Faith and Life,  Mother of God,  Spiritual Devotions

Reign Of A Queen

In the last post, I had mentioned the little altar and the crowned statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I noted that although I had thought the altar to be complete, there was actually something crucial missing. At the time, I didn’t know this, of course, though I would soon discover that missing element. In essence, a Queen requires a subject over whom she can reign and to whom she can give direction.

As on other occasions, it was all because of my Aunt Margaret. In the summer of 1981, she had shown me an old, small book she had – about four inches by three. It had a hard-boarded black cover and it had clearly been well used. It was entitled ‘The Reign Of Jesus Through Mary’, written by Fr Gabriel Denis of the Montfort Missionaries of Mary. I had heard of these Missionaries, as I was familiar with St Louis de Montfort – a year or two earlier, I had discovered and read his beautiful little book ‘The Secret Of The Rosary‘.

Now, ‘The Reign Of Jesus Through Mary’ was based on the work and writings of this wonderful Saint, whose writings appealed to me greatly. Indeed, the first section of the book was his own short book, ‘The Secret Of Mary‘. This revealed Mary as a secret of exquisite and exceptional beauty and it proposed a form of devotion to Her – or more accurately, to Jesus through Mary – which was, he attested, a sure means of attaining holiness.

Saint Louis called this the ‘True Devotion’ or the ‘holy slavery’. And although that word might initially evoke negative connotations, he explains why he uses the word to describe his devotion. In essence, he proposes a form of complete devotion based upon absolute dependence on the Mother of God, going to Her in all things, taking all things to Her, giving absolutely everything to Her to dispose of as She sees fit; and to do all this without thought of any reward or recompense, for it is a complete and total giving. That is why it is called a ‘slavery’ – the worker is paid for what he does, while a ‘slave’ expects no such reward.

Saint Louis details very carefully the form this devotion takes when lived out authentically, contrasting the nature of this devotion with those of several others, and adding that he considers it to be a particular grace to be able to undertake and live it out as it calls for and deserves to be lived. He notes with some emphasis that this devotion should not be undertaken lightly nor without due consideration. For this reason, he recommends a twenty-eight day period of preparation before making the Act of Consecration which formalises the living out of the devotion he describes.

The remainder of ‘The Reign Of Jesus Through Mary’ – the sections written by Fr Denis – offers various spiritual exercises, prayers and applications of the devotion for the one making this consecration.

At that time, I had never heard of this ‘holy slavery’ – in fact, it would be quite a number of years before I would hear of it anywhere else other than in this little book which had found it’s way into my hands.

Three years beforehand, there had been ‘the Year of Three Popes’. Pope Paul had died, to be succeeded by Pope John Paul I – who would reign only for a month. A further conclave would elect the third Pope of that year, one from Poland. He would take the name John Paul II. His papal coat of arms would feature the letter ‘M’ and the motto ‘Totus Tuus’ (‘all yours’) – and this was taken from St Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion. In those early years of his reign, the source of the motto was mentioned only in the passing – but as the years rolled on, it would lead to a resurgence of interest in this wonderful Marian saint. But at the time I was first delving into the devotion and consecration – absolute silence. If anything of any detail had been written, I certainly had no access to it and knew nothing about it. I was very much on my own and groping in the dark. The only exemplar I could look to was Saint Louis himself.

I read the book very carefully indeed and determined to follow the period of preparation and to undertake the Act of Consecration at the end of it, if it still seemed to me to be the right thing to do.

This I duly did, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, 8th December 1981.

I had learned there was a group for those who had undertaken this Consecration, called the Confraternity of Mary, Queen of All Hearts. I wrote to them and asked to join the Confraternity. In January the following year, I received a lovely letter in reply, enclosing a membership card, a little prayer card and a small medal of the Confraternity, all of which are pictured here. It is now called an Association and you can read much more about it at their website.

I have renewed the Consecration on many occasions since then, most notably in the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal in Paris, on the spot where the Blessed Virgin appeared to Saint Catherine Labouré in July 1830. Last December, I celebrated the fortieth anniversary of my original Consecration, which was a very special occasion for me.

That little book started so much.

Saint Louis de Montfort knew full well what he proposing in his devotion and what it would cost anyone following the path it offered – to start with, however, I did not really have an idea of this. Intellectually, I think I mainly understood what he was suggesting – but it has only been the lived-out experience of the devotion over all these years which has proved just how accurate the Saint was in every word he wrote.

The Consecration has been both the easiest and the hardest thing I have ever done. It is there always – encouraging and consoling me at times, while reproaching me powerfully at other times. It is like the sunlight – warming, ever present and the very light through which absolutely everything else is seen.

I don’t know how else to describe it. Perhaps it cannot really be described – only lived.

Catholic | Retired Nurse | UK

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