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

Summary
I.	Providence in Itself. 
II.	Montfort’s Little Treatise on Providence: 
	1.	The definition of providence; 
	2.	The existence of providence; 
	3.	The extent of providence; 
	4.	Confidence in providence; 
	5.	Qualities of trust in providence; 
	6.	Final Prayer and Resolution; 
	7.	Conclusion. 
III.	The Role of Providence in the Life of Saint Louis de Montfort: 
	1.	Years preceding his ordination: 
		a.	His departure from Rennes; 
		b.	Trust in the midst of difficulties; 
		c.	Life of surrender to providence. 
	2.	Priestly life: 
		a.	The Founder; 
		b.	Pilgrimage to Rome; 
		c.	Contradictions on all sides; 
		d.	Living by providence; 
		e.	Necessity of work. 
IV.	Providence in the Writings of Saint Louis de Montfort: 
	1.	Letters, 
	2.	True Devotion and Secret of Mary: 
		a.	Mary’s role in God’s care of the universe; 
		b.	The consecration. 
	3.	The Rules; 
V.	Relevance of Montfort’s Teaching on Providence: 
	1.	Insistence on the grandeur of God; 
	2.	Abandonment to God’s will; 
	3.	The need for human response.

All agree that Providence plays a principal if not dominant role in the 
spirituality of Saint Louis de Montfort. His well known phrase, 
"Whatever happens I shall not be worried. I have a Father in heaven who 
cannot fail me" (L 2), typifies his entire life. It can be said that 
trust in Providence is so profound in Montfort’s being that it forms a 
constitutive element of his personality. After a brief review of Church 
doctrine on the subject, the saint’s teaching on Providence will be 
summarized by first examining his canticle treatise on the subject, then 
by studying his life of abandonment to divine Providence, and finally, 
by investigating the emphasis on Providence in some of his writings.

 

I. PROVIDENCE IN ITSELF
"The universe was created in a ‘state of journeying’ (in statu viae) 
toward an ultimate perfection yet to be attained, to which God has 
destined it. We call ‘divine Providence’ the dispositions by which God 
guides his creation toward this perfection: ‘By his Providence God 
protects and governs all things which he has made, ‘reaching mightily 
from one end of the earth to the other and ordering all things well.’ 
For ‘all are open and laid bare to his eyes,’ even those things which 
are yet to come into existence through the free action of creatures.’"1
Providence is, then, the concrete and immediate solicitude of God the 
creator, present and dynamically active at the most profound roots of 
everything which exists. The Catechism of the Catholic Church strongly 
declares that "the sacred books powerfully affirm God’s absolute 
sovereignty over the course of events: ‘Our God is in the heavens; he 
does whatever he pleases’ (Ps 115:3). And so it is with Christ, ‘who 
opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one opens’ (Rev 3:7). As 
the book of Proverbs states: ‘Many are the plans in the mind of a man 
but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established’ (Pr 
19:21)."2
There is nothing that escapes this sustaining, creative care of God, 
for there is nothing real except through Him. It is evident that belief 
in this immediate concern of God which directs every thing and everyone 
to the final purpose of the universe—the manifestation of His Glory—
demands a firm faith. Evil in the world, which at times seems to be 
overwhelming, both on an individual and collective basis, can well test 
one’s faith in the good God’s continual, loving creation.
It is not that man’s input is to be disregarded. In fact, Providence 
is the cause of man’s freedom and calls for its activity.3 The term 
"Providence" expresses the relationship between God and His world; it is 
a denial of deism (implying that God abandons the world to itself after 
creation) and also of pure passivity (pushing dependence on God to the 
extreme of denying man’s cooperation). Theology insists upon the action 
of God working through man (concursus divinus), stressing always that 
God alone is first cause and the sovereign master of His plan; He freely 
wills man’s cooperation. The precise nature of this interplay is 
impossible to gauge, most especially when it is a question of evil. 
Faith demands belief in the All-Holy God’s sovereignty and at the same 
time a clear affirmation of the freedom of man in this on-going 
creation, unfolding towards the fulfillment of God’s reign. In the final 
analysis, we can only repeat with the word of God: "We know that in 
everything God works for good for those who love him" (Rm 8:28).
Because of this concrete and immediate loving care of divine 
Providence for the least and the greatest events in history, "Jesus asks 
for childlike abandonment to the Providence of our heavenly Father who 
takes care of his children’s smallest needs."4 The Sermon on the Mount 
speaks of our response to Providence: "Do not be anxious about your 
life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink nor about your body, 
what you shall put on . . . Consider the lilies of the field, how they 
grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all 
his glory was not arrayed like one of these . . . Therefore do not be 
anxious . . ." (Mt 6:25–33). 
