Then Blessed de Montfort, in one brief luminous phrase, characterizes this life: ‘Whosoever then is elect and predestinate has the Blessed Virgin dwelling in him, that is to say, in his soul.’
Strange words! Actually it is the interior life in Mary which Blessed Louis is here describing. But what is the nature of this interior life, the form of this indwelling, the special manner of this presence of Mary within the soul?
I remember well that Montfort admitted to M. Blain that ‘God favored him with a very special grace, namely the continual presence of Jesus and Mary in the depths of his soul.’ And of this presence in him, he sang in a wonderful hymn:
“Voici ce qu’on ne pourra croire:
Je la porte au milieu de moi.
Gravée avec des traits de gloire
Quoique dans l’obscur de la foi.”
What was this presence? Can we, like the saints, be blessed with it? Are we really eligible for its benefits?
Certainly. And this is how Père Lhoumeau thinks the indwelling of Mary in the soul can be explained: ‘Her presence in us is in no way comparable with that of God living in the soul by grace and making it participate in His divine life. Neither are we to believe that the Blessed Virgin is in our souls in person. And so the accusation of certain protestants that Blessed de Montfort implied the omnipresence of Mary is absolutely false. At the same time we must remember that under the title of Mother of God (a title which is hers personally and exclusively) Mary sees our souls, and is with us really, individually and intimately, in a way more complete and more excellent than are the angels and saints in Heaven. Hence we are present to her and she is morally present to us, for by her prayers, watchfulness and influence, she acts in union with the Holy Ghost in the forming of Jesus in our souls. In the same way we may say that the sun is in a place into which its light and its warmth penetrate, even though it is not there itself.’
What more is there to say? The Christ as God inhabits the soul which is in a state of grace. The habitual presence of Mary in the soul consists in a moral indwelling, a maternal presence, prayerful, helpful and controlling. Through her, life supernatural and divine gradually and surely penetrates. And this is the way, concludes Blessed Louis, in which ‘God allows her to plant the roots of profound humility, of ardent charity and of every virtue in His elect.’
And what an intense life this presupposes! What a harvest of holiness if we place ourselves in Mary’s hands! So it is that Mary’s maternal function is exercised and gloriously developed in the formation of souls whose deep humility will implant them in her, who called herself the little handmaid of the Lord, and whose ardent charity will, through the Mother of all love, bear their devotion up to God.
(To be continued.)