The purpose of creation, the purpose of man is the love of God, the Creator and the Father; an ever greater love, divinization, return to God from whom he came, union with God, a fruitful love.

So that the love toward the Father could become even more perfect, infinitely more perfect, the love of the Son Jesus was manifested. He came down to earth, died on the Cross and has remained in the Eucharist, in order to awaken love toward Himself in our hearts.

Yet, for the love toward the Son to be heightened and the love to the Father to burn with even more ardent zeal, there comes to our aid the love of the Spirit, of the Immaculata, the one full of mercy, the Mediatrix of all graces, an earthly creature like us, who strongly attracts hearts to herself by way of her Motherly Heart.

And just as the love of God for creatures descends to earth from the Father through the Son and the Spirit, so through the Spirit and the Son there ascends up to the Father a response to such love, a reaction, the love of creation toward the Father.

The love of the Father, of the Son, and of the Spirit burns for all eternity. The love of the Father, of Jesus, of the Immaculata knows no imperfections. Only man (not always, not entirely) imperfectly reciprocates such love with love.

In other words to elicit such love toward the Immaculata by kindling it in one’s heart and to communicate such fire to those who live around us; to kindle all souls, and each one individually, with such love: the souls who live now and shall live in the future. To set such flame of love within oneself ablaze ever more forcefully and without restrictions, all over the earth: that is our goal.

Everything else is merely a means.

An effect is similar to the cause. Consequently, each creature carries in itself a likeness to God; and the more perfect a creature is, the more such likeness is evident.

God is love, Most Holy Trinity. So also the mutual love of people who come together to form a family is a true echo of divine love. The mutual love between a father, a mother, and a son. In the realm of the spirit such love, which joins the intellect, the will and one’s being, is even more strongly asserted. Any representation of such love, even the most spiritual, the most perfect, will always continue to be infinitely distant from the very Source of love, God.

Even if we were able to enumerate thousands upon thousands of degrees, more and more perfect, more and more spiritually pure, there would still be an infinite distance between those higher degrees and the Source of love.

God lowers Himself toward His own creature and joins Himself to them with a love that absorbs all that infinite space: He takes them into His own family, makes them His own children.

The soul is regenerated in the water of Holy Baptism and thus becomes a child of God.

Water, which purifies everything it washes over, is a symbol of the One who purifies every soul that approaches her; it is a symbol of the Immaculata, of the One who is without blemish. Upon those who are washed by that water, there descends the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, divine Spouse of the Immaculata, acts solely in her and through her, communicates supernatural life, the life of grace, divine life, the partaking of the love of God, of divinity.

The child of God, a member of the divine family, has God the Father as a father, the Mother of God as a mother, the Son of God as a brother. He becomes co-heir of God, joined to the Persons of the divine family through love.

Yet that is not enough. The Son of God chooses brides among the souls, binds Himself to them with a family-like love and they become for Him the mothers of many, many other souls.

Surrender, my soul, into the hand of your Father!

— From the writings of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, KW 1326


St. Maximilian Kolbe once succinctly described the Militia of the Immaculate (Militia Immaculatae, M.I.), the movement he founded with six other Franciscan friars in 1917, as “a global vision of Catholic life in a new form, consisting in the bond with the Immaculata, our universal Mediatrix before Jesus.”[1] This “Catholic life” consists in the participation in the love of the Trinity extended to all creation. The Mediatrix of this life is the Mediatrix of all graces, Mary, the Mother of God. The program of the M.I. in bringing this global vision to realization rests upon this truth of Our Lady’s mediation of all graces.[2]

Neither this “Catholic life” nor Our Lady’s mediation of grace is new, because her maternal mediation extends to all times, places and peoples by the merits of her divine Son, Jesus. Nor is the blueprint for living out this form of life, namely, total (or unlimited) consecration to the Immaculate, something which St. Maximilian was the first to articulate. The form is “new” in this sense: just as Mary’s mediation of grace is universal, so now this life, ever present in the Church, is to take on a “Marianized” form that is to be realized in an ever more explicit, universal and intensive manner. It is what the Saint called the “cause of the Immaculate,” or the incorporation of the mystery of the Immaculate Conception into the lives of all—the sowing of this truth into their hearts, in and through the Church—because this mystery undergirds that of Mary’s universal mediation of grace.

