In True Devotion to Mary Saint Louis Marie de Montfort gives 7 principle effects of this devotion, which can be added to the 8 points discussed in the previous series (I, II, III) as motives to practice this devotion.
First of all, by this devotion, our Lady will obtain for us the great grace of knowledge of self. There is indeed a great deal of truth in that old G.I. Joe cartoon slogan: “…and knowing is half the battle.” And in the spiritual life this is very true, for if you do not know yourself and do not know what your temperament is or your predominant fault we can’t ever hope to advance in virtue. Without this vital knowledge we are playing a dangerous life and death game without knowing the rules or who our opponents are, and if we lose it means eternity in hell separated from God. And so for this reason alone we ought to desire to practice this devotion to receive this gift from our Lady…
My dear friend, be sure that if you remain faithful to the interior and exterior practices of this devotion which I will point out, the following effects will be produced in your soul:
1. Knowledge of our unworthiness
By the light which the Holy Spirit will give you through Mary, his faithful spouse, you will perceive the evil inclinations of your fallen nature and how incapable you are of any good apart from that which God produces in you as Author of nature and of grace. As a consequence of this knowledge you will despise yourself and think of yourself only as an object of repugnance. You will consider yourself as a snail that soils everything with its slime, as a toad that poisons everything with its venom, as a malevolent serpent seeking only to deceive. Finally, the humble Virgin Mary will share her humility with you so that, although you regard yourself with distaste and desire to be disregarded by others, you will not look down slightingly upon anyone. (True Devotion, #213)
The second wonderful effect of this devotion is a great increase in faith because we are able to share in Mary’s faith which is the greatest that ever has been and ever will be of any human person. What a thing to consider that we can undertake this devotion and obtain this great strengthening of our faith!…
2. A share in Mary’s faith
Mary will share her faith with you. Her faith on earth was stronger than that of all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles and saints. Now that she is reigning in heaven she no longer has this faith, since she sees everything clearly in God by the light of glory. However, with the consent of almighty God she did not lose it when entering heaven. She has preserved it for her faithful servants in the Church militant. Therefore the more you gain the friendship of this noble Queen and faithful Virgin the more you will be inspired by faith in your daily life. It will cause you to depend less upon sensible and extraordinary feelings. For it is a lively faith animated by love enabling you to do everything from no other motive than that of pure love. It is a firm faith, unshakable as a rock, prompting you to remain firm and steadfast in the midst of storms and tempests. It is an active and probing faith which like some mysterious pass-key admits you into the mysteries of Jesus Christ and of man’s final destiny and into the very heart of God himself. It is a courageous faith which inspires you to undertake and carry out without hesitation great things for God and the salvation of souls. Lastly, this faith will be your flaming torch, your very life with God, your secret fund of divine Wisdom, and an all-powerful weapon for you to enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death. It inflames those who are lukewarm and need the gold of fervent love. It restores life to those who are dead through sin. It moves and transforms hearts of marble and cedars of Lebanon by gentle and convincing argument. Finally, this faith will strengthen you to resist the devil and the other enemies of salvation. (True Devotion, #214)
Of all the virtues Charity is the greatest for it is what makes us most like God because He is in His essence Charity itself, “…But the greatest of these is Charity.” (I Cor. 13:13) And so to be given the gift of pure Charity (love) is an inestimable gift indeed. And this is yet another one of the many incredible blessings that this devotion brings down upon a soul who undertakes it…
3. The gift of pure love
The Mother of fair love will rid your heart of all scruples and inordinate servile fear. She will open and enlarge it to obey the commandments of her Son with alacrity and with the holy freedom of the children of God. She will fill your heart with pure love of which she is the treasury. You will then cease to act as you did before, out of fear of the God who is love, but rather out of pure love. You will look upon him as a loving Father and endeavour to please him at all times. You will speak trustfully to him as a child does to its father. If you should have the misfortune to offend him you will abase yourself before him and humbly beg his pardon. You will offer your hand to him with simplicity and lovingly rise from your sin. Then, peaceful and relaxed and buoyed up with hope you will continue on your way to him. (True Devotion, #215)
The most obvious effect in ones life brought about by this devotion is a great confidence in Mary. You will count nothing impossible when our Lady is on the job there ever ready to pour out the graces of her Son, won for us on the Cross, whenever we ask it of her. Indeed, you will certainly see many incredible miracles worked by the intersession of our Lady.