In order to cover the topic as Saint Louis de Montfort explains it, 
Providence will be taken in the broad sense, comprising not only God’s 
orderly governance of the universe to its final goal, but also the 
trustful response of human beings to God’s strong yet gentle care.

 

II. MONTFORT’S LITTLE TREATISE ON PROVIDENCE
The hymns of Saint Louis de Montfort are often profound, practical 
catechetical sermons put to verse. For example, the first section of the 
canticles covers subjects like Charity, Faith, Hope, Humility, Meekness, 
Obedience, Patience, Virginity, etc. Hymn 28 follows this pattern; it is 
a forty-four verse "little treatise on Providence," covering the meaning 
of Providence (28:1), the existence of Providence (28:2–3), the extent 
of Providence (28:4–5), the confidence we must have in Providence (28:6–
20), the qualities of Providence (28:21–24), and concluding with "Prayer 
and Resolution" (28:25–44). The outline itself and the number of verses 
allotted to each section make it evident that the missionary is not 
writing a theoretical, speculative paper on the subject. Rather, his 
goal is eminently practical. Only the first five verses are dedicated to 
Providence as the governance of the universe by God. The other thirty-
nine stanzas deal with man’s response, and of these nineteen are devoted 
to the final exhortation, "Prayer and Resolution." 
1. The Definition of Providence. 
As in many of his other teaching canticles, Father de Montfort begins 
with a definition, putting into one verse the core of his understanding 
of Providence: "Let us admire providence / Which leads everything to its 
end, / This supreme prudence / And this sovereign order / Which knows, 
rules and arranges / Strongly yet gently, / Everything even to the least 
thing / Without any disorder." Montfort follows rather closely the 
thought of Aquinas, who considers Providence the principal part of the 
virtue of prudence, whose object is the proper ordering of things toward 
their final end.5
There is a triple stress in the missionary’s general understanding of 
Providence, found not only in this hymn but throughout his writings. 
First, God is supreme. "God alone" is in charge, as the first cause of 
the entire universe. Following a thought so basic to the French School 
of spirituality, the missionary underlines the grandeur of God. His 
approach is clearly theocentric (stressing God) not anthropocentric 
(stressing man). Second, Montfort insists that there is nothing 
whatsoever that acts "on its own," outside of God’s knowledge, orderly 
rule, and arrangement of the universe. Even the farthest speck of 
existence in outer space, Montfort would declare, is not only known by God 
but is part of his orderly plan dynamically tending to the fulfillment of 
God’s eternal purpose. Third, God’s Providence is carried out "fortiter et 
suaviter," strongly and gently. In the first stanza, Montfort implicitly 
points to the fundamental truth of his entire structure of spirituality: 
"God Alone," and this God is Love. It is God who gently rules all and 
who leads all to their end, and nothing can conquer God’s will. Yet, 
God, who is Love, does not force: all is done from love and therefore 
with infinite love. Montfort, the missionary to "the poor and the 
simple" (TD 26), avoids all academic speculation on the question of the 
supremacy of God’s governance of the universe and man’s free will.
In the margin next to the first stanza, this gospel troubadour writes: 
"Essence and definition of providence." This core definition will be 
expanded and explained in the following verses of the hymn. If we were 
to limit our study to this stanza alone, it would appear that man plays 
no role in the unfolding of God’s plan to its ultimate fulfillment. This 
is far from his teaching, as can be seen not only in this hymn but 
especially in his own way of life of "total abandonment to divine 
Providence." His stress in the definition is on God. H 51 again praises 
this care of God: "His tender Providence / Rules everything strongly, / 
Conducts everything wisely, / Without anyone else even thinking about 
it" (v. 3). And this fatherly concern is directed especially towards 
man: "Not a leaf may fall / Without his express command, / Over 
everything his Providence watches, / But in a special way over us" (H 
11:29). 
2. The Existence of Providence 
The missionary’s first point, as clearly expressed in the margin of the 
manuscript, is "the truth of Providence," which englobes six proofs that 
divine Providence is a reality. His marginal notes indicate clearly what 
they are: the order in the universe, the change of seasons, the 
movements of the stars and planets in the skies, the testimony of 
conscience, the punishment of even hidden sins, and the witness of every 
creature that God is always present within it, mysteriously leading it. 
His expressions—again reminiscent of Thomas Aquinas6—are easily 
understandable by his audience. They encompass objective phenomena that 
can be compressed into one—the orderliness of creation itself—and 
subjective reasons that again can be resumed into one—mysteriously, 
God’s ruling, orderly presence is experienced primarily by one’s 
conscience. Saint Louis de Montfort is not arguing with atheists or 
deists. On the other hand, he requests that one peacefully and sincerely 
gaze into the magnificence of creation and into the depths of one’s 
being. The missionary seems assured that such a person will come to 
accept the mysterious Providence of God.7
3. The Extent of Providence 
Nothing whatsoever escapes the sovereignty of God, declares Montfort; 
nothing whatsoever is withdrawn from his supreme, orderly rule, this 
continuous creation. "From the first of the archangels down to the least 
worm," this wisdom of God knows and rules all in a hidden way, often 
beyond our comprehension; He guides all things freely to the fulfillment 
of the divine plan. "Over each thing, He watches / And the fools do not 
think of it. / Without him, even the least leaf / Cannot fall to the 
ground / He rules the thunder / The wind and the clouds in the air/ And 
the dust of the earth / And the storm on the sea" (cf. H 11:29).
