Monthly Archives: December 2011

Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CIII

In itself slavery has something repugnant to the mind.  But with our eyes on Mary we cast over it the veil of love, and at once, transfigured, it shines with a sublime beauty and an alluring charm.

The Slavery of Love for which Blessed de Montfort pleads, is free and voluntary; the slavery of those who have a devotion to Mary is freely chosen and accepted.  This gives it its nobility and its merit.

Man can be united to Jesus Christ in three ways according to the three titles of the Savior.  He is our Sovereign, our Redeemer, and our Head.  We must be His subjects because He is our Sovereign; His captives because He is our Redeemer; His members because He is our Head.  We must love beneath His laws as a Sovereign, His wishes as a Master, His orders as Head.

It is to this that the slavery of love to Jesus in Mary brings us.  But this slavery, most glorious to God, most dear to Mary, most useful to our neighbor, most salutary for our souls, must depend entirely upon our love and our will, upon our desire for a closer union with God through ties more intimate and more loving.  And this more intimate and loving means is complete surrender to Mary.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CII

Jesus Christ as our Creator and our God is our Sovereign, Master and Lord.  He has an absolute dominion over us.  He possesses us unconditionally.  We depend essentially upon Him and He is ever exercising over us His universal and plenary empire.

Jesus Christ holds His complete power in right of His divinity and of His eternal birth: ‘The Lord hath said to Me: Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee.  Ask of Me and I will give Thee the Gentiles for Thy inheritance.’

But Jesus Christ also possesses the empire of the world by right of conquest and redemption.  His sufferings, His blood, His cross, His death, all that mission fulfilled by Him, have seemed to Him an unimpeachable right of ownership.  He is our Master and only Lord, the God-man born of the Virgin Mary Who died upon the Cross.  ‘Dominus regnavit a ligno’: the cross is His sovereign throne and His rights are written and signed with His blood.

Baptism, by applying to us the merits of His Passion, by delivering us from the shameful slavery of satan, has placed us in the honorable mystery slavery of Jesus.  And by Baptism He has acquired fresh rights to our service and to the ownership of us.  To serve Him, love Him, adore Him, to do His good pleasure and His will, to die for Him, and all this without expecting from Him any reward, any wage, save the bliss of serving and loving Him more, these are our duties.  And we must refer everything to Him, actions, words, thoughts, sufferings, health, strength, work, prayers, prospects, and so on, everything to Him Who permits us to do so, because we are His conquest, His property, His chosen people, His spiritual and eternal heritage.

All this is indeed to belong to Him, to be His slaves.  Slaves, I say, and not servants, namely, entirely His, His chattels, res Domini, with which He can do what He pleases.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CI

We must note,’ writes de Montfort, ‘that there are three kinds of slavery.

The first is the slavery of nature; all men, both good and bad, are the slaves of God in this sense.’

The only sufficient explanation to give of these words is that God is our Creator and our Master, our Providence and our Preserver.  Without Him, we should neither have being, nor existence, nor movement, nor substance.

‘For in Him we live and move and are.’  Without Him we should be nothing; we should have nothing; He has absolute command of our life and our death.  And by His very essence He cannot but own us; He made us free but dependent, and He expects us at the Judgment to give an account of our acts.  And this dependence upon God, inevitable, perpetual, necessary, is surely the most complete slavery that can be imagined.  But God, Who is a Father, does not make us feel its hardships and humiliations.  He raises us to the rank of children, having created us in His image and in His semblance and wishing to take us into His celestial Family.  He would have us serve not by fear and as slaves, but by willing, reasonable and supernatural love and as children.

The second is the slavery of constraint; in the way that the devils and the rejected are slaves of God.’

The devils and the rejected revolted against Him.  God keeps them in His power by force; He has sent them to Hell and keeps them there.  Slaves as they are of their passions and of sin, they will remain eternally the slaves of God, in fear, constraint and punishment.

The third is the slavery of love and of will; and it is by this slavery, as being the most perfect way in which a creature can give Himself to his Creator, that we should consecrate ourselves to God through Mary.’

It is that we may go to Jesus and give ourselves to Him that we go to Mary and give ourselves to her, as slaves of love and of will.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – C

Clearly the difference is important and this difference gives the True Devotion all its originality.  The nature of the baptismal vows and of the Consecration by Mary is the same, but the manner is different; and the surrender of the Holy Slavery adds to the vows, completing, beautifying and perfecting them, their characteristic and distinctive mark, namely: by Mary.  Our whole life, with everything that it contains and of which it is composed, is consecrated to Mary, who may dispose of it according to her good pleasure.

The words of Blessed de Montfort then are exact and true: ‘The devotion which I teach is a perfect renewal of the vows and promises of Holy Baptism.’

And we may add with joy and certainty, because we do so with the saints, though not from the same point of view, that the sacrament of baptism and the devotion to Mary are necessary to salvation.

4. Three kinds of Slavery: The Slavery of Love.

Blessed de Montfort holds that the consummation and crown of our duties and of our relation to Jesus Christ is an unconditional belonging to Him and an absolute dependence upon Him which he calls Holy Slavery.  In order to attain to it and to remain in it he would have us surrender ourselves to Mary as Jesus did.

I have said,’ he writes, ‘that this devotion consists in giving oneself to Mary in the capacity of a Slave.’

‘Such is,’ comments Père Lhoumeau, ‘the nature of this consecration.  It places us with regard to Mary and to Jesus in a state of utter and absolute dependence, that is, actually, the state of a slave.  But in order to remove from this holy and noble slavery any idea of degradation or tyrannical violence, Blessed de Montfort is careful to explain that it is a voluntary slavery, entirely honorable and loving, with, as its fruit, the liberty of the children of God.’

