‘There is not much difficulty,’ remarks the holy writer with much acumen, ‘in joining a confraternity, nor even in embracing this devotion and saying daily some vocal prayers as prescribed by it, but the great difficulty consists in entering into the spirit of this devotion,’ which is, to make a soul interiorly dependent upon and the slave of the Blessed Virgin and of Jesus through her.
No, the first is not difficult. To prepare oneself, to consecrate oneself, to consecrate oneself, to be enrolled, is something but not everything. It is only a beginning, a placing on the roll, a formality, but, it is to be noted, a formality which implies something, for it has meant serious reflection on our part. The great difficulty and what constitutes at the same time the essence of this devotion is the interior spirit of dependence and slavery of Jesus through Mary.
It is the true interior life for which Montfort is pleading, but in dependence on the Ever Blessed Virgin, and finally, for Jesus.
He knows well that even the pious world lives too often and far too much upon sentimentality and formalism. It seeks a vague piety, felt, tasted, appreciated, consolatory. And failing this such people believe themselves lost, abandoned; they drill and yield to discouragement and carelessness. Or perhaps they allow their devotion to become too exterior. They would have it consist too much in regular and formal acts. Of course regular exercises are necessary. They are the strength of and the life of the religious Community. But we must not rest satisfied with them, confine themselves to them, be smothered by them, checked in our flight upwards. And how many so-called pious acts are only acts of sentimental and automatic piety, soulless, cold and listless!
We must give life to these acts, warm them, vivify them by a supernaturalizing of our thoughts. We must get our true direction by fixing our souls towards the Pole Star. But enough of metaphor. What is needed is a single-hearted pure intention, the directing of our actions, words and thoughts towards Mary, that we may safely come to Jesus and through Him to His Father. How many of us make a rule of this?
(To be continued.)