OF JOHN PAUL
TO THE MONTFORT RELIGIOUS FAMILY
EXCERPTS FROM A CLASSICAL TEXT OF MARIAN SPIRITUALITY
In Montfort spirituality, the dynamism of charity is expressed in particular by the symbol of the slavery of love to Jesus, after the example and with the motherly help of Mary. It is a matter of full communion in the kenosis of Christ, communion lived with Mary, intimately present in the mysteries of the life of her Son. "There is nothing among Christians which makes us more absolutely belong to Jesus Christ and his holy Mother than the slavery of the will, according to the example of Jesus Christ himself, who took on the status of a servant for love of us" - formam servi accipiens - "and also according to the example of the holy Virgin who called herself the servant and handmaid of the Lord (Lk 1: 38). The Apostle refers to himself as "the slave of Christ' (servus Christi) as though the title were an honour. Christians are often so called in the Holy Scriptures" (cf. Treatise on True Devotion, n. 72). Indeed, the Son of God, who came into the world out of obedience to the Father in the Incarnation (cf. Heb 10: 7), subsequently humbled himself by making himself obedient unto death, and death on the Cross (cf. Phil 2: 7-8). Mary responded to God's will with the total gift of herself, body and soul, forever, from the Annunciation to the Cross and from the Cross to the Assumption. The obedience of Christ and the obedience of Mary are not, of course, symmetrical because of the ontological difference between the divine Person of the Son and the human person of Mary. This also explains the resulting exclusivity of the fundamental salvific efficacy of obedience to Christ, from whom his own Mother received the grace to be able to obey God totally and thus collaborate in the mission of her Son.
The slavery of love should therefore be interpreted in light of the wonderful exchange between God and humanity in the mystery of the incarnate Word. It is a true exchange of love between God and his creature in the reciprocity of total self-giving. The "spirit [of this devotion] consists in this: that we be interiorly dependent on Mary Most Holy; that we be slaves of Mary, and through her, of Jesus" (The Secret of Mary, n. 44). Paradoxically, this "bond of charity", this "slavery of love", endows the human being with full freedom, with that true freedom of the children of God (cf. Treatise on True Devotion, n. 169). It is a question of giving oneself to Jesus without reserve, responding to the Love with which he first loved us. Those who live in this love can say with St Paul: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2: 20).
This devotion [giving oneself entirely to Mary and through her to Jesus] if fervently practised produces wonderful effects in the soul.
The principal effect is that Mary comes to dwell in the soul so that it is no longer the soul which lives, but Mary who lives in it and becomes, so to speak, the soul of the soul.
And what wonders will not Mary perform when by a truly ineffable grace she comes to reign as Queen in a soul?
She performs great wonders and she works especially in hearts, often unbeknown to the soul, because if the soul realised what was happening it would be in danger of losing, on account of vanity, all this beauty.
Mary is the fruitful Virgin, and in all the souls in which she comes to dwell she causes to flourish purity of heart and body, rightness of intention and abundance of good works.
Do not imagine that Mary, the most fruitful of creatures who gave birth to a God, remains barren in a faithful soul.
It will be she who makes the soul live incessantly for Jesus Christ, and will make Jesus live in the soul:
‘My children, that I may give birth anew, that Christ may be formed in you’ (Cf. Gal 2:20)
Lord, give children and servants unto thy Mother: may they be free according to thy liberty, detached from everything; slaves to thy love and thy will, men according to thy Heart; true children of Mary thy holy Mother, begotten and conceived in her love. (St Louis Grignion de Montfort)
February 15, 2006