Jesus said to His disciples: If anyone love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me, does not keep My words. (John 14:23)
If you love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)
As the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; as I also have kept my Father’ s commandments, and do abide in his love. (John 15:9-10)
Honour thy father and mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee, that thou mayst live a long time, and it may be well with thee in the land, which the Lord thy God will give thee. (Deuteronomy 5:16)
When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own. (John 19:26-27)
Mary is our Mother and if for no other reason than this she is most deserving of our love and honor because to love her is to love her Son. But we are also commanded to love and respect our Mother and Father on earth and thus how much more our Heavenly Mother. This is what our Lord said we ought to do to show our love for Him, and what those who truly love Him would do.
Yet, many Catholics and certainly nearly all protestants have a very stand-offish relationship with our Lady at best. Even those who desire to love her are afraid they go to far and in doing so offend our Lord. But how could anyone be displeased with you if you displayed a great love for their own beloved Mother? In this regard let us consider the council of that great devotee of our Lady, Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe:
Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.
And let us consider also the council of another great client of Mary the Mellifluous Doctor, the Oracle of the Twelfth Century, the Thaumaturgus of the West, the very Arbiter of Christendom, and The Last of the Fathers: Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, who says…
Let us not imagine that we obscure the glory of the Son by the great praise we lavish on the Mother; for the more she is honored, the greater is the glory of her Son. There can be no doubt that whatever we say in praise of the Mother gives equal praise to the Son. (Non est dubium, quicquid in laudibus matris profermius, ad filium pertinere.) [Horn. 4, Sup. Miss.]
For if we think we do anything against our Lord by devotion to our Lady we miss the point of devotion to our Lady entirely. As Saint Louis Marie de Montfort explains:
We never give more honour to Jesus than when we honour his Mother, and we honour her simply and solely to honour him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son. (True Devotion, #94)
The greatest of all devotions are those to our Lady and the greatest of all devotions to Mary is True Devotion as explicated by Saint Louis Marie de Montfort in his work of the same name, as he explains:
As all perfection consists in our being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus it naturally follows that the most perfect of all devotions is that which conforms, unites, and consecrates us most completely to Jesus. Now of all God’s creatures Mary is the most conformed to Jesus. It therefore follows that, of all devotions, devotion to her makes for the most effective consecration and conformity to him. The more one is consecrated to Mary, the more one is consecrated to Jesus.
That is why perfect consecration to Jesus is but a perfect and complete consecration of oneself to the Blessed Virgin, which is the devotion I teach; or in other words, it is the perfect renewal of the vows and promises of holy baptism. (True Devotion, #120)
Montfort longed for that day when men and women would love Mary as she out to be loved and that all would practice the True Devotion to Mary that he elucidates in his book of the same name:
“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. (Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, True Devotion, #217)
What exactly is this devotion? Montfort explains it quite clearly…
This devotion consists in giving oneself entirely to Mary in order to belong entirely to Jesus through her. It requires us to give:
(1) Our body with its senses and members;
(2) Our soul with its faculties;
(3) Our present material possessions and all we shall acquire in the future;
(4) Our interior and spiritual possessions, that is, our merits, virtues and good actions of the past, the present and the future.
In other words, we give her all that we possess both in our natural life and in our spiritual life as well as everything we shall acquire in the future in the order of nature, of grace, and of glory in heaven. This we do without any reservation, not even of a penny, a hair, or the smallest good deed. And we give for all eternity without claiming or expecting, in return for our offering and our service, any other reward than the honour of belonging to our Lord through Mary and in Mary, even though our Mother were not – as in fact she always is – the most generous and appreciative of all God’s creatures. (True Devotion, #121)
And this is the greatest of all devotions because by it we truly give Jesus everything…
By this devotion we give to Jesus all we can possibly give him,and in the most perfect manner, that is, through Mary’s hands. Indeed we give him far more than we do by other devotions which require us to give only part of our time, some of our good works or acts of atonement and penances. In this devotion everything is given and consecrated, even the right to dispose freely of one’s spiritual goods and the satisfactions earned by daily good works. This is not done even in religious orders. Members of religious orders give God their earthly goods by the vow of poverty, the goods of the body by the vow of chastity, their free will by the vow of obedience, and sometimes their freedom of movement by the vow of enclosure. But they do not give him by these vows the liberty and right to dispose of the value of their good works. They do not despoil themselves of what a Christian considers most precious and most dear – his merits and satisfactions. (True Devotion, #123)
So then even a lay person can give themselves in a full and complete way to our Lord in this special manner. And it means that we too can make every action we perform one of love and devotion to God as does a religious. Of course the religious life is still a more perfect living of the Christian life but for those who are called to the vocation of marriage this a way of perfecting oneself in their state in life. And for the Priest or religious it is a way of going further in their love and devotion to God.
This devotion then is a full and complete giving of oneself to Jesus through Mary…
We consecrate ourselves at one and the same time to Mary and to Jesus. We give ourselves to Mary because Jesus chose her as the perfect means to unite himself to us and unite us to him. We give ourselves to Jesus because he is our last end. Since he is our Redeemer and our God we are indebted to him for all that we are. (True Devotion, #125)
This is the essence of the devotion taught by Montfort, and in Part II of this series we will continue with his explanation in which he shows that this devotion is nothing other than a perfect renewal and living out of one’s Baptismal promises.