Between the years 1399 and 1419, a holy Dominican missionary from Brittany traveled throughout western Europe on foot, converting souls to the Faith and teaching the necessity of penance. This was the great “Apostle of the Last Judgment,” Saint Vincent Ferrer. Once, while preaching at La Cheze in France, he came upon the old chapel of Our Lady of Pity that had long since fallen into ruin through total disuse and neglect. Saddened by the pitiful sight and the thought of the heartless disregard that had caused it, Saint Vincent foretold that the chapel “will be restored by a man whom the Almighty will bring into the world at a distant date. He will appear as a stranger, will be insulted and balked, but he will achieve his purpose.”
That man did come to La Cheze, almost exactly three hundred years later. He too was a Breton who, like his early herald, tirelessly traveled on foot. And like another saint, Alexis, he lived as a beggar, sleeping under staircases or in open fields. Like Saint Bernardine of Siena, he was a powerfully compelling preacher; like Saint Bonaventure, a brilliant theologian; like Saint Vincent de Paul, he loved God’s poor; and like Saint Francis of Assisi, nursed the diseased. He was, in fact, so much like many of the great saints in their special virtues that he indeed was a very special saint himself. He was Saint Louis Marie de Montfort.
The Early Years
The name Jean Baptiste Grignion was well respected in his community. He was Crown lawyer of Montfort and the Parliament, as well as treasurer to the factory of St. Jean. Typical of country gentlemen of the time, Monsieur Grignion was a man of recognized position and no money. But he and his wife, Jeanne Robert, were rich in other treasures, for as many as eleven of their eighteen children became saints. Ten were taken into Heaven in infancy. The other, the greatest of the Grignion saints, was born on January 31, 1673. On the following day he was baptized and given the name Louis Marie.
Monsieur Grignion was known for his fiery temper which, with the hardships of raising a large family in near poverty, found frequent occasions to be vented. Young Louis, we are told, not only was often the victim of his father’s explosiveness, but also inherited the trait. In fact, he confessed in later years that his most difficult struggle against passions of the flesh was in subduing his violent temper.
Be that as it may, those who knew him in life only witnessed remarkable docility in his nature. Rather than human weaknesses, Louis Marie displayed extraordinary qualities of virtue, even from the early age of four years. “This angelic boy,” Pere de Cloriviere recalled, would console his mother “by words so full of unction and so beyond all material knowledge he would have, that it seemed as if the Spirit of God Himself gave them to him.” Apostolic zeal also was fully evident in his childhood, by his teaching catechism to other children and encouraging their devotion to the Blessed Virgin. For he himself had such strong devotion to his “good Mother” that he would spend hours at a time in the chapel praying to her. In childlike simplicity, he would lay before her all his spiritual and temporal needs, confident that he then had done everything necessary to obtain them.
The boy’s maternal uncle was the Abbe Robert, who said of him, “He showed such a horror of vice and such an inclination to virtue, that you would have thought him immune from Adam’s sin.” Indeed, a close friend of Louis Marie de Montfort, Jean Baptiste Blain, relates this example: “His whole childhood was spent in the most wonderful innocence. He knew so little of what may tarnish purity that when I was speaking to him one day of temptations against that virtue, he told me that he did not know what they were.” But he did know what would violate purity. He once found in his father’s library a book containing what he considered to be indecent illustrations. Monsieur Montfort saw nothing wrong with the pictures, for he did not have the boy’s sensitive conscience. Louis threw the book into the fire, knowing full well that his father would be outraged.
An exceptionally brilliant student, Louis was twelve when he entered St. Thomas’s, a Jesuit college in Rennes where schooling was given free to an enrollment of some three thousand students. The devout Jesuits at the college exercised an edifying influence on their pious student. After their example, and out of his own unbounded charity, he eagerly denoted himself to the care of the poor and the infirm. It was here also that he began his lifelong practice of rigorous penance and mortification with scourges, chains, hairshirts, and fastings. And it was here too that he received his vocation to the priesthood.
But to Louis Marie Grignion the priesthood meant much more than a vocation; it was to be total servitude and self-sacrifice to God. So in his priestly calling, he gave himself entirely to Jesus through Mary, vowing never to hold any personal possessions. Upon setting out for the Seminary of Saint Sulpice at Paris, for example, he promptly gave to some needy soul the ten crowns provided him for the trip and traded his new suit for a beggar’s rags. Moreover, he chose to make the seven-hundred-mile journey on foot, begging for his food along the way. So complete was his abandonment of worldly attachments that he even gave up his family name, to be known simply as Louis Marie of Montfort.
Since he was never one to voice even the slightest complaint, we learn only from classmates that Louis Marie’s attendance at Saint Sulpice was a punishing experience. For while he performed brilliantly in his studies, the young saint continually found his pious exercises under suspicion and criticism. Such practices as his visits to the chapel before and after every class, his spontaneous conversations with the Blessed Virgin wherever he came upon one of her statues, his acts of grueling mortification, and his forming an “absurd” association called “Slaves of Jesus in Mary” — all were jeered at and treated with scorn. Even his confessor and the superior suspected Louis of spiritual pride and tried, by every conceivable kind of humiliation, to break him down, but with no success.
In the year 1700, when Father de Montfort was ordained, the Church in France never seemed healthier, by physical appearances. There were over 100,000 ecclesiastics in the country, 130 bishops, more than l,000 abbeys, and “a veritable galaxy” of lesser monasteries. All the great Orders, as well as forty-two new religious congregations founded in the previous century, were flourishing there. Paris alone, whose population was just half a million, boasted forty six parishes, ten seminaries, eleven abbeys, one hundred religious communities, and twenty-six Catholic hospitals. All of which prosperity certainly would indicate that the Faith in France was vigorously alive and well. So often it is found, however, that the Church outwardly may never look healthier as an institution than when she is being ravaged internally by the malignant growth of error and heresy. And we usually discover in those instances that the root cause of the contradiction is a disproportionate attention having been placed on material endowment, to the tragic neglect of spiritual growth.
