Chapter Three: How to Enter Upon This Devotion

mary potter statue

I

To enter properly upon this devotion, it should be performed thoughtfully. Although you may be convinced of how dear this devotion is to the Heart of God, and how happy the Maternal Heart of Mary is made by every fresh child it receives, I do not ask you to undertake it without thought or preparation.

I do advise you to begin at once, the practice of offering your various duties and works etc., of each day to Mary, and to strive to perform them in union with her. I advise too, that you earnestly ask the light of the Holy Spirit, that you may better understand the new course of life you are about to enter upon, and to devote some time to a special preparation for what is indeed a solemn act, and one that will, if performed in a proper spirit, be one of the most important acts of your life. But, to those who are inexperienced in the spiritual life, I would here give a word of warning—one which it would be well for all of us to remember.



The warning is this: Opposition follows good as its very shadow. Therefore, be prepared. The enemy of souls will not allow you to enter the Path of Mary without some struggle to hinder you. And it is according to YOUR disposition that he will lay his snares.

If you are lazy, you will probably intend to think upon this devotion another time, and that time never comes, and the hour of grace passes. If you are one of those whose attention is drawn to some other good work, then the devil transforms himself into an angel of light, and lays before you something that you will enter into heart and soul. You will therefore find no time to read these pages. They will be neglected, and the hour of grace will pass. It will be like the good seed in the parable of the gospel.

In the same way, there are some who will be divided in their opinion. They will not quite like this devotion, or rather, though they may wish to, they will feel themselves repelled. To these I would say: Pray, pray, pray earnestly, fervently, and trusting to the opinion of the good and the learned, study the devotion more, practise it, and for eternity you will be grateful to the good God whose Holy Spirit responded to your prayers and led you into this Path of Mary.

Do not think your case is singular! The saintly Father Faber was tried in the same way. In his ‘Life’, we find him writing to a friend of the repulsion he felt toward this devotion, though afterwards he could not think of a higher work or a broader vocation than the simple spreading of this devotion. He modeled his own interior life upon it.

In other cases, souls will be tried by a variety of temptations. Their attention will be distracted from the devotion. It may beget troubles of conscience, and hence, again, the golden opportunity will pass away and may not return. I pray this may not be the case with you who are now reading what I write from the heart of my Mother. Resist the suggestions of the evil one. Do not pass by what I write to you, as it may be you will journey through life with a heavy heart in the place of the joyous one possessed by Mary’s Own.

There are many who wear a clouded brow, in whom you see an uneasy expression. You do not know the reason—they do not either—but in many cases it is through their having lost some great grace. Just as in the case of those souls who are striving to serve God, and are therefore susceptible to good impressions, and who — through their own fault — neglect some grace, feel uncomfortable and discontent, so too with other souls.

These have a constant irritability, or feeling of unrest or dissatisfaction. There is something wrong with them, but they do not know what. I might suggest that in many cases, it could be traced to the loss of some great grace. God’s providence had sent them a message, but they had turned a deaf ear to it. I pray, dear reader, that by the grace of Jesus who suffered and died for love of you, that you not lose the grace now offered to you.


Remember that one saint gives more glory to God than a whole nation of ordinary Christians!
By this devotion, you will become a saint.
In this weary age of sin, you and those others of Mary’s own, chosen in the midst of the darkness now covering the earth, will make bright spots well-pleasing to the eye of God. You will attract the great Mercy of God, and draw the Holy Spirit of Light to dispell the clouds of infidelity and the mists of error with which the whole world is now covered.

Yes, Mary’s own will stand faithful through the mystical crucifixion of the Church, the Spouse of Christ. When other members of our Lord’s body will fall away, Mary’s own will pass unscathed through the fiery ordeal—yet not without pain.
And when the Church shall rise triumphant over her enemies, more glorious than ever, then will those happy ones who, by
a great grace, stood faithfully in the midst of general desolation, sin and misery, stand and sing gladly, joyously, praising God with the jubilant Heart of Mary, on account of the great things He has done for them. Happy are those who see that day, the glorious day of the resurrection of the Church.

II


Having thus given a word of warning to prepare those who are interested in entering the Path of Mary, I will now show you the best way to enter upon it.

