Tag Archives: Spiritual Life

Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CXVI

We have read the symbolical story of Rebecca and little Jacob.  It is a beautiful and perfect allegory.  We have noticed with admiration how the skillful and foreseeing Rebecca clothed her favorite child in the rich and perfumed clothes of his elder brother Esau, in order to secure for him the blessing of his father Isaac, who is old and blind.  It is a parable.

Mary is our Rebecca; we are as her little Jacobs; God is our father Isaac; is Jesus then our Esau?  Yes, under the mysterious and providential condition of the allegory.  And so if we understand it well ‘as Rebecca did to Jacob she will clothe us in the beautiful garments of her eldest and only Son Jesus Christ, that is to say, with His merits which she has at her disposal.’

‘This man and that man is born in her,’ says the Psalmist.  These two men who are born of Mary are Jesus according to nature and man according to grace.  Mary gave the Son of God the human and mortal garment of His body; on the other hand, she clothes man in the divine and immortal garment of Jesus, of His infinite merits, with which she covers and adorns our supernatural poverty.  ‘And so,’ concludes Blessed Louis, ‘shall we, her servants and her slaves, after we have despoiled ourselves of everything in her honor, be clad in double garments; omnes domestici eius vestiti sunt duplicibus: that is the vestments, ornaments, perfumes, merits and virtues of Jesus and of Mary clothe the soul of a slave of Jesus and of Mary who is stripped of self and faithful in his surrender.’

‘This charming commentary on the beautiful thought of S. Bernard,’ says Père Lhoumeau, ‘will console and encourage those afflicted by the frequent proofs of their unworthiness and of the inadequacy of their labors.’  According to the favorite and happy expression of Blessed Louis, Mary will be their ‘supplement’ before God.

This expression is indeed quite Montfortian; it is hardly found elsewhere, and well defines the part which Mary fulfills for us with God.

All those on duty in some great house wear the official livery of their master.  In the house of God we must wear the official livery which is Mary’s.  It is the one she gave to Jesus and the one her slaves of love must don.

When old Isaac had breathed the fragrance of Jacob’s garments, he blessed him saying: ‘Behold the smell of my son is as a plentiful field which the Lord hath blessed.’  When our Heavenly Father shall breathe the fragrance of the clothes we wear, the garments of Jesus and of Mary, He will rejoice and will pour out upon us, the slaves of Jesus in Mary, His most abundant blessings of grace upon earth.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CXIII

3.  It is the means of adorning and purifying our actions.

To consecrate ourselves in this way to Jesus through Mary is to place in the hands of Mary all our good actions, which, however good they may appear, are very often sullied and unworthy in the eyes of God, before Whom the stars are not pure.’

Of what is life as a rule composed?  Of trifles, a chain formed of little links, forged the one to the other, all alike, and often worn and damaged by the rust of routine.  Sin breaks them and makes them useless, dangerous and even harmful.

But this chain of life should be made of a little gold, should be shining, rich and precious.  How?  By a good and single-hearted intention; by the offering made with true purity of heart, by seeking God’s glory alone.  But even that may be spoiled, stained with self-love, and a vain and barren self-satisfaction.

Does not Blessed de Montfort say that ‘our best actions are very often sullied and corrupted by the very foundations of our nature…that our actions, even our greatest virtues, bear the trace of it?’

Our actions, then, are condemned to remain hopelessly imperfect and without any real value?  No, let us take courage.  We have a perfect way of restoring to the links of our life their brilliance, their efficacy, their value.  And this way is a true devotion to Mary.

Oh! let us pray to that good Mother, that, having received our poor gift, she may purify it, sanctify it, ennoble and adorn it, so that it may be worthy of God.’

There was once a gathering which was called the Gathering of silence.  Everything was done or said by means of signs.  One day a new subject asked permission to form part of it.  Impossible, their numbers were complete.  And to explain this to him, the Superior took a goblet and filled it with water to the brim, so that one drop more would have made it overflow.  The postulant understood, but he was not disconcerted.  In his turn he took a rose leaf, and gently placed it on the surface of the water.  Not a drop flowed over, and all the water was scented with its fragrance.

Occupations of all kinds absorb our lives.  They seem full and are not; they seem hardly meritorious; would we fill them without their overflowing, make them fragrant, useful for our salvation, and our admission to the Heavenly Gathering?  Let us place on all our actions the rose of oblation.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CXI

In the order of grace there are then three stages to be climbed that we may reach God: we must apply to Mary, Mary to Jesus, Jesus to His Father.

