|1.||An ardent desire|
|4.||A loving and genuine devotion to the Virgin Mary|
Consecration of Oneself
to Jesus Christ, Wisdom Incarnate, through the hands of Mary
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THE FIRST MEANS:
AN ARDENT DESIRE
181. Children of men, how long will your hearts remain heavy and
earthbound? How long will you go on loving vain things and seeking what is false? (Ps 4.3)
Why do you not turn your eyes and your hearts towards divine Wisdom who is supremely
desirable and who, to attract our love, makes known his origin, shows his beauty, displays
his riches, and testifies in a thousand ways how eager he is that we should desire him and
seek him? "Be desirous, therefore, of hearing my words,"
(Wis 6.12) he tells us. "Wisdom anticipates those who want her. (Wis 6.14) The desire of Wisdom leads to the everlasting kingdom." (Wis 6.21)
182. The desire for divine Wisdom must indeed be a great grace from God because it is the reward for the faithful observance of his commandments. "Son, if you rightly desire wisdom, observe justice and God will give it to you. Reflect on what God requires of you and meditate continually on his commandments and he himself will give you insight, and your desire for wisdom will be granted." (Sir 1.26; 6.37) "For Wisdom will not enter into a deceitful soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sin." (Wis 1.4)
This desire for Wisdom must be holy and sincere, and fostered by faithful adherence to the commandments of God.
There are indeed an infinite number of fools and sluggards moved to be good by countless desires, or rather would-be desires, which, by not bringing them to renounce sin and do violence to themselves, are but spurious and deceitful desires which are fatal and lead to damnation. (Prov 21.25) The Holy Spirit, who is the teacher of true knowledge, shuns what is deceitful and withdraws himself from thoughts that are without understanding; iniquity banishes him from the soul. (Wis 1.5)
183. Solomon, the model given us by the Holy Spirit in the acquiring of Wisdom, only received this gift after he had desired it, sought after it and prayed for it for a long time.
"I desired wisdom and it was given to me. I called upon God and the spirit of wisdom came to me." (Wis 7.7) "I have loved and sought wisdom from my youth, and in order to have her as my companion and spouse I went about seeking her." (Wis 8.2,18) Like Solomon and Daniel we must be men of desire if we are to acquire this great treasure which is wisdom. (cf Dan 9.23)
THE SECOND MEANS:
184. The greater the gift of God, the more effort is required to obtain it. Much prayer and great effort, therefore, will be required to obtain the gift of Wisdom, which is the greatest of all God's gifts.
Let us listen to the voice of Wisdom himself: "Seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you, ask and it shall be given you." (Mt 7.7; Lk 11.9) It is as if he said: If you wish to find me, you must seek me; if you wish to enter my palace, you must knock at my door; If you wish to receive me, you must ask for me. Nobody finds me unless he searches for me; nobody enters my house unless he knocks at my door; nobody possesses me unless he asks for me. We can only do this by prayer.
Prayer is the usual channel by which God conveys his gifts, especially his Wisdom. The world was asking for the incarnation of divine Wisdom for four thousand years. For fourteen years Mary prepared herself by prayer to receive him in her womb. Solomon received Wisdom only after praying most fervently for a long time: "I went to the Lord and besought him, and I said with all my heart... Give me that Wisdom that sits by your throne." (Wis 8.21; 9.4) "If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask God, and ir shall be given him, for God gives his gifts to all men abundantly and ungrudgingly." (Jas 1.5) Note here that the Holy Spirit does not say, "If anyone lack charity, humility, patience, etc.," although these are most excellent virtues, but he says, "If anyone lacks Wisdom."
For by asking for Wisdom we ask for all the virtues possessed by incarnate Wisdom.
185. Therefore to possess Wisdom we must pray. But how should we pray?
First, we should pray for this gift with a strong and lively faith, not wavering, because he who wavers in his faith must not expect to receive any gift from the Lord. (Jas 1.6,7)
186. Secondly, we must pray for it with a pure faith, not counting
on consolations, visions or special revelations.
Although such things may be good and true, as they have been in some saints, it is always dangerous to rely on them. For the more our faith is dependent on these extraordinary graces and feelings, the less pure and meritorious it is. The Holy Spirit has revealed to us the grandeur and the beauty of Wisdom, and the desire of God to bestow this gift upon us, and our own need of it. Here we find motives strong enough to make us want it and pray God for it with unbounded faith and eagerness.
