|JESUS LIVING IN MARY:
HANDBOOK OF THE SPIRITUALITY OF ST. LOUIS DE MONTFORT
Introduction: Mysticism and Mystery.
I. Montfort in the Mystical Context of the Seventeenth Century: 1. The "golden age" of French mysticism; 2. Montfort and the "science of the saints." II. The "Experimental Knowledge of God" in Montfort in the Light of the Pauline Mystery: 1. Wisdom is folly; 2. Passion of divine love; 3. Wisdom and Cross; 4. Surrender even to extremes, 5. Christ in us: the goal and the center of Montfort spirituality; 6. Christ in Mary and in us: the mystery of the Incarnation. III. The Mystique of the Permanent Presence of Jesus and Mary. IV. Perspectives for an Authentic Experience of God.
INTRODUCTION: MYSTICISM AND MYSTERY
Psychological and sociological research within the last few years point out that more and more people are seeking a stable foundation in the Absolute. A new religiosity has developed that is characterized by a search for experience, unity, and cosmic totality. Thus there has emerged a special interest in what is called a "mystical" experience. But in the course of the discussion on what "mystical" means (often almost entirely outside Christian tradition), it is finally noted that the concept has been completely emptied of any content. "Mystical experience" has been leveled off to a point where often it has no other meaning than "daily experience."
Against this minimizing tendency, it must be remembered that according to the classical Christian understanding, mystical experience is one of the highest and most intense human experiences. The adjective "mystical" (hidden) describes from the very start something that is connected to the mystery of Gods love for us manifested in Christ.1 "Mystical" cannot be separated from "mystery." It is not an experience that originates in the center of a person but an objective reality: the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. It is first of all Jesus Christ himself who is mystical, for in him the salvific action of God becomes visible, the mystery that forms the core of the Christian proclamation. The Christian is involved in this mystery through the Sacraments of Baptism (mystical rebirth) and Eucharist (mystical food).
The term "mysticism" becomes another manner of expressing the contemplation of divine mysteries. In the power of the Holy Spirit, contemplation admires the divine truths and is called "mystical" because, on the one hand, these truths are totally penetrated with mystery and, on the other, they are not able to be grasped by human intelligence or be manipulated by it. The milieu of mystical contemplation is sacramental union, mystical union of the creature with God in Jesus Christ. Thus, mystical contemplation has as its goal unity with God in the encounter with Jesus Christ.
I. MONTFORT IN THE MYSTICAL CONTEXT OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY
1. The "golden age" of French mysticism
With the rediscovery of the dignity of man in his own individuality which occurred during the transition to modern timesthe interior aspect of experience (the subjectivity) was certainly strongly stressed; nonetheless, the objective aspect was maintained. It was not until the seventeenth century, the "golden age" of French mysticism, that in reaction against the rationalist and empirical spirit of the age, there was a more determined turn toward mysticism and the adjective "mystical" began to change meaning.
From the adjective "mystical" comes the noun "mystic." The negative semantic content of the adjective, in the sense that man cannot program it of himself, gives a mysterious character to the noun. The "contemplative," who "looks at" the mystery of God, becomes "the mystic," surrounded by something of the mysterious and of the extraordinary, a person of "contemplation," a manner of plunging oneself into the mysterious reality of God. Its study becomes "mysticism," an esoteric science, reserved to a few rare people. And so a new scientific branch is born that has for its object mystical events and experiences, the extraordinary: the "science of the saints," mystical theology. As an experiential science, it is often opposed to scholastic theology and, as such, is detached from it. It therefore follows that theological truth acquires a cold and rational aspect. This revolution leads to a polarization between a radical rejection and an unlimited exaggeration of the "mystical" phenomenon that leans ever more towards the extraordinary. The quarrels about quietism at the end of the seventeenth century reflect this polarization.2
2. Montfort and the "science of the saints"
Montfort was one of the last representatives of the apex of French mysticism and was also at the threshold of another epoch, called the age of Enlightenment because it tended to consider suspect all mystical phenomenon and to limit the life of piety as much as possible to the ordinary.
