Fundamental Truths of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin
60. Having spoken thus far of the necessity of devotion to the most holy Virgin, I must now show in what this devotion consists. This I will do, with God’s help, after I shall have first laid down some fundamental truths which shall throw light on that grand and solid devotion which I desire to disclose.
– First Truth –
Jesus Christ Is the Last End of Devotion to Mary
61. Jesus Christ our Saviour, true God and true Man, ought to be the last end of all our other devotions, else they are false and delusive. Jesus Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, of all things. We labor not, as the Apostle says, except to render every man perfect in Jesus Christ; because it is in Him alone that the whole plenitude of the Divinity dwells together with all the other plenitudes of graces, virtues and perfections. It is in Him alone that we have been blessed with all spiritual benediction; and He is our only Master, who has to teach us; our only Lord on whom we ought to depend; our only Head to whom we must be united; our only Model to whom we should conform ourselves; our only Physician who can heal us; our only Shepherd who can feed us; our only Way who can lead us; our only Truth whom we must believe, our only Life who can animate us; and our only All in all things who can satisfy us. There has been no other name given under Heaven, except the name of Jesus, by which we can be saved. God has laid no other foundation of our salvation, our perfection or our glory, than Jesus Christ. Every building which is not built on that firm rock is founded upon the moving sand, and sooner or later infallibly will fall. Every one of the faithful who is not united to Him, as a branch to the stock of the vine, shall fall, shall wither, and shall be fit only to be cast into the fire. Outside of Him there exists nothing but error, falsehood, iniquity, futility, death and damnation. But if we are in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ is in us, we have no condemnation to fear. Neither the Angels of Heaven nor the men of earth nor the devils of Hell nor any other creature can injure us; because they cannot separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ. By Jesus Christ, with Jesus Christ, in Jesus Christ, we can do all things; we can render all honor and glory to the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost; we can become perfect ourselves, and be to our neighbor a good odor of eternal life.
62. If, then, we establish solid devotion to our Blessed Lady, it is only to establish more perfectly devotion to Jesus Christ, and to provide an easy and secure means for finding Jesus Christ. If devotion to Our Lady removed us from Jesus Christ, we should have to reject it as an illusion of the devil; but so far from this being the case, devotion to Our Lady is, on the contrary, necessary for us – as I have already shown, and will show still further hereafter – as a means of finding Jesus Christ perfectly, of loving Him tenderly, of serving Him faithfully.
63. I here turn for one moment to Thee, O sweet Jesus, to complain lovingly to Thy Divine Majesty that the greater part of Christians, even the most learned, do not know the necessary union there is between Thee and Thy holy Mother. Thou, Lord, art always with Mary, and Mary is always with Thee, and she cannot be without Thee, else she would cease to be what she is. She is so transformed into Thee by grace that she lives no more, she is as though she were not. It is Thou only, my Jesus, who livest and reignest in her more perfectly than in all the angels and the blessed. Ah! If we knew the glory and the love which Thou receivest in this admirable creature, we should have very different thoughts both of Thee and her from what we have now. She is so intimately united with Thee that it were easier to separate the light from the sun, the heat from the fire; nay, it were easier to separate from Thee all the angels and the saints than the divine Mary, because she loves Thee more ardently and glorifies Thee more perfectly than all the other creatures put together.
64. After that, my sweet Master, is it not an astonishingly pitiable thing to see the ignorance and the darkness of all men here below in regard to Thy holy Mother? I speak not so much of idolaters and pagans, who, knowing Thee not, care not to know her. I speak not even of heretics and schismatics, who care not to be devout to Thy holy Mother, being separated as they are from Thee and Thy holy Church; but I speak of Catholic Christians, and even of doctors among Catholics, who make profession of teaching truths to others, and yet know not Thee nor Thy holy Mother, except in a speculative, dry, barren and indifferent manner. These gentlemen speak but rarely of Thy holy Mother and of the devotion we ought to have to her, because they fear, so they say, lest we should abuse it, and do some injury to Thee in honoring Thy holy Mother too much. If they hear or see anyone devout to our Blessed Lady, speaking often of his devotion to that good Mother in a tender, strong and persuasive way, and as a secure means without delusion, as a short road without danger, as an immaculate way without imperfection, and as a wonderful secret for finding and loving Thee perfectly, they cry out against him, and give him a thousand false reasons by way of proving to him that he ought not to talk so much of our Blessed Lady; that there are great abuses in that devotion; and that we must direct our energies to destroy these abuses, and to speak of Thee, rather than to incline the people to devotion to our Blessed Lady, whom they already love sufficiently.
