Monthly Archives: November 2011

Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – LXXXV



Having reached this stage of his enquiry and of all that leads up to it, Blessed de Montfort puts his subject clearly: ‘The difficulty is, then, truly to know how to find Divine Mary that we may find all abundant grace.’

It is not that he does not know or that he hesitates.  But with the soul to whom he speaks before his eyes, he would make it clearly understand the design of God and the place occupied by Mary in the scheme of the distribution of graces, of the sanctification of souls, and of the salvation of the predestinate.

(To be continued.)


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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – LXXXIV

But she is always like a Mother, watchful ‘so that the crosses which she gives to those who belong to her are more like dainties or crosses steeped in sugar than bitter ones.’

Mary treats us as children, but as divine children, and her system of spiritual training is copied from that of a human mother.  When a mother wants to make her child swallow a bitter draught, she sweetens it and the medicine goes down more easily with a smile on both sides.  So does Mary.  She wraps up the crosses which she apportions to us in tenderness, encouragement and consolation, and we taste the gall and the bitterness less.

Or if they feel for a time the bitterness of the cup which must be drunk of we would be the friends of God, the consolation and the joy which this good Mother sends after the sadness, encourage them infinitely to bear crosses yet heavier and more bitter.’

Blessed de Montfort in one little phrase points out in passing the purpose of suffering.  He says: ‘To be the friends of God we must of necessity imitate and follow Jesus Christ.  This is the law which the Master Himself has laid down in a famous saying: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.”

On the night of His death when abandoned by His Father Himself, Jesus is about to die, He is alone; and yet No, His Mother is there; and it is she who consoles Him, sustains Him with her presence, with her looks, with her love, and Jesus joyfully accepts His redeeming death which is to reconcile Heaven to earth, God to men, and to kindle in souls the supernatural life.

In our sufferings, our struggles and our deaths, it is Mary who is our consoling angel and our Mother of succor.  Even in the midst of the night of trial and desolation, in the blackest storms, her rainbow sheds its ray of hope and consolation into our souls and reminds us certainly that after the storm, the bright sun will shine in the cloudless sky.

Montfort writing to his sister Louise on August 17, 1713, says: ‘My dear Sister, bless God with me, for I am happy and content in the midst of all my sufferings and I do not think that there is anything in the world sweeter to me than the most bitter cross, when steeped in the blood of Christ crucified and in the milk of the Divine Mother.’

Is not this a magnificent counterpart to the sublime cry of the Apostle of the Gentiles: ‘I exceedingly abound with joy in all our tribulations’?

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – LXXXIII

13. Because Mary, by means of grace, helps us to bear crosses.

Blessed de Montfort here resumes a thought which he has developed at length in his Treatise of the True Devotion.

There are those who might believe that perfect devotion to the Blessed Virgin is an absolute preservative against all affliction, a sort of spiritual panacea to make us immune forever against all suffering, to make the Christian life easy and salvation infallible.  Yes, but we must be clear about it.  It is not quite that.  ‘It is not that he who by true devotion has found Mary is to be exempt from crosses and sufferings.’  It would be a grave error and a dangerous illusion to think so.  Let us remember that in this devotion we are at the school of Jesus, and the Jesus, with the choice between joy and shame, preferred and endured the Cross.  ‘We must not then,’ says Père Lhoumeau, ‘in spite of the facilities which this devotion gives us, we must not dream of it as a way free from labor and suffering.’

Far from it,’ says Blessed de Montfort on the contrary, ‘he suffers more attacks than others because Mary the Mother of the living gives to all her children fragments of the Tree of love which is the Cross of Jesus.’  And Montfort is himself a striking example of this virile training which Mary, the strong woman, gives her children, and of the love of Jesus crucified with which she inspires them.

God never loved anyone more than His Son and Mary, and yet no one more than they was so tried.  ‘Ought not Christ to have suffered these things and so to enter into His glory?’  And His Mother followed Him bravely along this royal road of tribulation.  And those who profess to follow Jesus and Mary must walk in their footsteps, bear their cross and expect to be, as they were, scourged with affliction.

But,’ and this should reassure them, ‘when she fashions their crosses, Mary gives the grace to bear them patiently and even joyously.’

The crosses she sends them are very different in proportion, hard to the body, painful to the heart, humiliating to the will, to test their love and their fidelity, to harden them and accustom them to greater struggles.  But Mary is a wise Mother, prudent, careful.  She never sends trials beyond the strength of any soul, so as not to provoke weariness, satiety, discouragement.  It sometimes she does, it is that, on the one hand, she knows the courage of those brave souls, and that on the other, she always secures for them graces capable of sustaining them and leading them to triumph.

