‘Here is a secret.’ A secret is something hidden, discovered by few and carefully kept.
I. The secrets of nature hidden in the elements, in the bowels of the earth or in the depths of the ocean.
II. The secrets of science daily unveiled to us by genius, in the realm of physics, chemistry, mechanics, electricity and so on. And in another loftier sphere:
III. The secrets of grace contained in the mysteries and the Sacraments.
IV. The secrets of holiness, or rather of Sanctification, which are the different methods of spirituality taught by such masters as S. Ignatius and the Jesuits, S. Francis of Assisi and the Friars Minor, S. Dominic and the Preachers, S. Francis de Sales and the Visitation, Bérulle and the Oratory, M. Olier and the Sulpicians, S. Alphonsus Liguori and the Redemptorists, and many others who have founded shcools of thought.
Is Blessed de Montfort of their number? Yes and No, for the True Devotion in which he glories is not exactly a Method, but rather a way of interior life, a spiritual state which includes all methods, all devotions, all states of life, all special vocations.
‘Here is a secret that the Most High has taught me.’
This secret is devotion to Mary. It has been revealed (‘that the Most High has taught me’), and is then a supernatural secret of sanctity. The Holy Spirit is ever the great Master and the great Teacher of souls. He it is Who inspires them, urges them, forms them. And secretly He formed Mary and prepared her for her maternal mission. Secretly He prepared and formed Jesus by the triple overshadowing of the Immaculate Conception, the Annunciation and Incarnation of the Son of God and at Pentecost. The first overshadowing was for her, the second for Jesus, the third for us.
And all this happened secretly. The moment for unveiling the royal secret had not yet come. ‘For it is good to hide the secret of a king.’ The Gospels say comparatively little of Mary. De Montfort tells us that she was to be the Divine Secret, hidden until the fullness of time should be come.
And yet there was never a time when Mary was not known. Her effigy was with the early Christians in the Catacombs, where many a presentment of her, as loving as it is unskilled, marks the cells of the martyrs. Throughout the time of the early Fathers her devotion was treasured, as is borne out by numerous writings of that period. Nevertheless the devotion to the Mother of Jesus had neither the form nor the extent that is has today, in its character of such a perfect devotion as is implied by the Holy Slavery.
(To be continued.)