Cologne, a little treatise on the
devotion, and he gave it his approval and granted permission to have it
printed. He exhorted all priests and religious of his diocese to do
their utmost to spread this solid devotion.
162. Cardinal de Bérulle, whose memory is venerated throughout France,
was outstandingly zealous in furthering the devotion in France, despite
the calumnies and persecutions he suffered at the hands of critics and
evil men. They accused him of introducing novelty and superstition.
They composed and published a libellous tract against him and they -
rather the devil in them - used a thousand stratagems to prevent him
from spreading the devotion in France. But this eminent and saintly man
responded to their calumnies with calm patience. He wrote a little book
in reply and forcefully refuted the objections contained in it. He
pointed out that this devotion is founded on the example given by Jesus
Christ, on the obligations we have towards him and on the promises we
made in holy baptism. It was mainly this last reason which silenced his
enemies. He made clear to them that this consecration to the Blessed
Virgin, and through her to Jesus, is nothing less than a perfect
renewal of the promises and vows of baptism. He said many beautiful
things concerning this devotion which can be read in his works.
163. In Fr. Boudon's book we read of different popes who gave their
approval to this devotion, the theologians who examined it, the
hostility it encountered and overcame, the thousands who made it their
own without censure from any pope. 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
164. (2) This devotion is a safe means of going to Jesus Christ,
because it is Mary's role to lead us safely to her Son; just as it is
the role of our Lord to lead us to the eternal Father. Those who are
spiritually-minded should not fall into the error of thinking that Mary
hinders our union with God. How could this possibly happen? How could
Mary, who found grace with God for everyone in general and each one in
particular, prevent a soul from obtaining the supreme grace of union
with him? Is it possible that she who was so completely filled with
grace to overflowing, so united to Christ and transformed in God that
it became necessary for him to be made flesh in her, should prevent a
soul from being perfectly united to him?
It is quite true that the example of other people, no matter how holy,
can sometimes impair union with God, but not so our Blessed Lady, as I
have said and shall never weary of repeating. One reason why so few
souls come to the fullness of the age of Jesus is that Mary who is
still as much as ever his Mother and the fruitful spouse of the Holy
Spirit is not formed well enough in their hearts. If we desire a ripe
and perfectly formed fruit, we must possess the tree that bears it. If
we desire the fruit of life, Jesus Christ, we must possess the tree of
life which is Mary. If we desire to have the Holy Spirit working within
us, we must possess his faithful and inseparable spouse, Mary the
divinely-favoured one whom, as I have said elsewhere, he can make
165. Rest assured that the more you turn to Mary in your prayers,
meditations, actions and sufferings, seeing her if not perhaps clearly
and distinctly, at least in a general and indistinct way, the more
surely you will discover Jesus. For he is always greater, more
powerful, more active, and more mysterious when acting through Mary
than he is in any other creature in the universe, or even in heaven.
Thus Mary, so divinely-favoured and so lost in God, is far from being
an obstacle to good people who are striving for union with him. There
has never been and there never will be a creature so ready to help us
in achieving that union more effectively, for she will dispense to us
all the graces to attain that end. As a saint once remarked, "Only Mary
knows how to fill our minds with the thought of God." Moreover, Mary
will safeguard us against the deception and cunning of the evil one.
166. Where Mary is present, the evil one is absent. One of the
unmistakable signs that a person is led by the Spirit of God is the
devotion he has to Mary, and his habit of thinking and speaking of her.
This is the opinion of a saint, who goes on to say that just as
breathing is a proof that the body is not dead, so the habitual thought
of Mary and loving converse with her is a proof that the soul is not
spiritually dead in sin.
167. Since Mary alone has crushed all heresies, as we are told by the
Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Office of B.V.M.), a
devoted servant of hers will never fall into formal heresy or error,
though critics may contest this. He may very well err materially,
mistaking lies for truth or an evil spirit for a good one, but he will
be less likely to do this than others. Sooner or later he will discover
his error and will not go on stubbornly believing and maintaining what
he mistakenly thought was the truth.