187. Simple faith is both the cause and the effect of Wisdom in our soul. The more faith we have, the more we shall possess wisdom. The more we possess it, the stronger our faith (cf Rom 1.17) without seeing, without feeling, without tasting and without faltering. "God has said it or promised it;" these words form the basis of all the prayers and actions of every wise man, although from a natural point of view it may seem that God is blind to his plight, deaf to his prayers, powerless to crush his enemies, seemingly empty-handed when help is needed, even though he may be troubled by distractions and doubts, by darkness of the mind, by illusions of the imagination, by weariness and boredom of the heart, by sadness and anguish of soul.
The wise man does not ask to see extraordinary things such as saints have seen, nor to experience sensible sweetness in his prayers. He asks with faith for divine Wisdom. And he will feel surer that this Wisdom will be given him than if it were vouched for by an angel come down from heaven, because God has said that all who pray in the right manner will receive what they ask for. (Lk 11.10) "If you, then, being evil, know how to give good things to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the good spirit (of Wisdom) to those who ask him?" (Lk 11.13)
188. Thirdly, we must pray perseveringly to obtain this Wisdom. The acquisition of this precious pearl and infinite treasure requires from us a holy importunity in praying to God, without which we shall not obtain it. We ought not to act as so many do when praying for some grace: after they have prayed for a long time, perhaps for years, and God has not granted their request, they become discouraged and give up praying, thinking that God does not want to listen to them.
Thus they deprive themselves of the benefit of their prayers and offend God, who loves to give and who always answers, in some way or another, prayers that are well said.
Whoever then wishes to obtain Wisdom must pray for it day and night without wearying or becoming disheartened.
Blessings in abundance will be his if, after ten, twenty, thirty
years of prayer, or even an hour before he dies, he comes to possess it. And if he does
obtain this treasure after having spent his whole life seeking for it and praying for it
and meriting it with much toil and suffering, let him remind himself that it is not a gift
due to him in justice, a recompense that he has earned, but rather a charitable alms
given to him out of mercy.
189. No, it is not those who are careless and inconstant in their prayers and searchings who obtain Wisdom, but those rather who are like the man in the Gospel who goes during the night to knock at the door of a friend, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread (cf Lk 11.15). Note that it is divine Wisdom himself who in this parable or story teaches us how we should pray if we wish to be heard. This man knocked and repeated his knocking and entreaties four or five times with increased force and insistence, in spite of the untimely hour, near midnight, and his friend having already gone to bed; and in spite of having been rebuffed and told repeatedly to be off and not make himself a selfish nuisance. At length the friend became so annoyed by the persistence of the man that he got out of bed, opened the door and gave him all he asked for. (cf Lk 11.5-8)
190. That is how we must pray to obtain Wisdom. And assuredly God wants to be importuned, will sooner or later rise up, open the door of his mercy and give us the three loaves of Wisdom, that is, the bread of life, the bread of understanding and the bread of angels. (cf Sir 15.3; Jn 6.35)
Here is a prayer composed by the Holy Spirit to ask for divine Wisdom:
[Prayer of Solomon]
191. God of my fathers, God of mercy, you created all things by your word, and by your wisdom you formed man that he might have dominion over all the creatures you have made; that he might govern the world in fairness and justice and pronounce judgement with an upright heart; give me this Wisdom that sits with you on your throne.
Do not exclude me from the number of your children for I am your servant and the son of your handmaid, a man who is weak and short-lived, with little understanding of judgement and laws. For even though a person be considered perfect among the children of men, he is nonetheless worthless if your Wisdom does not dwell in him.
192. It is your Wisdom who has knowledge of your works, who was with you when you made the world, and who knows what is pleasing in your sight and shows what is right according to your commandments.
Send him then from your sanctuary in heaven and from the throne of your majesty, for him to be with me and work with me so that I may know what is pleasing to you; for he possesses the knowledge and understanding of all things. He will lead me in all my works with true perception, and by his power will guard me. My actions then will be pleasing to you and I will lead your people with justice and be worthy of the throne of my father; for what man can know the designs of God, or can discover what is his will?
The thoughts of men are unsure and their plans uncertain, for a perishable body weighs heavily upon their soul, and the earthly dwelling depresses the spirit disturbed by many cares.
