JESUS LIVING IN MARY:
HANDBOOK OF THE SPIRITUALITY OF ST. LOUIS DE MONTFORT

ASSOCIATIONS


Summary

1. Did Montfort himself belong to Associations?;
2. Associations in Montfort’s Apostolate:
a. Beginnings of his apostolate,
b. Confraternity of the Rosary,
c. Other associations;
3. Associations as the Manifestation of His Missionary Spirit:
a. Submissiveness and freedom,
b. Spiritual and apostolic dimension,
c. Fidelity to the baptismal vocation,
d. Marian Dimension.
II. In the Montfort Spirit: The "Mary Queen of All Hearts" Association:
1. Beginning of the dream:
a. stages of practice,
b. longing for "another kind" of confraternity;
2. From hope to realization:
a. A long silence,
b. Birth and expansion of the confraternity;
3. Decline and conciliar renewal:
a. Crisis,
b. Attempt at a fresh start,
c. Conciliar renewal.
III. From the Past to the Present: The Church Today:
1. Associations of the baptized;
2. Maternal role of Mary;
3. Towards the Fulfillment of All Things in Christ Jesus.


I. MONTFORT AND ASSOCIATIONS

In Montfort’s time there were numerous spiritual and charitable associations, some linked to orders or monasteries, others independent. Pious unions, confraternities, or Third Orders offered their services to all categories of the faithful in order to help them live a full Christian life. They were at this time "the form best adapted to the lay apostolate."1 Montfort the missionary used existing associations and he created and formed new ones, leaving his distinctive imprint on all of them.

1. Did Montfort himself belong to Associations?

We know that Louis Marie de Montfort willingly became a member of several organizations.

While at the Jesuit College of Thomas à Becket in Rennes, he and a group of fellow students were attracted to an extremely zealous young priest, Julien Bellier, chaplain of the General Hospital. They were formed by this holy priest for a life of piety and practice of charity, particularly through the visits that they made during their free time to the sick in the hospital, where they served them meals and taught them catechism. No doubt this contributed to the young Louis Marie’s love for the poor and sick.

Later, Louis Marie was admitted to the "Marian congregation" led by Father Provost, the philosophy teacher. This society received the elite of the pupils from the advanced classes. The program, under the aegis and protection of the Virgin Mary, aimed at an interior formation, which would be expressed in active testimony and various works of piety and apostleship. Admission was gained by an "oblation," by which one promised to honor Mary with a special form of reverence.

Although a seminary like Saint Sulpice in Paris is already a kind of association, Montfort the seminarian soon experienced the need for a smaller group where his piety to Mary could be more freely expressed. As such a group did not exist, he asked for and obtained permission to begin one. J. B. Blain, his fellow student, writes: "He would have liked to enroll everybody in a Confraternity of Slavery of the Holy Virgin. The book written by the late, holy Father Boudon inspired him with tremendous zeal, and he was given permission to follow these teachings and to exhort everyone else to do the same." All that was asked of him by Father Tronson, then the superior-general of the Company of Saint Sulpice, was that the words "slaves of Mary" in the formula of consecration be replaced with "slaves of Jesus in Mary"3 (cf. TD 244).

More surprising perhaps was the desire that he expressed at the end of ten years of ministry and apostolic life, to be affiliated with the Third Order of Saint Dominic. His solicitude for personal sanctification certainly played a large role in this, as well as his need for fraternal support, specially after the ordeal at Pontchâteau. He made profession in the presence of the Prior and several religious belonging to the Third Order on November 10, 1710, at a Dominican priory in Nantes (cf. L 23).

2. Associations in Montfort’s Apostolate

Soon after ordination in 1700, St. Louis Marie decided to unite the faithful in various associations that would provide mutual support as well as testimony for the Christian community. Sometimes he brought together what already existed, sometimes he set up groups that corresponded, more or less, to existing models, and sometimes he creatively instituted new ones.

a. Beginnings of his apostolate.

While waiting to start his duties at the General Hospital in Poitiers in 1701, he used his free time to conduct various ministries with children, the homeless poor, and prisoners. He also established an association of students to form them for the an apostolate among their peers. This association nurtured several priestly vocations, one of whom was Alexis Trichet, brother of Marie-Louise. Once Montfort started at the hospital, he established a similar association for young girls, either residents or staff members. Marie-Louise Trichet and Catherine Brunet, the first two Daughters of Wisdom, belonged to it.

b. Confraternity of the Rosary.

