Consecration to the
Immaculate Heart of Mary
According to the Spirit of St. Louis de Montfort's
TRUE DEVOTION TO MARY
Fr. Nicholas A. Norman
DIRECTOR THE CONFRATERNITY OF MARY QUEEN OF ALL HEARTS
Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1949
THE EMINENCE OF MARY, PART 2
THE EXCELLENCE OF MARY
To understand her, we must first comprehend how God has endowed His Queen, how He has adorned her with matchless beauty and loveliness, irresistible power and ineffable glory.
St. Augustine says that whatever we may say in praise of Mary is little in comparison with what she deserves (G. M. p. 92). Pope Pius IX in defining the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception says that her sanctity exceeds that of all the Angels and Saints put together, and that it is so great that only the mind of God can comprehend it. (Papal Bull of Pius IX Ineffabilis Deus). St. Thomas Aquinas says: "From the fact that she is the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin has a certain infinite dignity, derived from the Infinite Good Who is God, and on this account cannot be anything better, just as there cannot be anything better than God." (Summa Theol. Ia. qu. 25 art. 6, ad. 4).
The only thing great enough to be compared with Mary is number itself.
Number is not infinity. The bounds of number are lost in mystery, but an immeasurable void separates it from infinity. It is intrinsically impossible to imagine anything being added to infinity. Number however is capable of indefinite increase. Let us imagine the greatest number we can comprehend -----more can always be added to it. Indeed we can multiply it by itself, cube it, raise it to any power. Human understanding falters and fails to grasp even comparatively low numbers; only the mind of God can comprehend it all.
So with the perfections and the glory of Mary. She is not infinite; a boundless chasm yawns between her perfections and those of God. But her perfections are as vast as number, and only the mind of God will ever comprehend them.
Why did God endow her so? Can we give all His reasons? "Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor?" But when we understand the nature of the objective and the subjective redemption, we begin to see a gleam of light.
By His sufferings and death, Our Lord filled the infinite reservoir of Divine grace. This was the objective redemption.
To the Holy Spirit we attribute the work of dispensing these graces, of sending the limpid waters down upon the parched desert and making it bloom. This is the subjective redemption, and it is still going on.
The Divinity does not do this by Itself alone. God associated a human being with Him so closely that the nearest comparison in this world is the union of marriage, wherein two, retaining their individual natures in a sense, become one. This one He called His spouse, and gave to her the administration of all the graces, so that she grants the Divine largesse "to whom she wills, as much as she wills, as she wills and when she wills." (T. D. 25). She became the Mediatrix of All Graces, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, Queen of the Angels, Queen of Heaven and Earth.
Her position is unique in dignity and power. Her word is sufficient to draw down all graces. But neither does she work alone. St. Robert Bellarmine says that if Christ is the Head of the Mystical Body, then she is the neck through which everything passes from the Head to the rest of the body. The rest of the Mystical Body, by their sufferings, prayers, love and atonement, have a subordinate part in drawing down the waters from the reservoir. So it will be until the end of time. When the last grace has been given to the last man according to the eternal Divine Plan, then the Mystical Body will be complete, the Redemption will be accomplished not only objectively but also subjectively, and the new Creation will begin.
It is by accomplishing the subjective redemption, the drawing down and the application of the infinite merits of Christ, and dispensing them to mankind, that the work of the Head is completed by the rest of the Body, and the words of St. Paul are fulfilled: "I fill up those things that are wanting to the sufferings of Christ." (Col. 1:24). It is in the sense of the subjective redemption also that St. Augustine says:
"And so the Passion of Christ is not in Christ alone, and yet the Passion of Christ is in Christ alone. For if in Christ you consider both the head and the body, then Christ's Passion is in Christ alone, but if by Christ you mean only the head, then the Passion of Christ is not in Christ alone . . . Hence if you are members of Christ . . . whatever you suffer at the hands of those who are not members of Christ, was lacking to the sufferings of Christ. It is added precisely because it was lacking. You fill up the measure; you do not cause it to overflow. You will suffer just so much as must be added of your sufferings to the complete Passion of Christ, Who suffered as our Head, and Who continues still to suffer in His members, that is, in us. Into this common treasury each pays what he owes, and according to each one's ability, we all contribute our share of suffering. The full measure of the Passion will not be attained until the end of the world." (S. A. p. 219).
MARY MEDIATRIX OF ALL GRACES
Some say that Our Lady participated in the objective redemption, but this is not certain. At any rate, her pre-eminence in the work of the subjective redemption amply justifies her beautiful title: Co-Redemptrix (R. R.).
