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The Secret of Mary

 

by St. Louis de Montfort

INTRODUCTION

1. Here is a secret, chosen soul, which the most High God taught me  and which I have not found in any book, ancient or modern. Inspired  by the Holy Spirit, I am confiding it to you, with these conditions: (1)  That you share it only with people who deserve to know it because  they are prayerful, give alms to the poor, do penance, suffer  persecution, are unworldly, and work seriously for the salvation of  souls. (2) That you use this secret to become holy and worthy of  heaven, for the more you make use of it the more benefit you will  derive from it. Under no circumstances must you let this secret make  you idle and inactive. It would then become harmful and lead to your  ruin. (3) That you thank God every day of your life for the grace he  has given you in letting you into a secret that you do not deserve to  know. As you go on using this secret in the ordinary actions of your  life, you will come to understand its value and its excellent quality. At  the beginning, however, your understanding of it will be clouded  because of the seriousness and number of your sins, and your  unconscious love of self.

2. Before you read any further, in an understandable impatience to  learn this truth, kneel down and say devoutly the Ave Maris Stella  ("Hail, thou star of ocean"), and the "Come, Holy Spirit", to ask God  to help you understand and appreciate this secret given by him. As I  have not much time for writing and you have little time for reading, I  will be brief in what I have to say.

1. NECESSITY OF HAVING A TRUE DEVOTION TO MARY
 

A. THE GRACE OF GOD IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY

3. Chosen soul, living image of God and redeemed by the precious  blood of Jesus Christ, God wants you to become holy like him in this  life, and glorious like him in the next . It is certain that growth in the  holiness of God is your vocation. All your thoughts, words, actions,  everything you suffer or undertake must lead you towards that end.  Otherwise you are resisting God in not doing the work for which he  created you and for which he is even now keeping you in being. What  a marvelous transformation is possible! Dust into light, uncleanness  into purity, sinfulness into holiness, creature into Creator, man into  God! A marvelous work, I repeat, so difficult in itself, and even  impossible for a mere creature to bring about, for only God can  accomplish it by giving his grace abundantly and in an extraordinary  manner. The very creation of the universe is not as great an  achievement as this.

4. Chosen soul, how will you bring this about? What steps will you  take to reach the high level to which God is calling you? The means  of holiness and salvation are known to everybody, since they are  found in the gospel; the masters of the spiritual life have explained  them; the saints have practised them and shown how essential they  are for those who wish to be saved and attain perfection. These  means are: sincere humility, unceasing prayer, complete self-denial,  abandonment to divine Providence, and obedience to the will of God.

5. The grace and help of God are absolutely necessary for us to  practice all these, but we are sure that grace will be given to all,  though not in the same measure. I say "not in the same measure",  because God does not give his graces in equal measure to everyone,  although in his infinite goodness he always gives sufficient grace to  each. A person who corresponds to great graces performs great  works, and one who corresponds to lesser graces performs lesser  works. The value and high standard of our actions corresponds to the  value and perfection of the grace given by God and responded to by  the faithful soul. No one can contest these principles.

B. TO FIND THE GRACE OF GOD, WE MUST DISCOVER MARY

6. It all comes to this, then. We must discover a simple means to  obtain from God the grace needed to become holy. It is precisely this  I wish to teach you. My contention is that you must first discover  Mary if you would obtain this grace from God.

7. Let me explain: (1) Mary alone found grace with God for herself  and for every
individual person. No patriarch or prophet or any other  holy person of the Old Law could manage to find this grace.

8. (2) It was Mary who gave existence and life to the author of all  grace, and because of this she is called the "Mother of Grace".

9. (3) God the Father, from whom, as from its essential source, every  perfect gift and every grace come down to us , gave her every grace  when he gave her his Son. Thus, as St Bernard says, the will of God is  manifested to her in Jesus and with Jesus.

10. (4) God chose her to be the treasurer, the administrator and the  dispenser of all his graces, so that all his graces and gifts pass through  her hands. Such is the power that she has received from him that,  according to St Bernardine, she gives the graces of the eternal  Father, the virtues of Jesus Christ, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit to  whom she wills, as and when she wills, and as much as she wills.

11. (5) As in the natural life a child must have a father and a mother,  so in the supernatural life of grace a true child of the Church must  have God for his Father and Mary for his mother. If he prides himself  on having God for his Father but does not give to Mary the tender  affection of a true child, he is an impostor and his father is the devil.

12. (6) Since Mary produced the head of the elect, Jesus Christ, she  must also produce the members of that head, that is, all true  Christians. A mother does not conceive a head without members, nor  members without a head. If anyone, then, wishes to become a member  of Jesus Christ, and consequently be filled with grace and truth , he  must be formed in Mary through the grace of Jesus Christ, which she  possesses with a fullness enabling her to communicate it abundantly  to true members of Jesus Christ, her true children.

13. (7) The Holy Spirit espoused Mary and produced his greatest  work, the incarnate Word, in her, by her and through her. He has  never disowned her and so he continues to produce every day, in a  mysterious but very real manner, the souls of the elect in her and  through her.

