Return of Marian Devotion

One of the titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary is Health of the Sick. Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O. P. (b. 1877- d. 1964) writes of Mary under this title in his book, The Mother of the Savior. Here is an excerpt:

“Mary is Health of the Sick by the many providential or miraculous cures which have been obtained through her intercession in Christian sanctuaries up to our own days. So many have these cures been that it may be said that Mary is a fathomless ocean of miraculous healing. But it is to help the infirmity of the soul that she cures the body. Her most important cures are those of the four spiritual wounds which we have suffered as a result of original sin and our personal sins —- the wounds of concupiscence, of weakness, of ignorance, and of malice.

She heals concupiscence —- a wound of our sensibility—- by diminishing the ardor of our passions and by breaking our sinful habits. She helps the sinner to begin to will what is right with sufficient firmness to enable him to reject evil desires as well as the appeal of honors and riches. In this way she cures the concupiscence of the flesh and that of the eyes.

She heals the wound of weakness too, our feeble pursuit of the good, our spiritual sloth. She makes the will constant and firm in its practice of virtue and helps it to despise the attractions of this world by throwing itself into the arms of God. she strengthens those who falter and lifts up those who have fallen.

She heals the wound of ignorance by lighting up the darkness of our minds and providing us with the means to escape from error. She calls to our minds the simple and profound truths of the Our Father, thereby lifting our minds up to God. St. Albert the Great, to whom she gave the light to persevere in his vocation and to see through the wiles of Satan, said frequently that she preserves us from losing rightness and firmness of judgment, that she helps us not to grow weary in the pursuit of truth, and that she leads us eventually to a relish of the things of God. He himself speaks of her in his Mariale with a spontaneity , an admiration, a freshness, and a fluency which are rarely found in the works of great students.

She heals us finally of the wounds of malice, by urging our wills Godwards, sometimes by gentle advice, sometimes by stern reproaches. Her sweetness checks anger, her humility lowers pride and restrains the temptations of the evil one. In a word, she heals us of the wounds which we bear as a result of original sin and which our personal sin has made all the more dangerous.

Sometimes this healing power of hers works in a miraculous manner by producing its effects instantaneously. An example is the conversion of the young Alphonse Ratisbonne, at the time a Jew and far removed from the faith, who visited the Church of Sant’ Andrea delle Frate in Rome through curiosity. Mary appeared to him there, as she is represented on the miraculous medal, with rays of light issuing from her hands. She indicated gently to him to kneel. He obeyed, and while on his knees lost the use of his senses. when he returned to himself he expressed an intense desire for Baptism. He was baptized and later, with his brother who had been converted before him, founded the congregation of the Fathers of Sion and that of the Religious of Sion, to pray, suffer, and work for the conversion of the Jews, saying daily at Holy Mass: ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’

St. Maximilian Kolbe (b. 1894- d. 1941) prayed his first Mass at the Church of Sant’ Andrea delle Frate in Rome in honor of the apparition of the Blessed Virgin there, and the subsequent conversion of Fr. Ratisbonne. The story of Fr. Ratisbonne can be found on numerous web sites, here’s a link to one: conversion of Fr. Ratisbonne.

It is startling to read the accounts of the actions Our Lady takes on behalf of her children, and it is a bit disconcerting how she has been neglected in Catholic instruction over the past fifty years. Hopefully this neglect will end, and we will see a return to traditional Catholic Marian devotion and love. It is as Fr. Faber wrote in 1862 (long before this current near extinction of Marian devotion):

“…what is the remedy that is wanted? What is the remedy indicated by God Himself? If we may rely on the disclosures of the Saints, it is an immense increase of devotion to our Blessed Lady; but, remember, nothing short of an immense one. Here, in England, Mary is not half enough preached. Devotion to her is low and thin and poor. It is frightened out of its wits by the sneers of heresy. It is always invoking human respect and carnal prudence, wishing to make Mary so little of a Mary that Protestants may feel at ease about her. Its ignorance of theology makes it unsubstantial and unworthy. It is not the prominent characteristic of our religion which it ought to be. It has no faith in itself. Hence it is that Jesus is not loved, that heretics are not converted, that the Church is not exalted; that souls, which might be saints, wither and dwindle; that the Sacraments are not rightly frequented, or souls enthusiastically evangelised.

Jesus is obscured because Mary is kept in the background. Thousands of souls perish because Mary is withheld from them. It is the miserable unworthy shadow which we call our devotion to the Blessed Virgin that is the cause of all these wants and blights, these evils and omissions and declines. Yet, if we are to believe the revelations of the Saints, God is pressing for a greater, a wider, a stronger, quite another devotion to His Blessed Mother. I cannot think of a higher work or a broader vocation for anyone than the simple spreading of this peculiar devotion of the Venerable Grignon de Montfort (total consecration to Jesus through Mary, can be read in True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort, added by SCF). Let a man but try it for himself, and his surprise at the graces it brings with it, and the transformations it causes in his soul, will soon convince him of its otherwise almost incredible efficacy as a means for the salvation of men, and for the coming of the kingdom of Christ.

Oh, if Mary were but known, there would be no coldness to Jesus then! Oh, if Mary were but known, how much more wonderful would be our faith, and how different would our Communions be!

Oh, if Mary were but known, how much happier, how much holier, how much less worldly should we be, and how much more should we be living images of our sole Lord and Saviour, her dearest and most blessed Son!”

May Our Lady, Health of the Sick, pray for us.


Pictured: Fr. Alphonse Ratisbonne (b. 1814- d. 1884), Fr. Ratisbonne was converted during an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary