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
LIVING THE CONSECRATION
By making the Act of Consecration, Mary's loyal child takes upon himself the slavery that bears no stigma and enters into the inner circle of her court. Once there, it is not enough to rest and be served. It is time to work and to serve as never before. Thereafter he will do everything she desires, everything that she has made known that there is to do. Mary has so often called men to say the Rosary; that her devoted page will surely do. Atonement and penance-----her request at Lourdes, her demand at Fatima-----her courtier in this will try to anticipate the wishes of his Queen and give her more than she seeks, with her loving smile his greatest reward. The Scapular, the Miraculous Medal, anything certain and approved, he will make his own, for all his thoughts are for his Queen.
St. Louis further definitizes the mode of procedure for the lover of Mary. He will act with her, and in her, and through her, and for her. (S. M. 43.).
He will align himself completely with her will. He will be the unresisting implement in her hand for the accomplishment of the Divine Will that no one else knows so well as she, the brush in the hand of Mary the painter, the chisel in the hand of Mary the sculptor.
Complete conformity to the will of God-----that is perfect sanctity.
Nature affords no more beautiful picture of the calm and peace that is man's heritage than a quiet, lonely, pine-fringed lake at sunset. During the day there may have been breezes that stirred the waters, but as evening comes on, the waters begin to still, and long, vague reflections to appear, until at sunset, the wind having died down and the waters stilled, they present a perfect picture below of all that is above.
The soul tossed by anxiety and care of the earth mirrors but poorly the glory of God, but as personal desires lessen, the reflection of Heaven in the soul begins to appear, until at last, the desires all stilled, God is perfectly mirrored, as far as He can be, in the image He has made.
Everyone made by God who reverts to this calm and beautiful reflection of the infinitely beautiful Creator has performed a sublime act of reparation, an act of repairing the nature deformed by sin, and restoring it in one at least, to its pristine beauty.
To make ourselves decrease, that He may increase, and to do this with the aid of Mary, and to help her achieve the same goal in others-----this it is to live with Mary.
We have to get along in life with our own eyes, our own ears, our own tongue, our own mind and understanding. If we could borrow these from great men, as one draws books from a library, what wonders could we not perform!
Our material senses we cannot borrow, but spiritual ones we can, by effort and by grace. Grace gives us something of the vision of the eyes of Mary, if we want it, the hearing of her ears, the understanding of her mind, the love of her heart. It is up to us to work along with the gift, to develop it to the full. If we really desire it, we shall ever increase in the power of seeing things as she sees them, looking at the things she would look at, scorning the things she scorns; listening to the things she likes to hear, shutting our ears to the rest, judging as she judges, and loving more and more with the love with which she loves. This it is to live in Mary.
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you." (Matt. 7:7).
Does a man enter the home of a friend through the window or through an opened door? Does he climb over a wall, or go through an opened gate?
Mary is the Gate of Heaven. Through her the Lord of Heaven came to us; through her He wishes us to return to Him.
In some things we must go through Mary, whether we will it or not. It is true we can speak to God directly. But He will do nothing unless she asks for us. "No prayer will receive an answer before the Divine Throne unless placed there by the Queen of Heaven herself." (R. R.). It did not have to be that way, but it is that way because that is the will of God.
What about prayers of love and praise and thanksgiving? Must they go through her too, as must prayers of petition? Must they? The question rather should be: "Can it be that the peerless Queen herself will speak for me? Will she take my rude, uncouth efforts and present them before His Majesty in a way suited to His magnificence and glory?"
If we had to write a letter to the Holy Father in Latin, what would the majority of us do? If we had a friend who was an authority on classical Latin, would we give him the idea, and ask him to express it for us as he would know best how to do, or would we just get a Latin grammar and try to figure out for ourselves what to write?
We may be brilliant in earthly science and accomplishments, but what do we know of the ways of the Heavenly Court and the Heart of God? "For your thoughts are not My Thoughts, nor your ways My Ways." (Is. 55:8). He has reminded us. "As the heavens are exalted above the earth, so are My Ways exalted above your ways, and My Thoughts above your thoughts." (Is. 55:9).
But Mary knows His ways: she is His daughter, His Mother, His spouse. She is the Queen of Heaven. What a privilege that she will take our clumsy efforts and make them worthy to be spoken to the Lord of Hosts!
So with all our good works-----the Queen enhances and beautifies them before she presents them to the King. We are like children. How many a little boy treasures strange odds and ends, which to his elders are so much trash, and would be no suitable present at all! How many a little girl loves devotedly a ragged and nondescript doll that would never belong in the cradle of a prince! If she parted with her treasure to give it to him, it would be a great act of love indeed, but how much better it would be if someone would fix it all up for her like new before it was presented!
That is just what Our Lady does with all the prayers and good works that we send to the Lord our God through her. She embellishes them from the treasury of her Son's merits, all of which are at her command through her intercession. "To Mary, His faithful spouse, God the Holy Ghost has communicated His unspeakable gifts; and 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." (T. D. 25). "She will communicate herself to us with her merits and virtues; she will place our presents on the golden plate of her charity; she will clothe us, as Rebecca clothed Jacob, with the beautiful garments of her elder and only Son, Jesus Christ-----that is, His merits, which she has at her disposal. . . " (S. M. 38).
This claim of St. Louis is so stupendous, so little known, so little preached, so breathtaking in its beauty, that we shall let the Saint speak of it in his own words, words which in the process of his canonization, were adjudged to be free from error:
"As by this practice we give to Our Lord, by His Mother's hands, all our good works, that good Mother purifies them, embellishes them and makes them acceptable to her Son.
