A reader struggles…

with St. Louis de Montfort’s Marian piety.

He’s not the first. :)

  • Andy

    I have the same problem with de Montfort, but actually my wife, who a convert wrestles with many of the various devotions with Mary. I will send her the link to your NCR response, so she can read it between working with the kids she works with. Thanks

  • Caine

    Marian devotion is my biggest obstacle to joining the Roman Catholic Church. You string the beads of theology along a logical line but the results appear to me to be as anthetical to the Bible as is the mathematical proof that a hare who keeps halving the distance to the tortoise will never catch him.

    And your statement “Rather, the idea is that Incarnation means that to be a brother or sister of Jesus is necessarily to be a child of Mary as well as a child of God” logically beads together various theological points but the result seems more like a patchwork than a full blanket to me.

    If we were required to be a “son of Mary” I would think such a statement would be all over the New Testament and much more directly than in the passage in John’s Gospel at the Cross.

    I appreciate much about you and the RC Church, but this seems to be a stretch to me, and potentially a dangerous one, as the book you interact with indicates.

    • Rosemarie

      +J.M.J+

      The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity was able to become our Brother after assuming our common humanity in the Incarnation. Of course, He took that humanity from Mary, His human Mother. Had He not taken flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, he could not be considered our Brother, only our God and Creator.

      Our Brotherhood with Christ is also related to the fact that we are “in Christ;” incorporated into His Mystical Body, the Church. In some mysterious way, every member of the Church is united to His Sacred Humanity and so partakes in His divine life. His Father becomes our Father; the Father loves Christ in us and Christ loves the Father through us, thus the Holy Spirit fills our hearts.

      Yet all this happens precisely because Jesus possesses a human nature and unites us to it, even incorporates us into it so that we become one Body in Christ, members of His Body. This is the same human nature which He derived from Mary. So how could we be so intimately incorporated into Christ’s humanity without the Mother who gave Him that nature becoming our spiritual Mother as well?

      Protestants have no problem with the idea that, when we become brothers of Jesus, His Heavenly Father becomes our Father, too. So why shouldn’t His Mother, from whom He derived the Sacred Humanity through which He redeemed us and to which we are united, become our Mother as part of the same transaction?

      If that does not happen, then surely we are only “half-brothers” of Jesus, since we share the same father but not the same mother. Yet Christ is never called our “half-Brother,” but our Brother. Brothers share the same two parents, so all true Christians must have God as their Father and Mary as their Mother, whether they acknowledge the latter or not. To say, “God is my Father but Mary is not my Mother,” is tantamount to saying, “I am a brother of Jesus but His Incarnation has nothing to do with that.” Which is nonsensical; the Incarnation has everything to do with it, as we have seen.

  • Dave Pawlak

    Caine:

    It’s not just a Roman thing. All of the ancient Christian Churches (Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, the Chaldeans, and the Armenians) have the same devotion to Mary. In fact, compared to the Byzantines, we’re a bit more restrained than they are on some points.

    • http://decentfilms.com/ SDG

      Dave Pawlak:

      “In fact, compared to the Byzantines, we’re a bit more restrained than they are on some points.”

      Really? Can you cite some particulars in this regard?

  • http://creativefidelity.wordpress.com Dan F.

    My own experience as a convert is similar in my confusion. I was blessed however to hear clear instruction from Christ to pray to His Mother on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception just prior to me fully committing to come into the Church. I had been a follower of Christ my entire adult life and I was blessed to have sincere teachers along the way who helped me to know his voice I think preparing me for that moment which wiped away the last real stumbling block I had.

    Caine: You should perhaps think of it this way: instead of “required to be a son of Mary”, “a son of Mary necessarily because Christ is our brother”. Elsewhere I have seen it observed (I think Mark Shea wrote it but I can’t remember) that Mariology protects your Christology from heresy.

    I still don’t really understand praying to Mary (or the saints) but out of obedience to Christ and His Pilgrim Church on Earth I have practiced these devotions (to greater and lesser degrees) and in my practice my understanding has grown. Sometimes you have to do something before you understand it in order to understand it.

    • http://www.theleenmachine.blogspot.com Kml

      “Sometimes you have to do something before you understand it in order to understand it.”

      Excellent reply, Dan, and I was about to say similar in a much more long-winded and less direct way. Reason can get us far along the road (and should), but if there are reservations sometimes just putting something into practice will close the gap. I have been amazed at how the Holy Spirit is willing to step in when we take steps toward the truth and provide us with what we need to get all the way there.

  • Kirt Higdon

    This is a very good explanation of the teachings of St. Louis de Montfort and the teaching of the Church in general regarding devotion to Mary. What must be guarded against is the tendency of some Catholics to set Mary against or above the hierarchy of the Church or to privilege private revelations to visionaries (whether or not approved by the Church) as against Catholic doctrine. I’ve heard some Catholics accuse various Popes of being “disobedient to Mary”. This completely distorts the nature of the Church and the role of Mary and of the Papacy.

  • Dale Price

    Another thing to consider is that this is *devotional*. The references to Mary in both the Extraordinary and Ordinary forms of the Mass are quite restrained and intercessory. They are a bit more flowery in the Divine Liturgy, but still are not what you’d find in the writings of St. John of Damascus. In the highest acts of worship in the Church, Mary is an intercessor.

    St. Louis was canonized for his evangelical zeal in reviving the Faith in southern France, not for “True Devotion.” In fact, TD wasn’t even found in his papers until over a century had past, and it is acknowledged to be incomplete, missing up to 96 pages from the beginning.

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/Montfort/Handbook/TD.htm

    That’s important to keep in mind when considering St. Louis–a lot of the introductory material which may have put TD in fuller context simply does not exist any more.

  • Teri

    Mother Teresa was hoping for the “final dogma” Mary as Co- Redemtrix (with the Redeemer, not equal to), Mediatrix and Advocate.
    However, due to misunderstanding of the dogma, and the detrimental effects that would occur due to the misunderstandings, it has been held off.

    • Kirt Higdon

      The Second Vatican Council recognized Mary as Mediatrix and Advocate, although without defining those terms. They did not use the term co-Redemtrix and I can definitely see the danger of a lot of misunderstandings with that one.


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