According to Saint Louis de Montfort, there are seven false devotions to Mary. In two of my previous posts I talked about the critical devotees and the scrupulous devotees. In this post I will talk about the third false devotion to Mary which is that of the superficial devotees. We have to keep in mind that all of these false devotions come from the evil one, Satan, who is like a thief, waiting for the opportune moment to catch us off guard and poison our minds with his lies and deceitful ways. As St. Louis de Montfort wrote: “People, richer in grace and virtue, more experienced and advanced in holiness than we are, have been caught off their guard and robbed and stripped of everything.”
We live in a world full of spiritual contamination and moral corruption. It is a constant challenge trying to keep our faith intact without being led astray by the evil spirits who are always on the prowl for some unsuspecting soul. St. Louis de Montfort referred to these evil spirits as “cunning thieves” and said that they wait for the perfect moment to catch us in a sin and rob us of all the grace and merit we’ve taken years to acquire. We must always be alert and ready for spiritual challenges. Our Blessed Mother can help us and does help us, especially when we ask for her intercession; she is always there for us, guiding and protecting us from the evil one. False devotion to Mary is one of Satan’s ways of attacking God because in doing so, he is striking out at Mary, the Mother of God.
False Devotion to Mary – Superficial Devotees
Superficial devotees are people who have no interior spirit and therefore, their entire devotion to Mary consists of a shallow, exterior sort of practice. For example, they will say the Rosary in a mechanical manner, rushing through it just to prove that they said it. They will assist in Masses without paying full attention to what they are doing and why they are there. They participate in processions of the Blessed Mother with no inner joy, zeal or passion for what they are doing. They join her confraternities without reforming their lives, controlling their earthly desires or imitating Our Lady’s virtues. Basically, these people have a shallow-minded idea of what it is to honor Mary and therefore, are considered superficial in their devotion. Superficial devotees are drawn to the emotional aspect of the devotion to Mary, but this devotion lacks substance. The lack of substance and warmth in their devotions causes them to feel as if they are doing nothing. They become frustrated and give up, or else they do things only when the timing is just right and they happen to be in the right mood.
In my opinion, there is hope for these superficial people who have this false devotion of Mary. I don’t view them in the same way that I view the critical and the scrupulous devotees. I almost feel as if this particular group of people just hasn’t yet fully embraced the whole concept of what it is to be truly devoted to Our Lady; it’s as if they are in Stage One and haven’t yet advanced to Stage Two, maybe because of lack of full spiritual knowledge and/or because they have newly discovered the Catholic faith. I may be way too on the optimistic side here, but I always believe in every human being’s fullest potential, and I can’t help but wonder when St. Louis de Montfort spoke of these superficial devotees if maybe there are people within that group who are innocently clueless and just need to be shown the correct way.
False Devotion to Mary and the Spiritually Elect
According to St. Louis de Montfort, the elect love and honor the Blessed Mother as their Mother and Queen, and their love for her is not only through words, but also through the things they do. Their devotion is from within their hearts and not just through outward means. With open hearts, they constantly implore Mary’s help, telling her their troubles and needs, fully confident that her goodness and power will lead them safely into harbor. Through her intercession, the elect rely on her mercy and kindness to receive forgiveness for their sins and to experience her motherly comfort in times of trouble and anxiety.
On the other hand, those who show false devotion to Mary put all of their confidence in themselves. They do not place confidence in the Blessed Mother or rely on her goodness and power and they lose their blessing because they do not submit to her. They go through their lives in a state of unhappiness and this extends to their death and throughout eternity because they do not imitate Our Lady’s virtues. They go no further than joining her confraternities, saying some prayers in her honor or performing exterior devotional practices.
We need to pray for these false devotees and one of our best spiritual weapons is the Holy Rosary. Through the power of the Rosary, all things that are pleasing to God are possible. And I have to end with my favorite quote; something I’ve held close to my heart through times of endless doubt, pessimistic thinking and worldly cynicism:
“If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible.” – Soren Kierkegaard