Book Review: True Devotion to Mary

How can one praise this book enough? St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary is a must-read on  Marian devotion in the Catholic Church. Next to the Eucharist and the Papacy, Marian devotion is probably one of the most misunderstood teachings of the Catholic Church. Most Protestants accuse Catholics of paying too much attention to Mary, and too often in response Catholics will downplay or outright deny the necessity of Marian devotion in the teachings of the Church and the spiritual life. Yes, necessity.

“It was through the most holy Virgin Mary that Jesus came into the world, and it is also through her that He has to reign in the world.”

St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary is the handbook on Marian devotion– what it is, in what it consists, why such devotion is necessary, and he also distinguishes between true and false devotions. St. Louis de Montfort demonstrates that those who would accuse the Catholic Church of being excessive in her devotion to Mary are confused, and that the Church is right and obliged to reveal the truth about the necessity of devotion to Mary. Mary’s role in the history of our salvation is far greater than simply giving birth to Jesus Christ. Is her role utterly, completely, and entirely dependent upon the grace of God? Of course! But this does not diminish her role. Mary is but a mere creature of the Creator; but she is a creature to whom great graces have been given. She is our means of finding Jesus, and we go to her only that we may more perfectly find and love her Son, Jesus.

“The Son of God became man for our salvation; but it was in Mary and by Mary. God the Holy Ghost formed Jesus Christ in Mary; but it was only after having asked her consent by the one of the first ministers of His court.”

We cannot find Jesus without Mary. And the more perfectly conformed and united to Mary that we are, the more perfectly conformed and united we are to her Son. This is the essential truth of authentic Marian devotion: it leads to a deeper understanding of and union with Jesus, necessarily. Just as Mary led the servants to her Son in the Bible (cf. John 2:5, “Do whatever [Jesus] tells you”), so too, does she lead us to God when we become the servant of the handmaid of the Lord. It was her will to do the holy will of God, and this is what she will teach us through imitation and prayer.

You can purchase this book here.

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Marian Consecration

The more we honor the Blessed Virgin, the more we honor Jesus Christ, because we honor Mary only that we may the more perfectly honor Jesus, since we go to her only as the way by which we are to find the end we are seeking, which is Jesus.

St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary

I sought out Marian devotion when I was feeling helpless. I was spiritually drowning by things that don’t matter now, and I was desperate for Faith. I had a priest bring me a scapular (from Rome), and enroll me in the Brown Scapular*. I found a copy of St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary and devoured it. I started the 33-day Preparation for Total Consecration, and consecrated myself to the Blessed Mother on August 15, 2006 (the Feast of the Assumption of Mary).

I think in our modern struggles to be ‘ecumenical’, many Catholics overlook Marian consecration in fear that it might take away from Jesus. They couldn’t be any more mistaken. And they’ve obviously never read St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary. Marian devotion is something essential to Christian faith because how we view Our Lady defines how we think about Our Lord. I’ve been in ‘debates’ about Marian doctrines where the other person has retorted that Mary “was merely a vessel for the birth of the Savior” as though God just uses people and then throws them away after He’s accomplished His designs. That’s not how God has revealed Himself to us. Mary was not a vessel, she was (and is) a mother. She became the mother of Jesus Christ the instant the Holy Spirit overshadowed her and she conceived, in her womb, the Son of God. Thus, Mary is the Theotokos (the God-bearer)… the Mother of God (“Mother of my Lord” cf. Luke 1:43). And she followed her Son to the Cross, where her own soul was pierced as Simeon the prophet had foretold (cf. Luke 2:35). Clearly, she was not forgotten in the plans of God…

… all generations shall call me blessed

Luke 1:48

But what is consecration to the Blessed Mother?  In short, it is the way “to Jesus, through Mary”. As St. Louis de Montfort opens his True Devotion, it was through Mary that Our Lord Jesus Christ came into this world and so it is through her that we ought to go to Him. The great truth of Catholic Marian spirituality is that Mary always leads to her Son, Jesus. Always.