14. (8) Mary received from God a unique dominion over souls  enabling her to nourish them and make them more and more godlike.  St Augustine went so far as to say that even in this world all the elect  are enclosed in the womb of Mary, and that their real birthday is  when this good mother brings them forth to eternal life.  Consequently, just as an infant draws all its nourishment from its  mother, who gives according to its needs, so the elect draw their  spiritual nourishment and all their strength from Mary.

15. (9) It was to Mary that God the Father said, "Dwell in Jacob",  that is, dwell in my elect who are typified by Jacob. It was to Mary  that God the Son said, "My dear Mother, your inheritance is in  Israel", that is, in the elect. It was to Mary that the Holy Spirit said,  "Place your roots in my elect". Whoever, then, is of the chosen and  predestinate will have the Blessed Virgin living within him, and he will  let her plant in his very soul the roots of every virtue, but especially  deep humility and ardent charity.

16. (10) Mary is called by St Augustine, and is indeed, the "living  mould of God" . In her alone the God-man was formed in his human  nature without losing any feature of the Godhead. In her alone, by  the grace of Jesus Christ, man is made godlike as far as human nature  is capable of it. A sculptor can make a statue or a life-like model in  two ways: (i) By using his skill, strength, experience and good tools to  produce a statue out of hard, shapeless matter; (ii) By making a cast  of it in a mould. The first way is long and involved and open to all  sorts of accidents. It only needs a faulty stroke of the chisel or  hammer to ruin the whole work. The second is quick, easy,  straightforward, almost effortless and inexpensive, but the mould  must be perfect and true to life and the material must be easy to  handle and offer no resistance.

17. Mary is the great mould of God, fashioned by the Holy Spirit to  give human nature to a Man who is God by the hypostatic union, and  to fashion through grace men who are like to God. No godly feature is  missing from this mould. Everyone who casts himself into it and allows  himself to be molded will acquire every feature of Jesus Christ, true  God, with little pain or effort, as befits his weak human condition. He  will take on a faithful likeness to Jesus with no possibility of  distortion, for the devil has never had and never will have any access  to Mary, the holy and immaculate Virgin, in whom there is not the  least suspicion of a stain of sin.

18. Dear friend, what a difference there is between a soul brought up  in the ordinary way to resemble Jesus Christ by people who, like  sculptors, rely on their own skill and industry, and a soul thoroughly  tractable, entirely detached, most ready to be molded in her by the  working of the Holy Spirit. What blemishes and defects, what  shadows and distortions, what natural and human imperfections are  found in the first soul, and what a faithful and divine likeness to Jesus  is found in the second!

19. There is not and there will never be, either in God's creation or in  his mind, a creature in whom he is so honored as in the most Blessed  Virgin Mary, not excepting even the saints, the cherubim or the  highest seraphim in heaven. Mary is God's garden of Paradise, his  own unspeakable world, into which his Son entered to do wonderful  things, to tend it and to take his delight in it. He created a world for  the wayfarer, that is, the one we are living in. He created a second  world - Paradise - for the Blessed. He created a third for himself,  which he named Mary. She is a world unknown to most mortals here  on earth. Even the angels and saints in heaven find her  incomprehensible, and are lost in admiration of a God who is so  exalted and so far above them, so distant from them, and so enclosed  in Mary, his chosen world, that they exclaim: "Holy, holy, holy"  unceasingly.

20. Happy, indeed sublimely happy, is the person to whom the Holy  Spirit reveals the secret of Mary, thus imparting to him true  knowledge of her. Happy the person to whom the Holy Spirit opens  this enclosed garden for him to enter, and to whom the Holy Spirit  gives access to this sealed fountain where he can draw water and  drink deep draughts of the living waters of grace. That person will  find only grace and no creature in the most lovable Virgin Mary. But  he will find that the infinitely holy and exalted God is at the same  time infinitely solicitous for him and understands his weaknesses.  Since God is everywhere, he can be found everywhere, even in hell.  But there is no place where God can be more present to his creature  and more sympathetic to human weakness than in Mary. It was  indeed for this very purpose that he came down from heaven.  Everywhere else he is the Bread of the strong and the Bread of  angels, but living in Mary he is the Bread of children.

21. Let us not imagine, then, as some misguided teachers do, that  Mary being simply a creature would be a hindrance to union with the  Creator. Far from it, for it is no longer Mary who lives but Jesus  Christ himself, God alone, who lives in her. Her transformation into  God far surpasses that experienced by St Paul and other saints, more  than heaven surpasses the earth. Mary was created only for God, and  it is unthinkable that she should reserve even one soul for herself. On  the contrary she leads every soul to God and to union with him. Mary  is the wonderful echo of God. The more a person joins himself to her,  the more effectively she unites him to God. When we say "Mary",  she re-echoes "God". When, like St Elizabeth, we call her blessed,  she gives the honor to God. If those misguided ones who were so  sadly led astray by the devil, even in their prayer-life, had known how  to discover Mary, and Jesus through her, and God through Jesus,  they would not have had such terrible falls. The saints tell us that  when we have once found Mary, and through Mary Jesus, and  through Jesus God the Father, then we have discovered every good.  When we say "every good", we except nothing. "Every good"  includes every grace, continuous friendship with God, every  protection against the enemies of God, possession of truth to counter  every falsehood, endless benefits and unfailing headway against the  hazards we meet on the way to salvation, and finally every  consolation and joy amid the bitter afflictions of life.