168. Whoever then wishes to advance along the road to holiness and be
sure of encountering the true Christ, without fear of the illusions
which afflict many devout people, should take up with valiant heart and
willing spirit this devotion to Mary which perhaps he had not
previously heard about. Even if it is new to him, let him enter upon
this excellent way which I am now revealing to him. "I will show you a
more excellent way."
It was opened up by Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom. He is our one
and only Head, and we, his members, cannot go wrong in following him.
It is a smooth way made easy by the fullness of grace, the unction of
the Holy Spirit. In our progress along this road, we do not weaken or
turn back. It is a quick way and leads us to Jesus in a short time. It
is a perfect way without mud or dust or any vileness of sin. Finally,
it is a reliable way, for it is direct and sure, having no turnings to
right or left but leading us straight to Jesus and to life eternal.
Let us then take this road and travel along it night and day until we
arrive at the fullness of the age of Jesus Christ.
6. It gives great liberty of spirit
169. It gives
great liberty of spirit - the freedom of the children of God - to those
who faithfully practise it. Through this devotion we make ourselves
slaves of Jesus by consecrating ourselves entirely to him. To reward us
for this enslavement of love, our Lord frees us from every scruple and
servile fear which might restrict, imprison or confuse us; he opens our
hearts and fills them with holy confidence in God, helping us to regard
God as our Father; he inspires us with a generous and filial love.
170. Without stopping to prove this truth, I shall simply relate an
incident which I read in the life of Mother Agnes of Jesus, a Dominican
nun of the convent of Langeac in Auvergne, who died a holy death there
When she was only seven years old and was suffering great spiritual
anguish, she heard a voice telling her that if she wished to be
delivered from her anguish and protected against all her enemies, she
should make herself the slave of our Lord and his Blessed Mother as
soon as possible. No sooner had she returned home than she gave herself
completely to Jesus and Mary as their slave, although she had never
known anything about this devotion before. She found an iron chain, put
it round her waist and wore it till the day she died. After this, all
her sufferings and scruples disappeared and she found great peace of
This led her to teach this devotion to many others who made rapid
progress in it - among them, Father Olier, the founder of the Seminary
of Saint-Sulpice, and several other priests and students from the same
seminary. One day the Blessed Virgin appeared to Mother Agnes and put a
gold chain around her neck to show her how happy she was that Mother
Agnes had become the slave of both her and her Son. And St. Cecilia,
who accompanied our Lady, said to her, "Happy are the faithful slaves
of the Queen of heaven, for they will enjoy true freedom." Tibi servire
7. It is of great benefit to our neighbour
171. It is of
great benefit to our neighbour, for by it we show love for our
neighbour in an outstanding way since we give him through Mary's hands
all that we prize most highly - that is, the satisfactory and prayer
value of all our good works, down to the least good thought and the
least little suffering. We give our consent that all we have already
acquired or will acquire until death should be used in accordance with
our Lady's will for the conversion of sinners or the deliverance of
souls from Purgatory.
Is this not perfect love of our neighbour? Is this not being a true
disciple of our Lord, one who should always be recognised by his love?
Is this not the way to convert sinners without any danger of vainglory,
and deliver souls from Purgatory by doing hardly anything more than
what we are obliged to do by our state of life?
