Chapter Four: On Understanding The Spirit Of Mary

mary potter statue

I

The object of this work is to put the spirit of Mary in the place of our own selfish spirit, and to do this, you must understand that spirit.
As our Lady was sinless, suffering was not a necessary part of her life, as it is for the rest of humanity. Therefore, the sufferings —
the sword that pierced her soul, the profound sorrow that broke her heart, was a pure gift that she offered to God. She would not have been deprived of one of the sorrows which enabled her to offer to God a present which was entirely her own. To explain what I mean by that,
I must show you another of our Lady’s interior dispositions—one which she bestows in some measure upon her own, upon those who have given themselves to her, by the practice of this devotion. It is in fact, the essential disposition of the devotion, and the one which renders those who possess it so inexpressibly dear to God.

Our Lady Mary always possessed a clear and calm sense of her position as a creature to God her Creator. Being a creature, she had no rights of her own. All that she did, she did for God. Being created, she must be created to give honour and glory to God. There was nothing overstrained in the thoughts of Mary. She was wonderfully simple. And this Magnificent Woman never lost sight of that simple truth of her being — it gave her the wonderful charm, the humility, and the nobility which God loved so much in His handmaid — this perfect and sinless vessel of grace He has created to be His Daughter, Spouse, and Mother. Mary did not exaggerate. The thought that she always possessed (namely that in giving herself entirely to God she was simply doing her duty) was a true and just one.

Mary had no reason to make a formal offering of herself to God. It was the first thought of her existence. It had ever seemed to her right and just, right and reasonable. Mary did not consider that the entire oblation she had made to God of her whole being was at all a grand offering or sacrifice. No, she looked at it as right and reasonable. Her services to God, she considered a ‘reasonable service’. She did not consider herself in the least heroic or generous, but as simply doing what it was right to do. Thus the practice of this devotion keeps you in your proper place in creation.

You are a work of God, you are therefore bound to give Him glory. You are bound to serve Him as He wishes. You differ from the inanimate works of God, in that you can choose not to serve Him as He wishes, but the most reasonable thing you can do is to fulfil the end of your creation, to choose to do so, as the inanimate works of God are obliged to fulfil the end for which they are made. You were made for God, therefore you should seek to live for Him alone, and not to live for yourself, anymore than the sun shines for itself. By this devotion, you aim a death blow at self. Your actions no longer belong to you, you cannot even dispose of them. The atmosphere in the Path of Mary is a very bad one for self love,
it cannot thrive there.

The farther you advance along this path, the more you will see what a reasonable thing you have done by entering it, and by consecrating to God by Mary, all that you are and all that you possess. You will see that you owe to God your entire service, without any thought of reward for what you do, because He created you and because you belong to Him. You will see that you owe Him still more—your entire service, because He redeemed you, because He laid down His life for you. You will more and more realize the words of the Apostle, that you are not your own: “you are purchased at a great price”.

Yes, you are purchased at the price of the Precious Blood of Jesus, and you belong to Jesus by right of that dear price He paid for you. However, because He loves the free offering of His creatures, He allows — no — He desires, that you should come and make the offering, of your own free will, of what really by rights, belongs to Him. This devotion therefore puts you in a truthful position with God. You will realize that all you do is but what you ought to do. It is simply what you owe to God as His creature.

II


As I have said, this was our Lady’s constant thought. I also pointed out to you the differences between our Lady’s suffering and ours. Of course I am not speaking of the immensity of her suffering, but of the fact that she, a pure sinless creature was exempt from all law of suffering, and therefore her sufferings possessed a value in the sight of God that is difficult for us to understand. Mary’s sorrows were more entirely her own gift to God than anything else she offered Him.

Now, if we give ourselves entirely to our blessed Queen and Mother, she gives herself to us. We are made partakers of her spirit, and are therefore able to make a present, to offer a gift to God in some degree resembling Mary’s. For instance, by the offering you have made of all your actions, even your sufferings are at the disposal of Mary. You are visited by some great grief, and through that sorrow, might satisfy for yourself many years penance in this world, or in purgatory, yet, being at the disposal of Mary, she may use it as she pleases.

It may serve to release a soul from purgatory, it may obtain an act of contrition for a dying sinner, and thus save a soul from eternal punishment. (I must remark here, that you cannot dispose of the merit of our actions, that is to say the eternal reward we shall obtain for them, the glory we obtain in heaven by them, but by giving away the satisfactory part of our actions we increase our merit and our eternal reward.)

Thus you enter into the dispositions of our Lady, and God accepts your intentions, the intention by which, though you had the great happiness of being free from the least stain that could displease God, of never having committed the smallest sin, still you would suffer willingly and patiently for the pure love of God. Those who have learned to suffer well, have learned a great lesson. And it is Mary’s own who attain this most quickly. To copy from De Montfort’s book, already so often mentioned:

“The servants of Mary carry their crosses with more ease, more merit and more glory. That which would hinder the progress of another a thousand times over, or perhaps would make him fall, does not once arrest their steps, but rather enables them to advance, because that good Mother, all full of the graces and unction of the Holy Spirit, preserves all the crosses which she cuts for them in the sugar of her Maternal sweetness, so that they swallow them gaily, like preserved fruits, however bitter they may be in themselves. And, I believe, that a person who wishes to be devout and to live piously in Jesus Christ, and consequently to suffer persecutions and carry his cross daily, will never carry great crosses, or carry them joyously or perseveringly, without a tender devotion to our Lady, which is the sweetmeat and confection of crosses.”

