Monthly Archives: January 2012

Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CXXX

She frees us from weariness, sadness and scruples,’ three ills only too familiar, alas! to those who thirst for liberty and to those imperfect souls who do not live in Mary and therefore not in God.

Yes, those who are happy in this artificial world are always sad underneath, because their hearts remain empty, lonely and unsatisfied, unappeased by the meager, monotonous and harmful food with which they are fed.  Ah! surely, the immortal complaint of S. Augustine is inexorably true: ‘Our heart is always restless until it rests in God.’

The imperfect soul, with its thin coating of virtue, is ever restless, first because it feels clearly that it is not faithful to its duty, and then too, beneath the avenging tooth of remorse, it feels the restless, anguished awakening of conscience till it sometimes utters cries of fear.  (It is not a question here of scruples, which are a disease of the soul but not a sign of unfaithfulness to grace.)  We are concerned with the deliberate and willful unfaithful, who know not fidelity and who, as a result, do not taste the deep and wonderful joy which God promises and lavishes upon those who love Him and who are consistently faithful to Him.

But the slave of love, fervent and faithful, tastes and enjoys in Mary content, quiet, peace and joy.

It was this devotion that Our Lord taught to Mother Agnes of Jesus, a Dominican nun, as a sure means of deliverance from the intense sufferings and interior trials in which she found herself.  Make thyself My Mother’s slave,” He said to her.  She obeyed, and in that moment her troubles vanished.’

‘This example of Mother Agnes,’ says Père Lhoumeau, ‘shows that this remedy is not to be recommended only to timid experienced souls, who through want of spiritual formation have become scrupulous or faint-hearted.  It can be used with similar success by the most advanced whom God purifies by interior trials.’

This devotion commits us to an absolute surrender to Mary.  It brings into practice that obedience which is the most necessary virtue to scrupulous souls.  If such souls can only surrender themselves sufficiently to Mary, they will receive great knowledge, a clearer vision and a more just, a greater breadth of ideas.  By degrees Mary will bring them out of these exaggerated, unreasonable fears which cramp their trust, check their eagerness, paralyze their efforts, cast a shadow of unrest, unease and discontent upon their slightest acts, even on those which are holiest and most of sanctification.  The surrender to Mary will give them true liberty while dilating their consciences in trust and filial love.  Then they will be able to accomplish acts more useful and more meritorious.

To authorize this devotion I would have to refer here to all the Bulls and Indulgences of the Popes and the Pastorals of Bishops in its favor, to the Confraternities established in its honor, the example of many saints and great personages who have practiced it.  But all this I pass over in silence.’

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CXXIX

All this is good, but there is something better still, more easy, more profitable, namely, to know this liberty through Mary.  ‘Since for love of Mary we have of our own free will reduced ourselves to slavery, so this dear Mistress out of gratitude enlarges and dilates our hearts, and causes us to make giant strides in the way of God’s commandments.’

Mary enlarges and dilates our hearts.  The liberty of the world, on the contrary, servitude disguised, narrows, dwarfs and fills the heart with sadness and unease.  This good Mother, while she enlightens our souls and purifies our intentions, makes her slave of love understand the justice and the necessity of the rights and commandments of God, the joy and the safety of obedience, the beauty and greatness of virtue.  Through this supernatural knowledge and under the mild influence of the Immaculate One, the soul is dilated with joy, love, zeal, interior life.  It understands true life, true liberty and therefore true felicity consist in this, the loving and willing service of God.

And in this contemplation and under the influence of the feelings which result from it, the soul tastes an inward peace, content, satisfaction, which raise it, strengthen it, console it, illuminate it, cause it to despise still more the world and its spurious good, and to aspire with more force and eagerness towards the Source and Ocean of all liberty and therefore of all happiness, God.

And then, remembering that it is on earth to be a useful instrument for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, the soul hastens to run with more fervor and speed in the way of its duties and of all the virtues.  It takes its Heavenly Mother by the hand and seems to say to her: ‘We two.  I surrender myself utterly to you.  Lead me where you will; I will follow you, but hold me fast.’

And the soul begins its road.  It makes no sound; the good it does is quietly done.  All its life is within.  As Abraham before the Lord, it walks before Mary in a perfect purity of intention and an absolute confidence.  The intentions of its Mother are its own; Mary acts within it.  This is the interior life in all its fullness and splendor.  This soul does the will of Mary, it is free.  It is the life of the living Jesus in Mary and through Mary, in the soul of her faithful slave.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CXXVIII

The humble slaves of Jesus in Mary do not dream of such an emancipation, tumultuous, cruel and fatal.  But on a closer inspection, we find that this innate spirit of liberty which since the Fall has joined forces in us with original pride, slumbers in each of us and that very little will suffice to rouse it.

True liberty is found in humility, in the considered, intelligent, willing recognition of the rights of God over us, and at the same time in the strict obligation we are under, in that we depend on Him alone for life and through our baptism, to serve Him, love Him, and accept Him as the only end of all our natural and supernatural aspirations.