In this case, the body of the French Church had become critically undernourished through the spiritual ignorance of both the people and much of the clergy. Thus she was rendered dangerously susceptible to the three-fold disease that attacked her, in the forms of Protestantism, Gallicanism, and Jansenism. By far the most contagious and destructive of the three was Jansenism, a condemned heresy which not only refused to acknowledge its separation from the Holy Church, but maintained an audacious pretension of rigid Catholic orthodoxy. Though anything but orthodox, its doctrines certainly were rigid. In general, they placed Divine mercy and grace so far from the reach of all but the holiest souls that even the most ordinary human frailties were cause to despair of hope for forgiveness and salvation. With the extensive but subtle spread of this cold poison, vast multitudes were encouraged to withdraw from the Communion rail, believing their confessed unworthiness to receive Our Lord was a greater act of Christian humility. Hence they denied themselves of the most magnificent Gift that God, in His sublime condescension, so eagerly offered to mankind for its salvation — Himself. Many priests would even allow the faithful to die without the Sacraments. And, of course, devotion to the Merciful Heart of Jesus was considered to be a sin of presumption. To the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a sin of idolatry.
Meanwhile, with the Church in France now functioning in a spirit of political ambition instead of filial submission, many bishops demanded to be recognized as having an authority equal to that of the Bishop of Rome — which is the essence of Gallicanism. To defend their brazen defiance of the Pope, therefore, they sought refuge in an alliance with Jansenism, and thus heresy, being an expedient to personal power, gained protection and momentum from the ambitions of the hierarchy.
Small wonder, then, that Montfort, the obedient slave and champion of the Sovereign Queen of Heaven, found little favor in his native country. On the contrary, Jansenism had become so widespread that this holy priest, for the sixteen years from his ordination to his death, was to enjoy a life whose most conspicuous routine was enduring ridicule, humiliation, slander, threats, contradiction, interdiction, and ostracism. And we do mean “enjoy.” Saint Louis Marie loved nothing more than to suffer calumnies and persecution for his Master Who said: “If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” He prayed constantly for such crosses, in fact, and accordingly was blessed with an abundance of them. For he was repetitiously driven by his enemies from one diocese to another — from Nantes to Poitiers, to Angers, to Orleans, to Tours, to Paris, to Rennes, to Rouen, and back, again and again — in triumphant persecution.
Temporal enemies were not the only antagonists of the holy man. In Poitiers, cries and sounds of desperate struggles were heard coming from his room on several occasions. Once he had been seen dragging himself on his hands and knees, pleading, “O Mother of God, help me!” His assailant was Satan, as was confirmed in a letter written by Saint Louis Marie From Paris, saying, “Men and devils make war on me in this great city….”
But aside from sufferings, there are volumes of other details that comprise the monumental story of this remarkable man. An imposing figure of amazing strength and limitless energy, Saint Louis Marie de Montfort performed a variety of outstanding works that would stagger a hundred other men of zeal, as may be discerned from the following selective and extremely condensed accounts.
After ordination, it was a year before Louis finally obtained permission to preach. Conducting his first missions at Poitiers (where he also performed his first miracle by curing a blind man) his efforts were eminently successful, producing countless moral conversions. So completely had he captured the affections of the poor that they begged the bishop to give “kind Father de Montfort” a more definite assignment amongst them. Consequently, he was made chaplain of a local hospital — a poorhouse governed in chaos, abuse, and neglect. Animated as Louis was by great love for the poor, he labored tirelessly to comfort the wretchedly afflicted inmates, denying his own needs to allow better portions for the patients.
Trouble, as usual, was not long catching up to Louis Marie. Revolutionary reforms he had instituted at the hospital disgruntled certain staff workers who had an aversion to doing honest work, but none to misrepresenting their saintly chaplain as a tyrannical madman. Added to this, his habit of living and dressing like a beggar made him the subject of incessant community gossip. Then too, there was the “scandalous” incident concerning Marie Louise Trichet, daughter of a prominent and wealthy Crown lawyer. Under Montfort’s spiritual direction, she too took to a life of poverty, devoting herself, as Saint Louis’ first Daughter of Wisdom, to caring for the poor. Both the community and the family of this holy girl were shocked. Other unjust complaints continued to mount against the poor priest, until the bishop at last forbade him to say Mass. Louis then moved on.
The Poitiers affair typifies so many in Montfort’s life that it establishes the routine: always inflamed with dedication to his priestly duty, and always rewarded in the same cruel way — ostracism. Wherever he went he found that only his undeserved reputation had preceded him, so that invariably he was greeted with suspicion and contempt. But unfailingly he would leave behind him miracles, conversions, and fervent devotions which remained for generations as living landmarks of the route he had taken.
Journeying on foot to Paris, he arrived in 1704 at another hospital where he found that spiritual formation of most of the five thousand impoverished inmates had never progressed beyond the baptismal font — this, despite the presence of twenty-three priests attending them. Entering as an assistant chaplain, Father de Montfort, through his Christ-like manner of tenderly treating both the physical and spiritual afflictions of his poor patients, portrayed a compelling day-to-day sermon. He would cleanse their wounds at the same time that he washed the defilements of their souls with absolution, like Him Who said: “It is not the healthy who need a physician, but they who are sick. For I have not come to call the just, but sinners.” Such eloquence of mercy, however, was certain to excite Jansenist retaliation. Coming to dinner one evening, the saint found a note of dismissal on his plate.
