One fortnight ago in this space, I took up the question, “Must I Pray Only to Mary?” I promised then that I would return to develop further “the idea that, because Marian Consecration is fundamentally Christological and Trinitarian in nature, there is no tension but only perfect compatibility between this True Devotion and prayer to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The key, I believe, is her constant presence and involvement in our lives. Her abiding and ever-proximate maternal goodness, beauty, and love serve to heighten our communion with the Holy Trinity.”
Let us begin by returning to the idea of the Blessed Virgin as our Mediatrix and our “conduit” to the Trinity. A too-literal approach to this idea of a conduit would reduce Mary to a sort of pipe, tube, or wire through which our prayers and good acts pass to the Blessed Trinity. From this it might well follow that we can only address ourselves to Her so She can address the Trinity of our behalf. Yet, this is not what Saint Louis Marie says. Rather, he says that our interior practices should include, “doing everything through Mary, with Mary, in Mary, and for Mary, in order to do it more perfectly through Jesus, with Jesus, in Jesus, and for Jesus.” Even where he expands upon the idea of doing all things “through Mary” — which would seem involve the most “conduit-like” preposition on the list — he thus explains himself: “that is, we must obey Her always and be led in all things by Her spirit, which is the Holy Spirit of God.” The remaining prepositions (“with,” “in,” and “for”) are even less restrictive in their meaning. What is more, the purpose for doing everything through, with, in, and for Mary is that we may “do it more perfectly through Jesus, with Jesus, in Jesus, and for Jesus.”
In other words, to use a much overused word, True Devotion to Mary is “Christocentric” inasmuch as it facilitates an enhanced interior life with Jesus Christ and through Him with the Blessed Trinity. Therefore, if True Devotion fails to improve the way we pray to Jesus Christ, then it has certainly missed its mark.
Saint Louis Marie tells us that Jesus came to us through Mary and that, therefore, we must come to Jesus through Mary. Ad Jesum per Mariam is the great motto of Montfortian spirituality. Jesus Himself is our way to the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost. The indwelling of the Holy Trinity in the souls of the just, one of the sublime topics of Our Lord’s discourse after the Last Supper, does not happen without the mediation of Jesus Christ. Following that logic, let us look at how Jesus came to us through Mary so that we can better understand how we approach Jesus through Her. Mary is the “Matrix” through whom the Man-God took His Sacred Humanity. In this, She was a perfectly willing coöperatrix in the plan of salvation. As both material cause and instrumental (efficient) cause of Christ’s Humanity, She is somehow connected to all of Christ’s sacerdotal, prophetical, and royal acts. When we consecrate ourselves to Jesus through Mary, we constitute ourselves as perpetually “connected” to the Blessed Virgin in all that pertains to our relationship with God.
There is what we might call a “two-way totality” that our consecration effects that touches upon all we do as Christians. By this, I mean that we are all Hers, and She involves Herself gently, sweetly, and maternally, with all that is ours. Consider these passages from the writings of Saint Louis Marie and other great Marian devotees:
The most holy Virgin, who is a Mother of sweetness and mercy, and who never lets Herself be outdone in love and liberality, seeing that we give ourselves entirely to Her, stripping ourselves of all that is dearest to us in order to adorn Her, meets us in the same spirit. She also gives Her whole self, and gives it in an unspeakable manner, to him who gives all to Her. She causes him to be engulfed in the abyss of Her graces. She adorns him with Her merits; She supports him with Her power; She illuminates him with Her light; She inflames him with Her love; She communicates to him Her virtues: Her humility, Her faith, Her purity and the rest. She makes Herself his bail, his supplement, and his dear all toward Jesus. In a word, as that consecrated person is all Mary’s, so Mary is all his. (Saint Louis Marie de Montfort)
In the soul’s union with Mary, love of God becomes continually more intense. Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother, is pure love. You cannot live steadily near Her without also gradually becoming pure love. From another point of view, love of God is a grace, the greatest of graces. Will not the Distributrix of all graces be exceptionally profuse with the grace of love in favor of the soul who lives constantly in Her sight, desirous of doing all She wishes? (Father Emil Neubert, a modern disciple of Saint Louis Marie)
Our Lord left His Mother on earth after His Ascension because He distrusted our weakness and inconstancy. Our Lord feared that men, not knowing how to find and adore Him in His Sacrament, would become discouraged and forget Him. The child, as we know, does not search long. If he does not at once find what he wants, he changes his desire and runs after something else. This is what Our Lord feared from us. He left His Mother, whose whole mission it would be to take us by the hand and lead us to His tabernacle. The Blessed Virgin, then, became our Mother in view of the Eucharist. It is for Her to show us how to find our Bread of Life, to make us appreciate and desire It. (Saint Peter Julian Eymard)
With all the foregoing in mind, we can draw some important conclusions. If Her part in the Incarnation gives the Blessed Virgin a certain causal role in the totality of the saving mission of Jesus Christ, then our consecration invites Her to take up a correlative role in our spiritual lives. And Her role was not limited to the Incarnation itself: She is the Second Eve, who — in, with, and under Christ, the “Last Adam” — consciously and intentionally worked to overcome the effects of that tragic Fall effected by Adam with the assistance of Eve. “Death by Eve, life by Mary,” says Saint Jerome (Epistle 22). She, then, had a continuous,knowing, and volitional assistance in the saving mission of Jesus Christ, which includes Her being, in a manner of speaking, our “Co-Redemptrix” at the foot of the Cross. By our Marian consecration, we recognize this causality in His mission, this assistance that Our Lady lent to Our Lord, and we seek to benefit from it maximally for God’s glory, for our own salvation, and for that of our neighbor.
