Dear Brothers and Sisters,
St. Louis De Montfort’s 33 Day Preparation for renewing Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, in some ways parallels St. Bernard’s four degrees of love:
At first, man loves himself for his own sake. That is the flesh, which can appreciate nothing beyond itself. Next, he perceives that he cannot exist by himself, and so begins by faith to seek after God, and to love Him as something necessary to his own welfare. That is the second degree, to love God, not for God’s sake, but selfishly. But when he has learned to worship God and to seek Him aright, meditating on God, reading God’s Word, praying and obeying His commandments, he comes gradually to know what God is, and finds Him altogether lovely. So, having tasted and seen how gracious the Lord is (Ps. 34.8), he advances to the third degree, when he loves God, not merely as his benefactor but as God. Surely he must remain long in this state; and I know not whether it would be possible to make further progress in this life to that fourth degree and perfect condition wherein man loves himself solely for God’s sake. Let any who have attained so far bear record; I confess it seems beyond my powers. – For more, see HERE
The first period of St. Louis De Montfort’s Preparation, (now at Day 4 of 12) enables one to examine how much one loves God, and how much one loves the spirit of the world. How much of the spirit of the world does one cling to and need to empty oneself of? Then in Wk 1 - one seeks to know oneself better – how much of “self” dominates my soul? Do I follow my own spirit rather than the Holy Spirit? In Wk 2, one considers Mary’s spirit who loved God so totally and is both Mother and Model for the Church and Wk 3 brings one to contemplate Christ as one’s ALL.
As I wrote yesterday, on Day 3, in my reply to Katherine, the 33 Day Preparation to renew our Consecration (or to Consecrate oneself for the first time) totally to Jesus though Mary is an opportunity to grow in our spiritual lives. St. Bernard in his humility did not think he had reached the perfection of total union with Christ, but rather continued his journey by God’s Grace – as St. Louis de Montfort encourages us all to do. I hope there are some others besides Katherine and Katie who are seriously pondering the value and the real necessity of spiritual growth in Christ. I’d be grateful to hear from anyone else making this journey.