(LifeSiteNews) — Today I want to talk about what I call “the secret within the secret” of St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary.
I’ve met tons of people around the world who have read de Montfort’s great work and practice the devotion. But 99% of them don’t know what is for me one of the greatest strengths in the masterpiece.
For those of you who already know about True Devotion to Mary and just want the secret portion that most aren’t familiar with, you can scroll down below. I want to start with a little intro for those of you who may not know all that much about St. Louis de Montfort’s greatest work. I’ll tell you a bit about what it has done for my life and about its origins and greatness.
Recommended and practiced by eight popes, True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort is the greatest work on Our Lady in the Church. Even though it is only 100 pages, it surpasses the voluminous works of others on the topic of Our Lady.
St. Pope John Paul II said of it, “This ‘perfect devotion’ is indispensable to anyone who means to give himself without reserve to Christ and to the work of redemption.”
Its origin itself is also miraculous. You see, it is known by various names all over the world. In Germany, it is simply called “Das Goldene Buch” and in English True Devotion to Mary or Treatise on True devotion to Mary. That’s because it was discovered more than a hundred years after the death of St. Louis himself. It was discovered in a trunk of books and papers that were buried by farmers for safekeeping during the French Revolution. When it was unearthed, it was found in a chest but without a cover, hence the different names given to the work.
St. Louis de Montfort himself predicted in the book that this would happen.
I clearly foresee that raging beasts will come in fury to tear to pieces with their diabolical teeth this little book and the one the Holy Spirit made use of to write it, or they will cause it at least to lie hidden in the darkness and silence of a chest and so prevent it from seeing the light of day. They will even attack and persecute those who read it and put into practice what it contains. But no matter! So much the better! It even gives me encouragement to hope for great success at the prospect of a mighty legion of brave and valiant soldiers of Jesus and Mary, both men and women, who will fight the devil, the world, and corrupt nature in the perilous times that are sure to come. (True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, #114)
In my own life, True Devotion first brought me to a crisis of faith and then turned my life around completely.
I had hit bottom. God was calling me back from a sinful lifestyle, but I was stubborn, so it took years of troubles and calamities, many of which could have resulted in my death. I ended up at my rock bottom before I first called out to God after having abandoned Him so many years before. It was a short prayer; an Our Father; and some bargaining, like “Please get me out of this mess, and I’ll straighten my life out.”
But that was by no means a radical turning point in my life. I did put much more effort into schooling, and tried to keep up with at least some prayer, some looking to God. By my bad habits were firmly engrained.
I was able to see clearly that I was a slave to sin, that I was not in control of my life. I knew I needed help. I turned back to my dad’s wisdom for guidance and picked up that book he had given me when I was 14: St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary.
It was 1992, and I was 21 years old. I read the book and understood clearly what it meant. It meant giving your whole life to Jesus through Mary, through her example of total surrender to God, living with her through her inspiration. It meant more than just Sunday mornings; it required all day and all night every day for the rest of my life!
I was so lost that I was ready for anything, so I was willing even to give up my life in this way. But it was then that my crisis of faith leapt upon me.
After those many years I had convinced myself that God didn’t exist, how could I now give up my life for something imaginary?
So I put the book under my arm and made up my mind to talk to my dad about the matter. At that point, I was so confused in my life that I knew only one thing – that my dad loved me. He had put up with so much hardship from me and yet had remained steadfast in care and love for me, never failing to warn me that my eternal life was in danger, but doing so in love.
I was going to tell him, “Dad, the only thing I know for sure in life is that you love me, and so I want you to tell me the truth. I read this book on True Devotion you gave me, and it means giving up my whole life, and I don’t want to do that unless it’s true. I need you, Dad, to tell me the truth, because you love me. Is this true?”
I mentally prepared this whole little speech as I went to see my dad. When I got to him, I looked at him, and his life spoke to me. In fact, his life struck me with more force than any words he ever could have spoken.
Here was a man who was ridiculed for most of his life for practicing this faith, whose colleagues mocked him, whose friends teased and whose family was embarrassed by him and at times cruel to him for his practice of faith. And all of this time, he steadfastly presented to them and everyone else the truth in love.
It was mostly this, his endurance of all this persecution, even a joyful endurance, that overcame my self-induced disbelief in God, that broke through my doubt. Obviously, God is real; His way is truth in love.
I never did actually ask my father that question. All of that was communicated to me as I looked at him that day.
In fact, I did not even tell him of the incident until many years later. It was his life that spoke to me, particularly the persecution and ridicule he received for being faithful, for lovingly saying those socially awkward truths about the eternal consequences of sin. For loving me enough to tell me the truth even when I mocked him for it.
I consecrated my life to Jesus through Mary in the way taught by de Montfort. Just as Abraham is known as “Father Abraham” because of his believing that his wife could conceive and bear him a son despite her old age and his willingness to sacrifice that son so Mary is known as “Mother Mary.” She was asked to believe she would conceive not in spite of old age, but while retaining her virginity, and the sacrifice of her son would reach completion where Isaac was spared.
It is that kind of faith, that kind of trust in the Lord, that kind of love that led me to say after Mother Mary’s example, “Behold the slave of the Lord, be it done to me according to Thy word” (Lk. 1:38).