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – XCIX

They resemble each other, for both are a renunciation and a surrender.  When the little child comes into the world, he is the slave of satan.  The toils of Adam’s sin, original sin, envelop him and soil him.  Sanctifying grace, that is, a participation in the life of God Himself, has no place in his soul.  But at Holy Baptism, through the union of water and the priest’s words, he is filled with grace and animated with the divine life, he is a Christian, a child of God, an heir to the promises of the kingdom.  And at the moment of this wonder, the child by the authorized lips of others has made a great statement, done a great act.  He has said: ‘I renounce satan, his pomps and his works, and I desire to belong to Jesus Christ.’

A very grave and sacred promise this, which, conscientiously speaking, pledges the whole life of the new Christian.  This promise, the child of ten or twelve, on the unforgettable evening of his first Communion, renews freely with his own lips.  A child’s promise, sincere and certainly touching, but in practice often forgotten, misunderstood, broken, sometimes even denied.

The Consecration of the Holy Slavery renews this promise and renews it freely after a serious preparation at a mature age and of one’s own accord.  And the newly consecrated one knows well that this surrender to Jesus through Mary is a new and definite renunciation of the devil, and a new and formal protestation of eternal fidelity to Jesus Christ.

In this way we see then how the baptismal vows and the Consecration to Mary resemble one another.  They also complete each other in this sense, that at Holy Baptism the child speaks through the lips of another, whilst at his Consecration he himself pronounces his act, personally, freely and voluntarily.  We said too that the baptismal vows and the surrender to Mary were different.  They differ in three ways:

(a) In baptism, as we have just remembered, we do not speak ourselves.  We are officially represented by a godfather and a godmother, who before the Church and before God formally pledge our future, that is to say, our Christian life.

In the Consecration of the Holy Slavery we speak ourselves, in full knowledge of what we are undertaking, and we intend to give to our act, as is stressed by Montfort, the value of a renunciation of the infernal powers and of a total submission to the sole lordship of the King Jesus.

(b) In the baptismal vows, we are alone; we do not surrender ourselves to Jesus Christ by the hand of Mary, at least as a general rule, unless one is an adult and explicitly does so.

For many years, it is true, it has been the custom in parish churches on the evening of the solemn Communion to make use of this sacramental formula which recalls the Montfortian doctrine: ‘I renounce satan, his pomps and his works, and I give msyself to Jesus Christ for ever by the hand of Mary.’  But the baptismal form of words does not imply the strict and exact sense of a surrender to Mary, as does that of Blessed de Montfort.

The renewal of the baptismal vows by the act of Consecration through Mary is a very different matter.  The words here are explicit and complete: ‘Because we use in our Consecration to Jesus Christ the most perfect of all means, namely the Blessed Virgin.’

(c) There is yet another important difference between the baptismal vows and the Consecration through Mary.  In the baptismal vows, ‘we do not give to Jesus Christ the value of our good actions; we remain after baptism entirely free to apply it to whom we will or to keep it for ourselves.’

The young Christian after his Baptism, the child after his First Communion, the faithful after that impressive ceremony of the renewal of these vows during a mission, remain free and have the absolute disposal of their good works, let them be what they will.  They can if they like apply them to other souls, or they have the right to keep them for themselves.  It is their right because these various works are their property and possession, a source of grace and of future bliss.

‘But by this devotion, we give ourselves expressly to Our Lord by the hands of Mary, and we consecrate to her the value of all our actions.’

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – XCVIII

3. The Consecration and the Baptismal Vow.

Blessed de Montfort calls this devotion ‘a perfect renewal of the vows or promises of Holy Baptism,’ by which the Christian through his godparents renounces the devil, his pomps, and his works, and recognizes Jesus Christ as his sole and sovereign Master to Whom he vows himself for ever.

This renunciation of satan and this promise to belong to Jesus is perfectly renewed by our Consecration.  The vows of Baptism and the surrender to Mary resemble each other, complete each other, are identical yet are different.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – XCVII

The field devoted to our zeal and our desire of surrender to Mary is wide indeed.  And Montfort is always referring to it.  We keep our merits for ourselves alone, ‘but we give her all our prayers and good works in so far as they are impetratory and satisfactory, that she may distribute and apply them to whom she will.  And if after having consecrated ourselves to the Blessed Virgin, we would fain console some soul in Purgatory, save some sinner, help some friend by our prayers, our alms, our mortifications, our sacrifices, we must humbly ask it of her, and abide by what she determines, though we know not what it is; for we are persuaded that the value of our actions cannot fail to be applied to the greater glory of God, distributed as it will be by that same hand which God has chosen to dispense His grace and His gifts.’

There is nothing to add to words so clear and so consolatory.  Let us then beware of taking from our life its beautiful simplicity.  After our surrender, let us live as before, but through Mary and in Mary.  We must not think that our Consecration insists on extraordinary acts, on countless exercises, on an impossible degree of devotion which would often be incompatible with the daily round.  Mary wants our hearts, our loves, our wills, and what we have to do is simply to live without heart-searchings, united to her and her designs, feelings and wishes as a child is to its mother’s.

It is not a devotion which requires us to deny ourselves pleasure and lawful recreation or to break with legitimate intimacies.  No, but with all that it contains, let us live our life, whatever our rank, vocation, habits, occupations, supernaturally, as Mary would have us live it.  This doctrine, taught by Montfort, is as wide as it is elastic.  It includes all special devotions and adapts itself wonderfully, as we shall explain later on, to every manner of life whether in the world or the cloister.  In a word, it is for all a Secret of Holiness.

(To be continued.)

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