Ideals of the Crusade of Mary Immaculate
Introduction by St. Maximilian himself
How to read? When you approach the time for reading about Mary Immaculate, always remember that you are entering into contact with a living, loving person, someone Who is pure, without any stain of sin — the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Remember, that the words which you are reading are not fully able to express who She is, because these words are only human, taken from earthly language, words representing things in human form. Mary Immaculate is the being completely belonging to God, hence we can say She excels in an infinite way, as it were, everything which surrounds us. She will reveal Herself to you through the sentences you read, and She will inspire you with thoughts, convictions, and feelings, which even the author himself would not think at the moment of his writing.
Concentrate, as you read, on purifying your conscience. The more frequently you purify your soul by the Sacrament of Penance, the nearer your thoughts will be to the truth as regards Mary Immaculate. Acknowledge sincerely that, without Her help, you are unable to know anything about Her, and in consequence you would be unable to love Her. Realize that She alone must more and more illuminate your mind and fortify your heart with love and attract it to Herself. For that reason, remember also, that the whole fruit of your reading depends on prayer to Her.
Do not begin reading until you have said a prayer to Our Lady. Do not attempt to read a lot, but, rather, try to interweave your reading with mental aspirations of your heart to Her, especially when some distractions are rising in your heart. When you have finished your reading, give to Her freedom to bring the full effects, that from it, She may bring forth the best fruit.
Any book on Our Lady should be read, not in a spirit of curiosity, but rather, slowly and carefully. Whatever we have read should be put into practice.
The abundance of thoughts is so beautiful and it opens our mind to so many reflections, and at the same time, creates admirably a feeling of happiness which leads our minds to the more frequent renewal of good intentions directed to Mary Immaculate.
It is enough to offer only five minutes daily for spiritual reading, but we should be constant about it and fully devote these few minutes to reading. This will be for us, a guarantee of progress in the life of our souls. It will also be a healthy food for our souls because it will give us more and more lofty aspirations in our journey to the heights of sanctity, and to a greater union with Mary Immaculate.
Extracts from the writings of St. Maximilian Marie Kolbe
Through Mary Immaculate, we can become great saints and that, in a very easy way.
Mary Immaculate, Mediatrix of all graces, can obtain the grace of conversion and sanctification at all times and everywhere. She wants to regenerate the soul of each one in the universe. She wants to regenerate our order too.
What is the meaning of conversion and sanctification through Mary Immaculate? It means that the graces for conversion and sanctification are obtained through Her.
“I can do all things in Him who strengthens me” through Mary Immaculate. And why through Her? The Church tells us in the words of a long line of Popes that God’s Kingdom is divided, as it were, into two parts. He has retained for Himself the function of meting out justice, but to the Blessed Virgin He has assigned the function of granting mercy.
And as God, in His infinite goodness, does not wish to punish us for our transgressions, He has given us the Blessed Mother to exercise His mercy towards us. Again we have the right to add the phrase “through Mary Immaculate” because whatever leads to salvation and sanctification springs from the working of God’s grace in the soul and the Mother of God is the Mediatrix of all graces — just as Jesus Christ is our Mediator.
We offer our gifts to Jesus through Mary Immaculate in order that She may make them stainless and acceptable, and through Him we offer them to God the Father — that they, united with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, may be of infinite value and worthy of the majesty of God.
Whatever Mary gives to Jesus Christ is undefiled and whatever Our Lord gives to God the Father is infinite. Therefore, the honor which we pay to God through Mary and Jesus is Immaculate and Infinite.
Our life should be a continuation of Jesus Christ’s life on this earth through Mary. With the help of Mary Immaculate we can do everything. The nearer we draw to Mary Immaculate the more holy we become.
The Mother of God is the Mediatrix of all graces and sanctity is the perfect work of God’s grace.
The devil knows that the nearer we draw to Mary Immaculate the more graces we shall obtain from Her hands. For that reason, he tries at all costs to alienate souls from the Blessed Mother, even under the guise of devotion to Jesus Christ. The devil knows that God wills to work through Mary Immaculate; he knows that when a soul strays from Her, it will not obtain so much grace.
For us, therefore, it is very vital that we should live through Her, with Her, in Her.
