Sharing in Christ’s Love for Mary
Last month we considered the role of Mary in our vocation to be saints and apostles or if you like the role she plays in helping us to live and die in friendship with her Son, Jesus Christ, truly God and our Saviour. We underlined the truth that there is nothing in Mary that is not a reference to Jesus and the more we are united to Mary the more deeply we are referred to Jesus. As our Holy Father says in a recent letter where he paraphrases St. Louis Marie de Montfort: ‘Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is a privileged means of finding Jesus Christ perfectly, of loving Him tenderly, of serving Him faithfully.’ Reflecting on the mystery of Mary and her role in our lives, the Church gradually summed up her deepest conviction in the formula repeated by many saints: ‘To Jesus through Mary.’ In other words, authentic Marian devotion is absolutely Christocentric, centred in Christ.
The classic formulation of St.Louis Marie de Montfort is as follows: “I am all yours and all that I have is yours, 0 most loving Jesus, through Mary your most holy Mother.” That is an essential part of our Legion spirituality. Frank Duff, our Founder, wrote a fine article entitled: “The Legion is pure Christocentrism.” It is found in his book: ‘Woman of Genesis.’ I recommend that you read it and make it a part of your habitual way of thinking and acting. I cannot give you a synopsis of this article here but let me say that he says the same thing more briefly at the end of the Index to the Handbook: “References to Our Blessed Lord have not been indexed. For every word of this Handbook has Him in mind, and therefore He should be found in every part of it. In every place, in every circumstance and happening the legionary should meet Jesus and no less than the poet, be able to exclaim: ‘I see his blood upon the rose and in the stars the glory of his eyes.’
Dear Legionaries true Devotion to Mary leads us infallibly to Jesus or it is not true devotion to her. But we must also keep in mind and heart that true devotion to Jesus leads us back to His Mother. When Our Lord asked us to ‘Behold Your Mother’ he was not offering Mary to us simply as an idea for us to think about. He was offering us a share in his life and his relationship to His Mother. His Mother is really and truly our Mother and that is a simple application of the beautiful doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ. Everything that belongs to Jesus belongs to us as members of his Body the Church. All the graces He merited on the Cross are available to us. He shares his relationship to the Father and the Holy Spirit with us. And He gives us His own Mother. ‘Everything I have is yours.’ This especially includes His Mother. This is one of the great motives for inviting people to become full members of the mystical Body of Christ. There they will find everything they could possibly desire.
How could we fail to love Her whom Our Lord loved so much? It is impossible to love Christ adequately without loving the Mother he gave us. Archbishop Fulton Sheen, one of the great supporters of the Legion use to say: ‘Those who begin by ignoring Her soon end up ignoring Him, for the two are inseparable in the great drama of Redemption.’ Jesus wants to love His Mother in and through us the members of His Body, the Church. We cannot love Mary the way Jesus does because he loves her infinitely and without limit. But as Legionaries we put no limit to our loving her and serving her while always remembering that Mary although unique and special in God’s plan of salvation for each one of us, she is also a human being in total solidarity with us. She understands us from within because she shares our human nature but of course, without sin. We seek to be one with Jesus in loving her and being devoted to her. Our devotion to Mary is in imitation of Christ Himself.
I am talking about Mary in this way because one of the most frequent and ill-informed criticisms of the Legion is that it has an exaggerated theology of Mary and distracts us from Jesus. Even good people sometimes have worries about loving Mary too much at the expense of Jesus or the other Persons of the Trinity. The Holy Father in one of his autobiographical writings tells us how as a young man at one point he became afraid that his devotion to Mary might become so great that it might end up compromising the worship owed to Jesus Christ. When he read de Montfort all his fears vanished. St.Louis Marie de Montfort is our teacher too and so don’t have any doubts or hesitation about the Legion approach and devotion to Mary. It is one of our great treasures kept safely in the Handbook and one that we must never grow tired of going back to and trying to live more deeply and authentically.