St. Louis-Marie de Montfort characterizes his True Devotion to Jesus through Mary as being the total consecration of all we are and all we have unto the blessed Virgin and unto Christ through her, so that we might have no other spirit or soul or heart but Mary’s with which we might know, glorify, and love God in time and in eternity.
But how can it be that Mary may dwell in the human soul?
From de Montfort: The Holy Spirit searches for Mary in the Christian soul
From the “True Devotion”:
36. When the Holy Spirit, her spouse, finds Mary in a soul, he hastens there and enters fully into it. He gives himself generously to that soul according to the place it has given to his spouse. One of the main reasons why the Holy Spirit does not work striking wonders in souls is that he fails to find in them a sufficiently close union with his faithful and inseparable spouse. I say "inseparable spouse", for from the moment the substantial love of the Father and the Son espoused Mary to form Jesus, the head of the elect, and Jesus in the elect, he has never disowned her, for she has always been faithful and fruitful.
217. The soul of Mary will be communicated to you to glorify the Lord. Her spirit will take the place of yours to rejoice in God, her Saviour, but only if you are faithful to the practices of this devotion. As St. Ambrose says, "May the soul of Mary be in each one of us to glorify the Lord! May the spirit of Mary be in each one of us to rejoice in God!" "When will that happy day come," asks a saintly man of our own day whose life was completely wrapped up in Mary, "when God's Mother is enthroned in men's hearts as Queen, subjecting them to the dominion of her great and princely Son? When will souls breathe Mary as the body breathes air?" When that time comes wonderful things will happen on earth. The Holy Spirit, finding his dear Spouse present again in souls, will come down into them with great power. He will fill them with his gifts, especially wisdom, by which they will produce wonders of grace. My dear friend, when will that happy time come, that age of Mary, when many souls, chosen by Mary and given her by the most High God, will hide themselves completely in the depths of her soul, becoming living copies of her, loving and glorifying Jesus? That day will dawn only when the devotion I teach is understood and put into practice. Ut adveniat regnum tuum, adveniat regnum Mariae: "Lord, that your kingdom may come, may the reign of Mary come!"
The prayer of St. Loius-Marie
Hail Mary, beloved Daughter of the Eternal Father. Hail Mary, admirable Mother of the Son. Hail Mary, faithful Spouse of the Holy Ghost. Hail Mary, my Mother, my loving Mistress, my powerful sovereign. Hail, my joy, my glory, my heart and my soul. Thou art all mine by mercy, and I am thine by justice. But I am not yet sufficiently thine. I now give myself wholly to thee without keeping anything back for myself or others. If thou seest anything in me which does not belong to thee, I beseech thee to take it and make thyself the absolute Mistress of all that is mine.
Destroy in me all that may displease God; root it up and bring it to nought. Place and cultivate in me everything that is pleasing to thee. May the light of thy faith dispel the darkness of my mind. May thy profound humility take the place of my pride; may thy sublime contemplation check the distractions of my wandering imagination. May the continuous sight of God fill my memory with His Presence; may the burning love of thy heart inflame the lukewarmness of mine. May thy virtues take the place of my sins; may thy merits be my only adornment in the sight of God and make up for all that is wanting in me. Finally, dearly beloved Mother, grant, if it be possible, that I may have no other spirit but thine to know Jesus, and His Divine Will; that I may have no other soul but thine to praise and glorify God; that I may have no other heart but thine to love God with a love as pure and ardent as thine.
I do not ask thee for visions, revelations, sensible devotions, or spiritual pleasures. It is thy privilege to see God clearly, it is thy privilege to enjoy heavenly bliss; it is thy privilege to triumph gloriously in heaven at the right hand of thy Son and to hold absolute sway over angels, men, and demons.
It is thy privilege to dispose of all the gifts of God, just as thou willest. Such, O heavenly Mary, the 'best part', which the Lord has given thee, and which shall never be taken away from thee--and this thought fills my heart with joy. As for my part here below, I wish for no other than that which was thine, to believe sincerely without spiritual pleasures, to suffer joyfully without human consolation, to die continually to myself without respite, and to work zealously and unselfishly for thee until death, as the humblest of thy servants. The only grace I beg thee, for me, is that every moment of the day, and every moment of my life, I may say, "Amen, so be it, to all that thou art doing in heaven. Amen, so be it, to all thou didst do while on earth. Amen, so be it, to all thou art doing in my soul," so that thou alone mayest fully glorify Jesus in me for time and eternity. Amen.
Can Mary’s soul be substantially present in my soul?
There are several reasons why Mary’s soul cannot be substantially present within another human soul. First, if I no longer had my soul, but only Mary’s soul (substantially), then I would cease to be myself and would become Mary. No, there is no substantial change effected by the Total Consecration; and, surely, St. Louis de Montfort means to imply no such thing.
And yet, de Montfort does imply that there is a real sense in which Mary is present in the soul which is totally consecrated to her. This is no mere metaphor or flowery speech – devotion isn’t only a matter of words, after all.
In what real sense, then, can we say that Mary is present in the whole which is wholly given over to her?
Moral presence in a soul
It is clear, from context, that St. Louis-Marie is speaking of what we may call a “moral presence”. When he tells us that the Holy Spirit must find Mary living in a soul, de Montfort is speaking of a soul which is wholly conformed to Mary through the perfect imitation of her virtues, which are the virtues of Christ.
Thus, in his prayer (above), St. Louis asks for Mary’s faith, humility and contemplation to replace his own darkness, pride and distraction. Further, it is all summed-up in the following words: “May thy virtues [O Mary] take the place of my sins.”
Through the perfect imitation of Mary’s virtues, there is a real sense in which Mary is present in that soul – and when the Christian has given over all his merit and satisfaction (together with all his works) to Mary, holding nothing back, then there is no other virtue or disposition or thought in the soul which is not in imitation of Mary (through being wholly consecrated to her). Then, in a more perfect sense, we may say that Mary lives in that soul, and that soul in Mary.