From his childhood, Montfort had a pronounced passion for the absolute. He could not adopt as a rule of life the "ordinary," which in reality only means an undeveloped Christianity, immobilized in its very beginnings. For him, the only goal to be considered is Christian
In his "systematic" yearning for this perfection, he found the support of his directors in spirituality. But it is likewise the proper theme of the "science of the saints," towards which Montfort turned from 1695 on. He reflected the influence of the mystic J. J. Surin, whose Spiritual Letters strongly impressed Montfort.3 Louis Grignion found in Surin the ideal of a total renouncement of all earthly reality so as to benefit from the pure love of God and of intimacy with Him. This idea of a withdrawn and hidden life for God Alone had, at this time, the favor of the directors of the Seminary of Saint Sulpice. They gave it priority over the active life of a missionary. Montfort recognized this in the writings of J. J. Olier and in the person of J. J. Bayün, his spiritual director from 1692 to 1695.4 The conflict between these two ideals was only resolved by Montfort after long interior struggles, which lasted through the first years of his priesthood and which finally clarified and confirmed his missionary vocation.
In turning towards the science of the saints, Montfort entered into contact with a great number of spiritual authors of his time (TD 90, 159-163) and, through them, with the movements influencing the period of the apex of French mysticism in the seventeenth century. Among these currents, a few must be cited: German mysticism of the fourteenth century, the mystical traditions of the Cistercians and of the Spanish Carmelites, and Italian mysticism.5 Montfort lists the names of their representatives.
This also fashioned his language. It is not the cold language of theological science but the emotional, colorful language of the science of the saints,6 with a particular preference for the concepts of "secret" and "mystery" and for the word "love." And his criticism of a purely rational and empirical science (LEW 84-85) and of a "speculative, dry, sterile and indifferent" theology (TD 64) must be understood as the echo of the science of the saints. Beyond any oratorical emphasis, the words of Montfort give insight into how much he was personally taken up by mystery. He did keep, nonetheless, a healthy levelheadedness in the face of extraordinary mystical experiences so much appreciated at that time, like visions, revelations, miracles, etc., and likewise in the face of the false mysticism of quietism, characterized by passivity, which asks no collaboration from the soul. Against this, Montfort insisted on the absolute necessity of personal effort, of collaboration with grace (SM 1, 4; TD 99, 108), and of universal mortification (LEW 184-203) and on the priority of pure faith, which goes beyond experiences perceptible by the senses (LEW 186; SM 51; TD 109, 214).
Montfort found his vocation in missionary service. He was an apostolic missionary, and his entire life took its meaning from his determination to "renew the spirit of Christianity among Christians" (RM 56). It is this motivation which gave birth to his writings. Thus, he did not leave us any autobiographical notes on his personal experiences of faith but only rare allusions in his letters and in the dialogue reported by J. B. Blain.7 In his writings, his experience of personal faith is revealed tightly interwoven with his vision of theological truth and his pastoral experiences.
II. THE "EXPERIMENTAL KNOWLEDGE OF GOD" IN MONTFORT IN THE LIGHT OF THE PAULINE MYSTERY
Mysticism, according to the classical definition, is "the experiential knowledge of God," cognitio Dei experimentalis (Bonaventure). Montforts writings are characterized by a successful unity between experience of the faith and knowledge of the faith, a unity in which knowledge of the faith has become alive. Knowledge and love are the two poles (LEW 8) around which everything moves: loving knowledge and knowing love, both oriented totally towards the mystery of God.8
Montforts "experiential knowledge" of God is most forcefully seen in LEW. This work was the fruit of a lengthy lectio divina, whose meditation centered on Divine Wisdom. The key to his understanding is found in 1 Cor 1-2; faced with the conflicts at Corinth, Paul brings out the great worth of the only true mystery of God.9 It was in the Pauline mystery of the Wisdom of God, which in the eyes of men is folly, that Montfort continued his research. This mystery was revealed to him ever more profoundly when he looked back at the Wisdom of OT.10
1. Wisdom is folly
If in the sapiential literature of OT, Wisdom was already personalized, she became personified according to the intuition of the French school. Divine Wisdom, which appears in OT as a woman, is Jesus Christ, "whom God made our wisdom" (1 Cor 1:30). In him is revealed the mystery of God, but in the form of folly and of weakness and therefore in opposition to all human wisdom and power. What Montfortalong with Paul discovered ever more profoundly is the "mysterious passion that God expresses under the form of folly, which impels Him even into the weakness of humbling Himself."11 For Montfort, that was an entirely other thing than dry, arid articles of faith. That this knowledge became for him the key to his own life, or that his experience of his life led him to this knowledge, is, in the final analysis, without importance. But this knowledge was inscribed ever more deeply in the experience of his life and helps us to understand it. In his own life, this divine folly took, in a certain sense, a new form. The more that this knowledge penetrated him thoroughly, the more he easily succeeded in accepting the experiences of folly that continually crossed his life, without losing any interior peace. And he succeeded in living these divine truths more simply and peacefully.
