The Nature of the MI
From an article by St. Maximilian Kolbe
The first page of the membership leaflet carries a picture of the Immaculata crushing with her foot the head of the serpent that holds the world in its toils. From her hands, rays of grace rain down on the globe. This representation sums up the entire essence of the MI. The members of the MI consecrate themselves to the Immaculata without any restriction, so that she may fully dispose of them as instruments in carrying out her own task, which is to combat Satan and help souls sanctify themselves.
As mottoes, two texts are used. The first from Genesis 3:15 where God in sentencing the serpent foretold to him: “She will crush your head!” The second is taken from the Office of Our Lady, where the Church sings to the Mother of God: “You alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world.” Thus, the Immaculata crushes the head of the serpent and destroys his enormous body composed of all the various heresies that have risen in different times and places. It does not say, of course, that the Immaculata destroys heretics, for she loves all souls and, for the love she bears them, she destroys heresies in order to liberate souls from heretical contagion.
“All,” we say, because it applies to all without exception. “You alone,” hence she alone suffices to do it. “Have destroyed,” hence she does not merely check them, or reduce them; but she is so powerful and her action is so effective that her enemies can have no hope of victory. “In the whole world,” hence not only in one area, larger or smaller, but also throughout the entire globe.
The program of action is divided into three parts: aims, conditions, and means.
The aim is to promote the conversion of sinners, heretics, schismatics, Jews, etc., but above all of freemasons; and the sanctification of all under the protection and through the mediation of the Immaculata. Therefore the MI aims at the conversion of all and of each individual who needs such conversion, and at the sanctification of every person now living, or who will live in the future, without any exception. The specific characteristic that distinguishes the MI from many other associations, which strive for the salvation and sanctification of souls, is that the MI carries on its own activity under the protection and through the mediation of the Immaculata.
The degree to which this should come about through the Immaculata is indicated by the conditions laid down in the second part. The first essential condition for belonging to the MI and for being active in it sounds as follows: “to consecrate oneself totally to the Immaculata as an instrument in her hands.” Thus, it is not we, but she herself who must act in us and through us, using us as her instruments, in the spirit of the MI. But to make this possible the person who belongs to the MI must consecrate himself to the Immaculata totally, without reserve, and irrevocably. The second condition, an exterior sign of one’s interior personal consecration, is wearing the Miraculous Medal, which the Immaculata herself revealed and recommended to wear.
The adequate means in the work for the conversion and sanctification of souls can be only divine grace, which must be obtained by prayer. In fact, among the means indicated we find in the first place the ejaculation that the Immaculata herself taught us during the apparition of the Miraculous Medal: “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!” To this invocation the members of the MI add, “and for those who do not have recourse to thee,” thus including in their prayer all souls and everyone living in the whole world. “But especially for freemasons,” because these unfortunates, even though in a secret manner, constitute the brains of the most varied attacks against God, the Church, the salvation and sanctification of souls. Finally, the Knights add, “and for those who have been recommended to thee,” thus entrusting to the Immaculata the salvation and sanctification of those souls for whom one presently is working.
Beyond this, any means, so long as it is legitimate, may be used, depending on what one’s state of life, conditions, and circumstances allows. This implies that the choice of such means is left to the zeal and prudence of every member. Since the Immaculata herself has recommended the distribution of the Miraculous Medal, this constitutes in the hands of the Knights of the Immaculata something like a bullet with which souls, wounded by love for the Immaculata, consecrate themselves to her more easily. Zeal may show itself in many ways; some limit themselves to one or the other activity, others undertake to omit none of them. Some work individually while others gathering together under various regulations strive to achieve their goals through a common effort.
The “note” declares that the use of such means is not a strictly obligatory element, but is only recommended, so that if someone fails to apply them, so long as he does not revoke his consecration to the Immaculata, he still belongs to the MI. The “note” further states that none of all this binds under pain of sin, even slight sin; love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus is our only motive, with the goal of uniting to Him through the Immaculata the greatest possible number of souls, in the closest possible way. The love of God, therefore, is the ultimate aim of all the activity of the MI.
The spirit of the MI profoundly penetrates the act of consecration to the Most Holy Virgin Immaculate. It is divided into two parts. In the first part, the soul consecrates itself entirely to the Immaculata and says to her, “O Immaculata, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners, and our most loving mother, God willed to entrust the entire order of mercy. I, … an unworthy sinner prostrate myself at your feet beseeching you to do with me, with all my faculties of soul and body, with my whole life, death and eternity whatever most pleases you.” This is the essential part of the MI: the unlimited consecration of oneself to the Immaculata to become hers ever more, ever perfectly hers, under every aspect, and forever, eternally and irrevocably hers.
A person who has consecrated himself to her in this manner influences his milieu even without knowing it, spreads light, and moves others to imitate his example; but this does not suffice. He wishes to do all he can for the Immaculata, and for this reason, continuing his act of consecration, he implores: “If it pleases you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what was said of you, ‘She will crush your head,’ and, ‘You have destroyed all heresies in the whole world.’ Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter, you obtain the grace of conversion and growth in holiness, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.” At the end, he adds a humble invocation: “Allow me to praise you, O Sacred Virgin. Give me strength against your enemies.”
The act of consecration contains all the substance of the spirit of the MI whose form the membership leaflet illustrates.
From The Writings of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe (KW 1330)
Let me say frankly that it is not easy to understand our ideal, and even more difficult is it to grasp it in depth; rather we can deepen our understanding of it more and more, and know it in ever more explicit was, but we shall never exhaust its sublime depths. Why not? Because here we are dealing with the Mother of God. We know well enough what the word “mother” means; but the notion of “God” includes within itself the infinite, and our limited intelligence will never be able to understand fully the idea of “Mother of God.”
Therefore, whoever is not willing to bend his knees and beg of her in humble prayer the grace of knowing who she really is, need not hope to learn anything more about her. From the divine Maternity, all the graces granted to the most Holy Virgin Mary flow, the first of which is her Immaculate Conception. This privilege must be particularly dear to her heart, since at Lourdes she chose to say of herself: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” It is by this name, which gladdens our hearts that we wish to address her too.
The Immaculata: behold our ideal.
To draw near to her; to make ourselves like her; to let her take possession of our hearts and of our entire being so that she may live and act in us and through us, so that she herself may love God with our hearts, and that we may belong to her without reserve—such is our ideal. To become an active presence in our milieu; to conquer souls for her in such a way that the hearts of our neighbors may open wide before her, so that she may extend her own reign over the hearts of all those who live in whatever corner of the world, regardless of the diversity of races, nationalities, tongues; and also over the hearts of all those who will live at any time in history even unto the end of the world—such is our ideal.
Further, that her life may take root in us ever more deeply from day to day, from hour to hour, from moment to moment, and this without any restrictions—such is our ideal. That this life of hers may develop in the same way in every soul that exists and will ever exist in the future—such is our cherished ideal.
One day, while talking of the possibility of understanding the sublime character of a virginal life, Jesus said, “Let him who can take it, take it” (Matthew 19:12). Therefore, as a conclusion to these few words I too would say, “He, who can take it, let him take it.”
Unfortunately, even among those who have received Baptism, and sometimes try to deepen their religious knowledge, one can find a considerable number of persons who succeed only with difficulty in penetrating into the Heart of the Immaculata, the Mother of God, the Mother of Jesus our brother, the mother of our supernatural life, the Mediatrix of all graces, our Queen, our sovereign, our leader and the vanquisher of Satan.
From The Writings of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe (KW 1210)