In all his missions and retreats, Montfort was an apostle of the Rosary. Echoes of his Rosary teachings and missionary practice have been left to us in SR. Everywhere he went he formed groups to pray the Rosary, and he encouraged them to join the "Confraternity of the Rosary." He asked for, and obtained in 1712, permission from the master-general of the Dominicans to incorporate these groups into the confraternity (L 23). As St. Louis Marie writes, "This is a holy practice, which God, in his mercy, has set up in places where I have preached missions, in order to safeguard and increase the good brought about by the mission . . . There are even places where the Rosary is said in common every day, at three different times of the day. What a blessing from heaven that is!" (SR 135).

c. Other associations.

Similarly, in order to perpetuate the good results of his missions, Montfort introduced to numerous parishes associations that existed in other areas. In this way he established for men the Confraternity of White Penitents and for girls the Society of Virgins, two groups for which he himself wrote the Rules (RP, RV). For more courageous souls, he proposed the confraternity Friends of the Cross, which he saw as a great means to perseverance and sanctification; it was for this confraternity that in 1714 he wrote his famous FC. There was also the confraternity of Holy Slavery to the Mother of God (see below). We also know that on three occasions at least—in Dinan (1707), in Montfort (1707), and at La Rochelle (1711)—he established a Confraternity of Saint Michael for soldiers who had completed a spiritual renewal under his direction. He wrote and approved the Rules for this confraternity.

3. Associations as the Manifestation of His Missionary Spirit.

One of Montfort’s preoccupations was to leave works in place at the end of the mission to keep it alive and thereby assure its benefits. Blain writes, "All ages and sexes, at whatever stage of accomplishment, found in his missions instructions that were both appropriate and particular. The young men had their own and the young women theirs. With the former, he gathered together those whom he saw had been deeply moved and brought them together in a type of congregation. With the young women, he took very particular care to remind them of ... the virtues applicable to their age and sex. . . . In order to help those young women who wished to consecrate themselves to God in the world . . . he established societies of virgins for which he prescribed rules of conduct, exercises of piety, and a way of life suited to their condition."4

While accomplishing all this, Montfort did not overturn everything that already existed. Instead, he took his inspiration from the fairly widespread pastoral structures of his time and built on them. From both his charism of apostolic wisdom and his personal experience, he was able to perceive quickly the contribution the associations could make to Christian fidelity and to realize how much the success and continuity of the mission depended on them. He made associations an integral element of his missionary method. Whether renewing what already existed elsewhere (Confraternity of Penitents and Society of Virgins) or creating something new in response to particular needs (Confraternity of Saint Michael), he always acted in the spirit and manner of a missionary. To appreciate his praxis in this domain, we can examine the writings he left us on this subject: the Rules (excluding the Rule for the Confraternity of Saint Michael, which did not survive) for the "penitents" and "virgins" (GA 493-499), SR, FC, and the hymn "The Good Soldier" (H 95).

Four other characteristic traits of this practice of Montfort should be emphasized.

a. Submissiveness and freedom

"Work always in perfect submission to the bishops of the dioceses," Pope Clement XI said to Louis Marie. And Louis Marie remained faithful to this, even when his apostolic boldness led him to adapt or edit the Rules. When he found a strongly structured and recognized existent work, like the Confraternity of the Rosary, his concern was to animate and further its development not to supplant it.

Often enough, however, he did not find anything. Then he had to create and form something to respond to the needs of the parish. He began with associations that already existed, adapting them to the local parish and conforming them to diocesan regulations. It was in this way, for example, that he introduced the Confraternity of Virgins into the diocese at La Rochelle.5 He must have acted in the same way with the Rule of the Confraternity of Saint Michael and with the others. His loyalty was unquestionable and in no way prevented his creativity according to what was locally needed. It is worth noting that these works were created within the framework of the parish community and were entrusted to the parish priest to be watched over and promoted (cf. RV 1).

b. Spiritual and apostolic dimension.

These two inseparable qualities spring from one love: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Mk 12:31; cf TD 171). Certainly, the primary aim of Montfort’s confraternities was to ensure the perseverance of those converted at the mission and also to support them in their fidelity to the resolutions they had made. The congregation of White Penitents aimed at "deterring men from drunkenness, immorality, swearing and slander"; that of the Virgins had as its goal "to protect girls from the corruption of the age." Refraining from evil was the first condition to fortify the will to good; this was likewise the intention of other points in the Rules, such as regular meetings combining instruction and prayer, and faithfulness to prayer and the sacraments. Other groups (the Confraternity of the Rosary, the Friends of the Cross, and the Confraternity of Holy Slavery) were aimed at the more fervent, those seriously desirous of advancing their spiritual life.