4. Great confidence in God and in Mary
Our Blessed Lady will fill you with unbounded confidence in God and in herself:
1) Because you will no longer approach Jesus by yourself but always through Mary, your loving Mother.
2) Since you have given her all your merits, graces and satisfactions to dispose of as she pleases, she imparts to you her own virtues and clothes you in her own merits. So you will be able to say confidently to God: “Behold Mary, your handmaid, be it done unto me according to your word.”
3) Since you have now given yourself completely to Mary, body and soul, she, who is generous to the generous, and more generous than even the kindest benefactor, will in return give herself to you in a marvellous but real manner. Indeed you may without hesitation say to her, “I am yours, O Blessed Virgin, obtain salvation for me,” or with the beloved disciple, St. John, “I have taken you, Blessed Mother, for my all.” Or again you may say with St. Bonaventure, “Dear Mother of saving grace, I will do everything with confidence and without fear because you are my strength and my boast in the Lord,” or in another place, “I am all yours and all that I have is yours, O glorious Virgin, blessed above all created things. Let me place you as a seal upon my heart, for your love is as strong as death.” Or adopting the sentiments of the prophet, “Lord, my heart has no reason to be exalted nor should my looks be proud; I have not sought things of great moment nor wonders beyond my reach; nevertheless, I am still not humble. But I have roused my soul and taken courage. I am as a child, weaned from earthly pleasures and resting on its mother’s breast. It is upon this breast that all good things come to me.”
4) What will still further increase your confidence in her is that, after having given her in trust all that you possess to use or keep as she pleases, you will place less trust in yourself and much more in her whom you have made your treasury. How comforting and how consoling when a person can say, “The treasury of God, where he has placed all that he holds most precious, is also my treasury.” “She is,” says a saintly man, “the treasury of the Lord.” (True Devotion, #216)
By this devotion we achieve a union with our Lady that cannot be achieved otherwise. And if we are united with Mary we are inextricably united to her Son…
5. Communication of the spirit of Mary
The soul of Mary will be communicated to you to glorify the Lord. Her spirit will take the place of yours to rejoice in God, her Saviour, but only if you are faithful to the practices of this devotion. As St. Ambrose says, “May the soul of Mary be in each one of us to glorify the Lord! May the spirit of Mary be in each one of us to rejoice in God!” “When will that happy day come,” asks a saintly man of our own day whose life was completely wrapped up in Mary, “when God’s Mother is enthroned in men’s hearts as Queen, subjecting them to the dominion of her great and princely Son? When will souls breathe Mary as the body breathes air?” When that time comes wonderful things will happen on earth. The Holy Spirit, finding his dear Spouse present again in souls, will come down into them with great power. He will fill them with his gifts, especially wisdom, by which they will produce wonders of grace. My dear friend, when will that happy time come, that age of Mary, when many souls, chosen by Mary and given her by the most High God, will hide themselves completely in the depths of her soul, becoming living copies of her, loving and glorifying Jesus? That day will dawn only when the devotion I teach is understood and put into practice. Ut adveniat regnum tuum, adveniat regnum Mariae: “Lord, that your kingdom may come, may the reign of Mary come!” (True Devotion, #217)
One of the the most beautiful aspects of this devotion is that by it our Lady is able to totally conform us to her Son. This is one point we ought to pray for each today to be more and more transformed into Christ being converted from our sinfulness and to be purified by the prayers of our Lady…
6. Transformation into the likeness of Jesus
If Mary, the Tree of Life, is well cultivated in our soul by fidelity to this devotion, she will in due time bring forth her fruit which is none other than Jesus. I have seen many devout souls searching for Jesus in one way or another, and so often when they have worked hard throughout the night, all they can say is, “Despite our having worked all night, we have caught nothing.” To them we can say, “You have worked hard and gained little; Jesus can only be recognized faintly in you.” But if we follow the immaculate path of Mary, living the devotion that I teach, we will always work in daylight, we will work in a holy place, and we will work but little. There is no darkness in Mary, not even the slightest shadow since there was never any sin in her. She is a holy place, a holy of holies, in which saints are formed and moulded.
