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.)