22. This does not mean that one who has discovered Mary through a  genuine devotion is exempt from crosses and sufferings. Far from it!  One is tried even more than others, because Mary, as Mother of the  living, gives to all her children splinters of the tree of life, which is the  Cross of Jesus. But while meting out crosses to them she gives the  grace to bear them with patience, and even with joy. In this way, the  crosses she sends to those who trust themselves to her are rather like  sweetmeats, i.e. "sweetened" crosses rather than "bitter" ones. If  from time to time they do taste the bitterness of the chalice from  which we must drink to become proven friends of God, the  consolation and joy which their Mother sends in the wake of their  sorrows creates in them a strong desire to carry even heavier and still  more bitter crosses.

C. A TRUE DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN IS  INDISPENSABLE

23. The difficulty, then, is how to arrive at the true knowledge of the  most holy Virgin and so find grace in abundance through her. God, as  the absolute Master, can give directly what he ordinarily dispenses  only through Mary, and it would be rash to deny that he sometimes  does so. However, St. Thomas assures us that, following the order  established by his divine Wisdom, God ordinarily imparts his graces to  men through Mary. Therefore, if we wish to go to him, seeking union  with him, we must use the same means which he used in coming down  from heaven to assume our human nature and to impart his graces to  us. That means was a complete dependence on Mary his Mother,  which is true devotion to her.

2. WHAT PERFECT DEVOTION TO MARY CONSISTS IN

A. SOME TRUE DEVOTIONS TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

24. There are indeed several true devotions to our Lady. I do not  intend treating of those which are false.

25. The first consists in fulfilling the duties of our Christian state,  avoiding all mortal sin, performing our actions for God more through  love than through fear, praying to our Lady occasionally, and  honoring her as the Mother of God, but without our devotion to her  being exceptional.

26. The second consists in entertaining for our Lady deeper feelings  of esteem and love, of confidence and veneration. This devotion  inspires us to join the confraternities of the Holy Rosary and the  Scapular, to say the five or fifteen decades of the Rosary, to venerate  our Lady's pictures and shrines, to make her known to others, and to  enroll in her sodalities. This devotion, in keeping us from sin, is good,  holy and praiseworthy, but it is not as perfect as the third, nor as  effective in detaching us from creatures, or in practicing that  self-denial necessary for union with Jesus Christ.

27. The third devotion to our Lady is one which is unknown to many  and practised by very few. This is the one I am about to present to  you.

B. THE PERFECT PRACTICE OF DEVOTION TO MARY

[1. What it consists in]

28. Chosen soul, this devotion consists in surrendering oneself in the  manner of a slave to Mary, and to Jesus through her, and then  performing all our actions with Mary, in Mary, through Mary, and for  Mary. Let me explain this statement further.

29. We should choose a special feast-day on which to give ourselves.  Then, willingly and lovingly and under no constraint, we consecrate  and sacrifice to her unreservedly our body and soul. We give to her  our material possessions, such as house, family, income, and even the  inner possessions of our soul, namely, our merits, graces, virtues and  atonements. Notice that in this devotion we sacrifice to Jesus through  Mary all that is most dear to us, that is, the right to dispose of  ourselves, of the value of our prayers and alms, of our acts of self-  denial and atonements. This is a sacrifice which no religious order  would require of its members. We leave everything to the free  disposal of our Lady, for her to use as she wills for the greater glory  of God, of which she alone is perfectly aware.

30. We leave to her the right to dispose of all the satisfactory and  prayer value of our good deeds, so that, after having done so and  without going so far as making a vow, we cease to be master over any  good we do. Our Lady may use our good deeds either to bring relief  or deliverance to a soul in purgatory, or perhaps to bring a change of  heart to a poor sinner.

 

31. By this devotion we place our merits in the hands of our Lady, but  only that she may preserve, increase and embellish them, since merit  for increase of grace and glory cannot be handed over to any other  person. But we give to her all our prayers and good works, inasmuch  as they have intercessory and atonement value, for her to distribute  and apply to whom she pleases. If, after having thus consecrated  ourselves to our Lady, we wish to help a soul in purgatory, rescue a  sinner, or assist a friend by a prayer, an alms, an act of self-denial or  an act of self-sacrifice, we must humbly request it of our Lady,  abiding always by her decision, which of course remains unknown to  us. We can be fully convinced that the value of our actions, being  dispensed by that same hand which God himself uses to distribute his  gifts and graces to us, cannot fail to be applied for his greatest glory.

32. I have said that this devotion consists in adopting the status of a  slave with regard to Mary. We must remember that there are three  kinds of slavery. There is, first, a slavery based on nature. All men,  good and bad alike, are slaves of God in this sense. The second is a  slavery of compulsion. The devils and the damned are slaves of God  in this second sense. The third is a slavery of love and free choice.  This is the kind chosen by one who consecrates himself to God  through Mary, and this is the most perfect way for us human beings to  give ourselves to God, our Creator.

