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

BEAUTY


Summary
I.	Introduction.
II.	The Experience of Beauty:
	1.	A science of taste;
	2.	A loving knowledge;
	3.	The status of the book. 
III.	The Beauty of Wisdom:
	1.	Contemplating incomprehensible Wisdom; 
	2.	Seeing Wisdom in creation;
	3.	Looking at Incarnate Wisdom:
		a.	The paradox of beauty, 
		b.	Mary, 
		c.	The Infant Jesus, 
		d.	The Eucharist, 
		e.	The Cross.
IV.	Beauty and Divinization: 
	1.	Man and beauty; 
	2.	Divinization; 
	3.	The beauty of the soul and the mission. 
V.	Conclusion.

I. INTRODUCTION

"You shall be quite beautiful and the world will love you if you love God" (Grandet, 3). This invitation, which the child Louis Marie Grignion made to his little sister, established a bond between the spiritual life and beauty. The anecdote may cause a smile, but the reality it expresses is basic: the experience of God is transfiguring. A transfigured face cannot help but be beautiful. It is the reflection of the beauty of God. As in the Song of Solomon, beauty does not exist without love.

When looked at in this light, beauty is to be found in the realm of "the experience of God." The inverted commas indicate that we wish to put aside any ambiguity as much as we can. The experience of God cannot be reduced either to a kind of positivism or to sentimentality. And what is more, we do not understand the experience of the beautiful as something merely aesthetic.

It is true that Montfort painted and sculpted. A certain aesthetic sense can be perceived in his missionary methods. He had a taste for beauty and good order in the processions and celebrations that he loved. They had to be spectacular and moving. He had a taste for the beauty and dignity of churches, chapels, oratories, and calvaries. Yet, as a look at the statues and canticles he left us will demonstrate, beauty as expressed through the perfection of forms was not his major concern. There is no real work of art in the Montfort canon. Art for art’s sake does not exist, for the beauty of something handmade should not be the end point but should, rather, bring one to see more deeply inward (cf. H 2, 43).

Beauty is transitory (cf. H 137; 164). Beauty for beauty’s sake is inadmissible, since we must connect "the useful with the beautiful, the sturdy with the pleasing" (H 33,37). Art is suspect, since it infers the artificial and, still worse, the fake (cf. H 33:25). As the mask of a deceitful world, art is a disguise (cf. H 2,5; 38, 119), a "fine appearance" (H 114:6), a "beautiful invention" (H 31:2), a kind of bait, a "charm" covering over the fishhook (H 29,36; 2,34; cf. 107:8; LEW 12). Father de Montfort constantly railed against those arts which were mere distraction (cf. H 29; 31,32; 33) and hence "perdition" (H 1, 34; 2, 16, 28, 30, 31; 32:4). In the context of luxurious display, they hide injustice (H 33, 55-57). Art is lying. By covering itself with the appearance of beauty, it dissociates the beautiful from the good or the true (cf. H 2, 18, 20). It changes vice into virtue and brings misfortune while promising happiness. It is a seducer, and Montfort would have nothing of this seduction. Wishing to lead people to the good and the true, he rejected art and its beauty (cf. H 2, 39,41).

In the search for the authentic good, only virtue is the bearer of beauty (cf. H 4:1,2; 6:2,40; 8:1,8; 9:3;12; 14:7; 15, 14; 20:4; 25:6,16; 36,65). This is why he cannot conceive of an aesthetic without an ethic. The "fashionable society" (LEW 78; FC 8; MLW 15; H 39,138; 103:25; 139:47), on the contrary, presents an aesthetic emptied of the ethical. We must withdraw, then, from this deceitful world, which offers merely an "imaginary happiness" whose beauty is nothing more than a "sparkling display of pomp" (H 4,23). Art produces only idols of beauty.

True beauty is not made by man’s hands. It eludes human control. This beauty beyond all beauty, a beauty that is "supreme" (H 103:2; 157:36) and "sovereign" (LEW 19, 90; H 119:6; 127:7), is God Himself (LEW 17, H 127:20,57; 135:2).

Beauty can be shown but not demonstrated. Father de Montfort did not expressly treat of the beauty of God. But the theme is frequent enough, particularly in LEW, to attract our attention. In fact it appears at every stage where he is explaining "in a simple way . . . Eternal Wisdom before, during and afterwhat his Incarnation" (LEW 7). Wisdom is the face of beauty, its expression. Experiencing beauty is an interpersonal relationship with Wisdom. This relationship is acquired through the sense of sight: seeing and being seen. In beauty, Wisdom is seen as "delectable knowledge (sapida sapientia), a taste for God and his truth" (LEW 13).1 Thus Montfort posits the bases for a theological aesthetic, of a knowledge of taste. He leads into the knowledge of Christ through taste. Tasting stirs up desire. Desiring enkindles love and keeps it alive.

Beauty reveals itself in order to be loved and allows itself to be seen in order to be known. Montfort develops this view of Wisdom on three levels: "Starting with his very origin, we shall consider Wisdom in eternity, dwelling in his Father’s bosom and object of his Father’s love. Next we shall see him in time, shing forth in the creation of the universe. Then we shall consider him in the deep abasement of his Incarnation and his mortal life; and then we shall see him glorious and triumphant in heaven." (LEW 14). Seeing and being seen, grasping and being grasped, man is taken up himself into the beauty that reveals itself to him. The beauty of God transfigures the one who contemplates it and transforms him into this very same beauty (cf. 2 Cor 3:18). A close bond unites being and seeing (cf. 1 Jn 3:2).


II. THE EXPERIENCE OF BEAUTY

1. A science of taste

The first time we come upon beauty in LEW, we see it in the company of sweetness (LEW 1). Both words often go together in Montfort’s work.2 They have in common the fact that they both appeal to the experience of the senses, of sight and taste. Beauty and sweetness ask to be perceived and sensed: "This good is conceived only in experience" (H 56:36).3 Of course, Montfort here means the "spiritual senses," since he invites us to see and taste the beauty and sweetness of Christ-Wisdom. He insists on the real possibility of an authentic experience of Christ. If Wisdom is beautiful and sweet, it is because there is something to see, taste, and grasp. This "grasp" is in the order of knowledge. Montfort sets up a theological aesthetic, i.e., the "delectable knowledge" of God (LEW 13).4 It does not affect the understanding alone, since it is accompanied by true happiness. Here we learn "the means for being happy" (LEW 5; S 252).

