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
TRUE DEVOTION, PART 2
FORMS OF TRUE DEVOTION
True devotion to Our Lady has one intrinsic characteristic-----it leads through her to Jesus. It may have many external forms. None of these has a monopoly of true devotion. One may lead to Him by a more direct route, one less direct; one may be easier, one less easy; one may be more attractive to an individual soul than any other form, but if a devotion to Our Lady surely leads us to her Son, then it is true devotion.
Pope Pius XII, speaking to the pilgrims who attended the canonization of St. Louis De Montfort, spoke thus:
"Now it is necessary to speak of sincere and loyal devotion. He is the author of the treatise True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, which is distinguished by those very traits from a false devotion more or less superstitious, or from some superficial sentiments, which puts on the appearance while living in sin, counting on a miraculous grace at the last hour.
"True devotion, that of Tradition, that of the Church, that, We say, in a good Christian and Catholic sense, tends essentially to union with Jesus under the guidance of Mary. The form and practice of this devotion may vary according to times, places, personal inclinations. Within the limits of a sane, sure doctrine, of orthodoxy, and the dignity of the cult, the Church allows her children a just margin of liberty. Their conscience in regard to what is the true and perfect devotion towards the Holy Virgin is not at all so bound to these modalities that anyone of them can claim a monopoly.
"Behold, therefore, beloved sons and daughters, why We ardently desire that, over and above the various manifestations of piety towards the Mother of God, Mother of Men, you may draw from the treasure of the writings and examples of our Saint, that which he made the basis of his Marian devotion:
his firm conviction of the most powerful intercession of Mary;
his resolute will to imitate her as far as possible; the vehement ardor of his love for her and for Jesus." (A. A. S. 1947).
Those who glance over the surface of a devotion, without ever plumbing its depths, are like a man who sees a few flecks of gold lying on the ground, and calls himself rich, never going down to the fabulously rich vein below. Vain sentimentality can encourage many and curious external practices, but only faith and love can inspire the labor of mining the true treasure. And indeed the writings of St. Louis De Montfort are a treasure, as the Holy Father affirms, and in the vastness of its riches will be found the pure gold of true devotion.
ST. LOUIS DE MONTFORT
Louis Grignion was born at Montfort, France, on January 31, 1673, of well-to-do, influential parents. From his father, who was of the old, austere patriarchal type, whose word was absolute law, he inherited a stubborn determination, which however he used entirely to advance the reign of Jesus and Mary. He spurned the comforts and advantages of his inherited station in life, and offered himself to God completely in the priesthood. He was ordained in 1690, and so utterly did he break with his former world that he dropped his family name, and called himself simply "Louis of Montfort."
The going was rough for him all the days of his priesthood. In that powdered and perfumed age, he ignored the fastidious conventions of deportment and attire to such an extent that he alienated practically everyone who knew him. His times could not understand such complete detachment. His contemporaries lauded the Saints for similar lives, but when the reality was brought before their very eyes, it was a different matter. He was rejected, despised, contemned and condemned with an insistence that would have broken a lesser spirit. St. Paul speaks of those who were " . . . in want, distressed, afflicted; of whom the world was not worthy . . ." (Heb. 11:37-38). Louis of Montfort was one of these. But now, as the great mills of God grind on, slowly but exceedingly fine, Louis stands forth as St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, a Saint, a canonized Saint.
He bequeathed to the world a treasury of gold and jewels, set in the casket of his treatise: True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let Father Faber, the great English spiritual writer, speak of that sublime work:
"If I may dare to say so, there is a growing feeling of something inspired and supernatural about it, as we go on studying it; and with that we cannot help experiencing, after repeated readings of it, that its novelty never seems to wear off, nor its fullness to be diminished, nor the fresh fragrance and sensible fire of its unction ever to abate." (T. D., preface).
One may imagine the fury of the Evil One as this book was being written. He does his utmost to cloud men's minds to its glories and truths, as he clouded the minds of the Scribes and Pharisees. The Saint prophesied this attack and foretold that his work would be lost awhile, as indeed it was, being rediscovered only in 1842.
St. Louis died at St. Laurent-sur-Sevre on April 28, 1716. On May 12, 1853, his doctrines were pronounced free from error. He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1888, and canonized by Pope Pius XII on July 20, 1947.
HIS DEVOTION NOT NEW
At the outset, let it be said that St. Louis did not consider himself the originator of the doctrine he proposed and preached with all his soul. He expressly disclaims that honor.
"The practice which I am teaching is not new. M. Boudon, who died a short time ago in the odor of sanctity, says in a book which he composed on this devotion, that it is so ancient that we cannot precisely fix the date of its beginning. It is, however, certain that for more than seven hundred years we find traces of it in the Church," (T. D. 159 sq.).
ESSENCE OF HIS DEVOTION
He expresses the essence of his devotion in the fol- lowing words:
"All our perfection consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ; and therefore the most perfect of all devotions is, without any doubt, that which the most perfectly conforms, unites and consecrates us to Jesus Christ. Now, Mary being the most conformed of all creatures to Jesus Christ, it follows that of all devotions, that which most consecrates and conforms the soul to Our Lord is devotion to His holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to Mary, the more it is consecrated to Jesus.