33. Note that there is a vast difference between a servant and a  slave. A servant claims wages for his services, but a slave can claim  no reward. A servant is free to leave his employer when he likes and  serves him only for a time, but a slave belongs to his master for life  and has no right to leave him. A servant does not give his employer a  right of life and death over him, but a slave is so totally committed  that his master can put him to death without fearing any action by the  law. It is easy to see, then, that no dependence is so absolute as that  of a person who is a slave by compulsion. Strictly speaking, no man  should be dependent to this extent on anyone except his Creator. We  therefore do not find this kind of slavery among Christians, but only  among Muslims and pagans. 34. But happy, very happy indeed, will the generous person be who,  prompted by love, consecrates himself entirely to Jesus through Mary  as their slave, after having shaken off by baptism the tyrannical  slavery of the devil.

[2. The excellence of this practice of devotion]

35. I would need much more enlightenment from heaven to describe  adequately the surpassing merit of this devotional practice. I shall  limit myself to these few remarks: 1. In giving ourselves to Jesus  through Mary's hands, we imitate God the Father, who gave us his  only Son through Mary, and who imparts his graces to us only through  Mary. Likewise we imitate God the Son, who by giving us his example  for us to follow, inspires us to go to him using the same means he used  in coming to us, that is, through Mary. Again, we imitate the Holy  Spirit, who bestows his graces and gifts upon us through Mary. "Is it  not fitting," remarks St Bernard, "that grace should return to its  author by the same channel that conveyed it to us?"

36. 2. In going to Jesus through Mary, we are really paying honor to  our Lord, for we are showing that, because of our sins, we are  unworthy to approach his infinite holiness directly on our own. We are  showing that we need Mary, his holy Mother, to be our advocate and  mediatrix with him who is our Mediator. We are going to Jesus as  Mediator and Brother, and at the same time humbling ourselves  before him who is our God and our Judge. In short, we are practicing  humility, something which always gladdens the heart of God.

37. 3. Consecrating ourselves in this way to Jesus through Mary  implies placing our good deeds in Mary's hands. Now, although these  deeds may appear good to us, they are often defective, and not  worthy to be considered and accepted by God, before whom even the  stars lack brightness. Let us pray, then, to our dear Mother and  Queen that having accepted our poor present, she may purify it,  sanctify it, beautify it, and so make it worthy of God. Any good our  soul could produce is of less value to God our Father, in winning his  friendship and favor, than a worm-eaten apple would be in the sight  of a king, when presented by a poor peasant to his royal master as  payment for the rent of his farm. But what would the peasant do if he  were wise and if he enjoyed the esteem of the queen? Would he not  present his apple first to her, and would she not, out of kindness to  the poor man and out of respect for the king, remove from the apple  all that was maggoty and spoilt, place it on a golden dish, and  surround it with flowers? Could the king then refuse the apple?  Would he not accept it most willingly from the hands of his queen who  showed such loving concern for that poor man? "If you wish to  present something to God, no matter how small it may be," says St. Bernard, "place it in the hands of Mary to ensure its certain  acceptance."

38. Dear God, how everything we do comes to so very little! But let  us adopt this devotion and place everything in Mary's hands. When  we have given her all we possibly can, emptying ourselves completely  to do her honor, she far surpasses our generosity and gives us very  much for very little. She enriches us with her own merits and virtues.  She places our gift on the golden dish of her charity and clothes us, as  Rebecca clothed Jacob, in the beautiful garments of her first-born  and only Son, Jesus Christ, which are his merits, and which are at her  disposal. Thus, as her servants and slaves, stripping ourselves of  everything to do her honor, we are clad by her in double garments -  namely, the garments, adornments, perfumes, merits and virtues of  Jesus and Mary. These are imparted to the soul of the slave who has  emptied himself and is resolved to remain in that state.

39. 4. Giving ourselves in this way to our Lady is a practice of charity  towards our neighbor of the highest possible degree, because in  making ourselves over to Mary, we give her all that we hold most  dear and we let her dispose of it as she wishes in favor of the living  and the dead.

40. 5. In adopting this devotion, we put our graces, merits and virtues  into safe keeping by making Mary the depositary of them. It is as if  we said to her, "See, my dear Mother, here is the good that I have  done through the grace of your dear Son. I am not capable of keeping  it, because of my weakness and inconstancy, and also because so  many wicked enemies are assailing me day and night. Alas, every day  we see cedars of Lebanon fall into the mire, and eagles which had  soared towards the sun become birds of darkness, a thousand of the  just falling to the left and ten thousand to the right. But, most  powerful Queen, hold me fast lest I fall. Keep a guard on all my  possessions lest I be robbed of them. I entrust all I have to you, for I  know well who you are, and that is why I confide myself entirely to  you. You are faithful to God and man, and you will not suffer anything  I entrust to you to perish. You are powerful, and nothing can harm  you or rob you of anything you hold." "When you follow Mary you  will not go astray; when you pray to her, you will not despair; when  your mind is on her, you will not wander; when she holds you up, you  will not fall; when she protects you, you will have no fear; when she  guides you, you will feel no fatigue; when she is on your side, you will  arrive safely home" (Saint Bernard). And again, "She keeps her Son  from striking us; she prevents the devil from harming us; she  preserves virtue in us; she prevents our merits from being lost and  our graces from receding." These words of St. Bernard explain in  substance all that I have said. Had I but this one motive to impel me  to choose this devotion, namely, that of keeping me in the grace of  God and increasing that grace in me, my heart would burn with  longing for it.

