Saturday, March 25, 2017

Mary: The Surest and Safest Way to Jesus


As I have previously written, most of my life has been one bad decision after another. This rocky road started for me when I was 14 years old and decided to leave the Catholic Church. It was all downhill from there. Since that first wrong turn, so many decades ago, there have been only two decisions in my life that have withstood the test of time: marrying my husband, and returning to the Catholic Church. As I have also written, even upon returning to the Church, I still made very bad decisions which took me in very wrong directions.

I have finally come to the conclusion that I can't trust myself. The theme of my life can be summed up by Proverbs 14:12: "There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way that leads to death." I have also recently come to see, more clearly than ever, just how sinful and evil I really am. My sins completely distort my view of God and His Will.

Getting good counsel, reading all the right things, going to Mass every day, receiving the Sacraments - in other words, doing all the right things, still brings me up short because, even with the great, limitless mercy of God, a lifetime of sins has left me a spiritual cripple. I can keep going as I am, but my spiritual progress is long and slow as I fight my greatest enemy: myself.



The great St. Louis de Montfort, who lived in the 17th and 18th Centuries, said that my problem is not an isolated one. In response to this universal problem, he wrote several books over 200 years ago in which he gives us the secret to a fast, guaranteed-not-to-fail road to spiritual growth and union with Jesus Christ. And that is to go to Jesus Christ the same way He came to us: through the Blessed Mother, Mary.
“It is an easy way. It is the way which Jesus Christ Himself trod in coming to us, and in which there is no obstacle in reaching Him. It is true that we can attain divine union by other roads; but it is by many more crosses and strange deaths, and with many more difficulties, which we shall find it hard to overcome. We must pass through obscure nights, through combats, through strange agonies, over craggy mountains, through cruel thorns and over frightful deserts. But by the path of Mary we pass more gently and more tranquilly.” ― Louis de MontfortTrue Devotion to Mary: With Preparation for Total Consecration

Mary, the Blessed Mother, is the most perfect of all of God's creation. She was created in perfection and remained so throughout her entire life. She never once came even close to sin of any kind. When she walked this earth as a human being, her will was in complete accord with Her Creator. She never made one wrong decision because she never did anything separate from God.

Apart from Jesus Christ Himself, there is no more perfect role model for those wishing to follow Our Lord. Mary is so perfect that God the Father calls her daughter, Jesus Christ calls her Mother, and the Holy Spirit calls her Spouse. Where the Blessed Trinity is, there is Mary, and where Mary is, there is the Blessed Trinity. They are inseparable. 

 

But does God keep this magnificent treasure to Himself? God is love, and everything He has, He gives to us. As Jesus hung on the cross, pouring out His Precious Blood for the salvation of humankind, He gave us His most precious creation in His dying moments. John 19:26-27:
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.”
This was not meant just for the Apostle John, but for all who follow Jesus Christ. The magnitude of this great gift is beyond words to describe. Mary was the crowning achievement of all creation, immaculately conceived in great splendor and glory. She was the one chosen by God to conceive and carry the Savior of the world for nine months in her virgin womb. Jesus trusted and loved her so completely that he submitted to her will for his entire human life. 

There is no more perfect way to Jesus Christ than through his beloved and glorious Mother Mary.


But why do we need Mary?  St. Louis de Montfort tells us in "The Secret of Mary".  He explains that Mary is the perfect mold of God:
Mary is the great mold of God, made by the Holy Ghost to form a true God-Man by the Hypostatic Union and to form also a man-God by grace. In that mold none of the features of the Godhead is wanting. Whoever is cast in it, and allows himself to be molded, receives all the features of Jesus Christ, true God. 
Not only will Mary mold us to perfectly resemble her Son, but she does it with great love and gentleness, understanding our weaknesses because she too was human.  Mary's way is also completely free of the devil, never misguiding or misdirecting us in any way:
The work is done gently, in a manner proportioned to human weakness, without much pain or labor, in a sure manner, free from all illusion, for where Mary is the devil has never had and never will have access; finally, it is done in a holy and spotless manner, without a shadow of the least stain of sin.
St. Louis de Montfort said that we must becomes "slaves" of Mary, giving everything we have - mind, body and soul - to her, and she in return will take our measly, corrupt spiritual offerings and cover them with her glory to present them to Jesus Christ. St. Louis uses the example of Rebecca covering her son Isaac in goatskin to make him more presentable to Jacob so that he could receive a blessing, as told in Genesis 27. But instead of using goatskin as Rebecca did, Mary covers us with her glory, making us acceptable to Jesus Christ. By covering us with herself, Mary molds us into her image so that we may be as pleasing and acceptable to God as she is. 
THE most holy Virgin, who is a Mother of sweetness and mercy, and who never lets herself be vanquished in love and liberality, seeing that we give ourselves entirely to her, to honour and to serve her, and for that end strip 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 towards Jesus. In a word, as that person is all consecrated to Mary, so is Mary all for him; after such a fashion that we can say of that perfect servant and child of Mary what St. John the Evangelist said of himself, that he took the holy Virgin for all his goods, -Accepit eam discipulus in sua.   [He took her to his own.]St. Louis de Montfort - True Devotion to Mary