"Hence it comes to pass that the most perfect consecration to Jesus Christ is nothing else but a perfect and entire consecration of ourselves to the Blessed Virgin, and this is the devotion which I teach; or, in other words, a perfect renewal of the vows and promises of holy Baptism." (T. D. 120).
The vehement ardor of St. Louis' love, of which Pope Pius XII spoke, found its flaming expression in consecration. No gesture of piety this, but a sublime oblation of the will, freely and joyously conforming it utterly to the Divine.
Conformity to the Divine Will-----this is the highest perfection which man can ever attain. It simply means being conformed to the Divine Mold. Clinging to our own will in anything at all means that union with the Divinity is expected to occur by the mold's changing to fit the base metal poured into it. The result would be distortion and ugliness. But a conformity that holds back nothing at all, not even the disposition of our prayers and disposable merits-----this is what the consecration of St. Louis De Montfort, fully lived, achieves.
He did not look upon the will to make this complete sacrifice of self as the ultimate goal, something to be attained only after years of endeavor. Boldly and unhesitatingly he establishes this as the very gateway to the practice of his devotion. Thue, he prescribes a three-week preparation for the solemn event, a vigil of arms before making the pledge of fealty to the Liege Lord and to the Mistress of All. But as the knight proved his loyalty not so much by the oath of fealty as by his subsequent defense of his lord, so the vassal of the Lord of Lords and His Immaculate Queen will prove his fidelity not so much by the Act of Consecration itself as by his subsequent loyal living of it until death.
St. Louis left to the world a sublime formula for making this initial consecration. He entitled it: "Consecration to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, through the Blessed Virgin Mary." The first part of the prayer is addressed to Jesus, and the remainder, including the actual words of the oblation, to Mary. Our Lady is the proximate and immediate object of devotion, but the ultimate and final one is Jesus. The Saint esteemed consecration to Mary as the surest and best way of being truly consecrated to her Divine Son.
THE ACT OF CONSECRATION
This is the formula whose making and living has opened the heavens for so many favored souls:
O ETERNAL and Incarnate Wisdom! O sweetest and most adorable Jesus! True God and true Man, only Son of the Eternal Father and of Mary ever virgin! I adore Thee profoundly in the bosom and splendors of Thy Father during eternity, and I adore Thee also in the virginal bosom of Mary, Thy most worthy Mother, in the time of Thine Incarnation.
I give Thee thanks for that Thou hast annihilated Thyself, taking the form of a slave, in order to rescue me from the cruel slavery of the devil. I praise and glorify Thee because Thou hast been pleased to submit Thyself to Mary, Thy holy Mother, in all things, in order to make me Thy faithful slave through her. But, alas! Ungrateful and faithless as I have been, I have not kept the promises which I made so solemnly to Thee in my Baptism; I have not fulfilled my obligations; I do not deserve to be called Thy child, nor yet Thy slave; and as there is nothing in me which does not merit Thine anger and Thy repulse, I dare not come by myself before Thy most holy and august Majesty. It is on this account that I have recourse to the intercession of Thy most holy Mother, whom Thou hast given me for a mediatrix with Thee. It is through her that I hope to obtain of Thee contrition, the pardon of my sins, and the acquisition and preservation of wisdom.
Hail, then, O Immaculate Mary, living tabernacle of the Divinity, where the Eternal Wisdom willed to be hidden and to be adored by Angels and by men! Hail, O Queen of Heaven and earth, to whose empire everything is subject which is under God. Hail, O sure refuge of sinners, whose mercy fails no one. Hear the desires which I have of the Divine Wisdom; and for that end receive the vows and offerings which in my lowliness I present to thee.
I, (name), a faithless sinner, renew and ratify today in thy hands the vows of my Baptism; I renounce forever Satan, his pomps and works; and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before.
In the presence of all the Heavenly Court, I choose thee this day for my Mother and mistress. I deliver and consecrate to thee, as thy slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions-----past, present and future-----leaving to thee the entire and full right of disposing of me and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to thy good pleasure, for the greater glory of God, in time and in eternity.
Receive, O benignant Virgin, this little offering of my slavery, in honor of and in union with that subjection which the Eternal Wisdom deigned to have to thy maternity, in homage to the power which both of you have over this poor sinner and in thanksgiving for the privileges with which the Holy Trinity has favored thee. I declare that I wish henceforth, as thy true slave, to seek thy honor and to obey thee in all things.
O admirable Mother, present me to thy dear Son as His eternal slave, so that as He has redeemed me by thee, by thee He may receive me! O Mother of Mercy, grant me the grace to obtain the true Wisdom of God, arid for that end receive me among those whom thou dost love and teach, whom thou dost lead, nourish and protect as thy children and thy slaves.
O faithful Virgin, make me in all things so perfect a disciple, imitator and slave of the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ thy Son, that I may attain, by thine intercession and by thine example, to the fullness of His age on earth and of His glory in Heaven. Amen.