Fr. Emil Neubert was, arguably, the most extraordinary Marian writer of the twentieth century. St. Maximilian Kolbe was so impressed with one of his books that he struck up a friendship with him. Many people, however, have not heard of him. Here is a good article about him. Fortunately, Fr. Neubert also wrote an autobiography, which you can get here! I have dedicated a Pinterest board to him where you can also get some of his previously untranslated works. I have three more of his works in preparation. He used to write about the Blessed Virgin for three hours a day, and he wrote books for every state of life. His autobiography is very inspiring. It is to be hoped that he will be canonized.
Category Archives: Spiritual Life
“God permits that you go through a sense of being disheartened, filled with doubts and lonesomeness. But this is always for His glory and that of His Immaculate Mother. However, if you trust not in yourself in anything, placing instead all your confidence in our Immaculate Mother, you will always triumph, even though all of hell, the flesh, and the devil assailed you.”
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.)
Such considerations fill Blessed de Montfort with fear and distrust of self. He supports his statement by the facts of experience when he adds: ‘Alas! as cedars of Lebanon may be seen each day to fall into the mire, and as eagles after having soared up to the sun become birds of the night, so do a thousand of the just fall at my left hand and ten thousand at my right.’
Of whom is Blessed Louis thinking, to whom is he alluding? We do not know of any definite persons. Doubtless Jansenism would have supplied him with some names. In any case, he had in mind those examples, at once so famous and so sad, of falls which history has recorded.
He knew all of those mighty fallen: Origen, Terrullian, Osius of Cordova, Luther, Jansenius and many another.
Behind each individual case was always pride and revolt against a dogma, a truth, an authority, which irked them.
And the rebels of today, condemned by Pius IX, Pius X or Pius XI, are very characteristic types. They are those who will not submit, these dreamers of ingenious systems, as false as they are dangerous. And they have fallen a thousand on the left hand and ten thousand on the right. Happy those who have found salvation and peace in repentance and submission to the Church! Happier, far happier the faithful and the obedient, who need not to pick themselves up and to return!
Each sin is like a capitulation in the face of duty. Now without touching upon great faults, all those petty capitulations which fill and disfigure our supernatural life are merely denials more or less conscious of the right of God to reign over us. If conversions no longer last, if the efforts of our zeal are no longer crowned with success, if personal sanctification is so slow and so difficult, if the just themselves often retreat where they should advance, what are the causes? The first is that corruption, that weakness, that inconstancy of which Blessed de Montfort speaks, the result of original sin and inherent in us. The holy writer has developed this subject at length in the third Truth of his Treatise of the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. And the devil and the world take advantage of this original weakness for their own purposes.
This initial cause exists not only in our body of sin but also in our mind which, in the same way, suffered that first fall. Thence come that thoughtlessness, forgetfulness, negligence, abuse even, of Divine grace. How many sins we commit, indeed, how many virtues we neglect, how many good works we omit, how many merits we lose, how much beatific glory in Heaven, because we do not know, because we will not put ourselves out a little, in order to correspond to the grace, the initiative, the inspiration of God!
We are excessively weak and inconstant, and we know it, we feel it by experience. Why then do we act so heedlessly? Why do we neglect the interior watchfulness over our mind and imagination and the exterior watchfulness over our senses? Why do neglect prayer and mortification? Perhaps we put an exaggerated trust in the infinite goodness of God or in our experience and commonsense. Let us beware of such an error of judgment. God is infinitely good, but He is to the last degree just. It is our duty then to serve Him conscientiously.
Does not all this taken together explain our lack of advancement in perfection and certain painful and humiliating falls?
(To be continued.)
3. The Consecration and the Baptismal Vow.
Blessed de Montfort calls this devotion ‘a perfect renewal of the vows or promises of Holy Baptism,’ by which the Christian through his godparents renounces the devil, his pomps, and his works, and recognizes Jesus Christ as his sole and sovereign Master to Whom he vows himself for ever.
This renunciation of satan and this promise to belong to Jesus is perfectly renewed by our Consecration. The vows of Baptism and the surrender to Mary resemble each other, complete each other, are identical yet are different.
(To be continued.)
‘The second consists in having for the Blessed Virgin a more complete feeling of reverence, love, trust, and veneration. It causes us to join Confraternities of the Holy Rosary, of the Scapular, to say part or the whole of the Holy Rosary, to honor the statues and altars of Mary, to publish her praise, to join her Communities.’
‘All these devotions,’ observes Père Lhoumeau, ‘only ask from the faithful part of their time and certain practices of piety.’
It is a devotion, I would say, which clings to Mary as it were by the externals of the mysteries, as a little child grasps a fold of its mother’s dress. It mainly makes use of exterior practices. Doubtless, this devotion leads to the love, honor, service, and imitation of the Blessed Virgin. But to tell the truth, if we are not careful, if we leave it at that, we stay in the hall. It does not take us through meditation and its effects into Mary’s inner life and heart.
It is not in entire agreement with the thought of God in His conduct, past and present, with regard to Mary. It does not make us imitate in its deepest sense Jesus living in Mary.
However, Montfort takes good care, and so do we, not to blame, depreciate, or reject such a practice. It is a devotion honored by the practice of a number of very pious souls. ‘And this devotion,’ he says, ‘if we abstain from sin, is good, holy, and praiseworthy.’ Nevertheless, following up his thoughts, and marking plainly its inferiority, he hastens to add: ‘But it is not so perfect as the following, not so capable of withdrawing souls from creatures and detaching them from themselves in order to unite them to Jesus Christ.’ The one he proposes, indeed, embraces all our life, takes utter possession of our souls, detaches us from ourselves and from all creatures, and makes us live the life of Jesus in Mary.
(To be continued.)
The Sculptor who would form his soul in the image of Christ sees himself faced with a crowd of obstacles. He has of course, the grace of God, which according to S. Paul’s words is sufficient. But he has not, let us say, her who is the Channel of grace. He is alone, and what weakness and misery is the portion of man when he is alone, without Mary!
He begins on the block from which he would make an image of Christ. But this block is himself, with his evil nature, his faults, his sins, his inclinations, temptations, all his enemies within and without. His courage may be great and meritorious, his work unremitting, but he is alone in his struggle against himself and a world of obstacles. He lacks the inspiration of grace, support from above, a mother’s counsel. He is at the mercy of an accident, a false stroke, fatigue, he trusts to his own knowledge, to his natural talent. But the result of so much effort is almost negligible. The block is hardly any smaller; the divine effigy of Jesus is hardly recognizable.
So that Blessed Louis is justified in his sad exclamation:
‘How many stains, how many defects, how many illusions, how much of what is merely natural and human, there is in that first soul!’
We do not see rise before us, beneath the artist’s hand, a living soul, glorious in purity and perfection, in light and certainty, in the supernatural and the divine, a soul stamped with the effigy of Him Whose ideal Exemplar was shown us on the mountain, of Jesus Christ formed in Mary.
(To be continued.)