We understand only with difficulty what is happening upon earth and we find it hard to discern even what is before our eyes. How can we know what is happening in heaven, and how can we know your thoughts unless you give us your Wisdom and send us your Holy Spirit from heaven so that he may straighten out the paths of those living on earth and teach us what is pleasing to you. Lord, it is through your Wisdom that all those who have been pleasing to you since the beginning of time have been saved. (Wis 9.1-6, 9-19)
193. To vocal prayer we must add mental prayer, which enlightens the mind, inflames the heart and disposes the soul to listen to the voice of Wisdom, to savour his delights and possess his treasures.
For myself, I know of no better way of establishing the kingdom of God, Eternal Wisdom, than to unite vocal and mental prayer by saying the holy Rosary and meditating on its fifteen mysteries.
THE THIRD MEANS:
1. Necessity of Mortification
194. The Holy Spirit tells us that Wisdom is not found in the hearts of those who live in comfort, (Job 28.13) gratifying their passions and bodily desires, because "they who are of the flesh cannot please God," and "the wisdom of the flesh is an enemy to God." (Rom 8.8,7) "My spirit will not remain in man, because he is flesh." (Gen 6.3)
All those who belong to Christ, incarnate Wisdom, have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. They always bear about in their bodies the dying of Jesus. They continually do violence to themselves, carry their cross daily. They are dead and indeed buried with Christ. (Gal 5.24; 2 Cor 4.10; Lk 9.23; Rom 6.4,8)
These words of the Holy Spirit show us more clearly than the light of day that, if we are to possess incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ, we must practice self-denial and renounce the world and self.
195. Do not imagine that incarnate Wisdom, who is purer than the rays of the sun, will enter a soul and a body soiled by the pleasures of the senses. Do not believe that he will grant his rest and ineffable peace to those who love worldly company and vanities. "To him that overcomes the world and himself, I will give the hidden manna." (Apoc 2.17)
Although this lovable prince knows and perceives all things in an instant by his own infinite light, he still looks for persona worthy of him. (Wis 6.17) He has to search because there are so few and he can scarcely find any sufficiently unworldly or sufficiently interior and mortified to be worthy of him, of his treasures, and of union with him.
2. Qualities required for mortification
196. Wisdom is not satisfied with half-hearted mortification or mortification of a few days, but requires one that is total, continuous, courageous and prudent if he is to give himself to us.
If we would possess Wisdom:
197. 1. We must either give up actually our worldly possessions as did the apostles, the disciples and the first Christians, and as religious do now - this is the quickest, the best and the surest means to possess Wisdom - or at least we must detach our heart from material things, and possess them as though not possessing them, (cf 1 Cor 7.30) not eager to acquire more or being anxious to retain any of them, and not complaining or worrying when they are lost. This is something very difficult to accomplish.
198. 2. We must not follow the showy fashions of the world in our dress, our furniture or our dwellings. Neither must we indulge in sumptuous meals or other worldly habits and ways of living. "Be not conformed to this world." (Rom 12.2) Putting this into practice is more necessary than is generally thought.
199. 3. We must not believe or follow the false maxims of the world or think, speak or act like people of the world. Their doctrine is as opposed to that of incarnate Wisdom as darkness is to light, and death to life. Look closely at their opinions and their words: they think and speak disparagingly of all the great truths of our religion. True, they do not tell brazen lies, but they cover their falsehood with an appearance of truth; they do not think they are being untruthful, but they lie nonetheless. In general, they do not teach sin openly, but they speak of it as if it were virtuous, or blameless, or a matter of indifference and of little consequence. This guile which the devil has taught the world in order to conceal the heinousness of sin and falsehood is the wickedness spoken of by St. John when he wrote, "The whole world lies in the power of evil" (1 Jn 5.19) and now more than ever before.
200. 4. We must flee as much as possible from the company of others, not only from that of worldly people, which is harmful and dangerous, but even from that of religious people when our association with them would be useless and a waste of time.
Whoever wishes to become wise and perfect must put into practice these three golden counsels which eternal Wisdom gave to St. Arsenius, "Flee, hide, be silent." Flee as much as possible the company of men, as the greatest saints have done.
Let your life be hidden with Christ in God. (Col 3.3) In short, be silent with others, so as to converse with divine Wisdom. "He who knows how to keep silent is a wise man." (Sir 20.5)
201. 5. If we would possess Wisdom, we must mortify the body, not only by enduring patiently our bodily ailments, the inconveniences of the weather and the difficulties arising from other people's actions, but also by deliberately undertaking some penances and mortifications, such as fasts, vigils and other austerities practised by holy penitents.
