The Rich man and Lazarus-- spiritual blindness
None of us is called to be lukewarm, tepid, mediocre!  This is appalling in the eyes of God.  “You are neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm; I will vomit you out of my mouth.”  God has given us one life and a life to be lived to the fullest possible extent in getting to know Jesus, love Jesus, imitate Jesus, and follow Jesus and to be transformed into Jesus.   In the words of the Apostle St. Paul: “No longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.”   Why not live your life to the fullest possible extent and give your whole being into the hands of your loving Father, with Jesus as your elder Brother and the Holy Spirit as your best Friend and Sanctifier???

In our pursuit of greatness of life--- which means the pursuit of holiness—one of the quickest, most secure, easiest and most efficacious paths is through  TRUE DEVOTION TO MARY.   This path was taught by the fiery Marian Apostle, St. Louis Grignon de Montfort.   This saint insists that Mary is the highway to Jesus and the short-cut to holiness.  Why not drive this highway and take this shortcut?

St. Louis de Montfort
True Devotion to Mary implies the giving of one’s total self to Jesus through the Blessed Virgin Mary.  We give all to Jesus through Mary in our totality: our past, present, future, our material goods as well as spiritual, our virtues as well as our struggles, temptations and sins--- these we place in the pure and virginal hands of Mary.

True Devotion to Mary also implies the imitation of her most sublime virtues as we read in the text TRUE DEVOTION TO MARY, #108. Mary practiced ten principal virtues that we also are called to imitate.

Therefore, let us list these virtues that Mary practiced to the highest degree and beg Mary for the grace to incorporate these virtues in our lives and to strive to practice them all the more perfectly all the days of our lives until we arrive safely home in Heaven!

Humility of Jesus washing the feet

1.    DEEP HUMILITY.  St. Teresa of Avila asserts that humility is the truth.   A humble person attributes all of his achievements, successes, and triumphs to God, the author of all good. Whereas, he attributes all of his moral failures--- sins—to his own doing.  In the words of the Psalmist (speaking to God), “Not to us, not to us, but to thee the honor and glory…”  Mary was the  humble  handmaid of the Lord.  We are called to imitate her deep humility as well as Jesus who said, “I am meek and humble of heart…”
The doubting Thomas---"My Lord and my God!"

2.    LIVELY FAITH.   In this year of faith, we should lift our eyes to Mary and beg for a lively, dynamic and growing faith.  Faith is believing in God and all He says through the Church, without seeing.  Our prayer should be: “Lord I believe, but strengthen my faith…” or in the exclamation of Thomas the Apostle: “My Lord and my God…”  Mary was the woman of faith, par excellence!

3.    BLIND OBEDIENCE.   In the modern world filled with pride, strident protests, self-will, rebellion, and haughty arrogance, Mary teaches us the virtue of obedience.  Her Fiat (consent to the Angel) was not only an act of humility but also of blind obedience and trust. “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord be it done to me according to your word.”   This obedience of Mary resulted in the Incarnation of the Son of God.  “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  Jesus, the Son of Mary, exemplifies this virtue.  He was obedient even to death and death on the cross.”(Philippians 2 ).
Jesus absorbed in prayer

4.    UNCEASING PRAYER.   One of the most challenging commands of the Bible we find in Lk. 18 where Jesus says: “It is necessary to pray always without giving up…” St. Paul, to the Thessalonians, repeats the same command: “Pray incessantly…”  What better model of prayer do we have, aside from Jesus Himself, than Mary His Mother, the great Contemplative? When Mary appeared in Lourdes and then in Fatima, one of her primary messages, in the form of a command, was to pray, pray, pray….especially for the conversion of poor sinners. May Our Lady’s prayers motivate us to pray a little bit more each day and better!
Jesus fasting in the desert

5.    CONSTANT SELF-DENIAL.   Jesus admonishes us with these challenging and somewhat stern words: “Unless you do penance, you shall perish.” Once again Our Lady of Lourdes as well as Our Lady of Fatima insisted on prayer, but to add penance and sacrifices to the prayer. Penance gives zest and power to prayer. Many of us have an anemic and fruitless prayer life because we are lacking in the spirit of self-denial. May Our Lady intercede for us!
Our Lady of Fatima and the children