As mentioned above, intrinsic to the saint’s understanding of 
Providence is the response of man to God’s loving care. The rest of the 
canticle centers on this response.
4. Confidence in Providence 
The longest explanatory segment in the hymn is devoted to the third 
point, the confidence one should have in Providence. Fifteen motives are 
brought forth by the missionary to inspire his people to a total 
abandonment to God’s Providence. After recalling that God is a loving 
Father who knows all our cares and wants us to hope in His love for us—
the first four motives—Father de Montfort presents nine reasons that are 
nothing more than a hymnal paraphrase of Matthew 6:24–34, excerpted from 
the Sermon on the Mount. In simple rhyme, impossible to capture in 
English, Montfort repeats the words of Jesus: "Do not be anxious / Avoid 
the troubles of pagans / Who make their primary concern / To love and 
seek earthly goods. / Not having faith to believe, / They think of the 
future; / Tomorrow, what will we have to drink, / To eat, to be clothed? 
And please do not become / Anxious about your body / For your soul far 
surpasses / Your body and your treasures. / It is your soul which I have 
filled / With my infinite treasures/ How could you think that I would 
forget / Your food and clothing? Consider, I beg you, / The birds in the 
millions / Who do not have for their poor life / Any reserves or barns. 
/ Your loving Father / Makes sure that they lack nothing; / And you, 
worth far more, / Would ever lack what you need? . . . Look at the 
magnificence / Of the lilies of the fields and all the flowers. / 
Solomon in all his power / Never had such splendor. / If they have this 
beautiful glory / Without working, without spinning, / You who are worth 
so much more, / Must I not clothe you? . . . First and before all else / 
Seek the eternal goods / The Lord and his justice, / His kingdom and his 
love. / Win by this sacrifice / Your daily bread . . ." (vv. 9-14). 
Montfort’s marginal note introducing the section on these words of Jesus 
is revealing: "Especially we must try to understand this great secret of 
the Savior which he came to teach us thereby doing us so great a favor: 
Hope in God so faithful, Repose in the bosom of his fatherly goodness, 
Without worrying about tomorrow." Providence is, in Montfort’s eyes, a 
secret—a mystery—which motivated divine Wisdom to become incarnate in 
order to share his beauty with us. The Sermon on the Mount of the 
Eternal and Incarnate Wisdom appears to be for Saint Louis the strongest 
motive for trusting totally in Providence.
Yet Jesus teaches us not only by words. The fourteenth motive 
instructs us to follow the example of the Lord who so trusted in the 
Providence of the Father, as did Our Lady and all the saints: "They had, 
almost without any trouble / Food and clothing, / And that sovereign 
meekness / Of perfect detachment (v. 19)."  
The final motive is a reminder that to turn away from God’s Providence 
and to put our trust in human support is not only harmful but "cursed 
are those who so trust, /the Holy Spirit tells us, / But happy are those 
who depend / on God alone through Jesus Christ (v. 20)." The loving care 
of the Father is mediated to us through Our Lord Jesus Christ. For 
Montfort, this is the only route to follow.
5. Qualities of trust in Providence 
In the first quality of trust in God, Montfort declares that God can 
accomplish His will even if man does not collaborate and in the same 
breath puts emphasis on the divinely willed human cooperation in the 
work of Providence. Similar to his discussion in SM 23 of Mary’s 
universal mediation, the saint appears to be making a distinction 
between what can be done in theory and the actual manner in which God 
carries out His will.8 The first quality of any authentic abandonment to 
God is, therefore: "Trust in Divine providence is prudent and 
laborious." This is elucidated in stanza 21: "It is absolutely necessary 
that the trust / Which you have placed in God / Be joined with prudence 
/ According to time and place. / Even though God may accomplish an 
event/ And that we do nothing, / Nonetheless, it is absolutely necessary 
that we do it / And even that we work at it well." Montfort is 
attempting to balance—without explaining—the Grandeur and Sovereignty of 
God as primary cause of all things with the human response. It is clear 
from Montfort’s life (as will be seen) that, in his eyes, this human 
response is part and parcel of the entire picture of Providence; but he 
also makes this belief explicit in LEW, where he twice boldly declares 
with strong words that the human person is the "vicar on earth" of 
Wisdom; it is in and through this vicar that the orderly governance of 
the world is carried out (LEW 35, 41).9
The second quality of trust in God is repeated often in his works: 
nothing whatsoever is to be withdrawn from this loving trust in God. It 
must be universal, for "God is our Father and infinitely liberal." The 
third quality is perhaps the most difficult: "Be calm . . . when your 
plans are turned upside down (v. 23)." Becoming irritated when we don’t 
get our way is harmful, he sings. His advice for those times when 
everything seems to crash about us is, "to love God alone who loves you 
so / And who never leaves you. / Throw yourself entirely into God." 
