Why is the devil so extremely persistent in keeping us away from Our Lady? Because he wants to keep us eternally away from God. He wants to snatch our souls out of God’s hands forever. He wants to wound God as deeply as he can, and for that very reason he seeks to destroy God’s beloved children: us human beings. The devil chose to turn his back on God when he rebelled against God in Heaven and was cast into hell. He was aware of the consequences of his terrible decision: Heaven, now lost to him, and the separation from God, source of all goodness and happiness, now weighed upon him. From that moment on his hatred, born from his pride, impels him to procure the same tragedy for all humanity. In this abominable undertaking, who is his greatest rival? The Woman who will crush his head: none other than Holy Mary, Mother of Jesus. For this reason, the devil does everything in his power to keep us away from Her. He knows that if we have recourse to Her, he will be utterly powerless, and his defeat is certain.
One subtle temptation the enemy often employs is stirring up within us a sort of fear of or repulsion toward drawing close to Mary. He insinuates that if we draw near to Her we will leave Jesus aside, or that if we love Her too much we will offend Jesus because we will be putting Her in His place.
Why does the devil insinuate such a thing? Because he knows perfectly well that Our Lady is our path to holiness. In fact, there is no saint who has not been madly in love with Mary. The testimonies of the saints are countless. St. Louis Maria Grignion de Montfort, for example, tells us: “Mary is the safest, easiest, shortest, and most perfect way of approaching Jesus.” St. John Bosco insists: “Whoever puts his trust in Mary will never be disappointed.” St. Ignatius of Loyola says: “However much you love Holy Mary, She will always love you much more than you love Her.” What son or daughter does not desire his mother to be loved and valued? The measure we must love Our Lady with is the measure with which Jesus Himself loved Her. Therefore, we do not have to worry about loving Her too much, because we will never be able to love Her more than Jesus did.
More than to the saints, let us listen to what Jesus Himself says about His Mother:
“While He was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to Him, ‘Blessed is the womb that carried You and the breasts at which You nursed.’
“He replied, ‘Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it’” (Luke 11:27-28).
Our Lady certainly was blessed. That woman from the crowd perceived it, but she was mistaken about the reason why. When Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it,” what He was doing was lifting our eyes to see beyond a mere human level. Although being the physical mother of Jesus is certainly something great—exceedingly great—there is something even greater yet in Her: She fulfilled God’s will. Before She conceived Jesus in her womb, She conceived Him in her heart with her disposition of FIAT: “Be it done unto me according to your word.” Of all creatures, who has most perfectly fulfilled God’s will for his or her own life? Our Lady. Besides all this, having recourse to Mary is nothing less than obeying Jesus, since He gave Her to us to be our Mother before breathing His last. A mother’s vocation is to bring her children to Heaven, by directing them and teaching them a life of virtue. Thus Mary, being the person who has most perfectly fulfilled God’s will during her own life, is the best Teacher we could possibly have. That is why the saints exhort us to have recourse to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Nevertheless, the devil never ceases to invent ingenious ways of preventing us from drawing close to Our Lady. As soon as he realizes that it is no use trying to stir up in us feelings of opposition or repulsion towards Her, as we said earlier, he tries a different tactic. He whispers, “This is a useless devotion... Always praying Rosaries, always invoking Mary, and yet you’re still a miserable wretch. Why keep trying? Give up already, it’s not worth it, it’s a waste of time... There’s no remedy for you... You think you’re so good since you always pray to Her, but you’re nothing but a miserable wretch. Stop being a hypocrite! Just give up.”
To this we may respond that if while having recourse to Mary we still fall, how much farther would we fall if we never had recourse to Her! Thank Heaven we can have recourse to Mary, for only God knows in what dark depths we would otherwise find ourselves. It is true that we are weak, but this affirmation simply reinforces another, previously mentioned, truth: Our Lady strengthens us in our weakness.
In short, the devil is always seeking new ways to cause our love for Our Lady to grow cold. Whether it be insinuating that loving Her too much would displace Jesus, or the opposite—that loving Her and having recourse to Her is useless, since we are still the same sinners as ever—both are nothing but lies. Jesus gave us His Mother to be our Mother. It cannot therefore displease Him that She cares for us like a mother and that we go to Her like children. In conclusion, let us remember the words of Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, from the last chapter, dedicated to Mary: “By her maternal charity, She cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into the happiness of their true home” (no. 62). Mary, Help of Christians, pray for us!
-Sr. Sara Martínez, SHM