Montfort returned to the hospital at Poitiers and remained there a year before difficulties again forced his departure. He was, however, permitted to preach in outlying towns — filthy slums of degeneracy where the sight of a priest aroused bitter hatred. In time he worked so complete a conversion of these villages that evening Rosary devotions and processions became a way of life for all. Chapels were restored; saloons were converted into Rosary shrines; bonfires were built for burning impure books and pictures, confessions were heard in unending numbers; miracles were performed; people’s courts were convened under “Magistrate” Montfort for resolving disputes; and a hospital for incurables was begun. But, as always, someone in a position of power resented these spectacular achievements, and the missioner of mercy was summarily expelled from the diocese.
Apostle of France
Several years now had passed and Saint Louis still had no more idea of what his specific service to God was to be than he had on the day he was ordained. At least three times he had tried to devote his life to the poor and had met obstacles. Then too, he had always wanted to work in foreign missions, while at the same time he confessed an attraction to the contemplative life. Since his only reply from hierarchical superiors was hindrance rather than help, he decided to seek the counsel of the Pope. Walking a thousand miles to Rome, resting only at the Holy House of Loreto, he was granted an audience with His Holiness on June 6, 1706. Clement XI intuitively sensed beyond the humble appearance of the beggar priest before him that here was a man of extraordinary sanctity. The Pope, assuring Louis Marie that there was more than enough work for him in France, appointed him as Apostolic Missioner.
Returning home now fully confident that God’s Will had been revealed to him through the Vicar of Christ, Montfort joined the famous missionary company of Father Leuduger and spent eight months with him evangelizing the northeast provinces of France. It was during this time that the indefatigable slave of Our Lady fulfilled Saint Vincent’s prophecy, rebuilding the ruined church at La Cheze while somehow continuing uninterruptedly to conduct a major mission. His miracles throughout this period were numerous and included, besides many cures, several instances of his multiplying fragments of food during a time of famine to feed the throngs of beggars that regularly surrounded him. But these and countless other spectacular blessings disturbed the humble priest, inasmuch as they were not balanced with the usual measure of crosses. Fearing that spiritual pride might overtake him, he greatly intensified his acts of mortification — so much so that his confessor had to intervene and order that he lighten the terrible sufferings he inflicted on himself.
Difficulties did not long fail to arise, however, for some misunderstanding provoked the dismissal of Saint Louis by Father Leuduger, who later was to regret the decision. Montfort hereafter was on his own as the Pope’s Apostolic Missioner, joined only by religious brothers recruited for his small Company of Mary and occasionally assisted by other missionary priests. His successful work continued in the northern diocese of Saint Malo until its heretical bishop drove him away to Nantes, a seething cauldron of Jansenism. One of the more extraordinary phenomena associated with Saint Louis Marie de Montfort occurred here. A young girl, later to become the superior of a hospital, daily had been traveling a great distance to attend one of his missions. She arrived one day only to realize that she had forgotten to bring food for her return trip. As she sat tearfully on the church steps, exhausted, hungry, and too shy to ask for help, there suddenly appeared “a beautiful lady who, with an indescribably graceful gesture, offered her a piece of bread, saying gently, ‘Take this, my child, and eat it.’ A moment later she disappeared.”
It was here also that a group of about a dozen thugs brutally attacked Montfort, intending to beat him to death. This was the second attempt on his life, and like the first it was unsuccessful. Underestimating the humble saint’s might, the assailants soon found themselves in fear for their own lives and quickly retreated.
His work in Nantes continued, bringing with it many conversions and effectively dispersing much of the stifling atmosphere of Jansenism. Miracles abounded as well. For example, barren soil where his foot had trod, soon issued healthy harvests. And there were several reported apparitions of Our Lady to simple peasants following his missions. But again his accomplishments thus far were devoid of the crosses desired by Louis Marie — an “oversight” soon to be corrected.
The saint long since had adopted the practice of erecting impressively large Calvary scenes at the close of his missions. The grandest that he had ever undertaken was the Calvary at Pontchateau, thirty miles distant from Nantes. Though work on it had already begun, Louis remained doubtful about the site chosen for it and interrupted construction long enough to assemble his crew in the chapel to pray for Our Lady’s guidance. When work resumed, two doves were observed gathering dirt in their bills, flying away, and returning repeatedly for more. Discovering that the destination of the winged excavators was the highest point in Pontchateau, Montfort immediately recognized this sign from the Blessed Mother and relocated his operation. (Thirty-six years earlier, crosses were seen to descend from heaven amidst a great noise and singing and to suspend over this very spot — on the same day that Saint Louis Marie was born.) Before long, news of the tremendous project had traveled so far that pilgrimages of men and women of every station in life came from all over Europe to lend their generous help in hauling an estimated 300,000 cubic feet of earth which was to constitute the sprawling seventy-foot-high mount. The undertaking continued through a hard winter for fifteen months, during which time not only did many miracles of the usual variety occur, but “a woman of unearthly beauty” was seen appearing to Montfort on several occasions. Surmounted with three huge crosses — one fifty feet tall — and surrounded by an elaborate Rosary and gardens representing Eden and Gethsemane, the Calvary of Pontchateau was completed in 1710. Then came what had to be the most bitter heartbreak in the life of Saint Louis Marie.