Montfort is calling for a life lived in God alone so that when 
Providence’s cross seems too heavy to bear, we will be sustained by our 
faith conviction that infinite Love is intensely sharing life with us. 
Finally, trust in God must be humble and thankful, recognizing His 
tenderness.
6. Final Prayer and Resolution 
The lengthy conclusion to this Hymn on Providence is a fiery call—
especially to the clergy—to make the interests of God one’s goal, and 
not the interests of "the world": money, power, and prestige. In strong 
language he rebukes those who ridicule him for his total abandonment to 
God’s loving care: "Men of the church and lay folk / If you despise my 
way of life / Know that I detest yours / Which leads to death. / Oh, if 
you could only understand / My joy and your unhappiness, / Without 
hesitation, from all your goods / You would detach your hearts" (v. 40). 
His call to "voluntary poverty," to "lose ourselves in God," will, he 
firmly believes, enable all to become apostles leading others to heaven. 
For this vagabond saint, Providence implies not only a universal trust 
in God but also a resolve to make God alone and His Righteousness our 
only goal. It is always to be recalled that for Montfort "God Alone" 
includes essentially loving service to all our brothers and sisters in 
God. The motto of Saint Louis Marie is not only vertical (outstretched 
to God) but also horizontal (outstretched to neighbor). 
7. Conclusion 
Some of the principal points stressed by Saint Louis de Montfort in this 
little treatise on providence are: God, the creator of all things, is 
Love and tenderness; He governs all out of love, leading everything, 
infallibly yet freely, to the final goal; man is called upon to work 
arduously (there is no quietism in Montfort) for the kingdom of God and 
His justice. Providence implies God’s presence in all things as 
continuing Creator, and also calls forth in us full trust, a total 
abandonment to his divine plan, even and especially when nothing seems 
to make sense.

 

III. THE ROLE OF PROVIDENCE IN THE LIFE OF SAINT LOUIS DE MONTFORT
The saint’s Providence Canticle does not detail his full thought on the 
topic. It is clarified and made more complete by examining the manner 
that he himself lived his teaching. His years preceding his ordination 
and his life as a vagabond priest reveal his growing abandonment to the 
Providence of God. 
1. Years Preceding his Ordination 
Three aspects of Montfort’s youth can be singled out as examples of his 
total dependence on God alone.
a. His departure from Rennes. 
At the age of nineteen, having completed eight years at the Jesuit 
college in Rennes, Louis Grignion decided to pursue his theological 
studies at Saint Sulpice in Paris. The young man bade goodbye to family 
and friends at the bridge of Cesson at the outskirts of Rennes. The 
event takes on deep symbolism. Having left all, he crossed the Cesson 
bridge to a new life of total dependence upon divine Providence. So 
convinced is he that God is truly his loving Father, that he gave to the 
first beggars he met his money and baggage, and even exchanged clothes 
with one of them. With total abandon he gave joyful, free expression to 
his deep desire to experience the loving care of God. Begging for food 
and shelter along the way, he walked to Paris arriving in the rags of a 
beggar. He was finding his freedom in an active and responsible total 
surrender to God’s loving, tender, intimacy.10 His friend John Blain 
writes: "From that time forward he gave himself over to divine 
Providence, leaving all his troubles behind, confidently and peacefully. 
The thought that God might not care for him never even entered his head. 
If he had a purse full of gold or a letter of credit for six thousand 
pounds to be drawn on a bank in Paris, he could not have had more 
security."11
b. Trust in the midst of difficulties. 
Difficulties abounded as Louis Marie began his seminary studies. He had 
been told that a friend of a friend would pay the boarding fee at the 
seminary. When he arrived in Paris he discovered that the person had no 
intention or ability to do so. Louis Marie was overjoyed to learn that 
he would have to reside in a community "of the poor students who lived 
in common quarters adjoining the seminary of St. Sulpice. It was a 
sharing in the life of the poor and in the hidden life that Jesus led 
for about thirty years in order to prepare Himself for his priestly 
ministry."12 This becomes a pattern in his life: his plans are torn up 
by God and God calls forth from Louis Marie total trust without 
revealing the divine strategy. Examples of Louis Marie’s response of 
total trust even in the midst of serious difficulties are numerous: 
e.g., during his illness as a seminarian, which brought him to death’s 
door; in his difficulties adjusting to seminary community life; in his 
struggle to pay for room and board, which forced him to beg for 
assistance and to work during the nights keeping vigil at wakes. His 
trust in the Providence of God was often severely put to the test. His 
solution was not to run back home to Rennes, but to trust even more in 
God’s loving care, come what may. 
c. Life of surrender to Providence. 