First of all, as in all other important steps, it should be with the advice of your director. Prayer should precede, both for yourself and your director, and having consulted and taken his/her advice, it would be well to make a special preparation.
St. Grignon de Montfort counsels at least twelve preparatory days to empty yourself of the spirit of the world, followed by three more weeks. The first week is to be employed in endeavouring to know youself. The second in trying to know our Blessed Lady, and the third to be employed in striving to know better our Lord, Jesus Christ. Finally, a humble confession, followed by the reception of the Eucharist.

while Jesus is with you, ask Him to show you how best to make the offering you desire to make of yourself to Mary. Ask Him to let you share in His feelings, that you may offer yourself as entirely to our Lady as He did. Then while He is with you, deliver up yourself to her. Cast yourself into the sweet Maternal Heart that gave Jesus his life, His precious Blood, and resolve from this time onward to live no longer in yourself but in Mary. The oblation you make consists of course, principally in the will, but still it would be well to make a solemn act as in the formula I shall give at the end.

Having done this, and commended yourself body and soul, with all your goods, your spiritual and temporal riches, ask Mary to receive them and thank Jesus for the Holy Communion He has given you—and be sure of this, never have you given our Lord a better welcome. You may currently have other devotions to Jesus and Mary by which you are pleased, but when you enter on the Path of Mary, you will please our dear Lord so much because you will welcome Him, not with your own devotion, but with the devotion and the love of Mary. You have placed Him where He loves to be, and His Mother’s mantle of immaculate purity has covered your sinfulness, which, if you truly knew yourself, would make you abhorrent to yourself.

Our Lady’s beautiful interior dispositions will cover the defects of your soul. Mary will obtain for you in the course of time, that you may see yourself a little as God sees you, and you will wonder how you dared to receive, or even speak to our Lord, (mass of sinfulness that you are), before you came to Him in the company of Mary, before you knew the secret of hiding yourself in her and offering to Him the sweet Maternal Heart that gave Him life.

You may at first feel rather disturbed at this method of receiving our Lord in Communion. It will be but for a time. You must persevere in this union with our Lady at all times. You must never cease annihilating your own will to live by hers. Nature may feel this extinction of self, and by that you will discover you had been accustomed to be something before God, and that you have been used to indulging yourself, even in what you thought you did purely to please God.

This knowledge of self will come in time. If, before you had accustomed yourself to this union with our Lady, your own exceeding vileness had been in part shown to you, it might have rendered you faint hearted and lacking in courage. It might have discouraged you. Now that you speak to our Lord through Mary, as the knowledge of yourself grows upon you, you cover yourself more and more with her exceeding beauty, and ever offering her heart to Jesus, you thus supply for your own unworthiness. By this humility, by this constant acknowledgment of your own nothingness, and by this continual absence of self, you are beloved by our Lord with a singular love, and your Communions give Him great delight.

The Communion in which you give yourself to Mary, and offer yourself with Jesus to Mary, is the Communion in which our Lord delights exceedingly, which most glorifies the Eternal Father, and enriches yourself and your neighbours with spiritual treasures.

III


The first step taken, you have to start your new life in Mary with the cheerful, hopeful disposition God so loves to see.

Having entered the Path of Mary, you will not be troubled with the temptations you may have had before, such as doubt about its merits and benefits. Yet, you may still feel some discouragements, but remember, you are forming a solid spirituality within you, and that the effects of this spirituality will not be immediate, but will eventually and certainly take hold of you. Abundant graces will then be available to you, but in order to receive them YOU must co-operate.

It will be particularly by constant acts of your will, by which you renounce yourself, by which you join your works to our Lady’s, by which you renew your offering to her that you will advance in true devotion to her, and be more beloved by her. Not until you have well advanced in the Path of Mary by these means will God give you those great graces He has in store for those to whom He can safely give them. That is, to those who will not lose them, or take occasions from them to give way to vanity, by imagining themselves to be what they are not.


Mary’s own will not lose or abuse grace, as do many others. All that is given them is given to her. Nor, when well advanced in the Path of Mary, can they attribute to themselves what they see, in the light of God’s truth, is given to Mary. “Not to us O Lord”, is their constant cry, as they receive from His divine hands gifts saints have not received until after years of penance and after constant struggles to attain the perfection, the union of God they arrived at, and with which He thus rewarded them.

Mary’s own receive these same gifts, and their hearts are often too full to speak of the burning love which fills them. They sink into their own nothingness, and they silently acknowledge that these great gifts are given to the Immaculate Mother who will be honoured in her children by them. They thank God again and again Who led them into this sweet way of Mary, where they found Him and were united to Him in a manner which they never thought was for them in this world, in a manner they had never even known or conceived, before they entered into this immaculate way of Mary.