The true Christian who serves God in all simplicity, who does not presume to ask God the reason of His commands, who strives with the help of His grace to practice faithfully all the virtues and duties of his state, who accepts with resignation, that they may be meritorious, trial and sorrow, who is satisfied with his station, who would not cause others suffering but rather please and help them, he knows true liberty and peace of heart – he is a child of God, free as the Father Whom he has in Heaven.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CXXVII

What a different thing is the freedom and happiness of the child of God, of the soul in a state of grace, of the faithful and obedient servant!

True liberty is the service of God in love; a clear calm view of eternal things, the detachment of the heart from creatures; it is to be freed supernaturally and utterly from the bonds of time, of material needs and human obstacles.

Then when the sirens call is and would entice us to liberty, incite us to break the eternal precepts of Order, Right and Virtue, by withdrawing us from the sovereign authority of God, the soul will rise up in its dignity and its pride and with indignant tone return to these dreamers of easy, fictitious and deceptive liberty, the great answer of the Apostles and Martyrs: ‘Non possumus, we cannot.  It is better to obey God rather than man,’ or more gently, with the royal prophet, the soul whispers to the Master of its will: ‘For better is one day in Thy courts above thousands…in the tabernacles of sinners.’

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CXXVI

6. It is the means of acquiring the true liberty of the Children of God.

This devotion makes us truly free with the liberty of the children of God.’

Liberty in the literal sense of the word is a right which allows man to do what he will.  But let us note at once that liberty is not independence.  S. Paul lifts up his voice vigorously against such as would claim this.  He says to himself: ‘All things are lawful to me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful to me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.’

Human liberty is relative.  It is within certain limits and exercised according to conscience, the divine and human law, and is subject to the established order of things.  It must follow the principles of eternal reason included in the dictates of the human conscience and in the divine principles contained in the Gospel and the Decalogue, taught by the Church.  This sovereign law is opposed to liberty independent of all dogma and all morality that it may lay down for it what is good and what is evil.  It is then within these impassable limits of submission to order, that we can and must act and our liberty evolve and be developed.

If it transgresses these laws, if it turns aside from true reasonableness, if it crosses these limits, there follow disaster, abuses, sin, slavery.  We think to free ourselves from a humiliating and embarrassing constraint, and we do not perceive that we are submitting ourselves to a degrading and bitter servitude.  Man is only great and noble on his knees before God, under the easy yoke of His law and in obedience to His will.  Everywhere else and always, man is the slave of someone or something.

In the human conscience, on the Tables of the Mosaic Law, in our Lord’s Gospel of the new Law, the rights of God to command are written.  But desirous of liberty, Adam emancipates himself, the Jews put the divine Lawgiver to death, these distant ancestors of the French Revolution inscribe at the head of the new Code, the Rights of Man.  Do we think they gained true liberty, the source and pledge of the future bliss we dream of?  No, they subjected themselves to every kind of slavery: that of suffering without consolation, work without an aim, physical and moral distresses, death without the hope of a death which should make all good; that of the curse of Heaven, the blindness of the mind, the hardness of the heart; that of social revolution, unjust and homicidal strikes, of blood…

In the world, man resists the divine law.  He denies to God and His representatives the right of having a word to say in the government of the nations and the obedience which they owe to the Sovereign Governor of the worlds.  Then as they no longer desire a God, it is but logical that they should no longer desire masters, for a master is a vestige of authority, and they have done with authority.  Such a nation has the leaders and the masters that it deserves, effeminate tyrants, incapable and therefore dangerous.

Man is unwilling to serve God in the love and holy liberty of the child.  Such a one becomes the slave tormented by every bad passion, by every untrammeled ambition, degrading vice, the thrall of sin, of error, of every sort of compromise, in short, of the devil…

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CXXV

No, Mary has never disappointed the trust of anyone.  And this is what her pious servant S. Bernard says to her in his celebrated prayer: ‘Remember, O Most Blessed Virgin Mary, that no one ever had recourse to your aid or implored your help, or asked your prayers, and was rejected.’

Therefore we have recourse to thee, for ‘thou art faithful to God and to mankind.’

Faithful to God’: Mary has never disappointed His expectations.  Better than the ancient Ark of the Covenant, she did not lose the Holy of Holies, the true manna deposited within her on the day of the Incarnation.  And she who pronounced that humble uncompromising ‘Fiat to the request of the Trinity brought by the Archangel Gabriel; she it is who gave birth to the Son of the Eternal God; she whom we have seen standing on Calvary at the foot of the Cross on which Christ was suffering and dying, offered by her hands and her Heart for the redemption of humanity.  And if the Holy Spirit praises the faithfulness of the just and promises to make them rulers over many things, what has he not done for her whom the Church adoring calls ‘Virgin most faithful?

