MYSTICAL UNION WITH MARY
A soul faithful to the devotion of which we have been speaking performs all its actions through Mary, in Mary and for Mary, and attains thereby to great intimacy with Our Lord. To consider only humility, the theological virtues, and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, the following are the more precious fruits of consecration to Mary when it is lived fully: a gradually increasing participation in Mary’s humility and faith, great confidence in God through her, the grace of pure love, and the transformation of the soul to the image of Jesus.
PARTICIPATION IN MARY’S HUMILITY AND FAITH
By the light of the Holy Ghost the soul consecrated to Mary will come to learn of all the evil that is in itself; it will see by experience that it is naturally incapable of every salutary and supernatural good and that through self-love it opposes many obstacles to the work of grace within it. Thus, it will attain to that contempt of self of which St. Augustine speaks in the City of God (Bk. XIV, ch. 28): “Two loves have built two cities. The love of self even to the degree of despising God has built the city of Babylon, and the love of God even to the degree of despising self has built the city of God.”
“The humble Mary,” says St. Grignon de Montfort, “will make you a sharer in her deep humility, so that you will despise yourself and no one else, and you will love to be despised. “She will give you a share in her faith also, which was greater than the faith of the patriarchs, the prophets, the apostles, and all the saints. She herself has that faith no longer, for she sees all things clearly in God in the light of glory; but she keeps it . . . in the Church militant for her most faithful servants.
“The more you win her love . . . the more you will have a pure faith, which will make you set little store by the sense-perceptible and the extraordinary; a faith living and animated by charity which will make you act from a motive of pure love; a faith firm and immovable as a rock which will make you constant in the midst of storms and afflictions; a faith active and piercing which, like a mysterious master-key, will give you entry to all the mysteries of Jesus, the final destiny of man, and the heart of God Himself; a courageous faith which will make you undertake and bring to achievement great things for God and the salvation of souls; a faith that will be your flaming torch, your divine life, your hidden treasure of divine wisdom, your all-powerful weapon, yours to use for the enlightenment of those who are in darkness and the shadow of death, for the inflaming of those who are lukewarm and who need the purified gold of charity, for the restoration to life of those who are dead by sin, for touching and uprooting by your sweet and powerful words the hearts of marble and the cedars of Lebanon, and finally for resisting the devil and all the enemies of salvation.”
These wonderful pages are the fruit of the full development of the virtue of faith, lit up by the gifts of understanding and wisdom—fides donis illustrata, as theologians say.
GREAT CONFIDENCE IN GOD THROUGH MARY
By confidence we mean that firm hope which tends towards eternal glory with sureness of direction. According to St. Grignon de Montfort, the Blessed Virgin inspires great confidence in God and in herself:
1st—since through consecration we approach Jesus no longer alone but in the company of His Mother;
2nd—having given Mary all our merits, graces and satisfactions to dispose of as she wills, she in return will communicate to us her virtues and clothe us with her merits;
3rd—since we have given ourselves to Mary she will give herself to us. We can say to Mary: “I belong to you, O Holy Virgin. Save me.”
And to God we can say with the psalmist (Ps. 130:1): “Lord, my heart is not exalted: nor are my eyes lofty. Neither have I walked in great matters, nor in wonderful things above me. No, but I keep my soul in calm and silence; as a child that is weaned (from the pleasures of the world, and resting) on its mother’s breast (and trusting in her).” Through Mary we receive more and more the inspirations of the gift of knowledge which shows us the emptiness of the things of this world and our frailty, and contrasts them with the reward of eternal life and the divine assistance.
THE GRACE OF PURE LOVE AND OF TRANSFORMATION OF SOUL
Those who walk by the way of Mary grow in charity under the influence of her who is called the “Mother of fair love.” (Ecclus. 24:24). “She will take out of your heart every scruple and servile fear; she will expand it so that you will run in the commandments of her Son (Ps. 118:32) with the holy freedom of the children of God. She will introduce into your heart that pure love of which she has all the treasures so that you will no longer serve the God of love in fear as you have done, but in pure love. You will look on Him as your good Father whom you will try to please at all times, with whom you will converse in all confidence.
If you have the misfortune to offend Him . . . you will at once ask forgiveness humbly, you will stretch out your hands to Him . . . and you will continue your journey towards Him with unshaken confidence.” Mary’s soul will be communicated to yours to glorify the Lord and to rejoice in Him, to live the Magnificat. The faithful Christian “inhales Mary in a spiritual manner just as his body inhales the air.”