One of his enemies, wielding considerable influence among government authorities, seeded the suspicion that the enormous shrine, which was to be solemnly blessed on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, could be used as a military stronghold by foreign powers warring on France. On the eve of the Feast, Father de Montfort received orders from the bishop prohibiting the blessing. Shortly afterwards the Calvary masterpiece, hill and all, was completely leveled. True, Saint Louis had prophesied that his beautiful Passion site, which had been so clearly blessed by Our Lady, would be destroyed and rebuilt twice before it would survive for the ages. But he had no idea that the first demolition would come so soon. His response, however, shows with what incomparable confidence this magnificent soul was resigned to God’s Will in that bitter trial: “Blessed be God! It was His glory I sought, not mine. I hope He will accept the gift I intended for Him, as though I had had it to give.”
Clouds of ecclesiastical censure finally parted in 1711 for the Breton priest. He was invited to work in the diocese of La Rochelle and from then on was able to preach an almost unbroken succession of missions with the wholehearted support of Bishop Champflour, a determined foe of heresy. Henceforth we find that his ordinary month-to-month activities — if we dare speak of miracles, mass conversions, and all other remarkable works performed by him as being “ordinary” — were redundantly routine right up to the time of his early death.
Yet while assured of the bishop’s staunch backing, Saint Louis had no relief from the hateful torments to which he had become so well accustomed. Much to the contrary, both Jansenism and Calvinism proved mighty forces to be contended with in the La Rochelle district. To illustrate, several attempts on his life by now already had been made, and fortunately — sometimes miraculously — he had escaped them all. But when he converted two of this city’s most prominent and vocal Protestants — one of whom entered a convent of Poor Clares — Calvinist rage could not be quieted. Threats were made against both the converts and Louis Marie. Frequently the great priest was greeted with a hail of stones, and more frequently with cries of “Kill Montfort!” One evening a powerful dose of poison was administered to his broth. Though he swallowed but a mouthful before noticing the deadly presence, the wicked deed was accomplished. Saint Louis did not die immediately from the poison, but the solution was so concentrated that even the small amount of a spoonful ravaged and gravely undermined his once robust health, and the slow, agonizing process of death was begun.
The usual suspicions were awaiting the saint in every new town along his path, and of course he won out over them in his usual fashion. A good example is his mission work at La Garnache. Montfort gained so many ardent followers there that a procession consisting of almost the entire village escorted him on to Sallertaine, the next stop on his crowded itinerary, where in contrast only a wary and hostile mob awaited him. But upon his approach to the church its doors, which had been barred against him, miraculously burst open. Needless to say, the inhabitants of Sallertaine in turn were hastily converted to deep admiration of the saint.
Though most of the time in the few years left for him was spent in the diocese of La Rochelle, Saint Louis Marie continued to make excursions to whatever places in France poor souls could be found. But then not always in such places was there even that token of good will by which the residents could benefit from his presence. On his third and final visit to Rennes, for example, his evangelizing was met only with stubborn obstinacy. Heart broken, he wrote in a farewell poem that a curse was upon the city and warned of its destruction. Five years later, most of Rennes was razed by a fire which raged for ten days.
Nothing could discourage him. He was asked to preach a mission on the Island of Yeu. England and France at the time were at war, and the waters he would have to cross were thick with English pirates. Warned of this, Montfort responded: “By all means, let us go. If the martyrs had been as timid as we are, they never would have received their palms.” While making passage, a miracle saved him and his company only a moment before two English warships could overtake them. Today a large boulder at the base of a steep hill gives testimony to the great saint’s arrival on the Island of Yeu. It had once been at the top of that hill, occupying the spot where Saint Louis decided to erect a Calvary cross. Several men had tried unsuccessfully to budge what the Breton priest dislodged with a touch.
The years of endless work and rigorous mortifications, combined with the severe effects of the poison, ultimately reduced his once strong frame to a pitifully gaunt and badly suffering hulk. It was the year 1716 and his end now was visibly in sight. By this time he already had founded his religious congregations, the Daughters of Wisdom and the Company of Mary. Moreover, he had left a legacy of devotion to the Blessed Virgin that was to survive, and in fact to help defeat, the Satanic Terror of the French Revolution — that evil precursor of Communist barbarity. What more could be asked of him? In his own mind, much. This incredible slave redoubled his labors, hoping to regain all the more souls for his “good Mother” and Her Divine Son right up to the moment he drew his last breath.
Somehow Saint Louis managed a new burst of energy from that wretched body which already looked fit for the grave. On Palm Sunday he began a mission at St. Laurent-sur-Sevre; it was to be his last. Leaving the pulpit one day, he was at the point of collapsing and had to take to his bed. His confessor ordered that the straw and the rock-pillow on which the holy man normally slept be replaced with a mattress. Louis reluctantly but obediently submitted and was given the Last Rites. Yet he insisted on receiving the many followers who wanted one last blessing from their beloved saint.
For several days he lay there dying with a statue of the Blessed Virgin in one arm and the indulgenced crucifix given him by Pope Clement XI in the other. He gave his last will and testament, asking that his heart be buried “under the steps of the altar of the Blessed Virgin.” On the following day, April 28, 1716, Satan made a final desperate bid, to which Saint Louis retorted loudly, “You attack me in vain; I stand between Jesus and Mary. I have finished my course. I shall sin no more.” With that the soul of Saint Louis Marie de Montfort was taken into Heaven. And his entire body was laid to rest beneath the altar of the Queen he loved so much.
