Moments of Love with Mary
– The Spiritual Letter Box –
The Formation of Children
I attended a meeting of the Army of Mary at Montreal on February 3. Both I and my husband, who accompanied me, were deeply impressed by it. We wasted no time in forming a Family Center of the Army of Mary with our four children. We have always been a happy family but now there was added an element of fervor, a loftier bond of union, for we could see more clearly that spirituality, when it is understood and lived well, raises us to a level far above the ordinary human ties, whether fraternal or conjugal.
My husband and I are more acutely aware now of the primacy of the spiritual in our lives, and our act of consecration to Mary, which we have since repeated, never fails to bring us new joy. We want to share our happiness with other couples, our friends, and urge them to join the Army of Mary.
My oldest child, a boy, is ten and the youngest, a girl, is four. I am expecting a fifth child in a few months. I have always been concerned with giving them a religious formation, for this is what makes life happy in spite of the difficulties which may arise. We received so much from our good Christian parents. I want to pass this heritage on to my children and I want to start when they are very young. We must not wait until they begin school.
Help me to give them more because I want so much that my children, in the future, should keep to the right way even if they meet friends who have not had this formation, and there are many of them, so many of them, these days…
A Happy Mother
The child evolves in the sanctuary of the family under the affectionate regard of its mother who forms its soul to the love of God and teaches it to pray. Is there anything more touching to see than a mother encouraging her child to stammer the first greeting of its soul to the Master of life; teaching it to love Him for all the beauties of creation, to admire Him in His mysterious grandeur, His tenderness, His reassuring strength, His mercy for human weaknesses, and His goodness in lifting the fallen? The mother must direct the regard of the child towards the crucifix and tell it this most sorrowful yet cherished story. She must teach him the love of this God Redeemer who will always protect it, providing it turns to Him, for God would never willingly abandon it.
To begin with, she must accept pregnancy in already loving the child whom she is bearing, in making every offering for its little soul, thus accumulating a reserve of merits, a celestial gift which she will keep for his coming into this world.
Too many mothers, unfortunately, leave their children in almost complete ignorance of that which is divine. They fill their souls only with that which is of the world, making them reproduce only human sounds.
Carry on, Madam, along the way already traced out by your good parents. Go forward with confidence, for, with your husband, you are giving your children a solid and promising education which will help them overcome the inevitable difficulties they will meet with along the way.
The consecration of your family to Mary places you under the special protection of Mary, Mother of the Church, who will lead you to her Son. This is Mary’s hour! The teaching of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, taken up by the Second Vatican Council, urges us to make this consecration, to live it intensely in order that it may enrich our lives while assuring us of “acquiring an intimate union with our Lord and perfect fidelity to the Holy Spirit…. The greatest saints, the souls richest in graces and virtues, shall be the most assiduous in praying to our Blessed Lady and in having her always present as their perfect model for imitation and their powerful aid for help.” (“True Devotion to Mary”, nos. 43 and 46)
Go forward! Share your happiness with your friends, for friendship is not merely a relationship of sentiment but a genuine attraction of the soul, a providential means of spiritual ascent through fraternal aid.
On this subject, Saint Francis of Sales counsels us as follows: “Love each other with the deep love of charity, but bind yourself in friendship only with those who will help you: and the more perfect you make the relationship, the more perfect will be your friendship. If the common tie is knowledge, the friendship will be honest and praiseworthy; it will be much more so if founded on the moral virtues; but if the love of God and the desire of perfection are the object of this sweet and mutual relation, then how precious your friendship will be!
“It will be excellent because it comes from God; excellent because it leads to God and is the bond with Him; and finally, excellent because it will endure eternally in God. How good it is to love on earth as they love in heaven, and to learn to cherish each other in this world as we shall do eternally in the next. I am not speaking here,” Saint Francis de Sales goes on to say, “of the simple love of charity with which we should love our neighbor no matter who he is, but of that spiritual friendship in which two or three persons, or more, communicating to each other their desire for God, have but one heart and one soul… All other friendships are but a pale shadow of this one…”
To reach the summit we must go beyond the level of sentiment, not destroy it, but rise above it in such a manner that the soul has priority over the heart. It is this that is so wonderful and so fulfilling.
(Review “L’Armée de Marie”, volume II, no. 8)