Category Archives: Theology

Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CXXVI

6. It is the means of acquiring the true liberty of the Children of God.

This devotion makes us truly free with the liberty of the children of God.’

Liberty in the literal sense of the word is a right which allows man to do what he will.  But let us note at once that liberty is not independence.  S. Paul lifts up his voice vigorously against such as would claim this.  He says to himself: ‘All things are lawful to me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful to me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.’

Human liberty is relative.  It is within certain limits and exercised according to conscience, the divine and human law, and is subject to the established order of things.  It must follow the principles of eternal reason included in the dictates of the human conscience and in the divine principles contained in the Gospel and the Decalogue, taught by the Church.  This sovereign law is opposed to liberty independent of all dogma and all morality that it may lay down for it what is good and what is evil.  It is then within these impassable limits of submission to order, that we can and must act and our liberty evolve and be developed.

If it transgresses these laws, if it turns aside from true reasonableness, if it crosses these limits, there follow disaster, abuses, sin, slavery.  We think to free ourselves from a humiliating and embarrassing constraint, and we do not perceive that we are submitting ourselves to a degrading and bitter servitude.  Man is only great and noble on his knees before God, under the easy yoke of His law and in obedience to His will.  Everywhere else and always, man is the slave of someone or something.

In the human conscience, on the Tables of the Mosaic Law, in our Lord’s Gospel of the new Law, the rights of God to command are written.  But desirous of liberty, Adam emancipates himself, the Jews put the divine Lawgiver to death, these distant ancestors of the French Revolution inscribe at the head of the new Code, the Rights of Man.  Do we think they gained true liberty, the source and pledge of the future bliss we dream of?  No, they subjected themselves to every kind of slavery: that of suffering without consolation, work without an aim, physical and moral distresses, death without the hope of a death which should make all good; that of the curse of Heaven, the blindness of the mind, the hardness of the heart; that of social revolution, unjust and homicidal strikes, of blood…

In the world, man resists the divine law.  He denies to God and His representatives the right of having a word to say in the government of the nations and the obedience which they owe to the Sovereign Governor of the worlds.  Then as they no longer desire a God, it is but logical that they should no longer desire masters, for a master is a vestige of authority, and they have done with authority.  Such a nation has the leaders and the masters that it deserves, effeminate tyrants, incapable and therefore dangerous.

Man is unwilling to serve God in the love and holy liberty of the child.  Such a one becomes the slave tormented by every bad passion, by every untrammeled ambition, degrading vice, the thrall of sin, of error, of every sort of compromise, in short, of the devil…

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CIX

2. It honors Jesus Christ as our Mediator.

While showing us the excellence and the advantages of True Devotion, called the Holy Slavery of Jesus in Mary, Blessed de Montfort assures us that ‘to go this to Jesus through Mary is to honor Jesus Christ,’ and he gives two reasons for this.

Because we this acknowledge that our sins have rendered us unworthy to approach His infinite holiness directly and by ourselves, and that we have need of Mary, His holy Mother, to be our Advocate and Mediatrix with Him our Mediator.  This is at the same time to approach Him as our Mediator and our Brother and to humble ourselves before Him, Who is our God and our Judge.  In a word, we thus practice that humility which never fails to captivate the heart of God.’

Once again, the pious writer repeats that God did not will to give His Son directly to the world, but through Mary.  The Son of God did not will to come on earth at maturity as Adam did, but as a little child dependent on a mother’s care.  In spite of His eagerness to glorify His Father and to save souls without delay, Jesus chose a way, outwardly very humble and very slow, that of subjecting Himself to the Blessed Virgin for thirty years.  And those thirty years of subjection to Mary glorified God more than thirty years of miracles, sermons and conversions.

Oh! how greatly do we glorify God by subjecting ourselves to Mary after the example of Jesus.’

This act and this condition of dependence upon Mary form a ‘perfect practice of humility which captivates the heart of God.’  This devotion teaches us to keep our distance while providing us at the same time with the best means and the best helps towards arriving at the fount from which comes down to us every perfect gift.

This act and this state of consecration also form the most beautiful homage which we can show to God, for it is equivalent to a recognition by its imitation of Jesus, of the admirable wisdom of His conduct.

