“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid;
henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;
because He who is mighty has done great things for me
and holy is His name.”
Some of his biographies note that the young Karol Wojtyla worried that his devotion to the Mother of God might risk leading him away from Christ, that he ‘loved Her too much’, as some writers have expressed it. Many years later, writing as Pope John Paul II to the Montfortian religious families, Woytlya noted the fruits of his experience –
“Thanks to St Louis Marie de Montfort, I understood that authentic devotion to the Mother of God is truly Christocentric.”
He was absolutely correct – authentic devotion to the Blessed Virgin always leads one to the Lord. That is the entire point of Her existence, on earth and now in the glory of Heaven.
Our Lady Herself makes this very clear in the words of Her beautiful Magnificat, quoted above. When She is praised – She praises God. Everything She has comes from Him, everything She gains is for Him alone. Everything is for His honour and glory, never Her own. What we give to Her, She gives to Him, perfecting it along the way.
Throughout his own writings, the great Marian Apostle, Saint Louis Marie de Montfort made this abundantly clear. Laying out his system of authentic Marian devotion in ‘The Secret of Mary’, Louis writes this –
“It all comes to this, then: that you should find an easy means for obtaining from God the grace necessary to make you holy; and this means I wish to make known to you. Now, I say that to find this grace of God, we must find Mary.” (para.6)
St Louis practised what he preached – and he preached this message tirelessly, to anyone who would listen! Now, he is a canonisd Saint of the Church and his writings are held up and put forth as shining examples of authentic Marian devotion.
The Church has always been very clear about this – Mary is never an end in Herself; rather, She is the means to an end. She is the ship, but not the port – the way, but not the goal; the road, but not the destination.
In his 1967 Apostolic Exhortation ‘Signum Magnum’ (the Great Sign), Pope St Paul VI makes this point clearly when he writes –
“Imitation of Jesus Christ is undoubtedly the regal way to be followed to attain sanctity and reproduce in ourselves, according to our forces, the absolute perfection of the heavenly Father. But while the Catholic Church has always proclaimed a truth so sacrosanct, it has also affirmed that imitation of the Virgin Mary, far from distracting the souls from the faithful following of Christ, makes it more pleasant and easier for them.” (SM, part 2:1)
The Council Fathers of the Second Vatican Council wrote at length about authentic Marian devotion in the eighth chapter of the Dogmatic Constitution On The Church, ‘Lumen Gentium’ (The Light Of Nations). Writing about the Blessed Virgin and the Church, the Fathers have this to say –
“There is but one Mediator as we know from the words of the Apostle, “for there is one God and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself a redemption for all”.(298) The maternal duty of Mary toward men in no wise obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows His power. For all the salvific influence of the Blessed Virgin on men originates, not from some inner necessity, but from the divine pleasure. It flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on His mediation, depends entirely on it and draws all its power from it. In no way does it impede, but rather does it foster the immediate union of the faithful with Christ.” (para.60)
Here, then, it is very clearly laid out; everything Mary is and has, comes from God – and returns to Him. By the express will of the Almighty, She occupies this singular and central place in the life of the Church and of the faithful.
The Book of Revelation speaks about the ‘Woman clothed with the Sun’. This Woman is the Blessed Virgin. Now, the Moon, too, is ‘clothed’ with the Sun – in other words, the Moon reflects the light of the Sun. It reflects that light beautifully and clearly, taking nothing away from it nor adding anything to it – it simply reflects it. In reflecting the sunlight, that light is never diminished in any way by the Moon. And so it is with Mary; like the Moon, She reflects the light of the Son – the Son of God.
What, then, is the point of writing all this down?
It is simply this; be devoted to the Mother of God, for it is the will of God Himself, Who gave Her to mankind and through Whom we have the Christ Child. Let your devotion to Her be authentic in the manner laid down by the Church throughout the ages and following the example of so many holy Saints; and be assured that She will lead you ever closer to Her Divine Son – for that is Her sole task.
As the Council Fathers put it –
“This most Holy Synod deliberately teaches this Catholic doctrine and at the same time admonishes all the sons of the Church that the cult, especially the liturgical cult, of the Blessed Virgin, be generously fostered, and the practices and exercises of piety, recommended by the magisterium of the Church toward her in the course of centuries be made of great moment.. Let the faithful remember moreover that true devotion consists neither in sterile or transitory affection, nor in a certain vain credulity, but proceeds from true faith, by which we are led to know the excellence of the Mother of God, and we are moved to a filial love toward our mother and to the imitation of her virtues.
The entire body of the faithful pours forth instant supplications to the Mother of God and Mother of men that she, who aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers, may now, exalted as she is above all the angels and saints, intercede before her Son in the fellowship of all the saints, until all families of people, whether they are honored with the title of Christian or whether they still do not know the Saviour, may be happily gathered together in peace and harmony into one people of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity.” (parae.67 and 69)
Let us, then, have no fear about being properly devoted to the Mother of God, ensuring our devotion is authentic in the way the Church advocates and describes and in the way lived out by the great Saints of the Church.