MARY IS MORE MOTHER THAN QUEEN
As the Cure of Ars said, “A child learns much about God at his mother’s knee.”
The Imitation of Mary
Growing in Grace
My child, if you want to grow in the grace that makes you a friend and child of God, a temple of the Holy Spirit, a brother of Christ and a coheir with Him, then flee the world, love prayer, receive the Sacraments often, and apply yourself to the practice of the virtues proper to your state.
One very special means of increasing habitual grace in you is to be faithful to the inspirations bought by actual grace. Listen to the voice that speaks within you and be guided by its urgings. The more you listen to it, the more it will teach you. The more you advance, the more it will teach you to do new and greater things.
Many walk for a while in the path of virtue but then are satisfied with the distance they have gone. But grace never says: “Enough!” Others think they are doing a great deal if they do not slip into evil. Yet that is not enough; for the good man must strive daily to become better.
Many a Christian will be surprised on the day of judgment to see himself heavily in debt to God’s justice because he did not make use of the means given to him for becoming a great saint.
On the path of virtue, not to advance is to go backwards, not to gain is to lose.
Eternal Self-Giving To God
My child, why did you stop after beginning so well? Is God no longer the great and lovable Master He once was? Has the relationship between you changed? Do you perhaps depend on Him less at one season than another? Is not your duty to give yourself entirely to him the same at every moment?
As you advance in years, God’s benefits also become more numerous; your gratitude and, therefore, your fidelity ought also grow. God alone created your heart, and He created it for Himself alone. He alone should be its master.
He did not say; “Lend Me your heart,” but: “Give me your heart (Prv 23,26) You obeyed Him and consecrated your heart to Him. What right did you have to take it back?
You do the world far to much honor when you give it a share of your affection. You insult God greatly when you confront Him with such a rival.
Advantages of Solitude
My child, the soul that is detached from the world and all that occupies the world lives truly happy days of solitude. Its only concern is with God, as thought it were alone on earth with Him. In solitude the spirit is always recollected so that it may hear the Lord’s voice, and nothing can interrupt the heart’s own voice as it constantly speaks to God. It delights in repeating the simple words, “You are the God of my heart” (Ps 73,26) and finds in them its whole fulfillment, wealth, and joy.
When God wants to teach Divine Lessons to a soul and speak to her heart, He leads her into the desert (Hos 2,16) Think, my child, what a taste for solitude and spirit of recollection the Saints must have had!
If you are not careful to flee the world, it will soon beguile you, and once you have tasted what the world has to offer, you will no longer have any taste for what God offers.
You must love solitude if you are safely to appear among men. For it is in solitude that you learn to act when you are amid the world.
My child, God finds delight in being with you; find yours in being with Him in solitude.
Eagerness To Receive Jesus In Holy Communion
I never dared think I might be the virgin who would give the world its Savior, but when I was sure that I had been chosen to be His Mother, I humbled myself before such a lofty and sublime destiny and was filled with sentiments of intense love. What joy I felt in possessing God within my womb!
The same God Who in His incarnation deigned to unite Himself so closely to me also wants to be united to you, my child, through Communion. But you are much less eager to receive than He is to give. Your laziness and false humility will suggest excuses for staying away from the holy table; do not accept them.
There is the excuse of fear and reverence; but fear and reverence must be subordinated to love and simply serve to make love more attentive. To stay away from Communion out of false reverence is to rob Jesus of the satisfaction He finds in dwelling with you. He has told you of this satisfaction when He said; “My delight is to be with the children of men.” (Prv 8, 31)
Your Communions are infrequent only because you fear the inconvenience they involve and the obligation they impose. You are afraid of the fervent life that is required if you are to receive communion frequently.
In His Gospel Jesus calls to the Divine Banquet the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame. (Lk 14, 21)
Remember that Communion properly received never fails to profit a soul. If you are watchful and faithful and thus maintain the dispositions that will allow you to receive Communion frequently, you will be already well advanced along the path of perfection.
The soul that is impatient to enjoy the presence of Jesus in Heaven will find its delight in enjoying that presence on earth through the frequent reception of Communion.
Love Of Neighbor
My child, if you love the Lord, you will also love your neighbor for whose sake He came down from Heaven, became a man, and offered His own life on the Cross.
Do not be satisfied with sentiments; let your love take concrete form. Many who are afflicted need the comfort of your words; many who are unhappy need the help of you generous gifts.
God has allowed many people to be unhappy in this world so that they might achieve holiness through their sufferings and you through your charity. Be ready to give all the help you can. Delay always means the loss of love’s merit. Let your love be generous and extend as far as possible.
If you do good to men because they deserve it and are good men, you will do it but rarely. My child, prefer those works of love, which are costly and be charitable at the expense of self-love.
God Himself teaches us by His example to do good to all men, even to the most ungrateful. Give your neighbor your good advice so that he may emerge from his uncertainty. Then God will inspire you and help you out of your own perplexities.