The associations founded by Montfort aimed to make apostles of their members, in particular by witness and prayer. What Montfort asked of those who had made the parish mission at Montbernage indicates his continuous care to awaken the faithful to the apostolate: "Remember, then, my dear children, . . . to have a great love for Jesus and to love him through Mary, to let your true devotion to your loving Mother Mary be manifest everywhere and to everyone, so that you may spread everywhere the fragrance of Jesus. . . . You must be living examples to all Poitiers and district. . . . I ask my dear women of St. Simplicien, who sell fish and meat, and other shopkeepers and retailers, to continue giving good example to the whole town by living what they learned during the mission" (LPM).

What he asked of the entire parish community, he also asked, undoubtedly more forcibly, of those who had joined the associations.

Montfort’s RP is precise: "They will edify the faithful of both sexes by their example of Christian virtue" (RP 5). The apostolic dimension of associations established by Montfort is underlined in the instruction which he gave to the White Penitents of St. Pompain at the time of their pilgrimage to Our Lady of Saumur: "You will make this pilgrimage for the following intentions: 1 Firstly to obtain from God through Mary’s intercession good missionaries, who will follow the example of the apostles by complete abandonment to divine Providence and the practice of virtue under the protection of Our Lady; 2 Secondly to obtain the gift of wisdom in order to know, love and practice the truths of our faith and to lead others to Christ." (PS 1) After detailing the other points of the Rule for this pilgrimage, he concludes, "If they make the pilgrimage in this way, I am sure they will be seen to be worthy of God, of angels and of men; and they will obtain from God through the intercession of his Blessed Mother, great graces not only for themselves but for the whole Church of God" (PS 13).

In SR 78, 124, 127, etc., the apostle addresses his "dear friend of the Rosary Confraternity." Though he insists, above all, on the efficacy of this prayer—and comes back to it frequently—as a means of ridding oneself of sin and progressing in virtue (cf. SR 3, 71, 75, etc.), he sees it equally as a powerful means of apostolate, to obtain the conversion of sinners and their perseverance in grace. (cf. SR 1, 2, 101, 112, 113, etc.). His zeal urged people to enter the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary: "There is nothing more divine, according to the mind of St. Denis, nothing more noble or agreeable to God than to cooperate in the work of saving souls and to frustrate the devil’s plans for ruining them. . . . The Blessed Virgin, protectress of the Church, has given us a most powerful means for appeasing her Son’s anger, uprooting heresy and reforming Christian morals, in the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary, as events have shown. It has brought back charity and the frequent reception of the sacraments as in the first golden centuries of the Church, and it has reformed Christian morals" (SR 92; cf. 93-96).

c. Fidelity to the baptismal vocation.

The way in which Montfort the missionary stressed associations for the faithful in order to extend and spread the fruits of parish missions, reveals the profound sense he had of the richness of Baptism. For him Baptism was the foundation. He wanted not only to renew the faithful’s practice of the sacraments and prayer but, more profoundly, to make them aware of Baptism and its implications in accordance with the double commandment of love of God and neighbor. According to the directives he received from Clement XI, the preaching of parish missions had as its goal to "renew the spirit of Christianity among the faithful" and to see that "baptismal vows were renewed" (RM 56). Those who joined one or the other of the associations Montfort organized, did so in accordance with their baptismal commitment, in order to strengthen their faith and contribute by witness and prayer to the vigorous expansion of the Christian community .

Montfort’s practice of joining the faithful to pastoral activity—the groups were led by the curate or a delegated priest—testifies to the advanced vision that he had of the role of the baptized in the apostolic mission of the Church. What we today call the "apostolate of the laity," which the Vatican Council reminds us was founded on Baptism (AA 3), Montfort lived and invigorated in his way and according to the pastoral needs of his time. Louis Marie, desiring an institute of missionaries to "renew the spirit of Christianity among the faithful" (RM 56) and to "reform the Church" (PM 10, 20), quite naturally included the baptized (today known as the laity) in this mission. For him, the work of salvation entrusted to the Church belonged not only to the priests and the religious, but to everyone who was baptized, complementing each other and supporting each other’s functions. His practice confirmed the profundity of his theology of Baptism: all the faithful, by the fact of their Baptism, belonged wholly to the Church of Jesus Christ and were called to holiness. It was because of his certainty that the faithful were being called by God to holiness and service of the Church’s mission that he set up the particular structures of support and witness that comprise the various associations.

d. Marian dimension.