It requires courage to do that because the body naturally idolises itself, and the world considers all bodily penances as pointless and rejects them. The world does and says everything possible to deter people from practising the austerities of the saints. Of every saint, it can be said, with due allowances, "the wise or the saintly man has brought his body into subjection by vigils, fasts and disciplines, by enduring the cold and nakedness and every kind of austerity, and he has made a compact not to give it any rest in this world" (cf Rom. Brev. St. Peter of Alcantara). The Holy Spirit says of all the saints, that they were enemies of the stained robe of the flesh (Jude 23).
202. 6. For exterior and voluntary mortification to be profitable, it must be accompanied by the mortifying of the judgement and the will through holy obedience, because without this obedience all mortification is spoiled by self-will and often becomes more pleasing to the devil than to God.
That is why no exceptional mortification should be undertaken without seeking counsel. "I, Wisdom, dwell in counsel." (Prov 8.12) "He who trusts in himself, trusts in a fool." (Prov 28.26) "The prudent man does all things with counsel." (Prov 13.16) And the great counsel given by the Holy Spirit is this: Do nothing without counsel and you shall have nothing to regret afterwards. (Sir 32.24) Seek counsel always of a wise man. (Tob 4.19)
By holy obedience we do away with self-love, which spoils everything; by obedience the smallest of our actions become meritorious. It protects us from illusions of the devil, enables us to overcome our enemies, and brings us surely, as though while sleeping, into the harbour of salvation.
All that I have just said is contained in this one great counsel: "Leave all things and you will find all things by finding Jesus Christ, incarnate Wisdom." (Imitation of Christ, III, c. 32, No. 1)
A LOVING AND GENUINE DEVOTION TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
203. The greatest means of all, and the most wonderful of all secrets for obtaining and preserving divine Wisdom is a loving and genuine devotion to the Blessed Virgin.
1 Necessity of genuine devotion to Mary
No one but Mary ever found favour with God (cf Lk 1.30) or herself and for the whole human race. To no other person was given the power to conceive and give birth to Eternal Wisdom. No one else had the power to "incarnate" him, so to speak, in the predestinate by the operation of the Holy Spirit.
The patriarchs, prophets and saints of the Old Testament yearned and prayed for the incarnation of Eternal Wisdom, but none of them was able to merit it. Only Mary, by her exalted holiness, could reach the throne of the Godhead and merit this gift of infinite value.
She became the mother, mistress and throne of divine Wisdom.
204. Mary is his most worthy Mother because she conceived him and brought him forth as the fruit of her womb. "Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus." (Lk 1.42)
Hence it is true to say that Jesus is the fruit and product of Mary wherever he is present, be it in heaven, on earth, in our tabernacles or in our hearts. She alone is the tree of life and Jesus alone is the fruit of that tree.
Therefore anyone who wishes to possess this wonderful fruit in his heart must first possess the tree that produces it; whoever wishes to possess Jesus must possess Mary.
205. Mary is also mistress of divine Wisdom. Not that she is above him who is truly God, or even equal to him. To think or say such a thing would be blasphemous. But because the Son of God, Eternal Wisdom, by making himself entirely subject to her as his Mother, gave her a maternal and natural authority over himself which surpasses our understanding. He not only gave her this power while he lived on earth but still gives it now in heaven, because glory does not destroy nature but makes it perfect. And so in heaven Jesus is as much as ever the Son of Mary, and Mary the Mother of Jesus.
As his Mother, Mary has authority over Jesus, who because he wills it, remains in a sense subject to her. This means that Mary by her powerful prayers and because she is the Mother of God, obtains from Jesus all she wishes. It means that she gives him to whom she decides, and produces him every day in the souls of those she chooses.
206. Happy are those who have won Mary's favours! They can rest assured that they will soon possess divine Wisdom, for as she loves those who love her (cf Prov 8.17), she generously shares her blessings with them, including that infinite treasure which contains every good, Jesus, the fruit of her womb.
207. If it is true to say that Mary is, in a sense, mistress of Wisdom incarnate, what control must she have over all the graces and gifts of God, and what freedom must she enjoy in giving them to whom she chooses.
