But there are two categories of suffering souls with whom we are specially concerned here, namely, the souls of sinners and the souls in Purgatory. Also, they are Blessed de Montfort’s subject.
Our neighbor in the first place is the sinner. His name is Legion. There are the broken-hearted, those whom the roaring lion has devoured, whom the murderous sword of sin has wounded, those deprived of supernatural grace, virtue and heavenly merit, those separated from God, who living in a civilized country have yet lost their faith, no longer recognize the authority of a sovereign Master and do not practice their religion, and even persecute more or less violently or insidiously the Church and the faithful, the voluntarily blind and on that account more guilty than the rest…those unfortunates who in the mournful words of Holy Writ are still seated in the shadow of death and upon whom the true sun of truth has not yet risen. Our neighbors are in a word all those who do not serve God, who have become estranged from Him after having known Him or who do not know Him yet.
Is there not an immense field open to the zeal and the apostleship of the faithful Slaves of Jesus in Mary?
All are not called and all cannot go through civilized or heathen lands bearing the torch of the Gospel doctrine. We have not all individually received the apostolic mission to ‘Teach all nations.’ But there is an equally efficacious apostleship which each member can exercise admirably; it is that of the Slavery of Love, the placing in Mary’s hands of all our actions, prayers, good works of satisfaction and propitiation and so on, in favor of sinners.
This is the sure and efficacious means of giving to our activity its full value and this achieving the conversion of sinners in the surest and most lasting way. Let us then entrust our prayers, our desires and our offerings to her whom the Church invokes under the significant titles of Refuge of Sinners and Queen of the Apostles.
Our neighbors are also the souls in Purgatory; not only those who are dearest to us and to whom we owe special duties in the name of charity, of gratitude and perhaps even of justice; not only those to whom we are attached by the ties of blood or faith, but also those of whom no one thinks and who therefore are most forlorn.
In an infallible way, we can all work with the Ever Blessed Virgin for the consolation of the souls who are detained there, in the interest of God’s glory and of their own, by securing to them, with the end of their suffering, eternal bliss in the beatific vision and possession of God.
How? The Church shows us the way and piety suggests it: by prayer, indulgences, alms, all kinds of good works whether of expiatory sacrifice or of satisfaction, by Masses and Communions, that is, by applying the merits of Our Savior.
All this is good and essential. But there is a better way, not as regards the intrinsic nature of the ways, but as regards the manner in which they are used. When by ourselves we perform these acts of religion and piety they are of course good and possess real meritorious value. But nevertheless they have only the value which we give them and which depends on our fervor and purity of intention. But, as Blessed de Montfort very justly and psychologically observes, our intention is often imperfect and so our best acts are too often spoiled and made less supernaturally effective for our neighbor and ourselves.
But the true, the infallible way, is to place our intentions, our prayers and our sacrifices in Mary’s hands, those hands so pure, so gentle, so powerful and so generous.
Our spiritual practice makes it our precious obligation and assures us at the same time of their immediate and absolute efficacy.
(To be continued.)