172. To appreciate the excellence of this motive we must understand
what a wonderful thing it is to convert a sinner or to deliver a soul
from Purgatory. It is an infinite good, greater than the creation of
heaven and earth, since it gives a soul the possession of God. If by
this devotion we secured the release of only soul from Purgatory or
converted only one sinner in our whole lifetime, would that not be
enough to induce any person who really loves his neighbour to practise
It must be noted that our good works, passing through Mary's hands, are
progressively purified. Consequently, their merit and their
satisfactory and prayer value are also increased. That is why they
become much more effective in relieving the souls in Purgatory and in
converting sinners than if they did not pass through the virginal and
liberal hands of Mary. Stripped of self-will and clothed with
disinterested love, the little that we give to the Blessed Virgin is
truly powerful enough to appease the anger of God and draw down his
mercy. It may well be that at the hour of death a person who has been
faithful to this devotion will find that he has freed many souls from
Purgatory and converted many sinners, even though he performed only the
ordinary actions of his state of life. Great will be his joy at the
judgement. Great will be his glory throughout eternity.
8. It is a wonderful means of perseverance
what draws us in a sense more compellingly to take up this devotion to
the most Blessed Virgin is the fact that it is a wonderful means of
persevering in the practice of virtue and of remaining steadfast.
Why is it that most conversions of sinners are not lasting? Why do they
relapse so easily into sin? Why is it that most of the faithful,
instead of making progress in one virtue after another and so acquiring
new graces, often lose the little grace and virtue they have? This
misfortune arises, as I have already shown, from the fact that man, so
prone to evil, so weak and changeable, trusts himself too much, relies
on his own strength, and wrongly presumes he is able to safeguard his
precious graces, virtues and merits.
By this devotion we entrust all we possess to Mary, the faithful
Virgin. We choose her as the guardian of all our possessions in the
natural and supernatural sphere. We trust her because she is faithful,
we rely on her strength, we count on her mercy and charity to preserve
and increase our virtues and merits in spite of the efforts of the
devil, the world, and the flesh to rob us of them. We say to her as a
good child would say to its mother or a faithful servant to the
mistress of the house, "My dear Mother and Mistress, I realise that up
to now I have received from God through your intercession more graces
than I deserve. But bitter experience has taught me that I carry these
riches in a very fragile vessel and that I am too weak and sinful to
guard them by myself. Please accept in trust everything I possess, and
in your faithfulness and power keep it for me. If you watch over me, I
shall lose nothing. If you support me, I shall not fail. If you protect
me, I shall be safe from my enemies."
174. This is exactly what St. Bernard clearly pointed out to encourage
us to take up this devotion, "When Mary supports you, you will not
fail. With her as your protector, you will have nothing to fear. With
her as your guide, you will not grow weary. When you win her favour,
you will reach the port of heaven." St. Bonaventure seems to say the
same thing in even more explicit terms, "The Blessed Virgin," he says,
"not only preserves the fullness enjoyed by the saints, but she
maintains the saints in their fullness so that it does not diminish.
She prevents their virtues from fading away, their merits from being
wasted and their graces from being lost. She prevents the devils from
doing them harm and she so influences them that her divine Son has no
need to punish them when they sin."
175. Mary is the Virgin most faithful who by her fidelity to God makes
good the losses caused by Eve's unfaithfulness. She obtains fidelity to
God and final perseverance for those who commit themselves to her. For
this reason St. John Damascene compared her to a firm anchor which
holds them fast and saves them from shipwreck in the raging seas of the
world where so many people perish through lack of such a firm anchor.
"We fasten souls," he said, "to Mary, our hope, as to a firm anchor."
It was to Mary that the saints who attained salvation most firmly
anchored themselves as did others who wanted to ensure their
perseverance in holiness.
Blessed, indeed, are those Christians who bind themselves faithfully
and completely to her as to a secure anchor! The violent storms of the
world will not make them founder or carry away their heavenly riches.
Blessed are those who enter into her as into another Noah's ark! The
flood waters of sin which engulf so many will not harm them because, as
the Church makes Mary say in the words of divine Wisdom, "Those who
work with my help - for their salvation - shall not sin." Blessed are
the unfaithful children of unhappy Eve who commit themselves to Mary,
the ever-faithful Virgin and Mother who never wavers in her fidelity
and never goes back on her trust. She always loves those who love her,
not only with deep affection, but with a love that is active and
generous. By an abundant outpouring of grace she keeps them from
relaxing their effort in the practice of virtue or falling by the
wayside through loss of divine grace.