Whatsoever He shall say to you, do

John 2:5

Consecration is about conformity to Jesus Christ. We find our perfection in Him. To this end, and our growth in perfection, St. Louis de Montfort proposes a method of preparation and consecration that is 33 days of preparation + the day of consecration, or about 5 weeks. You can find various books and preparations for consecration according to St. Louis de Montfort that vary slightly. The preparation included in True Devotion to Mary consists of a preliminary period (12 days) to free ourselves from the “spirit of this world”, and then a second period of 3 weeks wherein the first week is devoted to knowledge of ourselves, knowledge of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and knowledge of Jesus Christ which is then crowned by our consecration. It is admitted that this preparation is flexible, and Fr. Helmuts Libietis has done a fine job of compiling a good preparation based on St. Louis de Montfort’s that is divided into 5 weeks, and 4 short meditations for each day followed by the prayers which St. Louis de Montfort suggests for that week titled Consecration to Mary. Slightly different, and perhaps a bit more time consuming than the basics which St. Louis offers in True Devotion, but nonetheless I have personally found Fr. Libietis’ preparation to be doable, and of great assistance in truly getting into the spirit of preparation that St. Louis de Montfort sought. It’s a good help.

So in offering and consecration ourselves to Mary, we seek conformity to her Son. Who was the perfect disciple? Mary. There’s a part in the Sacred Scriptures (which many often mistakenly view and use as an anti-Mary tract) where a woman cries out from the crowd after Jesus has exorcised a demon, “Blessed is the womb that bore Thee, and the paps that gave Thee suck” and Jesus responds, “Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it” (Luke 11:27-28). Anyone would have to agree that Mary fulfilled this blessing in a very singular way: she received the Annunciation of the coming of the Savior through the Angel Gabriel, and she responded that the will of God should be done unto her, and then she conceived the Word of God and kept Him, in her womb for 9 months, and thereafter in her Immaculate Heart. Yes, Mary was indeed Blessed to be the Mother of God; but she is blessed even moreso in hearing and keeping the Word of God.  Our Lord’s response to the woman in the crowd was in no way a degradation of Mary as His mother.

Imitation of Mary is imitation of Christ.

Jesus Christ our Saviour, true God and true Man, ought to be the last end of all our other devotions, else they are false and delusive. Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, of all things. We labor not, as the Apostle says, except to render every man perfect in Jesus Christ; because it is in Him alone that the whole plenitude of the Divinity dwells together with all the other plenitudes of graces, virtues, and perfections. It is in Him alone that we have been blessed with all spiritual benediction; and He is our only Master, who has to teach us; our only Lord on whom we ought to depend; our only Head to whom we must be united; our only Model to whom we should conform ourselves; our only Physician who can heal us; our only Shepherd who can feed us; our only Way who can lead us; our only Truth whom we must believe; our only Life who can animate us; and our only All in all things who can satisfy us. There has been no other name given under Heaven, except the name of Jesus, by which we can be saved. God has laid no other foundation of our salvation, our perfection or our glory, than Jesus Christ. Every building which is not built on that firm rock is founded upon the moving sand, and sooner or later infallibly will fall. Every one of the faithful who is not united to Him, as a branch to the stock of the vine, shall fall, shall wither, and shall be fit only to be cast into the fire. Outside of Him there exists nothing but error, falsehood, iniquity, futility, death and damnation. But if we are in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ is in us, we have no condemnation to fear. Neither the angels of Heaven nor the men of earth nor the devils of Hell nor any other creature can injure us; because they cannot separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ. By Jesus Christ, with Jesus Christ, in Jesus Christ, we can do all things; we can render all honor and glory to the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost; we can become perfect ourselves, and be to our neighbor a good odor of eternal life (2 Cor. 2:15-16).

If, then, we establish solid devotion to our Blessed Lady, it is only to establish more perfectly devotion to Jesus Christ, and to provide an easy and secure means for finding Jesus Christ…

St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, #61, 62

Good Reads about the Mother of God:
True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort
The Secret of Mary by St. Louis de Montfort
The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Montfort
The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus Liguori
Consecration to Mary by Fr. Helmuts Libietis

*The Brown Scapular