We hear them sometimes speak of devotion to our Blessed Lady, not for the purpose of establishing it and persuading men to embrace it, but to destroy the abuses which are made of it; and all the while these teachers are without piety or tender devotion toward Thyself, simply because they have none for Mary. They regard the Rosary and the Scapular as devotions proper for weak and ignorant minds, without which men can save themselves; and if there falls into their hands any poor client of Our Lady who says his Rosary, or has any other practice of devotion toward her, they soon change his spirit and his heart. Instead of the Rosary, they counsel him the seven Penitential Psalms. Instead of devotion to the holy Virgin, they counsel him devotion to Jesus Christ.
O my sweet Jesus, do these people have Thy spirit? Do they please Thee in acting thus? Does it please Thee when, for fear of displeasing Thee, we neglect doing our utmost to please Thy Mother? Does devotion to Thy holy Mother hinder devotion to Thyself? Does she attribute to herself the honor we pay her? Does she head a faction of her own? Is she a stranger who has no connection with Thee? Does it displease Thee that we should try to please her? Do we separate or alienate ourselves from Thy love by giving ourselves to her and honoring her?
65. Yet, my sweet Master, the greater part of the learned could not discourage devotion to Thy holy Mother more, and could not show more indifference to it, even if all that I have just said were true. Thus have they been punished for their pride! Keep me, Lord, keep me from their sentiments and their practices, and give me some share of the sentiments of gratitude, esteem, respect and love which Thou hast in regard to Thy holy Mother, so that the more I imitate and follow her, the more I may love and glorify Thee.
66. So, as if up to this point I had still said nothing in honor of Thy holy Mother, “give me now the grace to praise Thee worthily,” in spite of all her enemies, who are Thine as well; and grant me to say loudly with the saints, “Let not that man presume to look for the mercy of God who offends His holy Mother.”
67. Make me love Thee ardently, so that I may obtain of Thy mercy a true devotion to Thy holy Mother, and inspire the whole earth with it; and for that end, receive the burning prayer which I offer to Thee with St. Augustine and Thy other true friends:
“Thou art Christ, my holy Father, my tender God, my great King, my good Shepherd, my one Master, my best Helper, my most Beautiful and my Beloved, my living Bread, my Priest forever, my Leader to my country, my true Light, my holy Sweetness, my straight Way, my excellent Wisdom, my pure Simplicity, my pacific Harmony, my whole Guard, my good Portion, my everlasting Salvation.
“Christ Jesus, my sweet Lord, why have I ever loved, why in my whole life have I ever desired anything except Thee, Jesus my God? Where was I when I was not in Thy mind with Thee? Now, from this time forth, do ye, all my desires, grow hot, and flow out upon the Lord Jesus; run, ye have been tardy thus far; hasten whither ye are going; seek whom ye are seeking. O Jesus, may he who loves Thee not, be anathema; may he who loves Thee not, be filled with bitterness!
“O sweet Jesus, may every good feeling that is fitted for Thy praise, love Thee, delight in Thee, admire Thee. God of my heart and my Portion, Christ Jesus, may my heart faint away in spirit and mayest Thou be my life within me! May the live coal of Thy love grow hot within my spirit, and break forth into a perfect fire; may it burn incessantly on the altar of my heart; may it glow in my innermost being; may it blaze in hidden recesses of my soul; and in the day of my consummation, may I be found consummated with Thee. Amen.”