Since May is the Month of Mary, and next week is the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, and the fact that it has recently been announced that Bl. Pope John Paul II could be canonized later this year, it’s a great time to talk about this his special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
When Pope John Paul II was nearly fatally shot during his papacy, he credited the intercession of the Virgin Mary, specifically Our Lady of Fatima, with the miraculous save of his life. And Pope John Paul II gleaned his devotion to Mary largely through the writings of one saint: Louis de Montfort.
During the Month of Mary it would be a great time to follow in his footsteps and read the book that changed Karol Wojtyla’s life: True Devotion to Mary.
Bl. Pope John Paul II and St. Louis de Montfort
Blessed Pope John Paul II was well known during his papacy for having a deep and abiding love for the Blessed Virgin Mary. His devotion to Mary was evident in all that he did: his words, his prayer life, his motto and even his coat of arms, were all dedicated to the Blessed Mother.
But how did he develop this life-long devotion to Mary? In his book, Gift and Mystery, Blessed Pope John Paul II credits his home parish and the nearby Carmelites for their early influence. However, as he matured in his faith, he singles out one overwhelming influence which changed his life:
“At one point I began to question my devotion to Mary, believing that, if it became too great, it might end up compromising the supremacy of the worship owed to Christ. At that time, I was greatly helped by a book by Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort…
There I found the answers to my questions, Yes, Mary does bring us closer to Christ; she does lead us to him, provided that we live her mystery in Christ… The author was an outstanding theologian. His Mariological thought is rooted in the mystery of the Trinity and in the truth of the Incarnation of the Word of God”.
Blessed Pope John Paul II thought so highly about the writing of St. Louis De Montfort, that he spoke about the saint on many occasions. In addition, on December 8, 2003, he wrote a special letter on the occasion of the 160th Anniversary of De Montfort’s publication. In this letter he wrote: “I myself, in the years of my youth, found reading this book a great help.”
The book was such a great influence that when he was elected Pope in 1978, he chose his motto from words written by St. Louis De Montfort.
“As is well known, (in) my episcopal coat of arms … the motto Totus tuus is inspired by the teaching of St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort. These two words express total belonging to Jesus through Mary: “Tuus totus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt.” (“I am all Yours, and all that I have is Yours.”) . . . “This Saint’s teaching has had a profound influence on the Marian devotion of many of the faithful and on my own life.”
This edition also includes an expanded Preparation for Total Consecration with readings and prayers, as well as directions for how to pray “The Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin Mary”.
There is no better way to advance quickly in holiness, no better way to please God, and no better way to guarantee one’s present sanctity and eternal salvation than with true devotion to Mary.
In True Devotion to Mary, St. Louis De Montfort teaches us:
“Pray with great confidence, with confidence based on the goodness and infinite generosity of God and upon the promises of Jesus Christ. God is a spring of living water which flows unceasingly into the hearts of those who pray.”
“If you put all the love of all the mothers into one heart it still would not equal the love of the Heart of Mary for her children.”
“Mary is the fruitful Virgin, and in all the souls in which she comes to dwell she causes to flourish purity of heart and body, rightness of intention and abundance of good works. Do not imagine that Mary, the most fruitful of creatures who gave birth to a God, remains barren in a faithful soul. It will be she who makes the soul live incessantly for Jesus Christ, and will make Jesus live in the soul.”
“All our perfection consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ; and therefore the most perfect of all devotions is, without any doubt, that which the most perfectly conforms, unites, and consecrates us to Jesus Christ. Now Mary being the most conformed of all creatures to Jesus Christ, it follows that, of all devotions that which most consecrates and conforms the soul to Our Lord is devotion to his holy Mother, and the more a soul is consecrated to Mary, the more it is consecrated to Jesus. Hence it comes to pass that the most perfect consecration to Jesus Christ is nothing else than a perfect and entire consecration of ourselves to the Blessed Virgin.”
About the author, St. Louis de Montfort:
St. Louis De Montfort was a French priest who was born in 1673 and ordained at the age of 27. He wanted to be a missionary, but instead spent his life traveling around western France preaching, teaching, hearing confessions, rebuilding churches, and opening schools. He encountered great resistance, and decided to walk one thousand miles to Rome, to seek council from the Pope as to his mission. Pope Clement XI named him a Missionary Apostolic and asked him to continue traveling and ministering to the people. St. Louis De Montfort wrote several books, including: The Secret of the Rosary and The Secret of Mary.