Here are St Montfort’s words taken from his Masterpiece: “True Devotion to Mary”:
“Moreover, Jesus, being more than ever Mary’s fruit, as heaven and earth repeat thousands of times a day: “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus”, it is therefore certain that, for every man in particular who possesses him, Jesus is as well, truly the fruit and work of Mary, as truly he is for all mankind in general; therefore, if any of the faithful has Jesus formed in his heart, he can boldly say: “A Great “Thank you” to Mary: what I possess [Jesus] is her effect and fruit, and without her I would not have him.”; we can attribute more truly to her what Saint Paul said of himself, “I am in labor again with all the children of God until Jesus Christ, my Son, is formed in them to the fullness of his age.” Saint Augustine, surpassing himself as well as all that I have said so far, says that in order to be conformed to the image of the Son of God all the predestinate, while in the world, are hidden in the womb of the Blessed Virgin where they are kept, nourished, cared for and developed by this good Mother, until the day she brings them forth to glory after death, which the Church calls the birthday of the just. This is indeed a mystery of grace unknown to the reprobate and little known even to the predestinate!” (True Devotion to Mary, n°33)
These words, this reasoning and the conclusion he reaches are really difficult to “swallow”, understand and fathom. Exactly as Nicodemus found it difficult when he entered deeper in Jesus’ mysterious teaching. He said to Jesus: “Can a man enter a second time into his mother’s womb?” (John 3:4). Let us try to understand these words, by following step by step Montfort’s reasoning.
1. Through Baptism, Jesus dwells in each one of us. We call this new reality in us: “the New Man” or the “New Creature”, or “the kingdom of God”. Remember that Jesus compares the Kingdom in us to a Divine Seed, very tiny initially, but it becomes the biggest tree of the Garden.
“Another parable he put before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”” (Matthew 13:31-32)
What Montfort is trying to say is that Jesus is always the fruit of Mary. So if Jesus is born in us (by Baptism), in fact He is born in Mary. Or if you prefer: Mary as well is in us, carrying Him!
Since Jesus in us is the “New Creature”, the “New man” in us, He is part of us. A portion of us is progressively transformed into Him. Therefore, Mary is carrying the “New Creature”, “the New man”, us, in Her womb.
In this sense, we are all enclosed in Mary, in her Heart, in her womb. It is not possible to have a “Jesus” (any of us) growing somewhere without having Mary’s womb to have Him grow in it.
It is like saying: for the “Divine Seed”, we need always the “Good Soil” (see Matthew 13). For the “New Wine”, we need the “New Skin”… The bipolarity of our faith is fundamental. We often overlook the necessity of a Soil, or a Skin. And if we notice its importance, we overlook its quality: new, good, “Immaculate” I would say, not any. A one that can bear the intensity of the Divine Seed/Wine.
Jesus is always and in any place, Mary’s fruit, not only individually (incarnation) but in each one of us (baptism, sanctification): “Moreover, Jesus, being more than ever Mary’s fruit, as heaven and earth repeat thousands of times a day: “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus”, it is therefore certain that, for every man in particular who possesses him, Jesus is as well, truly the fruit and work of Mary, as truly he is for all mankind in general;”
2. Considering now the great truth that Jesus is in our heart by Baptism, we need (it is necessary) to consider His relationship with Mary in us. We need to search for Mary’s place in us. This is the newness of what Montfort is addressing. He even calls it in his book “a mystery”, something “hidden”, a “secret”: “therefore, if any of the faithful has Jesus formed in his heart, he can boldly say: “A Great “Thank you” to Mary: what I possess [Jesus] is her effect and fruit, and without her I would not have him.”;”
3. In order to strengthen this search for Mary in us, he will show us that it is not that unusual to do so. He will find in St Paul’s writings something that shows that a mere human being can spiritually carry others in himself. Mystically, the person united to Jesus, like saint Paul, can “carry” others, pray for them, suffer for them, nourish them: “I am in labour again with all the children of God until Jesus Christ, my Son, is formed in them to the fullness of his age.”