But Montfort learnt also, more and more, that from this folly of God arises the dynamic of an unlimited liberty. Faith-filled weakness and folly share in the weakness of God crucified, liberating a force that is stronger than mans and a wisdom that is wiser than all human wisdom. The life of Montfort testifies to this. He gave witness to a radical life style expressed in trust in Divine Providence, in voluntary poverty, and in the limitless acceptance of suffering. He appeared so foolish that toward the end of his life even his friend Blain thought of him this way.12 Nevertheless, it was this same style of life that was transformed into a strength going beyond all understanding.
Montfort points this out when he writes: "I find such riches in this divine Providence and so much strength in the Blessed Mother, that they suffice to enrich my poverty and support my weakness" (L 8). "I never made so many conversions than after the most anguishing and unjust interdicts" (L 26). The experience of this liberty and of this strength is reflected in the collection of characteristics he foresaw for future members of his missionary community: "Liberosmen who are free with your liberty" (PM 7-12).
2. Passion of Divine Love
The mysterious passion that impelled God into the folly of the Incarnation Montfort recognized as love. This knowledge changed the representation he had of God: from the Almighty Lord to the loving Father. This became the central point of his experiential knowledge of God; with Paul and John, he discovered the "central factor" of the mystery of God, which is revealed in Christ Jesus: the love of God. He can, therefore, say that Christ-Wisdom is "the love of the Father and of the Holy Spirit" (LEW 118; cf Jn 3:16). From this point of view, Montfort can re-read salvation history as the history of Divine Wisdom, in which is incarnated Gods eternal plan of salvation and which wins the final victory in the folly of the Cross. In his presentation, Montfort follows the outline of classical theology: TrinityCreation Original FallIncarnation; but by presenting it under the form of dramatized history, he is able to make a far more immediate impression than under the form of abstract teaching. Salvation history is the history of the love of the Eternal Wisdom for man, the history of "an incomprehensible friendship"; "Wisdom is for man and man is for Wisdom" (LEW 64). This friendship finds its culminating point in the spiritual marriage of Wisdom with the soul (LEW 54).
In order to describe the love union between Christ and the soul, Montfort takes up one of the most ancient symbols of Christian spirituality, spousal union. With the same symbol, he characterizes his own experience: "In the new family to which I belong, I have espoused Wisdom and the cross" (L 20).
3. Wisdom and Cross
In Wisdom and the Cross are found the Pauline vision of mystery. The Cross of Christ is the definitive revelation of the Wisdom of God, Who wills that salvation be accomplished in Christ crucified (1 Cor 1:24). Montfort concentrates Pauline thought into this one point: "Wisdom is the cross and the cross is Wisdom" (LEW 180). And after maturely reflecting on the love of Wisdom for the Cross (LEW 167-171), which culminates in the "marriage in blood" on the Cross (LEW 171), he says: "Never the cross without Jesus or Jesus without the cross" (LEW 172). But this Wisdom is Wisdom in mystery, accessible only to those to whom God has revealed "the greatest secret of the Eternal Wisdom" (LEW 167, 174; FC 26). This discovery is accomplished in faith. To those who welcome the Word of the Cross in the obedience of faith, this secret of Wisdom is revealed before their eyes as the culminating point of the love of God (LEW 154), while human and earthly wisdom is revealed as dangerous wisdom, precisely because it strips the Cross of its essential content (LEW 174; FC 36).