However, there is another side to the young man’s trust in Providence, 
which is underplayed by his more exuberant biographers. Montfort the 
seminarian trusts in divine Providence; however, it is not a quietistic 
abandonment. He knows that God’s infallible overall plan is realized 
through creatures and therefore does not hesitate to ask for help or to 
accept assistance when it is offered. He understands that divine 
Providence calls upon him to work for his daily bread. The young Louis 
Marie does not expect that his tuition will float down from heaven or 
that he can do without professional help in his illness. Providence, as 
he writes in his little treatise, demands prudence and hard work. This 
is a trait that characterizes his life of surrender to Providence. 
Trusting in God and doing nothing is not St Louis’ formula for total 
abandonment to God. He searches for people to help pay the expenses at 
the seminary, he seeks work to earn his tuition, he pours out his heart 
to his superiors and directors in order to accomplish God’s will.
2. Priestly Life 
Almost every aspect of Saint Louis de Montfort’s priestly ministry is 
stamped with his amazing trust in divine Providence. Several facets of 
his apostolate will be highlighted to substantiate this statement.
a. The Founder. 
The founding of both the Daughters of Wisdom and the Company of Mary 
illustrate the missionary’s radical abandonment to the will of God. 
After inviting Marie-Louise Trichet to help at the Poitiers General 
Hospital, he began to realize his dreams of a congregation of women who 
would be representatives of the Eternal and Incarnate Wisdom in quest of 
the poor and the outcasts of society. However, he never approached this 
project as if it were his own, or as a businessman attempting to launch 
some new enterprise. He is convinced that he is no more than God’s 
loving apostle. After giving Marie Louise a religious habit and 
instructing her in the ways of Divine Wisdom, he left her for ten years, 
keeping in touch only by letter. He had done what he could; moreover, 
his ministry obliged him to move on. If the congregation is the will of 
God, then it will definitely survive. It is not carelessness or a lack 
of concern for Marie Louise; rather, the congregation of the Daughters 
of Wisdom is too precious a gift of God for him to "take charge." God in 
his Providence must oversee and bring to birth this new community. 
His yearning to found a congregation of missionaries, proclaimers to 
the poor of the reign of Christ through Mary, dates from the earliest 
years of his priesthood. Yet aside from the faithful Brother Mathurin, 
he found no one who would join him in fulfilling this hope. So convinced 
is he that God’s Providence wills the congregation that he wrote an 
ardent prayer for missionaries, a rule, and a letter to all the future 
members of the Company of Mary before the community even existed (LCM). 
His prayer for this Company indicates his stress on the Providence of 
God: "[Almighty God], be mindful of your Congregation, for it is you 
alone who must, by your grace, make it a living reality. If man is the 
first to put his hand to the work nothing will come of it. If he 
contributes anything of his own to what you are doing, the entire 
undertaking will be warped and come down in ruins" (PM 26).13 Thwarted 
in every way, he still was convinced that God desires such a 
congregation of priests and brothers. At his death only two priests and 
a few brothers were counted as his followers. None had taken vows. But 
Saint Louis Marie dies assured that the Providence of God will raise up 
the congregation. 
b. Pilgrimage to Rome. 
For Saint Louis de Montfort, Providence entails first discerning God’s 
will and then carrying it out through the power of the Holy Spirit. 
Providence, therefore, connotes obedience to God. Since God works 
through creation, through events, and through others, Providence 
includes obedience to God as manifested through His representatives. 
First and foremost, this means obedience to Jesus as revealed in the 
Scriptures and to Our Lady whose will is always one with her Son. It 
means obedience to the Church, the Body of Christ, and in a special way 
to its chief pastor, the vicar of Christ, the bishop of Rome. Caught up 
in dilemmas on all sides, the young Father Louis from Montfort made a 
decision to seek the advice of the Holy Father in order to discern God’s 
will. His pilgrimage to the Holy City was made on foot even though war 
was being waged between France and Italy—so confident was he that God 
wanted him to consult the vicar of Christ. The words of Pope Clement XI 
assured him that his itinerant preaching in western France was of God 
and gave Montfort the confidence he needed. He spent the rest of his 
life fulfilling the wish of the Holy Father, assured that it was God’s 
providential will for him. 
c. Contradictions on all sides. 
