Category Archives: Co-Redemptrix

Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CLXXI


The seer of Patmos, the evangelist S. John, the Beloved Disciple of Jesus, the Child and the Almoner of Mary, speaks to us in his Apocalypse of an Angel who says to him: ‘Go and take the book that is open from the hand of the Angel who standeth upon the sea and upon the earth.  And I went to the Angel saying that he should give me the book.  And he said unto me: Take the book and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but in thy mouth it shall be sweet as honey.  And I took the book from the hand of the Angel and ate it up, and it was in my mouth sweet as honey; and when I had eaten it, my belly was bitter.”

This Angel holding his little book is Blessed de Montfort, who offers us his Secret of Mary.

The Evangelist who eats the little book is every one of us, who must make of it the spiritual food of our souls.

This little book made the belly of the prophet bitter but in his mouth it was sweet as honey.  The Devotion of the Holy Slavery is indeed bitter and hard to the old carnal and corrupt man whom we bear in us and who is represented by the belly.  Human nature dreads any discomfort or mortification; the senses, the passions, the world, the devil cannot bear them.  But this Doctrine of life and salvation will be sweet as honey to our souls which are like mouths filled with sanctifying grace which eat, taste, and enjoy supernatural things.

I would then boldly say to you: ‘Accipe librum et devora illum; Take this little book and eat it.’  Make of it, O Chosen Soul, your habitual daily food, for this little book of the True Devotion to Mary s the words of eternal LifeThrough Mary it leads us safely to Jesus living in us and reproduced in us on earth, and owned, loved and glorifying us eternally with Him, in Heaven.*


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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CLXIX

2. The Offering of a tribute to the Blessed Virgin.

(2) ‘The scond practice,’ says the holy writer, ‘is to pay on the same day some little tribute to the Blessed Virgin as a token of our servitude and dependence, for it has always been the custom of slaves thus to pay homage to their masters.’  It is a mark of honour, affection, devotion, gratitude and a pledge of fidelity.

Now this tribute may be either some mortification or an alms, or a pilgrimage or some prayers.’

Some mortification…Blessed Marino, his brother, S. Peter Damian tells us, took the discipline publicly every year before the altar of the Blessed Virgin on the day of his consecration.’

Père J.M. de Lombaerde, a missionary of the Holy Family, in chapter XXXI of his book: Ma Journée avec Marie,’ which after the pattern of the Imitation he entitles: ‘The Royal Road,’ and dealing with the cross and suffering, speaks of the extraordinary penances which we can impose upon ourselves in honour of Mary.  For instance: the hair shirt; little chains; bracelets; crosses with sharp points; iron girdles; the discipline; knotted cords; the deprivation of sleep; a hard bed; a wooden pillow made of a little bunch of twigs or long straws.

Let me say first that these extraordinary penances must only be used with the permission of a director and with prudence and discretion, because sometimes, on a pretext of perfection they harm our moral health by flattering our self-love and our physical health, by too much hindering our work and the duties of our station.

And so Blessed Louis wisely adds: ‘We neither ask nor even counsel such fervour.’

Most souls must then, failing a special urging of grace and the permission of the director, be satisfied with the ordinary ways and only make those ordinary penances which are attainable, easy, countless, advised and meritorious.  Some souls, drawn on by unenlightened zeal, deluded, perhaps, may be tempted to attempt more. ‘But,’ says Blessed Louis, ‘if we cannot give much to Mary we should at least offer what we do give her, with a humble and grateful heart.’

We know the proverb: ‘leave well alone.’  Let those souls eager for great penances, unattainable, unwise, useless and even harmful, know, that obedience is better than penance, that the ordinary ways, which are the ways of all, are preferable to the extraordinary ways which are only meant for souls who have been specially called to them and who will be carefully controlled and wisely directed.  The Montfortian remark that we must only give what we can, applies equally to alms, pilgrimages and prayers.

Some alms: the spiritual alms of good advice, good example, a good prayer; material alms according to one’s means and one’s heart.  We may remember that many little souls…I mean little in the eyes of the world…hidden, obscure, interior, show an admirable delicacy and generosity towards Mary.  It goes without saying that these little alms, directly concerned as they are with the True Devotion of the Holy Slavery, should be addressed to the Headquarters of the Work; it is understood that we should materially support that which supports us spiritually.

Some pilgrimage: preferably to a sanctuary of Our Lady, the centre of some confraternity.

Some prayers: special and of greater length.  Blessed Louis mentions several of them, and personal piety will suggest many others.

(To be continued.)

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St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, O.F.M.

Today is the feast of St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, one of the greatest servants of Mary in history.  He offers some excellent advice here:

I highly recommend this book:

In the true Marian spirit of the feast, while reading you can snuggle up with this:

Happy Feast of St. Maximilian Maria!