There is a dual aspect to the glorious career of every saint. One, the most obvious, is that of the achievements realized in his own time, and the other is that of the benefits with which later ages have been abundantly blessed as the result of his holy works. But it is from the illustrious saint from Montfort that we see these characteristics beam forth most luminously. In fact, it well may be said that Louis Marie is even more a saint for our age than for his own. As he was an apostle to an unfaithful France of the eighteenth century, through his preaching and his works of mercy, so he is all the more the Apostle to a faithless world of the latter times, through his writings and his prophecies.
As a preacher he taught a simple people with simple lessons. Since the poor of France could not read, he gave them a treasure of humble yet beautiful poems and hymns by which they learned and long sustained their childlike faith. But as the Apostle of all later ages he presents a striking contrast in his teaching facilities.
Biographers, being mindful of his spiritual appetite for humiliation, affectionately describe Saint Louis Marie de Montfort as a holy “fool.” Fitting as the description may seem to be in that sense, it is in no way meant to imply that his mental faculties were deficient. On the contrary, he was a brilliant theologian. Indeed, we dare say that Holy Mother may one day confer upon him the honored title of Church Doctor, owing to the outstanding theological expositions given in his flawless writings.
Saint Louis Marie wrote five significant compositions, all of which are still in wide circulation even today. They are Love Of The Eternal Wisdom, Friends Of The Cross, True Devotion To The Blessed Virgin, The Secret Of Mary, and The Secret Of The Rosary. Georges Rigault aptly summarizes these works, observing, “Three words cover the gist of his teaching: Wisdom, the Cross, the Virgin — words which belong to each other: No Wisdom outside the Cross and without the aid of the Virgin.”
Wisdom here does not mean sagacity in the natural sense. Rather, it means “Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word of God, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Who took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary.” Saint Louis Marie writes, “To know Jesus Christ, the Eternal Wisdom, is to know enough. To know everything and not know Him is to know nothing. . . . A thousand times happier is the man into whose soul Wisdom has come to dwell. . . . To acquire Wisdom we must seek Him ardently, that is, we must be willing to abandon all, to suffer all, and to undertake all things in order to possess Him. There are but few who find Him because there are but few who seek Him in a manner worthy of Him.”
Hence he teaches the necessity of the Cross: “Born in the sorrowful Heart of the Saviour, [a friend of the Cross] comes into the world through His right side, stained with His Blood; he never forgets his birth and crosses, death to the world, the flesh, and sin are all he lives for, that even in this world he may be hid with Christ in God. . . . [He] triumphs over the devil, the world, and the flesh and their three-fold concupiscence. He overthrows the pride of Satan by his love for humiliation, he triumphs over the world’s greed by his love for poverty, and he restrains the sensuality of the flesh by his love for suffering.”
But the surest, the easiest, the happiest, the most perfect way to Jesus Christ is through Mary. And this brings us to the great genius of Saint Louis Marie in explaining Our Lady’s role in the redemption of mankind. In his treatise on True Devotion To The Blessed Virgin, he wrote, “It is through the most holy Virgin Mary that Jesus came into the world, and it is also through her that he has to reign in the world. . . . It was through Mary that the salvation of the world was begun, and it is through Mary that it must be consummated. . . . Devotion to Our Blessed Lady is necessary for salvation. . . . He who has not Mary for his Mother has not God for his Father.
“It is necessary for the greater knowledge and glory of the Most Holy Trinity, that Mary should be more than ever known. . . . Mary must shine forth more than ever in mercy, in might, and in grace in these later times: 1 in mercy to bring back and lovingly receive the poor strayed sinners who shall be converted and shall return to the Catholic Church; in might, against the enemies of God, idolaters, schismatics, Mahometans, Jews, and souls hardened in impiety, who shall rise in terrible revolt against God. . .; and finally, she must shine forth in grace, in order to animate and sustain the valiant soldiers and faithful servants of Jesus Christ who shall battle for His interests.
“But the power of Mary over all the devils will especially shine forth in the latter times, when Satan will lay his snares against her heel: that is to say, her humble slaves and her poor children, whom she will raise up to make war against him. They shall be little and poor in the world’s esteem . . . and persecuted as the heel is by other members of the body. But in return for this, they shall be rich in the grace of God, which Mary shall distribute to them abundantly.”
Who shall these servants, slaves, and children of Mary be? The saint answers himself: “They shall be the ministers of the Lord who, like a burning fire, shall kindle the fire of divine love everywhere.” And “they shall be ‘like sharp arrows in the hand of the powerful’ Mary to pierce her enemies.”
How does one become a slave of the Blessed Virgin? The easiest way is by first carefully studying True Devotion, for which Pope Saint Pius X granted an Apostolic Benediction. (The original English translation by Father Frederick W. Faber is the best.) Then by confidently making, and faithfully living by, the following Act of Consecration to the Mother of God, composed by Saint Louis Marie de Montfort:In the presence of all the Heavenly Court I choose thee this day for my Mother and Mistress. I deliver and consecrate to thee, as thy slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions, past, present and future; leaving to thee the entire and full right of disposing of me, and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to thy good pleasure, to the greatest glory of God, in time and in eternity.
Quotes of St.Louis de Montfort
“Have you strayed from the path leading to heaven? Then call on Mary, for her name means “Star of the Sea, the North Star which guides the ships of our souls during the voyage of this life,” and she will guide you to the harbor of eternal salvation.”
“God the Father has communicated to Mary His fruitfulness, as far as a mere creature was capable of it, in order that He might give her the power to produce His Son, and all the members of His mystical body.”
“The works of Jesus and Mary can also be called wonderful flowers; but their perfume and beauty can only be appreciated by those who study them carefully—and who open them and drink in their scent by diligent and sincere meditation.”
