“As our whole perfection consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ, it follows that the most perfect of all devotions is clearly the one which conforms, unites and consecrates us most perfectly to Jesus Christ. Now, as Mary is of all creatures the most conformed to Jesus Christ, it follows that of all devotions, the one that most consecrates and conforms a soul to Our Lord, is the devotion to the Blessed Virgin, His holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to Mary, the more it will be consecrated to Jesus Christ.”
– St Louis Marie de Montfort
‘Treatise On The True Devotion To The Blessed Virgin Mary’, n.120
Recently, an online acquaintance messaged me about the devotion to the Blessed Virgin, in response to my noting that I would ask Her prayers. He asked why I would do so, adding that his preference is to go straight to the Lord rather than to Him by way of His Mother. He is not Catholic and so it was difficult to explain the theology behind my position in a short reply. I said simply that this is what the Lord intended when, upon the Cross, He gave His Mother to us with the words addressed to Saint John – ‘Behold thy Mother’.
Two things occurred to me afterwards.
The first thing that occurred to me is that we need to accept that much as we might like to be able to convert souls, to change minds and hearts, we are not always able to do so – not least of all because this is not within our power; only the grace of God can achieve this. St Bernadette once described herself as nothing more than a broom which the Lord used to sweep the floor, placing her back behind the door once the floor was swept. And she was right. We have a particular task to attend to, given us by the Lord – our job is to complete that task as perfectly as possible, expecting nothing back in return, and aware that we are nothing more than an instrument in His hands. And so at times like the moment described above, we should do what little we can in that moment, and leave the rest to God.
The second thing that occurred to me is that often, it is not our words which will bring about change in the heart of another – it is our example. People will forget what we may say to them, but they will remember what they see in us. A candle does not explain itself or it’s purpose – it simply provides light. When we see another acting in an authentic manner, their life reflecting clearly and with constancy what they profess to believe, then the grace of God may well act upon our hearts and effect change in one way or another. Perhaps this is what the Lord asks of us most often – not to say, but simply to be.
Conversely, to profess to live a Catholic or Christian life and to manifestly not do so, risks alienating those who look upon us or who listen to us. Simplicity, authenticity, charity, humility and interior poverty give out a very powerful and enticing message; they are like the roses in the garden which exude a pure perfume which we perceive even before we see the flower itself, and whose fragrance lingers with us long afterwards.
In being devoted to the Blessed Virgin, let us do so in a way that is quiet and simple and pure, in perfect conformity to the mind of the Church so that our devotion is authentically Catholic. And let this be the little flame which draws in others to share that heavenly light.