Marian devotion.....and when it gets too far?


And you have articulated very well aspects of why, when presented with the opportunity to make a dogmatic definition concerning the title “Co-Redemptrix”, Pope Saint John Paul II declined.

Not including the title in Lumen Gentium was a conscious decision.


There are many schools of spirituality within Catholicism. There is no need to force oneself into a school of spirituality with which one is not comfortable.

De Montfort, it must be remembered, was a product of 17th/18th century France. His texts must be read in that light. He often engages in hyperbole and in an affective language. His use of examples and imagery are geared toward the country people of pre-revolutionary France.

There are other expressions of Marian devotion and piety besides De Montfort.


No, but would you call her a co fighter?


It is a title that is in use…but one has to be very careful about it, actually.

I have written on this before and I haven’t the time or desire to re-type what was written before but…

There was a movement going back to the much loved Cardinal Mercier of Belgium at the time of World War I petitioning the Holy Father for a dogmatic definition of Mary as “Mediatrix of All Grace”. Even after the Cardinal’s death, the petition continued to be made from time to time. Benedict XV, Pius XI and their successors would not look with favour on this petition.

The matter came up at the Council…and the Council Fathers were firm in saying that this was not going to be defined by the Council, at all. The term “mediatrix” was used – but the qualifier…of all grace…was deliberately not used by the Council. The term “mediatrix” was also rather exhaustively explained as being entirely subordinate and not in any way arising from necessity but purely from “the divine pleasure” of God.

  1. There is but one Mediator as we know from the words of the apostle, “for there is one God and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a redemption for all”.(298) The maternal duty of Mary toward men in no wise obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows His power. For all the salvific influence of the Blessed Virgin on men originates, not from some inner necessity, but from the divine pleasure. It flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on His mediation, depends entirely on it and draws all its power from it. In no way does it impede, but rather does it foster the immediate union of the faithful with Christ.

There has continued to be – from this corner or that corner of the Church – requests for a dogmatic definition concerning up to three titles of the Mother of Jesus.

In each instance, the answer has been no.

Mediatrix of All Grace is particularly problematic, above all concerning sacramental grace, and the theological community has no coalescence concerning it. I took part in meetings precisely on this matter 20, 30 years ago…and even more. I have no expectation of seeing any path ahead develop for such a definition within my earthly life time. The matter is simply too inchoate relative to the fields of Mariology, sacramental theology, and the theology of grace.


This analogy is a most inadequate one.

During World War II – and even more today – women did in fact engage the enemy to combat them while men were engaged in clerical duties or munitions plants on the home front because of one reason or another. They are actions both are capable of.

Men and women are human persons.

Mary is a human person. Jesus is a divine person who assumed a human nature in the incarnation. Therefore, because of the hypostatic union, everything done by the assumed human nature was the action of a divine person. The Mother of Jesus, on the other hand, was always a human person and her actions were the actions of a human person.

One must always vehemently assert that there is no parity between Jesus and Mary in the way there was parity between Adam and Eve. The image parallel can be useful – provided that the underlying theology is well understood and well in place wherever the image is evoked. But that is many times not the case.


Sorry. My bad. Please disregard everything I have posted.



And there is a serious injunction that was imposed by the world’s bishops gathered in Council:

Let them assiduously keep away from whatever, either by word or deed, could lead separated brethren or any other into error regarding the true doctrine of the Church.


I like the way that you have framed and posed your questions. I compliment you.

I would recommend three documents to you, as a start.

The first is the eighth chapter of Lumen Gentium. The Council Fathers were all but unanimous in what they did and enacted…except on the treatment of the Mother of Jesus. One segment wanted a document that was focused on her. The other wanted the Council’s treatment integrated into the Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. The latter prevailed as the mystery of Mary, ultimately, can only be understood in reference to Christ and the Church – not apart from either.

Here is the link to Lumen Gentium:

The second document followed ten years later, Marialis Cultus by Pope Saint Paul VI concerning the renewal in Mariology and in Marian piety and devotion.

The third document is Redemptoris Mater by Pope Saint John Paul II. He was a Council Father of Vatican II and well embodies the Mariology that emerged from the Council and the post-conciliar renewal.



