True devotion to Mary

THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY’S MERITS ARE UNFATHOMABLE

                           

                              “HAIL [MARY], FULL OF GRACE” (Luke 1: 28)

If one reflects for a moment on the fact that Mary truly merited to become the Mother of God (“The Blessed Virgin is said to have merited to bear the Lord of all: not that she merited his Incarnation, but that she merited, by the graces she had received, such a degree of purity and sanctity, that she was fit to be the Mother of God” – St. Thomas Aquinas), then one begins to better understand the magnitude of her spiritual motherhood for all who believe (“She is mother wherever [Jesus] is Savior and head of the Mystical Body” – CCC 973).

When we consider the immense assistance Mary can provide to us in the spiritual life, it is helpful to see that the Catechism of the Catholic Church expressly says that her merits are “unfathomable,” which would seem to suggest that they are available to all of us in surplus quantity. The Catechism states:

We also call these spiritual goods of the communion of saints the Church’s treasury, which is “not the sum total of the material goods which have accumulated during the course of the centuries. On the contrary the ‘treasury of the Church’ is the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ’s merits have before God. They were offered so that the whole of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father. In Christ, the Redeemer himself, the satisfactions and merits of his Redemption exist and find their efficacy.This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God” (from nos. 1476-77).

In his invaluable book, True Devotion to Mary, Saint Louis De Montfort writes earnestly about the “necessity” of devotion to Mary (Chapter 1), and of the importance of developing a “great union” (1.36) with her. He attests in his book to the increase in spiritual life that comes from consecration to Mary. Of this “true devotion” to Mary, Father Faber says:

“I cannot think of a higher work or a broader vocation  for anyone than the simple spreading of this peculiar devotion [to Mary] of Saint [Louis] De Montfort. Let a man but try if for himself, and his surprise at the graces it brings with it, and the transformation it causes in his soul, will soon convince him of its otherwise almost incredible efficacy as a means for the salvation of men, and for the coming of the kingdom of Christ” (Preface to True Devotion to Mary, p. xxii).

Of the power of Mary’s mediation, Saint Pope John Paul II once said:

“In Mary’s case we have a special and exceptional mediation…Jesus Christ prepared her ever more completely to become for all people their ‘mother in the order of grace’ ” (Saint Pope John Paul II, Mother of the Redeemer, 39)

“In the communion of saints,” says the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things” (no. 1475).

This exchange of “all good things” is illustrated by Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. We clearly see from Luke’s Gospel that Mary’s visit had an extraordinary effect on Elizabeth, for Luke tells us that upon hearing Mary’s greeting, “the babe in Elizabeth’s womb leaped  for joy and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit”, praised Mary, exclaiming: 

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1: 42-45).

These are tremendous words uttered by Elizabeth. Let us see exactly what happened when Elizabeth first heard Mary’s greeting. The sequence of events is breathtaking: 1. The babe in Elizabeth’s womb (John the Baptist) leaped for joy; 2. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit; 3. Elizabeth proclaims that Mary is blessed above all other women; and 4. Elizabeth proclaims Mary’s Divine Maternity, calling Mary “the mother of my Lord.” What is further, and is quite extraordinary, is that John the Baptist has been sanctified in Elizabeth’s womb, just as prophesied earlier in the same Gospel at Luke 1: 15 (these thoughts about Mary’s visitation are gathered from Mary in the Redemption by Adrienne Von Speyr).

This profound relationship between Mary and the Holy Spirit (as clearly seen by Mary’s visit to Elizabeth) was also noted by Saint Louis De Montfort, who said: “The more the Holy Ghost finds Mary, His dear and inseparable spouse, in any soul, the more active and mighty He becomes in producing Jesus Christ in that soul, and that soul in Jesus Christ” (True Devotion to Mary, 1.20).

Mary, by way of her union with the Holy Spirit, holds a very special place in the mystical body of Christ and has been granted a unique maternal office to draw us closer to Jesus. She proclaims: “My soul doth magnify the Lord” (Luke 1:46). Each of us must say, like Elizabeth, “Who am I that the mother of Jesus Christ should come to me with such amazing spiritual assistance?” And yet Jesus wills it so, and it was he who merited Mary’s maternal intercession for us and the “unfathomable” merits she possesses. Why? – because, as Father Faber says, Jesus knew how much we would love Mary.

Thomas L. Mulcahy, M.A.

Image: The Virgin of the Lillies (Public Domain, U.S.A.)