The ways of God,’ says the Psalmist, ‘are past finding out, just and true.’  But how much more is this true of her whom He made ‘unique and immaculate,’ and through whom His Son came.  And this imitation of the divine conduct gives to the Ever Blessed Trinity an immense increase of honor and glory as well as a precious abundance of grace to mankind.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CVI

CHAPTER III

 EXCELLENCE OF THE HOLY SLAVERY OF LOVE

I should need,’ says the holy writer, ‘much knowledge in order to describe perfectly the excellence of this practice.’

I. It imitates the three Divine Persons.

 ‘I will only say in passing:

That to give oneself thus to Jesus by the hands of Mary is to imitate God the Father, Who has not given us His Son except through Mary, and Who does not communicate His graces except through Mary.’

God, being all love, desires to communicate Himself to men; that was why He created them pure, in a state of perfect justice.  But man having by his sin marred his original beauty and lost sanctifying grace, God in His goodness gave us His only Son, made man like unto us.  But this Man Who was God did not intend to communicate Himself, immediately and directly, to an unworthy mankind.  In order to come down to them, He chose a way of His own making, which He enriched with divine beauties and ineffable perfections.  He chose the immaculate way of Mary.  ‘Posui immaculatam viam meam.’  For this reason He created her pure, made her by preservation and privilege exempt from all original sin.  Thus God, while speaking to mankind and communicating Himself to them, could the more easily satisfy His immense love for Mary.  And if there had only been Mary upon earth, the Son of God, drawn by her charm, would still have become incarnate in her chaste womb, in order to give through her a greater glory to God His Father.  And here I do not dispute the opinion of those who maintain that the Word would have become incarnate in Mary, even without the sin of Adam, so that He might inhabit this boundless and marvelous virginal purity and this give to God an infinite increase of glory and of love.  However it may be, it is a fact that the Eternal Father gave His Son to Mary to draw us to Him and to save us.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – LXXVII

12. Because Mary helps forward the union of souls with God.

Blessed de Montfort briefly recalls the objections raised by those of the faithful who are critical, downcast, devoid of spiritual sense, or by those who have been ill-taught.  He discusses it at length in his Treatise of the True Devotion.

Let us then not imagine, with the unenlightened, that Mary, being a creature, might form an obstacle to union with the Creator.’

It is irreverent to think, believe and teach this.  Everything is against such an assertion, which can only have arisen in the dull brain of some latter day Jansenist, or of some ignorant soul.  To dare to make such a statement, we can neither have meditated upon nor understood the A.B.C. of the scheme of love, the will of God, His wisdom and holiness, the part the Blessed Virgin was to play.  Let us hasten to add, for the honor of Mary and of those who are actually devoted to her, that such objections are much rarer today than they were at the time of Blessed de Montfort.

Besides, here are the principles unchanging and undisputed.  God is the ultimate end of every being.  Jesus is also this because He is God.  Mary in the order of things is only the secondary end, the mediate end, if I may so say.  God is Mary’s end as He is ours.  And Mary, as theology tells us, only exists for the purpose of Christ, that is to say, in relation to Jesus and to God, to Whom she infallibly and of necessity leads in her capacity of secondary end.

And to suppose and to declare that devotion to the Ever Blessed Virgin limits our union with God, is to insult God Himself, it is to admit that He must have given men a Mother who would estrange the children from their Father, the creature from its Creator, the redeemed from their Redeemer, the sanctified from their Sanctifier, whilst turning to her own advantage and attracting to herself the homage of men.  Such an understanding would be without foundation, for God would not be in it.  To attribute such intentions to her is to insult Mary.  God created her so holy and so pure, gave her knowledge so certain and so sure, that she would not, could not attract to herself alone as final end, the slightest homage of the least of creatures.  She would prefer never to have existed, or if there were any danger of this, immediately to perish.

It is also an insult to the devoted servants of the Mother of God to believe them so simple or so ignorant as to take a road which would lead them away from their union with God and from their necessary end.  They have sufficient knowledge to justify their action.  Of course we must beware of illusion, but Mary does not deceive.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – LXIX

‘This comparison of the mold,’ remarks Père Lhoumeau, ‘explains very thoroughly the interior practice of this devotion.  It consists essentially in one only act applied in various forms and under various conditions to the whole of our exterior and interior life.  Such is the simplicity of Blessed de Montfort’s method.’

