Spirituality of St. Louis de Montfort II
By Father Anthony Mellace

Click here to read part one>>>The Marian Spirituality of St. Louis de Montfort Part I
Click here to read part three>>>
The Marian Spirituality of St. Louis de Montfort Part III
Click here to read part four>>>The Marian Spirituality of St. Louis de Montfort Part IV

Part II

St. Louis de Montfort teaches that every good work that we perform produces, within us, two important fruits: satisfaction and merit. Satisfaction is a theological term meaning the cancellation of a just penalty, punishment or chastisement due to sin. It is not that satisfaction cancels the moral guilt of the sin in itself (only Jesus can do that), but its fruit which is punishment. Merit concedes to us the right to gain new graces, along with eternal glory in the next life. This is why St. Louis tells us that it is important for us to perform the greatest possible number of good works in this life.

St. Louis tells us that the end of devotion to Mary is Jesus Christ himself. Those devoted to Mary love Jesus Christ perfectly and serve Him faithfully. It is easier to separate the light from the sun and the heat from the fire than Jesus from Mary. The greatest inclination of Mary is to unite us to her Son Jesus, and the greatest inclination of the Son is that we come to Him through His Mother. "Everything, including God, pertains to the empire of Mary, and everything, including the Virgin, pertains to the empire of God....All that is due to God by nature is due to Mary by grace.. (St. Luis de Montfort).

In order to explain some theological truths, St. Louis has recourse to the image of slavery. This should not surprise nor shock anyone, since nowadays many enter into a voluntary enslavement to sex, alcohol, gambling or fortune building. St. Louis felt very comfortable in his use of this terminology. This was due to his being completely radical and uncompromising in the decision to follow Christ and live fully His Gospel. To him, it was either a total giving of one's life to God or nothing at all. Lukewarmness and indecision in spiritual matters was something St. Louis would not admit nor tolerate. He saw no point nor value in living a water-downed, shallowly type of faith, that was good for neither men nor God. He compares it to a frog: an awkward creature, that does not know whether it belongs to the water or the land.

Before our baptism, according to St. Louis, we were all slaves of the devil. Through baptism, we passed to being slaves of Jesus who expects good works of us. Those who love Jesus and Mary, however, turn themselves into their slaves by their own free will. The slave of Mary is perfectly the slave of Jesus. St. Louis tells us that very few people actually do remain faithful to the promises of their baptism. The majority of us end up falling into grave and multiple sins. We really make ourselves become incapable of doing any good for our salvation. St. Louis lists the vices or human failings that are commonly present in many of us: weakness, inconstancy, iniquity, carnal desires, violent reactions, blindness, pride, hardness of heart, envy, laziness, and stinginess. We have need of the light of the Holy Spirit in order to recognize our vices and helplessness before the good.

To go directly to God without Mary is to lack humility and respect before HIm. Those who despise Mary as Mediatrix are really presumptuous. Who has the sufficient purity to unite himself directly to Jesus? If Jesus came to us by way of Mary, who is rash enough to go to Him without her? Mary is the moon that tones down the strong light of the sun, Jesus, and puts us in a condition to receive Him. She is the refuge of sinners who rejects no one. Many who trusted in their self-confidence and lacked humility, sad to say, fell and became destitute of their spiritual goods. There is no end to the number of people that Satan robbed graces from and toppled over. If such persons had trusted Mary, they would have lost nothing. The filth in the world is too strong of a torrent to hold back, and a difficult virus to avoid. We need Mary as our Mediatrix in order to to conserve the graces we have.

St. Louis also makes a distinction between the true and false devotion to Mary. A false devotion to Mary is even capable of bringing one to hell. The true devotion to Mary leads one to perfection. It is sanctifying and pleasing to Mary. The others must be avoided. St. Louis condemns those devotions to Mary that simply consistent in external practices without bringing about any change of heart. A false devotee of Mary will pray a great quantity of rosaries or mechanically take part in the Mass, but is not interested in imitating her virtues. Such a person is lazy to reform his habits or struggle against his defects. The practice of charity is not something that attracts him. On the contrary, he wastes his time running after doubtful or ridiculous apparitions. The minimum that is required for one to have a true and authentic devotion to Mary are the following three conditions:

a) avoid mortal sin
b) renounce one's self and will
c) pray Marian prayers, perform some sacrifice or fasting.

The reason for the devotion to Mary is to obtain from God, through her intercession, the graces of contrition, the forgiveness of our sins and victory over evil habits. According to St. Louis, true devotion to Mary possesses five characteristics:

1) It is internal: It comes from the heart and mind. One loves and esteems Mary. He has high ideas of her greatness.
It is tender: Those devoted to Mary have a childlike confidence and recourse to her in all their necessities, with simplicity, trust and tenderness. She is implored in every moment, place and occasion:

-in moments of doubts, to be illuminated
-on wrong paths, to find the right way
-in temptations, to be sustained
-in weakness, to be strengthened
-in falls, to be lifted up
-in discouragement, to be animated
-in crosses, fatigue and disappointments, to be consoled

3) it is holy: Those devoted to Mary avoid sin and imitate her virtues:

-profound humility
-lively faith
-blind obedience
-continuous prayer
-Divine purity
-ardent charity
-heroic patience
-angelical sweetness
-Divine wisdom

4) It is constant: Those devoted to Mary remain faithful to their spiritual acts and the practice of the good. They employ themselves perseveringly against the evil within themselves or in society itself. Even if they fall, they get up again and do not abandon Mary.

5) It is disinterested: Those devoted to Mary look for God in Mary. Authentic love requires that one loves Mary for herself and not in view of gaining some benefit, profit or self-interest. He who loves Mary will not seek nor search for his own personal good, whether it be spiritual, corporal, temporal or eternal. Mary is loved simply for herself.

Devotion to Mary also manifests itself through concrete practices such as:

a) Meditating on her virtues, privileges and actions
b) Making acts of love, praise and gratitude
c) Offering ourselves to her and fulfilling our acts with the intention of pleasing her.
d) Begin, continue and end all of our actions through, with and for her. In this way, they will also be realized for Jesus.

We must remember that everything that we do for Mary, should, at the same time, please God, unite us to Jesus and honor our neighbor.

This article is a free translation of the Portuguese version from my book "The Rose of Sharon". In the next month, the theme will be continued. Father Anthony Mellace

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