One of the greatest advantages of being Catholic is being taught to have devotion and love towards the Blessed Virgin Mary. However, to my great surprise, I once talked to a person (remaining nameless) who claimed to be a Traditional Catholic and who complained how at church too much attention was given to the Holy Mother. To make a long story short, this person didn't believe in certain titles under which she is honored, didn't believe we should pray before statues of her, didn't believe we should honor her in May, didn't believe she was the Mother of the Church, didn't believe she was the Co-Redemptrix, didn't believe she was the Mediatrix of All Graces, and (to my memory) doubted that she was Immaculately Conceived.
While the conversation had longevity, at one point I couldn't take it anymore and it ended, never to be continued. I hadn't had a conversation like that about our Holy Mother Mary since my days in public school when Protestants would attack her. In fact, it was worse because Protestants are generally ignorant as to why they despise Mary, while this person was fully aware of what was being said, but spoke with much contempt while simultaneously claiming to be Traditional Catholic. It was truly Satanic; as if talking to the devil himself.
The Most Blessed Virgin Mary is so important to each individual's salvation. That is why few are saved, because they either (a) don't have a true devotion as they think, (b) have no devotion at all for whatever reason, or (c) they have the mindset of the person I mentioned in the above paragraph. Hence St. Anselm says, "It is impossible to save one's soul without devotion to Mary and without her protection." St. Alphonsus Liguori says, "If you persevere until death in true devotion to Mary, your salvation is certain." St. Bonaventure says "He who neglects her, shall die in his sins."
False devotees to Mary
Beware if you fall under one of the seven distinguishing marks that St. Louis De Montfort records in his book, True Devotion to Mary. He states as follows:
1. Critical Devotees:
These are, for the most part, proud scholars, rash and self-sufficient spirits, who have at heart some devotion to the holy Virgin, but who criticize nearly all the practices of devotion which simple people pay simply and holily to their good Mother, because these practices do not fall in with their own humor and fancy.
They call in doubt all the miracles and pious stories recorded by authors worthy of faith, or drawn from the chronicles of religious orders: narratives which testify to us the mercies and the power of the most holy Virgin.
They cannot see, without uneasiness, simple and humble people on their knees before an altar or an image of Our Lady, sometimes at the corner of a street, in order to pray to God there; and they even accuse them of idolatry, as if they adored the wood or the stone.
They say that for their part, they are not fond of these external devotions, and that they are not so credulous as to believe so many tales and stories that are told about Our Lady. When they are told how admirably the Fathers of the Church praised the Blessed Virgin, they either reply that the Fathers spoke as professional orators, with exaggeration; or they misinterpret their words.
These kinds of false devotees, proud and worldly people, are greatly to be feared. They do an infinite wrong to devotion to Our Lady; and they are but too successful in alienating people from it, under the pretext of destroying its abuses.
2. Scrupulous Devotees:
These are those who fear to dishonor the Son by honoring the Mother, to abase the one in elevation the other. They cannot bear that we should attribute to Our Lady the most just praise which the holy Fathers have given her.
It is all they can do to endure that there should be more people before the altar of the Blessed Virgin than before the other, as if those who prayed to our Blessed Lady did not pray to Jesus Christ through her. They are willing that we should speak so often of Our Lady and address her so frequently.
Here are some of their favorite sayings: “Why so many rosaries, so many confraternities and so many external devotions to the Blessed Virgin? There is much ignorance in all this. It makes a mummery of our religion. Speak to us of those who are devout to Jesus Christ.” (Yet they often name Him without raising their hats- I say this by way of parenthesis.) “We must have recourse to Jesus Christ; He is our only Mediator.
We must preach Jesus Christ; this is the solid devotion.” What they say is in a certain sense true, but in the application they make of it, namely, to hinder devotion to our Blessed Lady, very dangerous; and it is, under pretext of a greater good, a subtle snare of the evil one.
For the more we honor the Blessed Virgin, the more we honor Jesus Christ, because we honor Mary only that we may the more perfectly honor Jesus, since we go to her only as the way by which we are to find the end we are seeking which is Jesus.
The Church, with the Holy Ghost, blesses Our Lady first, and Our Lord second; “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.” It is not Mary is more than Jesus or even equal to Him-that would be intolerable heresy; but it is that, in order to bless Jesus more perfectly, we must begin by blessing Mary.
Let us then say, with all the true clients of Our Lady, in opposition to these false scrupulous devotees, “O Mary, thou art blessed among all women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.”