Refrences: The quote from Saint Thomas Aquinas appears in The Glories of Mary by Saint Alphonsus de Ligouri, p.253. On the Catholic understanding of merit, see CCC 208, which states: “The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man’s free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.” See also CCC 2010.

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THE PROFOUND INFLUENCE OF CONSECRATION TO MARY IMMACULATE IN THE LIVES OF SAINTS JOHN PAUL II AND MOTHER TERESA OF CALCUTTA

1024px-La_Vierge_au_lys

 “…there are Catholics who do not see clearly enough the necessity of having recourse to Mary that they may attain to intimacy with the Savior” (The Three Ages of the Interior Life, Volume I, page 119, by Father Garrigou-LaGrange)

Very important spiritual lessons can be learned from studying the lives of the saints. Indeed, studying the lives of the saints, and how they grew in holiness, is one of the most important things we can do in the spiritual life. This concept of imitating the lives of the saints is expressed in the New Testament by Saint Paul when he says at 1 Cor. 4:16, “I urge you, then, be imitators of me.” The saints show us how to imitate Christ.

In  my own lifetime it is hard to think of two people who drew closer to Jesus Christ than Saint Pope John Paul II and Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta. And if the greatness of a saint is judged, in part, by the souls they led to Jesus and salvation, then the influence of Mother Teresa and John Paul II is truly staggering. What then are we to make of the meteoric rise to Beatification and then Canonization of both Saint John Paul II and Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta (I understand that their Beatifications were two of the fastest ever in the history of the modern church, and Mother Teresa was canonized on September 4, 2016 by Pope Francis)? Our examination of their lives discloses a profoundly important fact; namely, that both of these canonized Saints were molded in the “school of Mary,” having consecrated their lives to the Blessed Virgin.

512px-MotherTeresa_094

A profound lesson to be learned from examining the lives of Saint John Paul II and Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta is thus that devotion to Mary – and even more so, consecration – is a powerful aid to growing closer to Jesus Christ. Both John Paul II and Mother Teresa were profoundly consecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, both according to the method proposed by Saint Louis DeMontfort in True Devotion to Mary. Father Joseph Langford has written about Mother Teresa’s mystical relationship with Mary in an awesome book entitled, Mother Teresa: In the Shadow of Our Lady. In that book Father Langford describes in detail the nature of Mother Teresa’s profound consecration to Mary.

As to Pope John Paul II, he pointed to his consecration to Mary as a turning point in his life, saying:

‘The reading of this book (True Devotion to Mary) was a decisive turning-point in my life. I say “turning-point,” but in fact it was a long inner journey. . . – This “perfect devotion” is indispensable to anyone who means to give himself without reserve to Christ and to the work of redemption.’

A book explaining Saint John Paul II’s consecration to Mary is Totus Tuus: John Paul II’s Program of Marian Consecration and Entrustment by Father Arthur B. Calkins.

Vom 15. bis 19. November 1980 besuchte Seine Heiligkeit Papst Johannes Paul II. die Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Auf Einladung von Bundespräsident Karl Carstens hat der Papst seinen pastoralen Besuch mit einem offiziellen in Bonn verbunden. Am 15. November gab der Bundespräsident einen Empfang zu Ehren Seiner Heiligkeit auf Schloß Augustusburg in Brühl bei Bonn. Dort führte Papst Johannes Paul II. auch ein Gespräch mit Bundeskanzler Helmut Schmidt. Gleichzeitig traf Bundesaußenminister Hans-Dietrich Genscher mit Kardinal-Staatssekretär Casaroli zusammen. Im Anschluß an den offiziellen Teil begab sich der Papst auf den Bonner Münsterplatz, um dort eine Ansprache zu halten. Ferner bestand der pastorale Teil aus Besuchen in Köln, Osnabrück, Mainz, Fulda, Altötting und München. In allen diesen Städten hielt Papst Johannes Paul II. die Heilige Messe. Eigentlicher Anlaß seines Aufenthaltes in der Bundesrepublik war der 700. Todestag von Albertus Magnus (1193-1280), dessen Grab der Papst in Köln besuchte. Bundespräsident Karl Carstens und Papst Johannes Paul II. auf Schloß Augustusburg in Brühl.

