As we honor Our Lady’s Presentation in the Temple today, I want to take the opportunity to call our attention to one of the “necessary” aspects of Marianizing our life according to St. Louis de Montfort: avoiding mortal sin and its near occasions.
St. Louis de Montfort writes,
I confess that, in order to be truly devout to our Blessed Lady, it is not absolutely necessary to be so holy as to avoid every sin, though this were to be wished; but so much at least is necessary, and I beg you to take it to heart:— (1) To have a sincere resolution to avoid, at least, all mortal sin, which outrages the Mother as well as the Son. (2) I would add also to do violence to ourselves to avoid sin, to enroll ourselves in confraternities, to say the Rosary or other prayers, to fast on Saturdays, and the like. (True Devotion, 99)
In other words, there are two things we need to remember and resolve to do daily as concrete means of Marianizing our struggle against sin:
Make and uphold the firm resolution to never again commit a mortal sin. Mortal sin “ruptures” our communion with God (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1440). It is the deliberate turning away from God as our source of happiness, by turning instead towards a creature. Consequently, as deliberate mortal sin separates us from God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—so it also separates us from communion with the Church and with Mary. We can avoid destroying our communion with God, with the Church, and with Mary by making a firm resolution to do so. Write it down. Hold yourself accountable. Trust in God’s grace. Each step is pivotal in helping us avoid sin for the future, but it starts with the firm resolution.
Be proactive in avoiding the occasions of sin. Not only should we do the negative work of removing occasions of sin from our lives (apps, websites, conversations, certain people, places, situations, etc.), but we should also do the positive work of growing in the habit of prayer and the exteriorly engaging of our Marian devotion. Being Mary’s slaves of love means choosing to be dependent on Her. One way to concretely express our dependence is by entrusting to her our struggle against sin. There are several ways we can do this.
- The first is prayer. Among the many intentions you may have when you pray your daily Rosary, don’t forget to include this one: your perseverance in God’s grace.
- Besides prayer, we know that fasting also helps us in the struggle against sin. “Fasting is better than prayer”, we read on the Divine Office on Friday of the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time. It is just as effective in helping us acquire the grace to avoid future sins, as it is in helping us repair for past sins already committed. When offered to Mary, this effectiveness abounds all the more. So, don’t just fast. Give your fasting to Mary. Sweeten its bitterness by turning it into an act of love for her. Entrust to her the fruitfulness of its sacrifice.
- “Fasting is better than prayer, but almsgiving surpasses both, for love covers a multitude of sins.” The best means of being proactive in avoiding the occasions of sin is by engaging in works of charity. All the more will concrete acts of charity become instruments of God’s preventative mercy when they are inspired by our love and devotion to Mary.
Mary’s Presentation in the Temple is as much a mystery to be personally lived, as it is one to be liturgically celebrated. May the prayers and hymns that are lifted up to heaven today in her honor also be accompanied by our resolve to sin no more and to be proactive in avoiding the near occasion of sin through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Happy Feast of Day of Our Lady! Seize the day and make it all Hers!
Fr. Christopher Etheridge, IVE