3. External Devotees:
These are persons who make devotion to our Blessed Lady consist in outward practices. They have no taste except for the exterior of this devotion, because they have no interior spirit of their own.
They will say quantities of Rosaries with the greatest precipitation; they will hear many Masses distractedly; they will go, without devotion, to processions; they will enroll themselves in all her confraternities-without amending their lives, without doing any violence to their passions, or without imitating the virtues of that most holy Virgin.
The world is full of these exterior devotees, and there are no people who are more critical that they of men of prayer, who foster an interior spirit as the essential thing, without, however, disregarding that outward modesty which always accompanies true devotion.
4. Presumptuous Devotees:
These are sinners abandoned to their passions, or lovers of the world, who under the fair name of Christians and clients of our Blessed Lady conceal pride, avarice, impurity, drunkenness, anger, swearing, detraction, injustice or some other sin.
They sleep in peace in the midst of their bad habits, without doing any violence to themselves to correct their faults, under the pretext that they are devout to the Blessed Virgin.
They promise themselves that God will pardon them; that they will not be allowed to die without confession; and that they will not be lost eternally because they say the Rosary, because they fast on Saturdays, because they belong to the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary, or wear the Scapular, or are enrolled in other congregations, or the wear the little habit or little chain of Our Lady.
They will not believe us when we tell them that their devotion is only an illusion of the devil and a pernicious presumption likely to destroy their souls.
To blind themselves still further, they quote certain stories which they have heard or read – it does not matter to them whether they be true or false – relating how people have died in mortal sin without confession, and then, because in their lifetime they sometimes said some prayers or went through some practices of devotion to Our Lady, how they have been raised to life again in order to go to confession; or their soul has been miraculously retained in their bodies till confession; or through the clemency of the Blessed Virgin they have obtained from God, that at the moment of death, contrition and pardon of their sins, and so have been saved, and that they expect similar favors.
Nothing in Christianity is more detestable than this diabolical presumption. For how can we truly say that we love and honor our Blessed Lady when by our sins we are pitilessly piercing, wounding, crucifying and outraging Jesus Christ, and her Son?
It is not absolutely necessary to be so holy as to avoid every sin, though this were desirable; but this much at least is necessary,
i. To have a sincere resolution to avoid at least all mortal sin, which outrages the Mother as well as the Son;
ii. To do violence to ourselves to avoid sin
iii. To enroll ourselves in confraternities, to say the Rosary or other prayers, to fast on Saturdays and the like.
5. Inconstant Devotees:
These are those devoted to Our Lady by fits and starts. Sometimes they are fervent and sometimes lukewarm. Sometimes they seem ready to do anything for her, and then a little afterward, they are not like the same people.
They begin by taking up all the devotions to her, and enrolling themselves in the confraternities; and then they do not practice the rules with fidelity.
They change like the moon, and Mary puts them under her feet with the crescent, because they are changeable and unworthy to be reckoned among the servants of that faithful Virgin who have for their special graces fidelity and constancy.
It was better for such persons not to burden themselves with so many prayers and practices but to choose a few and fulfill them with faithfulness and love, in spite of the world, the devil and the flesh.
6. Hypocritical Devotees:
These men cloak their sins and sinful habits with her mantle, in order to be taken by men for what they are not.
7. Interested Devotees:
These have recourse to Our Lady only to gain some lawsuit, or to avoid some danger, or to be cured of some illness, or for some other similar necessity, without which they would forget her altogether. All these are false devotees, pleasing neither to God nor to His holy Mother.
In conclusion, let us then take care not to be of the number of the critical devotees, who believe nothing and criticize everything; nor of the scrupulous devotees who are afraid of being too devout to Our Lady, out of respect to Our Lord; nor of the exterior devotees, who make all their devotion consist in outward practices; nor of the presumptuous devotees, who, under the pretext of their false devotion to the Blessed Virgin, wallow in their sins; nor of the inconstant devotees, who from levity change their practices of devotion, or give them up altogether, at the least temptation; nor of the hypocritical devotees, who join confraternities and wear the liveries of the Blessed Virgin in order to pass for good people; nor, finally, of the interested devotees, who have recourse to Our Lady only to be delivered from bodily evils, or to obtain temporal goods.
