The Ever Blessed

True Devotion to Mary is Holy

“True devotion to our Lady is holy, that is, it leads us to avoid sin and to imitate the virtues of Mary.”
– St. Louis de Montfort

This is the fourth post in a 7-part series on St. Louis de Montfort’s formula for total consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It’s been a while, so here are some links to the past posts with a review snippet for each:

• True Devotion to Mary, an Introduction — St. Louis de Montfort’s formula is introduced, and the nature of devotion is examined
• True Devotion to Mary is Internal — deals with the interior disposition required for True Devotion to Mary
• True Devotion to Mary is Tender — deals with the necessary trust we must place in our Blessed Mother, and the confidence we have in her that she will help us in our afflictions.

What is it to be holy? Simple textbook answer: to be set apart for God. This is generally pretty easy to understand. We live in a fallen world that doesn’t fit the primordial framework of God’s creative plan. So, if we enroll ourselves back into that framework, we will consequently look, think, act, and sound differently compared to the world around us. We will be set apart from the rest. We will be holy.

Though this definition is easy to understand, what is often glazed over is the nature of holiness itself, that is, what it means to be called “holy”. There aren’t competing ideals of holiness in God’s plan. It’s not as if we have our human standard of holiness, and then there’s God’s standard, and we have to work at uniting the two in some way—there’s really only one, and that is Jesus Christ. The measure of our holiness is approximate to how we resemble Jesus. In other words, to how we resemble God. There is one supreme holiness, and it belongs to Him. Yet in a mysterious and glorious way, He enables us by His grace and calls for our participation into that same holiness. As St. Peter says while quoting Moses, “You shall be holy, for I am holy”(1 Peter 1:16)…and then our Master, “Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect”(Matthew 5:48)… This is the desire of the Holy Trinity, the infusion of His holiness into our nature so that the sons of fallen Adam can become sons of the living God.

Having said that, what other standard is St. Louis raising here? To the outsider, it looks like a double standard: there’s Jesus’ way and then there’s Mary’s way. But, similar to what I’ve said in recent posts, there is no double standard here. What this is, is an example of success… and perhaps our greatest example. The virtues of Mary are the virtues of Christ. They have their source in Christ. We imitate her to the end that we conform our image to His, and she is so conformed to Him, in image and will, that every imitation of her and every honor paid to her is given to Him. Fr. Robert Barron has a great illustration that sheds some light, pun intended, on this principle:

“Mary is for us like the moon, which is to say she is a reflected light. Mary’s light comes not from herself, it comes from Christ. You see, it’s easier to look at the moon than at the sun. The sun is so brilliant that we can’t look directly at it, but we can see something of the sun’s light in the moon.”

According to St. Louis de Montfort, Mary’s ten principal virtues that we should imitate are:

  1. deep humility
  2. lively faith
  3. blind obedience
  4. unceasing prayer
  5. constant self-denial
  6. surpassing purity
  7. ardent love
  8. heroic patience
  9. angelic kindness
  10. and heavenly wisdom

I don’t know about you, but scanning through these virtues, any chance imitating them seems next to impossible. It would have been impossible for the Blessed Mother to attain these virtues too, had she not been given every grace at conception by the foreseen merits of her Divine Son. And there you have it…grace. Grace is what makes the impossible possible in attaining such virtue. Our Lord says, “without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). He means in terms of Holiness. A life of virtue is what God desires for us, and Christ came to give us the means (His grace) to attain every virtue. So let us be holy, but let us be holy according to our Lady’s design. For she, like St. Paul, surely implores her children: “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Yet, unlike St. Paul, the Blessed Mother can truly say, “be imitators of me, as Christ is of me.”

Mother of divine grace, pray for us!