Thus Montfort describes in all its cruelty the agony of the Crosshe describes even to the least details what Christ has suffered on the Cross (LEW 154-166)but at the same time, he recognizes that precisely in that is revealed the excess of love of God. The Cross is no longer the expression of the anger of God but the proof of his love (LEW 176). That is why Montfort is able to take up again the symbolism of espousals, when he has Wisdom declare: "I love the cross with all my strength and I place it in the midst of my heart so that it may be my spouse and my mistress"; and the suffering of Wisdom culminates in the marriage of blood on the Cross: "He dies with joy in the embrace of his beloved friend, as on a bed of honor and triumph" (LEW 171).
The presentation of the "triumph of eternal wisdom in the cross and by the cross" (LEW, chap. 14; H 19; H 102) permits the Johannine vision of the Cross to shine through, in which the Cross is the authentic revelation of the glory of God (LEW 170), which is not the glory of the Almighty but of the surrender by Love to its very extremes.
4. Surrender even to extremes
Surrender, abandonment, even to extremes, became for Montfort the principle of life. For the Cross is not only the objective reality of salvation; it is not only and simply object of the kerygma. It is precisely the "Word of the Cross," which took flesh in Jesus Christ. Montfort already recognizes the mystery of the Cross in the mystery of the Incarnation (LEW 169). It is not "no matter which" Christ who becomes man but Christ crucified. It is the Incarnation in view of the agony of the Cross, and because of that the entire life of Christ is situated under the sign of the Cross. The only model of Christian life (LEW 173; FC 19) is therefore Christ in his voluntary humbling and nothingness, the Model of life that Paul presents in Phil 2 (LEW 16-17); Montfort makes this the theme of FC. In explaining the words of Jesus, "Whoever wishes to be my disciple, let him renounce himself, take up his cross, and follow me" (Mt 16:24; Lk 9:23), he shows how Christian life is completely situated under the mystery of the Cross. To be Christian, to become like unto Christ, to be united to Christ, is not possible without the Cross. Jesus must be followed on the way of voluntary nothingness, of humility, of service, of abandonment even to the extreme. In other words, Montfortfollowing Paulsays: to become a slave, we must knowingly and willingly follow the example of Jesus Christ, the suffering Servant of God (TD 18, 72-73, 139). This means nothing else than to welcome the Cross in our own lives, permitting it to become the determining force of our lives, letting ourselves be crucified with Christ (1 Cor 1:18-31; Gal 6:14; LEW 173; FC 19). This includes the Yes to our own weakness and lowliness; and like Paul, Montfort considers weakness, trial, suffering, and failure because of the Cross as "the sufferings of Christ," to a point of regarding such "crosses" as the greatest gifts of God for the Christian (FC 35-39; LEW 174-175; TD 154; H 102), because through the Cross conformity to Christ becomes a reality.
That is why the Cross also determines the relation of the Christian to the world, which "cannot be an unrestrained acceptance of the world nor a total satisfaction of being in the world."13 Looking upon the Cross, the Christian will tend far more to serve the world than to be served by it; in so doing, the unconditional service to the world is in harmony with the distance from the world (which always remains a world disrupted by sin) and also with a radical asceticism. But it is precisely this forgetfulness of self in kenosis and this abandonment without reserve following the example of Christ that leads the Christian to this paradoxical experience of joy in suffering (FC 51), and even through suffering. This is what Montfort says in colorful language, in phrases like "cross . . . in sugar" (TD 154) or "candied crosses" (SM 22). Formally, Montfort describes this experience as the love of the Cross, which is not a love for suffering but always love for Christ; it is "the love of the summit of the soul. . . . 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). The fruits of this love of the Cross are conformity to Christ, dignity of divine filiation, a sense of life, love, joy, interior peace, and, finally, eternal glory (LEW 176; H 123).