So, if we accept such strong affirmation about saint Paul, on the more reason, for the Woman given by Jesus on the Cross to each one of us, as our true spiritual mother (see John 19), we can apply St Paul’s words in a stronger way: “we can attribute more truly to her what Saint Paul said of himself”. Montfort underlines the “spiritual maternity” of Mary to us, her personal relationship with each one of us. She really carries us in her, like a real pregnant woman… where the Holy Spirit is forming us, i.e. Jesus’ Body. As Montfort says it in a previous paragraph in his book, God doesn’t change his logic, the way He treated the Head of the Body (Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God), He treats us, who are Jesus’ Body: “God the Holy Spirit, who does not produce any divine person, became fruitful through Mary whom he espoused. It was with her, in her and of her that he produced his masterpiece, God-made-man [the Head], and that he produces every day until the end of the world the members of the body of this adorable Head.” (True devotion n°20)
4. Now comes the final conclusion that Montfort wants us to reach, acknowledge and experience: “while on earth, we are all hidden in Mary” because we are formed by the Holy Spirit, in her, at the Likeness of Jesus, the head of the Body. We are indeed enclosed in her, in her womb. “Saint Augustine, surpassing himself as well as all that I have said so far, says that in order to be conformed to the image of the Son of God all the predestinate, while in the world, are hidden in the womb of the Blessed Virgin where they are kept, nourished, cared for and developed by this good Mother, until the day she brings them forth to glory after death, which the Church calls the birthday of the just. This is indeed a mystery of grace unknown to the reprobate and little known even to the predestinate!”
What St Montfort didn’t say, is that these words of Nicodemus, instead of being just a superficial statement, do translate that very deep truth he just uttered, quoting St Augustine: “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” (John 3:4). The answer to this question, (how to enter in Mary, how to dwell in her, how to draw from her our New Being, how to allow her to form us, to act in us, to be our Mould), is all his book. It is a practical book, meant to show us how we can become “liquid”, how we can pour ourselves in Her our True Mould (as she is being Jesus’ Mould), so the Holy Spirit can form in us Jesus, to its perfection. Let us read another passage from the True Devotion:
“Please note that I say that saints are moulded in Mary. There is a vast difference between carving a statue by blows of hammer and chisel and making a statue by using a mould. Sculptors and statue-makers work hard and need plenty of time to make statues by the first method. But the second method does not involve much work and takes very little time. St. Augustine speaking to our Blessed Lady says, “You are worthy to be called the mould of God.” Mary is a mould capable of forming people into the image of the God-man. Anyone who is cast into this divine mould is quickly shaped and moulded into Jesus and Jesus into him. At little cost and in a short time he will become Christ-like since he is cast into the very same mould that fashioned a God-man.
I think I can very well compare some spiritual directors and devout persons to sculptors who wish to produce Jesus in themselves and in others by methods other than this. Many of them rely on their own skill, ingenuity and art and chip away endlessly with mallet and chisel at hard stone or badly-prepared wood, in an effort to produce a likeness of our Lord. At times, they do not manage to produce a recognizable likeness either because they lack knowledge and experience of the person of Jesus or because a clumsy stroke has spoiled the whole work. But those who accept this little-known secret of grace, which I offer them, can rightly be compared to smelters and moulders who have discovered the beautiful mould of Mary where Jesus was so divinely and so naturally formed. They do not rely on their own skill but on the perfection of the mould. They cast and lose themselves in Mary where they become true models of her Son.” (True Devotion 219-220)
He ends all this by saying: “You may think this a beautiful and convincing comparison. But how many understand it? I would like you, my dear friend, to understand it. But remember that only molten and liquefied substances may be poured into a mould. That means that you must crush and melt down the old Adam in you if you wish to acquire the likeness of the new Adam in Mary.” (True Devotion, n° 221)
“And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery.” (Revelation 12:1-2)
All Montfort’s Art, in his Book, is to teach us how, practically, to realise this operation.