41. This devotion makes the soul truly free by imbuing it with the  liberty of the children of God. Since we lower ourselves willingly to a  state of slavery out of love for Mary, our dear Mother, she out of  gratitude opens wide our hearts enabling us to walk with giant strides  in the way of God's commandments. She delivers our souls from  weariness, sadness and scruples. It was this devotion that our Lord  taught to Mother Agnes de Langeac, a religious who died in the odor  of sanctity, as a sure way of being freed from the severe suffering  and confusion of mind which afflicted her. "Make yourself," she said,  "my Mother's slave and wear her little chain." She did so, and from  that time onwards her troubles ceased.

42. To prove that this devotion is authoritatively sanctioned, we need  only recall the bulls of the popes and the pastoral letters of bishops  recommending it, as well as the indulgences accorded to it, the  confraternities founded to promote it, and the examples of many  saints and illustrious people who have practised it. But I do not see  any necessity to record them here.

[3. The interior constituents of this consecration and its spirit]

43. I have already said that this devotion consists in performing all  our actions with Mary, in Mary, through Mary, and for Mary.

44. It is not enough to give ourselves just once as a slave to Jesus  through Mary; nor is it enough to renew that consecration once a  month or once a week. That alone would make it just a passing  devotion and would not raise the soul to the level of holiness which it  is capable of reaching. It is easy to enroll in a confraternity; easy to  undertake this devotion, and say every day the few vocal prayers  prescribed. The chief difficulty is to enter into its spirit, which  requires an interior dependence on Mary, and effectively becoming  her slave and the slave of Jesus through her. I have met many people  who with admirable zeal have set about practicing exteriorly this holy  slavery of Jesus and Mary, but I have met only a few who have  caught its interior spirit, and fewer still who have persevered in it.

Act with Mary

45. 1. The essential practice of this devotion is to perform all our  actions with Mary. This means that we must take her as the  accomplished model for all we have to do.

46. Before undertaking anything, we must forget self and abandon  our own views. We must consider ourselves as a mere nothing before  God, as being personally incapable of doing anything supernaturally  worthwhile or anything conducive to our salvation. We must have  habitual recourse to our Lady, becoming one with her and adopting  her intentions, even though they are unknown to us. Through Mary  we must adopt the intentions of Jesus. In other words, we must  become an instrument in Mary's hands for her to act in us and do with  us what she pleases, for the greater glory of her Son; and through  Jesus for the greater glory of the Father. In this way , we pursue our  interior life and make spiritual progress only in dependence on Mary.

Act in Mary

47. 2. We must always act in Mary, that is to say, we must gradually  acquire the habit of recollecting ourselves interiorly and so form  within us an idea or a spiritual image of Mary. She must become, as it  were, an Oratory for the soul where we offer up our prayers to God  without fear of being ignored. She will be as a Tower of David for us  where we can seek safety from all our enemies. She will be a burning  lamp lighting up our inmost soul and inflaming us with love for God.  She will be a sacred place of repose where we can contemplate God  in her company. Finally Mary will be the only means we will use in  going to God, and she will become our intercessor for everything we  need. When we pray we will pray in Mary. When we receive Jesus in  Holy Communion we will place him in Mary for him to take his delight  in her. If we do anything at all, it will be in Mary, and in this way  Mary will help us to forget self everywhere and in all things.

Act through Mary

48. 3. We must never go to our Lord except through Mary, using her  intercession and good standing with him. We must never be without  her when praying to Jesus.

Act for Mary

49. 4. We must perform all our actions for Mary, which means that as  slaves of this noble Queen we will work only for her, promoting her  interests and her high renown, and making this the first aim in all our  acts, while the glory of God will always be our final end. In everything  we must renounce self- love because more often than not, without our  being aware of it, selfishness sets itself up as the end of all we work  for. We should often repeat from the depths of our heart: "Dear  Mother, it is to please you that I go here or there, that I do this or  that, that I suffer this pain or this injury."

50. Beware, chosen soul, of thinking that it is more perfect to direct  your work and intention straight to Jesus or straight to God. Without  Mary, your work and your intention will be of little value. But if you  go to God through Mary, your work will become Mary's work, and  consequently will be most noble and most worthy of God.

51. Again, beware of doing violence to yourself, endeavoring to  experience pleasure in your prayers and good deeds. Pray and act  always with something of that pure faith which Mary showed when on  earth, and which she will share with you as time goes on. Poor little  slave, let your sovereign Queen enjoy the clear sight of God, the  raptures, delights, satisfactions and riches of heaven. Content  yourself with a pure faith, which is accompanied by repugnance,  distractions, weariness and dryness. Let your prayer be: "To  whatever Mary my Queen does in heaven, I say Amen, so be it." We  cannot do better than this for the time being.

