"If you wish to learn and appreciate something worth while, then love to be unknown and considered as nothing. Truly to know and despise self is the best and most perfect counsel."

Thomas á Kempis

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"If, devout soul, it is your will to please God and live a life of serenity in this world, unite yourself always and in all things to the divine will. Reflect that all the sins of your past wicked life happened because you wandered from the path of God's will. For the future, embrace God's good pleasure and say to him in every happening: "Yea, Father, for so it hath seemed good in thy sight." "

St Alphonsus de Liguori

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"The greatest glory we can give to God is to do his will in everything."

St Alphonsus de Liguori

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St Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort  - 1673 to 1716 - canonized by Pius XII in 1947.

 

  TREATISE ON TRUE DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN
     
 

PART I: TRUE DEVOTION TO OUR LADY IN GENERAL (cont)

 

Ch 2: In what Devotion to Mary Consists (cont)

2. Marks of false and authentic devotion to Mary

1. False devotion to our Lady(cont)

Critical devotees

93. Critical devotees are for the most part proud scholars,
people of independent and self-satisfied minds, who deep down
in their hearts have a vague sort of devotion to Mary.
However, they criticise nearly all those forms of devotion to
her which simple and pious people use to honour their good
Mother just because such practices do not appeal to them. They
question all miracles and stories which testify to the mercy
and power of the Blessed Virgin, even those recorded by
trustworthy authors or taken from the chronicles of religious
orders. They cannot bear to see simple and humble people on
their knees before an altar or statue of our Lady, or at
prayer before some outdoor shrine. They even accuse them of
idolatry as if they were adoring the wood or the stone. They
say that as far as they are concerned they do not care for
such outward display of devotion and that they are not so
gullible as to believe all the fairy tales and stories told of
our Blessed Lady. When you tell them how admirably the Fathers
of the Church praised our Lady, they reply that the Fathers
were exaggerating as orators do, or that their words are
misrepresented. These false devotees, these proud worldly
people are greatly to be feared. They do untold harm to
devotion to our Lady. While pretending to correct abuses, they
succeed only too well in turning people away from this
devotion.

Scrupulous devotees

94. Scrupulous devotees are those who imagine they are
slighting the Son by honouring the Mother. They fear that by
exalting Mary they are belittling Jesus. They cannot bear to
see people giving to our Lady the praises due to her and which
the Fathers of the Church have lavished upon her. It annoys
them to see more people kneeling before Mary's altar than
before the Blessed Sacrament, as if these acts were at
variance with each other, or as if those who were praying to
our Lady were not praying through her to Jesus. They do not
want us to speak too often of her or to pray so often to her.
Here are some of the things they say: "What is the good
of all these rosaries, confraternities and exterior devotions
to our Lady? There is a great deal of ignorance in all this.
It is making a mockery of religion. Tell us about those who
are devoted to Jesus (and they often pronounce his name
without uncovering their heads). We should go directly to
Jesus, since he is our sole Mediator. We must preach Jesus;
that is sound devotion." There is some truth in what they say,
but the inference they draw to prevent devotion to our Lady is
very insidious. It is a subtle snare of the evil one under the
pretext of promoting a greater good. For we never give more
honour to Jesus than when we honour his Mother, and we honour
her simply and solely to honour him all the more perfectly. We
go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek - Jesus,
her Son.

95. The Church, with the Holy Spirit, blesses our Lady first,
then Jesus, "Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the
fruit of thy womb, Jesus." Not that Mary is greater than
Jesus, or even equal to him - that would be an intolerable
heresy. But in order to bless Jesus more perfectly we should
first bless Mary. Let us say with all those truly devoted to
her, despite these false and scrupulous devotees: "O Mary,
blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy
womb, Jesus."

Superficial devotees

96. Superficial devotees are people whose entire devotion to
our Lady consists in exterior practices. Only the externals of
devotion appeal to them because they have no interior spirit.
They say many rosaries with great haste and assist at many
Masses distractedly. They take part in processions of our Lady
without inner fervour. They join her confraternities without
reforming their lives or restraining their passions or
imitating Mary's virtues. All that appeals to them is the
emotional aspect of this devotion, but the substance of it has
no appeal at all. If they do not feel a warmth in their
devotions, they think they are doing nothing; they become
upset, and give up everything, or else do things only when
they feel like it. The world is full of these shallow
devotees, and there are none more critical of men of prayer
who regard the interior devotion as the essential aspect and
strive to acquire it without, however, neglecting a reasonable
external expression which always accompanies true devotion.