2. A loving knowledge

This experimental knowledge of Wisdom has no other purpose than to lead to the love of this Wisdom (cf. LEW 8). In presenting it as beautiful and sweet, Montfort wants it to be loved by his readers. The experience of beauty is an element of a mode of teaching whose aim is to make Christ loved, and Christ himself uses it to make himself loved.

We love because we are attracted. We are attracted by what gives us pleasure. Pleasure is the enjoyment of beauty and sweetness.5 The experience of beauty brings desire into play. Beauty is always provocative (cf. LEW 5, 66-69, 181). It flatters the senses and awakens affectivity and even sensuality. It wants to be charming and offers itself for enjoyment. It makes itself loved in order to be possessed (cf. LEW 2). It reveals itself and brings to itself those who contemplate it. The sight of beauty causes motion. It is always "ravishing." It captivates. The experience of beauty is not only the acceptance of a truth that is offered to us in the enjoyment of pleasure; it is also an "abduction" and a "capture."6

This rapture is both passive and active. It is passive because this ecstasy (attracted by beauty, man is beside himself) is produced by the Wisdom that attracts man and takes him in order to possess him. It is active because this being beside oneself isalso the product of the will and the love of man who desires Wisdom, searches for it, and tends toward it.

This double rapture is moved by love. This love is not gratuitous like agapé-caritas. It desires and pursues the mutual possession of the lover and the beloved: it is eros-amor. It goes beyond reason, and this is the scandal of Wisdom. It loves man with a desire that is vehement (cf. LEW 5, 47, 63-69) and excessive (cf. LEW 45, 64, 108, 155, 166; SR 67, 73; H 27:2; 40:12; 41:1,9; 42:14; 128:6; 132:2; 137:8; 158:5,13). In return, man must love it with the same desire (cf. LEW 54, 58, 72, 73, 131, 181- 193; H 26:21; 44:2; 87:3; 128:6; 132:8; 135:4; 137:14; 158:13), to the point of intoxication (cf. LEW 10; H 40:22; 112:5; 129:4, 7; 158:9).

The beautiful is the object of loving desire and is loving desire itself.7 In the experience of beauty, a nuptial mysticism stands out that is not alien to Wisdom itself (cf. LEW 54 and 59 8,2). This notion of marriage geared toward the union of those who desire one another requires exclusiveness. Man can only desire Wisdom, the only desirable Good beyond all good (cf. LEW 8-12, 74, 181). It demands to be freed of all other desires and pleasures that are not ordered to the sole desire of Wisdom (cf. LEW 194-195). Our needs must be purified for true desire to emerge. Seeing the beauty of Wisdom requires purity of vision. A purification is necessary (cf. H 127:20). Montfort calls it "mortification . . . that is total" (LEW 196). It is a lengthy labor of divesting ourselves of all attachments in order to attach us solely to the possession of Wisdom (LEW 197-202). We rediscover "God alone" under the form of all or nothing: "Leave all things and you will find all things by finding Jesus" (LEW 202), and "To know Jesus Christ incarnate Wisdom, is to know all we need. To presume to know everything and not know him is to know nothing at all." (LEW 11).

3. The status of the book

Beauty sees itself as universal. By nature it is communicable. "Eternal Wisdom, ever transcendent in beauty, by nature loves everything that is good, . . . and consequently nothing gives him more pleasure than to communicate himself." (LEW 90). On the other hand, the experience of the beautiful can only be special: One cannot experience beauty in my stead. But it obliges one to speak and therefore to share: "There is in you so much beauty and delight. . . . How can I remain silent?" (LEW 1). Beauty amazes and cause a reaction. The book LEW had its origin in this amazement and disappointment: "You are . . . so little known and so much slighted" (LEW 1).

The experience of beauty is the point from which the book arose, but it is also its plan. In writing, Montfort allowed himself to experience desire: "Look upon the strokes of my pen as so many steps to find you." And he proposes to lead his reader to it "so that those who read it may be filled with a fresh desire to love you and possess you" (LEW 2).

The book is an invitatory. Montfort does not understand this experience of the beautiful as selfish enjoyment. For it is not enough to taste the truth for oneself; one must have others taste it by inviting them to have this experience themselves (cf. LEW 30, 153; RM 60; RP 1). By tasting and making others taste, the mystic is an apostle. As an invitation to see, the experience of beauty is apostolic.8 These words of invitation, and the book they are found in, only find their authentication in Montfort’s own experience.

To taste beauty to the point of being filled with it to overflowing opens up a breach. The person who has this experience will speak "ex abundantia cordis" (Mt 13:34), "according to the divine abundance that Wisdom communicates to him" and "according to what Divine Wisdom makes them feel" (Wis 7:15), according to "what they have taken from books" (LEW 97; RM 60). LEW is a book that springs ex abundantia cordis. Montfort does not so much seek to prove something as to touch hearts. His plan is "aesthetic." This can be construed from his desire to "learn how to talk properly" (LEW 1). To wish to "talk properly" is to seek "unction" and "mellowness" (cf. LEW 30, 97), which are signs not only of the grace to say things well but of the Spirit who impregnates what is written with His breath.

As an author, Montfort steps aside to allow the Spirit to speak. "I did not want, my dear reader, to mingle my poor words with the inspired words of the Holy Spirit" (LEW 5), he wrote after quoting the sixth chapter of the book of Wisdom (LEW 3-4). He shows Scripture more than he demonstrates it, and in this sense he is no exegete. He withdraws before the sacred text in order that it might appear in all its beauty: "I shall not mingle my poor words with his for fear of diminishing their clarity and sublime meaning" (LEW 20, before quoting Sir 24, 1-32). He is happy to present Scripture and allow it to do its work in revealing Christ, who is Wisdom. To read the Bible is to look at Wisdom, which reveals itself in it. The experience of beauty passes through the experience of the book. The Bible is the book in which Wisdom allows itself to be seen, the place where it seeks man and man seeks Wisdom. The Scripture is the mystery, the sacrament of the encounter of man with Christ.

This revelation and this search are of the nature of desire. Desire puts Wisdom in motion toward man and man toward Wisdom. The Bible is the book where this twofold tension is carried out. A man in search of Wisdom finds the expression of his own desire in Scripture, which is the exemplar and the pattern of desire. In LEW Montfort gives Solomon as an "example" to follow (LEW 2, 7, 54, 92, 183) to the point where the Old Testament ends and the New Testament begins. In the incarnation of Wisdom in Mary, the value of Solomon as an exemplar ends (LEW 220, 221).

