On True Devotion to Mary
On this day of the Presentation of Mary here is something from Blessed Paul VI to think about. It is from the Apostolic Exhortation, Marialis Cultus – For the Right Ordering and Development of Devotion to Mary:
The development, desired by us, of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is an indication of the Church’s genuine piety. This devotion fits-as we have indicated above-into the only worship that is rightly called “Christian,” because it takes its origin and effectiveness from Christ, finds its complete expression in Christ, and leads through Christ in the Spirit to the Father. In the sphere of worship this devotion necessarily reflects God’s redemptive plan, in which a special form of veneration is appropriate to the singular place which Mary occupies in that plan.(4) Indeed every authentic development of Christian worship is necessarily followed by a fitting increase of veneration for the Mother of the Lord. Moreover, the history of piety shows how “the various forms of devotion towards the Mother of God that the Church has approved within the limits of wholesome and orthodox doctrine”(5) have developed in harmonious subordination to the worship of Christ, and have gravitated towards this worship as to their natural and necessary point of reference.
He is telling us that devotion to Mary is most fruitful and properly ordered when it is derived from and directing us to the worship of the God in the liturgy, which is the worship of the Father, through the Son in the Spirit. This is why, other things being equal, the praying of the rosary, while commendable, is neither so powerful or effective as devotion to Mary as expressed within the context of the liturgy. Devotional practices such as the rosary are a necessary part of a well balanced prayer life, of course, but are most fruitful when they are understood in their place, as subordinate to, but in harmony with the worship of God.
The painting above is a 19th century German representation of the Presentation of Blessed Virgin by St Anne and St Joachim her parents. I like this painting, it has the feel of a 17th century Rembrandt to me!