III


In these trying days of the Church, when, as it has been said, unusual temptations abound and trials of all kinds are assailing God’s people. In these sad times, when we see some whom we respected and loved falling under those temptations, and falling away from the Church, well may we fear for ourselves, well may we tremble, and wise shall we
be if we seek that assistance that may hinder us from falling and giving up as others do.

It is Mary who will assist us in the hour of need.

A saint compares her to a firm anchor, which holds fast and hinders our making shipwreck in the agitated sea of this world, where many persons perish simply through not being fastened to that anchor. “We fasten our souls”, he says, “to thy hope as to an abiding anchor”.Happy are the Christians who are now fastened firmly and entirely to her, as to
a firm anchor.
The violence of the storms of this world will not make them founder nor sink their heavenly treasures. Happy are those who enter into Mary as into the ark of Noah.
The waters of the deluge of sin which drown so great a portion of the world shall do no harm to them.

This good Mother, out of pure charity always receives whatever we deposit with her, and what she has once received, in her office of Treasurer, she is obliged by justice to keep safely for us. The word ‘anchor’ is one which we may well apply to this Mother of holy hope. We use an anchor as a symbol of hope, and when was there ever such hope as that possessed by the heart of Mary, even on Calvary, where it was as bright as it had been at the most glorious times in our Lord’s life.

IV


Now it should always be remembered that hope is one of the theological virtues, and must be cultivated as carefully as faith and love. God loves us to hope in Him. “He will have mercy on us, according to our trust in Him.” I want you to remember that the essence of this devotion is to give our service to God, primarily because it is right and just to do so, and also because we are unprofitable servants and should not look to any rewards or compensation. Still, Mary’s own look forward to a reward.

They look and long for their home in heaven. But, with the truthfulness engendered by this devotion, they look forward to it and long for it as a pure mercy of God, which no service of theirs could have deserved or earned. Mary’s own walk more confidently, more hopefully, from this very knowledge, and their humble hope is well pleasing to God, and according to their hope, it will be done to them.


Ah then, hasten to Mary, and drink of her milk. Be filled with her spirit, renew upon this earth her virtues, supply for your own weak hope, faith and love, by her ardent hope, her firm faith, her burning love. Ask Mary to give you her heart, her Immaculate heart, that it may supply for your own sinful heart. Love that heart, consecrate yourself to it, make your home in it, and make it your constant endeavour to be actuated by all the holy desires, wishes and prayers that emanate from it. Let your sufferings, your actions, your words, your whole being, renew again on this earth, the life of Mary.

To do this, you must study Mary. To study Mary you must enter her heart, and observe its workings.

In union then with Jesus, love the heart of Mary, and that sweet Mother heart will show you some of the love it has for you, and your own heart will overflow with joy as you remember the dear Mother you have in Heaven, loving you with the real human heart, that on earth suffered so much for you. The Queen of Angels is your own Mother Mary. No one need fear or be dazzled at her glory, for pointing to the heart pierced for us with the sword of sorrow, she speaks to us saying: “Come all to me, for I am your Mother”.

Will you refuse her invitation? Will you refuse to give yourself to her who, unworthy though you are, desires so to possess you for her own? Ah no! Already you must have resolved that if there is anything you can do for Mary, you, by the grace of God will do it. It will cost you a little trouble—perhaps a little effort, but you will not mind that to please your heavenly Mother. You will gladly exercise a little extra self-restraint for the love of Jesus, who desires you should thus honour His Mother.
You will not think it much to seek more earnestly to destroy your self-love, when by doing so you give glory to the ever adorable and resplendent Trinity.

Then enter this Path of Mary and walk faithfully therein.

If you acquire the habit (which may be a little trouble at first), of constantly renouncing your self-love, your self-will, and living by the will of Mary, all you do will be utterly dear to the Most High God. By being offered by the hands of Mary, your prayers and sacrifices cannot be refused, otherwise God might see your own will in them and reject them, as He rejected the prayers of His people in ages gone by, because He found their own will in them.

When you have an offering to make to God, says St. Bernard, be sure to offer it by the hands of Mary, if you would not have it rejected. And again, by being offered by Mary, your actions acquire a merit they would never have of themselves. Constantly then, renew your offering to Mary, by an act of your will, by a word or a look to Mary. Constantly remind yourself that you live to do what she wishes you do in her place.

