The Blessed Virgin Mary is on the cover of Newsweek with the title, “What would Mary do?” Good question. In the past year I have been particularly focused on Mary and in developing a Marian devotion. Due to poor catechism at my schools, my own poor understanding of what I was taught, or both, this is something that I always thought unnecessary. Listening to others rant and rave about how wrong it was for Catholics to “worship” her, I even at times felt it to be inappropriate. (I’m embarrassed now that I ever fell into that.) My thoughts about Mary changed when I received a special book, once “rare”, but now increasingly famous and easily available on Amazon; a book that “changed JPIIs life of faith.” A Treatise on The True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin was written by Louis-Marie De Montfort in ~1715 and lost under dust until found by accident in 1842. Though I still have a long way to go, this “inerrant book” has helped me in all my relationships toward peace and understanding. It is so logical, balanced, and helpful regarding focus in prayer and in life. During my re-reading of it now, a couple of pages a day, I am noticing things that are so relevant and our wayward ways within the Church. Due to her unparalleled humility and devotion to Jesus, Mary serves as a wonderful and peaceful source of guidance towards Him. Unlike others who are at time very helpful in our lives, but who can also present us with sinfulness, Mary can never lead us astray. There is, of course, “false devotion,” seven types of which are well outlined by De Montfort. (By the way, there are even “false devotions” to Jesus, such as claiming to kill an abortion doctor in His name.) We lean on our own “strength” to the point of inevitable weakness and failure, but Mary is perfection in moving towards Christ.
I watched a news story about a married preacher whose “devotion” to his flock had “caused” his marriage to fail. He and his wife drifted apart and eventually he convinced women in the church that, in order to guide his flock with greater devotion, he needed a more intimate understanding of their marriage woes to the point of affairs with those other women. Priests and preachers – themselves ill, can often lead others astray. Should we be surprised? Not really. They, like us, are prone to false devotion and to being preyed upon by our ills (Satan, inner demons, whatever you want to call them.) I am writing about this to remind myself and you that some form of daily, even hourly, steering method and prayer are required for our journey. That should include each of us praying for one another. If I only pray for myself, then that is one person praying for me. As I expand that out, then I am now praying for dozens and those dozens are praying for me as well. This is a better system of prayer, and something commented on by many Saints in mystical writing. Thanks in advance for your prayers; I assure you I need them. I can also assure you that you have mine as I pray for the guidance and growth of our guild collectively and its members.
“Wrinkle in Time”: Lastly, how does a Marian devotion help us in our journey to Jesus? Having read and been blown away by True Devotion, I liken the immense Grace provided by the Blessed Virgin to the method of tethering time described in A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. In the original version, there is a drawing demonstrating how Meg and Charles Wallace learn to “wrinkle” or “tether” time. A string represents the distance one has to travel. While holding the string stretched out by two hands with Point A on the left and Point B on the right, your hands are then brought together so that the string dips down in the middle. The distance between the starting point A and destination B is shortened dramatically; one can essentially get from point A to point B faster and via shorter distance. Mary helps us tether the distance to our Lord God. The effect is not subtle but dramatic. Same road to travel. Same goal. Fewer distractions. It must be maintained by a true devotion and by averting false devotions (same as anything else in life). Thus, a straighter, more narrow, more direct course than we would otherwise likely achieve is possible, likely, and predictable. There are other ways to get there, and we each have our own route, as stated by Cardinal Ratzinger to Seawald, but having Mary as our Maternal guide to Christ keeps us on track. Grace!
E Wesley Ely, MD MPH
A Treatise on the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, by Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort,
“All those who are likely to read this book love God, and lament that they do not love Him more; all desire something for His glory , -the spread of some good work, the success of some devotion, the coming of some good time. One man has been striving for years to overcome a particular fault, and has not succeeded. Another mourns, and almost wonders while he mourns, that so few of his relations and friends been converted to the faith. One grieves that he has not devotion enough; another that he has a cross to carry; which is a peculiarly impossible cross to him; while a third has domestic troubles and family unhappinesses, which feel almost incompatible with his salvation; and for all these things prayer appears to bring so little remedy. But what is the remedy that is wanted? what is the remedy indicated by God Himself? If we may rely on the disclosures of the Saints, it is an immense increase of devotion to our Blessed Lady; but, remember, nothing short of an immense one. Here, in England, Mary is not half enough preached. Devotion to her is low and thin and poor. It is frightened out of its wits by the sneers of heresy. It is always invoking human respect and carnal prudence, wishing to make Mary so little of a Mary that Protestants may feel at ease about her. Its ignorance of theology makes it unsubstantial and unworthy. It is not the prominent characteristic of our religion which it ought to be. It has no faith in itself. Hence it is that Jesus is not loved, that heretics are not converted, that the Church is not exalted; that souls, which might be saints, wither and dwindle; that the Sacraments are not rightly frequented, or souls enthusiastically evangelized. Jesus is obscured because Mary is kept in the background. Thousands of souls perish because Mary is withheld from them. It is the miserable unworthy shadow which we call our devotion to the Blessed Virgin that is the cause of all wants and blights, these evils and omissions and declines. Yet if we are to believe the revelations of the Saints, God is pressing for a greater, a wider, a stronger, quite another devotion to His Blessed Mother. I cannot think of a higher work or a broader vocation for any one than the simple spreading of this peculiar devotion of the Venerable Grignon de Montfort. Let a man but try it for himself, and his surprise at the graces it brings with it, and the transformations it causes in his soul, will soon convince him of its otherwise almost incredible efficacy as a means for the salvation of men, and for the coming of the kingdom of Christ. Oh, if Mary were but known, how how much more wonderful would be our faith, and how different would our Communions be! Oh if Mary were but known, how much happier, how much holier, how much less worldly should we be, and how much more should we living images of our sole Lord and Saviour, her dearest and most blessed Son!”
excerpt from Preface to True Devotion written by FW Faber in 1862…