52. Should you not savor immediately the sweet presence of the  Blessed Virgin within you, take great care not to torment yourself.  For this is a grace not given to everyone, and even when God in his  great mercy favors a soul with this grace, it remains none the less  very easy to lose it, except when the soul has become permanently  aware of it through the habit of recollection. But should this  misfortune happen to you, go back calmly to your sovereign Queen  and make amends to her.

 

[4. The effects that this devotion produces in a faithful soul]

53. Experience will teach you much more about this devotion than I  can tell you, but, if you remain faithful to the little I have taught you,  you will acquire a great richness of grace that will surprise you and  fill you with delight.

54. Let us set to work, then, dear soul, through perseverance in the  living of this
devotion, in order that Mary's soul may glorify the Lord  in us and her spirit be within us to rejoice in God her Savior. Let us  not think that there was more glory and happiness in dwelling in  Abraham's bosom - which is another name for Paradise - than in  dwelling in the bosom of Mary where God has set up his throne.

(Abbot Guerric) 55. This devotion faithfully practised produces countless happy  effects in the soul. The most important of them is that it establishes,  even here on earth, Mary's life in the soul, so that it is no longer the  soul that lives, but Mary who lives in it. In a manner of speaking,  Mary's soul becomes identified with the soul of her servant. Indeed  when by an unspeakable but real grace Mary most holy becomes  Queen of a soul, she works untold wonders in it. She is a great  wonder-worker especially in the interior of souls. She works there in  secret, unsuspected by the soul, as knowledge of it might destroy the  beauty of her work.

56. As Mary is everywhere the fruitful Virgin, she produces in the  depths of the soul where she dwells a purity of heart and body, a  singleness of intention and purpose, and a fruitfulness in good works.  Do not think, dear soul, that Mary, the most faithful of all God's  creatures, who went as far as to give birth to a God-man, remains idle  in a docile soul. She causes Jesus to live continuously in that soul and  that soul to live in continuous union with Jesus. If Jesus is equally the  fruit of Mary for each individual soul as for all souls in general, he is  even more especially her fruit and her masterpiece in the soul where  she is present.

57. To sum up, Mary becomes all things for the soul that wishes to  serve Jesus Christ. She enlightens his mind with her pure faith. She  deepens his heart with her humility. She enlarges and inflames his  heart with her charity, makes it pure with her purity, makes it noble  and great through her motherly care. But why dwell any longer on  this? Experience alone will teach us the wonders wrought by Mary in  the soul, wonders so great that the wise and the proud, and even a  great number of devout people find it hard to credit them.

58. As it was through Mary that God came into the world the first  time in a state of self-abasement and privation, may we not say that it  will be again through Mary that he will come the second time? For  does not the whole Church expect him to come and reign over all the  earth and to judge the living and the dead? No one knows how and  when this will come to pass, but we do know that God, whose  thoughts are further from ours than heaven is from earth, will come  at a time and in a manner least expected, even by the most scholarly  of men and those most versed in Holy Scripture, which gives no clear  guidance on this subject.

59. We are given reason to believe that, towards the end of time and  perhaps sooner than we expect, God will raise up great men filled  with the Holy Spirit and imbued with the spirit of Mary. Through  them Mary, Queen most powerful, will work great wonders in the  world, destroying sin and setting up the kingdom of Jesus her Son  upon the ruins of the corrupt kingdom of the world. These holy men  will accomplish this by means of the devotion of which I only trace the  main outlines and which suffers from my incompetence.

[5. Exterior practices] 60. Besides interior practices, which we have just mentioned, this  devotion has certain exterior practices which must not be omitted or  neglected.

[Consecration and its renewal] 61. The first is to choose a special feast-day to consecrate ourselves  through Mary to Jesus, whose slaves we are making ourselves. This is  an occasion for receiving Holy Communion and spending the day in  prayer. At least once a year on the same day, we should renew the  act of consecration.

[Offering of a tribute in submission to the Blessed Virgin] 62. The second is to give our Lady every year on that same day some  little tribute as a token of our servitude and dependence. This has  always been the customary homage paid by slaves to their master.  This tribute could consist of an act of self-denial or an alms, or a  pilgrimage, or a few prayers. St Peter Damian tells us that his  brother, Blessed Marino, used to give himself the discipline in public  on the same day every year before the altar of our Lady. This kind of  zeal is not required, nor would we counsel it. But what little we give  to our Lady we should at least offer with a heart that is humble and  grateful.

[A Special Celebration of the Feast of the Annunciation] 63. The third practice is to celebrate every year with special fervor  the feast of the Annunciation of our Lord. This is the distinctive feast  of this devotion and was chosen so that we might honor and imitate  that dependence which the eternal Word accepted on this day out of  love for us.