The Power of the Blessed Virgin Mary
In his book The Secret of the Rosary in the 33rd chapter St. Louis De Montfort tells us the following story:
"When St. Dominic was preaching the Rosary near Carcassone, an Albigensian was brought to him who was possessed by the devil. The Saint exorcised him in the presence of a great crowd of people; it appears that over twelve thousand had come to hear him speak. The devils who were in possession of this wretched man were forced to answer St. Dominic's questions in spite of themselves. They said:
1. that there were fifteen thousand of them in the body of that poor man, because he had attacked the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary;
2. that by the Rosary which he preached, he put fear and horror into the depths of hell, and that he was the man they hated most throughout the world because of the souls he snatched from them by the devotion of the Rosary.
3. They revealed several other things.
St. Dominic put his rosary round the neck of the possessed man and asked them who, of all the saints in heaven, was the one they feared most, who should therefore be the most loved and revered by men.
At this they let out such unearthly screams that most of the people fell to the ground, seized with fear. Then, using all their cunning so as not to answer, the devils wept and wailed in such a pitiful way that many of the people wept also, out of pure natural pity. The devils, speaking through the mouth of the Albigensian, pleaded in a heart-rending voice, "Dominic, Dominic, have pity on us, we promise you we will never harm you.
"You have always had compassion for sinners and those in distress; have pity on us, for we are in grievous straits. We are suffering so much already, why do you delight in increasing our pains? Can't you be satisfied with the pains we now endure? Have mercy on us, have mercy on us!"
St. Dominic was not in the least moved by the pathetic words of those wretched spirits, and told them he would not let them alone until they had answered his question. Then they said they would whisper the answer in such a way that only St. Dominic would be able to hear. The latter firmly insisted upon their answering clearly and audibly. Then the devils kept quiet and would not say another word, completely disregarding St. Dominic's orders.
So he knelt down and said this prayer to our Lady: "Oh, most glorious Virgin Mary, I implore you by the power of the holy Rosary command these enemies of the human race to answer my question."
No sooner had he said this prayer than a glowing flame leaped out of the ears, nostrils and mouth of the possessed man. Everyone shook with fear, but the fire did not hurt anyone. Then the devils cried, "Dominic, we beseech you, by the passion of Jesus Christ and the merits of his holy Mother and of all the saints, let us leave the body of this man without speaking further; for the angels will answer your question whenever you wish. After all, are we not liars - so why should you want to believe us? Do not torment us any more, have pity on us."
"Woe to you, wretched spirits, who do not deserve to be heard," St. Dominic said, and kneeling down he prayed to the Blessed Virgin: "O most worthy Mother of Wisdom, I am praying for the people assembled here, who have already learned how to say the Angelic Salutation properly. I beg you for the salvation of those here present, compel these adversaries of yours to proclaim the whole truth here and now before the people."
St. Dominic had scarcely finished this prayer when he saw the Blessed Virgin near at hand surrounded by a multitude of angels. She struck the possessed man with a golden rod that she held and said, "Answer my servant Dominic at once." (It must be noted that the people neither saw nor heard our Lady, only St. Dominic.)
Then the devils started screaming:
"Oh, you who are our enemy, our downfall and our destruction, why have you come from heaven to torture us so grievously? O advocate of sinners, you who snatch them from the very jaws of hell, you who are a most sure path to heaven, must we, in spite of ourselves, tell the whole truth and confess before everyone who it is who is the cause of our shame and our ruin? Oh, woe to us, princes of darkness.
"Then listen, you Christians. This Mother of Jesus is most powerful in saving her servants from falling into hell. She is like the sun which destroys the darkness of our wiles and subtlety. It is she who uncovers our hidden plots, breaks our snares, and makes our temptations useless and ineffective.
"We have to say, however, reluctantly, that no soul who has really persevered in her service has ever been damned with us; one single sigh that she offers to the Blessed Trinity is worth far more than all the prayers, desires, and aspirations of all the saints. We fear her more than all the other saints in heaven together, and we have no success with her faithful servants.
"Many Christians who call on her at the hour of death and who really ought to be damned according to our ordinary standards are saved by her intercession. And if that Marietta (it is thus in their fury they called her) did not counter our plans and our efforts, we should have overcome the Church and destroyed it long before this, and caused all the Orders in the Church to fall into error and infidelity.
"Now that we are forced to speak, we must also tell you that nobody who perseveres in saying the Rosary will be damned, because she obtains for her servants the grace of true contrition for their sins by which they obtain pardon and mercy."
Then St. Dominic had all the people say the Rosary very slowly and with great devotion, and a wonderful thing happened: at each Hail Mary which he and the people said, a large number of devils issued forth from the wretched man's body under the guise of red-hot coals. When the devils had all been expelled and the heretic completely delivered from them, our Lady, although invisible, gave her blessing to the assembled company, and they were filled with joy.