Be earnest in acquiring the priceless treasure of God’s grace by all the means you can, because by doing so, you add to the store you have deposited in the hands of Mary.
Remember above all, there is one thing you can do now that Mary cannot—that is, you can suffer. Oh then, suffer in her place if you would be one of the favourites of heaven, if you would be one of those upon whom the loving eyes of Jesus rested in His death agony, if you would be one of those who gave comfort to that sadly grieved heart agonizing on the Cross.

V

If you would be loved with a special love by our dear Lord, imitate the patient gentle Mother, who stood with broken heart at the foot of the cross, joining her tears with the Blood that was there shed with such ardent love that souls might be saved. Imitate that sweet Mother, who in the midst of suffering such as no other purely human heart has ever known, thought not of her own grief, but saw it as a means of invoking what Jesus drew upon this world, the Mercy of God.

Let us then, in time of suffering, be unselfish and, knowing that it is the time when we can pray most powerfully (for the prayer of a suffering heart has wondrous power with God), let us, united to the compassionate Maternal Heart of Mary, join her in offering the Precious Blood, the outpoured life of Jesus. Let us beg the Mercy of God, that his Holy Spirit may descend now upon the Church, the Spouse of Christ, now persecuted as was her Lord.

Pray then for the members of the Church, whom Mary sees to have greatest need. Pray for the world as Mary did on Calvary, and the united prayers of Mary’s own (united and therefore strong before God, unselfish, breathing only the wish and will of Mary), will be acceptable in His sight.


As Mary’s heart echoed the cry of the Precious Blood as she stood on Calvary, so let our hearts echo the cry of our Mother and lose themselves within the recesses of that valiant and heroic heart, and be filled with the pure love with which it is filled. Then our voices may join the prayer and sacrifice of Calvary, and move God’s great mercy to grant a renewed outpouring of the priceless gifts of the Holy Spirit upon the Church in general, upon ourselves and upon the world.

At Mass especially, while the Precious Blood is presented in the Chalice, during the most solemn time of Eucharist, Mary’s own should be present in her place. Their occupation should be the same as hers on Calvary. But what was Mary’s occupation there? Think! There may be something you have never thought of before. On the altar, there is the same Precious Blood that was shed during the time of the Passion, that was trampled underfoot, outraged and insulted, until the Immaculate Heart of Mary, sickening at the sight of this precious object of her adoration so despised, would rather have poured out her whole being in reparation to the outraged majesty of God.

Knowing, as we can never fully know, how absolutely wonderous is the price of our Redemption in the sight of the Eternal Father, and the unutterable love the Holy Spirit has for the Precious Blood, the mortal life of Jesus, then make your act of reparation. It is a solemn duty we have, we, the people of the earth, who by our sins have thus outraged what is so unspeakably adorable, the Blood of Christ. Even to this day, the same insults are offered to it (though in another way),
by those who reject the sacraments, trample on the laws of God, and ridicule the truths of religion.

Mary’s own bring before Jesus, the heart of His Mother, and thus make reparation to Him while they join its prayer of petition for mercy, even for those who treat it so sacrilegiously. Let us then, assist at Mass in union with Mary on Calvary, and join, as did the angels in adoring the Precious Blood outraged and insulted by those for whom it was shed with so great a love. What glory will God receive when this devotion will have spread throughout the world, when in every place where Mass is said, there are some who take Mary’s place and assist as Mary assisted on Calvary, when souls invite our Lord in Holy Communion to take His repose where He so loves to be, namely in the heart of Mary’s own.

When numbers of God’s people are striving in all their actions, in all their prayers, in their whole conduct to renew again upon this earth the life of Mary, what glory will be given to God. You who are now reading what I write out of love for you, whom God so dearly loves, I would pray you to be in earnest. Do not think you have done all
I recommmend, by the one act of consecration which I ask you to make, and by which you enter this Path of Mary. No indeed. You have not. You have taken a great step, you have done your soul great, great service, but according to your advancement in this path will be the benefit that will accrue to your soul from it, and the farther you advance, the greater beauties of this sweet way to heaven will be disclosed to you.

How are you to advance?

I will tell you. By a more and more constant renunciation of yourself, by more and more constant little acts by which you renew your offering to Mary. Without laying stress on sensible feeling, I would say that if at anytime you have the consciousness of your soul growing dry within you, look into yourself, and see whether, perhaps without your having seen it, you have been relying on some good quality within you, and have forgotten to approach our Lord through Mary. You must ever remember that your best dispositions, good as they may be, as they must be, if they are the work of the Holy Spirit within your soul, must be covered and surmounted by the dispositions of Mary, if you wish greatly to please our Lord and give great glory to the Blessed Trinity.

You must likewise approach Mary by Jesus, if you desire to possess the choicest love of her Mother Heart. These two dispositions are one, though at present perhaps you cannot see how that could be.

The spirit of Jesus and Mary is one.


Thus you will possess the one spirit that animated those two lives and renew in yourself those lives. At one time you will rest with Jesus on Mary’s breast, at another, bending over Him, you will fold Him with her, close to your heart. The more you are united to Mary, the closer will be your union with Jesus. The farther you advance in the Path of Mary, the nearer will our Lord draw you to his loving heart.

The Path of Mary — Conclusion

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