"To consecrate oneself to Mary is not a passing fashion, a spiritual hobby, but a ready response to the gift of the dying Jesus: “Here is your mother” (Jn 19:27). We don’t need to distrust the gifts of God, for he knows what we need before we even ask him (see Mt 6:8). Perhaps no one has seen this act of Jesus in a theological and symbolic framework as well as Saint Louis de Montfort. For this great French apostle, baptized persons must cast themselves like raw clay into the “form” of Mary so that the Spirit might form them.7 The form does not impress its own image but that of Christ, because the Mother is the “mold” of the Son. We take on the “form,” which is Mary, in order to assume the features of Jesus and thus bring to perfection our own baptismal pathway. And so the miracle of the incarnation of the Word is repeated mystically in us. As he took form in Mary, now Jesus takes form in us." (Giuseppe Forlai, author of Mary, Mother of Apostles: How to Live Marian Devotion to Proclaim Christ)
Through the centuries, thousands of people have read St. Louis de Montfort’s passage about the creation of an image or statue by a great artist. One approach is that of the sculptor, who hews stone in a method that is time-consuming and laborious.
Then there is the method of casting a statue using a form or mould.
This, de Montfort says, “does not involve much work and takes very little time.” In other words, de Montfort is giving us the secret of holiness. Father Giuseppe Forlai, building on de Montfort’s image, tells us that this is also vital for the New Evangelization: “To bring Christ to the world, we must enter the form of Mary.”
When I visited the Domus Dei Foundry of the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master, I had an extraordinary experience that ties in with a theme not only in that book, but with an image used by St. Louis de Montfort in his classic “True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.” The Sister Disciples of the Divine Master are a congregation of the Pauline Family dedicated to the liturgical apostolate. The sisters had scheduled our visit to their location on the outskirts of Rome to coincide with the casting of some works in bronze.
In creating works in bronze, the sisters use the “lost wax” method, which is basically the same approach that was used in, well, the Bronze Age. Whether it is a statue, a tabernacle door, or a component of a larger project, once a piece has been crafted in clay, a wax duplicate is made using a rubber or plastic mold of the clay original. A wax funnel is positioned above and wax pipes around the wax model. These will allow the molten bronze to flow into all parts of the eventual form. This whole assemblage is then dipped repeated layers of plaster or ceramic “slurry” to form a shell (called an “investment case”). When the case is moved to a kiln, the wax melts away and the shell is strengthened to withstand what comes next.
Poured from a crucible at 2250°F, liquid bronze fills the empty space within the ceramic shell. When the bronze and the shell have cooled, the shell can be broken and the bronze piece, still raw metal in need of “chasing” and refinement, will be revealed.
The “lost wax” method is obviously not a mass production approach, but it produces exact replicas of the artist’s original. In De Montfort and Forlai’s use of the image, however, there is an essential difference:
We are poured, like molten bronze, into the form that is Mary, but we do not come out as images of Mary: we come out remade in her Son’s image. “We take on the ‘form,’ which is Mary, in order to assume the features of Jesus” and thus live our baptism to the full, Father Forlai explains.
“As he took form in Mary, now Jesus takes form in us.”
Do you wish you could develop a deeper understanding of Mary's role in the Church today? Do you ever wonder how devotion to Mary can help us bring others to Christ? Find the answers to your questions and more in Mary, Mother of Apostles which offers a thoughtful and stunning meditation on Mary's role in our lives. This book powerfully connects the Mariology of Blessed James Alberione, founder of the Pauline Family, with that of St. Louis de Montfort and St. John Paul II.
Subtitled How to Live Marian Devotion to Proclaim Christ, this book helps readers understand Mary's place in their spiritual lives. It offers new insights for those wishing to deepen their spirituality and devotion or consecration to Mary. Simple, yet compelling, it outlines the nature of the Christian apostle in the spirit of Mary.
Author Giuseppe Forlai is a priest of the diocese of Rome who holds a doctorate in theology with a specialization in Mariology. Forlai starts with de Monfort's "both/and" approach to Marian devotion-"the more one is consecrated to Mary, the more one is consecrated to Jesus." The author then integrates that idea with Pope John Paul II's strong Marian "totus tuus" devotion. Finally, he connects it to Blessed James Alberione's emphasis on Our Lady's role in the new evangelization and how to live Marian devotion in proclaiming Christ. Engaging the mind, will and heart of readers, this book leads them deeper into their own Marian devotion, showing them how Mary wants to form Jesus in us, so that we can in turn give Jesus to the world.
"In reality, that day [Pentecost] has never ended in the life of the Church. Today, as then, the Mother of the Lord is present in every place where the Holy Spirit enkindles hearts and transforms limited and fearful people, even great public sinners, into apostles of the Kingdom." (From the Introduction)
I extend to you the invitation and wish that Forlai extends to readers of Mary, Queen of Apostles:
Dear reader, whoever you may be, I wish you the good will and discernment that will draw you, as Saint Louis de Montfort wished, to place yourself in the mold of Mary, the form of God. May Mary reproduce in you the features of the Divine Master, the unique and authentic Adorer and Missionary of the Father. If you think you cannot achieve this because you lack the strength or are too deeply marked by sin, throw your concerns on the Lord and confide in him. Let us together enroll in the school of Mary who has no greater glory than “to change great sinners into saints and apostles” (Blessed James Alberione).
Sr Anne Flanagan, FSP