Aim: To embrace the perfect “means” of our consecration.
The interior practices (TD 257): “Here are some very sanctifying interior practices for those souls who feel called by the Holy Spirit to a high degree of perfection. They may be expressed in four words, doing everything through Mary, with Mary, in Mary, and for Mary, in order to do it more perfectly through Jesus, with Jesus, in Jesus, and for Jesus”.
In the ocean of Mary’s graces (TD 144): “The Blessed Virgin, mother of gentleness and mercy, never allows herself to be surpassed in love and generosity. When she sees her servants giving themselves entirely to her in order to honour and serve her, and depriving themselves of what they prize most in order to adorn her, she gives herself completely in a wondrous manner to them. She engulfs them in the ocean of her graces, adorns them with her merits, supports them with her power, enlightens them with her light, and fills them with her love. She shares her virtues with them – her humility, faith, purity, etc. She makes up for their failings and becomes their representative with Jesus. Just as those who are consecrated belong entirely to Mary, so Mary belongs entirely to them. We can truthfully say of these perfect servants and children of Mary what St. John in his gospel says of himself, ‘He took her for his own’”.
Through Mary: “We do everything through Mary, that is, in all things we conduct ourselves by her spirit, which is the Holy Spirit of God” (TD 258). Hence, “we never go to our Lord except through her, using her intercession and good standing with him” (SM 48). It is a matter of trusting Mary because, as “servant of the lord”, she has no other business but to lead us to Jesus and make us grow in his spirit. It demands of us that, through discernment, we renounce our own spirit or individual agenda and release ourselves into the intentionality of Mary. “This is done easily and quickly by a mere thought, a slight movement of the will or just a few words as – ‘I renounce myself and give myself to you, my dear Mother’” (TD 259). As a result, we learn from Mary to become “discerning” people.
With Mary: “We do everything with Mary. In all our actions we look upon Mary as an accomplished model of every virtue and perfection, which the Holy Spirit has formed in a pure creature for us to imitate as far as our limited capacity allows” (TD 260). It is a matter of emulating Mary in her commitment to God, in her virtues of faith and profound humility, in her pure intentionality, in her courageous choices, in her ability to stand for the poor, in her inner strength in the face of trials, and in her generous service to the church. But, in this practice, how far can we really imitate Mary? Montfort’s answer holds in respect both the possibilities and the limits of our human ground: in fact we are not to become photocopies of Mary but to look upon Mary or imitate her “as far as our limited capacity allows” (TD 260).
In Mary: “We do everything in Mary” (TD 261). “We always act in Mary, that is to say, we gradually acquire the habit of recollecting ourselves interiorly and so form within us an idea or a spiritual image of Mary. She then becomes an Oratory for our soul […], a burning lamp lighting up our inmost being and inflaming us with love for God. She is the sacred place of repose where we can contemplate God in her company” (SM 47). It is a matter of living in the heart of Mary who shares with us the qualities of her heart, such as her “motherly compassion”, her “reflective attitude”, her “inner freedom”, her “sense of inner peace”, and above all, her “love for Christ-Wisdom” (cf. TD 264). We grow into all this when we become acquainted with and dwell in the world of the heart.
For Mary: “We do everything for Mary, as her personal servants” (TD 265). Basically, it means to do something significant for Mary in order to do God’s work “freely and unconditionally”. It is within the nature of love to do something significant, yet unconditional, for the beloved. It means to work for Mary, to speak well of her, to undertake projects and actions simply to please her. Love makes us creative and dynamic, yet doesn’t expect anything in return. And so, in all our actions, we aim first of all “at promoting her interests and her high renown, while the glory of God is always our final end” (SM 49). Indeed, Montfort assures us that “If we go to God through Mary, our work will become Mary’s work, and consequently will be most noble and most worthy of God” (SM 50).
Personal Reflection and Sharing
As I am about to make my consecration to Jesus, how do I describe and evaluate:
The quality of my “trust” in Mary?
My willingness to “emulate” her virtues?
My desire to live in her heart like a “burning lamp”?