Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pauline Marian Devotion

Marian Consecration or more recently, Marian Entrustment has been with the Church for centuries. St Louis de Montfort first popularized this spiritual practice in the 1700's through his book, "True Devotion to Mary." Now if any of you have read this spiritual classic, you will know what I mean when I say that the language he used is a "bit difficult," and even dated. Words like "slave" and "worm" (refering to us!) don't ring well on us "moderns" ears! Yet this spiritual practice that de Montfort presents is timeless and relevant to all ages.

So young MIC priest, Fr. Michael Gaitley, has done us all a service with his recent book, "33 Days to Morning Glory." In this book Gaitley brings the practice of Marian Consecration or Entrustment up-to-date, if you will, by presenting us with 3 modern "Marian Giants," (St Maximillian Kolbe, Bl Mother Teresa of Calcutta & Bl. Pope John Paul II) in addition to St Louis de Montfort. These saints have all lived this particular devotion to Mary with their own unique expression, arriving at spiritual greatness, ie union with Christ. Or as St. Paul said to the Galatians and says to us, "It is no longer I who live, it is Christ who lives in me." (Gal. 2:20)

As I was reading and reflecting on Gaitley's  book, and leading a 5 week group retreat at our Metairie Bookcenter, I could not help but think of our own Blessed James Alberione and Venerable Mother Thecla: they were, too, "Marian greats" living this devotion in their own lives, and they and could most surely be added to Fr. Gaitley's "list"!

Bl. Alberione was deeply devoted to Mary. In fact, shortly after his birth, his own mother consecrated him to our Blessed Lady at the Shrine of the Madonna of the Flowers in Bra. And on feast days she would often return to this Shrine with young James, entrusting him anew to Mary. As a young boy, on his way to school, James would often stop and make a visit at the Shrine of the Madonna of Grace in Cherasco. Mary was central in the young boy's life.

As a priest, it is said that Blessed Alberione would not make an important decision without first reciting the rosary. He could be seen quietly fingering his beads during his numerous trips. And in 1971 he wrote, "The Pauline teaching mission will be immensely more effective if it is inspired, guided and comforted by Mary: "With her help you will not grow tired."   Pauline discipleship is to be totally grafted in Mary who will form Jesus Christ in us."

Our Pauline Prayerbook contains an Act of Entrustment that Alberione gave to us Paulines beginning, "Receive me, Mary, Mother, Teacher and Queen, among those whom you love, nourish, sanctify and guide in the school of Jesus Christ the Divine Master...." Obviously Alberione believed that a lively, vital devotion to Mary is a necessary component in the lives of Pauline Apostles.

Mother Thecla, too, had a very real relationship with Mary, one that penetrated and was present in every aspect of her life. Mother Thecla wrote to her "Daughters": "Do everything with our Blessed Mother, for her, with her, through her. With our Mama, everything is done more willingly... everything is easier. Our Blessed Mother helps us, takes us by the hand, and even carries us, if necessary."

So Fr. Gaitley has done us all a definite service by renewing our understanding of and appreciation for Marian Entrustment. But this Pauline would add Blessed Alberione and Mother Thecla to his "list" of modern Marian "examples"!

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