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Benedictine Monasticism: Our Lady PDF Print E-mail

Every monk ought to have a true devotion to Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary, because she is the extraordinary model of perfection and holiness. She embodies perfectly in Herself the goal of the monk, particularly in its hidden and contemplative dimensions. Our Lady is the primary Patroness of Saint Louis Abbey under the glorious title of Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces.

Since Our Lady is spiritual Mother of all believers, she is the Mother of Monks. Through her prayer she protects, guides, and intercedes for the monk. She does this in a singular way, because the monk shares something special with Mary: both have been called to an extraordinary vocation.

The great Doctor of the Church St. Bernard exemplifies what monastic devotion to Our Lady ought to be. He instructs his monks concerning Mary:

"If squalls of temptations arise, or thou fall upon the rocks of tribulation, look to the star, call upon Mary. If thou art tossed by the waves of pride or ambition, detraction or envy, look to the star, call upon Mary. If anger or avarice or the desires of the flesh dash against the ship of thy soul, turn thine eyes towards Mary. If, trouble by the enormity of thy crimes, ashamed of thy guilty conscience, terrified by dread of the judgment, thou beginnest to sink into the gulf of sadness or the abyss of despair, think of Mary. In dangers, in anguish, in doubt, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let her be ever on thy lips, ever in thy heart; and the better to obtain the help of her prayers, imitate the example of her life. Following her, thou strayest not; invoking her, thou despairest not; thinking of her, thou wanderest not; upheld by her, thou fallest not; shielded by her, thou fearest not; guided by her, thou growest not weary; favoured by her, thou reachest the goal. And thus dost thou experience in thyself how good is that saying: And the Virgin's name was Mary." (from a Homily by St. Bernard of Clairvaux)