26 August 2010

Offering Mary Our Service

A Carthusian monk describes how we should be servants of our Blessed Lady, and the mistakes we make by our indifference. To make his point, the writer shares a couple of stories, first about Martin, the brother of Saint Peter Damian; and then about the Carthusian Prior, Dom Louis Rouvier.

With what docility . . . should the irrational world hasten to serve Mary, in doing the will of the Master Who created it for her, and restored it through her? The earth and the heavens, exclaims the royal Prophet, fire and snow, hail and the stormy winds, mountains and hills, the beasts of the field and the birds of the air: all hymn the glory of the Almighty God (cf. Psalm 148).

What is man’s part in this universal hymn? What note do we add to it? Surrounded by creatures that should serve as instruments for Mary’s glory, do we not frequently use them indifferently, without giving a thought to our heavenly Queen, at the risk of provoking their lamentations (cf. Romans 8:22) by turning them away from their true end, which is to give glory to the Incarnate Word and His Blessed Mother?

And this is not all. Not only do we remain deaf to the voice of creation urging us to gratitude and love, as it did to the ecstatic saint of Assisi, who unlike us heard and understood its language; but how often do we not fling insults in the face of our Queen by rebelling against her claims on us? To obey Mary is to obey God, and to offend her is to be unfaithful to her Son.

One can understand what led the brother of Saint Peter Damian to act as he did. Martin, for such was his name, had had the misfortune to commit a grave fault. Quickly entering into himself, he prostrated himself before our Lady’s altar, and there, grieving for his sin, he uttered the prayer: ‘O my Patroness, mirror of chastity, I have sinned against God and against you. Wretched sinner that I am, I have no longer any hope save by becoming your servant; receive me as such’. Then, loosening his girdle, he placed it around his neck, as the humble badge of his service. At the same time, he laid upon the altar a sum of money which he vowed to pay every year to his heavenly Mistress.

Mary, it is true, does not ask any such ransom of us, or necessarily any external marks of our love. Instead, let us offer her our self, our whole way of life, in a generous and unfailing service. This, at least, we can and should do.

It is related that when Dom Louis Rouvier was installed as Prior of the Charterhouse of Bosserville, his constant desire was to show in some way that he regarded himself in his office simply as our Lady’s vicar, and that he intended to exercise his authority solely in dependence upon her. In the church and refectory, above the prior’s seat, he placed a small statue of our Lady bearing the inscription: Reign over us, O Blessed Virgin, together with your Son. At his instance, also, a picture of our Lady Immaculate was hung on all the cell doors; and at various parts of the monastery he placed prints representing Carthusians at Mary’s feet, offering her the homage of their love.

We, too, should never forget the tremendous honour God has paid us in allowing us to have His Mother as our Queen, and to be reckoned among her servants.