"She purifies them of all the stain of self-love and of that imperceptible attachment to created things which slips unnoticed into our best actions. As soon as they are in her most pure and fruitful hands, those same hands which have never been sullied or idle and which purify whatever they touch, take away from the present which we make her all that was spoiled or imperfect about it.
"She embellishes our works, adorning them with her own merits and virtues. It is as if a peasant, wishing to gain the friendship and benevolence of the king, went to the queen and presented her with a fruit which was his whole revenue in order that she might present it to the king. The queen, having accepted the poor little offering from the peasant, would place the fruit on a large and beautiful dish of gold, and so, on the peasant's behalf, would present it to the king. Then the fruit, however unworthy in itself to be a king's present, would become worthy of his majesty, because of the dish of gold on which it rested and the person who presented it." (T. D. 146-7).
He looks upon the story of Jacob's obtaining his father's blessing through the activity of his mother Rebecca as a figure of the Blessed Mother's action towards her consecrated child:
"This good mother, having received the perfect offering which we make to her of ourselves and our merits and satisfactions, by the devotion I am describing, strips us of our old garments; she makes us her own and so makes us worthy to appear before our Heavenly Father. (1) She clothes us in clean, new precious and perfumed garments of Esau the elder-----this is, of Jesus Christ her Son-----which she keeps in her house-----that is, which she has in her own power inasmuch as she is the treasurer and universal dispenser of the merits and virtues of her Son, which she gives and communicates to whom she wills, when she wills, as she wills, and in such quantity as she wills, as we have seen before. (2) She covers the neck and the hands of her servants with the skins of the kids she has killed; that is to say, she adorns them with the merits and value of their own actions. She kills and mortifies, it is true, all that is impure and imperfect in them, but she neither loses nor dissipates one atom of the good that grace has done there. On the contrary, she preserves and augments it, to make it the ornament and the strength of their neck and their hands; that is to say, to fortify them and help them carry the yoke of the Lord which is worn upon the neck, and to work great things for the glory of God and the salvation of their poor brethren. (3) She bestows a new perfume and a new grace upon the garments and adornments, in communicating to them her own garments, that is, merits and virtues which she bequeathed to them by her testament when she died; as said a holy religious of the last century, who died in the odor of sanctity, and learned this by revelation. Thus "all her domestics, faithful servants and slaves, are doubly clad in the garments of her Son and in her own: all her domestics are clothed in double clothing." (Prov. 31:21). (T. D. 207).
Care must be taken, of course, not to confuse the doctrine of the Saint with the false teachings of those who say that good works are not important or necessary and that faith alone sufficing, the merits of Christ as a mantle cover even mortal sins, and make a person worthy, without repentance, to enter Heaven. St. Louis presupposes of course, that the consecrated child of Mary is in the state of grace and capable of producing meritorious works. It is these works, already holy, that she still further sanctifies and embellishes.
What an inestimable privilege and blessing! Who can boast that his prayers and good works are perfect? No self-seeking therein, no self-satisfaction, no hidden motives not clear to him but clear to God? If we constantly see people who have faults they never suspect, must we not be apprehensive that the same may be true of us, especially in the eyes of God?
But when we humbly recognize all these possibilities, and ask Our Lady to make our poor gifts more presentable, she will graciously give them her loving care, adorning them with her own virtues and merits and those of her Divine Son, and they will emerge from her hands free of blemish and worthy to be placed before the King.
Do we feel ourselves as worthy as Mary to appear before the splendor of His Sanctity and Majesty? Then what should ever hold us back from going to God through her, always and in everything?
Does working for Mary imply acting for her rather than for the Lord, pleasing her and ignoring Him? God forbid!
Mary's will is completely united to the will of God. We cannot please her without pleasing Him; we cannot please Him without pleasing her.
The ultimate and final reason for doing all that we do must be to please God, and to unite ourselves to Him. Vast and incomprehensible as is her dignity, the glory of the All is infinitely greater.
God is and must be the principal end of all our actions. Mary is secondary, but inseparably connected.
"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.
"And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (Matt. 22:37-39).
These are two Commandments, yet in a sense they are one. The first obliges us to love God for His Own sake. The second commands us to love our neighbor. But why? On account of his intrinsic worth, totally unrelated to God? Not at all. All that is lovable in man is so simply because it is a reflection of the Divine Excellence. In one case it is God we love in Himself; in the second it is really God we love too, but in His image.
Sometimes it is hard for us to realize that certain individuals are made to the image and likeness of God, so hidden is that likeness under a fearful mask of depravity and corruption. But there is no excuse for our not loving with all the power of our soul, His Image as revealed in Our Lady. Always excepting the human nature of her Son, hypostatically united to the Divinity, she is the most glorious masterpiece that has ever proceeded from the hand of God. She is the Mirror of Justice that reflects with dazzling brilliance the Divine Splendor. If we love God we must love Mary, love her as we love no one below her, for her likeness to Him will forever exceed our powers of comprehension. If we love Mary, we must love God, for everything in her that is lovable, as is the case with all the rest of us, is so simply because it reflects the splendor of the Lord, only she is ineffably more perfect a mirror than we are.
It is difficult indeed to love God in His image when that likeness is befouled and besmirched, dim and almost unrecognizable.
By our obedience in doing our best, we perform a great act of love for God. But we simply cannot love one who mirrors only a few of His perfections, and then but poorly, as much as we can one who reflects His glories in uncounted number, and to unspeakable perfection. We cannot love what is not there. By loving Mary as we should love her, we love God in His image as far as it is possible for us to do so.
To do all that we do for God and for Mary, in other words, for Him in Himself and in His image-----that is the perfect observance of the First and the Second Great Commandments, and they comprise all the Law and all the Prophets.