A large number of heretics were converted because of this miracle and joined the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary."
Last But Not Least
In proclaiming and establishing the Queenship of Mary on May 31st His Holiness Pope Pius XII had these beautiful words to say in AD CAELI REGINAM:
43. Let all Christians, therefore, glory in being subjects of the Virgin Mother of God, who, while wielding royal power, is on fire with a mother's love.
44. Theologians and preachers, however, when treating these and like questions concerning the Blessed Virgin, must avoid straying from the correct course, with a twofold error to guard against: that is to say, they must beware of unfounded opinions and exaggerated expressions which go beyond the truth, on the other hand, they must watch out for excessive narrowness of mind in weighing that exceptional, sublime, indeed all but divine dignity of the Mother of God, which the Angelic Doctor teaches must be attributed to her "because of the infinite goodness that is God."
45. For the rest, in this as in other points of Christian doctrine, "the proximate and universal norm of truth" is for all the living Magisterium of the Church, which Christ established "also to illustrate and explain those matters which are contained only in an obscure way, and implicitly in the deposit of faith."
46. From the ancient Christian documents, from prayers of the liturgy, from the innate piety of the Christian people, from works of art, from every side We have gathered witnesses to the regal dignity of the Virgin Mother of God; We have likewise shown that the arguments deduced by Sacred Theology from the treasure store of the faith fully confirm this truth. Such a wealth of witnesses makes up a resounding chorus which changes the sublimity of the royal dignity of the Mother of God and of men, to whom every creature is subject, who is "exalted to the heavenly throne, above the choirs of angels."
47. Since we are convinced, after long and serious reflection, that great good will accrue to the Church if this solidly established truth shines forth more clearly to all, like a luminous lamp raised aloft, by Our Apostolic authority We decree and establish the feast of Mary's Queenship, which is to be celebrated every year in the whole world on the 31st of May. We likewise ordain that on the same day the consecration of the human race to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary be renewed, cherishing the hope that through such consecration a new era may begin, joyous in Christian peace and in the triumph of religion.
48. Let all, therefore, try to approach with greater trust the throne of grace and mercy of our Queen and Mother, and beg for strength in adversity, light in darkness, consolation in sorrow; above all let them strive to free themselves from the slavery of sin and offer an unceasing homage, filled with filial loyalty, to their Queenly Mother. Let her churches be thronged by the faithful, her feast-days honored; may the beads of the Rosary be in the hands of all; may Christians gather, in small numbers and large, to sing her praises in churches, in homes, in hospitals, in prisons. May Mary's name be held in highest reverence, a name sweeter than honey and more precious than jewels; may none utter blasphemous words, the sign of a defiled soul, against that name graced with such dignity and revered for its motherly goodness; let no one be so bold as to speak a syllable which lacks the respect due to her name.
49. All, according to their state, should strive to bring alive the wondrous virtues of our heavenly Queen and most loving Mother through constant effort of mind and manner. Thus will it come about that all Christians, in honoring and imitating their sublime Queen and Mother, will realize they are truly brothers, and with all envy and avarice thrust aside, will promote love among classes, respect the rights of the weak, cherish peace. No one should think himself a son of Mary, worthy of being received under her powerful protection, unless, like her, he is just, gentle and pure, and shows a sincere desire for true brotherhood, not harming or injuring but rather helping and comforting others.
51...Whoever, therefore, reverences the Queen of heaven and earth - and let no one consider himself exempt from this tribute of a grateful and loving soul - let him invoke the most effective of Queens, the Mediatrix of peace; let him respect and preserve peace, which is not wickedness unpunished nor freedom without restraint, but a well-ordered harmony under the rule of the will of God; to its safeguarding and growth the gentle urgings and commands of the Virgin Mary impel us.
For those who already have a devotion to Mary, just remember to keep it true (not false), to pray the rosary devoutly (not sloppily), and never give up hope of salvation when the Blessed Virgin Mary has great power to intercede for us. For those who have disdain for the Blessed Virgin Mary, simply stop listening to the devil who hates She whom crushes his head.
Prayer: "My Queen, my Mother! I give myself entirely to thee, and to show my devotion to thee I consecrate to thee this day, my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, and my whole being without reserve. Wherefore, good Mother, as I am thine own, keep me, guard me, as thy property and possession." Amen.