true devotion to mary
Jesus at the Centre of True Devotion to Mary
Fr. Bede McGregor O.P. Spiritual Director to the Legion of Mary
Sometimes we meet people who think that the place that the Legion gives to Mary is exaggerated and even the True Devotion to Mary advocated by St. Louis Marie de Montfort is excessive. These criticisms are normally due to a deficient knowledge of Mary and a defective knowledge of the most basic principles of the True Devotion to her. The objections are sometimes very crude and incredible. It is said that the Legion gives more attention to Our Lady than to Jesus; that the Legion gives ammunition to those who argue that the Catholic Church tends toward Mariolatry. That Mary is a goddess. Even many of the less violent objections to the Marian Theology of our Founder Frank Duff manifest a striking distortion of the teaching of the Handbook and therefore of the theology of De Montfort's True Devotion to Mary. The most profound principle of the True Devotion to Mary is that it is centred on Jesus. Mary exists for Jesus. Her very identity is a relationship to Jesus. Every thought, word, deed, suffering of Mary is for Jesus. She is absolutely christocentric. As I have said so often before, there is absolutely nothing in Mary that does not point to Christ. She is utterly and totally, willingly and joyfully immersed in Jesus, her Son and the Son of God. So to give anything to Mary is to have it immediately given to Our Lord. Mary is a means and not the end of the True Devotion. Let us quote St. Louis Marie on this point. He writes: 'This devotion consists then in giving ourselves entirely to the Blessed Virgin, in order to belong entirely to Jesus through her.' Or again: 'All our perfection consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ; and therefore the most perfect of all devotions is, without any doubt, that which the most perfectly conforms, unites, and consecrates us to Jesus Christ. Now Mary being the most conformed of all creatures to Jesus Christ, it follows that, of all devotions that which most consecrates and conforms the soul to Our Lord is devotion to his holy Mother, and the more a soul is consecrated to Mary, the more it is consecrated to Jesus. 'Hence it comes to pass that the most perfect consecration to Jesus Christ is nothing else than a perfect and entire consecration of ourselves to the Blessed Virgin and this is the devotion that I teach.' In other words we legionaries seek to live in total dependence on Mary and in complete union with her in order to enjoy the greatest possible friendship with Our Lord and the most effective apostolate for the salvation of souls. As the Handbook puts it: 'It was through her that Jesus Christ came to us, and it is through her that we must go to Him.' It is not possible to truly come to know Jesus without Mary. Several of the great Saints have taught us in the old Latin saying: Numquam satis de Maria, that is, we can never say too much in praise of Mary. This is so true. We can never love her enough or work with and for her enough. But this must always be understood in a christological context. We give everything to her, our whole lives, past, present and to come because we know it will be taken up and be given to Our Lord purified, enriched, deepened, by her and through her. Let me conclude by quoting a contemporary theologian: 'Marian consecration should never be seen as a gift of love and self that stops solely with Mary, but a consecration of self that will end in the heart of Christ Himself.' As de Montfort describes it, doing all for Mary does not mean: 'that we take her for the last end of our services, for that is Jesus Christ alone. But we take her for our proximate end, our mysterious means, and our easy way to go to Him.' I realise that most legionaries know well the simple principle that I have put before you in this allocutio but there are many Catholics and non-Catholics who do not know the place of Jesus in our love and devotion to Mary. As a consequence they can acquire a significant misunderstanding of the Legion and indeed of the identity and role of Mary in God's plan for the salvation of the world. It is up to us legionaries to put them right and so facilitate an authentic relationship with Mary and therefore with Our Lord. Amen. The most profound principle of the True Devotion to Mary is that it is centred on Jesus. Mary exists for Jesus. Her very identity is a relationship to Jesus. Every thought, word, deed, suffering of Mary is for Jesus. She is absolutely christocentric. As I have said so often before, there is absolutely nothing in Mary that does not point to Christ. She is utterly and totally, willingly and joyfully immersed in Jesus, her Son and the Son of God. So to give anything to Mary is to have it immediately given to Our Lord. Mary is a means and not the end of the True Devotion. Let us quote St. Louis Marie on this point. He writes: This devotion consists then in giving ourselves entirely to the Blessed Virgin, in order to belong entirely to Jesus through her. Or again: All our perfection consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ; and therefore the most perfect of all devotions is, without any doubt, that which the most perfectly conforms, unites, and consecrates us to Jesus Christ. Now Mary being the most conformed of all creatures to Jesus Christ, it follows that, of all devotions that which most consecrates and conforms the soul to Our Lord is devotion to his holy Mother, and the more a soul is consecrated to Mary, the more it is consecrated to Jesus. Hence it comes to pass that the most perfect consecration to Jesus Christ is nothing else than a perfect and entire consecration of ourselves to the Blessed Virgin and this is the devotion that I teach. In other words we legionaries seek to live in total dependence on Mary and in complete union with her in order to enjoy the greatest possible friendship with Our Lord and the most effective apostolate for the salvation of souls. As the Handbook puts it: It was through her that Jesus Christ came to us, and it is through her that we must go to Him. It is not possible to truly come to know Jesus without Mary. Several of the great Saints have taught us in the old Latin saying: Numquam satis de Maria, that is, we can never say too much in praise of Mary. This is so true. We can never love her enough or work with and for her enough. But this must always be understood in a christological context. We give everything to her, our whole lives, past, present and to come because we know it will be taken up and be given to Our Lord purified, enriched, deepened, by her and through her. Let me conclude by quoting a contemporary theologian: Marian consecration should never be seen as a gift of love and self that stops solely with Mary, but a consecration of self that will end in the heart of Christ Himself. As de Montfort describes it, doing all for Mary does not mean: that we take her for the last end of our services, for that is Jesus Christ alone. But we take her for our proximate end, our mysterious means, and our easy way to go to Him. I realise that most legionaries know well the simple principle that I have put before you in this allocutio but there are many Catholics and non-Catholics who do not know the place of Jesus in our love and devotion to Mary. As a consequence they can acquire a significant misunderstanding of the Legion and indeed of the identity and role of Mary in God's plan for the salvation of the world. It is up to us legionaries to put them right and so facilitate an authentic relationship with Mary and therefore with Our Lord. Amen.

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In brief, the priest is ordained to celebrate the sacred mysteries, to preach the Word of God and to gather the people of God together. By priestly ordination he is configured to Christ as Head and Shepherd of his people. By the power of the Holy Spirit he is set at the service of the Church for the salvation of the world. "The nature and mission of the ministerial priesthood cannot be defined except through this multiple and rich interconnection of relationships which arise from the Blessed Trinity and are prolonged in the communion of the Church, as a sign and instrument of Christ, of communion with God and of the unity of all humanity" (Pastores Dabo Vobis, 12).
His Eminence, Francis Cardinal Arinze, Retired Prefect, Congregation for Divine Worship, Vatican