[The Saying of the Little Crown and the Magnificat] 64. The fourth practice is to say every day, without the obligation of  sin, the prayer entitled "The Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin",  which comprises three Our Fathers and twelve Hail Marys, and to say  frequently the Magnificat, which is the only hymn composed by our  Lady. In the Magnificat we thank God for favoring us in the past,  and we beg further blessings from him in the future. One special time  when we should not fail to say it is during thanksgiving after Holy  Communion. A person so scholarly as Gerson informs us that our  Lady herself used to recite it in thanksgiving after Holy Communion.

[The wearing of a little chain] 65. The fifth is the wearing of a small blessed chain either around the  neck, on the arm, on the foot, or about the body. Strictly speaking,  this practice can be omitted without affecting the essential nature of  the devotion , but just the same it would be wrong to despise or  condemn it, and foolhardy to neglect it. Here are the reasons for  wearing this external sign: (1) It signifies that we are free from the  baneful chains of original and actual sin which held us in bondage. (2)  By it we show our esteem for the cords and bonds of love with which  our Lord let himself be bound that we might be truly free. (3) As  these bonds are bonds of love, they remind us that we should do  nothing except under the influence of love. (4) Finally, wearing this  chain recalls to us once more that we are dependent on Jesus and  Mary as their slaves. Eminent people who had become slaves of Jesus  and Mary valued these little chains so much that they were unhappy  at not being allowed to trail them publicly like the slaves of the  Muslims. These chains of love are more valuable and more glorious  than the necklaces of gold and precious stones worn by emperors,  because they are the illustrious insignia of Jesus and Mary, and  signify the bonds uniting us to them. It should be noted that if the  chains are not of silver, they should for convenience' sake at least be  made of iron. They should never be laid aside at any time, so that  they may be with us even to the day of judgment. Great will be the  joy , glory and triumph of the faithful slave on that day when, at the  sound of the trumpet, his bones rise from the earth still bound by the  chain of holy bondage, which to all appearance has not decayed. This  thought alone should convince a devout slave never to take off his  chain, however inconvenient it may be.
 

3. SUPPLEMENT

A. PRAYER TO JESUS

66. Most loving Jesus, permit me to express my heartfelt gratitude to  you for your kindness in giving me to your holy Mother through the  devotion of holy bondage, and so making her my advocate to plead  with your Majesty on my behalf, and make up for all that I lack  through my inadequacy. Alas, O Lord, I am so wretched that without  my dear Mother I would certainly be lost. Yes, I always need Mary  when I am approaching you. I need her to calm your indignation at the  many offences I have committed every day. I need her to save me  from the just sentence of eternal punishment I have deservedly  incurred. I need her to turn to you, speak to you, pray to you,  approach you and please you. I need her to help me save my soul and  the souls of others. In a word, I need her so that I may always do your  holy will and seek your greater glory in everything I do. Would that I  could publish throughout the whole world the mercy which you have  shown to me! Would that the whole world could know that without  Mary I would now be doomed! If only I could offer adequate thanks  for such a great benefit as Mary! She is within me. What a precious  possession and what a consolation for me! Should I not in return be all  hers? If I were not , how ungrateful would I be! My dear Savior,  send me death rather than I should be guilty of such a lapse, for I  would rather die than not belong to Mary. Like St. John the  Evangelist at the foot of the Cross, I have taken her times without  number as my total good and as often have I given myself to her. But  if I have not done so as perfectly as you, dear Jesus, would wish, I  now do so according to your desire. If you still see in my soul or body  anything that does not belong to this noble Queen, please pluck it out  and cast it far from me, because anything of mine which does not  belong to Mary is unworthy of you.

67. Holy Spirit, grant me all these graces. Implant in my soul the tree  of true life, which is Mary. Foster it and cultivate it so that it grows  and blossoms and brings forth the fruit of life in abundance. Holy  Spirit, give me a great love and longing for Mary, your exalted  spouse. Give me a great trust in her maternal heart and a continuous  access to her compassion, so that with her you may truly form Jesus,  great and powerful, in me until I attain the fullness of his perfect age.  Amen.

B. PRAYER TO MARY [FOR HER FAITHFUL SLAVES]

68. Hail, Mary, most beloved daughter of the eternal Father; hail,  Mary, most admirable mother of the Son; hail, Mary, most faithful  spouse of the Holy Spirit; hail, Mary, Mother most dear, Lady most  lovable, Queen most powerful! Hail, Mary, my joy, my glory, my  heart and soul. You are all mine through God's mercy, but I am all  yours in justice. Yet I do not belong sufficiently to you, and so once  again, as a slave who always belongs to his master, I give myself  wholly to you, reserving nothing for myself or for others. If you still  see anything in me which is not given to you, please take it now.  Make yourself completely owner of all my capabilities. Destroy in me  everything that is displeasing to God. Uproot it and bring it to  nothing. Implant in me all that you deem to be good; improve it and  make it increase in me. May the light of your faith dispel the darkness  of my mind. May your deep humility take the place of my pride. May  your heavenly contemplation put an end to the distractions of my  wandering imagination. May your continuous vision of God fill my  memory with his presence. May the burning love of your heart  inflame the coldness of mine. May your virtues take the place of my  sins. May your merits be my adornment and make up for my  unworthiness before God. Finally, most dearly beloved Mother, grant,  if it be possible, that I may have no other spirit but yours to know  Jesus and his divine will. May I have no soul but yours to praise and  glorify the Lord. May I have no heart but yours to love God purely  and ardently as you love him.

