Mary’s secret (MS) by Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort (LMGM) is caracterized by a call to give oneself totally to Jesus through Mary, what he calls, in his XVIII century langage « the slavery of love and will ». In its foundation, there are three discoveries : man, as God’s creature and therefore a marvel ; Christ as the eternal Wisdom ; Mary, a creature like us but completely transformed in God and a companion on the road. Deeply marked by recourse to Mary and a life subjected to Jesus and Mary, this spirituality does not divert Christians from Jesus but leads them to Him.
Role of Mary and the Holy Spirit
Mary is so filled with God’s grace that she is a « secret » we cannot fully understand without the Holy Spirit’s help. He is the only one to know how far Mary’s virginal motherhood extends over us. Mary is a secret because she can lead us into God’s mystery in order to achieve holiness. Indeed, « no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God » (1 Co 2,11). Thus, for LMGM, Mary is a « marvelous means given by God » to go to Jesus and unite with him. Mary’s secret is therefore the secret of holiness, the vocation of every Christian (cf Lv 11,45 ; Mt 5,48) and recalled by the Second Vatican Council (LG 5). This secret, says LMGM« I entrust it to you through the Holy Spirit » (SM 1).
The need to find Mary
For LMGM, the usual means to achieve holiness are : humililty of heart (Mt 11,29) ceaseless orison (Luc 18,1) universal mortification (Mc 8,35) – by which we mean any act that consists in dying to self in order to find God ; surrender to divine Providence (Jn 6,20) abiding to the will of God (Mt 6,10). This being said, God’s grace and help are necessary. Given to all, they are enough for every one, whatever his/her state in life. But « to find God’s grace, we must find Mary » (SM 6) and here are ten good reasons why :
- All through the Scriptures, Mary is the only one who has « found grace before God both for herself and for each individual » (SM 7)
- She is « Mother of grace, Mater gratiae » since she is « Mother of the Author of all graces »
- Because of that, God’s will is given to Mary in Jesus and with Jesus (cf. SM 9).
- She is therefore « the treasurer, the steward and dispenser of all His graces » : « the graces of the eternal Father, the virtues of Jesus-Christ and the gifts of the Holy Spirit ».
- If Mary is the Mother of Jesus-Christ, she is necessarily so of every Christian who wants to be a « true child of the Church » (SM 11)
- For Mary’s divine motherhood applies equally to the One who is the Head of the Church and to all his members.
- It is in her that the Holy Spirit continues giving birth « in a mysterious but real way, to the predestined » all Christians called to holiness. Through Mary, spouse of the Holy Spirit, God’s action is thus proportionate to our nature.
- To benefit from this grace of being born to eternal life, we must simply place ourselves under Mary’s dependence, remain in her womb and allow ourselves to be nourished by her ; for Mary is chosen by God to assume this role.
- In fact, it is the will and action of the Trinity as a whole, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which passing through Mary, make her « the living mould of God, forma Dei » in whom are dwelling for ever the features of the divinity. Just as God became man in his Son Jesus Christ through Mary, so it is in Mary, through Mary and with Mary that man is transformed into the full stature of Christ who is God. Over her, the devil has no hold. Choosing to take Mary « home » (cf. Mt. 1,20 Jn 19,25-27) is to choose the path of humility to let the Holy-Spirit transform us. It means fleeing the illusions of the spiritual life where man believes he can achieve his own holiness through personal skill. She is « God’s paradise » where man unites with the divinity.
- This submission to Mary is achieved, according to LMGM, in a concrete act of consecration to Jesus through Mary in a true devotion to Mary.
True marian devotion
There are devotions to Mary which are holy and praiseworthy. The one LMGM teaches us is different because it consists of the consecration to Jesus through Mary, to « give oneself entirely, as a slave to Mary and to Jesus through her, then to do everything with Mary, in Mary, through Mary and for Mary » (SM 28). It is an invitation to have a new inner attitude, essentially based on the total gift of oneself to God, to undergo a true conversion of the heart. In fact, love is the principle. What is at stake is to be linked forever to Jesus through Mary.
This devotion requires the freedom of the one who consecrates himself and the possession of what is offered. Whoever enters into the spirit of this devotion has to persevere. Only personal experience allows one to taste its many spiritual fruits (SM 57). A whole external dimension is not to be neglected. One can widely borrow from the wealth of the Church : consecrate oneself to Jesus through Mary on one of Mary’s feast-days, preparing for it with a novena, renewing the consecration every year, praying the rosary every day while meditating on the mysteries of Christ’s life, praying the Magnificat after communion to join in Mary’s thanksgiving, going on a Marian pilgrimage every year, and so on, are some suggestions of things we can do to strengthen the spirit of this marian devotion.
In a general and concrete way, we are invited to act with Mary, in Mary, through Mary, for Mary as the proximate end, even though the glory of God is the final end of all things. This Marian way is fully Christological, pneumatic and mistical. Totus tuus (VD 266).
You too, like Joseph « do not be afraid to take Mary into your home » (Mt 1,20)
« Happy, a thousand times happy is the soul here below to whom the Holy Spirit reveals the secret of Mary in order to know it, and for whom he opens this closed garden to enter it, this sealed fountain to draw from it and drink in large gulps the living waters of grace. »
Testimony of saint John-Paul II
« Perfect devotion to Mary, that is, true knowledge of her and trusting surrender into her hands, grows with our knowledge of Christ and our trusting surrender to His person. Moreover, this ‘perfect devotion’ is indispensable for those who intend to give themselves unreservedly to Christ and to the work of redemption. (…) The more my inner life has been centered on the reality of the Redemption, the more surrender to Mary in the spirit of Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort has appeared to me as the best means of participating fruitfully and effectively in this reality, in order to draw from it and share its inexpressible riches with others. »
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Find the previous articles in our “Life of prayer” series.
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