Saturday, April 28, 2012

St. Louis de Montfort's True Devotion to Mary

St. Louis Marie de Montfort is a special patron saint in our community constitutions.  As Sisters of Our Mother of Divine Grace our spirituality and devotion to Mary is based on St. de Montfort's Treatise  on True Devotion to Mary. 

Over the past few decades, many have questioned devotion to Mary as subtracting or taking away from the dedication we should have to Christ.  Our recent Holy Father, Blessed John Paul II, confessed:  "At one point I began to question my own devotion to Mary, believing that, if it became too great, it might end up compromising the supremacy of the worship owed to Christ.... " (Gift and Mystery).  It was during his study for the priesthood that he was introduced to St. Louis de Montfort's, True Devotion to Mary, and realized after reading this text, that this devotion is actually ..."Christocentric, very profoundly rooted in the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, and the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption." (Crossing the Threshold of Hope, pp. 212-213).  After his election to the Pontificate, he took for his motto: "Totus tuus" (Totally Yours).  Blessed John Paul II, spoke often of how living in harmony with Mary, one can attain to the experience of the Father in limitless confidence and love, to docility to the Holy Spirit and to the transformation of self according to the image of Christ.

St. Louis lived in the later half of the 1600's, in France.  In his early years of study in the poor seminary, his own spirituality was much influenced by the French spirituality begun by Cardinal de Berulle. Its trinitarian/christocentrism, its devotion to Mary including the vow of servitude, its apostolic outreach, its love for sacred scripture (especially for the Pauline letters), its intense mysticism, its view that man on his own could attain nothing without Christ, were especially appealing to Montfort. These aspects of this spirituality, he developed in his own fashion.

As a young seminarian and priest, St. Louis was influenced by the spirit of the Jesuits, Sulpicians, Dominican and Franciscan spirituality.  He was devoted to preaching, and to the rosary, to the poverty of St. Francis, as well as the wisdom expressed by St. Bonaventure.  One of his own greatest works, is  a book entitled, “Love of the Divine Wisdom.”  He continually expressed God as Tenderness and Love.

In his Act of Total Consecration to Mary, found in his book: "True Devotion", he emphasizes that Consecration - Holy Slavery of Love - must be focused on Christ as final end or else it springs from the devil, that Jesus and Mary are "one heart," (St. John Eudes) so too the consecration response to Jesus and Mary is "one."  "The more one is consecrated to Mary, the more one is consecrated to Jesus." He does not counsel two separate consecrations, one to Jesus and one to Mary, but he teaches a consecration to  Mary is a consecration to Jesus and a consecration to Jesus according to scripture,  must have a Marian dimension. Jesus is the center, Our Lady is the means: "The Consecration of oneself to Jesus Christ, Wisdom Incarnate, through the hands of Mary." (True Devotion)

Other characteristics of this devotion are a total giving of one's self.  He spoke of this consecration as the perfect fulfillment of our sacramental Baptism in Christ.  Thus, we give all merits and satisfactions to Mary to apply where best needed. The idea of gaining merit was much talked about in his day.  This consecration is expressed in the Incarnation, the mystery of Jesus living in Mary.  God willed to come to us through Mary, it is His will we go to Him through her.  And this consecration is apostolic.  As a perfect renewal of baptism, it is of an evangelizing outreach, spurring Christians on to serve their brothers and sisters who are "the very portraits of Jesus Christ."

If you are interested in reading True Devotion to Mary, you can read the book online here.

0 Jesus living in Mary,
0 Jesus living in Mary,
Come and live in Thy servants,
In the spirit of Thy holiness,
In the fullness of Thy might,
In the truth of Thy virtues,
In the perfection of Thy ways,
In the communion of Thy mysteries;
Subdue every hostile power
In Thy spirit, for the glory of the Father. Amen.

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