LET us say one more word about the place of devotion to Mary in the Sodality. By design we have throughout our paper put the Marian element in last place. Our reason was this. We desired to trace the inner structure of the Sodality back to its source, that is, the fundamental truths of the Spiritual Exercises. We were anxious to define first the theological and then the psychological background against which devotion to Mary assumes great importance and a new significance. Through this approach we found it more easy to avoid the pitfalls into which very recent writers on the Sodality have sometimes fallen, namely the controversy concerning what place devotion to Mary should hold, which can so readily become a pseudo-problem.
This is particularly true if we begin to reflect only on whether devotion to Mary is a means or an end and whether there is a difference between veneration and consecration or patronage, whether Mary is to be considered more from a subjective point of view rather than from her place in the economy of salvation. All these questions can be discussed with profit, but only after more weighty matters have been clarified.
Our starting-point is the formula of Bis Saeculari, the apostolic constitution, which is obligatory for all Sodalities.
"These sodalities are to be called Sodalities of Our Lady not only because they take their name from the Blessed Virgin Mary, but especially be-cause each Sodalist makes a profession of special devotion to the Mother of God and dedicates himself to her by a total consecration, under-taking, though not under the pain of sin, to strive by every means and under the standards of the Blessed Virgin for his own perfection and eternal salvation, as well as for that of his neighbours."
From these words it would be an obvious misinterpretation to conclude that the Sodality is primarily an organisation to honour Our Lady.
Article XI states to the contrary: " Among the primary ends of Sodalities is to be reckoned every kind of apostolate, especially the social apostolate for the propagation of the kingdom of Christ and the defence of ecclesiastical rights."
And Article X: " It is the duty of Sodalities of Our Lady to train their members...so that they can be proposed as models to their companions of Christian life and of apostolic endeavour."
These are not two contradictory propositions. According to an express declaration of Very Reverend Wlodimir Ledochowski, Father General of the Society of Jesus until his death in 1941, veneration of Mary in the Sodality has exactly the same place that it occupies in Catholic thought, prayer and piety. This is to not a quasidynamic principle capable of change in our veneration of Mary. We are all aware and bear happy witness to the fact that Mariology and devotion to Mary are at the present time moving into the forefront in the whole Church.
In the unfolding plan of salvation and in the progress which apostolic revelation is constantly making toward greater explicitness, this development must be integrated ascetically. Mariology is more and more emerging into our conscious understanding of the faith, or, to put it more accurately, it is moving in the direction of its Christiological centre. In so doing it is disclosing with even greater clarity its relationship to the Church, so the Sodality will also give to Mariology that position of importance which has constantly become clearer in the mind of the modern Church.