I have always found, whether it is as a priest working with the faithful or as a theologian, that the issues of problems relative to Marian piety and devotion arise from a disorder in the approach of the person. This can be because the person loses a Christocentric focus – all is properly ordered to Christ. It can be because of the introduction of some imbalance in one’s relationship with the Trinity and with the Mother of Jesus and the understanding of their essential disparity. This can manifest itself in the expression of sentiments that appear to say, for example, that Mary is more merciful than God. Such an assertion is fundamentally wrong. It goes without saying that God is Mercy…God is Love.

The Mother of Jesus is a singular person…in salvation history and, indeed, in all of human history. The Church accords her a veneration that is singular and unique. Certainly you can ask her for her intercession and prayers. You can speak to her. You can ask her for graces…remembering that she is not the source of the grace. That is God alone, who was pleased to make her to be she who is “the Full of Grace”.

One can entrust oneself to her.

Theologically, though, the distinction is quite clear. In its practical manifestation, outward acts can seem less clear. One kneels before the Blessed Sacrament and one kneels before an image of the Mother of Jesus…but what underlies those acts of kneeling, inwardly, in the will and in the heart, is completely different and distinct.

That which is a truly wonderful tribute to the Mother of the Redeemer is to follow what she said in the Gospel of John in reference to her Son…“Do whatever He tells you.”


I like these observations. To believe Mary is more gracious than Jesus, or that she imparts grace from herself, as opposed to from Jesus through her devotion to Him, is going way too far and into making an image of her which is based on our own imagination and not reality.


But he’s a Saint. He is in heaven right now with the Holy Trinity & the blessed mother. How can you be held accountable for following his teaching?

The Church encourages you to look to him as a model.


I am not comfortable with the language used in a “consecration to Mary” also. Doesnt mean I’m saying it’s wrong, but that it doesnt come from understanding so better not to participate in that.

If someone feels compelled by Jesus, with the understanding from the Holy Spirit, that’s their conviction.

I believe we honor Mary through keeping her Son’s commandments. If I am consecrated through this faith, I am honored.

We are not obligated to believe private revelations or teachings. I dont have to subscribe or follow any Saint’s private devotions.


What you say is perfectly correct, but you know, in my 62 years as a Catholic, and with a fairly extensive association with large numbers of other Catholics throughout the decades, I’ve never come upon anyone ‘face to face’ who has said or believed that Mary is ‘more gracious than Jesus’ etc.

Sure, on these forums (and only on these forums) I’ve heard posters say things of this nature, claiming somebody said it to them. . .but most of the time if people actually ask them ‘what do you mean by that" it turns out that they actually have just done what we call “Catholic shorthand” by believing that Jesus (the source of the grace) allows graces to come through Mary to help somebody have more courage to approach Him. . .through her. The few times they stick to their guns, those people usually start to raise other outrageous "I’m a Catholic and I believe X’ to where it becomes obvious they’re trolls.

So I kind of wonder if the whole idea of ‘going too far’ is just another weapon that is used by trolls and by the conscientious but often duped alike to sow an artificial division.

I mean, if we can start throwing darts at these supposed Catholics who ‘go too far in Marian devotion’ (but who gets to judge?) then pretty soon we can claim their devotion to saints ‘goes too far’ (who gets to judge), their devotion to Scripture/tradition goes too far (same), their devotion to ‘their concept of Christ’ goes too far???

It’s like we’re so afraid of the statistical anomaly that we are actually crippling the vast majority, because in our fights and quarrels over a tiny few, the vast majority is neglecting and limiting itself.


This is what my parish priest told me when I ask him the same question coming into the Church. :smile:


Well I have family members who boast a devotion to Mary or other Saints, but then actually profess beliefs completely opposed to the Church and that particular Saint.

So what is their devotion really towards?

For example, one member boasted about a devotion to St Padre Pio. She then scheduled a sterilization procedure so she would not become pregnant again. I showed her the last letter of Padre Pio which was written to Pope Paul VI praising Humanae Vitae and compelling all his spiritual children to adhere to it! She not only had the surgery but attempted to convince my wife to do the same!

You may rightly say that this is just hypocritical devotion, and I’d agree. But it prompts the question “What is a devotion to a Saint?”

Is it just keeping a Statue, saying some prayers, reciting a consecration, etc. Or is it more like inspiration and guidance to follow Jesus and his Church?


I see but there is nothing to fear here. If St Louis de Montfort was wrong, he would not have been canonized a saint for inspired by the Holy Spirit he lived and taught the total consecration to Jesus through Mary and that is how he became a saint, and the Church canonizes saints for the edification of the faithful and to follow their example. He also founded two religious orders approved by the Church that still exist today, namely, the Company of Mary aka The Montfort Missionaries and the Daughters of Wisdom, that follow in his footsteps and his distinctive Marian spirituality of total consecration to Mary to be more perfectly consecrated to her Divine Son, Jesus.

