Category Archives: Holy Slavery

Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CXXXI

Chapter IV

 Interior Practice of this Devotion

 I. Its Meaning: Life in Mary.

Holy Slavery as conceived and taught by Blessed de Montfort and as authorized and approved by the Church is not merely a partial, limited, occasional and intermittent devotion.  It is a way of total spiritually, complete and lasting, a method of interior life, which establishes us in a state, a habit.  It is the Life in Mary.  Mary will not be for us the beginning or the end; but she will be the Mediatrix, the Means, the Way by which to arrive safely at the Goal.  She will be the air which we breathe, the motive of our thoughts, our intentions, our movements; the Strength which will win all our energies, will condense and utilize all our efforts, for the glory of God, for our sanctification and our salvation.  It is on these lines and these conditions that the Holy Slavery of Jesus in Mary must be considered.

There are many other devotion, but the majority are specialized; some imply many exercises, special acts, different practices, many prayers.  They may please certain souls, eager, more or less, for rules and for variety; the Holy Slavery of Love has only one interior practice of obligation: the life in Mary.

It is a devotion of assimilation, adaptation, surrender.  It is the water which takes exactly the shape and outlines of the vessel which contains it.  Such as we are, it takes us, with our own personality, our temperament, our character, our talents, our natural and supernatural qualities, our graces, our virtues, our merits.  It takes us, whatever our social position, our station in life, the duties of that station, whether in the world, in the priesthood, or the religious life.  The priest’s parochial and apostolic work, his teaching; vows, occupations, meditation, the contemplative state, the nursing and the teaching orders, missions near and far; trade, office, marriage, the single life in the world; nothing is an obstacle to the practice of this devotion.  It does not hinder us, it does not burden us, it lays on us no new and special obligations.  It take the position that we occupy, adapts itself to it, raises it, supernaturalizes it, sanctifies it; she makes it her own, if I may so say to express my thoughts as I would.

The life in Mary is like a garment which fits all souls to perfection.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – XI

We will close this introduction by the words which Montfort wrote in his Treatise of the True Devotion:

‘As there are secrets of nature for doing in a short time, at little cost and with facility, natural operations, so also in like manner there are secrets in the order of grace to do in a short time with sweetness and facility supernatural operations, such as emptying ourselves of self, filling ourselves with God and becoming perfect.’

‘The practice which I am about to disclose is one of these secrets of grace, unknown by the greater number of Christians, known to few even of the devout and practiced by a far less number still.’

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – IV

And so Blessed de Montfort could write: ‘Which I have never been able to find in any book either ancient or modern.’  He was a great reader, but this devotion he found in none of his books.  ‘After all,‘ he says in his Treatise of the True Devotion, having read nearly all the books which treat of devotion to Our Lady and having conversed familiarly with the best and wisest men of these latter times, I have never known nor heard of any practice of devotion towards her, at all equal to the one which I wish now to unfold.

Nevertheless it was not new, since it dates from the Incarnation of the Word and was solemnly proclaimed by Jesus Christ Himself upon the Cross.

De Montfort goes on to tell us that it has been throughout the centuries the devotion of a great number of the holy and the learned, and he names some of them.  Cardinal de Bérulle, M. Boudon, M. Olier, Père Poiré, S. Jean Eudes, Père de Condren, Père Jobert (1670), Père Crasset (1687) in France, speak of this Devotion as known and teach it as a general thing.  It was not new, but it was not universal.  And it is the uncontested merit and glory of Blessed de Montfort to have gathered into a wonderful summary all the diffuse teaching of the past, scattered through thousands of works, to have put it in its proper light, to have explained and simplified it, thus bringing it to the knowledge of all.  He has condensed this doctrine into a book, didactic in a sense, but neither dry nor dull, one which will remain henceforth the classic by day and by night of every soul that is truly devoted to Mary, The Treatise of the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and its summing up, The Secret of Mary.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – III

Here is a secret.’  A secret is something hidden, discovered by few and carefully kept.