69. I do not ask for visions or revelations, for sensible devotion or  even spiritual pleasures. It is your privilege to see God clearly in  perpetual light. It is your privilege to savour the delights of heaven  where nothing is without sweetness. It is your privilege to triumph  gloriously in heaven at the right hand of your Son without further  humiliation, and to command angels, men, and demons, without  resistance on their part. It is your privilege to dispose at your own  choice of all the good gifts of God without any exception. Such, most  holy Mary, is the excellent portion which the Lord has given you, and  which will never be taken from you, and which gives me great joy. As  for my portion here on earth, I wish only to have a share in yours,  that is, to have simple faith without seeing or tasting, to suffer  joyfully without the consolation of men, to die daily to myself without  flinching, to work gallantly for you even until death without any  self-interest, as the most worthless of your slaves. The only grace I  beg you in your kindness to obtain for me is that every day and  moment of my life I may say this threefold Amen: Amen, so be it, to  all you did upon earth; Amen, so be it, to all you are doing now in  heaven; Amen, so be it, to all you are doing in my soul. In that way,  you and you alone will fully glorify Jesus in me during all my life and  throughout eternity. Amen.

4. THE CARE AND GROWTH OF THE TREE OF LIFE or, in other  words, HOW BEST TO CAUSE MARY TO LIVE AND REIGN IN  OUR SOULS

[A. The holy slavery of love. The Tree of life.] 70. Have you understood with the help of the Holy Spirit what I have  tried to explain in the preceding pages? If so, be thankful to God. It is  a secret of which very few people are aware. If you have discovered  this treasure in the field of Mary, this pearl of great price, you should  sell all you have to purchase it. You must offer yourself to Mary,  happily lose yourself in her, only to find God in her. If the Holy Spirit  has planted in your soul the true Tree of Life, which is the devotion  that I have just explained, you should see carefully to its cultivation,  so that it will yield its fruit in due season. This devotion is like the  mustard seed of the Gospel, which is indeed the smallest of all seeds,  but nevertheless it grows into a big plant, shooting up so high that the  birds of the air, that is, the elect, come and make their nest in its  branches. They repose there, shaded from the heat of the sun, and  safely hidden from beasts of prey. [B. How to cultivate it] Here is the best way, chosen soul, to cultivate it:

71. (1) This tree,  once planted in a docile heart, requires fresh air and no human  support. Being of heavenly origin, it must be uninfluenced by any  creature, since a
creature might hinder it from rising up towards God  who created it. Hence you must not rely on your own endeavors or  your natural talents or your personal standing or the guidance of men.  You must resort to Mary, relying solely on her help.

72. (2) The person in whose soul this tree has taken root must, like a  good gardener, watch over it and protect it. For this tree, having life  and capable of producing the fruit of life, should be raised and tended  with enduring care and attention of soul. A soul that desires to be holy  will make this its chief aim and occupation.

73. Whatever is likely to choke the tree or in the course of time  prevent its yielding fruit, such as thorns and thistles, must be cut  away and rooted out. This means that by self-denial and self-  discipline you must sedulously cut short and even give up all empty  pleasures and useless dealings with other creatures. In other words,  you must crucify the flesh, keep a guard over the tongue, and mortify  the bodily senses.

74. (3) You must guard against grubs doing harm to the tree. These  parasites are love of self and love of comfort, and they eat away the  green foliage of the Tree and frustrate the fair hope it offered of  yielding good fruit; for love of self is incompatible with love of Mary.

75. (4) You must not allow this tree to be damaged by destructive  animals, that is, by sins, for they may cause its death simply by their  contact. They must not be allowed even to breathe upon the Tree,  because their mere breath, that is, venial sins, which are most  dangerous when we do not trouble ourselves about them.

76. (5) It is also necessary to water this Tree regularly with your  Communions, Masses and other public and private prayers.  Otherwise it will not continue bearing fruit.

77. (6) Yet you need not be alarmed when the winds blow and shake  this tree, for it must happen that the storm-winds of temptation will  threaten to bring it down, and snow and frost tend to smother it. By  this we mean that this devotion to our Blessed Lady will surely be  called into question and attacked. But as long as we continue  steadfastly in tending it, we have nothing to fear.

[C. Its lasting fruit: Jesus Christ] 78. Chosen soul, provided you thus carefully cultivate the Tree of  Life, which has been freshly planted in your soul by the Holy Spirit, I  can assure you that in a short time it will grow so tall that the birds of  the air will make their home in it. It will become such a good tree that  it will yield in due season the sweet and adorable Fruit of honor and  grace, which is Jesus, who has always been and will always be the  only fruit of Mary. Happy is that soul in which Mary, the Tree of Life,  is planted. Happier still is the soul in which she has been able to grow  and blossom. Happier again is the soul in which she brings forth her  fruit. But happiest of all is the soul which savors the sweetness of  Mary's fruit and preserves it up till death and then beyond to all  eternity. Amen. "Let him who possesses it, hold fast to it."
 

 

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