I am currently reading Father Edmund’s biography of Saint Paul of the Cross, the founder of the Passionists, an order of priests dedicated to the love of Jesus crucified. Saint Paul of the Cross was an extraordinary man who practiced the most austere penances and was raised to a very high level of mystical union with God (“the transforming union”) by the relatively early age of around thirty years old. And as with all the saints, the Blessed Virgin played a critical role in his spiritual development and was also instrumental in helping him to establish his new order of priests.

An even more modern saint is Saint Faustina Kowalska, the “visionary of Divine Mercy” to whom Jesus appeared and through whom He established the Divine Mercy devotion. If you read her diary, the tremendous scope of her devotion to Mary becomes obvious and palpable. In her diary (79) she wrote this beautiful prayer of consecration to the Virgin Mary:

O Mary, my Mother and my Lady, I offer You my soul, my body, my life and my death, and all that will Follow it. I place everything in Your hands. O my Mother, cover my soul with Your virginal mantle and grant me the grace of purity of heart, soul and body. Defend me with Your power against all enemies, and especially against those who hide their malice behind the mask of virtue. O lovely lily! You are for me a mirror, O my Mother!

The lesson to be learned, then, is that devotion to Mary is an “essential” component of our faith in Jesus Christ, and that the lives of the saints prove – truly beyond any doubt – that devotion to the Mother of God leads to greater union with Jesus Christ. In our own time, this point is demonstrated in a remarkable manner by Saint John Paul II and Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Thus, in the Vatican II Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, we are told:

“All should devoutly venerate [Mary] and commend their life and apostolate to her maternal care.”

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

References: Chapter V of Growth In Holiness by Father Faber; Chapter VI, The Influence of Mary Mediatrix, in Volume I of The Three Ages of the Interior Life; and True Devotion to Mary by Saint Louis DeMontfort. If you are interested in making the total consecration to Jesus through Mary, I recommend the book, Preparation for Total Consecration, put out by The Apostolate for Family Consecration (or Preparation for Total Consecration by Montfort Publications).

Images: The Virgin of the Lilies, Public Domain, U.S.A. (at Wikipedia). The photo Of Pope John Paul II is by Lothar Schaack, November 15, 1980, under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license (found at Wikipedia). The photo of Mother Teresa is by Turelio, July 13, 1986 under a Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 2.0 Germany license (found at Wikipedia).

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THE PROFOUND INFLUENCE OF THE VIRGIN MARY IN THE LIVES OF SAINTS JOHN PAUL II AND MOTHER TERESA OF CALCUTTA

1024px-La_Vierge_au_lys

 “…there are Catholics who do not see clearly enough the necessity of having recourse to Mary that they may attain to intimacy with the Savior” (The Three Ages of the Interior Life, Volume I, page 119, by Father Garrigou-LaGrange)

Very important spiritual lessons can be learned from studying the lives of the saints. Indeed, studying the lives of the saints, and how they grew in holiness, is one of the most important things we can do in the spiritual life. This concept of imitating the lives of the saints is expressed in the New Testament by Saint Paul when he says at 1 Cor. 4:16, “I urge you, then, be imitators of me.” The saints show us how to imitate Christ.

In  my own lifetime it is hard to think of two people who drew closer to Jesus Christ than Saint Pope John Paul II and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. And if the greatness of a saint is judged, in part, by the souls they led to Jesus and salvation, then the influence of Mother Teresa and John Paul II is truly staggering. What then are we to make of the meteoric rise to Beatification and then Canonization of both Saint John Paul II and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta (I understand that their Beatifications were two of the fastest ever in the history of the modern church, and Mother Teresa will be canonized on September 4, 2016)? Our examination of their lives discloses a profoundly important fact; namely, that both of these “saints” were molded in the “school of Mary,” having consecrated their lives to the Blessed Virgin.

512px-MotherTeresa_094

A profound lesson to be learned from examining the lives of Saint John Paul II and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta is thus that devotion to Mary – and even more so, consecration – is a powerful aid to growing closer to Jesus Christ. Both John Paul II and Mother Teresa were profoundly consecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, both according to the method proposed by Saint Louis DeMontfort in True Devotion to Mary. Father Joseph Langford has written about Mother Teresa’s mystical relationship with Mary in an awesome book entitled, Mother Teresa: In the Shadow of Our Lady. In that book Father Langford describes in detail the nature of Mother Teresa’s profound consecration to Mary.

As to Pope John Paul II, he pointed to his consecration to Mary as a turning point in his life, saying:

‘The reading of this book (True Devotion to Mary) was a decisive turning-point in my life. I say “turning-point,” but in fact it was a long inner journey. . . – This “perfect devotion” is indispensable to anyone who means to give himself without reserve to Christ and to the work of redemption.’

