CHAPTER XXII THE NATURE OF TRUE DEVOTION TO MARY
O Domine, quia ego servus tuus; ego servus tuus, et filius ancillae tuae. Dirupisti vincula mea:—Ps. cxv. 16.
ON analysis it will be found that true devotion to our Lady consists essentially of three elements— honour, prayer and imitation. The honour we owe to Mary springs from our faith ; the invocation of Mary is the result of the hope which we place in her powerful intercession; the attempt, at a far distance, to imitate Mary is the inevitable outcome of the love that we bear our sinless Mother. So this chapter naturally divides itself into three sections.
I. THE HONOUR DUE TO OUR LADY
We must bear steadily in mind the great principle that Catholics cannot possibly honour the Mother of God too much, nay, more, that they cannot possibly honour her as much as she deserves to be honoured—that, though they should honour her more and more each day that passes, still at the end of life they will know that they have failed to honour her with the honour that is her due; for the measure of the honour that is due to Mary is the honour that was rendered her by God when He became her Son.
We honour the Prophets who foretold the coming of Christ, His Precursor, His undaunted Martyrs, the Virgins who follow His steps whither soever He goeth, Joseph, His foster-father; what honour, then, belongs to the Martyrs', and the Virgins', and the Apostles' Queen—to her whom the unborn Baptist greeted—to Joseph's spouse, who is also the Bride of the Holy Ghost—to the peerless Mother of God ?
I have written that Catholics cannot possibly honour the Blessed Virgin too much, and I would add to Catholics all those (though unhappily they may be outside the visible unity of the Church) who hold the Catholic Faith as to the Incarnation. No doubt it might be possible for others, after the fashion of extinct Collyridians, to create an idol in the mind —a mere figment of the imagination without real existence, a goddess—that is a being not created by the one true God—and then to call her Mary the Virgin; but such a Mary (even though it be blasphemously stated that she gave birth to Christ) would not be the Mary whom Catholics worship— the pure creature raised by her Creator to the most sublime dignity it is possible to contemplate, yet owing all that she possesses to the grace of her Lord and Saviour.