By virtue of True Devotion, we have been constituted as slaves of Mary; whatever we do now as Christians bears that stamp. As long, then, as we are praying in a Catholic way — whatever approved prayers, devotions, or practices we undertake — we are doing it as Her slaves, as consecrated to Jesus through Her. If we address the Father, She is there; if we speak to the Son, She is with us; if we call on the Paraclete, Her Spouse, She is assisting us. The various titles we have for the Blessed Virgin — Queen, Mother, Advocate, etc. — portray both the different parts She has been assigned by God in the drama of salvation, and the reciprocal dispositions we should have toward Her. Her care for us and Her attention to us are multifaceted, but when it comes to our interior lives, She wants for us what She Herself has, mutatis mutandis — an intense communication with the Holy Trinity dwelling in our souls. As Saint Louis Marie explains,
Mary is like a holy magnet attracting Eternal Wisdom to Herself with such power that He cannot resist. This magnet drew Him down to earth to save mankind, and continues to draw Him every day into every person who possesses it. Once we possess Mary we shall, through Her intercession, easily and in a short time possess divine Wisdom.
When the Holy Ghost has found Mary in a soul, He flies there. He enters there in His fullness; He communicates Himself to that soul abundantly, and to the full extent to which it makes room for His Spouse. Nay, one of the greatest reasons why the Holy Ghost does not now do startling wonders in our souls is because He does not find there a sufficiently great union with His faithful and inseparable Spouse.
A penultimate thought before I conclude: All prayer and devotion has a doctrinal, theological foundation. The practice of Marian consecration is founded upon the doctrine of Mary’s universal mediation. If Mary were not the Mediatrix of grace, this form of devotion would make no sense, as Saint Maximilian Maria Kolbe himself observed. Therefore, a proper understanding of this doctrine would be necessary for a proper understanding of Marian consecration and all that follows from it by way of interior and exterior practice. I mention this not because I intend to develop the idea any further at this time, but simply to point out that this abundant field of study is one that will certainly help to get a more complete understanding of the role of Marian consecration in our spiritual lives.
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In his Introduction to True Devotion to Mary, Father Frederick Faber gives some wonderful incentives to undertaking and living Marian consecration, beginning, appropriately enough, with an increase in the love of God. His last words in this excerpt tell us that this demands of us no mere vague commitment. I would like to make his concluding challenge my own (emphasis mine):
All those who are likely to read this book love God, and lament that they do not love Him more; all desire something for His glory — the spread of some good work, the success of some devotion, the coming of some good time. One man has been striving for years to overcome a particular fault, and has not succeeded. Another mourns, and almost wonders while he mourns, that so few of his relations and friends have been converted to the Faith. One grieves that he has not devotion enough; another that he has a cross to carry which is a peculiarly impossible cross to him; while a third has domestic troubles and family unhappinesses which feel almost incompatible with his salvation; and for all these things, prayer appears to bring so little remedy. But what is the remedy that is wanted? What is the remedy indicated by God Himself? If we may rely on the disclosures of the saints, it is an immense increase of devotion to our Blessed Lady; but, remember, nothing short of an immense one.