Please note that I say that saints are moulded in Mary. There is a vast difference between carving a statue by blows of hammer and chisel and making a statue by using a mould. Sculptors and statue-makers work hard and need plenty of time to make statues by the first method. But the second method does not involve much work and takes very little time. St. Augustine speaking to our Blessed Lady says, “You are worthy to be called the mould of God.” Mary is a mould capable of forming people into the image of the God-man. Anyone who is cast into this divine mould is quickly shaped and moulded into Jesus and Jesus into him. At little cost and in a short time he will become Christ-like since he is cast into the very same mould that fashioned a God-man.
I think I can very well compare some spiritual directors and devout persons to sculptors who wish to produce Jesus in themselves and in others by methods other than this. Many of them rely on their own skill, ingenuity and art and chip away endlessly with mallet and chisel at hard stone or badly-prepared wood, in an effort to produce a likeness of our Lord. At times, they do not manage to produce a recognizable likeness either because they lack knowledge and experience of the person of Jesus or because a clumsy stroke has spoiled the whole work. But those who accept this little-known secret of grace which I offer them can rightly be compared to smelters and moulders who have discovered the beautiful mould of Mary where Jesus was so divinely and so naturally formed. They do not rely on their own skill but on the perfection of the mould. They cast and lose themselves in Mary where they become true models of her Son.
You may think this a beautiful and convincing comparison. But how many understand it? I would like you, my dear friend, to understand it. But remember that only molten and liquefied substances may be poured into a mould. That means that you must crush and melt down the old Adam in you if you wish to acquire the likeness of the new Adam in Mary. (True Devotion, #218-21)
But most of all this devotion brings us to living our lives in such a way that there will always be great glory given to Jesus Christ, for Mary can do nothing other than love, worship, and praise her Divine Son and bring us to do the same…
7. The greater glory of Christ
If you live this devotion sincerely, you will give more glory to Jesus in a month than in many years of a more demanding devotion. Here are my reasons for saying this:
(1) Since you do everything through the Blessed Virgin as required by this devotion, you naturally lay aside your own intentions no matter how good they appear to you. You abandon yourself to our Lady’s intentions even though you do not know what they are. Thus you share in the high quality of her intentions, which are so pure that she gave more glory to God by the smallest of her actions, say, twirling her distaff, or making a stitch, than did St. Laurence suffering his cruel martyrdom on the grid-iron, and even more than all the saints together in all their most heroic deeds! Mary amassed such a multitude of merits and graces during her sojourn on earth that it would be easier to count the stars in heaven, the drops of water in the ocean or the sands of the sea-shore than count her merits and graces. She thus gave more glory to God than all the angels and saints have given or will ever give him. Mary, wonder of God, when souls abandon themselves to you, you cannot but work wonders in them!
(2) In this devotion we set no store on our own thoughts and actions but are content to rely on Mary’s dispositions when approaching and even speaking to Jesus. We then act with far greater humility than others who imperceptibly rely on their own dispositions and are self- satisfied about them; and consequently we give greater glory to God, for perfect glory is given to him only by the lowly and humble of heart.
(3) Our Blessed Lady, in her immense love for us, is eager to receive into her virginal hands the gift of our actions, imparting to them a marvelous beauty and splendour, and presenting them herself to Jesus most willingly. More glory is given to our Lord in this way than when we make our offering with our own guilty hands.
(4) Lastly, you never think of Mary without Mary thinking of God for you. You never praise or honour Mary without Mary joining you in praising and honouring God. Mary is entirely relative to God. Indeed I would say that she was relative only to God, because she exists uniquely in reference to him.
She is an echo of God, speaking and repeating only God. If you say “Mary” she says “God”. When St. Elizabeth praised Mary calling her blessed because she had believed, Mary, the faithful echo of God, responded with her canticle, “My soul glorifies the Lord.” What Mary did on that day, she does every day. When we praise her, when we love and honour her, when we present anything to her, then God is praised, honoured and loved and receives our gift through Mary and in Mary. (True Devotion, #222-225)
How can anyone consider these effects laid out so wonderfully by our Saint and not ardently desire to immediately take up this greatest of all devotions?!