There is a wonderful story in the life of St. Louis de Montforte about his encounter with a rich affluent couple while visiting a friend who was staying with them. At first the woman tried to tease and frustrate him with childish behavior. However, through his pleasant disposition and patience, he greatly impressed her, and as a result he wound up being invited for dinner.
Despite having charmed the wife, her husband remained unimpressed until “At the dinner table Louis produced a small statue of the Virgin, this he placed in front of Mr. d’Orville, asking him if he did not love her very much, this lady who had been so good to him and his!
“The host was embarrassed. He had never been devout to Mary or God. He had never paid homage to anyone save the King…. but something mysterious happens when Louis continued to talk about Our Lady. He listened with profound attention. And before he bade his guest adieu, he had promised to say the Rosary every day” Wisdoms Fool, Eddie Doherty.
If you have ever observed a relationship between a loving mother and unruly children, or between a virtuous wife and a boorish husband, you may have felt: pity for the poor woman, admiration at her dedication, indignation at how she is treated, or perhaps even perplexed at such devotion in spite of such ingratitude. When we consider the benefits and loving tenderness of our Blessed Mother (the numerous miracles and graces obtained through her intercession, her assurance of protection and final perseverance to those who wear the brown scapular, the number of times where she has hid us under her mantle when we have felt the overwhelming shame of our sins, and so many others benefits, so numerous that the Saints of God will never be able to write them all down even till the end of world) at best we can conclude that we have not loved the Virgin Mary as she ought to be loved.
Yet, if we were to love her with all of our love, would that be enough? No. What if we were able to offer all the love of the Saints and the praise of the Angels? No, it is still not enough. What if she allowed us to borrow her love for us? Not even then. The only way we can love Mary as she ought to be loved, is with the love of the All-Holy Trinity. The Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Lady reminds us that God has loved her with a special love from the moment of her very creation. It is with this love that we must love her. The only way to love the Virgin Mary as she ought to be loved is with the full measure of the love of God for His own Mother. Let us not forget what she has done for us, and no matter which devotions we practice (the scapulars we wear, consecrations - daily or total - pictures we have, and so on) we never love Mary as she ought to be loved; nevertheless, let us strive to do so.
How does one try to accomplish the impossible? With heavenly aid, for all things are possible to God. Should we ask God to love his Mother as we ought? I believe humility demands that, before approaching His Majesty with such a petition, we examine ourselves with fear and trembling.
Let us first examine if the devotions that we do in Our Lady’s honor can be improved, our Rosaries said with more attention, our scapulars more attentively worn, her songs more devoutly sung. Let us not presume to ask God for such a great grace, if we sloppily attend to the graces He has bestowed on us to have such devotions. Do we make sacrifices in her honor in preparation for her feasts? Do we teach our children to love her and pray to her?
Perhaps upon examining ourselves we realize that we fall short of the devotion of the Saints to Mary we have read about, perhaps our imagination has supplemented our devotion and made us think we are good servants while with a little self-scrutiny we shall the reality of our neglectfulness towards her. Have we spoken better about the Rosary than we have devoutly prayed it, or advised others to call on her when we neglect to do so?
Such an examination is not to discourage, but rather what we need in order to make a serious prayer for help, full of humility and contrition, that God might make us more pious and devout in the service of His Blessed Mother. More piety, more devotion, more grace, to love the Blessed Virgin as she ought to be loved, even if only gradually more, more even if it is hard.
Let us, dear reader, for our Blessed Mother’s sake, who has suffered so much for us, strive to love her more than we do. Let us humbly approach God and ask that we love her more than we do now. If we do as much, we are heading in the right direction, towards accomplishing that sweetest of all impossibilities, to love our Blessed Mother as she ought to be loved, to love her as God Himself loves her.
We are taught by grace to love Her, but let us not forget to not stop calling upon her, and follow her to the harbor of happiness with Our Lord Jesus Christ in heaven.
“If you begin to sink in the gulf of melancholy and despair, think on Mary. In dangers, in distress, in perplexities, think on Mary, call on Mary. Let her not depart from your lips, let her not depart from your heart, and, that you may win the suffrage of her prayers, never depart from the example of her life. Following her, you will never go astray.” St Bernard of Clairvaux, Advent Homilies of St Bernard