I have noticed over the last few years something of a resurgence in the ‘True Devotion’ Consecration proposed by the great Saint Louis Marie de Montfort some three hundred years ago.
In his ‘Treatise On The True Devotion’, he makes a number of very important points about this devotion – not least amongst them, that it is not something which should be undertaken lightly by anyone considering making the consecration. This particular consecration is – as he notes early on – a very great grace; but it is also one which brings with it very great responsibilities.
Saint Louis considers this point to be sufficiently important that he belabours it quite strongly – even going so far to note that as surely as it can lead to perfection if lived out properly, so too can it lead to damnation if abused or neglected. And for this and similar reasons, he enjoins his readers to consider his words very carefully indeed; and then to pray long and hard before determining whether or not a soul is called to undertake this consecration.
Much later in his Treatise, Saint Louis lays out a number of articles which are designed to enlighten us on ‘the motives which should recommend this devotion to us’. The eighth such article is entitled ‘this devotion is an admirable means of perseverance’. He makes it abundantly clear that his True Devotion “is a wondrous means of persevering in virtue and remaining faithful”, adding that many souls do not acquire virtue – rather, they lose the virtue they already possess and so do not advance on the way of perfection. He tells us that –
“by this devotion, we confide to Mary, the faithful Virgin, all we possess; we choose Her as the universal guardian of our possessions in the order of nature and of grace. It is in Her fidelity that we trust, on Her strrength that we rely, on Her mercy and charity that we base ourselves, so that She may guard and increase our virtues and merits despite the Devil, the world and the flesh, who strive to rob us of them.” (TD 173)
In other words, this particular devotion is an exquisite one – it provides the means to advance (and rapidly) along the way of perfection so that our virtue is deepened and increased and we remain faithful until the end – but this is only possible if we abandon all reliance upon ourelves, for we do not have the necessary means to achive this; and instead, we must rely entirely and exclusively upon the Mother of God in all things, leaving all things at Her disposal.
This all sounds wonderful when we read it written down. How simple! How exquisite! It makes our hearts soar. The reality is that to do as our Saint counsels us, is about the hardest thing imaginable, if we do it properly; it is quite contrary to our nature to abandon ourselves and all we possess in this way. Ego, pride and self-will slip back in almost unnoticed and tend to get in the way, like the small but deadly weeds which can ruin even the most beautiful garden unless tended so very carefully.
Saint Louis is perfectly well aware of this reality – this is why he comments on those who begin well but then lose the way and abandon their good intentions. And this is one of the primary reasons why he warns us against taking up this devotion without considering most carefully what it actually entails and what it demands of us all along the way. Better, he says, not to do it, than to begin well and end poorly.
I first made this Consecration almost forty years ago and I know only too well how true Saint Louis’s words are; and I know, too, how extraordinarily difficult it is to remain faithful to it – it is as though making the Consecration leaves an invisible but indelible spiritual target upon one’s back. Considering all of this when I last renewed my Consecration, I bought a replacement medal of the Confraternity of Mary, Queen of All Hearts (the confraternity for those who undertake Saint Louis’ consecration) and attached it to my Rosary, beside the Crucifix. I see and touch it several times daily and it acts as a visible reminder to me of the responsibility this Consecration places upon the soul, and to Whom I belong.
And so to those souls who consider making the Consecration, I would do nothing except echo the sound advice of Saint Louis; I would greatly encourage that you pray long and hard before considering this consecration – make it only if, after such prayer, you feel that you are called to do so; this is not something to be taken up lightly and then abandonded.
Remember – it is a great grace and it brings great responsiblity. Treat it accordingly.