Let us then conclude by saying that to love thus in Mary is to practice perfectly the interior life after the example of Jesus Christ.  To this the beautiful comparison used by S. Augustine and explained by Blessed de Montfort amounts.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – XLVII

Whoever,’ adds Blessed Louis, ‘wishes to be a member of Christ, full of grace and truth, must be formed in Mary by means of the grace of Jesus Christ, Who will live in her in all His fullness, to be communicated in fullness to the true members of Jesus Christ, and her true children.’

It is always the same thought which returns and to which Montfort reverts.  In order to be members of Christ, we must be children of Mary.  But here another idea is added, that of the communication of grace.  In that Jesus is God and its Author, He possesses grace in its absolute and infinite fullness.  Mary possesses it in a fullness which is communicated, relative but overflowing, and almost limitless as regards time and space.  Souls possess grace in indefinitely varied degrees and strengths..  But it is the same grace, the principle of the same life which must circulate in all.  Now in Christ as in Christians, in the Head as in the members, it is Mary who must be the only channel of the same vital grace.

I am the life,’ said Our Lord.  And He gave this truth a concrete form when He said, ‘I am the Vine, you the branches.’  The life of the branch is the same as the life of the vine.  It is the same sap which nourishes it.  And the Mother of the Vine must be the Mother of the branches, for the stem and the branches are all one Vine.  The Christian and Jesus have the same grace, the same life, they form a whole.  The Christian then can say: ‘I am one with Christ and the Mother of Christ is my Mother.’

Jesus is in eternity the eternal and necessary Son of God; Jesus is in time, the Very Son of Mary according to nature.  The child grafted on Christ by baptismal grace, partaker of the divine nature, becomes actually the child of God and Mary, the brother of Jesus, a branch of the divine vine, a living member of the mystical Body of which Jesus is the Head.

This is theological reality, a sweet and consoling doctrine.

And we may close with these words of Père Lhoumeau: ‘If we call Mary our Mother, we do so not alone out of a feeling of gratitude and love in return for her love and care of us, but because she is as really our Mother in the order of grace as she is the Mother of Christ in the order of nature.  This spiritual maternity of Mary, the consequence of her Divine Maternity, is one of the truths on which the devotion of Blessed de Montfort is founded.’

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – XLVI

6. Because the members of Jesus must be formed by the Mother of Jesus.

And so Blessed de Montfort continues with much aptness:

Since Mary formed the Head of the predestinate, namely, Jesus Christ, it is for her also to form the members of this Head, namely, true Christians, for a mother does not form the head without the members nor the members without the head.’

It would be absurd to try to imagine a normal being with a head and no members, or with members and no head.  Blessed de Montfort calls such a one a monster.  These freaks of nature are poor beings, without life or beauty, qualities or purpose.

It is the same in the supernatural order, with this essential difference, that Christ the Head can live without a member which may have died; whilst the dead member cannot live without the Head.

To sum up then, the moral Body of Christ needs a head and members.  Otherwise even if it could exist it would not be a complete Body.  The perfection of our Head Who is Christ insists upon it imperatively; the realization of the divine plan requires its continuance in a Body and this mystical Body is the Church, and this Church is composed of living members, namely all Christians, and Christians become so by Baptism.  I say then with Montfort, that Mary who formed Christ, the Head of the predestinate, forms also in all justice and truth, in all harmony and necessity, His mystical Body, which is the Church and the Christians who are its esential members.  The Church would not exist without Christians.  The mystical Body of Christ would not exist without the Church.  And the whole would not exist without Mary.

The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, that is to say a whole of which the different parts are united to Christ and among themselves by a bond of a supernatural kind, established by the operation of the Holy Spirit.  This bond is sanctifying grace which makes us partakers of the divine life and nature.

Christ is the Head of the body the Church.’  One and the same life flows through the whole body and animates all its members.

Now when she became the Mother of Christ, the fullness of Christian life, Mary became the Mother of each of those whom that life was one day to animate.  She is actually the Mother of the Church as a whole and of each of the faithful in particular, for she is the Mother of Christ in His natural being and in His mystic being, in the person of Jesus and in the person of each baptized Christian.  Every Christian, by the fact that he is a Christian, must be the son of Mary.

(To be continued.)

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