The Fathers of the Church tell us that Mary is an immense ocean of all the perfections of God, the great storehouse of all his possessions, the inexhaustible treasury of the Lord, as well as the treasurer and dispenser of all his gifts.
Because God gave her his Son, it is his will that we should receive all gifts through her, and that no heavenly gift should come down upon earth without passing through her as through a channel.
Of her fulness we have all received, and any grace or hope of salvation we may possess is a gift which comes to us from God through Mary. So truly is she mistress of God's possessions that she gives to whom she wills, all the graces of God, all the virtues of Jesus Christ, all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, every good thing in the realm of nature, grace and glory. These are the thoughts and expressions of the Fathers of the Church, whose words, for the sake of brevity, I do not quote in the Latin.
But whatever gifts this sovereign and lovable Queen bestows upon us, she is not satisfied until she has given us incarnate Wisdom, Jesus her Son; and she is ever on the look- out for those who are worthy of Wisdom (Wis 6.17), so that she may give him to them.
208. Moreover, Mary is the royal throne of Eternal Wisdom. It is in her that he shows his perfection, displays his treasures, and takes his delight. There is no place in heaven or on earth where Eternal Wisdom shows so much magnificence or finds more delight than in the incomparable Virgin Mary.
That is why the Fathers of the Church call her the tabernacle of the divinity, the place of rest and contentment of the Blessed Trinity, the throne of God, the city of God, the altar of God, the temple of God, the world of God and the paradise of God. All these titles are most correct with regard to the different wonders which the most high God has worked in Mary.
209. Only through Mary, then, can we possess divine Wisdom.
But if we do receive this great gift, where are we to lodge him? What dwelling, what seat, what throne are we to offer this Prince who is so dazzling that the very rays of the sun are dust and darkness in his presence? No doubt we will be told that he has asked only for our heart, that it is our heart we must offer him, and it is there we must lodge him.
210. But we know that our heart is tainted, carnal, full of unruly inclinations and consequently unfit to house such a noble and holy guest. If we had a thousand hearts like our own and offered him the choice of one of them as his throne, he would rightly reject our offer, turn a deaf ear to our entreaties, and even accuse us of boldness and impertinence in wanting to house him in a place so unclean and so unworthy of his royal dignity.
211. What then can we do to make our hearts worthy of him?
Here is the great way, the wonderful secret. Let us, so to speak,
bring Mary into our abode by consecrating ourselves unreservedly to her as servants and
slaves. Let us surrender into her hands all we possess, even what we value most highly,
keeping nothing for ourselves. This good mistress who never allows herself to be surpassed
in generosity will give herself to us in a real but indefinable manner; and it is in her
that Eternal Wisdom will come and settle as on a throne of
212. Mary is like a holy magnet attracting Eternal Wisdom to herself with such power that he cannot resist. This magnet drew him down to earth to save mankind, and continues to draw him every day into every person who possesses it. Once we possess Mary, we shall, through her intercession, easily and in a short time possess divine Wisdom.
Mary is the surest, the easiest, the shortest, and the holiest of all the means of possessing Jesus Christ. Were we to perform the most frightful penances, undertake the most painful journeys, or the most fatiguing labours, were we to shed all our blood in order to acquire divine Wisdom, all our efforts would be useless and inadequate if not supported by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a devotion to her.
But if Mary speaks a word in our favour, if we love her and prove ourselves her faithful servants and imitators, we shall quickly and at little cost possess divine Wisdom.
213. Note that Mary is not only the Mother of Jesus, Head of all the elect, but is also Mother of all his members. Hence she conceives them, bears them in her womb and brings them forth to the glory of heaven through the graces of God which she imparts to them. This is the teaching of the Fathers of the Church, and among them St. Augustine, who says that the elect are in the womb of Mary until she brings them forth into the glory of heaven. Moreover, God has decreed that Mary should dwell in Jacob, make Israel her inheritance and place her roots in his elect and predestinate (cf Sir 24.13).
214. From these truths we must conclude:
1. that it is futile for us to compliment ourselves on being the children of God and disciples of Wisdom, if we are not children of Mary;
2. that to be numbered among the elect we must have a loving and sincere devotion to our Lady, so that she may dwell in us and plant the roots of her virtues in us;
3. that Mary must beget us in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ in us, nurturing us towards the perfection and the fulness of his age (Eph 4.13), so that she may say more truthfully than St. Paul, "My dear children, I am in travail over you afresh until Jesus Christ my Son is perfectly formed in you" (Gal 4.19).