Whether we are attracted to this way of grace or not; whether we are in light or darkness, we always go forward if we keep close to Our Immaculate Mother.
Mary Immaculate is the ladder up which we climb to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. If that ladder is taken away from us we shall not reach our aim — we shall fall to the ground. We firmly believe that She leads us to Jesus Christ. If anyone teaches what is contrary to this, let him be anathema, let him be condemned.
If we want to love Jesus Christ with the heart of Mary Immaculate, to receive Him with Her heart, to love Him with Her aspirations, to make acts of reparation and thanksgiving through Her, then — whether we understand or feel what is happening — we shall in truth approach Jesus through Her heart; or rather, She will adore and love Jesus through us so that we become Her instruments.
The Love of Mary Immaculate
The love of Mary Immaculate is the most perfect love with which a creature can ever love God. With Her heart let us try to love the Sacred Heart of Jesus more and more. This should be our greatest endeavor.
Let us try to gain, not merely many souls but as many as possible, and through Her to unite them as closely as possible with the most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
This is the program: to conquer first our own heart and then the hearts of others …
Each single thought, action and suffering of Mary Immaculate was the ‘most perfect act’ of the love of God, of the love of Jesus.
We must tell every soul that exists and will exist to the end of time, through the medium of good example, of words, writing, printing, radio, painting, sculpture, etc., what Mary Immaculate would think, say and do in the practical situations of the everyday life of men in every profession, so that the most perfect, the uttermost love that She bore towards the Heart of God may inflame the earth.
The essence of the love of God consists exclusively in the fulfilment of the Will of God at each moment. The more this fulfilment causes us difficulty, even aversion or repulsion, the greater will be the manifestation of love. But even these difficulties do not belong to the essence of this love which can exist without them. They serve only to manifest this love.
Let us emulate one another in growing in our love for Mary Immaculate, and in so doing we shall draw others to love Her more. Our hearts are so small and so frail. We shall never be able worthily to return that love with which She loves us.
Let us all try to intensify more and still more our love for Mary Immaculate and always to have recourse to Her, as children to their mother.
One act of perfect love regenerates the soul. Let us often make use of this means. It is not so difficult in practice, for the essence of this act is — the love of sacrifice: an endeavor through self-sacrifice to give pleasure to Mary Immaculate, putting aside the motive of reward or punishment.
The essence of the love of God consists neither in feelings nor in moving words of sweetness; it lies exclusively in the will. Hence, if the soul is determined with Her will to persevere in the way to sanctity, and the love of God, then even if the feelings of the heart are not stirred, she can be certain that she is making constant progress and mounting steadily higher.
Love which is ‘the bond of perfection’ is nourished and stirred into action only by suffering, sacrifice and the cross.
In loving others for Her sake, we give to Mary Immaculate the greatest proof of our love.
How can we prove that Mary Immaculate loves us? If we love Her, then She loves us far more.
What is meant by the unlimited love of Mary Immaculate? Mary Immaculate is so united to God through love that She is raised not only high above all the saints, but also above angels and archangels, above the cherubim and seraphim. Therefore, the more boundless our love for Mary Immaculate, the more does it lift us up to Her and unites us with Her by love, elevating us, too, above the choirs of angels.
What is meant by the unlimited love of Mary Immaculate? She is the nearest to God and we are the nearest to Her, and, therefore, through Her to God Himself. God gave us that white ladder in order that we might reach Him through Her. To use another analogy, She clasps us to Her Mother’s heart and brings us to God Himself.
But these are merely different pictures, similitudes, analogies. The reality is incomparably more beautiful, loftier, more Divine.
“Behold Your Mother”
As for you, my child:
[a] Love Her as your mother, to the point of sacrifice. She loved you even to the point of sacrificing Her own Divine Son. At the Annunciation She received you freely as Her child.
[b] She will make you like to Herself; She will purify you more and more, and feed you with the milk of Her grace. Only let Her guide you freely and form you. Watch over the purity of your soul, purify it in Her love. Do not give way to discouragement, even if you should fall frequently into mortal sin. An act of perfect love will purify you.
[c] Let Her do with you what She will, so that She may not be in any way restricted in the exercise of Her maternal duties towards Her child. Be Her property, that She may use you in accordance with Her will for any purpose, without limitation.