When we give ourselves to Mary, we don't have to depend on our sinful selves or our warped understanding, or take wrong turns and detours until we finally get it right, as I have done all my life. Mary will guide us without a misstep as any loving mother would want for her children. The big difference is that unlike our human mothers, Mary is perfect and cannot mislead us.

As St. Louis de Monfort tells us, God does not need Mary. He could lead us to perfection without her. But He chooses to use her. He chose her to come to us, and we must choose her to go to Him. Going to Jesus through Mary instead of relying on ourselves shows great humility. We show Our Lord that we understand that no matter how good we might look to ourselves and others, we are evil and despicable compared to His perfection and glory. We are not worthy to enter into His Presence. Instead, we choose the perfect and glorious Blessed Mother to come to Him in our stead. 

From True Devotion to Mary:
IT IS more perfect, because it is more humble, not to approach God of ourselves, without taking a mediator. The very foundation of our nature, as I have just shown, is so corrupted, that if we lean on our own works, industries, and preparations, in order to reach God and to please Him, it is certain that our justices will be defiled, or be of little weight before God, to engage Him to unite Himself to us, and to hear us. It is not without reason that God has given us mediators with His Majesty. He has seen our unworthiness and incapacity. He has had pity upon us; and, in order to give us access to His mercies, He has provided us with powerful intercessors with His grandeur, insomuch that to neglect these mediators, and to draw near to His holiness directly, and without any recommendation, is to fail in humility. It is to fail in respect towards God, so high and so holy. It is to make less account of that King of kings than we should make of a king or prince of earth, whom we should not willingly approach without some friend to speak for us.

Our Lord is our Advocate and Mediator of redemption with God the Father. It is by Him that we ought to pray, in union with the whole Church triumphant and militant. It is by Him that we have access to the Majesty of the Father, before whom we ought never to appear except leaning on the merits, and indeed clothed with the merits, of His Son; just as the young Jacob came before his father Isaac in the skins of the kids to receive his benediction.

But have we not need of a mediator with the Mediator Himself? Is our purity great enough to unite us directly to Him, and by ourselves? Is He not God, in all things equal to His Father, and by consequence the Holy of Holies, as worthy of respect as His Father? If, by His infinite charity, He has made Himself our bail and our Mediator with God His Father, in order to appease Him and to pay Him what we owed Him, are we on that account to have less respect and less fear for His Majesty and His Sanctity?
I originally made the Total Consecration in 2011, but I really had no idea what I was doing. I realize now that the reason for my lack of understanding was that I did not comprehend my own sinfulness. I still had confidence in myself and. although I never put it into these words, I believed that there was something of myself that was worth keeping.  I had not fully surrendered myself to Jesus Christ. I never fully died to myself, as we are told so often in the written Word of God.  Just one example is Luke 9:23-24:
And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.
Yes, I knew I was a sinner and had done bad things in my life, but I didn't realize the great extent of my sinfulness and rebellion against God. In my hubris and ignorance, I still trusted in myself and therefore everything I did was actually tainted and corrupt.  I realize now that my trust in self prevented me from giving all to Mary and, by extension, giving all to Jesus Christ.



But I did do one thing right:  I prayed the Rosary almost every day without fail.  As imperfect as my consecration to Mary was, our Blessed Mother did not give up on me.  In these past 5 plus years since I first made the consecration, I have come to see my sinful self in a clearer and clearer light and while in many ways it is disheartening and discouraging to face the truth about myself, at the same time it is the most liberating of all experiences because I no longer try to rely on myself.  I go to our Blessed Mother, take her hand and let her guide me to her Son, knowing she will never let me fall, never let me take a wrong turn.  