We have:

I. The secrets of nature hidden in the elements, in the bowels of the earth or in the depths of the ocean.

II. The secrets of science daily unveiled to us by genius, in the realm of physics, chemistry, mechanics, electricity and so on.  And in another loftier sphere:

III. The secrets of grace contained in the mysteries and the Sacraments.

IV. The secrets of holiness, or rather of Sanctification, which are the different methods of spirituality taught by such masters as S. Ignatius and the Jesuits, S. Francis of Assisi and the Friars Minor, S. Dominic and the Preachers, S. Francis de Sales and the Visitation, Bérulle and the Oratory, M. Olier and the Sulpicians, S. Alphonsus Liguori and the Redemptorists, and many others who have founded shcools of thought.

Is Blessed de Montfort of their number?  Yes and No, for the True Devotion in which he glories is not exactly a Method, but rather a way of interior life, a spiritual state which includes all methods, all devotions, all states of life, all special vocations.

Here is a secret that the Most High has taught me.’

This secret is devotion to Mary.  It has been revealed (‘that the Most High has taught me’), and is then a supernatural secret of sanctity.  The Holy Spirit is ever the great Master and the great Teacher of souls.  He it is Who inspires them, urges them, forms them.  And secretly He formed Mary and prepared her for her maternal mission.  Secretly He prepared and formed Jesus by the triple overshadowing of the Immaculate Conception, the Annunciation and Incarnation of the Son of God and at Pentecost.  The first overshadowing was for her, the second for Jesus, the third for us.

And all this happened secretly.  The moment for unveiling the royal secret had not yet come.  ‘For it is good to hide the secret of a king.’  The Gospels say comparatively little of Mary.  De Montfort tells us that she was to be the Divine Secret, hidden until the fullness of time should be come.

And yet there was never a time when Mary was not known.  Her effigy was with the early Christians in the Catacombs, where many a presentment of her, as loving as it is unskilled, marks the cells of the martyrs.  Throughout the time of the early Fathers her devotion was treasured, as is borne out by numerous writings of that period.  Nevertheless the devotion to the Mother of Jesus had neither the form nor the extent that is has today, in its character of such a perfect devotion as is implied by the Holy Slavery.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – II

Without losing our sense of proportion, and in a very definite degree, Montfort would have us be in a similar dependence upon the Blessed Virgin.  But this will be no inevitable dependence, but one which will have its source in our love and our will.  For although Mary is the Queen and Empress of the world, it is on our hands to give her this power over us in the sense conceived by de Montfort.  This is what he calls the Holy Slavery of Love, and this is his Secret

Chosen Soul,’ says Blessed de Montfort, ‘here is a secret that the Most High has taught me, and which I have never been able to find in any book either ancient or modern.’

The words are strange, mysterious and full of hidden meaning.  Let us remove the rind, let us find the fruit and we shall know its exquisite flavour.

Chosen Soul.’  We must then be chosen.  There are then some who are not, and who will never taste the divine nectar of this teaching.  Why?

I. Because it is the mystery of the free and loving choice of the divine will.

II. Because many souls would not understand, would not correspond to this doctrine and would even neglect it.  And this, as de Montfort shows later, would be fatal.

III. Because doubtless God calls them to walk in a way less visibly devoted to Our Lady’s service, and consequently less easy.

The saints mentioned by de Montfort as explicitly sanctified through Mary are few in number, though all have received graces through her.  ‘Many are called but few chosen.’

(To be continued.)

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Mary, our Helper

Neither let us think that Our Lady will automatically ward off all temptation… Mary will indeed help us, but we must show her that we want that help.  The Apostles themselves were rowing very hard when the storm was against them.  Would Our Lord have helped them if they had not bothered to row or exert themselves?  Likewise in our spiritual life when the storm of temptation arises God expects us to do all in our power, and His grace will always be there to help us to resist.  Thus when Mary sees us making an effort for the love of her Divine Son, she will readily help us.  But if we make no effort at all, how then can we call upon her?

The Immaculate Way

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The Perfection of Mary

The consideration of Our Lady in everything necessarily leads to the sacrifice of self.  That is why devotion to Mary, as shown by St. Louis-Marie de Montfort, becomes a positive means of loving God and of progressing in that love.  It is different from the negative approach which puts off so many.  In seeking the perfection of Mary our attitude of mind becomes not a constant denial of self, but a progressive seeking after the practice of her virtues.  We are considering Mary and her perfection – not ourself and our imperfection.  Our way of approach is not to destroy but to build, to transform and perfect.  This positive way of Mary becomes our way to God.

The Immaculate Way

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