Father de Montfort was faced with opposition that tested his total 
abandonment to God’s Providence. Several times bishops forbade him to 
preach in their dioceses. Unjust treatment at times brought him to 
tears; God’s Providence was often a heavy cross to bear. He spoke with 
confidants about the injustice that some local ecclesiastical 
authorities inflicted upon him. Yet he obeyed, certain that God’s 
Providence would bring good out of evil; he would even praise God for 
the gift of such a cross. 
Montfort’s interpretation of divine Providence is evidenced in his 
attitude when told by the local bishop to destroy the Calvary at 
Pontchateau on the very day it was to be blessed. He did not sit by and 
watch the destruction of a project he firmly believed would strengthen 
the faith of the people. The bishop was wrong and the missionary knew 
it. He went immediately to the bishop to change the prelate’s mind. Only 
after having done all he could to keep the Calvary intact —and having 
failed to convince the bishop—did he accept the fact that in some 
mysterious way, God’s inscrutable Providence is permitting the evil for 
some greater good of the church. "We had hoped to build a Calvary here," 
he reportedly told the waiting crowd, "but God wills that we build it in 
our hearts." And he set about obeying the bishop’s orders to destroy the 
site.
d. Living by Providence. 
Perhaps the clearest evidence of Montfort’s total abandonment to divine 
Providence is his strange lifestyle: a vagabond missionary, with his few 
belongings packed into a knapsack slung over his shoulder, a walking 
stick with a cross or statue of Our Lady on its top, moving from town to 
town freely proclaiming God’s reign. He is absolutely certain that  
God’s fatherly care will always envelop him, giving him food to eat, 
water to drink, and a place to sleep. He describes this life ā la 
Providence in one of his canticles: "With stick in my hand / My bare 
feet on the road, / I speed through the land / For I carry no load. Like 
a bird in the tree / With no worry or care / My heart is quite free / 
For no burden I bear. / With no cash for tomorrow / I live day by day / 
And I know that I follow / The far better way" (a paraphrase of a few 
verses of H 144).
e. Necessity of work. 
Although Saint Louis de Montfort’s trust in Providence knew no bounds, 
he never interpreted God’s loving care as a dispensation from personal 
work. Quite the contrary: it was only by laborious seeking that God’s 
will unfolded; it was only by steady, painful toil that God’s will is 
fulfilled. When his sisters were in need, he did not only pray for them. 
He sought help, requesting aid from some wealthy women, including Madame 
de Montespan, the former mistress of Louis XIV. He insisted that the 
founding of the Company of Mary was God’s work, but he recognized that 
this meant that he himself must be God’s hands in forming the community 
by writing the Rule, by seeking recruits, and by begging his friend, 
Claude Poullart des Places, to direct seminarians to his proposed 
congregation. Preaching God’s word, as Providence willed him to do, in 
no way freed him from laborious preparation, as his Book of Sermons 
testifies. Total abandonment to God’s Providence implies action on our 
part.

 

IV. PROVIDENCE IN THE WRITINGS OF SAINT LOUIS DE MONTFORT
The direct and implied references to Providence abound in the writings 
of Saint Louis de Montfort. In addition to his cantique on Providence 
studied above, there are passages relating to Providence especially in 
his Letters, in his Triptych (PM, RM, LCM), and in his Marian classics, 
TD and SM.
1. Letters 
Ten of the thirty-four letters of Father de Montfort which have been 
preserved explicitly mention "Providence." Letter 7, addressed to his 
favorite sister, Guyonne-Jeanne (whom he affectionately called Louise), 
contains the most references. Its theme is to prompt the young girl not 
to be so concerned about the future: "What God wants of you, my dear 
sister, is that you should live each day as it comes, like a bird in the 
trees, without worrying about tomorrow. Be at peace and trust in divine 
providence and the Blessed Virgin and do not seek anything else but to 
please God and love him . . . if you serve God and his Holy Mother 
faithfully you will want for nothing in this world or the next." Even 
his early letters, written as a seminarian, refer to the loving care God 
constantly shows him. When Father de la Barmondičre, his superior and 
director at the seminary, died, the young Louis Grignion’s future as a 
seminarian was placed in serious jeopardy. In this difficult situation, 
he wrote to his uncle priest: "I do not know how things will go, whether 
I shall stay or leave, as Father de la Barmondičre’s last will and 
testament has not yet been made known. Whatever happens I shall not be 
worried. I have a Father in heaven who can never fail me. He brought me 
here, he has kept me here until now and he will continue to treat me 
with his usual kindness. Although I deserve only punishment for my sins, 
I never stop praying to God and rely completely on his providence" (L 
2). Several months later, the young seminarian wrote again to his uncle, 
informing him that "God, in his loving providence, without my ever 
having thought of it," had indeed taken care of him through the 
intermediary of some benefactors and that he was able to continue his 
studies at St. Sulpice. Yet God’s loving Providence never forces: "When 
God asks his creatures for anything, he asks gently leaving them 
entirely free." But to delay in fulfilling God’s will places us in 
danger, for "the longer we delay in responding to his gentle request, 
the less we hear his voice" (L 30). "I only want to do God’s will" (L 6) 
is a primary theme of all his correspondence, coupled with a complete, 
loving trust in God (L 8, 9, 10, 25, 33). 
