I'm doing this seven quick takes thing because of my weird blogger's block. I'm not actually going to bother with Mr. Linky. Incidentally, another reader emailed me and said that she felt oddly introspective while doing the 33-day Montfortian consecration, and so it rang true that I am having trouble writing while doing it.
But this seems kind of strange to me, because (what with school starting and all) I can only do a wussy version of the consecration prep. There's a little bit of reading, and a couple of prayers, both grabbed whenever I have time; a different focus in my spontaneous prayer throughout the day; a general attempt to turn from "the spirit of the world;" and I'm noticing more frequently how often I screw up and prove myself a very worldly person. The Montfort subroutine is running in the background of my real life. Hasn't crashed the system yet.
I'm aiming for Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Oct. 7, or more likely, the next day, which is a Saturday when I can attend Mass and go to Confession.
After I read St. Louis de Montfort's True Devotion to Mary, I felt unsatisfied. All the people who'd told me about it claimed it was this amazing, mindblowing work, but it didn't really ring with me. Really, except for the explanation of the consecration itself, it all just seemed like a repeating string of assertions about Mary, little of which were new to me (but maybe they were new to the people he was writing to back then?) and none of which were backed up by any arguments that weren't themselves simple assertions.
"God in these times wishes his Blessed Mother to be more known, loved, and honoured than she has ever been." Okay -- how do you know? Why particularly in these times? "God the Son imparted to his mother all that he gained by his life and death, namely, his infinite merits and his eminent virtues." Where does that come from? How do we know this?
I think it is meant to be inspirational writing, rather than thought-provoking writing, and I am peculiarly un-susceptible to inspirational stuff.
And lookie here what I found:
"Were I speaking to the so-called intellectuals of today, I would prove at great length by quoting Latin texts taken from Scripture and the Fathers of the Church all that I am now stating so simply. I could also instance solid proofs... But I am speaking mainly for the poor and simple who have more good will and faith than the common run of scholars. As they believe more simply and more meritoriously, let me merely state the truth to them quite plainly."
Well, there's my problem. I believe complexly and not quite so meritoriously, I guess. Let me hope I can glorify God in my infirmity.
On the other hand, the idea of the consecration itself was thought-provoking and interesting. So I went looking for more modern writers, less concerned about writing simply and plainly. And I found a gem of an online book: Mary in Our Life, by Rev. William C. Most. It was written in the 1950s. The link goes to a table of contents that links to all the chapters, online, for free. Much more my kind of "inspirational" writing.
This is the kind of Marian writing that makes the tops of Protestants' heads blow off. The word "Co-Redemptrix" is bandied about, for example. And as I read it, I found myself struggling with some of the concepts, precisely because of the Protestant, anti-Marian influence in American Christian culture. It was very edifying, because intellectually, Father Most's arguments make a great deal of sense to me. And yet the logical conclusion of his arguments suggests an attitude toward the Blessed Virgin that feels radical to me. Deep down, it seems, I feel a sort of repulsion against fully embracing the idea of Mary as intercessor, which as I search my history seems can only have come from contact with American Protestantism. I didn't even realize that I felt that internal repulsion until reading Fr. Most's arguments forced me to confront it.
At the same time, it's exciting to have read this, because it's the first time in a long while that I have had a theological concept of any kind to grapple with in a radically new way. I think it's funny that the concept itself isn't particularly new, and is even uber-traditional. But it's really blown my mind and I still have a lot to think about.
(And yes, I could write more details, but I am having trouble expressing them.)
Meanwhile, all sorts of odd little messages from outside seem to be finding their way to me, encouraging me to keep on with the Consecration such as I can. I'm aware that human beings are great at finding patterns where really there is only random noise, and that it's unsurprising that if I'm thinking Marian thoughts, I would see signs everywhere (such as, having just prayed for discernment about whether to make the consecration, being handed a business card 15 minutes later, on which was printed a call to people to make a Marian consecration! That was a fun example).
It's time for me to get back to work, and writing this has exhausted my creativity. Have a great Friday!