The eternal possession of Wisdom is the purpose of the book. Its origin is the desire Wisdom has for man: "This eternal beauty, ever supremely loving, is so intent on winning man’s friendship that for this very purpose he has written a book in which he describes his own excellence and his desire for man’s friendship. This book reads like a letter written by a lover to win the affections of his loved one" (LEW 65; cf. LEW 63).

In Scripture, beauty allows itself to be seen in order to be loved. "We write in order to be loved."9 In the experience of the beautiful, Montfort returns to the book what cold and sterile science has taken from it: the ability to lead to genuine love. He brings us "to the point where we no longer read except in the Book of Truth where Eternal Wisdom is presented."10


III. THE BEAUTY OF WISDOM

1. Contemplating incomprehensible Wisdom

The experience of beauty can create the illusion that Wisdom can be understood through the spiritual senses. In fact, the beauty of eternal Wisdom is beyond any human grasp. It is incomprehensible in its divinity (LEW 15). Montfort shows presents a paradox: it is beauty but it cannot be seen. "For here all human beings must close their eyes so as not to be blinded by the vivid brightness of his light" (LEW 15). It is beyond all beauty, "Something resplendent, / Sublime, immense, and infinite" (LEW 19). Even if this "dazzling and incomprehensible light" can be vaguely discerned, it is no less true that "there are no words to explain it," and my idea "fall[s] infinitely short of his excellence," Montfort adds, for "who can ever form an adequate idea of him?" (LEW 19). This concept of the impossibility of looking face to face at eternal Wisdom and of saying something adequate about it because of its eminence comes from a negative or apophatic theology. The mystery of Divine Beauty remains inaccessible unless the Holy Spirit, "adapting himself to our weakness," gives us an "idea" of it (LEW 16). Lifting the veil that hides Wisdom, the Spirit condescends to show some people this Divine Beauty (cf. LEW 17; S 25). It is in ecstasy that God reveals it "to all you wish" (LEW 19). We find once again the twofold movement of the experience of beauty: ecstasy and revelation. In revelation, God comes down to man. In ecstasy man is carried off to God. The beams of revelation cast man into ecstasy.

In the revelation of beauty there is a positive or cataphatic theology, since something true is said about this Wisdom (cf. LEW 17), but this "objective knowledge" does not allow us to grasp it, since it is man who in his rapture is seized by Wisdom.

Leaving aside a few momentary flashes, this contemplation of eternal Wisdom is beyond human experience. Only God the Father has knowledge of it. Only He can experience Divine Beauty. Indeed, "God the Father was well pleased with the sovereign beauty of Eternal Wisdom, his Son, throughout time and eternity" (LEW 19; Mt 17:5). The Father takes pleasure in looking on the beauty of His Son. The experience of beauty has its very source in the life of the Trinity. Montfort introduces beauty into the theology of the Trinity by showing (very rapidly it is true!) the relations between the Father and the Son in terms of aesthetics. Hence the contemplation of Wisdom is marked by the seal of infinity and incomprehensibility, signs of divinity.

2. Seeing Wisdom in creation

"For the greatness and beauty of created things give us a corresponding idea of their Creator" (Wis 13:5). This ascent of the experience of beauty, which goes up from the created world to the Creator, is practically absent in Montfort. This verse of the Wisdom of Solomon has inspired only one phrase in a hymn, "What must the worker be, / If the work is so beautiful!" (H 99:28). The rarity of this analogical rhythm is explained by the fact that his relationship to the experience of the beautiful remains problematical. Indeed, instead of causing our eyes to be raised up to God, the beauty of creatures can hold them captive. Instead of taking us to the adoration and knowledge of God, the experience of the beauty of creation can become idolatrous (cf. Wis 13:1-9). On the contrary, Father de Montfort used a descending movement. He begins with the beauty of Wisdom in order to reach the beauty of His creation (cf. LEW 31-34). The creative act is like "fireworks." "Eternal Wisdom began to manifest himself outside the bosom of God the Father when, after a whole eternity, he made light, heaven and earth" (LEW 31). Montfort describes Wisdom as an artist working on a work of art.11 In creating beauty, Wisdom experiments with it as pleasure and play: "I was with God and I disposed everything with such perfect precision and such pleasing variety that it was like playing a game to entertain my Father and myself" (LEW 32). To sum up, creation is a holiday celebration given by Wisdom where we find the overflowing gratuitousness of excess (cf. LEW 33). But an understanding of this entertainment is not given immediately to the senses. The book of creation opens only through revelation, a "communication" of Wisdom itself (cf. LEW 23). Looking at creation in this way gives access to another experience of Divine Beauty in its twofold movement of revelation and enrapture. "Eternal Wisdom has revealed these things [the mysteries of nature] to the saints. . . . At times they were so astonished at the beauty, the harmony and the order that God has put into the smallest things, such as a bee, an ant, an ear of corn, a flower, a worm, that they were carried away in rapture and ecstasy" (LEW 34).

In hymn 157, Father de Montfort integrates the beauty of nature into a progressive, contemplative search for solitude. Nature is seen as a "desert place" and thus clashes with the world of men (cf. H 142:15-21). Flight from the inhabited world allows the rediscovery of pure nature unsullied by the sin of men, where the presence of the Creator shines through (H 157:18-19).12 There the solitary inhabits a beauty not made by the hand of man, where he appreciates and sings about its slightest charms, and learns from it stimulating lessons (H 157:13,16).

"But if nature is so fair, / Grace has made it so, / Shaping a Paradise / . . . When the soul transfixed holds it so dear!" (H 157:20, 21). Nature’s beauty, then, offers it a "pure and tranquil" framework (H 157:14) where the soul can contemplate, but in order to contemplate Divine Beauty, it is not on the beauty of nature that the soul relies. No. The solitary soul retires to himself in that inner solitude where he finds Jesus Christ (H 157:23). Furthermore, in his retreat, hidden as he is in himself, nothing must distract him, not even outer beauty, if he truly wishes to contemplate Supreme Beauty (H 157:36).

3. Looking at Incarnate Wisdom

a. The paradox of beauty.