2 What genuine devotion to Mary consists in
215. If I were asked by someone seeking to honour our Lady, "What does genuine devotion to her involve?" I would answer briefly that it consists in a full appreciation of the privileges and dignity of our Lady; in expressing our gratitude for her goodness to us; in zealously promoting devotion to her; in constantly appealing for her help; in being completely dependent on her; and in placing firm reliance and loving confidence in her motherly goodness.
216. We must beware of those false devotions to our Lady which the devil makes use of to deceive and ruin many souls.
I shall not describe them here. I shall only say that genuine devotion to Mary must be sincere, free from hypocrisy and superstition; loving, not lukewarm or scrupulous; constant, not fickle or unfaithful; holy, without being presumptuous or extravagant.
217. We must avoid joining those whose devotion is false and hypocritical, being only on their lips and in their outward behaviour.
Neither must we be among those who are critical and scrupulous, who are afraid of going too far in honouring our Lady, as if honour given to our Lady could detract from her Son.
We must not be among those who are lukewarm or self- interested, who have no genuine love for our Lady or filial confidence in her, and who only pray to her to obtain or keep some temporal benefit.
We must not be like those who are inconstant and casual in their devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who serve her in fits and starts, honour her for a short time and fall away when temptation comes.
Lastly, we must avoid joining those whose devotion is presumptuous, who under the cloak of some exterior practices of devotion to Mary, conceal a heart corrupted by sin, and who imagine that because of such devotion to Mary they will not die without the sacraments but will be saved, no matter what sins they commit.
218. We must not neglect to become members of our Lady's confraternities, especially the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary, fulfilling faithfully the duties prescribed which can only make us holy.
219. But the most perfect and most profitable of all devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary consists in consecrating ourselves entirely to her, and to Jesus through her, as their slaves.
It involves consecrating to her completely and for all eternity our body and soul, our possessions both spiritual and material, the atoning value and the merits of our good actions and our right to dispose of them. In short, it involves the offering of all we have acquired in the past, all we actually possess at the moment, and all we will acquire in the future.
As there are several books treating of this devotion, I will content myself with saying that I have never found a practice of devotion to our Lady more solid than this one, since it takes its inspiration from the example of Jesus Christ. Neither have I found any devotion which redounds more to God's glory, is more salutary to the soul, and more feared by the enemies of our salvation; nor, finally, have I found a devotion that is more attractive and more satisfying.
220. This devotion, if well practised, not only draws Jesus Christ, Eternal Wisdom, into our soul, but also makes it agreeable to him and he remains there to the end of our life.
For, I ask you, what would be the good of searching for secrets of finding divine Wisdom and of making every effort to possess this treasure, if after acquiring it, we were, like Solomon, to have the misfortune to lose it by our unfaithfulness? Solomon was wiser than we perhaps shall ever be, and consequently stronger and more enlightened. He went astray, was overcome by temptation, and fell into sin and folly. Thus he left to all those who came after him a double source of wonderment, that he should be so enlightened and still not see; so wise and still be so foolish in his sins.
We can say that, if his example and writings have moved so many who came after him to desire and seek Wisdom, the example of his fall - a fact, as far as we can judge - has kept multitudes of souls from effectively going after something which, although priceless, could easily be lost.
221. To be then in some way wiser than Solomon, we should place in
Mary's care all that we possess and the treasure of all treasures, Jesus Christ, that she
may keep him for us. We are vessels too fragile to contain this precious treasure, this
heavenly manna. We are surrounded by too many cunning and experienced enemies to trust in
our own prudence and strength. And we have had too many sad experiences of our fickleness
and natural thoughtlessness. Let us be distrustful
of our own wisdom and fervour.
222. Mary is wise: let us place everything in her hands. She knows
how to dispose of us and all that we have for the greater glory of God.
Mary is charitable: she loves us as her children and servants. Let us offer everything to her and we will lose nothing by it; she will turn everything to our gain.
Mary is liberal: she returns more than we give her. Let us give her unreservedly all that we own without any reservation; she will give us a hundredfold in return.
Mary is powerful: nothing on earth can take from her what we have placed in her keeping. Let us then commit ourselves to her care; she will defend us against our enemies and help us to triumph over them.
