Devotion to Mary in Proficients
TAKEN FROM THE THREE AGES OF THE INTERIOR LIFE
Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP
with Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat, 1948
six of the first part of this work, we spoke of the influence of Mary
Mediatrix, explaining how she cooperated in the sacrifice of the cross
through merit and satisfaction, how she does not cease to intercede for
us, to obtain for us and distribute to us all the graces that we
receive. We shall apply these principles here, as St. Grignion de
Montfort does, [l] to show what
devotion to Mary
should be in proficients. We shall see what constitutes true devotion
to the Blessed Virgin, its degrees, and its fruits.
TRUE DEVOTION TO MARY
We are not speaking here of an entirely exterior, presumptuous,
inconstant, hypocritical, and interested devotion, but of true devotion
which St. Thomas defines as "promptness of the will in the service of
God."  This promptness of the
will, which should
subsist despite aridity of the sensible part of the soul, inclines us
to render to our Lord and His holy Mother the worship [Christ]
[veneration, Mary] that is due them. 
As Jesus is
our Mediator with His Father, in the same way we should go to our
Savior through Mary. The mediation of the Son throws light on that of
His holy Mother.
They are deluded who claim to reach union with God without having
continual recourse to our Lord. They will hardly attain to an abstract
knowledge of God, and not to that sweet knowledge called wisdom; a
lofty knowledge at once practical, living, and experiential, which
makes us discover the ways of Providence in the most insignificant
things. The quietists were mistaken in holding that Christ's sacred
humanity was a means useful only at the beginning of the spiritual
life; they did not sufficiently recognize the universal mediation of
Another error consists in wishing to
go to our Lord without passing
through Mary. This was one of the errors of the Protestants.
[Emphasis added.] And even
some Catholics do not see clearly enough how expedient it is to have
recourse to the Blessed Virgin in order to enter the intimacy of
Christ. As St. Grignion de Montfort says, they know Mary "only in a
speculative, dry, fruitless, indifferent manner. ... They fear that
devotion toward her is abused and that injury is done to our Lord by
paying excessive honor to His holy Mother. ... If they speak of
to Mary, it is less to recommend it than to destroy the abuses of it."
 They seem to consider Mary "a hindrance in
reaching Divine union,"
 whereas all her influence is exercised in order to
lead us to it.
It would be just as sensible to say that the holy Curé of Ars
hindrance to his parishioners in their progress toward God.
To neglect the Mediators whom God has given us because of our weakness,
shows a lack of humility. Intimacy with our Lord in prayer will be
greatly facilitated by frequent recourse to Mary.
THE DEGREES OF THIS DEVOTION
Devotion to Mary, which should exist in every Christian, ought to grow
with charity. The first degree consists in praying to the Blessed
Virgin from time to time, honoring her as the Mother of God, saying,
for example, the Angelus with true
recollection every time it rings.
The second degree consists in having more perfect sentiments of
veneration, confidence, and love for Mary. They lead us to the daily
recitation of at least one of the three parts of the Rosary while we
meditate on the joyful, sorrowful, or glorious mysteries, which are for
us the road of eternal life.
The third degree of the true devotion to Mary, that proper to
proficients, consists in consecrating oneself entirely to our Lord
through her. In a clear explanation of this consecration, St. Grignion
de Montfort says: "This devotion consists in giving oneself entirely to
the Blessed Virgin in order to belong entirely to Jesus Christ through
her. We must give her: ( 1) our body with all its senses and members
(that she may keep them in perfect purity); (2) our soul with all its
powers; (3) our exterior goods, present and to come; (4) our interior
and spiritual goods, our merits, virtues, and good works, past,
present, and future." 
To have a clear understanding of this oblation, we must distinguish in
our good works between what is incommunicable to others and what is
communicable to other souls. What is incommunicable in our good works
is merit, properly so called (de
condigno), which constitutes a right
in justice to an increase of charity and to eternal life. These
personal merits are incommunicable; in this respect they differ from
those of Jesus Christ Who, being constituted the head of humanity and
our pledge, could merit for us in strict justice.
Consequently, if we offer our merits, properly so called, to the
Blessed Virgin, it is not that she may give them to other souls, but
that she may preserve them, make them fructify, and, if we should have
the misfortune to lose them through mortal sin, that she may obtain for
us the grace of so fervent a contrition that it may enable us to
recover not only the state of grace, but the degree of grace lost; so
that if we have lost five talents, we may recover these five, and not
merely two or three. 