Mary knows how to train.  She always acts with discretion and feeling.  She does not burden shoulders with a weight heavier than they can bear.  She does not make a point of wearing out our patience, of exasperating our will by trials too long or too special, especially when the souls in question are weak or beginners in the spiritual life.  She measures, tempers, softens.

But when she meets a soul of a vigorous stamp and of superior moral strength, then she sets to work to fashion in that soul a perfect image of the divine model.  Then she hammers, crushes, molds, fuses the clay, the gold.  She casts it in her mold, in herself, and there comes forth a giant of holiness by her means, Blessed de Montfort.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – LXXXII

Once we have found Mary, and through Mary, Jesus, and through Jesus, God the Father, we have found all good things: Inventa autem una pretiosa margarita, abiit, et vendidit omnia quae habuit et emit eum.’

Let us note carefully in passing the gradation of terms employed in this formula which de Montfort is never weary of repeating, constantly in his thoughts as it was: Mary, Jesus, God the Father.

Blessed Louis is clearly alluding to the pearl of great price in the Gospel.  The True Devotion to Mary which he teaches is the pearl of great price among all other devotions.  We must then in no way neglect to adopt it and practice it.  We must use all the faith and piety and love that we have to acquire this pearl, better than all the rest and adding to their beauty.

All means no exception: all grace and all friendship with God; all protection against the enemies of God; all truth against deception; all ease and all victory with regard to the obstacles to salvation, all sweetness and all joy in the bitterness of life.’

These words show us that Mary is a Mother whose only concern for us is to give us God and to unite us to Him, and who, in order to do this, guides our steps from the cradle to the grave, through all the acts of our lives to that blessed hour when the soul finally meets God.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – LXXXI

If those who are falsely enlightened, and who have been sadly led away by the devil even in their prayers, had known how to find Mary, and through Mary, Jesus, and through Jesus, God, the Father, they would not have fallen so lamentably.’

Of whom is he speaking?  Of heretical protestants and Jansenists who have rejected or limited the devotion to Mary.  Jesus at the sight of the wrong and the insult shown to His Mother was wounded in the most sensitive part of His filial heart.  And to punish those who despised her, He has left them to wander in their pride and error.  Are there not perhaps even amongst pious Christians, some who are really Jansenists?  Let us beware.  Jesus is very jealous for the honor of His Mother.  Let us learn from His example that we can never show her too much.  ‘De Maria numquam satis,’ writes S. Bernard.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – LXXX

Mary is the admirable echo of God.  When we say “Mary,” she answers “God,” and when with S. Elisabeth we call her “Blessed,” she magnifies God alone.’

We all know this curious and delightful phenomenon.  From a wall or a hillside, echo, gentle and faithful, repeats distinctly articulate words.

So does Mary.  She at once echoes back to God the prayers and the wishes which we send through her, and the praise and the homage which we address to her direct.  She keeps nothing for herself.  She is the Transmitter, the Conducting Rod of our thoughts to God.  And when she sees rise towards her the incense of our prayers and the notes of our praise, of her own accord she turns towards God, as the flower to the sun, and repeats to Him the words of the inspired singer: ‘Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to Thy Name give glory.’

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – LXXIX

Blessed Louis is then right to add when pointing out the real reason of this transformation: ‘Mary was made for God alone, and far from detaining a soul in the contemplation of herself, she, on the contrary, impels it towards God and unites it to Him more or less closely according to the degree of its union with her.’

Fecisti nos ad Te Deus.  Thou hast made us for Thyself, O God,’ said the convert of S. Ambrose.  And Mary was to utter this exclamation so sublime and true with even more reason.

For if all creatures are made for God, especially the saints, because He is their sole and necessary End, Mary is so even more specially, since she was to receive Him and bear Him beneath her humble roof at Nazareth, is a word, to form Him that He might fulfill His mission as a Redeemer.  In a direct and personal sense then, Mary had a destiny and an end which were essentially centered in God.  She only existed on account of the God-Man, born of her divine Maternity.  And after this, how shall we, how can we suppose that Mary wants to keep anything for herself?  She grasps the soul who comes to her with an eager love, and with herself impels it towards God.  And the more absolute this surrender of the soul, the closer Mary unites it to God.  Its flight brings it nearer to the infinite Perfection.

The soul whom Love on his wings of flame bears towards Mary, is swiftly borne by her, as the eaglet by the royal eagle his Mother, before the very Face and even to the heart of the adorable Trinity.

(To be continued.)

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