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Our Lady Leads to Virtue

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By Fr. Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC (May 20, 2017)
May 18, 2017, was the first time Marian Founder St. Stanislaus Papczynski (1631-1701) was liturgically commemorated as a saint. We've asked Fr. Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC, to share with you a little about St. Stanislaus' love of Our Lady:

Saint Stanislaus tells us in his writings that he was prompted by a "Divine vision" to found the "Congregation of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary." Clearly, St. Stanislaus already had a strong devotion to the Immaculate Conception in order to found a congregation focused around that truth of faith — but what kind of devotion did he have?

We know from his Oblatio — his complete offering of himself to the Most Holy Trinity and to Mary, made on the day that he left the Piarist Order — that this truth about Mary was so important to him that he was willing to give up his life to defend it. Earlier in that same Oblatio, he offered "to the Mother of God the Ever-Virgin Mary, Conceived without original sin, my heart, my soul, intellect, memory, will, feelings, my whole mind, my whole spirit, my interior and exterior senses, and my body, leaving absolutely nothing for myself, so that in this way I may be henceforth the whole-hearted servant-slave of the same Almighty [God] and of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary." Saint Stanislaus shows us by his words and actions how to honor the Immaculate Conception: Make a complete gift of self to the Most Holy Trinity, after the example of Mary.

But what had inspired such total trust and devotion? Saint Stanislaus entrusted himself without reserve to Mary Immaculate, especially in times of sickness and danger, because he had received through her many graces and healings. Her Immaculate Conception — her total, pure consecration to God, in which she persisted throughout her life — prompted St. Stanislaus to serve and love the Blessed Virgin by giving himself entirely to her in order to give glory to the Most Holy Trinity. This devotion to Mary appeared, above all, in the way that St. Stanislaus lived his life. He did not write any lengthy theological arguments or homilies specifically upon the Immaculate Conception. Rather, St. Stanislaus indicated that the best way to honor the Immaculate Conception is by our way of life; in particular, by our love for one another (see 1 Cor 16:14).

The primary way he intended to honor and spread devotion to the Immaculate Conception was through the Congregation of Marian Fathers, whose members are to imitate Mary, and particularly her evangelical virtues. Indeed, St. Stanislaus stated: "But none of these would see Mary in the heavenly fortress who did not imitate her during his stay on earth and always serve her with utmost love ... . [H]er life's example has become the school for us all" (Prodromus Reginae Artium).

This is in line with what St. Stanislaus wrote about Mary: We can read books, even many books, about Mary. However, St. Stanislaus recommended that we read the book that is Mary herself through meditation and contemplative prayer.

Venerable Casimir Wyszynski, MIC, one of St. Stanislaus' successors as superior general of the Marian Fathers, emphasized that the "best part" of devotion to Mary Immaculate is the imitation of her virtues (see his work The Morning Star, to be published later this year by the Marian Fathers under our Marian Heritage imprint). Saint Stanislaus lived his devotion to Mary Immaculate through constant recourse to her and imitation of her. Let us commit ourselves to imitating the Blessed Virgin Mary as St. Stanislaus did, and ask their intercession to help us on our path to holiness.

Father Thaddaeus lives in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.



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