It is without gainsaying that there are so many devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary as it is evident in the many widely observed Marian devotions in the Church today. These devotions include; the recitation of the Rosary, which is probably the most prominent, the wearing of the Miraculous Medal and the Scapular, the praying of Novenas, especially in celebration of Marian Liturgical Feasts, the recitation of the Angelus, and many other practices such as The First Saturdays devotion which so many Catholics indulge in so as to honour the Blessed Virgin Mary and to give Her the reverence and devotion that is due to Her. These devotions to Mary are expressions of love to her and it is one of the defining elements of the Church Catholic. Little wonder, The Catechism of the Catholic Church No. 971 avers that “The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to her Christian Worship”. Having said the above, it is important to state that there are dissimilarities to the devotions to Mary. While some devotions are true, some are false. Those in the category of false devotion to Mary are those who probably are ignorance or unaware about the nuances of what the devotions to Mary entails or some overzealousness people who parade themselves as ardent and true devotees to Mary without even knowing that their devotions to Mary are a false and artificial. Those in the category of true devotion to Mary are those who carry out their devotion with utmost reverence sincere passion and with the right disposition. It is therefore appropriate, that during this period of May Devotion and the Month of Mary, to outline the distinction between the True and False Devotion to Mary and lay down the Characteristics of each personality as enumerated thus by St. Louis Maria De Montfort in his book titled ‘True Devotion to Mary’.
FALSE DEVOTIONS TO MARY
There are seven kinds of false devotees and false devotions to Mary as defined by St. Louis Maria de Montfort in his book, they include;
1. Critical Devotees: The critical devotees are proud scholars who have at heart some devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, but who criticize nearly all the practices of devotion which simple people pay to Mary. They accuse them of idolatry
2. Scrupulous Devotees: These are those who fear to honour the Son by honouring the Mother thinking that they abased Jesus by honouring Mary.
3. External Devotees: These are those who make all devotion our Blessed Lady consist in outward practices. They do not imbibe the spirit behind the devotion.
4. Presumptuous Devotees: these are sinners abandoned to their passions or lovers of the world, who under the fair name of Christians and clients of our Blessed Lady conceal pride, avarice, impurity, drunkenness, anger, injustice and so on. They sleep in peace in the midst of their bad habits presuming their devotion to Mary is sufficient a virtue.
5. Inconstant Devotees: These are those who are inconsistent. Sometimes they are fervent and sometimes lukewarm and tepid.
6. Hypocritical devotees: These are those who present themselves as true devotees but they are not.
7. Interested Devotees: these are those who recourse to our Mother only when they seek some gain or in danger.
TRUE DEVOTION TO MARY
After having laid bare the distinctiveness of false devotions to Mary, it is important to spell out the characteristics of True Devotion to Mary and encourage it henceforth, because True Devotion to Mary as summarized by St. Louis Marie de Montfort “is a way of holiness that is short, easy, secure and perfect. It is an avenue where the soul is consecrated more and more to Jesus and Mary”. Therefore, for a devotion to Mary to be true, it has to be;
1. Interior: True Devotion to our Lady is interior; that is, it comes from the mind and the heart, it flows from the esteem we have for her, the high idea we have formed of her greatness and the love which we have for her.
2. Tender: It is tender; that is, full of confidence in her like a child’s confidence in his loving Mother. This confidence makes the soul have recourse to her in all its bodily and mental necessities, with much simplicity, trust and tenderness.
3. Holy: This devotion to Our Lady is holy; that is to say, it leads the soul to avoid sin and imitate the virtues of the Blessed Virgin, particularly her profound humility, her lively faith, her blind obedience, her continual prayer, her universal mortification, her divine purity, her ardent charity, her heroic patience, her angelic sweetness and her divine wisdom. These are the ten principle virtues of the most holy Virgin.
4. Constant: It is constant; because, it confirms the soul in good, and does not let it easily abandon its spiritual exercises. It makes it courageous in opposing the world and its fashions and maxims, the flesh in its The dissimilarities between “true devotion and false devotion to Mary” according to St. Louis Maria de Montfort weariness and passions; and the devil in his temptations, so that a person truly devout to our Blessed Lady is neither changeable, irritable, scrupulous nor timid.
5. Disinterested: True Devotion to our Lady is disinterested; it inspires the soul not to seek itself but God only, and God in His Holy Mother.
A true client of Mary does not serve that august Queen form a spirit of lucre and interest, nor for his own good, whether temporal or eternal, corporal or spiritual, but exclusively because she deserves to be served and God alone in her True devotion to Mary when offered with utmost reverence to God, when done properly, practiced with great care and rightfully for the honour of Mary, brings about heavenly graces that enrich our bodies and our souls and also has wonderful effects on the devotees that are really committed to their devotion. Little wonder St. Louis de Montfort’s in his book still, assured that those who remain faithful to the interior and exterior practices of this devotion, the following will be produced in their souls;
1. Knowledge of our Unworthiness: By the Light which the Holy Spirit will give us through Mary, his faithful spouse, we will be able to perceive the evil inclinations of our fallen nature and how incapable we are of any good part from which God produces in us as Author of nature and grace.
2. A share in Mary’s Faith: This faith will strengthen us to resist the devil and the other enemies of salvation.
3. The Gift of Pure Love of God: The Mother of fair love will rid our heart of all scruples and inordinate servile fear. She will open and enlarge it to obey the commandment of her Son with alacrity and with the holy freedom of the children of God. She will fill our heart with pure love of which she is the treasury.
4. Great Confidence in God and in Mary: Our Blessed Lady will fill us with unbounded confidence in God and in herself.
5. Communication of the Spirit of Mary: The Soul of Mary will be communicated to us to glorify the Lord. Her spirit will take the place of ours to rejoice in God, her savior, but only if we are faithful to the practices of true devotion to her.
6. Transformation: We shall be thus transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ 7. Spiritual Growth: If we live this devotion sincerely, we will give more glory to Jesus in a month than in many years of a more demanding devotion. From the foregoing, it is pellucid that the distinction and dissimilarities between True Devotions and False Devotions are obvious and crystal clear. For those who are ignorant and uninformed about the two categories above, I am sure after this encounter will come a fuller knowledge of what the two devotions entails and more importantly the disposition, mien and spiritual benefits of indulging in a True Devotion to Mary rather than a false devotion. It is our responsibility as Christians and Children of Mary from this day going forward to imbibe the spirit of True Devotion to Mary so as to bear spiritual fruits and be nourished by the blessings and graces that will be accrued from the Devotions we indulge in.