The beauty of Eternal Wisdom has an indiscernible brilliance, a dazzling splendor. It is inaccessible because of too much light. But beauty calls for a representation. As a reflection of the beauty of the Father, Wisdom takes on its countenance by appearing in history. In the mystery of the Incarnation, "God, the Incomprehensible, allowed himself to be perfectly comprehended. . . . God, the Inaccessible, drew near to us and united himself closely, perfectly and even personally to our humanity" (TD 157; cf. 57, 1). By becoming a countenance, the Eternal and Incarnate Wisdom opens the only possible access to the beauty of God. Only the Incarnation allows us to experience beauty within the paradox of the harmony of opposites: "How gentle, attractive and approachable [comprehensible] is Eternal Wisdom who possesses such splendor, excellence and grandeur [incomprehensible]" (LEW 5). This paradox is the paradox of Christology, the two natures of Christ in the oneness of his person.

b. Mary. In the Incarnation,

God Himself experiences beauty. He experiences that ecstasy which causes Him to come out of Himself by becoming flesh in Mary. In her, God experiences beauty, first in creating her—"[Wisdom] created the most holy Virgin, forming her . . . with even greater delight than He had derived from creating the universe" (LEW 105)—and then in admiring her "virtues": "The faithful care with which she corresponded to the graces of her Creator. . . . The angels and even God Himself were filled with rapturous admiration for her. Her humility, deep as an abyss, delighted Him. Her purity so other-worldly drew him down to her. He found her lively faith and her ceaseless entreaties of love so irresistible that he was lovingly conquered by her appeals of love" (LEW 105, 107). "You have enraptured God . . . / Attracted by your beauty, / He took human nature, / He could not help Himself," Montfort sings to Our Lady (H 63:5; cf. H 81:3).

The place and role of Mary in the Incarnation are not of the order of "necessity," which would obligate God by reason of logical imperatives; they are the absolute gratuitousness of grace. Mary is never absolutely necessary (cf. TD 14, 21; SM 32) but always "hypothetical[ly]" necessary (cf. TD 39). In other words, it is a necessity without a reason, unless it be the necessity of "that’s the way things are" (cf. TD 15).13

But grace obeys a logic that brings it together with beauty. What does the phrase "Mary [has] found favor with God" mean if it is not that "God found her beautiful" (cf. LEW 203; SM 7; TD 16)? Her beauty is the work of grace in her, her response to the divine initiative and her cooperation with it. Beauty and grace cannot be reasoned. Language is carried beyond the frontiers of concepts defined by the intelligence. Montfort takes them with him into this movement when he speaks of Mary. The exuberance of his images and words underline and hide the kindnesses, the liberties, and the excesses of God’s love for Mary, in whom He has put "unutterable marvels and beauties" (TD 6, 7, 8, 10-12, 23; cf. LEW 208 and TD 262).

The treasures of grace and beauty prohibit saying anything that is not praise and jubilation. To say something about Mary presupposes a rapture that is like God’s (cf. H 81:1; 82:1). To contemplate Mary’s "lovable beauty" (cf. H 81:9) is to take "delight" and "pleasure" in it, following the Lord (LEW 208; H 87:3,8; TD 18). Beauty and grace do not exist without that limitless love which always takes us beyond what can be desired and imagined. This is how Montfort understands the Incarnation of a God who is "compelled," "attracted," and "vanquished" by beauty after the laws of eros-amor, love-eros.

c. The Infant Jesus.

Jesus, child of Mary, is "pure gentleness and beauty" (LEW 118). A certain likeness unites him to his mother. Mary’s beauty attracts God and the beauty of Wisdom attracts man (cf. LEW 117). In the experience of the beautiful, ecstasy has a twofold movement: from God to man and from man to God.

Jesus attracts man by the charm of his countenance, a most perceptible charm (cf. LEW 117). The manifestation of the beauty of God is the face of the Infant Jesus. The whole "experience of the beautiful" is in the crib: "The shepherds who came to the stable to see him were so spellbound by the serenity and beauty of his face that they tarried for many days gazing in rapture upon him. The three Kings, proud though they were, had no sooner seen the tender features of this lovely child, than, forgetting their high dignity, they fell down on their knees beside His crib. Time and again they said to one another, ‘Friend, how good it is to be here! There are no enjoyments in our palaces comparable to those we are experiencing in this stable looking at this dear Infant-God’" (LEW 121). "How good it is to be here" (cf. H 58:9; 59:11; 66:8).

Contemplation of the beauty of Jesus is a transfiguration where sweetness is felt and where the pleasure of being with him is relished (cf. 58,9; 60,10). In this epiphany the beauty of Jesus is "charming appeal" (H 61:5; 9:5,6; 65:4), "a countenance filled with allure" (H 66:4), since he wishes to delight and touch deeply those who look at him (H 60:15; 61:5). Whether it is in the Christmas hymns or in the LEW, the beauty of Jesus elicits that love-eros where the eagerness of desire reaches the point of wanting to possess a set image of this beauty: "Those who knew him could not prevent themselves from loving him, and distant kings, hearing of his beauty, desired to have a painting of Him" (LEW 121).

Through his beauty Jesus attracts people to himself. Because of it, the first fellowship of Christians began with the sharing of their contemplative experience. This contemplation is the source and the outcome of an intense and gracious apostolate that takes the form of an invitation: "Let us go and see young Jesus" (LEW 121; H 57:5; 59:1,2; 60:2; 65:1-4; 66:1,4).

By stressing his beauty and his sweetness, these meditations on the Infant Jesus bring to light the positive aspects of sight and the "felt." But having this experience of God does not remove the scandal and obscurity of faith: "The Most High, the Unfathomable, / The Eternal and Almighty One / Has come now to be born. / Is it possible? / The Eternal has become one day, the Word is silent, / The Almighty has become an infant" (H 57:1; cf. 58:6,8; 59:4; 60:4; 66:6,7). The delightful contemplation of the mystery does not suppress it but, rather, reinforces its paradox. The scandal of the Incarnation is in the words "That is not believable," (H 58:2) which calls for faith.

God’s beauty is not limited to its appearance, since we must retain both the incomprehensible and the comprehensible together. It is a continual paradox: "Almightiness in lowly estate" (cf. H 60:7), "Mightiness in helplessness, and bright light in this darkness" (H 65:10), "Greatness is in lowliness" (H 60:13). This paradox resides in love-eros, that "extreme love" (cf. H 66:1,2; 66:7; 41:9,10) which takes the form of kenosis, "loving eclipse of that divine sun" (H 62:4; 66:5) that has "humbled itself to become one of us." This love-eros touches being itself and is the stripping of the self in kenosis. The Incarnation is God handing Himself over to men, and "love alone makes this change" (H 66:7).

d. The Eucharist.