6.    SURPASSING PURITY.  Our Lady of Fatima made serious assertions on the state of affairs in 1917, several related to the virtue of purity. 1st) many marriages are not good. One of the primary reasons for bad marriages is impurity: premarital sex before marriage, adultery in marriage, the contraceptive mentality and the all-pervasive poison of pornography! 2nd) Our Lady said that many immodest fashions will enter the world that will offend God very much. Never forget what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:  “Modesty is the guardian of purity…” 3rd) Finally, Our Lady of Fatima stated bluntly that most souls go to hell due to the sins against the virtue of purity. May our living out our consecration to Mary attain for us an increasing virtue of purity. Let us beg Mary for the grace to live out the Beatitude:  “Blessed are the pure of heart for they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8)
Blessed Mother Teresa and her ardent love

7.    ARDENT LOVE. The greatest of all virtues is supernatural love or charity, which means placing God above all persons, places, and things and desiring what is best for our neighbor— the eternal salvation of his immortal soul!  St. Thomas Aquinas says that love is the queen of all virtues.  The Mystical Doctor of the Church, St. John of the Cross states: “At the twilight of our existence we will be judged on love.”  St. Augustine in the form of a command says: “Love God and do what you want.” Finally, St. Frances de Sales, in his spiritual masterpiece, Treatise on Love, declares: “The measure with which we should love God is to love Him without measure.”   The Dogmatic Constitution of the Second Vatican Council Lumen Gentium affirms that the greatest virtue of the Blessed Virgin Mary was her charity—her ardent love for God and neighbor. May Our Lady attain for us a fervent and dynamic love for God and neighbor!
Jesus' infinite patience carrying the cross

8.    HEROIC PATIENCE.  Jesus said that by our patience we will save our souls. All of us, in all states of life, in all times and circumstances, desperately need the virtue of patience.   We need patience in waiting for God’s action in our lives; we need patience with others; finally we need patience with ourselves. Contemplating Jesus and Mary in the Passion (call to mind the Movie of Mel Gibson, The Passion of the Christ) we observe an infinite reservoir of patience. How much both Jesus and Mary suffered patiently as an act of love for you and for me and for the salvation of all of humanity.   When our patience is being put to the test--- as it surely will be shortly--- may Mary’s prayers attain for us victory!

Mary visits St. Elizabeth--"Blessed are you among women..."

9.    ANGELIC KINDNESS.  On one occasion somebody asked the great Saint Augustine what virtue he should practice towards others and the saint responded Kindness, Kindness, and again Kindness!!!!  Kindness is related to meekness and meekness is not weakness but powerful emotions under control. St. Frances de Sales, who struggled several years to attain this virtue, attained it to a sublime degree.  Such was his overflowing kindness that his good friend St. Vincent de Paul asserted: “He who sees Frances de Sales sees the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”  Try to imagine the kindness of Mary in her generous service toward her aged pregnant cousin St. Elizabeth! Try to imagine the overflowing kindness of Mary as she smiled at St. Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes France!  Pointedly did St Frances de Sales write: “One can catch more flies with a teaspoon of honey than with a barrel of vinegar.” May we radiate kindness to others like Mary, most amiable!
Pray to Our Lady for Wisdom

10. HEAVENLY WISDOM.   In the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of her most inspiring titles is “Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.”  Wisdom is the greatest of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, defined as, “Relishing the things of God.”   The Psalmist reiterates this:  “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”   A wise person knows what is best and strives with all of the energy of his will to attain it. What is most important is striving to praise and magnify God and to work for the salvation of souls. From the Immaculate Heart of Mary exploded the beautiful prayer the Magnificat: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord….. Another translation, “My soul does magnify the Lord… Mary’s life was a constant “Magnifying” the Lord--- like a magnifying lens enlarges the object under it!  Through Mary’s powerful prayers may we “Magnify” the Lord by our lives and have an ardent zeal for the salvation of immortal souls!

In conclusion, let us all shun mediocrity, tepidity, and lukewarmness of life. Rather, through the example and prayers of Mary let us pursue true holiness of life by living out Jesus’ command: “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.”