Mary is Mediatrix of All Graces in virtue of her ineffable union with her Spouse, the Holy Spirit, the Dispenser of All Grace.
What does this mean and what does this imply? Fr. Motherway, S.J. explains this clearly:
"Our Lady is Mediatrix in the sense that no petition of man can come to Christ except through her, also no grace or favor comes from Christ except through Mary . . . She is the one member of Christ's Mystical Body who mediates between the Head and the members, helping to apply to everyone of them the very least gift that flows from the Head to every least member of that Body . . . No prayer to God or His Saints ever gets a hearing at the Throne of Infinite Majesty unless offered for us by the Queen of Heaven herself." (R. R.).
CONFIRMATION OF THIS DOCTRINE
The Saints abound who have extolled the extraordinary position and glory of Mary.
Witness these statements of Doctors of the Church:
St. Bernard-----"God has filled Mary with all graces, so that men may receive by her means, as by a channel, every good thing that comes to them," (G. M. 93).
St. Alphonsus-----"We most readily admit that Jesus Christ is the only Mediator of justice, and by His merits obtains for us all graces and salvation; but we say that Mary is the Mediatrix of Grace, and that, receiving all that she obtains through Jesus Christ, and because she prays for it and asks for it in the name of Jesus Christ, yet all the same, whatever graces we receive, they come to us through her intercession." (G. M. p. 90).
St. Bonaventure-----"Mary is called 'the Gate of Heaven' because no one can enter that blessed Kingdom without passing through her." (G. M. 94).
St. Robert Bellarmine-----"God decreed that all the gifts, all the graces, and all the heavenly blessings which proceed from Christ as the Head should pass through Mary to the Body of the Church. Even as the physical body has several members in its other parts, but only one head and neck, so also the Church has many Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors and Virgins, but only one Head, the Son of God, and one bond between the Head and the members, the Mother of God," (Concio 42, De Nativitate B. V. M.).
As for the other Saints, let St. Louis De Montfort, the herald of Mary, speak for them all:
"We have three steps to mount to God: the first, which is nearest to us, and most suited to our capacity, is Mary; the second is Jesus Christ, the third is God the Father. To go to Jesus, we must go to Mary; she is the Mediatrix of intercession," (T. D. 86).
To Mary, His faithful spouse, God the Holy Ghost has communicated His unspeakable gifts. He has chosen her to be the dispenser of all He possesses, in such sort that she distributes to whom she wills, as much as she wills, as she wills and when she wills, all His gifts and graces. The Holy Spirit gives no heavenly gift to men which He does not pass through her virginal hands. Such has been the will of God Who has willed that we should have dioceses celebrate [her role of Mediatrix] on May 31.
From the multitudinous testimonials of the Church to the glory of Mary, we mention but a few:
The Church applies to her the words of the Book of Ecclesiasticus, 24:5:
"In me is all grace of the way and of the truth; in
me is all hope of life and of virtue."
Likewise from the Book of Proverbs 8:35:
"He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have
salvation from the Lord."
Leo XIII, in the encyclical of September 22, 1891:
"We may affirm that by the will of God, nothing is given to us without Mary's mediation, in such a way that just as no one can approach the almighty Father but through His Son, so no one, so to speak, can approach Christ but through His Mother."
Pius X, in the encyclical of February 2, 1904:
"By the communion of sorrows and of will between Christ and Mary, she has deserved to become the dispenser of all the blessings which Jesus acquired for us by His Blood."
Benedict XV authorized the Mass of Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces, celebrated in certain dioceses on May 31.
What is the theological rating of the proposition that Mary is Mediatrix of All Graces? Fr. Dennis Burns, S. J. writes thus:
"The strongest note that can be applied at present to the proposition that Our Lady is the Mediatrix of All Graces is 'de fide Catholica ex fugi magisterio fere proxime definibilis' [of Catholic Faith from the universal teaching authority of the Church, just about ready for definition] since it has been generally accepted by the 'ecclesia docens et discens' [the Church teaching and taught], vigorously proposed by St. Bernard and others, all the contrary arguments have been solved, but a little more time is required for a better understanding on the part of the faithful of the theological formula of the doctrine to be defined and for removing whatever practical microscopic doubts and difficulties there may be in the mind of some." It may be noted that such microscopic doubts and difficulties persisted about the Immaculate Conception until its definition, after which of course there was no longer any room for argument.
