We can trace devotion to Mary through every century of the church:
- St. Justin Martyr, Tertullian,
- St. Augustine of Hippo (100-430)
- St. Ildephonsus of Toledo (606-667)
- St. Bernard of Clairvaux +1153
- St. Odo of Canterbury +1200 — “He who wants to receive this wisdom confides to Mary this desire of his and Mary will preoccupy herself with he who is to find Christ. In fact, one goes to Christ through Mary, one goes to the Son through the mother. By means of the Mother of Mercy one reaches Mercy itself.”
- St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1716)
True Devotion to Mary
- Pope St. John Paul II (1920 – 2005)
Redemptoris Mater - “Before anyone else it was God himself, the Eternal Father, who entrusted himself to the Virgin of Nazareth, giving her his own Son in the mystery of the Incarnation.”
All the fathers, doctors, saints and spiritual writers indicate essentially the same thing: their desire to belong totally to Mary as the means to belong totally to Jesus, and to place oneself into the hands of Mary that she may lead us to a more perfect union and likeness with Christ.
Devotion to Mary is to live in imitation of Jesus’ relationship with Mary that we may become more like him. In the Gospel of Luke at the Annunciation, Jesus entrusted himself entirely to Mary as an embryo in her womb and as a little child in her care. Mary cooperated with the Holy Spirit in the birth, development, education and formation of Jesus.
In John’s Gospel at the crucifixion, Mary becomes the mother of the church. The self-emptying love of Christ poured out from the cross is the source of the world’s salvation; yet, at the cross, Jesus, the new Adam, is not alone. Mary, the new Eve, persevered in union with Jesus where she stood united perfectly to his self-emptying. At the cross, Mary united her total self-emptying in trust to the redemptive love of Jesus for the life of the world. This life of grace that flows from the cross is the fruit of two loves: the all-sufficient redemptive love of Jesus, and the maternal love of Mary. In this way, Mary cooperated with Christ to give supernatural life to mankind, the same life we receive in the sacraments. Just as a woman cooperates with God to give natural life to a child and becomes a mother in the order of nature, likewise, at the cross, Mary cooperated with God to give the divine life to all mankind. For this reason, she has become our mother in the order of grace. Jesus proclaimed this fact from the cross, “Woman, behold your son … behold your mother.” John represents all disciples of Jesus. At the cross Jesus entrusts John to Mary. John took her for his own mother (his spiritual mother). At the cross, Jesus entrusted all of humanity to Mary in the person of John; therefore, he extended the maternal role of Mary to all people. Mary is our mother in the order of grace.
What does Mary do for us? What did Mary do for Jesus? That is what she does for us! With the Holy Spirit, Mary forms us in the likeness of Jesus. Mary acts as our spiritual mother in two key ways:
- Interceding on our behalf with God.
- Disposing (influencing) us through her prayer to know and to do God’s will that we may become like Jesus.
What should we do? The church recommends that we:
- Entrust ourselves to Mary as Jesus did in the Incarnation;
- Live in union with Mary as a little child with his mother;
- Sit at the school of Mary and pray the rosary each day and
- Begin meditation with a Hail Mary.
Next issue — Human Formation - Living rightly, living well: the role of virtue