Motives of This Perfect Devotion
– First Motive –
It Devotes Us Entirely to the Service of God
135. The first motive, which shows us the excellence of this consecration of ourselves to Jesus Christ by the hands of Mary.
If we can conceive on earth no employment more lofty than the service of God – if the least servant of God is richer, more powerful and more noble than all the kings and emperors of this earth, unless they also are the servants of God – what must be the riches, the power and the dignity of the faithful and perfect servant of God, who is devoted to His service entirely and without reserve, to the utmost extent possible? Such is the faithful and loving slave of Jesus in Mary who has given himself up entirely to the service of that King of Kings, by the hands of His holy Mother, and has reserved nothing for himself. Not all the gold of earth nor all the beauties of the heavens can repay him.
136. The other congregations, associations and confraternities erected in honor of Our Lord and His holy Mother, which do such immense good in Christendom, do not make us give everything without reserve. They prescribe to their members only certain practices and actions to satisfy their obligations. They leave them free for all other actions and moments and occupations. But this devotion makes us give to Jesus and Mary, without reserve, all our thoughts, words, actions and sufferings, every moment of our life, in such wise that whether we wake or sleep, whether we eat or drink, whether we do great actions or very little ones, it is always true to say that whatever we do, even without thinking of it, is, by virtue of our offering – at least if it has not been intentionally retracted – done for Jesus and Mary. What a consolation this is!
137. Moreover, as I have already said, there is no other practice equal to this for enabling us to rid ourselves easily of a certain proprietorship which imperceptibly creeps into our best actions. Our good Jesus gives us this great grace in recompense for the heroic and disinterested action of giving over to Him, by the hands of His holy Mother, all the value of our good works. If He gives a hundredfold even in this world to those who, for His love, quit outward and temporal and perishable goods, what will that hundredfold be which He will give to the man who sacrifices for Him even his inward and spiritual goods!
138. Jesus, our great Friend, has given Himself to us without reserve, body and soul, virtues, graces and merits. “He has bought the whole of me with the whole of Himself,” says St. Bernard. It is not then a simple matter of justice and of gratitude that we should give Him all that we can give Him? He has been the first to be liberal toward us; let us, at least, be the second; and then, in life and death and throughout all eternity, we shall find Him still more liberal. “With the liberal He will be liberal.”
– Second Motive –
It Makes Us Imitate the Example of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Trinity and Practice Humility
139. The second motive, which shows us how just it is in itself, and how advantageous to Christians to consecrate themselves entirely to the Blessed Virgin by this practice, in order to belong more perfectly to Jesus Christ.
This good Master did not disdain to shut Himself up in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, as a captive and as a loving slave, and later to be subject and obedient to her for thirty years. It is here, I repeat, that the human mind loses itself, when it seriously reflects on the conduct of the Incarnate Wisdom who willed to give Himself to men – not directly, though He might have done so, but through the Blessed Virgin. He did not will to come into the world at the age of a perfect man, independent of others, but like a poor little babe, dependent on the care and support of this holy Mother. He is that Infinite Wisdom who had a boundless desire to glorify God His Father and to save men; and yet He found no more perfect means, no shorter way to do it, than to submit Himself in all things to the Blessed Virgin, not only during the first eight, ten or fifteen years of His life, like other children, but for thirty years! He gave more glory to God His Father during all that time of submission to and dependence on our Blessed Lady than He would have given Him if He had employed those thirty years in working miracles, in preaching to the whole world and in converting all men – all of which He would have done, could He have thereby contributed more to God’s glory. Oh, how highly we glorify God when, after the examples of Jesus, we submit ourselves to Mary!
Having, then, before our eyes an example so plain and so well known to the whole world, are we so senseless as to imagine that we can find a more perfect or a shorter means of glorifying God than that of submitting ourselves to Mary, after the example of her Son?