Mary is faithful: she will not permit anything we give her to be lost or wasted. She stands alone as the Virgin most faithful to God and to men. She faithfully guarded and kept all that God entrusted to her, never allowing the least bit to be lost; and she still keeps watch every day, with a special care, over all those who have placed themselves entirely under her protection and guidance.
Let us, then, confide everything to the faithful Virgin Mary, binding ourselves to her as to a pillar that cannot be moved, as to an anchor that cannot slip, or, better still, as to Mount Sion which cannot be shaken.
Thus whatever may be our natural blindness, our weakness, and our inconstancy, however numerous and wicked our enemies may be, we shall never go wrong or go astray or have the misfortune to lose the grace of God and that infinite treasure which is Eternal Wisdom.
CONSECRATION OF ONESELF TO JESUS CHRIST, WISDOM INCARNATE, THROUGH THE HANDS OF MARY
223. Eternal and incarnate Wisdom, most lovable and adorable Jesus, true God and true man, only Son of the eternal Father and of Mary always Virgin, I adore you profoundly, dwelling in the splendour of your Father from all eternity and in the virginal womb of Mary, your most worthy Mother, at the time of your incarnation.
I thank you for having emptied yourself in assuming the condition of a slave to set me free from the cruel slavery of the evil one.
I praise and glorify you for having willingly chosen to obey Mary, your holy Mother, in all things, so that through her I may be a faithful slave of love.
But I must confess that I have not kept the vows and promises which I made to you so solemnly at my baptism. I have not fulfilled my obligations, and I do not deserve to be called your child or even your loving slave.
Since I cannot lay claim to anything except what merits your rejection and displeasure, I dare no longer approach the holiness of your majesty on my own. That is why I turn to the intercession and the mercy of your holy Mother, whom you yourself have given me to mediate with you. Through her I hope to obtain from you contrition and pardon for my sins, and that Wisdom whom I desire to dwell in me always.
224. I turn to you, then, Mary immaculate, living tabernacle of God, in whom eternal Wisdom willed to receive the adoration of both men and angels.
I greet you as Queen of heaven and earth, for all that is under God has been made subject to your sovereignty.
I call upon you, the unfailing refuge of sinners, confident in your mercy that has never forsaken anyone.
Grant my desire for divine Wisdom and, in support of my petition, accept the promises and the offering of myself which I now make, conscious of my unworthiness.
225. I, an unfaithful sinner, renew and ratify today through you my baptismal promises. I renounce for ever Satan, his empty promises, and his evil designs, and I give myself completely to Jesus Christ, the incarnate Wisdom, to carry my cross after him for the rest of my life, and to be more faithful to him than I have been till now.
This day, with the whole court of heaven as witness, I choose you, Mary, as my Mother and Queen. I surrender and consecrate myself to you, body and soul, with all that I possess, both spiritual and material, even including the spiritual value of all my actions, past, present, and to come.
I give you the full right to dispose of me and all that belongs to me, without any reservations, in whatever way you please, for the greater glory of God in time and throughout eternity.
226. Accept, gracious Virgin, this little offering of my slavery to honour and imitate the obedience which eternal Wisdom willingly chose to have towards you, his Mother. I wish to acknowledge the authority which both of you have over this little worm and pitiful sinner. By it I wish also to thank God for the privileges bestowed on you by the Blessed Trinity. I solemnly declare that for the future I will try to honour and obey you in all things as your true slave of love.
O admirable Mother, present me to your dear Son as his slave now and for always, so that he who redeemed me through you, will now receive me through you.
227. Mother of mercy, grant me the favour of obtaining the true Wisdom of God, and so make me one of those whom you love, teach and guide, whom you nourish and protect as your children and slaves.
Virgin most faithful, make me in everything so committed a disciple, imitator, and slave of Jesus, your Son, incarnate Wisdom, that I may become, through your intercession and example, fully mature with the fullness which Jesus possessed on earth, and with the fullness of his glory in heaven. Amen.
Let those accept it who can (Mt 19.12).
Let the wise consider these things (Hos 14.9; cf Jer 9.12; Ps 106.43).
THOSE YOUNG MEN
INTERESTED IN JOINING THE ORDER FOUNDED BY SAINT LOUIS MARY DE MONTFORT, A COMMUNITY OF
PRIESTS AND BROTHERS WHO LIVE AND PROCLAIM HIS EVANGELICAL SPIRITUALITY,
THE VOCATION DIRECTOR
BOX 667 LITCHFIELD,
Work of God Apostolate