Faithful to mankind.’  What sincere soul could say that Mary has ever disappointed his hope?  Nevertheless this does not mean that Mary always hears our prayers in this world and according to our wishes, for our actual desires are not always what are best for the glory of God and for our eternal salvation.  Our heavenly Advocate knows this.  Therefore she obtains for us from her divine Son, as a mother and according to our present need, those graces which are most profitable for us, at the time, and in the degree and way which she considers best.  Let us leave it to her.  A mother knows much better than the little child whom she carries in her arms or lays in his little cradle, what is good for his life and his needs.

Let these words on your lips be true: ‘I know in whom I have believed.’  And we shall add in the same spirit: ‘Thou wilt not suffer anything to be lost of that which I entrust to thee.’

But let us continue the words of Blessed de Montfort: ‘Thou art powerful and nothing can harm thee or snatch away what thou holdest in thy hands.’

Père Lhoumeau says here: ‘This consideration will appeal to those who are anxious about their perseverance in the state of grace and the work of their perfection.  How many beginners are there not who waver or turn back through fear of failing or of not persevering!’  The whole of the admirable Treatise of the True Devotion of Blessed de Montfort is an eloquent proof of this.  Let us consider in especial this consoling statement: ‘In the bosom of Mary the youthful become elders in light, in holiness, in experience and in wisdom, and we arrive in a few years at the fullness of the age of Jesus Christ.’

S. Bernard might well say to us: ‘With Mary for guide thou shalt never go astray; whilst invoking her, thou shalt never lose heart; so long as she is in thy mind thou art safe from deception; whilst she holds thy hand thou canst not fall; under her protection thou hast nothing to fear; if she walks before thee, thou shalt not grow weary; if she shows thee favor, thou shalt reach the goal.’

And elsewhere: ‘She prevents her Son from striking; restrains the devil from injuring; keeps virtues from fleeing; merits from perishing; keeps graces from fleeing away.’

These are,’ says Blessed Louis, ‘the words of S. Bernard.  They express in substance all that I have said.’  We know these words of the Cistercian Doctor so full of doctrine and sanctity, so fragrant with Mary’s sweetness, that the author of the Treatise of the True Devotion finds in him, it would seem, his favorite author.  He must have meditated long and deeply upon these words of S. Bernard, have lingered over them, filled his life with them, for he has made them his own and summed them up in words which will be a light, a consolation and an encouragement to many souls in trial, on their way to perfection, but through all kinds of obstacles.  S. Bernard’s words fill him with enthusiastic joy.  ‘Were there only this one motive to encourage me in the practice of this devotion, that it is a sure means of keeping me in the grace of God and even of increasing it in me, should I not be consumed with love and ardor for it?

This is, it seems to me, the great and final thought of the True Devotion to Mary, which Blessed Louis repeats and reiterates in every possible shape in all his pages; to keep the precious treasure of grace; to increase it, that we may rise and attain to an intimate and constant union with Jesus, we must at all costs go and give ourselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Besides imitating the conduct of God, we are taking a measure of personal prudence.  We are serving and securing our most precious interests which are also those of God; for all the saints have said in different ways that devotion to the Ever Blessed Virgin is a certain mark of predestination.

After this, let us then not hesitate to entrust to our divine Mother and Mistress our souls and bodies with all their supernatural goods, that she may keep them for us, adorn them and make them bear fruit to life eternal.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CXXIV

S. Paul, the valiant apostle who had grown old in fight, and worn himself out in the work undertaken in the name of Jesus Christ, writes to his faithful disciple Timothy.  He recommends him to be strong in the duties of his office.  And with this purpose he reminds him of the grace of his ordination and the holiness of his vocation.  The apostle does not hesitate to give himself as an example.  He exults in the thought of the magnificent vocation to which Our Lord has deigned to call him.  He tells his disciple so: ‘Wherein I am appointed a preacher and an apostle of the Gentiles.  For which cause I also suffer these things; but I am not ashamed.  For I know Whom I have believed and I am certain that He is able to keep that which I have committed with Him, against that day.’

We can address these same words to the Most Blessed Virgin.  It was God Who predestined us and called us to the sublime state of the supernatural life.  But it was Mary who brought us forth when she gave birth to her divine firstborn Son Jesus to the natural life.  For He as the Head, and we as the members, form the same Mystical Body of which Mary is the only Mother.

As for Jesus, so she had for us the care, the love, the affection, the solicitude of a true Mother.  We were entrusted to her y Jesus at the foot of the Cross.  She consented and accepted.  We can then say to her with all confidence: ‘Keep my trust.’

And we can add with the same feelings: ‘Scio cui credidi: I know whom I have believed.’  The reason for this confidence lies in my heart.  My heart does not deceive me.  It says: Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is my Mother.  And such a Mother does not deceive.  And therefore I exult in the joy of my heart and cry to her with Montfort: ‘I know well who thou art, and that is why I confide myself entirely to thee.’

(To be continued.)

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