From that time, my life changed radically. I hastened to confession, and my life of faith began again with an earnestness I had never known before.
True Devotion was for me not just a book, nor simply a devotion. It was a way of life. For one thing, it had the immediate effect — in what seemed miraculous to me — of enabling me to overcome my sinful habits.
It also seemed to give me an immense hunger for the knowledge of the faith. I devoured the Scriptures, the Catechism, the lives of the saints, and many of the most notable spiritual works of Christendom.
It drove me with an ardent desire to daily Mass and to take up a daily rosary after the example of my dad.
The Good News of salvation changed my life radically. Jesus became the focus and desired end of my whole life. I abandoned my former lifestyle and with my change lost many friends but gained others who are not only friends, but true brothers and sisters in the Lord.
At first, the reality of Holy Communion and my unworthiness was staggering. I realized that here I was, this grave sinner, daring to receive the King of Kings, God Himself, into my heart, which was until recently so filled with sin, with a selfish disregard for others, with a consummation with filth of the most base kind.
Yet True Devotion contains a secret that few, even few who know and practice the devotion, know about. De Montfort described in the pages of his masterpiece a method for the reception of Holy Communion that is, especially for the sinner, an immense grace.
Before Mass, St. Louis teaches us to place ourselves humbly in the presence of God.
And I pray…
I renounce myself and all my inner dispositions, no matter how good my self-love may make them look. I’m all Thine my dear Mistress with all that I have and I take Thee for my all. Please give me Thy heart O Mary that I might receive Thy Son here with the same dispositions as Thine own. For it touches Thy Son’s glory to be put into a heart as sullied and inconstant as mine which would not fail either to lessen his glory or to destroy it. But if Thou will come and dwell with me in order to receive Thy Son, He will be well received by Thee without danger of being outraged or unnoticed for “God is in the midst of her. She shall not be moved.
Isn’t that cool? So my heart, so filthy and poor, is given to this good Mother, and she in turn gives me her Holy and Immaculate Heart, where Jesus wants to dwell.
The prayer continues:
I know that of all the gifts that I have given Thee of my own goods I have given Thee nothing worthy of Thee, but with this Gift I make Thee the same Gift as the Eternal Father gave Thee. And I know that by giving Thee this Gift I give Thee more than if I gave Thee all the gifts in the entire world.
Awesome or what? Remember when your mother gave you a gift for your dad, when you had nothing to give, and nothing worthwhile you could buy anyway? Well, here is the opportunity to give your heavenly Mother the Gift of Gifts. And sure, this is like child’s play, but that is what the life of faith is all about. “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Mt. 10:25).
And the prayer before Mass concludes:
And finally Jesus still desires to take His pleasure and repose in Thee even in my soul, though it be far filthier and poorer than the stable where He did not hesitate to come simply because Thou were there.
I take Thee for my all, please give me Thy heart O Mary.
That final part is to me the very best, since it so perfectly states what I feel is my reality. My heart is very much like that stable in Bethlehem, full of animal manure and dirt, of cold and stench. Yet there He came.
I have taken to adding a quick prayer to St. Joseph at the end after years of reflecting on the reality of Bethlehem.
Good St. Joseph please come and by Thy intercession cleanse the stable of my heart as Thou did the stable in Bethlehem.
And that completes the before Mass preparation.
But there’s more.
Just before Communion, at the “Lord, I am not worthy…,” de Montfort adds three invocations to each Member of the Blessed Trinity. First to God the Father:
Lord I am not worthy because of my sins and ingratitude toward so good a Father to receive the Body and Blood of Thy Son but I beg of Thee to have mercy on me, and behold not me, but behold the handmaid of the Lord, who acts for me and gives me a singular confidence and hope with Thy Majesty.
Think about how great that is — incorporating Mary’s original prayer at her first reception of Christ into her body into our own reception of Christ in the Eucharist.
Then to God the Son:
Lord I am not worthy because of my sins and infidelity to Thy service to receive Thy Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in this great Sacrament of Thy Love, but I beg of Thee to come to me that I might bring Thee into the heart of Thy well beloved Mother, into the chamber of Her that bore Thee.
I take no confidence in my own preparations, strengths and merits, I trust only in Mary Thy dear Mother as Jacob did in Rebecca, and sinner and Esau that I am, I dare to approach Thy sanctity supported and adorned as I am by the virtues of Mary Thy Most Holy Mother.
There is so much to unpack there, but let’s just say we have the privilege of bringing Jesus to the heart of His Mother, of coming before the King of Kings with her glorious virtues, of pleasing Him with the only human heart that never was touched with the slightest stain of sin.
And finally to God the Holy Spirit:
Lord I am not worthy because of my sins and resistance to Thy holy inspirations to receive this Masterpiece of Thy Charity. But I beg of Thee to come to me in Mary, Thy most holy and inseparable Spouse. Come to me in Her whose bosom is as pure and heart as burning as ever. For without Thy descent into my soul neither Jesus nor Mary will be formed nor worthily lodged.
After receiving Jesus in Holy Communion, I welcome Him into the heart of Mary His Mother, and I renew my consecration.
If you’ve never heard of this book or this devotion, it is the greatest gift I could ever give you. Go get it. It will change your life forever.
May God bless you.
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