You belong absolutely to Her, your Lady and your Queen … A servant sells his work. You offer your work and your suffering and whole self, as a gift.
Ask Her to ignore your wishes, and always to deal with you freely according to “Her” will. Be Her child, Her servant, Her slave of love, in every way that anyone has ever described or that anyone, anywhere, will ever succeed. In one word — be Hers until you are Her true Crusader — that others may become more Hers, as you are, and even more than you. Thus all those who now live and will live throughout the world will co-operate with Her in the battle with the serpent.
Ours is a great mission — to show in our everyday life what a Crusader of Mary Immaculate is.
I am ready to go at any moment to the missions anywhere, in holy obedience, if Mary Immaculate should manifest Her desire for it …
We are Crusaders of Mary Immaculate, ready for any expedition, anywhere, at any time as a Crusader to suffer, to work and to die … in order to seal his love for Mary Immaculate! And so in crusade-like style to shed his blood to the last drop to hasten the winning of the whole world for Her.
We are called Her ‘Crusaders’ because whoever belongs to Her does not confine himself solely to consecration of himself to the Immaculate, but strives, as he alone can, to offer Her the hearts of others, as he has offered his own: and in this way to win as many hearts as possible for Her, the hearts of all those who are in existence now, or who will exist even to the end of the world.
A soul which belongs to the Crusade of Mary Immaculate ceases to be troubled even about his salvation. He recognizes that everything does not depend on his own will but comes from the hand of God through Mary Immaculate, and he, on his part, tries to do everything he can to learn more perfectly the will of Mary Immaculate and to fulfill it more faithfully, though it be at the cost of much suffering, even to the shedding of his blood.
The Crusader of Mary Immaculate is not indifferent to the spread of evil, but hates evil with his whole heart, and fights on every occasion, at all times and in all places, these evils which poison human souls.
There is no heroism which a soul cannot attain with the help of Mary Immaculate.
To suffer, to work and to die for God alone, through Mary Immaculate and as an instrument in Her hands — this is an ideal worthy of the Crusader of Mary Immaculate.
The Crusader of Mary Immaculate knows that the quickest and easiest way to belong to Jesus and to God is in Mary Immaculate and through Mary Immaculate. He knows that She will love Jesus in him and through him incomparably more than he could himself, even though he tried in every possible way.
He knows that every grace enters the soul coming from God the Father through Jesus and Mary and in no other way. So through Jesus and Mary comes every answer to this grace, every return, love for love, is able to reach God the Father. He knows that this is the only way to the easiest and highest sanctity and to the greatest glory of God.
The more a soul becomes the property of Mary Immaculate, to the point of the winning of an ever greater number of souls, and of becoming through the Immaculate more and more the property of Jesus Christ, and through Him the more perfect property of God the Father in Heaven, the more does that soul become the Crusader of Mary Immaculate and the deeper it penetrates into the essence of the Crusade.
It is not enough to try to be in every sense the property of Mary Immaculate, but we desire to radiate Her in order to draw to Her other souls, not only the souls of the living, but also all those who will ever come into existence, without any limitation. In a word, we want to be more and more Hers until we become Crusaders ready for complete sacrifice to the last drop of our blood in order to conquer the whole world and every single soul for Her — as quickly as possible — as quickly as possible — as quickly as possible!
He who has known and loved Mary Immaculate and who has given himself to Her so completely, that he has left nothing, reserved nothing for himself, who wants to become more and more Hers in every sense, who desires, in his solicitude for the Kingdom of souls, that others should give themselves more completely to Her; who does everything possible for this end, and tries not to miss any opportunity, even though he has to sacrifice much, even to sealing this ideal with his blood, who, indeed, looks upon it as the greatest happiness, the culmination of his desire to sacrifice his own life, to gain souls for Her — all souls, wherever they may be, without distinction of nationality or race, whether they live now or in the future. … this is the perfect Crusader of the Immaculate.
Her Will, Not Mine
Let us not always desire to feel that sweetness of our devotion to Mary Immaculate because that would be spiritual greed. Let us allow ourselves to be directed by Her according to Her own will and not as we like. There is not always time for caresses, however holy they are: we also need protection, dryness, dereliction, etc. Let us, therefore, allow Her to apply them as She wishes as a means for our sanctification. One thing only must be continually deepened and that is the desire to allow ourselves to be directed by Her to give ourselves more and more perfectly to Her and to show obedience to Her will by Holy Obedience.