Father de Montfort speaks of the same "change" for the Eucharist. In this Sacrament, Jesus loves us to the extent of changing nature (cf. LEW 71; H 132:4). He "loves us passionately" (H 158:5). The excess of love reaches the point of "loss," of kenosis, which is called "obliterated glory" (H 158:4), of "utter humiliation" (H 128:6). Here also we find the same words and the same expressions: "The sun of truth / Hidden in darkness," his "beauty," his "divinity," his "brightness," hidden "under a lowly appearance" (H 158:4; 132:2; 130:4). The same paradox appears again, since "His brilliance is not tarnished / Though he lowers himself to our state" (H 129:2). Faith is challenged: "Oh, who could believe it?" (H 128:1; 158:13). Faced with this same paradox, faith alone comes into play: "The Most High, the Unfathomable, / Is here below confined. / Christians, ask not / Is it possible?" (H 158:1).

The kenosis that affects Christ in the Eucharist is the darkness of the mystery. It is not an end in itself, since the love that bears it, the ecstasy of God toward man, orients it toward the "all of us" (H 129:7; cf. H 129:3; 131:7; 132:1; 158:5; 17:9) and the "for us" (H 57:2,4; 58:1,3; 64:1-4; 65:5; 67:1-73:12). If Jesus lowers Himself by "emptying himself," it is "in order to delight our hearts" (H 129:1; 132:2). He takes us into his Eucharist because in it he himself is lost in "his love that robs him of his life" (H 41:23).

In him an active self-deprivation takes place, while in us a passive rapture. Such is the law of the experience of the beauty of Christ. Yet it arouses in the person who contemplates it the desire to come out of oneself— "How can I not fly away? / Alas, I have no wings" (H 116:9)—to look face-to-face at "The One whose beauty enraptures / All the saints in glory" (H 129:1; 133:3). Love-eros rediscovers its rights in continual invitations to savor its sweetness drawn from the Eucharist, to taste the pleasures it generously offers beyond all our desires (cf. H 44:8; 129:2; 131:4,6,9; 135:1). In this experience where all the senses are invited to enjoy his presence, Christ allows himself to be known to the point of ecstasy (cf. H 129:7). Beauty is experienced only in excess.

e. The Cross.

Father de Montfort suggested the connection between the Eucharist and the Infant Jesus (cf. LEW 128). The same vocabulary of aesthetic experience unites the two themes. The same contemplative attitude nurtures them.

Montfort leads us still further by incorporating the Cross in the category of beauty. What he says of Mary he now says of the Cross: "God’s love could not resist / Such beauty or its plea, / Which bade Him keep a tryst / With our humanity." (H 19:9 or 102:10; 123:2).14 "Beauty awakens to love, and love takes us to ecstasy, that uncontrollable self- transcendence."15 This beauty leads us to the love-eros of the wedding of the Cross: "He took it, found it fair, / An object not of shame / But honor, made it share / His love’s most tender flame." (H 19:10 or 102:12; 164:13; LEW 168). This nuptial mysticism is always a surprise when connected with the Cross. It is the paradox of love and the Cross (cf. FC 50-53). The Cross testifies to love (cf. LEW 176) and incites us to love (cf. LEW 154, 155; H 19:27,28). Not to sense the love that is exhibited on the Cross is the real scandal: "Is it possible, / . . . That your heart is so unfeeling?" (H 71:13; cf. H 47:16; 137:13). What is sublime, unfathomable and ineffable (cf. LEW 168) in the mystery of the Cross is the conjunction of love and suffering, of seeing "glory done away with" in "the excess of loving" (H 137:3,8).

The beauty of the Cross is a mystery God reveals to the "humble, [the] little" (LEW 174; H 19:1). The light that springs from it is that of "beauty destroyed," the extreme of beauty in the extreme of ugliness. An experience of truly Christian beauty must pass through the contemplation of the Crucified. In Him, God appears in the antithesis of Himself.16 Montfort shows us two transitions: to look at Christ, beauty disfigured; to look at Christ, beauty hidden.

The beauty of the Crucified is a disfigured beauty. It is the "man of every sorrow" (LEW 157; cf. Isa 53:3). It is the beauty of God covered over by the ugliness of men’s sins, an ugliness hidden in the darkness of the conscience and at times disguised as counterfeit beauty. The Cross brings light to this shadow land and reveals its falseness. In showing us the crucified Christ and "His countenance disfigured" (H 70:6; cf. H 71:6; 73:6), Montfort invites us to see there our sin and be healed by it.17

Man was created "beautiful," in the image of God’s beauty. In sinning, he has disfigured himself; he has become ugliness by losing his likeness to God (cf. LS 110). Beauty attracts, ugliness repels. Man’s primordial beauty set him in a state of mutual attraction with divine communion. The ugliness of his sin leaves him lost and alone. Since he is no longer beautiful, he feels abandoned and unloved; he hides from God. The crucified Christ takes on himself the sum total of human ugliness, his solitude and abandonment. He descends to the depths of humanity’s distress, which he then takes on himself. Indeed he is that "behold the man" (H 70:8; cf. Jn 19:5) who gives himself up "for us" in order to restore humanity and return it to its primitive beauty. The divine countenance disfigured in the crucified Christ transfigures man. The horror of the Cross already carries the glory of the Resurrection.

Beauty is pasted up on billboards everywhere and forces ugliness back into the shadows. There are the "beautiful people" and the "others," those whom we hardly mention, whom we hide away, the poor (cf. H 18:4). Misery is always associated with ugliness; the "poor beggars" are always "disgusting," repulsive, because they have lost health and fortune. In his "Hymn to the Daughters of Wisdom," Montfort reverses the world’s laws of beauty: "The cast-offs / Those whom the world abandons / Must move you the most" (H 149:1). This reversal obeys the paradox of the mystery: beauty hidden in ugliness, "God hidden in my neighbor" (H 148- 149), humanity disfigured. The poor man bears the stigma of sin, since he is its victim and he is "The living image, / The lieutenant of Jesus Christ, / . . . Jesus Christ Himself" (H 17:14). The poor are the "dear members of the Savior" (H 150:14). He has taken their "ugliness" upon himself (cf. 58,7.8).