140. Let us recall here, as a proof of the dependence we ought to have on our Blessed Lady, what I have said before in bringing forward the example which the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost give of this dependence. The Father has not given, and does not give, His Son, except by her; He has no children but by her, and communicates no graces but through her. The Son has not been formed for the whole world in general, except by her; and He is not daily formed and engendered except by her, in union with the Holy Ghost; neither does He communicate His merits and His virtues except through her. The Holy Ghost has not formed Jesus Christ except by her; neither does He form the members of Our Lord’s Mystical Body, except by her; and through her alone does He dispense His favors and His gifts. After so many and such pressing examples of the Most Holy Trinity, can we without extreme blindness dispense with Mary, can we fail to consecrate ourselves to her and depend on her for the purpose of going to God and sacrificing ourselves to God?
141. Here are some passages of the Fathers which I have chosen to prove what has just been said:
“Mary has two sons, a God-Man and a pure man; she is Mother of the first corporally, of the second spiritually.”
“This is the will of God, who wished us to have all things through Mary; if, therefore, there is in us any hope, any grace, any salutary gift, we know if comes to us through her.”
“All the gifts, virtues and graces of the Holy Ghost are distributed by Mary, to whom she wishes, when she wishes, the way she wishes and as much as she wishes.”
“Since you were unworthy to receive the divine graces, they were given to Mary, so that whatever you would have, you would receive through her.”
142. God, says St. Bernard, seeing that we are unworthy to receive His graces immediately from His own hand, gives them to Mary, in order that we may have through her whatever He wills to give us; and He also finds His glory in receiving, through the hands of Mary, the gratitude, respect and love which we owe Him for His benefits. It is most just, then, that we imitate this conduct of God, in order, as the same St. Bernard says, that grace return to its Author by the same channel through which it came: “That grace should return to the Giver by the same channel through which it came.”
This is precisely what our devotion does. We offer and consecrate all we are and all we have to the Blessed Virgin in order that Our Lord may receive through her mediation the glory and the gratitude which we owe Him. We acknowledge ourselves unworthy and unfit to approach His Infinite Majesty by ourselves; and it is on this account that we avail ourselves of the intercession of the most holy Virgin.
143. Moreover, this devotion is a practice of great humility, which God loves above all the other virtues. A soul which exalts itself abases God; a soul which abases itself exalts God. God resists the proud and gives His grace to the humble. If you abase yourself, thinking yourself unworthy to appear before Him and to draw nigh to Him, He descends and lowers Himself to come to you, to take pleasure in you and to exalt you in spite of yourself. On the contrary, when you are bold enough to approach God without a mediator, God flies from you and you cannot reach Him. Oh, how He loves humility of heart! It is to this humility that this devotion induces us, because it teaches us never to draw nigh, of ourselves, to Our Lord, however sweet and merciful He may be, but always to avail ourselves of the intercession of our Blessed Lady, whether it be to appear before God, or to speak to Him, or to draw near to Him, or to offer Him anything, or to unite and consecrate ourselves to Him.
– Third Motive –
It Obtains for Us the Good Offices of the Blessed Virgin
I. Mary Gives Herself to Her Slave of Love
144. The most holy Virgin, who is a Mother of sweetness and mercy, and who never lets herself be outdone in love and liberality, seeing that we give ourselves entirely to her, to honor and to serve her, and for that end strip ourselves of all that is dearest to us, in order to adorn her, meets us in the same spirit. She also gives her whole self, and gives it in an unspeakable manner, to him who gives all to her. She causes him to be engulfed in the abyss of her graces. She adorns him with her merits; she supports him with her power; she illuminates him with her light; she inflames him with her love; she communicates to him her virtues: her humility, her faith, her purity and the rest. She makes herself his bail, his supplement, and his dear all toward Jesus. In a word, as that consecrated person is all Mary’s, so Mary is all his, after such a fashion that we can say of that perfect servant and child of Mary what St. John the Evangelist said of himself, that he took the holy Virgin for his own: “The disciple took her for his own.”