The mediation of Mary with her divine Son is then necessary and indispensable.  Only Mary can approach Jesus worthily.  Montfort is then right to say with S. Bernard: ‘Let us say boldly that we have need of a mediator with the Mediator Himself, and that it is the divine Mary who is the most capable of filling that charitable office.  It is by her that Jesus Christ came, and it is by her that we must go to Him.’

In order that Mary’s mediation may be real and effective, God has made her the Treasurer of all His graces.  I do not need to quote Blessed de Montfort after so many Holy Fathers, Doctors and other ascetics; he is in good company and is only teaching the traditional Catholic doctrine.  ‘All graces come to us through Mary.’  Of course this statement is not certain, so certain that our belief in it must be insisted upon, still less does it form a dogma of faith.  Nevertheless it is supported by such weighty arguments, it is authorized and recommended by such great authorities, so considerable and so numerous, that it must seem to us as rational as it is dear to us to admit it.  We may even add that it would be almost bold to reject it nowadays, especially since at the particular request of his Eminence Cardinal Mercier, Archbishop of Malines and Primate of Belgium, of all the bishops of France and of several other countries, the Sovereign Pontiff, Benedict XV, of his supreme authority, granted the celebration of a feast fixed for May 31, under the title of ‘Mary Mediatrix of all graces.’

This mediation is universal, that is to say it extends to all graces, all souls, to the chosen who triumph in Heaven, to the Christians struggling upon earth, to the just who are expiating in Purgatory.  And it is a mediation which is always well received, always heard, always generous, always efficacious.  And since it is the will of God that we should have everything through Mary, ‘Let us go therefore with confidence to the throne of grace.’

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CX

Jesus Christ is God, and because He is God, He is the Infinite Holiness and our supreme and last End, and because He is our Savior, He is our Mediator of Redemption.

In a sentence, S. Paul has elucidated the whole economy of the divine plan, creative and redemptive.  ‘For all are yours.  And you are Christ’s.  And Christ is God’s.’

If we would rise to God, we must then have Christ.  ‘No man cometh to the Father but by Me.  I am the way.’  And so His beloved disciple says: ‘No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son Who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.’

No one then can do without the help of Jesus Christ if he would surely know God, love and serve Him perfectly, and live as He would have us.

Now we have said that if Jesus Christ is our supreme Mediator, He is at the same time, since He is God, our End, He is the indispensable corner-stone upon which each one must erect the building of his perfection.

Even as God, Jesus Christ is the final destination, the necessary End of our aspirations, our actions, our devotions, He must be the constant object of our love, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of all our spiritual and moral life.  To Him belong our adoration and our homage.

But according to the observation of Blessed de Montfort, His infinite greatness is such as to fill us with fear and to separate us from Him through our excessive reverence.  That is why in order to approach Him suitably, we must have a Mediatrix who intercedes with Him.

‘God,’ says Bossuet, ‘having resolved from all eternity to give us Jesus Christ through the mediation of Mary, is not content with using her merely as an instrument for this glorious ministry.  It is not His will that she should be merely a passive channel of grace, but an active instrument who contributes to this great work, not only by means of her excellent disposition, but also by an action of her will.’

(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 – CVII

Further, God the Father only communicates His graces to us through Mary.  The author says in his detailed Treatise of the True Devotion:

‘God the Father made an assemblage of all the waters and He named it the sea (maria).  He has made an assemblage of all His graces and He called it Mary (Maria): Appelavit eam Mariam quasi mare gratiarum (S. Antoninus).  Mary is then to the land of souls what the sea is to the actual land; she covers it with the cloud of her graces, she waters it with her rain, she fertilizes it with moisture, she makes it fertile with her freshness.  God the Father has filled Mary will all graces.  She has enough for all and for always.  She is the inexhaustible fount, open to all, ever abounding, ever flowing, to which each may come and draw at his need any moment.  ‘If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink,’ she says to us as Jesus did.

‘This great God,’ he goes on, ‘has a most rich treasury in which He has laid up all that He has of beauty, of splendor, of rarity, and of preciousness, even to His own Son; and this immense treasure is none other than Mary whom the Saints have named the Treasure of the Lord.  Ipsa est thesaurus Domini, out of whose plenitude all men are made rich.’