A fourth point must be emphasized as equally characteristic of the associations that were set up or renewed by the holy missionary: the Marian dimension, particularly in the form of devotion to the Rosary. Its recitation is demanded in every group. This is hardly surprising; Mary was present throughout Montfort’s life and apostolate.


II. IN THE MONTFORT SPIRIT: THE "MARY QUEEN OF ALL HEARTS" ASSOCIATION

The associations spoken about until now aimed principally at seeing that the parishes continued to benefit from missions and retreats.

Montfort dreamt of fostering yet another kind of association but was unable to bring his dream to reality. This was to be a new association, unique, widespread, and, along with the other associations, giving form to his deepest missionary vision: a "confraternity" that would gather together all the faithful everywhere who had decided to follow the spiritual and apostolic path as presented in TD. All who had made the "consecration of oneself to Jesus Christ through the hands of Mary" (cf. TD 121-130, 227), would be members of this confraternity.

This association finally came into being at the end of the nineteenth century, under the name of the Confraternity of Mary Queen of All Hearts. It spread rapidly until the last decades of this century, when it became sizably smaller. Having undergone its conciliar aggiornamento, it has now re-emerged as a valuable support for maintaining and promoting the Montfort apostolic charism throughout the Church.

1. Beginning of the dream

Montfort’s desire to have a confraternity of those who chose to follow him on the path he outlined in TD 227 began to be achieved in 1712. He was then at the peak of his missionary planning, which had expanded and matured over the years. He stated that he wanted "to write down what I have been teaching with success both publicly and in private in my missions for many years" (TD 110).

a. Stages of practice.

We have seen how the young Louis Marie, while still a seminarian at St. Sulpice, established a society of Slaves of Jesus and Mary. Boudon’s book, Holy Slavery of the Admirable Mother of God, was at the origin of this initiative. He was profoundly influenced by this book, which confirmed the doctrinal and spiritual vision that had emerged from his personal experience (cf. TD 118). It is worth noting that the teachings of Boudon and other authors on holy slavery was already well known in certain clerical circles, in monasteries, and among certain Christian leaders.6

Montfort could not keep his "secret of holiness" to himself. He believed everyone was called to a life of holiness by virtue of Baptism. (cf. SM 3-5; TD 118-120). If the teaching given during missions aimed at the renewal of the baptismal vows, it also intended to make available the doctrine of the Consecration to Jesus through Mary in the form of St. Louis Marie’s version of holy slavery. Montfort himself attests to it when he undertook to extend his teaching on this point to a very large public (TD 110).

Did he establish in parishes where he preached—or among other groups— "confraternities of Holy Slavery of Jesus in Mary"? We know from Boudon’s and Jobert’s books that such confraternities existed here and there. It would have been astonishing if Montfort, whose sense and practice of the value of associations we know, had not set up associations to maintain the fidelity and fervor of people embarking on this spiritual path of perfection. Grandet’s testimony could be interpreted in this way: "In all the parishes where he preached a mission, he established devotion to holy slavery of Jesus through Mary."7 We know this was a fact in La Rochelle and, in all probability, in other dioceses. Some years after the death of Montfort, Father Mulot, his first successor, heard criticism on the subject of this practice. He asked the advice of E. de Champflour, bishop of the diocese, and received this response: "Some people have spoken against the Confraternity of Slavery, saying that we should not be enslaved to a creature. This is not the true sense of this confraternity. We must make them understand that it is a confraternity of enslavement to Our Lord through the Holy Virgin, and not simply enslavement to the Holy Virgin. This explanation shows the goodness of the confraternity, which you can join the late Father de Montfort in blessing."8

b. Longing for "another kind" of confraternity.

Montfort writes, "Those who wish to take up this particular devotion, (which has not been made into a confraternity, although that might be wished for )" (TD 227).

