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Devotion to The Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Catholic Church has always encouraged strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. How important is it that this is emphasized and understood?

It is vitally important to have a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This for who She is; the Mother of God. And our Lord gave Her to be our Mother during His most painful moments of Sacrifice on the Cross; saying to St John the Apostle; "Woman, behold, thy son..........Behold, thy mother."[Jn19:26-27]

And so the Lord's own Mother is also our Mother. And Her unique participatory role was, on earth, in the context of our salvation. And it still is in this context; Her powerful Spiritual Maternity protects us, guides us, and always seeks for us, Her children, to be bonded with Her Son, our Saviour. The Blessed Virgin is our powerful Advocate on our behalf with Her Son. She is the Queen of Heaven. One of Her most beautiful titles is as our guide; Stella Maris (Star of the Sea.) Stay close to Her!

By the power of God the Holy Spirit, Our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ became incarnate in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary[Lk:1:26-38.] For this She had to worthy!

Now, in a real sense, the work of the Early Fathers of the Church; East and West, in recognizing the Blessed Virgin Mary as Immaculate; always without sin, was made easy for them, since, in conceiving Our Lord God and Saviour, by the power of God The Holy Spirit, the Blessed Virgin, from whose Immaculate Heart the Sacred Heart of the Baby Jesus grows, must be and must have always been entirely free from sin (Her Immaculate Conception.)

There is also the great significance of this in the context of the Blessed Virgin always being able to reject the temptations of the devil, and this is entirely to do with Her role. It would be a contradiction of Her role if She was subject to, and vulnerable to sin, as Eve was. Mary was at all times (always) being prepared for Her unique role, and for it to be carried out according to God's plan of salvation for mankind.

Whereas the fallen angel, Lucifer, had extracted the dreaded response from Eve; with disastrous consequences for mankind, now we find Mary "full of grace," full of Eternal Wisdom. She was, as it were, just as She should be, and, when the good angel; the Archangel Gabriel, appears to Her, She responds in exactly the right way. The Blessed Virgin's glorious parents, St Anne and St Joachim are, of course, part of this whole preparation.

And it is right to focus on just how important this is, because in Mary's fiat; Her "Yes" to become the Mother of God, Her "Yes" is for Her to be this great part in God's great plan of salvation.

Indeed, the Blessed Virgin Mary's unique participatory role is often shown in the context of how She is presented as “the new Eve.” All the roles of the Blessed Virgin are linked to the great Battle of Genesis III:XV, this because of Her vital role in the context of the Redeemer. She gave birth to the Saviour. The battle was set by God immediately after the fall of mankind:
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"I will put enmity between you and the
woman, between your seed and her
seed; He shall crush your head, and
you shall lie in wait for his heel "[Gen 3:15.]
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The Blessed Virgin, prepared by God for Her unique and special role, which, in its fulfillment, carried out by the Blessed Virgin "full of grace" as given to Her, by God, as destined by Him, comes with unfathomable glory. And the Blessed Virgin is alive in heaven with Her unique, powerful, loving roles, and we need Her help! All that is about the Blessed Virgin is about giving great glory to God. All about being faithful to God. The words of Her Magnificat reflect this:
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And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; because he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaid; for, behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; because he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name; and his mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and has exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has given help to Israel, his servant, mindful of his mercy — even as he spoke to our fathers — to Abraham and to his sons to posterity.” [Lk 1:46.55]
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It reflects how important humility is before God, as also we are reminded in the words of the Book of Ecclesiasticus, which says to us:
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Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God. For great is the power of God; by the humble he is glorified. [Ecclesiasticus 3:18-19.]
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The Blessed Virgin, full of grace; always focuses on giving glory to God. And always focuses on bonding us with Her Son; our Lord God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

And there is something within devotion to the Blessed Virgin that Catholics know or sense and which should always be kept in mind. An ancient teaching of the Church, maintained in tradition and teaching, is that devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is a means (a weapon) of salvation. In his writing on the Blessed Virgin, St Louis Marie de Montfort quotes St John Damascene[c.675-749] a Father of the Church, on this point. St John wrote of it in this way:
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"If I confide in you, Mother of God, I shall be saved. Under your protection I shall fear nothing. With your help I shall rout all my enemies. For devotion to you is a weapon of salvation which God gives to those he wishes to save."*
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This is understood to mean that those who have a devotion to the Blessed Virgin benefit fully from Her powerful Spiritual Maternity; She who is our Mother. The Blessed Virgin always helps, and intercedes for Her children in the most powerful way before God. Quite obviously to be most beneficial this should to be accompanied by a devotion to Her.

And so, for example, the Church interprets what are termed the "gifts of the Blessed Virgin" (gifts obtained for us from Her Son) for example; the wearing of the Brown Scapula, as meaning that those who wear it whilst showing due devotion to the Blessed Virgin are guaranteed final perseverance in the Faith, or final repentance. The Blessed Virgin always leads Her children to our Saviour; He who is Her Son. And another well known ancient teaching of the Church is that the redeemed must have the same Mother as the Redeemer.

Fr/St Louis Marie de Montfort (the late seventeenth, early eighteenth century priest) had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and his writings on Her are profound, including his great treatise: True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary (written c.1710.) And in which is included his rightly identifying the role of the Blessed Virgin in these last times of the world.

