Monthly Archives: June 2012

Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CLXV

(2) ‘This devotion, when faithfully practiced, produces numberless effects in the soul.  Of these the principal one is that it so establishes the life of Mary in a soul here below that to some extent, it is no longer the soul that lives, but Mary lives in it, and, as it were, the soul of Mary becomes our soul.’

We must not take these words literally.  God alone by sanctifying grace is the principle of our supernatural life and by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in our soul.  Jesus is the life of our souls through the grace of which He is the Author.  Mary is the life of our souls through the grace of which she is the Dispenser.  She lives in us through her influence, her inspiration, the direction which she gives to our thoughts and our acts.

She is the life of our souls, as the mechanician is the life of the machine which he works, as the great singer is the life of the chorus which he conducts, as the general is the leader of the troop which he commands.  In this sense it is that Mary is the life of our souls, through the hold that she has over them and by which she sets them in motion, directs, controls, commands them, at her will.

Therefore,’ says the holy writer, ‘when by an indescribable but real grace Mary becomes Queen of our soul, what wonders does she not accomplish therein?  But as it is generally in the interior life of a soul that she works great wonders, she works secretly, unknown even to the soul itself, for the knowledge of what was taking place would destroy the beauty of her works.’  The wonders that Mary works in a soul are those of sanctification.  Who shall say how Mary, finding a soul well prepared, docile, responsive, forms it in the divine image: how, taking possession of its thoughts and acts, she guides them to God, transforms them, supernaturalizes them, adorns them, causes them to produce the maximum of merit?

Who shall tell the number and the beauty of the souls fashioned by Mary?  Since she formed the ideal Archetype Jesus, the perfect Exemplar of all holiness, how many souls has she not cast in the same mold to give them the same form and the unfailing divine likeness?  Who shall number these masterpieces?

All her action is interior: Omnis Gloria Filiae Regis ab intus.  She works in the inmost heart.  When a soul has been formed by Mary we see only outwardly the blossoming forth of virtues and works.  But who shall tell hidden perfection?  When a tree, after the blossom, has given its harvest of fruit, we do not entirely realize the power of life hidden and gathered in the roots and the trunk.

Here below we see the flowering of the holy souls formed by Mary, we see some of the fruit they bear.  But when in Heaven we shall gaze on the harvest of glory of which they will bear the immortal sheaves, we shall know the power of supernatural vitality which Mary has given them.

Let us then not hinder, by our carelessness and self-love, the work of Mary in us.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CLXIV

(1) ‘Let us work, then, dear Soul, in such a way that by our faithful practice of this devotion, the soul of Mary may be in us to magnify the Lord and the spirit of Mary may be in us to rejoice in God her Saviour.  These are the words of S. Ambrose: “Sit in singulis anima Mariae ut magnificent Dominum, sit in singulis spiritus Mariae ut exulted in Deo.”

These words of S. Ambrose are like an echo of that divine utterance once heard from lips with even more authority.  Who said them?  Who sang them?  Mary herself.

When the Son of God, substantial grace, came to inhabit Mary: ‘gratia plena, Dominus tecum; Verbum caro factum est,’ the Virgin bearing God within her, went away over the mountains to find her cousin at Hebron in Judea.  And when Elizabeth had congratulated her: ‘Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,’ the voice of the Virgin was heard: ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.’

Now is it not the same Lord, the same God, the same Saviour who lives in our souls through sanctifying grace and through Holy Communion?

And when Jesus is in a soul, is not Mary there too?  And when implored by us, her faithful slaves, she is asked to speak for us, is it not natural that in us her soul magnifies the Lord, and that in us her spirit rejoices in God her Saviour?

She is our spokesman, the voice of our souls an spirits.  And how beautiful and acceptable must be her praise to God, how pure and comforting her joy!

And at once Blessed de Montfort transposes his thought: ‘Do not think that there was more glory and happiness in Abraham’s bosom than there is in the bosom of Mary, for according to the learned Abbot Guerric, in it God has placed His throne.  “Ne credideris maioris esse felicitates habitare in sinu Abrahae, qui vocabatur Paradisus, quam in sinu Mariae, in quo Dominus posuit thronum suum.”’

First Mary was in us to magnify the Lord and to rejoice in her Saviour.  Now we are in Mary as in a Paradise which is better than Abraham’s bosom.

Not only has the Lord placed His throne in Mary, but for nine months He inhabited her and drew from her the substance of His body.  With Jesus, as spiritual members attached to the head, we are in Mary, and in her we find grace, life, salvation, bliss, since there we find Jesus and God.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CLXIII

4. Fruits of this Devotion.

Addressing himself to the Chosen Soul he has in view, Blessed de Montfort: ‘Experience will teach you the effects of this devotion far better than any words of mine can do, and if you are faithful to the practice of the little I have taught you, you will reap such a plenitude of riches and of graces, that the effects will astonish you and will cause your soul to overflow with joy.’

We feel that the soul of Blessed de Montfort quivers with joy, and that if he is so convinced, it is that he speaks from his own experience.  And I appeal myself to those souls who practice this teaching, so rich and so sweet.  They will not gainsay me, if I assert that they have found in the Holy Slavery riches and graces which have caused them happy surprise, that their souls have been filled with joy, that they have tasted a sweetness, a consolation, delights, in the service of Mary which they had not felt before in their spiritual life.