Give the afflicted a consoling word, then the God of all consolation will sustain you in your own afflictions by His powerful grace.
Obedience does not argue; simplicity is its hallmark. There is nothing more opposed to the spirit of submissiveness than the worldly prudence that wants to see and examine everything.
What would become of subordination if the orders of those who have the right to command were subjected to review by those whose duty it is to obey? If an earthly superior gives you a command, he does not merit your obedience because of any quality in himself; it is the supreme authority whom he represents that merits your obedience.
The saints teach us that it is more profitable to do small things under obedience than to do great things of one’s own will. Our modern-day wisdom scorns the simplicity of obedient hearts because it understands nothing of the things of God. Our modern-day wisdom scorns that simplicity of obedient hearts because it understands nothing of the things of God.
But what does the judgment of men matter to a person who takes the Gospel as the criterion of his judgments? Obedience is not meritorious if it is given because of the good qualities of the person who commands. In that case the obedience is purely natural and you can expect no reward except from men.
Frequently, even in obedience rendered to God, men act so defectively and imperfectly that the obedience looses much of its value and merit. If you do not obey promptly and joyously, except when the command accords with your own inclinations, you do your own will rather than the will of others. The truly obedient man does not delay in carrying out commands nor does he grumble against the authority of his superiors.
Sacred scripture teaches us to submit respectfully to our superiors, not only to the good ones who act with moderation but also to those of difficult temperament. “Victory is assured to the man who obeys” (Prv.21,28), we are told by the Holy Spirit. Self-will is a source of corruption. Obedience, when sanctified by a right intention, will enable us to avoid many evils and will win God’s approval.
My child, if you possess Jesus, you are rich enough. A soul that considers God its soul blessing is indifferent toward earthly possessions and is quite willing to be poor. When I saw that Jesus, King of Heaven and earth, though rich, became poor that He might enrich men by His poverty (2 Cor 8,9), I made it my goal to imitate Him.
Blessed are those who are content to be poor or who strip themselves of this world’s goods so that they may concentrate entirely on acquiring the riches of His love and the blessings of Heaven! Blessed are they, who in the imitation of Jesus gladly suffer the effects of poverty and are entirely detached from the things whose use they have!
Yet many of those who have embraced this state of perfection are far from the perfection their state requires of them! Their hearts are sometimes as attached to the little things they have been able to acquire, as they would be to far greater possessions if they had them. Can they be said to have made themselves poor for Jesus’ sake when they only want the ease that wealth brings without having its inconveniences?
Jesus, born at Bethlehem, living at Nazareth, and dying on Calvary, is the model of those who for the love of Him are content to be poor. He is also the model every Christian must try to imitate by being detached in heart and spirit from all riches. The Holy Spirit does not tell everyone: “Give away all you have.” He does not require that degree of perfection from everyone, but He does say to everyone: "Do not be attached to possessions.”
God cannot establish His rule in a heart that is attached to the passing things of earth. For earthly possessions are deceitful and harmful, except for those who use them as a way of acquiring eternal possessions.
Dispositions In Time Of Trial
My child, why do you weep and sigh? Your state is somewhat like mine when I heard Simeon’s prophecy there in the temple. After telling me of Jesus’ future greatness, he predicted that He would meet opposition and persecution and that a sword would pierce my heart (cf. Luke 2, 33-34. Thus I would share the difficulties my Son would have to bear. I was very familiar, from Scripture, with the sufferings that would be Jesus’ lot. Abel murdered, Joseph sold into slavery, David persecuted, and the paschal lamb were all figures foretelling what would befall him.
What bitter grief I felt at the sufferings and death of Jesus, which were always in my thoughts! How I groaned within when I held Jesus to my breast and thought of the cruel death by which He must save the world! If I saw a lamb being slaughtered in the temple or a dove being sacrificed, I said to myself: “That is how Jesus will some day be offered.”
My child, God will never allow you to be tempted, tested, or tormented beyond your strength. His help will always be equal to the trial He sends. Give heed to His grace, for it already speaks to you, and respond to His inspirations. If God has more crosses in store for someone, He gives greater graces that the person may bear them.
Crosses are the most precious gifts God can give His creature; and the creature’s acceptance of them is the most pleasing sacrifice it can offer its creator. If the crosses He intends for you are heavy, that means He has great plans for your sanctification. Do you want to prevent those Divine Plans being fulfilled?
Your disturbance and fears will not take crosses from you, whatever you do; you must carry them. What, then is the wiser thing for you to do? It is to submit, my child, to all that God bids you do. You must say: “The Lord is Master; Let Him do with me what He thinks best.” (cf. Luke 1, 38)
Then you will see God moved by your submission; faithful to His promises, He will make lighter than you thought possible the crosses, which from a distance seemed so heavy. He will make them so light that you will say: “As we have shared much in the sufferings of Christ, so through Christ we share abundantly in His consolation." (2 Cor. 1,5)
God’s Care For The Devout
My child, in many passages of Sacred Scripture the Lord promises to protect those who trust Him. Never let yourself be dismayed, then, as you carry out His commands, however difficult they may be. Hope in him and He will always help you. Even when obedience to His will brings with it the danger if dire need, “cast all your cares on him because He cares for you.” (1 Pt. 5,7)
Should you be exposed to the sneers and insults and persecution of malicious men, do not lose heart, for the Lord is a “stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in time of distress.” (Ps. 9,10) The trust which upright men place in Him is an infallible guarantee that He will protect them.