This expresses his unreserved desire that a new association be established, a different confraternity from others that had existed up until then, and one based on holy slavery of Jesus through Mary. It would be another kind of confraternity, uniting and supporting "those who desire to take up the particular devotion" proposed by Montfort. This spiritual practice consisted in submitting oneself entirely to the maternal influence of Mary, in order to better assure union with Jesus Christ, and in being faithful to the baptismal commitments to him (cf. TD 55, 82, 110- 113, 120, 125). Although deeply indebted to his predecessors, especially Cardinal de Bérulle and Henri Boudon, Montfort gave to the doctrine of holy slavery his own imprint, quite different from that of Boudon and Bérulle. As Saint Louis Marie articulated the advanced spiritual conclusions of his understanding of consecration (confirmed by his own experience), he certainly realized that he was opening a new and unique road to gospel perfection for the simple faithful, one unknown to them yet easily accessible, sure, and fast. This profound conviction is present throughout TD: "the interior and perfect practice of the devotion which I shall later unfold" (TD 55); "There are secrets enabling us to do certain natural things quickly, easily and at little cost, so in the spiritual life there are secrets which enable us to perform supernatural works, rapidly, smoothly and with facility. Such works are, for example, emptying ourselves of self-love, filling ourselves with God, and attaining perfection. The devotion that I propose to explain is one of these secrets of grace" (TD 82); "I am trying to fashion a true servant of Mary and a true disciple of Jesus" (TD 111; cf. also 112, 113, 120, 130, 218, etc.).

We can see that Montfort the missionary envisioned and desired this new confraternity to aid the progress of those who had committed themselves to this "special" path. The association he was thinking of was, moreover, similar in spirit to his other projects with associations. Always in the forefront of his thoughts were a continuation and amplification of his basic apostolic mission: to "renew the spirit of Christianity . . . [to] reform the Church" Being a disciple of Jesus Christ implied, for this spiritual master, being an apostle of his reign. For Montfort the secret to holiness, to the spiritual path that he recommended, was a way of life that was apostolically rich and demanded two equal yet distinct conditions. Those who embarked on this journey are to be formed by Mary and to work ardently in her Son’s service (cf. TD 50-59, 114, 118, 214, etc.). In wishing Christians to be involved in the Church’s mission to this extent, it is most probable that Montfort desired that they have their own particular association.

We might wish that Montfort had left us a more detailed plan on this special confraternity, as he did for other associations. But he did not do so. Perhaps the rules and regulations given to the society at the parish of St. Donatien in Nantes (at the time of the inauguration of a statue of Queen of All Hearts in 1710) could have served as a rough draft. Unfortunately, however, these have not come down to us. Though we do not have precise regulations and directives, we do at least have—and this is of the utmost importance—a sense of the spiritual and apostolic zeal that should animate "those who put into practise what it (i.e., TD) contains." The task for "both men and women" (TD 114) followers of Montfort is to live apostolically and ecclesially what Montfort saw to be a baptismal vocation.

2. From hope to realization

What ever became of Montfort’s desire for the particular confraternity expressed in TD? It suffered the same fate as TD itself. It was forgotten after his death. Only later was it recognized.

a. A long silence.

The premature death of Montfort doubtlessly meant that his first companions could not grasp the full height and breadth of the plans and projects that were dear to him. But once the first wave of emotion and indecision had passed, they started to work again, giving parish missions and retreats, keeping alive the spirit and methods they had inherited from this "missionary apostle." His successors continued in this way, at least until the French Revolution.

We read that towards the middle of the 1700’s, "they [the Montfort Missionaries during their parish missions] aimed, above all, at leaving behind several responsible structures that saw to the care of souls. In this way, following the blessed example of their founder, they established confraternities of the Holy Rosary, the White Penitents, the Virgins, and Holy Slavery of the Mother of God, to which Father Mulot himself belonged."9 We know so little about this period in the life of the community. The manuscript of TD remained unpublished, its doctrine unexplored. This was the case right up until the day it was found on a library shelf, having been preserved from destruction throughout the Revolution and its aftermath, "hidden in the darkness and silence of a chest" (TD 114). Since then it has been a dramatic best-seller, with more and more editions in more and more languages. Rapidly it left its mark on Marian doctrine and devotion, nurturing in particular a whole movement of "Consecration to Jesus through Mary."

b. Birth and expansion of the confraternity.

In the spiritual movement that emerged from Montfort’s precious writings, what became of the confraternity that he had so desired? Unfortunately it was a long time coming. It was only in 1899 that it was at last founded, with the title "Confraternity of Mary Queen of All Hearts." In establishing it in his diocese, the bishop of Ottawa, Canada, J. Th. Duhamel, was responding both to his personal desires and to the widely expressed wishes of Montfort’s followers.10

The statutes of the new association stated: "Aim: this confraternity has as its aim the establishment and spread of the reign of Mary in our souls, in order to ensure the perfection of Jesus Christ’s reign. Practices: Consecration to the Holy Virgin according as much as possible to the formula given by the Blessed L.M. de Montfort; daily renewal of this Consecration by a short prayer; and finally, the practice of dependence on Mary and continual action in union with her."

