Friday, October 31, 2014

The True Tree of Life

"Happy the soul in which Mary, the Tree of Life, is planted; happier the soul in which she has acquired growth and bloom; still happier the soul in which she yields her fruit; but most happy of all: the soul which relishes and preserves Mary's fruit until death, and for ever and ever. Amen." ~St. Louis de Montfort

I've been working full-time these days, which leaves little time for blogging, and little from which to draw writing inspiration, it seems.  But today, since I was too wimpy to take a walk outside in the first really cold day of the season (I mean, we did have snow flurries earlier in the day), I spent my lunch time walking the stairwells and sky-walks at  the hospital where I work while praying my rosary.  I've walked these paths many times and have always admired the lovely stained glass window display in the middle of my walk.  But today, for the first time, a particular window caught my eye. It was the Tree of Life!  Considering all of the time that Christi Jentz and I have spent working on our sea glass version of the Tree of Life, I don't know how I missed this one before!  

Although we have been focusing on the passage from the Book of Revelation (22:2) in regard to the Tree of Life, I'm fascinated by St. Louis de Montfort's description of Mary as the True Tree of Life.  In The Secret of Mary, he tells us how to cultivate the true Tree of Life within our souls:  


[A. The holy slavery of love. The Tree of life.]

70. Have you understood with the help of the Holy Spirit what I have tried to explain in the preceding pages? If so, be thankful to God. It is a secret of which very few people are aware. If you have discovered this treasure in the field of Mary, this pearl of great price, you should sell all you have to purchase it. You must offer yourself to Mary, happily lose yourself in her, only to find God in her. If the Holy Spirit has planted in your soul the true Tree of Life, which is the devotion that I have just explained, you should see carefully to its cultivation, so that it will yield its fruit in due season. This devotion is like the mustard seed of the Gospel, which is indeed the smallest of all seeds, but nevertheless it grows into a big plant, shooting up so high that the birds of the air, that is, the elect, come and make their nest in its branches. They repose there, shaded from the heat of the sun, and safely hidden from beasts of prey.

[B. How to cultivate it]

Here is the best way, chosen soul, to cultivate it:

71. (1) This tree, once planted in a docile heart, requires fresh air and no human support. Being of heavenly origin, it must be uninfluenced by any creature, since a creature might hinder it from rising up towards God who created it. Hence you must not rely on your own endeavours or your natural talents or your personal standing or the guidance of men. You must resort to Mary, relying solely on her help.

72. (2) The person in whose soul this tree has taken root must, like a good gardener, watch over it and protect it. For this tree, having life and capable of producing the fruit of life, should be raised and tended with enduring care and attention of soul. A soul that desires to be holy will make this its chief aim and occupation.

73. Whatever is likely to choke the tree or in the course of time prevent its yielding fruit, such as thorns and thistles, must be cut away and rooted out. This means that by self-denial and self- discipline you must sedulously cut short and even give up all empty pleasures and useless dealings with other creatures. In other words, you must crucify the flesh, keep a guard over the tongue, and mortify the bodily senses.

74. (3) You must guard against grubs doing harm to the tree. These parasites are love of self and love of comfort, and they eat away the green foliage of the Tree and frustrate the fair hope it offered of yielding good fruit; for love of self is incompatible with love of Mary.

75. (4) You must not allow this tree to be damaged by destructive animals, that is, by sins, for they may cause its death simply by their contact. They must not be allowed even to breathe upon the Tree, because their mere breath, that is, venial sins, which are most dangerous when we do not trouble ourselves about them.

76. (5) It is also necessary to water this Tree regularly with your Communions, Masses and other public and private prayers. Otherwise it will not continue bearing fruit.

77. (6) Yet you need not be alarmed when the winds blow and shake this tree, for it must happen that the storm-winds of temptation will threaten to bring it down, and snow and frost tend to smother it. By this we mean that this devotion to our Blessed Lady will surely be called into question and attacked. But as long as we continue steadfastly in tending it, we have nothing to fear.

[C. Its lasting fruit: Jesus Christ]

78. Chosen soul, provided you thus carefully cultivate the Tree of Life, which has been freshly planted in your soul by the Holy Spirit, I can assure you that in a short time it will grow so tall that the birds of the air will make their home in it. It will become such a good tree that it will yield in due season the sweet and adorable Fruit of honour and grace, which is Jesus, who has always been and will always be the only fruit of Mary. Happy is that soul in which Mary, the Tree of Life, is planted. Happier still is the soul in which she has been able to grow and blossom. Happier again is the soul in which she brings forth her fruit. But happiest of all is the soul which savours the sweetness of Mary's fruit and preserves it up till death and then beyond to all eternity. Amen. "Let him who possesses it, hold fast to it."

Here are the some images I captured of the stained glass windows at my downtown hospital-isn't it wonderful that they have been preserved?

I was hungry and you fed me
I was a stranger and you invited me

I needed clothing and you clothed me

I was in prison and you visited me

I could not get a picture of this beauty without a reflection from the window interfering