Saint Louis de Montfort was an immense Christological and Marian theologian, his works deeply influencing many who came after him, including various Saints and Popes, amongst them the great St John Paul. Hidden amongst his writings there are very many practical gems to aid the soul seeking to walk the path of perfection. This is one of them.
Saint Louis saw the Blessed Virgin as being inseparable from Her Divine Son, for no other reason than the purest and most simple of all – this is how God desires it to be. The Blessed Virgin never eclipses Her Son – She is always the star that shines with His light, the compass which unfailingly point us towards Him. She keeps nothing for Herself, giving everything to God in eternity as She did throughout Her earthly life.
This holds true for Holy Communion – and so Saint Louis counsels us that when we go to the Altar to receive the Lord in the Eucharist, we should always do so hand in hand with the Lord’s own Mother, Mary.
Father Corrado Maggioni, a Montfort Father, writes –
“In the conviction that sacramental Communion necessarily involves the presence of Mary, Montfort concludes ‘True Devotion’ with an exhortation to receive Holy Communion in union with Mary. She receives in us and for us the Word of God made Bread. The reason for this is that She received the Word of God “in Her Heart and in Her Body,” as the Church Fathers put it. In the last few pages of ‘True Devotion’ (266-273), Montfort tells us why and how we should unite ourselves with Mary before, during, and after Holy Communion; his aim is to demonstrate clearly that in us and through us Holy Communion binds Christ and Mary together again. In other words, the union between Christ and Mary, which took place at a definite time and place, is repeated in a sacramental way when the faithful united with Mary receive Holy Communion.”
This all sounds very theological, so how can we put it into practice? Very simply.
As you prepare to approach the Altar to receive the Eucharistic Lord, ask the Mother of God to ready your heart in the same way as She prepared the Manger in Bethlehem, making it ready to worthily receive the Divine Guest. Ask Her to place Her Son there, within your heart, that in finding the preparation made by His Mother, He may find your heart to be a worthy dwelling place. Have confidence that in asking Her to do this, She will grant your request.
Reginald Hoefer, a Dominican brother, uses this example from the writings of Saint Therese of Lisieux, which beautifully reflects the thinking of Saint Louis –
“St. Therese of Lisieux gives a beautiful image of Mary preparing her to receive Holy Communion, which I will alter slightly. Picture your soul as a little three year-old boy who has just come in from playing in the mud, ashamed to present himself before the altar to receive Jesus. But as soon as we appeal to Mary, this mother of ours occupies herself with making us presentable: she scrubs the dirt off of our face, combs our hair, and dresses us in our Sunday best. Now, thanks to the help of Mary, Our Mother, we are respectable enough to take our place without embarrassment at the “Banquet of the Angels.” Even though, intellectually, we may grasp the importance of receiving this great sacrament, our senses and fallen nature may keep us from understanding the whole of what is going on. So, just as every toddler needs his mother to cut up his food so that he is able to eat it, we too need our Mother’s help to receive the Holy Eucharist so that, by her merits and purity, we can receive Him as she did, and not miss out on any of the graces due to our fallen immaturity.”
Brother Reginald goes on to tell us –
“We need Mary before and during Holy Communion. We need Her afterwards in our thanksgiving, too, when we should be focused upon the awesome gift of Christ. But again, like a little child, we often don’t have the patience or presence of mind to fully grasp the reality of Our Lord’s presence in us, for our mind may grow distracted with thoughts of breakfast after Mass or the challenges of the day to come. Once again, we need our Mother. If we entrust to Her our Holy Communion and ask Her to take charge of our thanksgiving, we can rest assured that She will say the necessary things, adult to adult, to the Lord, so that He is properly thanked for this greatest gift – the magnitude of which She understands and sees even when we don’t. When we adore Jesus with and through the Heart of Mary, our every prayer can become pure and infinitely more pleasing by the fact that it has gone through Mary, the Spotless One. Think of Mary as a monstrance into which you can put the Host you have received: through Mary’s purity we are able to adore all the more purely the Jesus Whom we have received.”
And so, with the same thinking reflected in the writings of these three good souls, let us never fail to approach the Altar hand in hand with the Mother of God, entrusting to Her the reception of our Holy Communion.