Devotion to Mary is not a mere ornament of Catholicism, nor is it an aid, among many others, to which we may have recourse at will. Rather, it is an intrinsic part of our religion. God chose to come to us through Mary, and only through her can we go to Him.
Spiritual thermometer and guarantee of salvation
Just as the doctor listens for a heartbeat to confirm that a person is alive, we can know that a soul is virtuous and lives a Christian life by discovering the value or the indifference that it holds for devotion to the Holy Virgin of virgins.
Indeed, we could call devotion to Mary a spiritual thermometer that measures the soul’s temperature and reveals its secret dispositions. If the practices of this devotion please us, we
may be at peace regarding the state of our soul. But if we feel a coldness toward the Blessed Virgin, if we stop honouring her, if we neglect daily prayer, if we excuse ourselves for not praying the Rosary on the pretext of having no time, we should take this as a warning that our virtue has diminished, the faith of our First Communion has ebbed away and that we are on
the path that leads away from God!
The need to focus on this theme and foster piety and devotion to Our Lady, then, becomes clear. This devotion is a pledge of our salvation!
How is this so? Clearly, if we love the Blessed Virgin Mary we will make every effort to become like her. We are irresistibly drawn to imitate those who captivate us—we want to think, speak and live like
them. What a precious safeguard for our future is devotion to the Blessed Virgin when it reaches the point of desiring to be living reflections of her on earth! Like her, we will avoid all that displeases God and harms our souls; like her, we will fulfil our duties well, practice virtue, and thus have full confidence.
The example of St. Francis de Sales
The Blessed Virgin’s special protection is promised to all her devotees. When trials, tribulations and temptations beset them—regardless of their number or violence—with Mary’s assistance they will not lose hope. A thousand touching examples could be cited as proof, but here we will provide just one, taken from the life of St. Francis de Sales.
As a youth, St. Francis fought valiantly against a certain temptation. Yet, in a moment of discouragement, the future appeared bleak to him; he imagined himself lost and condemned to hell. The thought of being condemned, separated from God whom he loved as a father and from Our Lady whom he venerated as a mother, for all eternity, tormented his heart and brought him to tears.
While in this sad state of mind, he entered a church and felt that an invisible hand was leading him to the foot of a statue of Our Lady. Kneeling, he beseeched Mary to obtain for him the grace of vanquishing the temptation that haunted him, finishing his prayer with these beautiful words: “If I must hate God eternally in hell, I beseech of thee one thing: obtain for me at least the grace of loving Him with all my heart on this earth!”
Having finished his prayer, he arose victorious. The Comforter of the Afflicted had freed his tortured mind.
Proof of predestination
Dear readers, if at times we have had sins to lament, if we have been the unfortunate living proof of our own weakness, has it not been because we have neglected devotion to the Blessed Virgin and abandoned some pious practice which would have served as our aid and safeguard?
We may conclude that solid and sincere devotion is proof of predestination. If we hold this conviction and make the firm resolution to always grow in devotion to the Virgin Mary and practice the virtues that she inspires in us, it will be one of the best fruits we can take from this reading.
(Translated, with adaptations, from “L’Ami du Clergé”, 6/11/1902, pp. 862-863).