This is the title of the reatreat I am giving our sisters here in Bloomington, Indiana who are preparing to renew their vows on the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel. The line comes from a prayer composed spontaneously be Blessed John Duns Scotus, and which has entered into the language of the liturgy as an antiphon from the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The full text is Allow me to praise Thee O Holy Virgin, give me strength against Thine enemies.
The story goes that Scotus was on his way by foot to Paris where he was to defend the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception during a disputation conducted at the great University of Paris. Along the way he passed by a wayside shrine of Our Blessed Lady, and was inspired to kneel down and say this prayer. Our Blessed Lady was pleased to acknowledge the humility and devotion of her servant by miraculously manifesting that the prayer had been heard and answered.
The statue animated and bowed to the Blessed John, and he went on to Paris to brilliantly defend Our Lady’s prerogative of Her Immaculate Conception. The Franciscan Order has generally been recognized as one of the principle instruments for the defense and articulation of the dogma. Blessed Pope Pius IX, in fact, used the argumentation of Blessed John Duns Scotus as the basis for the papal bull defining the dogma in 1854. That defining moment is know affectionately within the Order as the Franciscan Triumph.
St. Maximilian Kolbe believed that the dogma was a blueprint for Catholic life, a battle plan for the crushing of the serpent’s head in our godless age. His act of consecration is a chivalric commitment, in our order a vow of blood to fight under Our Lady’s banner for the extension of the kingdom of Christ. Allow me to praise Thee O Holy Virgin, give me strength against Thine enemies.
St Maximilian attached this antiphon to end of his solemn act of consecration and also composed a longer prayer inspired by it:
Allow me to praise You, O most holy Virgin, with my personal commitment and sacrifice.
Allow me to live, work, suffer, be consumed and die for You, just for You.
Allow me to bring the whole world to you.
Allow me to contribute to Your ever greater exaltation, to Your greatest possible exaltation.
Allow me to give You such glory that no one else has ever given You up to now.
Allow others to surpass me in zeal for Your exaltation, and me to surpass them, so that by means of such noble rivalry Your glory may increase ever more profoundly, ever more rapidly, ever more intensely as He Who has exalted You so indescribably above all other beings Himself desires.
In You alone has God been adored beyond compare, more than in all His saints.
For You God has created the world. For You God has also called me to existence. For what reason have I merited this fortune?
Oh, allow me to praise You, O most holy Virgin!
That second to the last line might raise some eyebrows. I am prepared to defend it, if anyone is interested.
In any case, Our Lady is the “way of beauty” to use the words of Paul VI. It should be our honor to praise her. The chivalric ideal of honor is realized in service to the Queen. To “live” for Our Lady is to realize that Jesus lived in Her and through Her. By his own choice is self-emptying included his dependence on Her and his willingness to observe the fourth commandment, and He is the epitome of manliness and militancy.
Allow me to praise Thee O Holy Virgin . . . Faith and Prayer.
give me strength against Thine enemies. . . Charitable and Courageous Action.