REASON FOR MARY'S POSITION
The ultimate reason for Mary's preeminence among the children of men is the will of God, Who envisioned His spouse from all eternity and in time created her to His image and likeness with a fidelity of detail unknown to any other, and adorned her with His choicest graces.
But did Mary do anything of herself to merit for herself? Indeed she did.
Sanctity is the perfect alignment and welding of the human will with the Divine will. This Mary did to the most perfect degree possible.
All Heaven and earth waited for her consent for the Incarnation. And consent she did, knowing full well it would entail deep suffering on her part. Being full of grace, she was full of the gifts of the Holy Spirit; and the Spirit of Wisdom gave her to understand the prophecies. She saw no earthly monarch in the Messias, but the Sovereign of the Kingdom of God. She knew He would be "despised, and the most abject of men, a Man of Sorrows" (Isaias 53) and that His suffering would be her own.
She loved her Son as no other mother dare love her child; she could truly adore Him, for He was God. And when the time came for Him to bear upon Himself the sins of the world, His most exquisite agony, she understood and felt, more than anyone else in the world who ever was or will be, His excruciating suffering, for she too was sinless. When we love, it is harder to see the one we love suffer than it is to bear the sufferings ourselves. Yet her will remained steadfast, united to the will of the Father even in the face of the ultimate pain.
St. Robert Bellarmine writes:
"Have no doubts about it, the Blessed Virgin suffered extremely when she beheld her Son hanging on the gibbet of the Cross. But she loved the honor and glory of God more than the human flesh of her Son. She stood there under the Cross as the Valiant Woman who showed not the trace of impatience over the exquisite pains to which Christ was unjustly condemned. She did not fall to the earth, faint with grief, as some artists would have us believe; she did not tear her hair or scream or bewail as other women might, but bore her sorrow courageously, because she knew that the spectacle before her had been justly willed by God. As much as she loved the human form of Christ, she loved the honor of His Father and our Redemption more. Thus did she blend her own affections with those of Christ, Who also preferred His Father's glory and our salvation to the temporal safety and security of His human body." (De Septem Verbis Domini, c. 11).
METHOD OF INTERCESSION
Mary obtains all graces for us by her infallible intercession.
St. Louis De Montfort writes:
"The authority which God has been well pleased to give her is so great that it seems as if she had the same power as God; and her prayers and petitions are so powerful with God that they always pass for commandments with His Majesty, Who never resists the prayer of His dear Mother because she is always humble and conformed to His will." (T. D. 27).
Fr. Motherway says: "How then does Mary dispense God's grace to us?
Most theologians say that she dispenses by interceding, so that there is not a complete difference between her activity as intercessor and her activity as a dispenser of Divine favors. But her intercession has a special character because of which it can be rightly called an act of distribution. If you ask what that characteristic is, we reply that such is the attitude of our Divine Lord, Mary's Son, towards His well-beloved Mother that He looks upon her every request as though it were a command.
Hence for her to ask a favor is the same as to designate its recipient. Our Lord never refuses her prayer. He has determined never to do so, and in that sense He cannot do so; in Heaven, Mary's wish always prevails. Hence too it may be said that her intercession is infallible. It never fails." (R. R.).
NEED OF HER INTERCESSION
If Mary is the Mediatrix of All Graces, the need of her intercession for us and our complete union with her, is obvious.
St. Louis De Montfort observes:
"Mary has produced, together with the Holy Spirit, the greatest thing that has ever been or ever will be-----the God-Man . . . It is only that singular and miraculous Virgin who can produce, in union with the Holy Spirit, singular and extraordinary things.
"When the Holy Spirit, her Spouse, 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 great reasons why the Holy Spirit does not now do startling wonders in our souls is because He does not find there sufficiently great union with His faithful and inseparable spouse." (T. D. 36).
This is the glory of Mary-----favorite daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, Gate of Heaven, Mediatrix of All Graces, Queen of Heaven and Earth. And who shall list all the other titles of Her Majesty?
But there is one title that she still lacks-----one to which she has every right, yet not one to be conferred upon her by the Eternal Father, but only by her children. It is the title that proclaims her reign over their free wills, their hearts. Loving us with a love beyond all the power of words to say, she yearns with inexpressible longing for that title which it is in our power, and only in ours, aided by grace, to give-----"Queen of All
What shall we do that she may be given the crown of the Kingdom of the Hearts of Men?
We must simply render unto her, and see to it that as many as we can inspire to do the same shall likewise eagerly and joyously give unto her, True Devotion-----not just anything that passes for devotion, but devotion in the truest, fullest sense, all that is in our power to give and to obtain for her.