“To Jesus through Mary” Is Not Enough

St. Louis de Montfort’s “To Jesus through Mary” is a common refrain amongst lovers of Mary, and rightly so. To be sure, she is the way to Jesus — Jesus does not come to us via any other way. Nor is anyone transformed into Christ but through Mary. As Pope St. Pius X said in his encyclical Ad Diem Ilum:

Therefore all we who are united to Christ, and as the Apostle says are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones (Ephes. v., 30), have issued from the womb of Mary like a body united to its head. Hence, though in a spiritual and mystical fashion, we are all children of Mary, and she is Mother of us all. Mother, spiritually indeed, but truly Mother of the members of Christ, who are we (S. Aug., L. de S. Virginitate, c. 6).1

St. Louis de Montfort speaks to this as well when he writes:

Blessed is the man who has given everything to Mary, who at all times and in all things trusts in her, and loses himself in her. He belongs to Mary and Mary belongs to him. With David he can boldly say, “She was created for me,” or with the beloved disciple, “I have taken her for my own,” or with our Lord himself, “All that is mine is yours and all that is yours is mine.”2

“All that is mine is yours and all that is yours is mine,” because we go to Jesus through Mary — it is in Mary that we are transformed into Christ: As she forms Jesus’s body with her own flesh and blood, so she forms the whole Christ, and thus truly a Catholic can say to Mary, “All that is mine is yours and all that is yours is mine.” In the subjective sense, this is taken further in Total Consecration to Mary, where the objective reality that a Catholic is formed into Christ by Mary is subjectively assented to and deliberately lived such that a new relationship begins between that person and Mary. Wonderfully, in Total Consecration to Mary a covenant is formed between her and her child: “I am yours and you are mine, we now live but one united life.”

This mutual gift of self, the person to Mary and Mary to that person, is precisely why St. Louis de Montfort’s phrase “To Jesus through Mary,” while true, is only one side of the coin that is Total Consecration to Mary. The emphasis on this phrase, bereft of its complementary side, leads inadvertently to a misunderstanding of who Mary is and of our relationship with her. The misunderstanding comes with seeing Mary as a sort of door, an object of use; to wit, the impression is that she is here only to get us to Jesus, we simply go “through” her to get to our eschatological goal — and there it is, no more is said; she has fulfilled her role, much like a door has fulfilled its role once one has passed through it to one’s intended end. Once the person goes through Mary to Jesus, the implication is that now there is just the soul and Jesus. The end. But truly, this is an idea completely skewed: No human person is an object of use, certainly not God’s masterpiece, His Daughter, Mother and Spouse! Mary is not a mere means, she is not simply a path to Christ that, once walked upon, need never be trod again; this not at all what God has intended.

This erroneous idea also spawns a tremendous de-emphasis in living the life of Christ. Let us ask: Since she cannot be an object of use, what becomes of Mary once we go “through” her to Jesus? What becomes of Mary is this: She becomes the utter object of our love outside of God because she is the most special object of Jesus’s love outside of the Holy Trinity. In other words, loving Mary with all the powers of one’s soul is the necessary result of living Jesus’s life — of Jesus united to that soul. The Church tells us that Jesus is united to Mary such that the two cannot be separated but rather form one heart out of their two distinct hearts: Mary is “from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination”3 while “by one and the same act God predestinated both Christ and us.”4 Thus, the most pertinent imitation of Christ, after being a “beloved son in the Son”5 of God the Father, is the Christified soul’s relationship to Mary, both being loved by her (she transforms the soul in to Christ) and loving her (the soul actually living Jesus’s life)! After one goes “to Jesus through Mary,” one immediately returns “to Mary with Jesus.” Mary herself was created not only to love God and each person, but to be loved by God and each person.