“If, then, we establish solid devotion to our Blessed Lady, it is only to establish more perfectly devotion to Jesus Christ, and to provide an easy and secure means for finding Jesus Christ. If devotion to Our Lady removed us from Jesus Christ, we should have to reject it as an illusion of the devil; but so far from this being the case, devotion to Our Lady is, on the contrary, necessary for us—as I have already shown, and will show still further hereafter—as a means of finding Jesus Christ perfectly, of loving Him tenderly, of serving Him faithfully.”
“In order to rid ourselves of self, we must die ourselves daily. That is to say, we must renounce the operations of the powers of our soul and the senses of our body. We must see as if we saw not, understand as if we understood not, and make use of the things of this world as if we made no use of them at all (1 Cor. 7:29-31). This is what St. Paul calls dying daily (1 Cor. 15:31). “Unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, itself remaineth alone,” and bringeth forth no good fruit (Jn. 12:24-25).”
“three steps to climb to go to God: the first, which is the nearest to us, and the most suited to our capacity, is Mary; the second is Jesus Christ; and the third is God the Father. To go to Jesus, we must go to Mary; she is our mediatrix of intercession.”
“There have been some saints, but they have been in small numbers, who have walked upon this sweet path to go to Jesus, because the Holy Ghost, faithful Spouse of Mary, by a singular grace disclosed it to them. Such were St. Ephrem, St. John Damascene, St. Bernard, St. Bernardine, St. Bonaventure, St. Francis de Sales, and others. But the rest of the saints, who are the greater number, although hall all had devotion to our Blessed Lady, nevertheless have either not at all, or at least very little, entered upon this way. That is why they have had to pass through ruder and more dangerous trials.”
“Mary has produced, together with the Holy Ghost, the greatest thing which has been or ever will be—a God-Man; and she will consequently produce the greatest saints that there will be in the end of time.”
“Both Saint Bernard and Saint Bonaventure say that the Queen of Heaven is certainly no less grateful and conscientious than gracious and well-mannered people of this world. Just as she excels in all other perfections, she surpasses us all in the virtue of gratitude; so she would never let us honor her with love and respect without repaying us one hundred fold. Saint Bonaventure says that Mary will greet us with grace if we greet her with the Hail Mary.”
“One and the same mother does not bring forth into the world the head without the members, nor the members without the head; for this would be a monster of nature. So in like manner, in the order of grace, the Head and the members are born of one and the same Mother; and if a member of the mystical Body of Jesus Christ—that is to say, one of the predestinate—was born of any other mother than Mary, who has produced the Head, he would not be one of the predestinate, nor a member of Jesus Christ, but simply a monster in the order of grace.”
“Saint Dominic has divided up the lives of Our Lord and Our Lady into fifteen mysteries which stand for their virtues and their most important actions. These are the fifteen tableaux ; or pictures whose every detail must rule and inspire our lives.”
“O sweet Jesus, may every good feeling that is fitted for Thy praise, love Thee, delight in Thee, admire Thee. God of my heart and my Portion, Christ Jesus, may my heart faint away in spirit and mayest Thou be my life within me! may the live coal of Thy love grow hot within my spirit, and break forth into a perfect fire; may it burn incessantly on the altar of my heart; may it glow in my innermost being; may it blaze in hidden recesses of my soul; and in the day of my consummation, may I be found consummated with Thee. Amen.”
“By the word Ave (which is the name Eve, Eva), I learned that in His infinite power God had preserved me from all sin and its attendant misery which the first woman had been subject to. “The name Mary which means ‘lady of light’ shows that God has filled me with wisdom and light, like a shining star, to light up Heaven and earth. “The words full of grace remind me that the Holy Spirit has showered so many graces upon me that I am able to give these graces in abundance to those who ask for them through me as Mediatrix. “When people say The Lord is with thee they renew the indescribable joy that was mine when the Eternal Word became incarnate in my womb. “When you say to me blessed art thou among women I praise Almighty God’s Divine mercy which lifted me to this exalted plane of happiness. “And at the words blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, the whole of Heaven rejoices with me to see my Son Jesus Christ adored and glorified for having saved mankind.”
“Now, if the Councils, the Fathers, and even experience show us that the best means of remedying the irregularities of Christians is by making them call to mind the obligations of their Baptism, and persuading them to renew the vows they made then, is it not only right that we should do it in a perfect manner, by this devotion and consecration of ourselves to Our Lord through His holy Mother? I say “in a perfect manner,” because in thus consecrating ourselves to Him, we make use of the most perfect of all means, namely, the Blessed Virgin.”
“To say the Holy Rosary to advantage one must be in a state of grace or at the very least be fully determined to give up mortal sin.”
“I have just said that to say the Rosary to advantage one must be in a state of grace “or at least be fully determined to give up mortal sin;” first of all, because, if it were true that God only heard the prayers of those in a state of grace it would follow that people in a state of mortal sin should not pray at all. This is an erroneous teaching which has been condemned by Holy Mother Church, because of course sinners need to pray far more than good people do. Were this horrible doctrine true it would then be useless and futile to tell a sinner to say all, or even part of his Rosary, because it would never help him.”
“TO pray well, it is not enough to give expression to our petitions by means of that most excellent of all prayers, the Rosary, but we must also pray with real concentration for God listens more to the voice of the heart than that of the mouth. To be guilty of willful distractions during prayer would show a great lack of respect and reverence; it would make our Rosaries fruitless and would make us guilty of sin. How can we expect God to listen to us if we ourselves do not pay attention to what we are saying? How can we expect Him to be pleased if, while in the presence of His tremendous Majesty, we give in to distractions just as children run after butterflies? People who do this forfeit Almighty God’s blessings which are then changed into curses because they have been praying disrespectfully. “Cursed be he that doth the work of the Lord”
“Among Catholics those who bear the mark of God’s reprobation think but little of the rosary (whether that of five decades of fifteen). They either fail to say it or only say it very quickly and in a lukewarm manner.”