The beauty of Christ is a veiled beauty. Montfort mentions a small thing that may seem trivial, although it is rich in significance: "Some writers tell us that the Roman soldiers and the Jews covered his face in order to strike and buffet him more freely because there was in his eyes and face such a kindly and ravishing radiance as would disarm the most cruel of men" (LEW 121; H 9:6). In linking beauty and cruelty, he joins together aesthetics and ethics. He connects the refusal to look at the face with the immorality of a violence that is uncalled for and blind. The face is the seat of beauty. In its nakedness it is exposed to violence and at the same time blocks all violence.18 It is the face that says "Thou shalt not kill." He disarms "the most brutal." On Christ’s face they see the endless temptation to murder. In order to do it violence, it must be veiled. The passion is the rejection of this face that, unprotected, gave itself over to men. Thus sin is unmasked as the absolute negation of this face that revealed the beauty of God, the negation of God Himself.

In this veiled face, led off to death, are reflected all the faces of those who since Abel are the victims of the violence of men. To veil this face is to refuse an encounter, a face-to- face dialogue, to refuse the responsibility that obliges us to answer for him by answering him. It is violence, which denies itself at the very moment it is the negation of the other. But the veiled beauty of the God-Man denounces this lie to God (Cain’s "Am I my brother’s keeper?" Gen 4:9) and the hatred that destroys humanity. To veil this face is to refuse the grace offered at the strongest temptation, to shy away from the "rapture" of love, to reject the outstretched hand. In some way it is the fundamental "no" said to God when a "yes" was still possible. When one becomes hardened to sin, the veil becomes mockery: "They say to Him in mockery: / You see Him? How fair He is!" (H 68:4; 69:7).


IV. BEAUTY AND DIVINIZATION

1. Man and beauty

God alone is beautiful.19 Beauty is a sign of divinity (cf. TD 49; H 25:9). God creates only beauty. After the creative word comes the marvel of aesthetic delight: "And God saw that it was good/beautiful" (cf. Gen 1:4). His masterpiece is man.

This is where Montfort’s anthropology is rooted. His vision of man is characterized by a tension: he is no longer what he was; he is not yet what he ought to be. He is stretched taut between his original beauty and his present ugliness. Ugliness masks and disfigures beauty. When our eyes are covered with darkness, we cannot see the light. This is why it is hard for man to perceive what his original beauty was (cf. LEW 37).

Created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26),20 he is "the living image of the Godhead" (LEW 37; cf. SM 3), a microcosm, the whole of creation in miniature (cf. LEW 37). He was beauty and light, pleasing to God (once again a word for aesthetic delight). He knew Him perfectly and loved Him "for God himself" (LEW 38).The beauty of man produces ecstasy. The soul delights the angels and God Himself because of its beauty. There is nothing on earth that is comparable to his beauty. This is why an ancient writer calls him "immensum pulchri pelagus" (LS 109). Man’s original beauty is that of God. Moreover, did not the expression "immense ocean of the beautiful," here applied to man, designate God Himself?21 "Man was so godlike, so absorbed and rapt in God" (LEW 38). Man is sustained by this twofold ecstasy, a creative ecstasy of God toward man and a divinizing ecstasy of man toward God. There once again beauty is spoken of as excess: "Such was the generosity shown to man by Eternal Wisdom" (cf. LEW 38).

"But, alas, . . . man sinned and by his sin lost his . . . beauty" (LEW 39; cf. 5 110). Sin disfigures and deforms man’s original beauty and tears up the portrait of Wisdom (cf. LEW 41). It has been said that Montfort laid too much stress on man’s decline, that his anthropology was pessimistic (he would have said "realistic"). But this is not so. He does not let Adam fall into the despair of seeing himself as so "hideous" and "sullied"; he raises the challenge of one day seeing his original beauty restored. For Wisdom cannot stand seeing "his masterpiece destroyed" (LEW 41). Like a new creation, the Redemption will "repair" man’s beauty in the Incarnation of the Word (cf. LEW 42). God "Becomes what we are, / By making us become what He is" (H 64:1).

In the Incarnation, the Word assumes the ugliness of men in order to give them the beauty of God. The return to beauty is divinization.22 It is not only a recall of what man was in the beginning, but a call.23

2. Divinization

This call to beauty is our "certain . . . vocation" (SM 3). It is a radical change that affects and touches the totality of our being; "Dust into light, . . . creature into Creator, man into God" (ibid.). But this transformation is a work "so difficult in itself, and even impossible for a mere creature to bring about" (ibid.), for it is a question of being formed in Jesus Christ and of forming Jesus Christ in oneself. The "hand-made" is excluded. Only grace can achieve this "great masterpiece" (ibid.).

A comparison borrowed from the field of artistic creation permits Father de Montfort to elaborate on his thought about the restoration of the divine image in us. He compares the sculptor and the caster (cf. TD 219- 221, 260; SM 16-18). These two different ways of making a work of art are two paths toward divinization. In the first path, the sculptor claims to achieve his goal by relying on his own strength and industry, where failure comes in one false blow of his chisel.24 The second path, however, that of the caster, consists in handing oneself over to the work of grace. To reach God, it takes the same road that He took to come to us (cf. SM 35). It is therefore the most "economical." We easily recognize the ecstasies of beauty: an ecstasy of God toward man in the Creation and the Incarnation, and the divinizing ecstasy of man toward God. The link that allows us to pass from one to the other is the Incarnation. This central mystery is the pattern for our divinization and contains our origin and our end; our origin in that we are created in the image and likeness of God, and our end as the perfect and full achievement of our origin. Our divinization is modeled on the Incarnation. It is here that Mary appears as the necessary vessel through whom transforming grace passes (cf. TD 125). Mary is God’s "mold," forma Dei, made by the Holy Spirit. It is in her alone that God made man was formed according to nature by the hypostatic union, and it is also in her alone that man can be formed into God himself by grace. Thus, when "formed" properly in Mary, we shall have the beauty of Christ25 in "the perfection and the fullness of his age" (LEW 214).26

The word "form" is interesting for more than one reason. For Montfort it designates the creation of man by Wisdom in the proclamation of his restoration in Christ (cf. LEW 42), the new creation in Mary, surpassing the first (cf. LEW 105), the Incarnation of Jesus in Mary’s virginal womb (cf. LEW 108; SR 46; SM 12, 17; TD 16, 140, 220; H 63:6; 88:4; 155:5), and the birth of Jesus in the soul (cf. SM 12, 17, 67; TD 31, 33, 37, 219; H 155:16; 159:8,12). "To form" implies a twofold movement: from Creation to Redemption, from the Incarnation to divinization; a twofold birth of Christ in Mary and the soul (cf. LEW 214; TD 31, 33). The generation of Christ in the soul is also the generation of the soul in Christ.27