In giving ourselves in this way to Jesus by the hand of Mary, we imitate God the Son Who has not come to us except through Mary, and Who, having given us the example, invites us to go to Him in the same way in which He came to us, namely, through Mary.’

We have said that our act of Consecration places us in a permanent state of slavery of love and will, by making us live in an absolute dependence upon Mary, for everything that concerns our threefold life, natural, supernatural, and, later on glorious.

It is a dazzling truth, dominating the whole of the divine plan of Redemption, that God made use of Mary to send His Son into the world, and that Jesus was subject to Mary as to His Mother.  As a result, Mary is then indeed the Mother of Jesus, God and Man; and Jesus exactly fulfilled His duty as Mary’s child; and this obedience, or rather this state of dependence, bore with Jesus a special character, a particular shape which Blessed de Montfort calls Holy Slavery.

These bold words are not exaggerated; they are supported by the words of the great Apostle of the Gentiles: ‘Jesus Christ emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant.’

He expresses in these words a deep truth and an historical reality.  In the eyes of God, man in necessarily a being absolutely dependent on his Creator, in his physical and in his supernatural nature.

For without Me you can do nothing,’ says God.

What hast thou that thou hast not received?’ asks the Apostle.

Further, with the Romans the word servus meant a slave, and with them, as with all the ancients, the slave was considered as a nobody, over whom the master had absolute right of use and of life and death, the master’s chattel, in the same way as his house, lands, gold, or herds.  He was his property.  The slave had neither liberty nor rights of any kind, civil or natural.  He did not count in the social scheme of the ancient world; he was just something to be used or broken.

S. Paul could not have found an expression which more justly and aptly characterized the abasement of the Son of God, when we consider His origin and His divine and eternal greatness.

Now this abasement the Son of God desired to realize in Mary, whose slave of love He became as well as her loving child, in absolute dependence.

The Son of God surrenders to Mary the fashioning of His body, the preservation of His life, His movements, His actions, His liberty, His will, His whole being.

But when thus reduced to a state of physical powerlessness, voluntary as it was, Jesus does not remain inactive and passive.  He acts, but nevertheless always in dependence upon Mary.  take His action at Hebron in the sanctification of John the Baptist.  It was Mary who brought Him, through Whom sanctification was to come.

At Bethlehem and at Nazareth in the silence, through Judea and on Calvary in the bright light of broad day, Mary remains ever the Intermediary.

She is always there: ‘And the Mother of Jesus was there.’  God has placed in her all His treasures of grace, but the greatest, the most precious, is the Author of all grace, her Son.  And Mary has all this, and she had it all because of us and for us.  She had it yesterday; she has it today; she will have it tomorrow and always.

On earth she has fulfilled her mission of mediatrix and channel.  She continues this in Heaven.  Mary is the great Agent of our interests with her Son.  She deals with and bargains for the salvation of each soul.  She cannot but do so, and she does, inspired by the glory of God and urged on by our spiritual needs.  She is kind, merciful, charitable to excess, like her Son Who ‘loved them unto the end.’

But she cannot do it all without us, without our cooperation, without the dependence of our love.  But if after the example of her divine Son, we surrender ourselves to her, she will most certainly work out our salvation.

(To be continued.)

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Secret Way of the Enclosed Garden – CV

These are some reflections on the nature and extent of this slavery of love to Jesus in Mary.

But it is easy to see that the slave by constraint is the most dependent of all, in a way which can only exist by right in the case of a man in regard to his Creator.’

This is why human slavery is unjust, barbarous, contrary to human liberty, condemned and abolished by the Church and all civilized nations, thanks in particular to the great anti-slavery movement inaugurated by Cardinal Lavigerie.

This is why Christians do not have such slaves only Turks and idolaters act thus.’

Slavery is born of forgetfulness of God, of contempt for the dignity of man, of an ignoring of immortality and nobility of soul, of the abuse of strength and pride.  The Church, founded by Our Lord, brought back into the world the rules and practice of charity with the knowledge of the great truths of faith and love for the Father Who is in Heaven, and whose children we are, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and the tears of Mary.

‘Happy, a thousand times happy, is the generous soul who consecrates himself entirely to Jesus through Mary, in the capacity of a slave of love, after having, through Baptism, shaken off the tyrannical slavery of the devil.’  It learns thus to taste the true liberty of the children of God.

(To be continued.)

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