In the previous article of this series,[3] we noted how St. Maximilian had recourse to the world of empirical science—specifically, Newton’s law of action and reaction—to illustrate by way of analogy how the “action” of divine love elicits the “equal and opposite reaction” of the love of creation. In one creature alone does this reaction constitute a perfect response to God’s initiative: the Blessed Virgin Mary. First, “The Holy Spirit dwells in her, [he] lives in her, and that from the first moment of her existence, always and eternally”[4]—the grace of the Immaculate Conception. Second, “not even for an instant did her will move away from the will of God”[5]—the essence of perfect love of God.

We might call the grace of the Immaculate Conception the “principle”[6] for a creature becoming “divinized” or like God (though remaining a creature), and the perfect union of Our Lady’s will with God’s will the “dynamic” that makes this principle perpetually present and active. Mary is the Immaculate Conception not only at the first moment of her existence, but at every moment of her existence, including now and forevermore, in heaven.

Just as Jesus Christ was formed in the womb of the Mother of God, so He is formed in the hearts of all men and women through the same loving, maternal action of the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, who has become the Mother of the Church and the Spiritual Mother of mankind. He comes to full stature or maturity in these hearts to the degree that they consent, i.e., return her love; for she is the one, St. Maximilian affirms, “full of mercy, the Mediatrix of all graces, an earthly creature like us, who strongly attracts hearts to herself by way of her Motherly Heart”:

The more thoroughly one reproduces in oneself the image of Christ, the more one approaches the Godhead, becomes divine, becomes man-God…

Therefore, those who do not want to have Mary Immaculate as Mother will not have Christ the Lord for their Brother either. God the Father will not send them His Son, the Son will not descend unto their soul, the Holy Spirit will not form with His own grace the mystical body after Christ’s model, since that all takes place in Mary Immaculate, full of grace: in Mary only… As it is for the likeness of the first-born, the God-Man, who was conceived only following the explicit consent of the heavenly Virgin, so also, and not otherwise, it is for other human creatures, who must in all things thoroughly imitate their Prototype.[7]

The Christian soul is regenerated by the outpouring of the love of God in the Sacrament of Baptism: God “lowers himself toward his own creature and joins himself to them with a love that absorbs all… [the] infinite distance between those higher degrees [of creaturely love] and the Source of love.”

Significantly, Kolbe compares the water of Baptism to Our Lady: its purity is a symbol of “the one who is without blemish… who purifies every soul that approaches her.”[8] By itself water, a created element, does not effect the regeneration of the soul, because the action of the Holy Spirit is necessary. Yet this divine action does not take place apart from the washing, so that “upon those who are washed by that water, there descends the grace of the Holy Spirit.” One is, therefore, not born (again) of the Spirit only, but “of water and the Spirit” (Jn 3:5). Thus, we read in the Jerusalem Catecheses that the baptismal water is not only our “tomb,” but also our “mother.”[9]

St. Maximilian uses this analogy to explain that “the Holy Spirit, divine Spouse of the Immaculata, acts solely in her and through her, communicates supernatural life, the life of grace, divine life, the partaking in the love of God, in divinity”: we can also say in truth that we are born of Mary and the Holy Spirit. But, whereas the baptismal water is our “mother” only in a symbolic sense, Mary is truly our Mother in the Spirit, for she is actively involved in our spiritual regeneration as members of the Body of Christ her Son, whereby we become “co-heir[s] of God, joined to the Persons of the divine family through love.”

What is true at the moment of our regeneration in God is also true at every moment thereafter in regard to our growth in holiness. God wishes to pour forth his love upon us in an ever greater abundance, at every moment, i.e., continuously. The Mother of God mediates this ongoing divine presence and action as well:

We affirm that the heavenly Father is the origin of whatever comes from the Most Holy Trinity. We cannot see God. Jesus descended to earth to give us the possibility of knowing the Father. Our Lady is she in whom we venerate the Holy Spirit, because she is his Spouse…

The third Person of the Most Holy Trinity did not become incarnate. Yet the expression: “Spouse of the Holy Spirit” is far profounder than this title bears in earthly affairs. We may also affirm the Immaculate in a certain way is the incarnation of the Holy Spirit [the “Holy Spirit quasi-incarnate”].[10] In her we love the Holy Spirit, through her we love the Son.[11]