If at times He seems to abandon them for a brief space, you will see that at the last moment He restores their peace and tranquility. The citizens of Bethulia no longer expected anything of the God of their fathers, but His providential care was more attentive than ever to their needs.
Chaste St. Joseph was not forgotten by Divine Providence. Condemned to prison and oblivion, he groaned in his chains, but he was unexpectedly released and elevated to the highest honors, even receiving a share in supreme authority. But providence does not always liberate the upright from all fear and danger, nor does it always give them in their need the kind of help they want and ask for. But, its plans are no less wonderful, whether it releases men from need or leaves them in it, whether it avenges them against injustice or leaves them to be its victims.
In afflictions God gives them the grace to be patient, and thereby bestows a greater blessing on them than if He were to overwhelm them with prosperity. Even today, how many Christians there are who lack everything, yet seem to need nothing, so great is their contentment. Such men bless God for His providence and would not change places with those whom the world regards as supremely fortunate.
Having recourse to the Lord, therefore, in your every need, abandon yourself entirely to Him. The help you receive may not always be clear and startling, but it will nonetheless be real and strengthening.
Love Of Jesus
My child, I would not have been worthy to be the Mother of Jesus if my love for Him had been greater than that of all other intelligent creatures. That love daily grew greater in me because daily I discovered new perfections in this Divine Child. I experienced no sweetness and happiness except in that love. It was my food, my life, my rest, my joy, and my delight. I lived a poor and obscure life at Nazareth, but I was well rewarded by the treasure I possessed in the person of Jesus. Because of that possession alone we thought ourselves richer than the mightiest kings.
Happy, beyond telling happy, are those who live for love of Jesus, and who breathe only for Him. The love of Jesus makes them calm and content of heart, and nothing can long please them without that love. What pleasure, after all, can a man find in this world if he has not tasted the lovableness of Jesus? The more one loves, the greater the pleasure one finds in loving Him Who is truly infinitely worthy of being loved.
However greater your sufferings in this life, there is none equal to that of not loving Him. If a man does not love Jesus, has he really known what Jesus is? Jesus unites in Himself all natural perfections, but in so eminent a way that they make of Him the Creator’s masterpiece. He unites in himself all the perfections of grace, in such a way that all men must come and share His fullness. He unites in Himself all the perfections of the Divinity that dwells substantially in Him. He is powerful with the power of God, beautiful with the beauty of God, wise with the wisdom of God and holy with the holiness of God.
The immensity of Jesus’ sufferings did not equal His desire for suffering. Love never says: “ENOUGH!” But of all love that exists, the most ardent and the most eager to make itself known is the love of Jesus. Jesus would have given even more than He did for your salvation if He could have given something more of Himself.
He who knows Jesus despises all else, and the world means nothing any longer to him who has tasted the sweetness of Jesus’ love.
(Let us pray)
Pure and spotless Virgin, pray for us, that we may stop sinning, that we may sin no more, that we may persevere in our intention of making up for the great harm done by our sins.
Your intercession will win us the grace of perfect friendship with God. Therefore, we shall be able to praise you for being, after your Son Jesus, the source of our salvation.
The author of The Imitation of Mary follows the Blessed Virgin through the different mysteries and circumstances of Her life from Her Immaculate Conception to Her Assumption into Heaven. At each point he reflects on Her conduct and Her sentiments, thus providing instructive insights, which will help every Christian in the varying situations of his or her own life.
Written by: Alexander De Rouville
Revised and Edited by: Matthew J. O’Connell
Imprimatur: James P. Mahoney, D.D
Vicar General, Archdiocese of New York
NIHIL OBSTAT: Richard T. Adams, M.A.
Catholic Book Publishing Co.
Transcribed by: Denise Wood
Lovely Lady Dressed In Blue
Lovely Lady dressed in blue -------
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little boy,
Tell me what to say!
Did you lift Him up, sometimes,
Gently on your knee?
Did you sing to Him the way
Mother does to me?
Did you hold His hand at night?
Did you ever try
Telling stories of the world?
O! And did He cry?
Do you really think He cares
If I tell Him things -------
Little things that happen? And
Do the Angels' wings
Make a noise? And can He hear
Me if I speak low?
Does He understand me now?
Tell me -------for you know.
Lovely Lady dressed in blue -------
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little boy,
And you know the way.
One of Fr. Denis E. O'Brien's favorite prayers
By Saint Louis DeMontfort