The Ever Blessed

True Devotion to Mary is Internal

True devotion to the Blessed Virgin is internal, starting from the spirit and the heart. It flows from the esteem we bear toward Mary, the sublime idea we have of her greatness, and the love we feel for her.

–St. Louis de Montfort

This is the second post in a seven-part series on True Devotion to Mary—a formula for total consecration to the Blessed Virgin created by St. Louis de Montfort. The first post, which introduces this devotion, can be read here. In the quote above, St. Louis tells us that true devotion to Mary is internal. Now obviously, this is a necessary element for all forms of devotion and piety. If our religious actions are reduced to the exterior, they become touchy-feely and lacking roots. The result of this is a kind of skin-deep spirituality… something done for show, which our Master condemns all throughout the Gospels (see for instance Matthew 6:5).

There is however, what seems to be a second and third element to this first point—the spirit and the heart. Don’t get me wrong, the spirit and the heart are intrinsic to anything internal, but all too often I think that those words can become over-sentimentalized (or touchy-feely and skin-deep). I mean that they can lose their meaning, and become a kind of pious “word salad.”

In a Biblical context, when we think of the spirit, we should always think of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Most Blessed Trinity. He is the eternal Person of God that “proceeds from the Father and the Son” as the Nicene Creed professes. He is the love that the Father and the Son share. In the Sacrament of Baptism, we sinners are given our own portion of that same Spirit to participate in the love of God’s life.

When it comes to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit, our Catholic ears should start ringing. In order for our Lord to be born of our Blessed Mother while still preserving her perpetual virginity, St. Gabriel tells our Lady that “the Holy Spirit shall come upon you and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you” (Luke 1:35b). The language used here is evocative of the presence of God overshadowing the Ark of the Covenant and the overshadowing protection that a husband provides his wife (Exodus 40:35, Ruth 3:9). This is part of the reasons why our Holy Mother the Church calls Mary the “Ark of the New Covenant” and the “Spouse of the Holy Spirit”. That same Spirit that proceeds from the Father and the Son, that mystically espoused the Blessed Virgin Mary, and that conceived our Divine Savior, dwells in our souls by virtue of our Baptism. What does it mean then for our devotion to start from the spirit and the heart? It means our devotion should start with the Holy Spirit, our portion of God’s life. In order to love God, that is, in order to share in the life of the Blessed Trinity, we must love what He loves. Purity, Holiness, the needy, His law, His Church, His Son, His Father, His Mother.

What does this look like? St. Luke gives us the icon in St. Elizabeth, our Lady’s kinswoman. In the first chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel we read,

And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. And she cried out with a loud voice and said: Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of your salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed are you that have believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to you by the Lord.

Luke 1:41-45

Our hearts must be united with the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, so as to be “filled” with that same Spirit and His spousal fruit, “the love we feel for her”… And then we say in union with Him,

Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!