“Let us recall here, as a proof of the dependence we ought to have on our Blessed Lady, what I have said above in bringing forward the example which the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost give of this dependence. The Father has not given, and does not give, His Son, except by her; He has no children but by here, and communicates no graces but through her. The Son has not been formed for the whole world in general, except by her; and He merits and His virtues except through her.”
“All the gifts, virtues and graces of the Holy Ghost are distributed by Mary, to whom she wishes, when she wishes, the way wishes and as much as she wishes.”
“She embellishes our works, adorning them with her own merits and virtues. It is as if a peasant, wishing to gain the friendship and benevolence of the king, went to the queen and presented her with a fruit which was his whole revenue, in order that she might present it to the king. The queen, having accepted the poor little offering from the peasant, would place the fruit on a large and beautiful dish of gold, and so, on the peasant’s behalf, would present it to the king. Then the fruit, however unworthy in itself to be a king’s present, would become worthy of his majesty because of the dish of gold on which it rested and the person who presented it.”
“It is an easy way. It is the way which Jesus Christ Himself trod in coming to us, and in which there is no obstacle in reaching Him. It is true that we can attain divine union by other roads; but it is by many more crosses and strange deaths, and with many more difficulties, which we shall find it hard to overcome. We must pass through obscure nights, through combats, through strange agonies, over craggy mountains, through cruel thorns and over frightful deserts. But by the path of Mary we pass more gently and more tranquilly.”
“At this point, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, accompanied by three Angels of heaven, and she said: “My dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity has used to reform the world?” “My Lady,” replied St. Dominic, “you know better than I because next to your Son Jesus Christ you were the chief instrument of our salvation.” Our Lady added: “I want you to know that the principal means has been the Angelic Psalter, which is the foundation of the New Testament. That is why, if you want to win these hardened hearts for God, preach my Psalter.” The Saint arose, comforted. Filled”
“Vatican Council II (1962–1965): ‘The maternal duty of Mary toward men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. All her saving influence on men originates not from some inner necessity, but from the divine pleasure. It flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on His mediation, depends entirely on it and draws all its power from it.’ . . . ‘The practices and exercises of devotion to her recommended by the Church in the course of the centuries [are to] be treasured.’ (Lumen Gentium: 60, 67).”
“God the Father made an assemblage of all the waters and He named it the sea (mare). He made an assemblage of all His graces and he called it Mary (Maria). This great God has a most rich treasury in which He has laid up all that He has of beauty and splendour, or rarity and preciousness, including even His own Son: and this immense treasury is none other than Mary, whom the saints have named the Treasure of the Lord, out of whose plenitude all men are made rich.”
“It is by her that He applies His merits to His members, and that He communicates His virtues, and distributes His graces. She is His Mysterious canal; she is His aqueduct, through which He makes His mercies flow gently and abundantly.”
“When we read then in the writings of Sts. Bernard, Bernadine, Bonaventure and others that in Heaven and on earth everything, even God Himself, is subject to the Blessed Virgin, they mean that the authority which God has been well pleased to give her is so great that it seems as if she had the same power as God; and that her prayers and petitions are so powerful with God that they always pass for commandments with His Majesty, who never resists the prayer of His dear Mother, because she is always humble and conformed to His will.”
“In a word, we know that they shall be true disciples of Jesus Christ, walking in the footsteps of His poverty, humility, contempt of the world, charity; teaching the narrow way of God in pure truth, according to the holy Gospel, and not according to the maxims of the world; troubling themselves about nothing; not accepting persons; sparing, fearing and listening to no mortal, however influential he may be. They shall have in their mouths the two-edged sword of the Word of God. They shall carry on their shoulders the bloody standard of the Cross, the Crucifix in their right hand and the Rosary in their left, the sacred Names of Jesus and Mary in their hearts, and the modesty and mortification of Jesus Christ in their own behavior.”
“infallible mark of reprobation to have no esteem and love for the holy Virgin;”
“She is so intimately united with Thee that it were easier to separate the light from the sun, the heat from the fire; nay, it were easier to separate from Thee all the angels and the saints than the divine Mary, because she loves Thee more ardently and glorifies Thee more perfectly than all the other creatures put together.”
“All true children of God have God for their father and Mary for their mother; anyone who does not have Mary for his mother, does not have God for his father.”
“Mary is the fruitful Virgin, and in all the souls in which she comes to dwell she causes to flourish purity of heart and body, rightness of intention and abundance of good works. Do not imagine that Mary, the most fruitful of creatures who gave birth to a God, remains barren in a faithful soul. It will be she who makes the soul live incessantly for Jesus Christ, and will make Jesus live in the soul”
If we do not risk anything for God we will never do anything great for Him.”
Mary alone gives to the unfortunate children of unfaithful Eve entry into that earthly paradise where they may walk pleasantly with God and be safely hidden from their enemies. There they can feed without fear of death on the delicious fruit of the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They can drink copiously the heavenly waters of that beauteous fountain which gushes forth in such abundance.
If you put all the love of all the mothers into one heart it still would not equal the love of the Heart of Mary for her children.
Pray with great confidence, with confidence based on the goodness and infinite generosity of God and upon the promises of Jesus Christ. God is a spring of living water which flows unceasingly into the hearts of those who pray.