He who in life tries to avoid crosses as much as possible and does not practice mortification in anything does not yet know the meaning of happiness. He who suffers much for love can also enjoy the depth of love.
Just as for the farmer, the harvest is the period of greatest effort, gathering its fruit into the barns and stockyards, so for the soul there is the laborious harvest during which it can collect as many favors as possible, but there are moments bristling with suffering and crosses.
When God sends us pain and suffering and the soul walks on thorny ground, it is time to rejoice that God has destined it for high perfection.
God shows special love towards those He chastises in this world because in Purgatory punishment is long and heavy but free submission to the crosses here makes us able to merit greater glory in Heaven. Hence the proverb ‘Whom God loves, He scourges.’
Pick up your Cross
The stronger a soul becomes with the help of the Grace of God the greater is the cross that is put on his shoulders and in this he can reflect the life of the Crucified.
We shall win more graces if in exterior and interior darkness, full of sorrows, overwhelmed with work, suffering without consolation, persecuted everywhere, surrounded by misfortunes, ridiculed by all, lonely — as Jesus Christ abandoned on the cross, if then we shall pray for all and by every possible means endeavor to attract all to God and through Mary Immaculate bring them more closely united to Him.
A sailor who wants to steer against the stream has to row continually, otherwise the stream will force him back again. When we get tired, when we find difficulties, let us go to the Mother of God with more confidence that She may help us. And again and again let us go forward in order to fulfill better the will of Mary Immaculate.
Suffering and sacrifice are the best of love, although suffering alone is not the essence of love.
There is no love without sacrifice: sacrifice through mortification of the senses such as taste, hearing and especially the sight.
This applies more particularly when one is among worldly people.
In case of difficulties, give them all to Mary Immaculate that She may dispose of them according to Her will — remove them, diminish them, augment them or leave them unchanged.
Even the greatest difficulties should not discourage us but rather fortify and strengthen our will in order to defeat these difficulties.
When many different temptations and difficulties overwhelm our soul, when it feels abandoned and left in spiritual darkness when, so to say, we hang on the cross without any release or consolation as Jesus Christ crucified and yet in spite of this we quietly and joyfully accept and carry that cross for a long time — this is true perfection. The soul does not realize to what heights it is rising and what great glory God is preparing for him in Heaven.
When love penetrates and overflows within us then sacrifice becomes a necessity for our soul. From sacrifice originates spiritual joy.
Suffering is the School of Love
Let us remember that love lives and is nourished by sacrifices. Let us be grateful to Mary Immaculate for interior peace, for being uplifted by love but let us not forget that even everything which is good and beautiful is not the essence of love. Independent of this love, its permanent existence, the very summit of it was when Jesus Christ said on the cross “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
Very often, storms will rage and thunder roar around us; but if we are consecrated to Mary Immaculate without reserve, we can be sure that no harm will come to us unless Our Beloved Mother permits it, and in spite of working and suffering when it is for the salvation of souls we shall find sweet repose. And again, when crosses overwhelm us, the Grace of God will warm our hearts and inflame them with such love that we will burn with a thirst for suffering without limit and thirst to be humiliated and scoffed at and even abandoned in order to show how much we love Our Father, and best friend Jesus Christ, and His beloved Mother Mary Immaculate. Suffering is the school of love.
What happiness will fill us on our deathbed when we realize that we exhausted ourselves and suffered so much for Mary Immaculate.
Flame of Love
Love does not rest idle, but spreads like fire which draws everything to itself. And we also, members of the Crusade of Mary Immaculate, must strive that we ourselves should be transformed in these flames of love — and then that the same fire may transform all the souls which are and which ever will be in the world.
Let us pray and bear our crosses, let us love earnestly the souls of all our neighbors, whether friends or enemies, and let us trust with one end in view — that She may become the Queen of each and every soul in the world as quickly as possible.
Every time we are seen in public, every time we go to the city or elsewhere, we preach a sermon and the more holy we are, the more efficacious will be our apostolate, which should flow out from the fullness of our interior grace.
