Sunday, July 19, 2015

Book Review: Consecration to Mary

A new writer joins TR this month.  This is his first post.

Since being canonized by Pius XII in 1947, Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort has been recognized almost universally as an unimpeachable teacher of Marian spirituality, and his writings have guided thousands to union with Jesus Christ through the auspices of His Blessed Mother. Few know, however, that this unofficial “Doctor of the Blessed Virgin Mary” was almost consigned to obscurity during the French Revolution. Fearing destruction by those hostile to the Church, his followers hid his works in trunks underground until conditions became favourable for their disclosure. Fortunately, manuscripts that had been buried were recovered in 1842, and have seen innumerable editions and translations since that time.

St. Louis-Marie is known primarily for True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary (TD), and its summary, The Secret of Mary (SM). Other works such as Love of Eternal Wisdom (LEW), Friends of the Cross (FC), and The Admirable Secret of the Rosary (ASR) are less well known. In point of fact, it is LEW that is the synthesis of his doctrine and the key to unlocking the treasures of his thought. It discusses at length Jesus, Eternal Wisdom; and gives an excellent Gospel summary, highlights the importance of the Passion and the Cross, and reveals the four major ways leading to union with Our Saviour. It is Christocentric and incarnational, placing him solidly as the last great figure in the French School of spirituality, founded by Cardinal de Bérulle and further developed by Condren, Olier, Boudon, and St. Jean Eudes.

In TD, Montfort drew significantly on classical Marian authors as well as those in the French School. He details the importance of this devotion to Our Lord through His Blessed Mother, and indicates how to develop it. Curiously, there is no formula of consecration in TD, but only in LEW, although Montfort indicates how to prepare for the consecration in TD.

Montfort was unable to recommend his own works to those preparing for consecration, as they had not been published during his lifetime. He gives readings from Holy Scripture and the Imitation of Christ to aid retreatants during their thirty-three days of preparation.

Fr.Libietis has done his readers a great service in preparing Consecration to Mary by assembling the references recommended by Montfort, plus readings from TD, SM, LEW, FC, ASR in addition to other litanies, prayers and meditational materials in a single volume. There are guides to the meditations throughout the book, which are especially helpful to those not familiar with making a spiritual retreat in daily life. Readers will note that Fr. Libietis has extended the preparation to five weeks (35 days) to make the retreat period more manageable. This is an indispensable manual for those making the consecration for the first time, as well as those making its annual renewal. Instead of having to resort to flipping through several volumes to cover the exercises for a given day, the devotee has everything under one cover to really live this Holy Slavery of Love.

I feel the book could be improved by the addition of a table showing start dates relative to Marian feasts, for example to start on November 5th if you want to make your consecration on December 8th, and so on. Another improvement I would suggest would be the addition of a comprehensive index to quickly refer back to topics and helps for applying the consecration in daily life.

I have made use of several works in French and in English since 1998 on making the consecration, but in spite of their various strengths, all of them fell short of this volume by Fr. Libietis. It is a excellent digest of the writings of St. Louis-Marie de Montfort, and has been my guide and reference for over ten years to enhance my devotion to Our Blessed Mother.

True Restoration Press has obtained a limited number of copies of this book for the convenience of our customers, which may be ordered here.