A book explaining Blessed John Paul II’s consecration to Mary is Totus Tuus: John Paul II’s Program of Marian Consecration and Entrustment by Father Arthur B. Calkins.

Vom 15. bis 19. November 1980 besuchte Seine Heiligkeit Papst Johannes Paul II. die Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Auf Einladung von Bundespräsident Karl Carstens hat der Papst seinen pastoralen Besuch mit einem offiziellen in Bonn verbunden. Am 15. November gab der Bundespräsident einen Empfang zu Ehren Seiner Heiligkeit auf Schloß Augustusburg in Brühl bei Bonn. Dort führte Papst Johannes Paul II. auch ein Gespräch mit Bundeskanzler Helmut Schmidt. Gleichzeitig traf Bundesaußenminister Hans-Dietrich Genscher mit Kardinal-Staatssekretär Casaroli zusammen. Im Anschluß an den offiziellen Teil begab sich der Papst auf den Bonner Münsterplatz, um dort eine Ansprache zu halten. Ferner bestand der pastorale Teil aus Besuchen in Köln, Osnabrück, Mainz, Fulda, Altötting und München. In allen diesen Städten hielt Papst Johannes Paul II. die Heilige Messe. Eigentlicher Anlaß seines Aufenthaltes in der Bundesrepublik war der 700. Todestag von Albertus Magnus (1193-1280), dessen Grab der Papst in Köln besuchte. Bundespräsident Karl Carstens und Papst Johannes Paul II. auf Schloß Augustusburg in Brühl.

I am currently reading Father Edmund’s biography of Saint Paul of the Cross, the founder of the Passionists, an order of priests dedicated to the love of Jesus crucified. Saint Paul of the Cross was an extraordinary man who practiced the most austere penances and was raised to a very high level of mystical union with God (“the transforming union”) by the relatively early age of around thirty years old. And as with all the saints, the Blessed Virgin played a critical role in his spiritual development and was also instrumental in helping him to establish his new order of priests.

An even more modern saint is Saint Faustina Kowalska, the “visionary of Divine Mercy” to whom Jesus appeared and through whom He established the Divine Mercy devotion. If you read her diary, the tremendous scope of her devotion to Mary becomes obvious and palpable. In her diary (79) she wrote this beautiful prayer of consecration to the Virgin Mary:

O Mary, my Mother and my Lady, I offer You my soul, my body, my life and my death, and all that will Follow it. I place everything in Your hands. O my Mother, cover my soul with Your virginal mantle and grant me the grace of purity of heart, soul and body. Defend me with Your power against all enemies, and especially against those who hide their malice behind the mask of virtue. O lovely lily! You are for me a mirror, O my Mother!

The lesson to be learned, then, is that devotion to Mary is an “essential” component of our faith in Jesus Christ, and that the lives of the saints prove – truly beyond any doubt – that devotion to the Mother of God leads to greater union with Jesus Christ. In our own time, this point is demonstrated in a remarkable manner by Saint John Paul the II and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Thus, in the Vatican II Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, we are told:

“All should devoutly venerate [Mary] and commend their life and apostolate to her maternal care.”

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

References: Chapter V of Growth In Holiness by Father Faber; Chapter VI, The Influence of Mary Mediatrix, in Volume I of The Three Ages of the Interior Life; and True Devotion to Mary by Saint Louis DeMontfort. If you are interested in making the total consecration to Jesus through Mary, I recommend the book, Preparation for Total Consecration, put out by The Apostolate for Family Consecration (or Preparation for Total Consecration by Montfort Publications).

Images: The Virgin of the Lilies, Public Domain, U.S.A. (at Wikipedia). The photo Of Pope John Paul II is by Lothar Schaack, November 15, 1980, under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license (found at Wikipedia). The photo of Mother Teresa is by Turelio, July 13, 1986 under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Germany license (found at Wikipedia).

To SHARE on SOCIAL MEDIA: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below (and this will bring up social media icons if they are not already present).

To LEAVE A COMMENT: click on “Leave a comment” or “Comments” below, and then scroll down to the box which says, “Leave Your Own Comment Here,” which is at the end of any comments already made. If the comment section is already present, merely scroll to the end of any comments already made.

All rights reserved.

Any ads following this note are by WordPress and not CatholicStrength.