2. True Devotion and Secret of Mary 
The originality of Montfort on the theme of Providence rests especially 
in his understanding of the place of Mary in God’s governing of the 
universe in and through the Eternal and Incarnate Wisdom. His Marian 
classics, TD and SM, are the principal sources for his Marian theology 
and also for the foundations of the consecration to Jesus-Wisdom through 
Mary, which encompasses a total abandonment to God’s Providence.
a. Mary’s role in God’s care of the universe. 
That Providence is to be attributed to God alone as primary cause, the 
missionary leaves no doubt. However, the Lord of all makes use of others 
in the governing of the universe. Jesus, the Eternal and Incarnate 
Wisdom, true God and true man, is in his very reality the essential and 
only mediator (cf TD 61). He alone is King "by nature" (TD 38), he alone 
is "the beginning and the end of all things," (TD 61) he alone is God’s 
plan itself and its fulfillment, for through Wisdom and for Wisdom all 
things are created and governed (LEW 31–38). "After creating all things, 
Eternal Wisdom abides in them to contain, maintain, and renew them. It 
was this supremely perfect beauty who, after creating the universe, 
established the magnificent order we find there. It was Wisdom who 
separated, arranged, evaluated, augmented and calculated everything" 
(LEW 32).
We can summarize the saint’s thought on Mary and Providence by piecing 
together various elements of his teachings on God, Jesus, and Our Lady. 
Because the Trinity freely chose Mary to be the "Yes" of the universe in 
accepting and, in this sense, bringing about the Incarnation, Our Lady 
plays a unique role in every aspect of salvation history (TD 14–36). It 
is through her consent that our redemption, the Eternal and Incarnate 
Wisdom, came to be (TD 16). The Incarnation, as the first of all 
mysteries, is the pattern of all the works of grace (TD 248). God comes 
to us in Jesus Christ who is always and everywhere the son of Mary, the 
fruit of her representative faith (TD 44). 
Montfort insists then that Jesus, the Eternal and Incarnate Wisdom, 
"shares his power with his holy mother" (TD 76). "Such is the will of 
the Almighty who exalts the humble, that the heavens, the earth and hell 
itself, willingly or unwillingly, must obey the commands of the humble 
Virgin Mary. For God has made her queen of heaven and earth, leader of 
his armies, keeper of his treasures, dispenser of his graces, worker of 
his wonders, restorer of the human race, mediatrix on behalf of men, 
destroyer of his enemies and faithful associate in his great works and 
triumphs" (TD 28; H 77:8, 81:6). The saint underlines, therefore, that 
"Whatever belongs to Jesus by nature, belongs to Mary by grace" (TD 74). 
The governing of the universe takes place through Jesus and belongs to 
him by nature as the incarnate Son of God. Mary, the inseparable 
companion of Jesus, even "of his glory and of his power in heaven and on 
earth" (TD 74), shares by grace in this role of the Incarnate Wisdom. 
Providence, then, governs us through Jesus Christ in union with his 
mother, Mary. 
The same conclusion is reached when considering Montfort’s teaching on 
the spiritual maternity. Mary is truly the mother of the Christ who is 
in himself the goal, the fulfillment of God’s Providence (TD 61). As the 
Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, Spouse of the Holy Spirit (SM 
68), she, the living Yes of all creation to God’s desire to espouse us 
in Christ, is the spiritual mother and queen of the universe (TD 37–40). 
Mary is, then, the Mother of the whole Christ, head and members (TD 32–
33), Mother of the fulfillment of God’s plan when all shall be one in 
Christ Jesus in the power of the Spirit, for the glory of God alone. As 
the true Mother of all, and as the Yes of the human family, she is the 
mediatrix of the gifts of God. The gift of God’s loving care, which 
governs all things to their goal, comes to us in Christ Jesus through 
Mary, as the eternal surrender of the cosmos to God’s plan, Jesus the 
Lord. In this sense, Our Lady is, in Saint Louis de Montfort’s eyes, 
intrinsic to the mystery of Providence.
b. The consecration. 
Saint Louis de Montfort’s "Act of consecration to the Eternal and 
Incarnate Wisdom through the hands of Mary" (LEW 223-227) is a 
recognition of God’s Providence and of a total loving surrender to his 
purpose. His design for the universe is to incorporate all things into 
the Beloved, the Eternal and Incarnate Wisdom, through Mary. The 
consecration, an act of latria, is addressed ultimately to the God-Man, 
Jesus Christ, the goal of all creation. However, in light of the 
Incarnation, it is evident for Montfort that Jesus the goal comes to us 
and we to him through Mary (TD 1); she is the unique means of union with 
Christ. The consecration is, then, the loving acceptance of this 
providential plan of God—Jesus our goal, Mary the unique means—and the 
consequent emptying of all the idols set up in its place. This was done 
in Baptism (at least implicitly); the consecration is the renewal of our 
baptismal promises, accepting lovingly and freely the governance of the 
universe, and in particular of our own life, the way that God so wills. 