True Devotion is often recognized for its insights and prophetic content. Many Popes have extolled St Louis Marie's works and writings; Pope Leo XIII honoured him by beatifying him on his own golden jubilee anniversary to the priesthood. Fr Faber's quote, from 1868, is a reflection of an experience of reading True Devotion; he states:
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"..if I may dare say so, there is a growing feeling of something inspired and supernatural about it as we go on studying it; and with that we cannot help experiencing after repeated readings of it, that its novelty never wears off, nor its fullness to be diminished nor the fresh fragrance fire of its unction abate"
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Many who have read True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin have said, quite simply, that it has changed their lives. St Louis Marie wrote extensively of the Blessed Virgin Mary's powerful roles, and indeed very much including in these last times of the world. In a chapter in True Devotion titled: Mary's Part In The Latter Times, Part 1 (4) he writes:
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"As She was the way by which Jesus first came to us, She will again be the way by which He will come to us the second time though not in the same manner."[TD 50(4)]

"Since She is the sure means, the direct and Immaculate way to Jesus and the perfect guide to Him, it is through Her that souls who are to shine forth in sanctity must find Him. He who finds Mary finds life, that is, Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life. But no one can find Mary who does not look for Her. No one can look for Her who does not know Her, for no one seeks or desires something unknown. Mary then must be better known than ever for the deeper understanding and the greater glory of the Blessed Trinity."[TD50 (5)]

"In these latter times Mary must shine forth more than ever in mercy, power and grace; in mercy, to bring back and welcome lovingly the poor sinners and wanderers who are to be converted and return to the Catholic Church; in power, to combat the enemies of God who will rise up menacingly to seduce and crush by promises and threats all those who oppose them; finally, She must shine forth in grace to inspire and support the valiant soldiers and loyal servants of Jesus Christ who are fighting for His cause."[TD50(6)]

"Lastly, Mary must become as terrible as an army in battle array to the devil and his followers, especially in these latter times. For Satan, knowing that he has little time - even less now than ever-to destroy souls, intensifies his efforts and his onslaughts every day. He will not hesitate to stir up savage persecutions and set more treacherous snares for Mary's faithful servants and children whom He finds more difficult to overcome than others."[TD50 (7)]

"It is chiefly in reference to these last wicked persecutions of the devil, daily increasing until the advent of the reign of the anti-Christ, that we should understand that first and well-known prophecy and curse uttered against the serpent in the garden of paradise. It is opportune to explain it here for the glory of the Blessed Virgin, the salvation of Her children and the confusion of the devil. "I will place enmities between you and the woman, between your race and Her race; She will crush your head and you will lie in ambush at Her heel."[Gen 3:15] [TD51]

"God has established only one enmity - but it is an irreconcilable one - which will last and even go on increasing to the end of time. That enmity is between Mary, His worthy Mother, and the devil, between the children and followers of the Blessed Virgin and the children and followers of Lucifer."[TD52]

"What Lucifer lost by pride Mary won by humility. What Eve ruined and lost by disobedience Mary saved by obedience. By obeying the serpent, Eve ruined her children as well as herself and delivered them up to him. Mary, by Her perfect fidelity to God saved Her children with Herself and consecrated them to His divine majesty." [TD 53]

"Finally, God in these times wishes His Blessed Mother to be more known, loved and honoured than She has ever been. This will certainly come about if the elect, by the grace and light of the Holy Spirit adopt the interior and perfect practice of the devotion which I shall later unfold. Then they will clearly see that beautiful Star of the Sea, as much as faith allows. Under Her guidance they will perceive the splendours of this Queen and will consecrate themselves entirely to Her service as subjects and slaves of love. They will experience Her motherly kindness and affection for Her children. They will love Her tenderly and will appreciate how full of compassion She is and how much they stand in need of Her help. In all circumstances they will have recourse to Her as their Advocate and Mediatrix with Jesus Christ. They will see clearly that She is the safest and most perfect way of approaching Jesus and will surrender themselves to Her, body and soul, without reserve in order to belong entirely to Jesus."[TD55]
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St Louis Marie also writes these profound and loving words:
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"It is difficult to persevere in holiness because of the excessively corrupting influence of the world. The world is so corrupt that it seems almost inevitable that religious hearts will be soiled, if not by its mud, at least by its dust. It is something of a miracle for anyone to stand firm in the midst of this raging torrent and not be swept away; to weather this stormy sea and not be drowned, or robbed by pirates; to breathe this pestilential air and not be contaminated by it. It is Mary, the singularly faithful Virgin over whom Satan had never any power, who works this miracle for those who truly love Her."[TD.89:3]
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And so in answer to the question, Yes, the Catholic Church has rightly always ensured a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin. And so very much needed in these very last perilous days of the world as we know it.

Angela Anne Mary St John.

*
St John Damascene is qouted by St Louis Marie de Montfort in his famous work: True devotion to the Blessed Virgin at para 182. The work is in Book form or available on the internet at www.ewtn/library/Montfort/TRUE DEVOTION.HTM

"Beautiful Lady, Star of the Sea."
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