This twofold generation is accompanied by a reciprocal transformation: "St. Augustine, speaking to our Blessed Lady, says, ‘You are worthy to be called the mold of God (forma Dei).’ Mary is a mold capable of forming people into the image of the God-man. Anyone who is cast into this divine mold is quickly shaped and molded into Jesus and Jesus into him. . . . He will become Christ-like since he is cast into the very same mold that fashioned a God-man" (TD 219). "Form them in Jesus and Jesus in them" (TD 37; cf. LEW 214; TD 20, 212, 264). Montfort insists on this formula of mutual inclusion,28 which also recalls the twofold rapture. This outflow of God toward man and of man toward God is not an assimilation of one by the other. The "transformation into Jesus" (TD 119) through Mary, who is "so united to Christ and transformed to God" (TD 164), is not a fusion but a "union" (ibid.; cf. SM 21; TD 27, 63, 120; H 90:59). This transforming union is the perfect consecration.

From the metaphor of the mold we come to emphasize the passive aspect. We must allow ourselves to be "molded . . . by the working of the Holy Spirit" (SM 18). Father de Montfort does not forget its active aspect: "Remember that only molten and liquefied substances may be poured into a mold. That means that you must crush and melt down the old Adam in you if you wish to acquire the likeness of the new Adam in Mary" (TD 221). It is not only renouncing the ugliness of sin. It is also renouncing oneself, "[emptying] ourselves of self," "[dying] to self" (TD 79, 81). Even more, it is a real kenosis, according to the example of Christ himself, who out of love for us took the form of a slave (cf. TD 72; LEW 223). We have to pass through the crucible of the Cross in order to rediscover original beauty. We must also agree to be an image, to receive for ourselves the image of the Father; in short, to agree to be a son.

The origin of our beauty is not in us. It is in God. Our beauty is shared. This active recognition Montfort calls dependence and submission, the slavery of love. Mary is the most beautiful of all creatures, because she is intimately aware of her total dependence, of her "depths of nothingness" (TD 25), because she knows that she is "simply nothing" (TD 14); "[Mary] was relative only to God" (TD 225). We must descend into this humility in order for the revelation of beauty to rise in us.

3. The beauty of the soul and the mission

To restore man in the beauty of the divine image is the saving mission of the Word, which Montfort describes with rare dramatic power (cf. LEW 35-46). It is absolutely intolerable that ugliness replace beauty, that unhappiness win out over happiness. Hence the blazing zeal of Wisdom, which "comes out of itself" to save man. From Wisdom the missionary learns to be "deeply moved by the plight of poor Adam" and to "[listen] tenderly to man’s sighs and entreaties" (cf. LEW 41). "The soul is so beautiful" is the missionary’s refrain, the reason for his apostolic love, which makes him go out into the world (cf. H 21:7; 22:2,3; 148:13). Restoring man’s beauty received from God is the only sacred art.


V. CONCLUSION

Beauty runs through Montfort’s work from beginning to end. The experience it proposes is stereotyped. It is a persistent theme from which a "theological aesthetic" unfolds.29 It is composed of two aspects. The first is a "doctrine of perception, or fundamental theology," an aesthetic "understood as a doctrine of the discovery of the face of God revealing Himself." This perception is an experiential knowledge.30 It is Wisdom as a "delectable knowledge," both revealed and revealing.

The second is a "doctrine of rapture, or dogmatic theology." The aesthetic here is the doctrine of the Incarnation "of the divine glory, and of man called to share in it." It is here that the Redemption is rooted, and for man, "consecration." It is the twofold, two-sided rapture, of God toward man and man toward God. These two aspects become one when sight becomes a participation in the divine life.

The legitimacy of this rereading of Montfort’s work is its own cohesion. But it holds only if the knowing subject accepts to be taken into the object of his knowledge. We can truly understand only to the extent that we are understood. God is never purely exterior. He is in what is most private about us. God touches us and we can experience it.

Feeling is at the heart of every aesthetic. Yet Montfort invites us to dismiss the realm of the senses in order to reach "pure faith." We have to go beyond spiritual consolations in order for our relationship with God to have the gratuitousness of "pure love" (cf. TD 214), to enjoy God alone and not His gifts. "Not to see, not to feel, not to taste" leads us to pure faith (LEW 187; cf. FC 4; SR 35; SM 51, 69; H 6:2,54).

By refusing every support, this renunciation thrusts the contemplative into utter darkness (cf. LEW 186; RW 136). He can rest on one word only: "God has said it or promised it" (LEW 187). It is no longer even necessary to see the beauty of Wisdom, to desire it, for the Word that elicits faith suffices (cf. LEW 186). The experience of the beautiful seems to have become useless. In fact, Father de Montfort introduces a second stage in purification: after purifying the "bodily senses" in order to allow the desire of God to appear, we must also purify the "spiritual senses." After "tasting" come disgust, boredom, and the dryness of the spirit. A new "way of feeling" appears in this agony. 31.

The presence of suffering and ugliness in the heart of beauty is mysterious and paradoxical, like the Cross in the case of love. But it leads to the very apex of experience, in the "summit of the soul," where "without any feeling of joy in the senses or pleasure in the mind, we love the cross we are carrying, by the light of pure faith, and take delight in it" (FC 53).