The title Mary Queen of All Hearts stems directly from Montfort’s heart and mind. As a student at St. Sulpice, he occasionally went to Issy, where Father Tronson had erected a chapel dedicated to "Mary Queen of All Hearts." In 1706, at the end of the mission in Montbernage, an outlying district of Poitiers, Montfort transformed a barn into an oratory and erected there, for the inhabitants of the district, a statue bearing the inscription "Queen of All Hearts." And while preaching a mission at Saint Donatien in Nantes in 1710, he changed the name of a little chapel there to Queen of All Hearts.

We can see by this how dear this title was to Montfort. As he explains in TD, he saw it as imbued with a particular spiritual meaning. The title established the basis for a truly spiritual attitude towards the Blessed Mother, namely, that her motherhood of Christ continues with those who are joined to his Body as members. Montfort states, "None of these things, I repeat, could she do unless she had received from the Almighty rights and authority over their souls. For God, having given her power over his only-begotten and natural Son, also gave her power over his adopted children, not only in what concerns their body—which would be of little account—but also in what concerns their soul. . . . But as the kingdom of Jesus Christ exists primarily in the heart or interior of man . . . we may call her, as the saints do, Queen of all hearts" (TD 37-38). Thus the confraternity’s choice of title could hardly be more fitting.

Scarcely had the confraternity been founded when numerous faithful, religious, and clergy, including bishops, flocked to join it. The following year a second confraternity was founded in France in the Luçon diocese, with its seat at St. Laurent-sur-Sèvre.11 The dissemination of Montfort’s spiritual and Marian doctrine was aided by numerous spiritual writers and theologians, and soon by the first Marian congresses.12 The confraternities multiplied rapidly. By 1965 there were 140 centers worldwide, with memberships ranging from several dozen to thousands.

By Pius X’s decree of April 28, 1913, the confraternity in Rome became the archconfraternity. All present and future confraternities would be attached to it. Likewise, in 1907 there came into being a priests’ section of the archconfraternity, called the "Association of Priests of Mary Queen of All Hearts." The idea had been put forward the previous year at the Marian congress in Einsiedeln. This association had its own statutes, which defined a double goal: "First. The sanctification of their priestly life by the practice of complete devotion to Mary, as taught by Montfort; Second. To make this devotion the greatest means to an apostolate that would establish the reign of Jesus Christ through Mary in each individual, in the family and in society." Encouraged from its outset by Pope Pius X, who joined it himself, the association developed in France (particularly because of the Review for Priests of Mary Queen of All Hearts) and also in Italy, England, United States, Canada, Spain, Colombia, Mexico, and Vietnam.

3. Decline and conciliar renewal

The success of the association continued until the middle of the 20th century. At that time its members numbered around 500,000. It must be stressed, however, that this figure represented only a tiny proportion of the people who had consecrated themselves to Jesus through Mary according in the spirit of Montfort. Many of them were not aware of the confraternity. From 1940 onwards, the confraternity was affected by the many upheavals that beset society and the Church. And it benefited from the breath of fresh air brought by Vatican Council II.

a. Crisis.

We are well aware of the upheavals caused by the Second World War (1939- 1945), and the cultural changes that resulted. These changes were so numerous that they evoked crises in almost every area of life. Few could be easily dealt with in a short span of time. And Church teaching, both pastoral and spiritual, was not spared either. This is why we speak of the "Marian question" in the sixties and of the "Marian crisis" in the ten years that followed the Council.13

The confraternity also felt the repercussions of this with a gradual decline in membership. Perhaps this decline is to be explained, in part, by the lack of attention shown by the association to rethinking and adapting to new needs. Like many confraternities, it had refused to change and adapt, while still remaining faithful to its statute of "pious union," with its particular preference for personal spirituality.

b. Attempt at a fresh start.

The authorities responsible, however, were not unaware of the problem. As a result of their work, the two Mary Queen of All Hearts associations received new statutes by decree of July 5, 1956.