So well is her spirit of wisdom communicated that her fully faithful servant and child becomes a living image of her mother. Through this communication the soul is transformed to the image of Jesus Christ. “St Augustine calls the Blessed Virgin the mould of God, forma Dei . . , Whoever is cast in this mold is soon formed in Christ . . . Some directors are like sculptors who, placing their trust in their art, deal blow after blow with hammer and chisel to a hard stone or a piece of wood in order to shape it into a representation of Jesus, and sometimes do not succeed . . . one badly-aimed blow can botch the whole work.
But those who accept the secret of grace of which I write are like the artists who work from a mould. Having found the beautiful mould of Mary, where Jesus was formed naturally and divinely, they do not trust their own industry but only the fidelity of the mould, and cast and lose themselves in Mary, becoming thus images of Christ . . . But remember that you can cast in a mould only what has been melted to a liquid: that is to say, you must destroy and melt down the old Adam, to become the new Adam in Mary.”
The way of Mary increases purity of intention. By it a person renounces his own peculiar intentions, even if good, to be lost in those of the Blessed Virgin. “One enters thus into the sublimity of her intentions which were so pure that she gave more glory to God by the least of her actions—for example, by winding her distaff, or by some needlework—than St. Laurence did on the gridiron by his martyrdom, or even all the saints by their most heroic acts . . . or all the angels. . . . By deigning to receive into her virginal hands the gift of our actions she gives them a beauty and splendor which glorify Our Blessed Lord much more than if we offered them to Him ourselves. . . .
Finally, you never think of Mary but she thinks of God for you. . . . She is all she is relative to God . . . she is the echo of God, who says and repeats but ‘God.’ . . . When she is praised God is loved and praised. We give to God through and in Mary.”
GRACE OF INTIMACY WITH MARY
Some souls are favored with a special grace of union with Mary. Fr. E. Neubert, the Marianist, has gathered a number of significant testimonies in this connection. Reference must also be made to the work “Mystic Union with Mary,” written by a Flemish recluse, Marie de Sainte-Therese (1623–1677), who had personal experience of the subject on which she wrote. Fr. Chaminade, who exercised the priestly ministry at Bordeaux with great zeal during the French Revolution and who founded the Marianists, had the same experience. He wrote: “There is a gift of the habitual presence of the Blessed Virgin even as there is a gift of the habitual presence of God—very rare, it is true, but obtainable through great fidelity.” As Fr. Neubert explains, this text refers to normal and habitual mystical union with Mary. The Ven. L. Ed. Cestac had the same gift. “I do not see her,” he said, “but I feel her presence as the horse feels the hand on the rein.”
Thus these souls are conscious of the influence which Mary exercises on us continually by transmitting actual graces to our souls. Marie de Sainte-Therese has words to the same effect: “That sweet mother has taken me under her maternal direction just as a teacher takes in her own the hand of the child she is teaching to write. . . . She remains almost uninterruptedly before my soul, drawing me to herself in so loving and motherly a manner, stimulating me, guiding me, instructing me in the way of the spirit and in the perfect practice of the virtues. And I do not lose for a single instant the charm of her presence along with that of the Godhead. . . . She produces the divine life in me by an imperceptible inflow of different graces. . . . It is of the nature of love to unite itself to the object loved. . . . Thus tender, burning and unifying love draws the soul which loves Mary to live in her, to be united to her, and to other effects and transformations. . . . Then God shows Himself in Mary and by her as in a mirror.” Such was a great part of the life of this servant of God.
Some souls who have had great intimacy with Mary say that they never experienced her presence in them, but rather her presence very near them—as near as possible, in fact—and that they felt a great joy at knowing of her happiness. We have known a saintly Carthusian who said: “I suffer, but she is happy.” Finally, many holy souls have had, in the midst of their sufferings, a gift of deep intimacy with Mary which was the source of their strength even though they have left no account of it. Many of them have experienced, were it only for an instant, her presence like that of a mother who peeps into the room where her children are. In such experiences she communicates an indescribable holiness, and prompts to more generous sacrifices, such as lead the soul into the depths contained in the Magnificat and the Stabat Mater. (Reverend Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P., “The Mother of the Saviour: And Our Interior Life”.) Available from AbeBooks.com or TAN Publishing.
Remember – Our Lady needs us to obey: First Saturdays of Reparation, daily rosary, at least 5 mysteries, wear her brown scapular and live your Total Consecration to her Immaculate Heart, offering daily duties in reparation and for the conversion of poor sinners.
† Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.