What is communicable to others in our good works is congruous merit; it
is also their satisfactory or reparatory value and their value as
impetration or prayer.
By congruous merit, based not on justice, but on the charity or
friendship which unites us to God (in
jure amicabili), we can obtain
graces for our neighbor. Thus a good Christian mother draws graces on
her children by her virtuous life because God takes into consideration
the intentions and good works of this generous mother. Likewise, we can
also pray for our neighbor, for his conversion, his progress, for
hardened sinners, the agonizing, the Souls in Purgatory.
Lastly, we can satisfy for others, we can voluntarily accept the
punishment due to their sins, expiate them, as Mary did for us at the
foot of the Cross, and thus draw the Divine mercy down upon them. We
also gain indulgences for the Souls in Purgatory, open to them the
treasure of the merits of Christ and the Saints, and hasten their
If we offer all our vexations and sufferings to Mary in this way, she
will send us crosses proportionate to our strength aided by grace to
make us labor for the salvation of souls.
Who should be advised to make this consecration as we have explained
it? It should not be advised for those who would make it through
sentimentality or spiritual pride without comprehending its meaning;
but it is fitting to counsel it for truly pious and fervent souls, at
first for a time, from one feast of the Blessed Virgin to another, then
for a year. Thus one will become penetrated by this spirit of
abandonment and later can make this act with fruit for one's whole
It has been objected that such an act strips us and does not pay our
own debt, which will increase our Purgatory. This is the objection made
by the devil to St. Bridget when she was preparing to make a similar
act. Our Lord made the Saint understand that this is the objection of
self-love, which forgets the goodness of Mary, who does not let herself
be outdone in generosity. By thus stripping oneself, one receives the
hundred-fold. And indeed the love to which this generous act testifies
obtains for us even now the remission of part of our Purgatory.
Others object, asking how, after having once and for all given all our
prayers to Mary, we can pray especially for our parents and friends.
The answer to this question is that the Blessed Virgin knows our duties
of charity toward our parents and friends, and, should we forget to
pray for them as we ought, she would remind us to do so. Moreover,
among our parents and friends there are some who have a particular need
of prayers, of which we are often ignorant; but Mary knows their needs
and will thus, without our being aware of it, make these souls benefit
by our prayers. We can always ask her to favor others.
THE FRUITS OF THIS DEVOTION
St. Grignion de Montfort says  that this road to
God is easier, and
nevertheless more meritorious, and consequently a more perfect, short,
and sure road.
First of all, it is an easier way. "One can in truth," he says,
"reach Divine union by other roads; but it will be by many more crosses
strange deaths, with many more difficulties, which he shall conquer
with greater difficulty. He shall have to pass through dark nights,
combats, and strange agonies, steep mountains, very sharp thorns, and
frightful deserts. But by way of Mary, the passage is more sweet and
tranquil. On this road, in truth, are great combats to be fought and
great difficulties to be overcome; but this good Mother takes up her
position so near her faithful servants to enlighten them in their
darkness, to illumine them in their doubts, to sustain them in their
struggles and difficulties that in reality this virginal road to find
Jesus Christ is a road of roses and honey compared with other roads."
Evidence of this fact appears in the lives of Saints who more
particularly followed this way, such as St. Ephrem, St. John Damascene,
St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure, St. Bernardine of Siena, St. Francis de
The vision of St. Francis of Assisi in this connection is well known.
One day the Saint saw his sons trying to reach our Lord by a ladder
that was red and very steep; after climbing a few rungs, they would
fall back. Our Lord then showed St. Francis another ladder, white and
much less steep, at whose summit appeared the Blessed Virgin, and He
said to Francis: "Advise your sons to go by the ladder of My Mother."
By way of Mary the road is easier because the Blessed Virgin
us by her gentleness; nevertheless it is a more meritorious road
because Mary obtains for us a greater charity, which is the principle
of merit. The difficulties to be overcome are certainly an occasion of
merit, but the principle of merit is charity, the love of God, by which
we triumph over these difficulties. We should remember that Mary
merited more by her easiest acts, such as a simple prayer, than did the
Martyrs in their torments, for she put more love of God into these easy
acts than the Saints did in heroic acts.