Presumptuous devotees

97. Presumptuous devotees are sinners who give full rein to
their passions or their love of the world, and who, under the
fair name of Christian and servant of our Lady, conceal pride,
avarice, lust, drunkenness, anger, swearing, slandering,
injustice and other vices. They sleep peacefully in their
wicked habits, without making any great effort to correct
them, believing that their devotion to our Lady gives them
this sort of liberty. They convince themselves that God will
forgive them, that they will not die without confession, that
they will not be lost for all eternity. They take all this for
granted because they say the Rosary, fast on Saturdays, are
enrolled in the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary or the
Scapular, or a sodality of our Lady, wear the medal or the
little chain of our Lady.
When you tell them that such a devotion is only an
illusion of the devil and a dangerous presumption which may
well ruin them, they refuse to believe you. God is good and
merciful, they reply, and he has not made us to damn us. No
man is without sin. We will not die without confession, and a
good act of contrition at death is all that is needed.
Moreover, they say they have devotion to our Lady; that they
wear the scapular; that they recite faithfully and humbly
every day the seven Our Fathers and seven Hail Marys in her
honour; that sometimes they even say the Rosary and the Office
of our Lady, as well as fasting and performing other good
works.
Blinding themselves still more, they quote stories they
have heard or read - whether true or false does not bother
them - which relate how people who had died in mortal sin were
brought back to life again to go to confession, or how their
soul was miraculously retained in their bodies until
confession, because in their lifetime they said a few prayers
or performed a few pious acts, in honour of our Lady. Others
are supposed to have obtained from God at the moment of death,
through the merciful intercession of the Blessed Virgin,
sorrow and pardon for their sins, and so were saved.
Accordingly, these people expect the same thing to happen to
them.

98. Nothing in our Christian religion is so deserving of
condemnation as this diabolical presumption. How can we
truthfully claim to love and honour the Blessed Virgin when by
our sins we pitilessly wound, pierce, crucify and outrage her
Son? If Mary made it a rule to save by her mercy this sort of
person, she would be condoning wickedness and helping to
outrage and crucify her Son. Who would even dare to think of
such a thing?

99. I declare that such an abuse of devotion to her is a
horrible sacrilege and, next to an unworthy Communion, is the
greatest and the least pardonable sin, because devotion to our
Lady is the holiest and best after devotion to the Blessed
Sacrament.
I admit that to be truly devoted to our Lady, it is not
absolutely necessary to be so holy as to avoid all sin,
although this is desirable. But at least it is necessary (note
what I am going to say), (1) to be genuinely determined to
avoid at least all mortal sin, which outrages the Mother as
well as the Son; (2) to practise self-restraint in order to
avoid sin; (3) to join her confraternities, say the Rosary and
other prayers, fast on Saturdays, and so on.

100. Such means are surprisingly effective in converting even
the hardened sinner. Should you be such a sinner, with one
foot in the abyss, I advise you to do as I have said. But
there is an essential condition. You must perform these good
works solely to obtain from God, through the intercession of
our Lady, the grace to regret your sins, obtain pardon for
them and overcome your evil habits, and not to live
complacently in the state of sin, disregarding the warning
voice of conscience, the example of our Lord and the saints,
and the teaching of the holy gospel.

Inconstant devotees

101. Inconstant devotees are those whose devotion to our Lady
is practised in fits and starts. Sometimes they are fervent
and sometimes they are lukewarm. Sometimes they appear ready
to do anything to please our Lady, and then shortly afterwards
they have completely changed. They start by embracing every
devotion to our Lady. They join her confraternities, but they
do not faithfully observe the rules. They are as changeable as
the moon, and like the moon Mary puts them under her feet.
Because of their fickleness they are unworthy to be included
among the servants of the Virgin most faithful, because
faithfulness and constancy are the hallmarks of Mary's
servants. It is better not to burden ourselves with a
multitude of prayers and pious practices but rather adopt only
a few and perform them with love and perseverance in spite of
opposition from the devil the world and the flesh.

Hypocritical devotees

102. There is another category of false devotees of our
Lady, - hypocritical ones. These hide their sins and evil
habits under the mantle of the Blessed Virgin so as to appear
to their fellow-men different from what they are.

Self-interested devotees

103. Then there are the self-interested devotees who turn to
her only to win a court-case, to escape some danger, to be
cured of some ailment, or have some similar need satisfied.
Except when in need they never think of her. Such people are
acceptable neither to God not to his Mother.

104. We must, then, carefully avoid joining the critical
devotees, who believe nothing and find fault with everything;
the scrupulous ones who, out of respect for our Lord, are
afraid of having too much devotion to his Mother; the exterior
devotees whose devotion consists entirely in outward
practices; the presumptuous devotees who under cover of a
fictitious devotion to our Lady wallow in their sins; the
inconstant devotees who, being unstable, change their
devotional practices or abandon them altogether at the
slightest temptation; the hypocritical ones who join
confraternities and wear emblems of our Lady only to be
thought of as good people; finally, the self-interested
devotees who pray to our Lady only to be rid of bodily ills or
to obtain material benefits.