The personal experiences of Montfort in his following of Christ carrying his Cross dovetail perfectly with his sources, thus assuring an indissoluble unity in his life. In this regard, reference should be made above all to the Holy Ways of the Cross14 of Boudon but also to the Mysticism of the Passion of Henry Suso, which Montfort cites explicitly (LEW 66, 101-102) and for which "a suffering sent by God and accepted by man is a sign of divine predilection, as the suffering of Christ is a sign of the gracious attention of God."15 For Montfort also, the Cross is the sign of the chosen, the sign of election and of the special favor of God (LEW 174-175; SM 22).
5. Christ in us: the goal and the center of Montfort spirituality
"The perfect friend of the Cross is a true Christ-bearer, or rather, another Christ" (FC 4). This is the experience to which Paul gives witness in Gal: "If I live, it is no longer I but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2:20; FC 4). For the mystery of God that has been revealed in Christ crucified is at the same time the mystery of "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col 1:27). This mystery of "Christ in us" is precisely at the heart of the thought of Montfort. Whether he speaks of "union with Christ" (TD 120), "the acquisition and the conservation of Wisdom" (LEW 14), "the consecration to Jesus Christ" (TD 120), or "the perfect renewal of the vows of baptism" (TD 120), it is always a matter of Christ in us, of this Christ who has come to pitch his tent among us, which is the fruit of the grace of Baptism. The missionary effort of Montfort had as its object to open the entry to "Christ in us" in such a way that this living presence of Christ in us becomes a tangible experience.
6. Christ in Mary and in us: the mystery of the Incarnation
"Christ in us." In no other person has this mystery been realized as marvelously and tangibly as in the person of Mary: "You are, Lord, always with Mary and Mary is always with you and cannot be without you: otherwise she would cease being who she is: she is so transformed in you by grace that she no longer lives, that she is no longer; it is only you, my Jesus, who live and reign in her, more perfectly than in all the angels and the blessed" (TD 63; SM 21). For in the Incarnation, Jesus has fixed his abode in Mary, has entered the body of Mary, and has taken possession of her maternal powers. That is why Mary is the archetype of all those who through faith are open to Christ. Her openness, her sense of welcome, and her availability permit the Holy Spirit to produce in her the Son of God (TD 20). The contemplation of the mystery of the Incarnation, which Montfort considers as the representative mystery of his spirituality (TD 243)completely in line with Bérulle and Olieris the contemplation of Christ in Mary (TD 246-248); it is in this mystery that the permanent and indissoluble unity of Christ and Mary finds its foundation (TD 165; H 87).
But Montfort discovered in the mystery of the incarnation yet another dimension, which he designated as "an unknown secret of grace" (TD 21). For the mystery of the Incarnation is also the mystery of the Holy Spirit, Who in and through Mary produces Jesus Christ and his members (TD 21). Not only does the Holy Spirit act with Mary in the Incarnation of the Son; the extension of the mystery of Christ in us by Baptism and the production of the growth of Christ in us are the common work of the Holy Spirit and of Mary. Montfort calls Mary the "dispenser of all the graces of the Holy Spirit (SM 10, 13, 67; TD 240); with her the Holy Spirit produces all the children of God (TD 33; SM 56; LEW 214). The formation and the education of these children of God are the task of Mary (TD 35; PM 15), so that they "may become perfect and that they may present Christ in the fullness of his age" (Eph 4:13; LEW 214; TD 33, 61, 119, 156, 164, 168).
In Montforts eyes, the experiential knowledge of the common action of the Holy spirit and of Mary in order to produce Christ in us recalls the theology of the birth of God, according to which Mary contributes to the birth of the Divine Word in the heart of man. "With this formula of the birth of God in the heart, an allusion is made to the mystical touch by God, and by that fact man, the created, is implicated very intimately in this event."16 In popular Catholic tradition, Mary is spontaneously perceived as the one in whom this mystical life is accomplished, as the type of the intimate encounter of God.