St. Louis de Montfort put it very well in "True Devotion to Mary".  From Day 15 of the Preparation for Total Consecration to Mary, "We Need Mary to Die To Ourselves":
[I]n order to empty ourselves of self, we must die daily to ourselves. This involves our renouncing what the powers of the soul and the senses of the body incline us to do. We must see as if we did not see, hear as if we did not hear and use the things of this world as if we did not use them. This is what St. Paul calls “dying daily.” Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain and does not bear any good fruit. If we do not die to self and if our holiest devotions do not lead us to this necessary and fruitful death, we shall not bear fruit of any worth and our devotions will cease to be profitable. All our good works will be tainted by self-love and self-will so that our greatest sacrifices and our best actions will be unacceptable to God. Consequently when we come to die we shall find ourselves devoid of virtue and merit and discover that we do not possess even one spark of that pure love which God shares only with those who have died to themselves and whose life is hidden with Jesus Christ in him. 
From Day 16, quoting from "Imitation of Christ":
We cannot trust over much to ourselves (Jer. 17:5), because grace oftentimes is wanting to us, and understanding also. Little light is there in us, and this we quickly lose by our negligence. Oftentimes too we perceive not our inward blindness how great it is. Oftentimes we do evil, and excuse it worse (Psalm 141:4). We are sometimes moved with passion, and we think it zeal. We reprehend small things in others, and pass over our own greater matters (Matt. 7:5). Quickly enough we feel and weigh what we suffer at the hands of others; but we mind not how much others suffer from us. He that well and rightly considereth his own works, will find little cause to judge hardly of another. 
How does total consecration to Mary help us to in this most necessary process of dying to self?  From Day 24:
This devotion is a smooth, short, perfect and sure way of attaining union with our Lord, in which Christian perfection consists.

(a) This devotion is a smooth way. It is the path which Jesus Christ opened up in coming to us and in which there is no obstruction to prevent us reaching him. It is quite true that we can attain to divine union by other roads, but these involve many more crosses and exceptional setbacks and many difficulties that we cannot easily overcome.

(b) This devotion is a short way to discover Jesus, either because it is a road we do not wander from, or because, as we have just said, we walk along this road with greater ease and joy, and consequently with greater speed. We advance more in a brief period of submission to Mary and dependence on her than in whole years of self-will and self-reliance.

(c) This devotion is a perfect way to reach our Lord and be united to him, for Mary is the most perfect and the most holy of all creatures, and Jesus, who came to us in a perfect manner, chose no other road for his great and wonderful journey. The Most High, the Incomprehensible One, the Inaccessible One, He who is, deigned to come down to us poor earthly creatures who are nothing at all. How was this done? The Most High God came down to us in a perfect way through the humble Virgin Mary, without losing anything of his divinity or holiness. It is likewise through Mary that we poor creatures must ascend to almighty God in a perfect manner without having anything to fear.

(d) This devotion to our Lady is a sure way to go to Jesus and to acquire holiness through union with him. The devotion which I teach is not new. Indeed it could not be condemned without overthrowing the foundations of Christianity. It is obvious then that this devotion is not new. If it is not commonly practised, the reason is that it is too sublime to be appreciated and undertaken by everyone. This devotion is a safe means of going to Jesus Christ, because it is Mary’s role to lead us safely to her Son.

This is a very simplified explanation of Total Consecration to Mary, and to fully understand it, you must read St. Louis de Montfort's books, "True Devotion to Mary" and "The Secret of Mary."

If you really want to progress in your spiritual life and become one with Jesus Christ, then turn to his Beloved Mother, Mary.  Give yourself totally to her by doing de Montfort's Total Consecration.  As St. Louis tells us, all of our thoughts, words and actions must be "through Mary, with Mary in Mary and for Mary."  If you do this, you will be on a quick and sure way to Jesus Christ.


6 comments:

  1. Catholic in Brooklyn, has the song "Mary, Did You Know?" particularly bothered you? It has certainly bothered Michael Voris. Check out the following link:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary,_Did_You_Know%3F

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    1. Voris is right in that the problem with this song is that it implies Mary did not know who Jesus was, that he was a the Son of God. That, of course is just wrong. Just the circumstances of Jesus' conception by the Holy Spirit and the circumstances of His birth with angels announcing it and the fact that it was a virgin birth would confirm who Jesus was. At the same time, Mary did not understand everything. She did not understand the old man Simeon when Jesus was presented at the temple, she did not understand Jesus when they found him in the temple.

      But as stated, the premise of the song is wrong. Mary knew she had given birth to the Son of God.

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  2. I'm getting tired of all of this stuff. I'm on the verge of leaving the Church. What I am hearing is, " Give yourself to Mary so that she can take your paltry, flawed, unworthy and even evil offering and clothe it in Glory. But be sure that you offer yourself perfectly, fully and that you have died to yourself." Sounds like the very essence of a catch-22. I've had it. I really have.

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    1. I am so sorry that you are not understanding You are seeing this as basically an intellectual exercise. There is no catch 22. It all starts with a recognition of your sinfulness. It is like being told by a doctor that you have a fatal illness, and there is nothing you can do about it. You are going to die. But then Jesus Christ comes along and says, I will take that illness upon myself and die in your place. But the only way I can do it is if you admit how sick you are and how powerless you are to overcome your illness.