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St. Lawrence of Brindisi

Today is the Feast of the great servant of Mary, St. Lawrence of Brindisi.  He was a trult extraordinary man, even among the Saints.  Here are some passages from his life:

“Hebrew he knew so perfectly, and spoke with such a correct pronunciation, that the Jews at first believed he was born of Jewish parents, and the most learned of the Rabbis admitted that he knew and spoke it better than themselves.  For this wonderful mastery of what is generally regarded as a difficult language he himself confessed his indebtedness to the Mother of God.  Preaching on her prerogatives in the Church of the Holy Ghost at Naples, he says: “I know a man still living and speaking, who received the gift of Hebrew from the Blessed Virgin.  Wishing to acquire a perfect knowledge of the Scriptures, and particularly of the Virgin’s greatness, he besought the Virgin herself to instruct him in the Hebrew tongue.  Then, having fallen into a light sleep, he found himself, on awakening, a perfect master of it, so much so that the Jews inferred from his pronunciation that he belonged to their own nation.” 

“This memory he employed to splendid advantage, not merely in learning languages, but in getting off by heart the whole of the Bible from beginning to end, so that he could quote with ease and without hesitation any text, giving book, chapter, and verse, just as if he held the Bible before him, and were reading it.”

“To him nothing seemed too much to expect from the power and the goodness of God.”

His confessor: “Between six and seven years I heard his confession at least twice a week, and I can say with truth that I never found matter of even one willful venial sin.”

“…convinced that whatever he had and did belonged to God, he neither acted, nor spoke, nor thought, as if anything belonged to himself.  So far from showing off, or boasting of his achievements, he endeavored to hide them, except in case of necessity or utility.  Extraordinary heavenly favors he concealed even from his intimate companions…To exercise himself in humility he delighted in performing menial work, such as washing the dishes, even when he was General.”

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CLXVII

(4) ‘So that Mary, by the side of Jesus, becomes all to this soul,she who formed it, its mediatrix, its supplement, its Hope, its Mother, its instructress.

She enlightens its mind by her pure faith, deepens its heart by her humility, dilates it and sets it aglow by her charity, purifies it by her purity, ennobles it and enlarges it be her motherly care.

But where shall I stop?  Only experience can teach these marvels of Mary, marvels beyond belief of the wise and the proud and even beyond that of the ordinary lot devout men and women.’

Blessed Louis had had this experience, and that is why he is at such pains to describe clearly and devoutly the marvelous fruits of life and sanctity produced by the indwelling and the work of Mary in a faithful and obedient soul.

(To be continued.)


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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CLXVI

Blessed de Montfort, in continuing the description of the fruits of this devotion, repeats again and again, with slight variations, the same idea which is the life, the indwelling, the work of Mary in the faithful soul.

(3) ‘As Mary is ever the fruitful Virgin,’ he says, ‘she carries into every soul in which she is,’ that is in the soul, for its exterior conduct and interior life, ‘a purity of heart,’ by the rejection of every guilty thought of the intelligence, of every wrong desire of the will, of every evil recollection of the memory, of every straying aside of the imagination, of every unruly passion of the heart: ‘and of body,’ by flight from every occasion of danger, by watchful abstinence from every sinful gesture of the senses; ‘purity of intention and of purpose,’ by sincere and single-hearted direction of our will towards God, a frank seeking after the divine glory and the definite elimination of any personal interest and all vain satisfactions of self-love: ‘fruitfulness in good works,’ through perfection in exterior virtues, in acts performed, and through success in physical or supernatural undertakings: works of charity, of sanctification, apostleship.

Do not think, dear Soul, that Mary, the most fruitful of Pure Creatures, whose fecundity has gone so far as to bring forth a God-Man, could remain idle in a faithful soul.’

No, she does not remain idle.  She is a Mother whose function it is to form divine men: Our Lord Jesus Christ and the predestinate who are the members of His Mystical Body.

She will make our soul live for Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ live in us,’ and she can with yet more reason than the great Apostle say these words: ‘Filioli mei, quos iterum parturio, donec formetur Christus in nobis: My little children, of whom I am in labour again until Christ be formed in you.’

If Jesus Christ is the fruit of Mary in each particular soul as He in in the world in general, He is in a more especial sense her fruit and Masterpiece in a soul in which she dwells.’  For indeed, what is the work pursued by Our Lord in the work of Redemption?  Is it not besides the glory of God, Who is the first and final reason, the restoration of the image and the life of God in the human soul?  Now this can only be accomplished through the Christian’s becoming another Christ.  Was not the First-Born of the living, Jesus Christ, formed in Mary?  In Mary then, these other Christs, the predestinate, must be formed.  And it is in the womb of Mary, that is, in dependence on her and beneath her influence, that this gallery of masterpieces will be completed.  And so in His members, Jesus Christ becomes once more the renewed fruit of Mary, and Mary, as she forms them, feels once more the happy travail of bringing forth souls to the True Life, in a supernatural manner.

(To be continued.)

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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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