The holy writer then enumerates and develops in a few lines the fruits of this devotion.  There are four.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CLXII

(3) ‘Be on your guard also against being distressed if you do not at once enjoy that sweet presence of the Blessed Virgin in your soul.’

What is the nature of this presence of Mary in the soul?

We have already treated this question in the passage entitled ‘The Formation of souls.’  I will not revert to it.  I will only say with Père Lhoumeau that Mary is in us as a moral influence just as the sun is in a room through its light and warmth.  ‘This grace is not given to allWhen God in His great mercy favours a soul with it, it can very easily be lost again if the soul is not faithful to interior recollectionIf this misfortune should happen to you, return humbly to your Sovereign and make ample amends to her.’

‘This presence of Mary,’ remarks Père Lhoumeau, ‘is a favour enjoyed by Blessed de Montfort to an exceptional extent, as can be seen in his life.  He is contemplating his own measure of enjoyment of the privilege when he says: This grace is not given to all.’  For there are indeed degrees.

According to its aspect, height, absence or presence of obstacles, a house will be more or less exposed to and warmed by the sun.  So is it with the soul.  In the measure of the direction of its thought to Mary, its repeated calls, its flight from sin and its faithfulness to grace, it will enjoy a more or less intimate and sensible presence of the Blessed Virgin.  This is why Blessed de Montfort invites everyone to the practice of this perfect devotion, promising as its fruit without reserve ‘that the soul of Mary will be in us: Sit in me anima tua ut magnificent Dominum; sit in me spiritus tuus, ut exulted in Deo.’

Let us note: ‘It is true he imposes as an absolute condition a persevering practice of this devotion; and if this presence of Mary is not granted to all, it is because but few, even to a moderate degree, are faithful to its spirit.’

As for us, let us, by our correspondence to grace and our generous perseverance, deserve to have and to feel the sweet influence of Mary in our souls to illuminate them and strengthen them in their union with God.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CLXI

(2) ‘Moreover beware of doing violence to yourself in order to feel and taste what you say or do.’

This is indeed a danger and a danger to which beginners are subject; it is as follows.  In their new and inexperienced fervor, their intense eagerness and almost greedy spirituality make them bent on finding and feeling sensible sweetness in their prayers and their actions.  This can be a snare of the evil one.  Let us beware of this inordinate desire for consolations.  Let us seek as the Imitation bids us ‘rather the God of consolations than the consolations of God.’

And so, ‘speak and act in that pure faith which Mary had when she was on earth and which, in due time, she will communicate to you.’

The essential, is, then to act with a great purity of intention, with an entire abandonment and a complete disinterestedness as regards sensible satisfactions.  Père Lhoumeau stresses the importance of this lesson as ‘very useful for the beginner and for those who are apt to think that their acts have no value unless accompanied by sensible sweetness.’  It is a commonplace of spirituality that union with God is achieved not through sentimental eagerness, a passing emotion, the fervour of an hour, but by a firm and permanent act of the will.

All her life Mary had a clear vision of the will and good pleasure of God.  It is this will, this divine good pleasure and not, in reality, our personal satisfaction which we must seek.  By an interior renunciation of our own intentions, of any reversion to ourselves, of any rights of possession, we assume the intentions of Mary.  And then, whether we have sensible sweetness or spiritual dryness, we shall be calm and content.  Mary will come when she thinks well, to console and delight us.

Poor little slave!’ says Blessed Grignion, ‘leave the Beatific Vision, the transports, the joys, the pleasures and the raptures to your Sovereign, and take as your own portion only a pure faith full of disgusts, distractions, weariness and dryness.’

It is very true that our faith is full of darkness, dryness, temptation.  We are on our way at night, and our only light is the distant gleam of the eternal light.  But that must suffice us.  A steadfast faith founded on revelation, a boundless confidence in the infallible word of God, an invincible hope in the promises of God the Father, and a love which knows no fear of hesitation, these must shine upon our acts, in our hearts, to fill them with God and impel them to Him.

Patience and submission in the faith with Mary: yet a little while and that slight veil which hides the vision from our eager sight will be rent, we shall see, we shall understand, we shall love.

While waiting for your flight to the pure light of glory, Christian soul, be at peace with Mary.  ‘Say, Amen, so be it! to all that Mary, your Heavenly Mistress does.’  Stay like a child, like a little slave at her feet, your gaze fixed upon her hands, her eyes, her lips, her heart, while you await her commands, her inspirations, her intentions, her maternal love.  ‘This is the best you can do for the present.’  Later on, the clear vision of glory, the contemplation of the Beatific Vision, the enjoyment of a cloudless, unmitigated bliss.  To-day let us be content with simple faith and obedient fulfillment of the will of God in Mary.  It is  difficult, but it is meritorious.

Let us love to recite often and reverently the prayer to Mary.  ‘May the continual sight of God fill my memory with His presence…I do not ask of thee either visions or revelations, or relish, or raptures, or even spiritual pleasures.  It is for thee to see clearly without any shadow, to taste without any bitterness…For my portion here below, I wish for no other joy but the one thou didst have here, that is to say, to believe in pure faith without relish or vision; to suffer joyously without consolation from creatures…The only grace I ask thee is that every day I may say three times: Amen, so be it.’

(To be continued.)

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