The Company of Mary also administers with the approval of the Holy See The Association of Mary Queen of All Hearts (called the Confraternity of Mary Queen of All Hearts in the past) in which any of the faithful, clergy, lay, or religious, can be enrolled in. A person thus enrolled participates in the mission and Marian spirituality of total consecration to Jesus through Mary as taught by St Louis de Montfort and is in spiritual communion with the entire Montfortian Family. There are today 140 centres of the Association around the world, the headquarters being at the General House of the Company of Mary in Rome. The Superior General of the Company of Mary is the Director General of the Association, and it is he who establishes or suppresses branches or centres. Link to website of the Association of Mary Queen of All Hearts:

Also, the Militia of the Immaculatae or Knights of the Immaculata founded by St Maximilian Kolbe and six confreres is an International Association of the faithful by Pontifical right, i.e, with the official recognition and explicit approval of the Holy See. Any of the faithful, clergy or lay, can become a member of it. The Marian spirituality of this association is taken from St Maximilian Kolbe which is essentially the same as that of St Louis de Montfort, namely, a total consecration to Mary. St John Paul II canonized St Maximilian Kolbe. Link to official site of the MI in USA:

The Marian spirituality of St John Paul II was largely influenced as he himself says by the writings, teaching, and lives of St Louis de Montfort and St Maximilian Kolbe. His papal moto was Totus Tuus (Totally Yours). According to an article in the National Catholic Register on the book In God’s Hands - The Spiritual Diaries of Pope Saint John Paul II, it says:
The full version of his papal motto, taken from the writings of St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort reads: Totus Tuus ego sum, et omnia mea Tua sunt, Accipio te inmea Omnia, Praebe mihi cor tuum, Maria (“I am entirely yours, and all that is mine is yours. I take you for my all. O Mary, give me your heart”).


So from what you’re saying, I don’t see your family members as professing a devotion that goes too far; I see them as having an inaccurate understanding of many aspects of the Catholic faith itself. If anything, some are not going ‘far enough’, right? For a person like the member you wrote of claiming a devotion to Padre Pio does not mean that she does not or did not indeed have a real devotion, in that she did not follow his teaching in the letter you showed her, any more than any of us who sin at a given time but claim to be followers of Christ would be judged by those who see only the sin of one given time and find us as 'not really devoted to Christ at all".

See, that’s what I mean about sowing divisiveness. . . because absolutely NONE of us is ever going to be perfect all the time. Your family member may have stumbled badly on this aspect, but what of all the many other things she may have done, or have ‘not done’, because she was truly trying to be a good pupil of St. Pio? What of events in the future? Is she really ‘going too far’, or not far enough?

It’s dangerous doing judgment of other people because we tend to judge based not on what the abstract standard is, but on how closely we–limited, fallible, human ‘we’–think the person is ‘adhering to’ said standard. Sally Slack might think that Tessie Trying is doing ‘too much’; Ronnie Rigid might think Tessie is doing far too little. Annie Average might compare Tessie to herself and see Tessie’s faults only; Adam Average might compare Tessie to himself and see only Tessie’s triumphs. It’s just far too speculative and, again, far too easy to be finding fault .


Notably in #48, among the many witnesses and teachers of authentic Marian spirituality in the Church’s Tradition, it is the figure of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort which Pope Saint John Paul II cites in the encyclical:

Furthermore, Marian spirituality, like its corresponding devotion, finds a very rich source in the historical experience of individuals and of the various Christian communities present among the different peoples and nations of the world. In this regard, I would like to recall, among the many witnesses and teachers of this spirituality, the figure of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, who proposes consecration to Christ through the hands of Mary, as an effective means for Christians to live faithfully their baptismal commitments.


That is absolutely not the case. I’m not going to call this heresy but please, that’s not that case.


New converts or questioners - if you’re led to a devotion to Mary that’s great. If you’re not, don’t worry. You don’t have to go along with private revelation. I’m uncomfortable with a lot of the language concerning her, some of which has been shared here. I stick to purely the hail Mary in the mass and a decade of rosary per day. It’s not for me. Maybe leftovers from my background but mariology doesn’t seem to be kicking in for me yet. What I prefer to do is thank God for the example of Mary.

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