It is to the honour of Mary you should receive these great favours from God. Our Lady has your interest at heart, far more than any earthly mother has at heart her child’s welfare, either spiritual or temporal.

IV


We have around us plenty of examples which show us how mothers exert themselves, how earnestly they strive that their children should make their way in the world, and how proud they are of them when they succeed. There are other examples of devoted mothers who have suffered for their children’s sanctification, and whose whole ambition was to see them saints. There is the glorious example of St. Monica, whose life should be studied by all mothers. Is she not, and will she not for all ages, be honoured in her son, St. Augustine?

Again, are not parents oftentimes more pleased with a present given to their children rather than to themselves? Thus then our Lord, wishing to honour His mother, will give in the abundance of His divine power, unusual graces to those who are devoted, who are more than devoted to Mary, who are entirely hers, and who desire to honour her with a spark of the desire that burns within His own Sacred Heart.


Holy people have written that God intends to form for Himself wonderful Saints, who will surpass most of the other saints, as a great tree surpasses a little shrub; and that these great saints will be formed by Mary, “illuminated by her light, nourished by her milk, led by her spirit, supported by her arm, and sheltered under her protection.” It is a pleasure Jesus can give Mary, and therefore
a pleasure He will delight to give.

Mary, the type, exemplar, and model of all motherhood will indeed receive joy from these her devoted children, from those entirely hers, from those who place themselves humbly in her hands, to be formed and moulded to the likeness of Jesus Christ. St. Augustine calls Mary the “mould of God”; the mould fit to cast and mould Gods. “And”, continues the holy writer from whose work I have so often quoted, “Those who are cast in this mould are presently formed and moulded in Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ in them”.

Directors and devout persons who wish to form Jesus Christ in themselves or in others, by different practices from the Path of Mary, are like sculptors who trust in their own professional skills, ingenuity or art, and so give an infinite variety of hammerings and chisellings to a hard stone, to make an image of Jesus Christ out of it. Sometimes they do not succeed in getting anything like the natural expression of Jesus, either from having no knowledge or experience of the Person of Jesus, or from some blow awkwardly given, which has spoiled the work.

But, for those who embrace the secret of grace I am revealing to them, I may resonably compare them to founders and casters, who have discovered the beautiful mould of Mary, where Jesus was naturally and divinely formed, and without trusting to their own skill, but only in the goodness of the mould, they cast themselves, they lose themselves in Mary to become the portraits of Jesus Christ after nature.

A beautiful and true comparison. But who will comprehend it? I desire that you will, but remember, we only cast in a mould what is melted and liquified—that is to say, you must destroy and melt down in yourself the old Adam, to become the new one in Mary.

In order for the soul to be lead by Mary’s spirit, it must first renounce its own spirits and its own proper lights and wills, before it does anything. For example, it should do so before saying or hearing Mass, and before receiving communion, because the darkness of our own spirit, and the malice of our own will and operation, if we follow them—however good they may appear to us—will put an obstacle to the spirit of Mary. We must deliver ourselves to the spirit of Mary to be moved and influenced by it in the manner she chooses. We must leave ourselves in her hands, like a lute in the hands of a skilful player. We must abandon ourselves to her, like a stone one throws into the sea.

My dear reader, I have copied at length from the beautiful little book by St. Grignon de Montfort. It is to show you how to follow well the Path of Mary, after you have taken the first step, by the voluntary surrender and oblation of yourself to her. Earnestly I desire you may attain this spirit, which this devotion engenders in us. It is the spirit of the infant Jesus, mingling with the spirit of Mary, in a way only those who practise this devotion know. You will always possess that childlike spirit so loved by our Lord: “Unless you become like little children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven,” and again: “Suffer little children to come unto me!” See how, by becoming a little child, you greatly please our Lord.

Religious, by giving up their will and submitting in all things to their superior, are well beloved, they are very dear to God, but you, who are not called to the religious life, there must be great comfort in the thought that you may also become as much like little children.Yes, you will do so as much — or even more — than do religious. You will, by the practice of this devotion, make a more complete renunciation of yourself than they do, unless there were an order devoted to our Lady by the practice of this devotion, which would indeed do wondrous good in the present time especially. “He that shall humble himself as this little child, shall be the greater in the kingdom of heaven.” — Matt. 18:4. So dear, so very dear are little children to God. Therefore, become a little child by earnestly following this devotion and endear yourself daily more and more to God.