A worthy “reaction” to God’s “action” of love, then, begins with the recognition of this reality, and proceeds to the act of loving the Immaculate. It is true that love for God is our aim, but this is inseparable from love for his Mother: “All acts of love are addressed to the Father, who is the ultimate goal, and… in the Immaculata such acts take up an immaculate purity—while in Jesus they obtain infinite value worthy of the Holy Majesty of the Father.”[12]

Such love is not reducible to memory or understanding, much less to pious imagination or sentiment. The essence of love is the union of wills. Understanding, imagination and sentiment all have their place, but they are placed at the service of the will, the true seat of love. The nobility of the human will is its capacity, aided by divine grace, to love God in a divine way:

The essence of our love for God will always lie not in experiencing sweetness, not in remembering, not in thinking, understanding, imagining, but only in fulfilling the Will of God in every moment of our lives and surrendering completely to such Will.[13]

The perfect union of Our Lady’s will with God’s will, as we have said, is the “dynamic” which, taken together with the “principle” of the Immaculate Conception, makes it possible for us to love God most perfectly by loving the Immaculate. This is why St. Maximilian insisted that, by discovering and fulfilling the will of Our Lady (i.e., loving her), we perfectly fulfill the will of God and, therefore, love him in the most perfect way:

When we fulfill the will of the [religious] superior, we thereby fulfill the will of God, but under one condition, that no sin be involved. In the Immaculate, however, there is no sin; and, therefore, we can freely say: “I want to do the will of the Immaculate” [without any conditions]; “I fulfill her will”… The fusion of the will of the Immaculate with the will of God is most perfect. I am not saying this, because one must always speak in this fashion, but to indicate why a truth is affirmed in so speaking. We give God greater glory in saying: “Let the will of the Immaculate be done,” than in saying: “Let the will of God be done.”[14]

When we claim that we wish only to fulfill the will of the Immaculata, we do not at all diminish the glory of God by that statement, but rather increase it, because this way we recognize and revere the omnipotence of God, who gave existence to such a sublime and perfect creature. Similarly, when we are enchanted by a beautiful sculpture, by that very fact we praise and admire the genius of the artist.[15]

Therefore, we can say with courage and without hesitation that our food is to do the will of the Immaculate.[16]

The phrase, “will of the Immaculate,” is among those Kolbe most frequently employed: it appears well over one hundred times in his writings and in over fifty of his conferences of which we have a record. Clearly there was no question of its validity in his mind. Consequently, there is neither a question of the validity of a movement staking its entire approach on loving the Immaculate as the surest and most perfect means of returning the love of God.

We know perfectly well that the aim of all devotions is God. Similarly, devotion to the Immaculate is a means to an end. We must seek out Jesus through her and in her, and in no other place but in Her. We pass with one into the other, not from one to the other.[17]

The sense of this difficult passage from one of the Saint’s conferences is the following: our love of the Immaculate does not simply pass through her as through a lifeless channel, unchanged, when arriving at Jesus and the Father. Rather, we are placed, together with our love, spiritually (or mystically) in the Heart or womb of our Spiritual Mother, such that, by her maternal action, both we ourselves and our love are wonderfully ennobled by the grace of which she is full—an ennobling which, in Jesus, places that love on the supernatural plane. Our love for the Son and for the Father is caught up in her love, for she “offers such acts [of ours] to Jesus as though they were hers; that is to say, she offers them to Jesus without stain, immaculate.”[18] We, for our part, while ever retaining our personal identity, assume a greater likeness to Our Lady. The greater our love for the Immaculate, the more perfect this likeness:

And then we are hers, of the Immaculata, hers without limits, most perfectly hers; we are almost herself. Through us, she loves the Good God. Through our poor hearts she loves her divine Son. We become the means whereby the Immaculata loves Jesus, and Jesus, seeing us as her property, almost a part of His most beloved Mother, loves her in us and through us. What wondrous mysteries![19]

The Martyr of Charity’s program of unlimited consecration to the Immaculate consists in placing our whole lives at the service of such love—her love for us, and our love for her. This is what is meant by the incorporation of the mystery of the Immaculate Conception into one’s life, the heart of the “global vision” set forth by the M.I.:

In her apparition in Lourdes the Immaculata did not say, “I have been immaculately conceived,” but, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” With that, she determines not only the fact of the Immaculate Conception, but also the way in which that privilege belongs to her. Therefore, it is not some kind of casual feature, but a part of her very nature. She herself is the Immaculate Conception. As a result, she is such in us as well and transforms us into herself as immaculate beings… She is the Mother of God, and also the Mother of God within us… and makes us gods and mothers of God, who generate Jesus Christ in the souls of men… How sublime!…[20]

Our participation in the spiritual maternity of the Immaculate (and, by extension, in the paternity of God the Father) is but a logical consequence of our participation in the mystery of the Immaculate Conception. How sublime indeed all this is, yet nothing extraneous to the Gospel: “Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Mt 12:50). The Martyr of Charity would say: “Whoever does the will of the Immaculate…”

As we see, therefore, the “global vision of Catholic life” presented by St. Maximilian Kolbe is none other than the Gospel message. Its “new form” is to be realized universally through proclaiming and embracing an itinerary of love—the love of the Immaculate for us, and our love for her. It is the “cause of the Immaculate”:

To elicit such love toward the Immaculata by kindling it in one’s heart and to communicate such fire to those who live around us; to kindle all souls, and each one individually, with such love: the souls who live now and shall live in the future. To set such flame of love within oneself ablaze ever more forcefully and without restrictions, all over the earth: that is our goal.

Everything else is merely a means.

When such love is proclaimed and lived, as the Martyr of Charity envisioned, then all of creation will be enveloped by the love of God the Father and will return to the Father in the same love.

“Surrender, my soul, into the hand of your Father!”

[1]     The Writings of St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe (Lugano: Nerbini International, 2016), KW 1220.


[2]     Cf. KW 1029; conferences, June 6, 1933, and August 10, 1937.


[3]     Cf. L. M. Smith, “The Immaculate: Mediatrix of Divine Love,” Missio Immaculatae International, Vol. 14, No. 4 (July/August 2018), pp. 23-27.


[4]     KW 1318.


[5]     KW 1310.


[6]     The necessary and all-sufficient (in itself) basis for man’s “divinization” and return to God is the Incarnation—the Word, the second Person of the Trinity, united our humanity to His Person in the womb of the Virgin Mary—and His Passion and death on the Cross which redeemed us from sin and death. Yet, God predestined Mary, in whom “he was well pleased with singular delight,” in “one and the same decree” with her Incarnate Son (Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus); and, in time, Christ, the Word Incarnate, is the “fruit of the love of the One and Triune God and of Mary Immaculate,” (KW 1295) the fruit of the “union of all Uncreated Love with all created love… the highest expression of love” (KW 1318). The Immaculate Conception and Mary’s active cooperation as the New Eve in the work of Redemption, beginning at the Annunciation and culminating on Calvary, establish her irreplaceable role, in God’s design, in our own “divinization” in Christ and our return to the Father through Him. By the will of the Father, hers is a “necessary relativity” in our regard. This is why, for St. Maximilian, our itinerary of return to God consists in the incorporation of the mystery of the Immaculate Conception into our lives. It is in this sense that we can call the Immaculate Conception the “principle” of our divination and return to God.


[7]     KW 1295.


[8]     There is the suggestion here of Marian consecration as—to use the language of St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort—“the perfect renewal of one’s baptismal promises,” i.e., the perfect fulfillment of our baptismal consecration; cf. his Treatise on True Devotion, 126-131.


[9]     Jerusalem Catecheses, Cat. 21, Mystagogica 3, 1-3: PG 33; cf. The Divine Office: The Liturgy of the Hours (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1976), Vol. II, Second Reading from the Office of Readings for the Thursday within the Octave of Easter, pp. 596-597.


[10]    Cf. KW 1286. Here St. Maximilian illustrates how Mary is the personification of the Holy Spirit while carefully distinguishing this union from the singular grace of the hypostatic union (the Incarnation); cf. P. D. Fehlner, St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, Martyr of Charity, Pneumatologist. His Theology of the Holy Spirit (New Bedford: Academy of the Immaculate, 2004), 49-50.


[11]    Conference, February 5, 1941.


[12]    KW 1310.


[13]    KW 643.


[14]    Conference, June 26, 1936.


[15]    KW 1232.


[16]    Conference, September 19, 1936.


[17]    Conference, April 25, 1937.


[18]    KW 1310.


[19]    KW 508.


[20]    KW 486.


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