Of the Mary Queen of all Hearts confraternity, we read: "1. Composition and aim - The Mary Queen of all Hearts confraternity is a pious union of the faithful which is not organized hierarchically. Its members wish to live and propagate Marian life as taught by Saint Louis Marie de Montfort, in order to facilitate and ensure sanctification. 2. Relationship with the Company of Mary - In the July 16, 1955, rescript the Holy See declared it to be a pious union having no distinct hierarchical organization, a true association of the Company of Mary, in the sense put forth by canon 686. 3. Faithful to the specific aim that determines constitutions approved by the Holy See, the Company of Mary will use this association to establish the reign of Christ through Mary, by zealously propagating Consecration to Mary Queen of all Hearts among the faithful."

On the Priests of Mary Queen of All Hearts association, the only difference is in the first paragraph: "The Priests of Mary Queen of All Hearts Association is a pious union of priests and clerics without a distinct hierarchical organization."

The two associations are considered, by a rescript from the preceding year, as "proper to the Company of Mary," in the manner of a Third Order. The association of priests, which had been considered up until now as a branch of the confraternity, became henceforth a separate association. The apostolic character of the confraternity is clearly expressed here, which was not the case in the statutes. The new canonical link uniting them to the Company of Mary, cooperatively joins the two associations in their specific Church mission: propagation of the work and reign of Christ in the world according to Saint Louis Marie de Montfort’s method, the total Consecration to Jesus through Mary.

Some attempts at renewal and re-structuring were undertaken here and there, with varied results. On the one hand, the negative effects of the Marian crisis were still present, and on the other, many of the missionaries’ preoccupations inclined them to favor other apostolic activities. It is worth noting however, that in the same period other associations deriving from Montfort inspiration were founded in several countries—proof that it was still alive, fertile, and active.

c. Conciliar renewal.

Vatican Council II inspired renewal in all structures and associations in order for them to open to the Spirit of the new Pentecost. After accomplishing the aggiornamento of its own constitution, the Company of Mary still had to update the statutes of its two associations and to renew the spirit of both organizations. Vatican Council II’s theological and spiritual reflections on Mary’s place "in the mystery of Christ and the Church"—Montfort’s imprint can clearly be seen14—could only gladden, encourage, and awaken those who were open to Montfort’s missionary and Marian message.

An international commission for Montfort associations was formed in the late 1980’s.15 New statutes were proposed and approved for the confraternity, which had become the Association of Mary Queen of All Hearts.


III. FROM THE PAST TO THE PRESENT: THE CHURCH TODAY

The confraternity desired by Montfort still exists, endowed with a new title, Association of Mary Queen of All Hearts, and with new statutes reformulated to come into line with our entry into the postconciliar era. Renewing the statutes was not to be a simple cosmetic act. It had to be a true adaptation, one with integrity and in continuity with the Montfort ideal. It had to convey the contemporary profundity of Montfort’s charism and reiterate it, according to the Ecclesial Statutes of Associations.

Since the time of Montfort, many things have changed. There have been upheavals in every area of life. The Church, "in the world without being of the world," has not ceased contemplating and deepening the mystery of Jesus Christ. Vatican Council II was a major event of the second half of the century. In it the Church presented to us her understanding of herself and the mission received from her Founder. She also presented her understanding of man and his situation in the contemporary world. And she told us, as never before, what she understood to be the maternal role of the Blessed Virgin Mary today "in the Mystery of Christ and the Church," and consequently in the life of the faithful (particularly in LG, ch. 8). Bearing in mind the essence of this Church teaching, which is confirmed by the new Code of Canon Law, Father de Montfort must be "reread." When we do this, we quickly see the doctrinal elements at the root of his spiritual thought and apostolic work. Valued and confirmed by the highest authority of the Church magisterium, they are more than merely an encouragement. They are a call to fidelity.

1. Associations of the baptized

We have shown Montfort’s sense of the value of associations and how he used them to encourage the faithful to live the spiritual and apostolic demands of their Baptism. This was not an innovation, but Montfort did show, very strongly and in his own way, the possibilities offered by an organized group. The confraternity was to continue in this way. The Second Vatican Council’s constitution on the Church says, "The laity, however, are given this special vocation: to make the Church present and fruitful in those places and circumstances where it is only through them that she can become the salt of the earth." ( LG 33).

And the new statutes say, "The Association of Mary Queen of All Hearts regroups the faithful who, with Louis Marie de Montfort as their guide, propose to fulfill their baptismal vows through total Consecration to Christ through Mary’s hands" (Statutes, 1).

2. Maternal role of Mary

For Montfort, union with Christ by fidelity to baptismal vows becomes more assured by the Consecration that he recommends, which facilitates Mary’s accomplishment of her maternal task. This is one of the fundamental convictions of his teaching and apostolate (cf. TD 35-59, 118-121, 15-183).