The simplest way in which to secure the salvation of a soul is to urge it to do and to suffer every little thing — according to the Will of the all-powerful God — for Mary Immaculate, the most gracious Queen of Heaven and earth.
Mary Immaculate makes us grow in love for Her until we are ready to be completely sacrificed for Her cause. She wants us to gain more and more souls for Her, to help all souls to know Her and to love Her, so that they may come, through Her, nearer and nearer to the Divine Heart of Jesus, Who loved us so much that He chose to be nailed to the cross and to stay in the tabernacle for us.
But how could we be apostolic if the ardor of our love, instead of increasing, were to grow cold? Let us pray often and fervently for each individual, and each individual for all, so that Mary Immaculate may save us from such a misfortune.
We have to lead all souls to the feet of Mary Immaculate! So there is need of great effort and sacrifice in order to arrive as quickly as possible at our glorious shining goal — ‘the winning of the whole world for Mary Immaculate and through Her, for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Therefore, to the attack, to the conquest!’
The more one spreads the glory and love of Mary Immaculate and the more souls he gains for Her and through Her to the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Who loved us even to the death of the Cross), such a one will show ‘the greatest love’ because it is ‘active love’ towards the Most Sacred Heart, and will be more closely united with Him.
Let us remember that Mary Immaculate will repay generously for even the smallest mark of honor paid to Her. If those among whom we are spreading Her Kingdom do something for Her, She will never forget it.
Let us never stop in our apostolate of winning hearts for Mary Immaculate. Let us pray for the spread of Her reign in souls, let us offer, for that purpose, our worries and our troubles, and let us above all try to make Her completely satisfied with us. We shall achieve this when our souls are always pure.
In working for souls we must excel ourselves, so that the vessel of our apostolic zeal may overflow with grace onto other souls.
If evil does not delay but works quickly and according to plan, then we, in this Crusade of Mary Immaculate must not stop working. It is a matter of saving souls; of gaining the whole world and each single soul for Mary Immaculate. We are working for the sanctification through Mary Immaculate of all souls till the end of the world. It would be a misfortune to fail in winning even one soul.
We can do nothing of ourselves, but with the help of Mary Immaculate we shall convert the whole world, and draw the whole world to Her feet. Let us be Hers — entirely and without limits.
Let us live by the love of Mary Immaculate; let us work for love of Her — and may that love radiate from us to others.
It is surely the Will of God to win all souls through Mary Immaculate — and we should offer all our troubles, discomforts and sufferings that She may conquer the world.
There should be no question as to whether this one or that has done more for Mary Immaculate but only whether each has done as much as possible to bring about Her reign in every soul as quickly and as perfectly as possible — that each may live in Her and work in Her; and in Her, love the Heart of God Himself. This is the only question and it concerns the limitless and intensified love of the creature for the Creator.
Why does discouragement enter your heart, O ye of little faith? Enkindle love for and trust in Mary Immaculate wherever you are and you will soon see tears flowing from the eyes of the most hardened sinner, prisons will be emptied, honest workers will unite together, families will overflow with virtue, peace and happiness will reign and all discord and pain will be banished for it is now the ‘New Era.’ …
We love our neighbor who is near to us but do we have a place in our heart for the poor souls who remain in the bonds of heresy or of schism? Let us open our hearts to them and let us endeavor to introduce Mary Immaculate to these poor souls in order that She may bring them God, the source of true happiness.
Though all Hell be against you, you will win
In the missions, also, you will find not only external difficulties but Our Lord will permit, for His glory and for the manifestation of the goodness and power of Mary Immaculate, that you should pass through discouragement and anxiety, etc. If only, you put no trust in yourself but put your whole confidence in the Mediatrix of all graces, Our Immaculate Mother, you will certainly win through, even though all hell be against you.
Not only will you not yield but you will find that you have enough strength to console others and to comfort their souls, reminding them where they should go for light and strength.
Fortify your invasion of Heaven with an increase of prayer for the cause of Our Lady. Would that Mary Immaculate might always reign …
Editor’s Note: The ideals that St. Maximilian brings to our attention in the above article should help us grow in our love for Our Lady and show us how to be more fervent and effective in each one of our efforts to be better Crusaders for Our Lady of Fatima. Should you want us to publish more of these extracts in a later issue please let us know.