The cross is the greatest gift God could bestow on His Elect on earth. There is nothing so necessary, so beneficial, so sweet, or so glorious as to suffer something for Jesus. If you suffer as you ought, the cross will become a precious yoke that Jesus will carry with you.
She [Mother Mary] is an echo of God, speaking and repeating only God. If you say “Mary” she says ‘God’.
We fasten our souls to Your hope, as to an abiding anchor. It is to Her that the saints who have saved themselves have been the most attached and have done their best to attach others, in order to persevere in virtue. Happy, then, a thousand times happy, are the Christians who are now fastened faithfully and entirely to Her, as to a firm anchor!
How different are theirs from ours! Their roses are pleasures of the flesh, worldly honours and passing riches which wilt and decay in no time, but ours, which are the Our Father and Hail Mary which we have said devoutly over and over again, and to which we have added good penitential acts, will never wilt or die, and they will be just as exquisite thousands of years from now as they are today.’
‘You must expect then to be shaped, cut and chiseled under the hammer of the Cross, otherwise you would remain unpolished stone, of no value at all, to be disregarded and cast aside. Do not cause the hammer to recoil when it strikes you. Yield to the chisel that is carving you and the hand that is shaping you.’
Prayers of St.Louis de Montfort
St. Louis De Montfort’s Prayer to Mary
Hail Mary, beloved Daughter of the Eternal Father! Hail Mary, admirable Mother of the Son! Hail Mary, faithful spouse of the Holy Ghost! Hail Mary, my dear Mother, my loving Mistress, my powerful sovereign! Hail my joy, my glory, my heart and my soul! Thou art all mine by mercy, and I am all thine by justice. But I am not yet sufficiently thine. I now give myself wholly to thee without keeping anything back for myself or others. If thou still seest in me anything which does not belong to thee, I beseech thee to take it and to make thyself the absolute Mistress of all that is mine. Destroy in me all that may be displeasing to God, root it up and bring it to nought; place and cultivate in me everything that is pleasing to thee.
May the light of thy faith dispel the darkness of my mind; may thy profound humility take the place of my pride; may thy sublime contemplation check the distractions of my wandering imagination; may thy continuous sight of God fill my memory with His presence; may the burning love of thy heart inflame the lukewarmness of mine; may thy virtues take the place of my sins; may thy merits be my only adornment in the sight of God and make up for all that is wanting in me. Finally, dearly beloved Mother, grant, if it be possible, that I may have no other spirit but thine to know Jesusand His divine will; that I may have no other soul but thine to praise and glorify the Lord; that I may have no other heart but thine to love God with a love as pure and ardent as thine I do not ask thee for visions, revelations, sensible devotion or spiritual pleasures. It is thy privilege to see God clearly; it is thy privilege to enjoy heavenly bliss; it is thy privilege to triumph gloriously in Heaven at the righthand of thy Son and to hold absolute sway over angels, men and demons; it is thy privilege to dispose of all the gifts of God, just as thou willest.
Such is, O heavenly Mary, the “best part,” which the Lord has given thee and which shall never be taken away from thee–and this thought fills my heart with joy. As for my part here below, I wish for no other than that which was thine: to believe sincerely without spiritual pleasures; to suffer joyfully without human consolation; to die continually to myself without respite; and to work zealously and unselfishly for thee until death as the humblest of thy servants. The only grace I beg thee to obtain for me is that every day and every moment of my life I may say: Amen, So be it–to all that thou didst do while on earth; Amen, so be it–to all that thou art now doing in Heaven; Amen, so be it–to all that thou art doing in my soul, so that thou alone mayest fully glorify Jesus in me for time and eternity. Amen.
St.Louis de Montfort’s Prayer to Jesus
O most loving Jesus, deign to let me pour forth my gratitude before Thee, for the grace Thou hast bestowed upon me in giving me to Thy holy Mother through the devotion of Holy Bondage, that she may be my advocate in the presence of Thy majesty and my support in my extreme misery. Alas, O Lord! I am so wretched that without this dear Mother I should be certainly lost. Yes, Mary is necessary for me at Thy side and everywhere that she may appease Thy just wrath, because I have so often offended Thee; that she may save me from the eternal punishment of Thy justice, which I deserve; that she may contemplate Thee, speak to Thee, pray to Thee, approach Thee and please Thee; that she may help me to save my soul and the souls of others; in short, Mary is necessary for me that I may always do Thy holy will and seek Thy greater glory in all things. Ah, would that I could proclaim throughout the whole world the mercy that Thou hast shown to me ! Would that everyone might know I should be already damned, were it not for Mary! Would that I might offer worthy thanksgiving for so great a blessing! Mary is in me. Oh, what a treasure! Oh, what a consolation! And shall I not be entirely hers? Oh, what ingratitude! My dear Saviour, send me death rather than such a calamity, for I would rather die than live without belonging entirely to Mary. With St. John the Evangelist at the foot of the Cross, I have taken her a thousand times for my own and as many times have given myself to her; but if I have not yet done it as Thou, dear Jesus, dost wish, I now renew this offering as Thou dost desire me to renew it. And if Thou seest in my soul or my body anything that does not belong to this august princess, I pray Thee to take it and cast it far from me, for whatever in me does not belong to Mary is unworthy of Thee.
O Holy Spirit, grant me all these graces. Plant in my soul the Tree of true Life, which is Mary; cultivate it and tend it so that it may grow and blossom and bring forth the fruit of life in abundance. O Holy Spirit, give me great devotion to Mary, Thy faithful spouse; give me great confidence in her maternal heart and an abiding refuge in her mercy, so that by her Thou mayest truly form in me Jesus Christ, great and mighty, unto the fullness of His perfect age. Amen.