As there has always been a mysterious unity among the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Mary, and the Christian, the contemplation of the mystery of the Incarnation can and must have this result: that the presence of Christ develops in the believer the same effects as in Marythe spirit of her holiness, the fullness of her power, the perfection of her ways, the truth of her virtues, the communion with her mysteries, as Olier has described in his prayer "O Jesus Living in Mary," which Montfort thought of so highly (TD 246; H 111). And that is why it can also be deduced that whoever takes Mary as his model assimilates her manner of living and accomplishes everything "by, with, in, and for" her (TD 257-265; SM 43-49), thus becoming like her and thereby, at the same time, like unto Christ (TD 120). When the soul is entirely penetrated by the spirit of Mary, "which is the spirit of God " (TD 120), and the soul is transformed into Mary, then is realizedas an unmerited gift of Godthis experience that Montfort has designated as "the grace of the permanent presence of Jesus and Mary in the soul."17
III. THE MYSTIQUE OF THE PERMANENT PRESENCE OF JESUS AND MARY
The summit of his own experiential knowledge of God Montfort declared to be "the permanent presence of Jesus and Mary in his soul." It is one of the rare personal testimonies on his spiritual evolution that he left us. For he was, in his entire being, an apostolic missionary, and he had no intention to give us a detailed exposé of his faith experience.
A rapid glance at his life and writings makes it evident that his experiential knowledge of God was not the result of spectacular spiritual experiences nor of any revelation suddenly fallen from the sky. His experience of union with Christ was not a strange event; it was not a unique, rare, and passing experience. Rather, it was the experience of the permanent presence of Christ in the soul, rooted in human existence; this experience is the fruit of a maturing process of man in his totality. We see here the reflection of the experience of the Johannine "permanence" (Jn 15:4), which is a free gift but calls for an openness and receptivity on the part of the believer, with an attitude that is a committal of his entire human existence (TD 78-82). It is finally the total abandonment that Montfort calls "slavery" (TD 121) and that so marked his life.
His spirituality of Consecration to Jesus Christ by Mary in the form of slavery should be understood as a means of leading to a life of the continual presence of God, which Montfort describes in detail in his hymn "The holy practice of the presence of God" (H 24). In this hymn, Montfort expresses his personal experience in poetic language: "God residing in us more than in any other thing / It is in our hearts that His majesty is to be sought, / it is there that it is seen / in all its clarity. / God chose our hearts to be his throne and domain, / He attracts us there to taste night and day / his sovereign beauty / and his divine love" (H 24:23-24).
To live constantly in the presence of God does not signify simply to be always conscious of the omnipresence of God. Rather, it means living in faith and trust in the dynamic goodness and love of God. It entails an abandonment, without any deviation, to the loving Providence of God, Who cares for man even to the least details, a Providence that Montfort himself lived to a point where no one, no suffering could shake him.
The radical poverty of Montfort can, finally, only be understood on the basis of the "foolish" trust that he placed in the Providence of God and that is rooted in the experience that is the core of all authentic mystical experience: in the experience of God as the absolute Thou. From his childhood, Montfort had the boldness, through grace, to address the Thou of God in all simplicity.
In all this, he was led by Mary herself, who forms and guides us (TD 219-221, 258-259; SM 16-18). Under the guidance of Mary, Montfort plunged his roots into an ever more profound attachment to Christ. With Mary, his desire ever intensified for union with Christ Wisdom (L 12, 14, 15, 16), to whom he knew he was joined by a mystical marriage (L 20). The union with Christ, received as a gift, became a permanent union and a continual presence in Jesus and in Mary. The mystery of "Christ in him" was the motor and the strength of his life and of his apostolic service, which consisted in assisting Christ to burst forth in the ordinary lives of the baptized.
IV. PERSPECTIVES FOR AN AUTHENTIC EXPERIENCE OF GOD
In the pluralism of ideologies in the present world, Christianity can no longer pretend to be the only one presenting an absolute meaning and valid responses to the fundamental questions of life. This does not contradict the claim of having absolute truth, but it does oblige each Christian in particularand the Churchto make its religious conviction plausible. This can only succeed when faith finally becomes a personal decision. At this threshold of the twenty-first century, "the Christian can not simply act like everyone else and assume that the faith is simply gift, but must understand that he is to lay hold of it through a personal decision." His faith must "be lived in a more profound and conscious manner and therefore in a manner more constructive of personality."18
Now this is exactly the preoccupation of Montfort. With his spirituality of Consecration to Jesus Christ through Mary, his goal is precisely to lead the Christian in his life and his faith to a conscious decision, responsible and personal. The Consecration is, according to him, a "perfect renewal of the vows and promises of holy baptism" (TD 120), which finally does not mean anything other than to grab hold of the faith in a "personal decision." The effects of this Consecration, as Montfort has described them on the basis of his own personal experience, can be summed up in the two key phrases "transcendence of self" and "authenticity." They are the fruits of a faith that becomes ever more profound, more conscious, and more constructive of personality.