      As long as you think you can do it yourself, Jesus cannot help you. Your statement tells me that you don't understand the extent of sin in your life and how separated from God you really are. I can say that without knowing anything about you personally because that is the condition of every human being simply as a result of being born into this fallen world. Our ways are not God's ways, our thoughts are not Hiis thoughts. Changing a fallen, sinful human being into a holy saint is a bigger task than raising someone from the dead. Even after repenting and turning to God, everything we do is still tainted with sin. It is the inevitable result of living in this fallen world.

      But one of the major helps we have been given is the Blessed Mother. She takes our poor offerings and covers them with her glory. It is sort of like baseball, having someone pitch hit and run the bases for you. Only you still get the credit for doing it.

      I know this is a poor explanation. I will try to do a post explaining it better. But thank you for your comment, and please don't give up. If you don't understand, walking away is not the answer. Ask our Blessed Mother to help you understand. She will not fail you. She will guide you to a peace and undesrstanding that right now you can't begin to fathom,

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  3. I won't give up. Thank you. I was (am) having a bad day.

    I thought that I did understand something of the sin in my life. I came into the Church six years ago, as did my wife. I seemed to understand enough of the Church's teaching on marriage and sexuality through reading St.John Paul II and modern medical science and sociology that Humane Vitae appeared - to us - to be authentic prophecy. We are faithful to the Church's teachings, although not yet blessed with children. The existence of God makes sense to us, as does his revelation in Jesus and his Church.

    Early on, I was consecrated to our Lady. So was my wife. I don't pray the Rosary every day but nearly so, perhaps four or five times per week. I thought I had a devotion to her. I thought I loved our Lord. This is probably a bad mood and not desolation, I don't know. Early on, I made what I thought were honest and thorough confessions and I have continued to do so. Like you, I went through a period of potentially dark traditionalist (almost sedevacantist) pride, but grace working with more study and prayer - and your blog - helped me out of this.

    What's happening is I've been distancing myself somewhat from my own parish/Archdiocese because over the past few years I've felt like I was losing myself, like I've been lying. When I was a young man in college I both left and did not re-enter the Church largely because of the awful "praise and worship" music that was attached to the ministry to young people. And I know other young people who were repelled by it, although interested in the Catholic Church. In my case I left and wound up studying Tibetan Buddhism because I was searching for meaning and Buddhism does indeed have a share of the truth and these particular Tibetans were not interested in entertaining anyone. They taught us silence, and they didn't change their music or chants even when they translated them into English. Another friend of mine left and became an Anglican. I don't know what happened to the others: one thing I do know is that not one person who I knew in college or who was confirmed with me in middle school is a practising Catholic. And the music of that period is still ubiquitous in my Archdiocese.

    The straw broke the camel's back last week : after a parish mission talk, during Adoration there was not silence but a continuous litany of that bad music. It was disruptive. I left, and I contacted my pastor in a conciliatory manner. I asked some others about it, others who are on the pastoral steering committee with me. While a couple of other people admitted to finding this stuff to be annoying, they seemed to be able to accept it as a part of modern Catholicism. My pastor flipped out at me.

    I'm tired of all of it : I know that this silly music - which is ubiquitous in my Archdiocese - pushes folk away, and I've been told by several local priests that my decision to leave my career until I find a setting in which I do not prescribe, dispense or counsel upon contraceptives, abortifacients and now euthanasia drugs (I live in Canada) is unnecessary and perhaps even sinful because it has cause some hardship - financially - in my life. I've been told by a priest that I "need to have more fun". I have lots of fun.


    The Lord has delivered me from many sins. But that is just the beginning, I know : I have some sense of the depth of selfishness in my life. But I know I have to ask for the help to see things more clearly.

    I don't expect an answer, I realize that I've thrown a lot out there. And I have an amazing life : like you, I have a great marriage (18 years since our civil marriage, 6 years since being married in the Church). I have much for which to be thankful. I think that the darkness of the world - and to be honest, at least the appearance of shallowness in the local Church - is getting me down (it's not only the bad music). But at the heart of it is me, and my pride, I'm sure.

    Thanks for hearing me out.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your very inspiring story. We all have our ups and downs. So I truly understand what you are saying. But it sounds like you have truly devoted your life to serving Our Lord.

      I want to do yet another post on the efficacy of consecrating ourselves to Our Blessed Mother. I just did the consecration for the third time, but I feel like I am only now beginning to understand that the tre meaning of giving ourselves to Mary.

      I hope you will read my next post and if you would like, please leave your thoughts.

      God bless you on your spiritual journey.

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