3. Three Practical Warnings.
After having defined the nature and the advantages of the True Devotion of Holy Slavery, after having sketched what constitutes its essence and its life: the action of the soul through Mary, with Mary, in Mary and for Mary, Blessed de Montfort gives us some practical spiritual warnings, useful to all, but especially to beginners. These warnings are three in number. These are they.
(1) ‘Be on your guard, Chosen Soul, against believing that it would be more perfect to go straight to Jesus, straight to God. If you do so, your work and your intentions will be of but little value, while if you go to Him through Mary, they will be the work of Mary in you and consequently will be exalted and eminently worthy of being offered to God.’
These words suggest a double reflexion to us. They do not mean that we cannot go straight to Our Lord with our duties of adoration and prayer; nor that we must, in every action, think actually and definitely of Our Lady, to offer her what we think, say or do; that is a matter of habit and the virtual intention is sufficient.
Granted this, let us examine the matter. For such a proceeding to be in any way blameworthy, it would have to wrong somebody. Now it could only wrong, in practice, God, Mary, the soul, the souls of sinners or of those in Purgatory. But we can affirm once for all that it causes no harm to any of them. On the contrary for the reasons that we have many times given there can only be advantages in it for all.
But I would first of all protest for the honour of our Mother against this mistrustful attitude where she is concerned. Its lack of delicacy savours of ingratitude, is almost an insult, for it insinuates that Mary is out of place in the devotion we have for her.
Blessed de Montfort in his Treatise of the True Devotion vehemently reproves with quaint and justifiable zeal those whom he calls ‘the scrupulous devotees.’ Let us quote him. ‘These are they who fear to dishonor the Son by honouring the Mother, to abase the one in elevating the other. Never do we honour Jesus Christ more than when we are most honouring His Blessed Mother. Indeed we only honour Mary that we may the more perfectly honour Jesus, inasmuch as we only go to her as to the way in which we are to find the end we are seeking, which is Jesus.’
‘It is all they can do to endure that there should be more people before the altar of the Blessed Virgin than before the Blessed Sacrament, as if the one was contrary to the other.’
Quotations from Montfort abound in my memory and flow from my pen. We should read the sublime apostrophe of Blessed Grignion to Our Lord, beginning: ‘Thou art Christ, my Holy Father…’ in the True Devotion.
He says: ‘I do not think anyone can acquire an intimate union with Our Lord and a perfect fidelity to the Holy Ghost without a very great union with the most holy Virgin and a great dependence on her succour.’
This brings us back to the whole question of Mary’s mediation. ‘It is more perfect,’ says Montfort, ‘because it is more humble in us not to approach God ourselves, without taking a mediator.’ We have seen that this Mediator with the Father is Jesus. The mediatrix with Jesus is Mary. It is therefore more to the glory of God that we should give it to Him through Mary. It will be more pure, more great, more acceptable.
To go to God and to Jesus through Mary is also better for us. It purifies our intentions and our acts and makes them acceptable in the eyes of God. We have the Queen who presents to the King on a dish of gold, the peasant’s apple. I need not add that to go to Jesus and to God through Mary is even more advantageous for the souls of the just, of sinners and of souls in Purgatory, because their cause is in such good hands.
Let us then remember this consoling thought of S. Bernard’s: ‘If you have any trifle which you wish to offer to God, place it in Mary’s hands unless you wish to be repulsed.’
The workings and intentions of the soul, however good they may be, are admirably purified and transformed if it loses itself in Mary as regards those workings and intentions. It is the old story of the poor peasant’s worm-eaten apple offered to the King on a dish of gold by the hands of the Queen. The trifling present is magnificently enhanced by the dignity of the Mother who offers it, and it is made royally acceptable in the sight of the Most High.
(To be continued.)