Since the road by way of Mary is easier and more meritorious, it is
shorter, surer, and more perfect; more easily traveled, progress on it
is more rapid. By submission to the Mother of God, a person makes
greater progress in a short time than he would make in many years
relying excessively on his own personal prudence. Under the direction
of her whom the Incarnate Word obeyed, he walks with giant steps.
This road is also more perfect, since through Mary the Word of God came
down perfectly to us without losing anything of His Divinity; through
her, very little souls can ascend even to the Most High without fearing
anything. She purifies our good works and increases their value when
she presents them to her Son.
Lastly, it is a surer road, on which we are better preserved from the
illusions of the devil who seeks to deceive us, imperceptibly at first,
that later he may lead us into great sin. On this road we are also
preserved from the illusions of day-dreaming and sentimentality. In the
subordination of the causes that transmit Divine grace, Mary exercises,
in fact, a salutary influence on our sensibility; she calms it, rules
it, to enable the elevated part of our soul to receive the influence
of our Lord more fruitfully. In addition, Mary herself is to our
sensible faculties a most pure and holy object, which lifts our soul
toward union with God. She gives us great interior liberty, and, on our
urgent petition, she sometimes obtains our immediate deliverance from
the deviations of our sensible appetites which hinder prayer and
intimate union with our Lord. The purpose of the entire influence of
Mary Mediatrix is to lead us to the intimacy of Jesus, as He Himself
leads us to the Father.
It is advisable to ask for Mary's particular assistance at the moment
of Holy Communion that she may make us share in her profound piety and
love, as if she were to lend us her most pure heart to receive our Lord
worthily. We may with profit make our thanksgiving in the same way.
We shall conclude by giving the essential parts of the consecration of
oneself to Jesus Christ through Mary's hands:
O Eternal and Incarnate Wisdom! O most amiable and adorable Jesus, true
God and true Man, I thank Thee for having annihilated Thyself, taking
the form of a slave, to draw me from the slavery of the devil. ... I
have recourse to the intercession of Thy most holy Mother, whom Thou
hast given me as a Mediatrix. By this means I hope to obtain from Thee
contrition and the pardon of my sins, the acquisition and preservation
Hail, Immaculate Mary, Queen of Heaven and earth, to whom everything
under God is subject. Hail, safe Refuge of sinners, whose mercy fails
no one; hear and grant my desires for Divine wisdom, and to that end
receive the vows and offerings that my baseness presents to thee.
I, an unfaithful sinner, today renew and ratify in thy hands my
Baptismal vows. I forever renounce Satan, his works and pomps, and I
give myself completely to Jesus Christ, Incarnate Wisdom, to carry my
cross after Him all the days of my life. And that I may be more
faithful to Him than I have been hitherto, I choose thee, O Mary, for
my mother. I give and consecrate to thee my body and soul, my interior
and exterior goods, and the very value of my good works past, present,
and future. Present me to thy Son and grant me the grace to obtain true
wisdom from God, and for that purpose to place myself in the number of
those whom thou dost love, teach, lead, feed, and protect. O faithful
Virgin, render me in all things so perfect a disciple and imitator of
Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ, thy Son, that by thy intercession and
example, I may attain to the plenitude of His age on earth and His
glory in Heaven. Amen. 
1. Treatise on the
True Devotion to Mary
Secret of Mary
IIa IIae, q. 81, a. 1: "Devotion is apparently nothing else but the
will to give oneself readily to things concerning the service of God."
A distinction must be made, however, between
the worship of latria due to God and the humanity of the Savior
personally united to the Word, and the veneration of hyperdulia, due to
the Blessed Virgin. (Brackets added above in the body of the text in
reference to the sentence containing this footnote because "worship" as
used by the author in its complexity is not understood today by many.)
4. Treatise on the
True Devotion to Mary
, chap. 2, a. l.
chap. 4, a. 6.
chap. 3, a. 1.
7. Cf. Summa
IIIa, q. 9, a. 2.
chap. 4. a. 4 f.
9. This is the essential part of the consecration at
the close of St. Grignion de Montfort's Treatise on the True Devotion to Mary
Mention is made there, in contrast to the slavery of sin, of a holy
slavery of love which some have not always clearly understood. It in no
way diminishes the wholly filial affection which we should have for
Mary, but in the formula itself some souls prefer to place the emphasis
on this filial character of our relations with the Mother of God.
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