This process can only succeed if the quality of the sense of the faith itself becomes for the believer a conviction. It must become an authentic experience of faith that leads to belief. Montfort wants to lead man to this kind of experience, which gives the faithful a sure and indestructible foundation. It is an experience of the Thou of God, a Thou Whom we meet in Jesus Christ. Across all the changes in time, culture, and theology, Montfort is strongly touched by what K. Rahner has formulated: "Religious man of tomorrow will be a mystic, someone who has experienced God, or else he will no longer be."19
Montfort had sensed the importance of the mystical experience, of incomparable importance when the faith is at stake. If today the most important mission of the Church must be that of preparing the road toward this experience, then the "little mystical way" of Montfort appears now and always as such a path for the Christian.
Notes: (1) L. Bouyer, Mysterion. Du mystère à la mystique (Mysterion: From Mystery to Mysticism), O.E.I.L., Paris 1986, 12, 98. (2) J. Sudbrack, Mystik. Selbsterfahrung - kosmische Erfahrung - Gotteserfahrung (Mysticism: Experience of Self, of Cosmos, of God), Grunewald, Mainz 1988, 30-39. (3) Itinerario, 170-183. (4) Ibid., 184- 200. (5) Cf. B. Papàsogli, Gli spirituali italiani e il "grand siècle." François de Sales - Bérulle - Pascal - La Rochefoucauld - Bossuet - Fénelon (Italian Spirituality in the "Great Century"), Ed. Storia e leteratura, Rome 1983. (6) This colorful language of Montfort is often baroque and poses a problem for some Western readers. (7) Blain, 184- 189. (8) For an analysis, in a mystical perspective, of the words "to know" and "to love" as found in LEW, see P. Humblet, Le processus de transformation dans "Lamour de la Sagesse éternelle" de Grignion de Montfort (The Process of Transformation in "The Love of Eternal Wisdom" by Grignion de Montfort), Institut Titus Brandsma/Filles de la Sagesse, Nimegen/Berg en Dal 1991, 10-12. (9) Bouyer, Mysterion, 13-30, 127- 141. (10) H. Frehen, De Liefde tot de Eeuwige Wijsheid en Synthese van Montforts Spiritualiteit (The Love of Eternal Wisdom a Synthesis of Montforts Spirituality), in Montfort. Zijn geestlijke Vorming en Levenswerk, Maastricht 1947, 197-217; H. M. Manteau-Bonamy, S. Louis- Marie Grignion de Montfort, théologien de la Sagesse éternelle au seuil du troisième millénaire (St. Louis de Montfort, Theologian of the Eternal Wisdom at the Threshold of the Third Millenium), Editions Saint- Paul, Paris/Fribourg 1986, 26-28. (11) S. Breton, Saint-Paul, PUF, Paris 1988, 113; cf. LEW 41-46. (12) Blain, 185-190. (13) F. J. Ortkemper, Das Kreuz in der Verkündigung des Apostels Paulus (The Cross in the Preaching of the Apostle Paul), KBW, Stuttgart 1967, 99. (14) S. De Fiores, o.c., 106-112. (15) G. Hinricher, Kreuzesmystik (Mysticism of the Cross), in: Praktisches Lexikon der Spiritualität (Practical Lexicon of Spirituality), Herder, Freiburg 1988, 737. (16) J. Sudbrack, Mystische Spuren (Mystical Traces), Echter, Würzburg 1990, 311. (17) cf. Blain, 191. (18) J. Sudbrack, Mystiche Spuren, 89. (19) Schriften zur Theologie (Theological Writings), 5:22.
Taken from: Jesus Living in Mary: Handbook of the Spirituality of St. Louis de Montfort (Litchfield, CT: Montfort Publications, 1994).
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