But if an ordinary, good little child is so dear to God, how much more you, who, in imitation of the Divine Child Jesus, with full use of reason, become a little child, and thus resemble Him, Who, with full use of reason entered Mary’s bosom, and Whose wonderful intelligence was as great at the first moment of his mortal life as it was at the last.
Dear reader, when you understand this union with Jesus, like a little infant in Mary’s bosom, or on Mary’s breast, you will indeed be happy. How you will love and venerate with our Lord, the Mother Heart of Mary that gave Him life. It will be your comfort, your refuge, your anchor of hope. When in great need for yourself or for others, you will pray with great confidence by presenting to Jesus the Heart of His Mother. You will tell Him He cannot refuse you when you ask by and in union with the heart that gave Him His Human Life, the Precious Blood He so loves, and most certainly will that prayer draw down His good and gentle spirit in a most generous manner.

In the sorrows of life which all must have, and which indeed God uses for His favourite servants to try their virtue, you will find yourself comforted as a child from its Mother’s heart. To no one could you pour out your trials as to Mary. From no one could you receive such sympathy, such assistance.

V

Though this ‘virginal’ path is a path of roses compared with other paths, still there may be times when you will be called upon to suffer, and suffer perhaps intensely. But, you will be so helped, that you will glory in your tribulation, and pass through great trials so supported, that you will sing your “Benedicite” as did the three young men in the blazing furnace.

Also, at those times, when you feel no sensible comfort, but are called to a resemblance with the “Man of Sorrows”, by
a participation in His bitter cup of grief, and suffer in your degree in union with Him, without comfort, as He suffered, you will still find your support and strength in the great Mother of Sorrows. You will obtain a new strength and support from the Maternal and compassionate Heart of Mary. You will bear your trials in a brave and courageous spirit before the world, though alone, in your times of quiet, you will turn to Mary and before your Mother, with whom you are ever a child, you will pour out your grief. You will have no need of self control before her. Your overcharged heart may unburden itself freely, and it is better it should do so. Mary will be pleased at our childlike confidence. There is not a suffering of mind or body in which you will not be supported, and receive help from Mary, even though I have said that it will not always be the sensible comfort received by the martyrs in their trials.

But remember Mary’s greatest wish is that you should resemble Jesus, and that when you are patiently suffering bitter sorrow and your heart is pierced and lacerated with grief, and you have not the least sensible consolation, then to Mary you are inexpressibly dear, as she sees the eyes of God bent lovingly on you, longing to caress you with the embrace of love, and to fill you, even on this earth, with that heavenly joy which those alone have who patiently endure the crosses laid upon them.

Those who suffer must remember that Jesus is our model in suffering, and in his tender compassion, He has shown Himself in His sufferings and sorrows, not triumphant and joyous, but pale, heavy, weary, and even fearful. Therefore we must remember, so long as we are not selfish in our sufferings, and do our duties to others, the merit of our cross is not lost if we are not so brave as we would wish, whether the suffering be a bodily or a spiritual suffering, or, as often happens, both. Mary’s own are supported under crosses which, through her, are made most sanctifying, but which, without the support they receive from her, they would probably sink under. Hence, for all eternity, they will rejoice in the sufferings which placed them so close to Jesus and Mary in heaven.

As I have said, the Church appears to have entered upon the time when she mystically represents the Passion of our Lord, and her members are unusually afflicted and tried.
The thought therefore, cannot be too much in your mind, of the priceless value of suffering, and of the short time the severest suffering can last. Meditate again and again, in union with the Mother of Sorrows upon the value (we might say almost the infinite value) of suffering, since it will procure an infinite reward. It will be well to remember also that suffering not only brings us to a closer union with God, and therefore greater happiness in heaven, but it gives birth to a greater happiness here on earth.

You who suffer, will taste a joy, even if your suffering seems to be like death, a joy not conceived by those who pass through life with only its ordinary cares. Suffering is one thing we may glory in. Suffering born patiently, born as God wills, is
a present we may offer in some way back to God, and be sure it will be a gift most pleasing to Him. All that we suffer, we, of course, in our present fallen state, deserve, but if God sees that in our hearts we are willing to suffer even undeserved suffering to please Him, to save our souls, He accepts that will of ours, and our suffering is beautified to some resemblance to our Lady’s.

Chapter Four: On Understanding The Spirit of Mary

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