NGUYEN: Blessed Virgin Mary - Live truth, live love!

May 28, 2019

Time for some Marian trivia. See how much you know, for knowledge is power; it steers the heart to love.

What do you know of the Blessed Virgin Mary? What do you know about Marian devotion? And what is your favorite one? Are devotions required for our salvation? Why do we need them? The list can go on and on.

If I were to ask you: what do you know of your earthly mother? And what qualities do you see in her? It can be endless. Genuinely, every mother was gifted with innate qualities to live out their vocation, unless some choose to go against their own identity and nature.

Besides many well respected qualities in mothers, loving protection seems to stand out the most. Mothers, no matter how dangerous the environment they are in, the first thought comes to their mind is the safety of their children, even if it costs them their own lives. That is the heart of the mother.

For Mary, our heavenly Mother, her love is so tender and sweet; she is always on the lookout for us, her children. She carefully protects us from Satan’s snare; she makes sure that we safely arrive at our true home.

You probably have known the inspiring story of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, who was willing to risk her life to ensure that her unborn child was safe. This superb quality of a mother is also seen in the fauna, animal kingdom. Once I had the experience when trying to take kittens away from their mother that the mother cat gave me an ugly look and, with frenzied attitude, she attacked me. That’s a natural instinct of a mother.

For Mary, our heavenly Mother, her love is so tender and sweet; she is always on the lookout for us, her children. She carefully protects us from Satan’s snare; she makes sure that we safely arrive at our true home.

St. Louis de Montfort, the Marian Saint, acclaims, “She loves us tenderly, and more tenderly than all other mothers put together.”

The good Saint continues saying that Mary’s love for us, her children, is not only affection but with efficacy. What does that mean? It means she obtains for us the blessing of our heavenly Father. Indeed, Mary is our true Mother; so, loving her in return is appropriate.

St. Maximilian Kolbe affirms, “Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.”

Offering Mary our devotions is an expression of our love to her. Although devotions are not required by the Church to attain salvation, still they are great instruments for us to obtain the necessary graces in our spiritual journey home, especially when we are in danger.

Cultivating one of these Marian devotions, if you have not had one, is a wise thing to do: wearing the Miraculous Medal and/or the Scapula; doing a total consecration to Mary by wearing a chain bracelet; praying the Angelus, the Rosary, the novenas, the litanies; participating in Marian processions; observing the first Saturdays of the month and every Saturday, May Crowning, etc.

As May comes to a close, Marian devotions need never cease. Originally the devotion to Mary was practiced in the early Church. In the 18th century, a zealous Jesuit priest — Father Lalomia — started the practice of dedicating the entire month of May to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Today, Marian devotions are highlighted in the Church during the months of May and October. Of course, the baptized faithful are always encouraged to practice Marian devotions throughout the entire year.

We know that “there is no other surest, quickest path to Jesus than through Mary” (Pope St. Pius X), for it is the one and only route to achieve our ultimate end, Jesus.

Let us reiterate St. Louis de Montfort’s teaching on true devotion to Mary, the path “to Jesus through Mary,” as the guide for our every devotion; otherwise, everything we do will be in vain. From the book True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort, we have the following two lists to self-reflect upon:

Five true devotions

1. Jesus Christ is the ultimate end of all devotions;
2. We belong to Jesus and Mary as their own;
3. We must rid ourselves of what is evil in us;
4. We need Mary as our mediator with Christ; and
5. We need Mary in order to preserve the graces and treasures we have received from God.

Seven kinds of false devotions

1. Critical Devotees – find fault in other people’s devotions;
2. Scrupulous Devotees – fear dishonoring the Son by being devoted to the Mother;
3. External Devotees – focus is only on exterior practices, but not on the transformation of their interior spiritual life;
4. Presumptuous Devotees – sleep in peace with their faults and sinfulness, thinking that by merely wearing the Scapular and/or reciting the Rosary they will be saved from hell;
5. Inconstant Devotees – as the term suggests, are in a state of flux: sometimes fervent, other times lukewarm;
6. Hypocritical Devotees – cloak their sins and sinful habits with Mary’s mantel, by pretending to have Marian devotions; and
7. Interested Devotees – only come to Mary when they need help and protection, “without which they would forget her altogether” (St. Louis de Montfort).

Let us follow the footsteps of the saint: “to Jesus through Mary,” with sincere love and true devotion.

Sister Maria Goretti Nguyen, OP, is an associate director with the Archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.