O. Maire


Notes: (1) Cf. Plotinus, Ennéades (Enneads), VI, 7, 32; ed. E . Béhier, CUF, Paris 1938, 105. (2) Cf. St. Augustine, De Trinitate, VII, 1, 156, CCL 50, 249, or PL 42:936 (sapientia comes from sapere). This definition of Wisdom was very current in the twelfth century; cf. Saint Bernard, Super Cant., 85, 8; PL 183:1191 (and 9, 3; PL 183:816); William of Saint Thierry, Exposé sur le Cantique des cantiques (Explanation of the Song of Solomon), 105, 115, ed. J.M. Déchanet, trans. M. Dumontier, SC 82, Cerf, Paris 1962, 236, 250, and Lettre aux Frères du Mont-Dieu (Letter to the Brothers of Mont-Dieu), 249, 287, ed. J. Déchanet, SC 223, Cerf, Paris 1985, 342, 374; Guerric d’Igny, Sermons, 3E, 195-196, SC 166, Cerf, Paris 1970, 284; Guigues II the Carthusian, Lettre sur la vie contemplative (Letter on the Contemplative Life), V, 121-125, 130-135; VI, 91-94, SC 163, Cerf, Paris 1980, 92, 184; Hugh of Saint Victor, Les cinq septenaires (The Five Septennaria), 256, 257, in Six opuscules spirituels (Six Spiritual Opuscula), SC 155, Cerf, Paris 1969, 118; other references English Publication in H. U. von Balthasar, La gloire et la croix. Aspects esthétiques de la Révélation (The Glory and the Cross. Aesthetic Aspects of Revelation), vol. 1, Apparition, Paris 1965, 210, 242-245, 314, 315, 343. (3) Cf. LEW 10, 19, 34, 35, 59, 118, 121, 126, 131; TD 85; H 9:3; 50:2; 55:17,21; 66:4; 127:38. (4) With Montfort the word "to taste" often means "to have the experience of" (cf. L 13; LEW 1, 112; TD 82, 96, 163, 180, 197, 250), hence "to understand" (cf. TD 180, 199; H 40:6). (5) Cf. H 141:11. "The wisdom of the cross [is] that knowledge of the truth which we experience within ourselves and which by the light of faith deepens our knowledge of the most hidden mysteries" (FC 45). (6) Cf. St. Augustine, Tractatus in Ioh., XXVI, 4-6, CCL 36, 261-263. (7) Cf. LEW 34, 107, 121; FC 4; SR 121; MR 19 (OC 410); H 4:1; 5:16; 9:5,6; 12:17,22; 21:15; 25:5,9; 34:12; 52:9; 61:6; 63:5; 81:1; 116:2; 126:1,7; 129:1; 134:4; etc.; cf. H 65:4 and S 24 and 64. (8) Cf. H.U. von Balthasar, Apparition, 99-101. (9) In H we cannot count these invitations to contemplate, to come see, and to look. Montfort likes to use imperatives and interrogations that call out, carry along, and gather together. (10) Roland Barthes, Essais critiques (Critical Essays), Points-Seuil, Paris 1981, 276. (11) Cf. William of Saint Thierry, Exposé sur le Cantique des cantiques, 2, 7, p. 203, 401 (12) LEW 32 mentions the characteristic terms of classical beauty: order, harmony, composition, balance . . . (13) This sin does not relate to ecology but to man’s behavior in society, cf. H 157:11,14 (14) The same is true for the relationship between Mary and Christians, members of that Body of which Jesus Christ is the Head. Montfort’s thought on the whole Christ (Body and Head) and on the twofold coming of Jesus into the world is derived from an "aesthetic," i.e. from a perception of harmony in the economy of salvation (cf. SM 58; TD 1, 13, 117) Hans Urs von Balthasar, Apparition, 9.22.49.50. - 75.85.158; cf. SM 12; TD 17, 20, 22, 32). (15) This twofold poetic sense runs throughout Montfort’s writings, e.g., "the tree of life," designating the Cross (SM 22; H 123:13), Mary (LEW 204; SM 67, 78; TD 44, 164, 218; H 81:7), and even the Rosary (cf. SR 6); the same verses of Scripture are applied to Mary and to Wisdom (cf. TD 175, 200, 201, 208, 264 and LEW 27, 28, 66, 67, 68). (16) In another sense, cf. H 19:17 or H 102:31,32. - Hans Urs von Balthasar, La gloire et la croix, vol. 3, Théologie, Nouvelle Alliance (Theology: New alliance), Paris 1976, 21. (18) The hymns of "the Octave of the Cross" (H 67, 73, 74) are constructed according to the same model. They are composed of three parts: 1. a meditation where an episode of the Passion is represented in a "sensory way" and the imagination is constantly appealed to by verbs that invite contemplation; "let us contemplate," "let us go and . . . contemplate," "we see," "do you see?," "consider," "look," etc.; 2. Montfort’s invitation to us to "enter the stage," take our position there, and to ask ourselves about conversion, about changing, and draw some conclusions from it; 3. a prayer ending the hymn (19) Cf. Emmanuel Lévinas, Totalité et Infini. Essai sue l"extériorité (Totality and the Infinite. An Essay on Exteriority), Nijhoff, The Hague 1971, 215-220 (Visage et éthique). (20) "All the world agrees in saying that the Godhead is the essential beauty," Gregory of Nyssa, La vie de Moïse, (The Life of Moses), trans. J. Daniélou, SC 1bis, Cerf, Paris 1987, 268; cf. Gregory of Nazianzus, Discours (Discourses), 31, 15, SC 250, Cerf, Paris 1978, 305 (and note 3). (21) "His beauty, in making us in His image and likeness . . ." (S 25). (22) Cf. Plato, Banquet (Symposium), 219d, ed. P. Vicaire, CUF, Paris 1989, 69. (23) To be beautiful and to see beauty are one and the same movement: "A soul would not see the beautiful without being beautiful itself! Let every being then first become divine and beautiful if he wishes to contemplate God and the beautiful" Plotinus, Ennéades, I, 6, 9, ed. E. Bréhier, CUF, Paris 1924, 106, or again, "People rightly say that the good and the beauty of the soul consist in becoming like God," ibid., I, 6, 6, p. 102 (24) For Pseudo-Dionysius, "beautiful" (kalos) came from the verb "to call" (kaleo) (25) This comes close to Plotinus’s thought, which in some way puts God in the range of human endeavor: "Return to yourself and look: if you do not yet have beauty in you, act like the sculptor of a statue that is to become beautiful, . . . he polishes it until the divine burst of virtue is shown," Ennéades, I, 6, 9, p.105. With several Greek Fathers, "polish the statue" meant the purification brought about by asceticism praxis. Let us not forget that formosus (beautiful) comes from forma; cf. H.U. von Balthasar, Apparition, 17, 98. (27) It is another way of looking at the whole Christ; cf. LEW 1, 227; SM 67; TD 33, 61, 119, 156, 164, 168. (28) The birth of Christ in the divinized soul is a major theme of Rheno-Flemish mysticism, particularly Tauler and Meister Eckhart. (29) Similar formulas in TD 32, 61, 63, 75, 144, 157, 179, 247; LEW 204. (30) H.U. von Balthasar, Apparition, 103-105. (31) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, 43, 5, ad 2.

 

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

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