The great theologian Fr. Emile Neubert wrote of this reality with deep insight in the context of Jesus talking to a soul: “In becoming My Mother, she became yours”6 and “the members and the head have not a separate existence.”7 “I am the head, you are a member of My Mystical Body; the selfsame blood flows in the head and in the members. . . You love my Mother; no, it is no longer you who love her, it is I who love her in you,”8 and “you should love her with the selfsame love as I do.”9 The saints do the same:

  • St. Bernardine: “my lady friend is so beautiful that I’ve fallen head over heels in love with her! She lives just outside the Camollia gate. And I have to see her at least once a day — otherwise I can’t sleep at night. . . . I have fallen in love with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, to whom I have been devoted since my childhood and in whom I have placed all my hopes. It is she whom I love so intensely, whom I seek, and whom I yearn to see. . . . Yes, my ‘lady love’ and my hope is the Virgin Mother of God!”10
  • St. Maximilian Kolbe: “Sweet Heart of Mary, make me love you like crazy!” (A more literal translation, however, is: “Sweet Heart of Mary, make me love you/bring it about that I love you unto foolishness/madness/lunacy.”)11
  • St. Jacinta of Fatima: “I so love the Immaculate Heart of Mary! It is the Heart of our Mother in heaven! Don’t you find it sweet to repeat often: Heart of Mary! Sweet Heart of Mary! I have so much pleasure in it! So much pleasure!”12
  • St. Bonaventure: “To say to you that you are my mother is next to nothing; oh Mary, you are my absolute love!”13

All of these quotes presume an intense union with Jesus. Mary herself recognizes that we ought to love her, and how could she not! Since it is God’s will that we love her as Jesus does, and her will is one with God’s will, we even find Mary encouraging us through the saints to love her, and with a longing love, as she said appearing one day to St. Gemma Galgani: “Long for me; I too am sighing for you.”14

We would expect in a matter as weighty as this that Scripture too would have something to say, and indeed God does tell us in Scripture a good deal about loving Mary. In the New Testament, we have Jesus’s command — a command, we must keep in mind, that is Jesus’s last; a command by which He formally unites Mary and each soul in particular in the person of “the disciple” St. John, because now the Mystical Body is born, the veins of each member of the Body of Christ throbbing with Jesus’s very life, the visage of each member’s soul but one with that of Christ’s: “Woman, behold your son,” and to the disciple, “behold thy mother.” (Jn 19:26–27) In the Old Testament wisdom literature we find “Lady Wisdom,” a clear type of Mary — as St. Augustine said, the “New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New”:

And I preferred her before kingdoms and thrones, and esteemed riches nothing in comparison of her. Neither did I compare unto her any precious stone: for all gold in comparison of her, is as a little sand, and silver in respect to her shall be counted as clay. I loved her above health and beauty, and chose to have her instead of light: for her light cannot be put out. Now all good things came to me together with her, and innumerable riches through her hands.15

Her have I loved, and have sought her out from my youth, and have desired to take her for my spouse, and I became a lover of her beauty.16

I purposed therefore to take her to me to live with me: knowing that she will communicate to me of her good things, and will be a comfort in my cares and grief. For her sake I shall have glory among the multitude, and honour with the ancients, though I be young . . . .17

When I go into my house, I shall repose myself with her: for her conversation hath no bitterness, nor her company any tediousness, but joy and gladness. Thinking these things with myself, and pondering them in my heart, that to be allied to wisdom is immortality, [a]nd that there is great delight in her friendship, and inexhaustible riches in the works of her hands, and in the exercise of conference with her, wisdom, and glory in the communication of her words: I went about seeking, that I might take her to myself.18

And Lady Wisdom replies:

I love them that love me: and they that in the morning early watch for me, shall find me. With me are riches and glory, glorious riches and justice. For my fruit is better than gold and the precious stone, and my blossoms than choice silver.19

Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm, for love is strong as death.20 Whosoever is a little one, let him come to me. . . . Come, eat my bread, and drink the wine which I have mingled for you.21

“I love them that love me”: To love Mary is to be loved by Mary, a love in which she feeds us with her fruit, the Eucharist, transforming us into her Son. As St. John Vianney writes:

When one has received Communion, the soul revels in the embraces of love as a bee in the flowers. He who communicates loses himself in God as a drop of water in the ocean. They cannot be separated. He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood, said Jesus Christ, abides in Me and I in him. My Flesh is meat indeed and My Blood is drink indeed; so that by Holy Communion, the adorable Blood of Jesus Christ flows in our veins, His Flesh is truly mingled with ours. We are united to His Person as food is to our flesh.22

Thus Mary leads those who love her to Jesus, and being led to Jesus leads to transformation into Him, and transformation into Him leads that soul to live his life: a life that is Christocentric, but a Christocentricity that is Marian, just as Jesus is Marian, Jesus being the prime example to follow when it comes to Total Consecration to Mary: The Eternal Word utterly gives himself to her in love, eternally. There are then two eschatological ends of the human person: The primary end is God and living His life; the secondary end is Mary, the object of God’s love and of those who live his life.