176. Moved by pure love, this good Mother always accepts whatever is
given her in trust, and, once she accepts something, she binds herself
in justice by a contract of trusteeship to keep it safe. Is not someone
to whom I entrust the sum of a thousand francs obliged to keep it safe
for me so that if it were lost through his negligence he would be
responsible for it in strict justice? But nothing we entrust to the
faithful Virgin will ever be lost through her negligence. Heaven and
earth would pass away sooner than Mary would neglect or betray those
who trusted in her.
177. Poor children of Mary, you are extremely weak and changeable. Your
human nature is deeply impaired. It is sadly true that you have been
fashioned from the same corrupted nature as the other children of Adam
and Eve. But do not let that discourage you. Rejoice and be glad! Here
is a secret which I am revealing to you, a secret unknown to most
Christians, even the most devout.
Do not leave your gold and silver in your own safes which have already
been broken into and rifled many times by the evil one. They are too
small, too flimsy and too old to contain such great and priceless
possessions. Do not put pure and clear water from the spring into
vessels fouled and infected by sin. Even if sin is no longer there, its
odour persists and the water would be contaminated. You do not put
choice wine into old casks that have contained sour wine. You would
spoil the good wine and run the risk of losing it.
178. Chosen souls, although you may already understand me, I shall
express myself still more clearly. Do not commit the gold of your
charity, the silver of your purity to a threadbare sack or a battered
old chest, or the waters of heavenly grace or the wines of your merits
and virtues to a tainted and fetid cask, such as you are. Otherwise you
will be robbed by thieving devils who are on the look-out day and night
waiting for a favourable opportunity to plunder. If you do so all those
pure gifts from God will be spoiled by the unwholesome presence of
self-love, inordinate self-reliance, and self-will.
Pour into the bosom and heart of Mary all your precious possessions,
all your graces and virtues. She is a spiritual vessel, a vessel of
honour, a singular vessel of devotion. Ever since God personally hid
himself with all his perfections in this vessel, it has become
completely spiritual, and the spiritual abode of all spiritual souls.
It has become honourable and has been the throne of honour for the
greatest saints in heaven. It has become outstanding in devotion and
the home of those renowned for gentleness, grace and virtue. Moreover,
it has become as rich as a house of gold, as strong as a tower of David
and as pure as a tower of ivory.
179. Blessed is the man who has given everything to Mary, who at all
times and in all things trusts in her, and loses himself in her. He
belongs to Mary and Mary belongs to him. With David he can boldly say,
"She was created for me", or with the beloved disciple, "I have taken
her for my own", or with our Lord himself, "All that is mine is yours
and all that is yours is mine."
180. If any critic reading this should imagine that I am exaggerating
or speaking from an excess of devotion, he has not, alas, understood
what I have said. Either he is a carnal man who has no taste for the
spiritual; or he is a worldly man who has cut himself off from the Holy
Spirit; or he is a proud and critical man who ridicules and condemns
anything he does not understand. But those who are born not of blood,
nor of flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God and Mary, understand
and appreciate what I have to say. It is for them that I am writing.
181. Nevertheless, after this digression, I say to both the critics and
the devout that the Blessed Virgin, the most reliable and generous of
all God's creatures, never lets herself be surpassed by anyone in love
and generosity. For the little that is given to her, she gives
generously of what she has received from God. Consequently, if a person
gives himself to her without reserve, she gives herself also without
reserve to that person provided his confidence in her is not
presumptuous and he does his best to practise virtue and curb his
182. So the faithful servants of the Blessed Virgin may confidently say
with St. John Damascene, "If I confide in you, Mother of God, I shall
be saved. Under your protection I shall fear nothing. With your help I
shall rout all my enemies. For devotion to you is a weapon of salvation
which God gives to those he wishes to save."