We can hear his echo in what the council says. The theme of Mary’s spiritual maternity of the faithful is recalled in LG, ch. 8, in twelve of its seventeen paragraphs. In these texts the Church speaks of Mary’s exemplarity and intercession (cf. LG 60-65) and concludes. "The Church, therefore, in her apostolic life too, rightly looks to her who gave birth to Christ, who was thus conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of a Virgin, in order that through the Church he should be born and increase in the hearts of the faithful. In her life the Virgin has been a model of that motherly love with which all who join in the Church’s apostolic mission for the regeneration of mankind should be animated" (LG 65). For its part, the decree on the apostolate of the laity, says, "Perfect model of the apostolic spiritual life is the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Apostles . . . she remained intimately united to her Son and cooperated in an entirely unique way in the Savior’s work . . . Everyone should have a genuine devotion to her and entrust his life to her motherly care" (AA 4).

The resolution that animates the Association of Mary Queen of All Hearts reads as follows: "Recognized as a true Association of the Company of Mary, . . . an extension of the Company of Mary, its members, taking sustenance from its spirit, work to maintain and extend its apostolic action in their environment and according to their vocations, in order to establish the reign of Jesus through Mary" (no. 2).

3. Towards the Fulfillment of All Things in Christ Jesus

To bring about the reign of Christ through Mary: this summarizes Montfort’s apostolic spirituality (TD 13, 133, 217, 227). The more a soul is united to Mary and in communion with her virtues, dispositions and intentions, the more Christ can grow in it, as in Mary, and fulfill his work of grace. It is with this prophetic vision of growth into the fullness of Christ Jesus that the Association of Mary Queen of All Hearts and the Association of Priests of Mary Queen of All Hearts16— associated to the mission of the Company of Mary— today links itself.

J. Hémery


Notes: (1) J. Duhr, Confrérie (Confraternity), in DSAM II/1, 1477. (2) Blain, 50; S. De Fiores, Itinerario, 59-81. Cf. E. Villaret, Congregations de la sainte Vierge (Congregations of the Blessed Virgin), in DSAM II/1, 1575. (3) Blain, 50. (4) Blain, 160-161, passim. (5) Grandet, 385-386. (6) Cf. Th. Koehler, Servitude (saint esclavage) (Slavery [Holy Slavery]), in DSAM XIV, 730-745. (7) Grandet, 315-316. (8) Grandet, 439. (9) Cf. Histoire de la compagnie de Marie (History of The Company of Mary), St. Laurent 1924, 1:65-66. (10) Cf. the review Le Règne de Jésus par Marie (The Reign of Jesus through Mary) 1 (January 1900). The confraternity’s seat was established in Our Lady of Lourdes parish, Ottawa. (11) Le Règne de Jésus par Marie 2 (April 1900). (12) Marian congresses: Fribourg (1902), Rome (1904), Einsiedeln (1906), Saragossa (1909), Trier (1912). (13) On the causes and effects of the Marian question and crisis, cf. R. Laurentin, Mary’s Place in the Church, Compass Books, Burns & Oates, London 1965; S. De Fiores, Maria nella teologia contemporanea (Mary in Contemporary Theology), 3rd ed., Centro di cultura mariana "Madre della Chiesa," Rome 1991, 123-126. (14) Cf. H.-M. Manteau-Bonamy, De Grignion de Montfort à Vatican II (Regarding Grignion de Montfort at Vatican II) in CM 52 (1966), 120-126; A. Rum, Il Trattato della vera devozione a Maria alla luce del Vaticano II, (The Treatise on the True Devotion To Mary in the Light of Vatican II) in La Madonna 14 (1966), 3, 17-23. (15) The commission consequently also received a mandate to prepare a Guide to Montfort Spirituality. (16) The Association of Priests of Mary Queen of All Hearts, henceforth separate from the Association of the Faithful, certainly deserves equal attention. Since the Incarnation, Mary has been, and will be until the end of time, the most engaged, at the side of her Son, in the full accomplishment of his work of salvation in the world, in the place God has chosen for her. The more one is engaged in the salvation of human beings—by sacerdotal ministry, for example—the more one ought to belong to Mary in the mystery of Christ and the Church.

 

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Taken from: Jesus Living in Mary: Handbook of the Spirituality of St.
Louis de Montfort
(Litchfield, CT: Montfort Publications, 1994).

Provided courtesy of the Montfort Fathers © All Rights Reserved.

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