St. Louis de Montfort is right, we do go “to Jesus through Mary.” The necessary implication of this reality, however, is that we then “go to Mary as one with Jesus.” Let us love Jesus with Mary, and let us love Mary — letting Jesus love her in us — with all the ardor of our hearts, totally embracing the full reality of Total Consecration to Mary. With “all the ardor of our hearts?” As St. Maximilian Kolbe said, we should “never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.” How happy we will make Jesus by letting Him love her again on earth in us, and how happy Mary will be! Which, yes. . . makes Jesus happy.

  1. Pope Pius X, Encyclical on the Immaculate Conception Ad Diem Illum Laetisiumum (2 February 1904), §10.
  2. Louis de Montfort, Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, §179, ewtn.com/library/Montfort/TRUEDEVO.HTM.
  3. Pope Pius XII, Apostolic Constitution defining the dogma of the Immaculate Conception Munificentissimus Deus (1 November 1950), §40.
  4. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, III, q. 24, a. 4, in Summa Theologiae, 2nd ed., trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province, newadvent.org/summa/4024.htm.
  5. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed. (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 2000), 537.
  6. Emile Neubert, My Ideal, Jesus, Son of Mary (New Bedford: Academy of the Immaculate, 2014), 6.
  7. Neubert, My Ideal, 6.
  8. Neubert, My Ideal, 9.
  9. Neubert, My Ideal, 10.
  10. Raphael Brown, Saints Who Saw Mary (Charlotte, NC: TAN, 2012), 78–79.
  11. Stefano Manelli, The Marian Vow (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2010), 151.
  12. Chanoine Barthas and G. Da Fonseca, Our Lady of Light (Milwaukee: Bruce, 1948), 120.
  13. Stefano Manelli, Devotion to Our Lady (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2001), 9.
  14. Benedict Williamson, Gemma of Lucca (St. Louis: Alexander-Ouseley Ltd and B. Herder, 1932), 189.
  15. Wis 7:8–11 DR
  16. Wis 8:2 DR
  17. Wis 8:9 DR
  18. Wis 8:16–18 DR
  19. Prov 8:17–19 DR
  20. Song 8:6 DR
  21. Prov 9:4–5 DR
  22. John Vianney, “Eucharistic Meditations of the Cure D’Ars, Meditation 9: The Eucharist Unites Us to Jesus Christ,” piercedhearts.org/eucharistic_heart/meditations_cure_ars.htm.
Keith Berube About Keith Berube

Keith Berube, MA, is the author of the books Mary, the Beloved and Behold, My Beloved Speaketh to Me! Mary: The Rosary, the Relationship, and Dragons (to hit bookshelves in summer 2019), published by Enroute Books and Media. He has been a guest on EWTN with Jim and Joy Pinto and been interviewed by WCAT Radio, St. Gabriel Radio, and Tumblar House. Mr. Berube is currently working toward a PhD in Systematic Theology specializing in Mariology and teaches at Queen of Heaven Academy.

Comments

  1. Dora J Donovan says:

    How wonderful! This brought me flights of joy and tears of gratitude!
    And set on fire again my great love for our most merciful and admirable Mother.
    We are so blessed! It is we who must rejoice a thousand times :)!
    Thank you! You are so wise to extol our Lady so beautifully.
    I have a feeling our Lord will reward you very much for it. :)
    Blessings!

  2. Lois Cotterly says:

    Thank you for this beautiful article.

All comments posted at Homiletic and Pastoral Review are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative and inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.

Speak Your Mind

*