In order to make the extent of our gift clear, we will give some explanations.
We hand over to the Blessed Virgin two valuable and precious things: two very important possessions: (a) the satisfactory and impetratory value of our good works; (b) their meritorious value. We must not confuse them, and they are not surrendered in the same way.
(a) Satisfactory value is some good work which we do and which obtains for us from God the remission of some penalty due for our sins.
Impetratory value is that same good work in so far as it obtains for us some new actual grace to help us to triumph over obstacles to our salvation, to do good and to win new merit.
By the actual Consecration to the Blessed Virgin ‘we give her all the satisfactory, impetratory and meritorious value of our actions; that is, the satisfactions and merits of all our good works; thus, after the offering that we have made, though there is no vow, we are no longer masters of all the good that we do; this the Blessed Virgin can apply either to a soul in Purgatory for its comfort and deliverance or to a poor sinner to convert him, and so on.’
(b) But we must argue differently upon the subject of merit properly so called or the meritorious value of a good work, of a word, of a thought, of a desire.
Meritorious value or merit properly so called is our good work in so far as it stands for an increase of grace here below and of glory in Heaven.
This good work is then an act whose intrinsic precise effect is to merit a reward, either due to us from God in justice or expected by us from His generosity.
This is the fruit of quite our most precious work. But it is so much our own that we cannot give it up in favor of someone else, for our merits, graces, and virtues are, so to say, not transferable.
Merit is then personal, our very own; it is the pledge of our eternal bliss. And therefore Blessed Louis adds: ‘This devotion also places our merits in the hands of the Blessed Virgin, that she may keep them, adorn them, because we cannot transfer from one to the other either the merits of sanctifying grace or of glory.’
The question has then been cleared up and in such a way as to reassure our consciences. Merit is our infinitely precious treasure; it is the fruitful seed which we sow in the ground and which will produce its glorious sheaves in the sun of eternity.
(To be continued.)