For Montfort, the more that we live this baptismal consecration 
whereby we freely accept divine Providence, the more intense our 
freedom. Liberty is in direct proportion to our surrender as slaves of 
love to God’s plan in Christ Jesus. It is the consecration, the total 
abandonment to God’s Providence, that sets us free; fabricating our own 
plans outside the Lord’s is enslavement.
As Montfort outlines in the effects of the consecration (TD 213–25), 
Mary prompts all of us to surrender actively and responsibly to God’s 
will for us; she strengthens us by her maternal intercession so that our 
response may resemble hers, a fiat to God’s mysterious ways (TD 201–12; 
214–16).
3. The Rules
Abandonment to divine Providence is an important element in the Rules 
the saint drew up for his congregations. In the first number of his Rule 
for the community of women, he calls the congregation the Daughters of 
Providence, finally erasing that title and substituting Daughters of 
Wisdom. His insistence on total trust in Providence is apparent. 
Moreover, he writes that the Sisters "abandon themselves, in everything, 
to the cares of divine providence which will help them in the manner and 
time that providence so wills." In his Hymn to the Daughters of Wisdom, 
he sings: "Establish everything on providence / Without thinking of 
tomorrow. / Disregard that so-called prudence/ Which wants a sure 
support" (H 149:2).
It is especially in the Triptych of the Company of Mary that the saint 
stresses trust in the Providence of God. The PM is a clear indicator of 
Montfort’s understanding of total abandonment to divine Providence. With 
an incredible boldness, he begs God to create this congregation that he 
so ardently desires and that he so strenuously tries to establish; yet 
he recognizes that it must be God’s will, it must be the result of God’s 
love. If man takes charge instead of God, the entire project is lost (PM 
26). He prays for a group of men whose preaching will "reform the church 
and renew the face of the earth," who will be apostles ushering in the 
kingdom of Christ through Mary. In order to do this, they must be "men 
according to your own heart, O Lord, who without any will of their own . 
. . carry out your desires . . . men always at your hand, always ready 
to obey you" (PM 8, 10), ". . . men abandoned to your providence" (PM 
20), ". . . the Lord’s bodyguard of hand-picked men" (PM 30), known for 
their "abandonment to providence and their devotion to Mary" (PM 24).
In order to enter the Company of Mary, a candidate must surrender all 
material goods and rely totally on divine Providence: "Priests and 
Brothers alike must not accept even simple benefices and temporal 
possessions, even those they may inherit. If they did have any before 
entering the Company, they must return the benefices to those who 
presented them. What they inherited must be given to their relatives or 
to the poor, having first taken the advice of a good counselor. They 
thus exchange their paternal inheritance for one which God himself gives 
them, namely, the inexhaustible inheritance of his divine providence" 
(RM 5). "Their sole resource must be God’s providence . . . the 
community will supply all that is necessary in the way of food and 
clothing, depending on what providence supplies to the community" (RM 
10-11). "The missionaries will not become settled in any one place, as 
communities, even the most regular, normally do. Instead of this 
undesirable stability they will be more solidly grounded in God alone, 
provided that they always yield themselves without reserve to the care 
of providence" (RM 12). "They must rely on divine providence for all 
things. God would sooner work a miracle than fail to supply the needs of 
those who trust in him. They are not, however, forbidden to mention in 
public or private their state of dependence on providence and the rules 
they follow in this matter" (RM 14). 
The short but powerful LCM is an appeal to all the professed of the 
congregation to live a life of poverty, totally trusting in divine 
Providence. The founder places these words on the lips of the eternal 
Father: "I have graven you on my heart and on the palms of my hands in 
order to cherish and defend you because you have put your trust in me 
and not in people, in my providence and not in wealth" (LCM 3). St. 
Louis de Montfort then himself addresses each member of the community: 
"These are the marvelous promises which God has made to you through his 
prophets. They will be yours provided you put all your trust in him 
through Mary. Entirely dependent as you are on God’s providence, it is 
up to him to support you and to increase your numbers . . . fear nothing 
whatsoever and sleep in peace in your Father’s arms" (LCM 4). Saint 
Louis de Montfort again combines two elements in his explanation of 
living in total abandonment to divine Providence: complete trust in God 
joined with prudence and hard work: "earn your bread by the sweat of 
your brow" (LCM 10).

 

V. RELEVANCE OF MONTFORT’S TEACHING ON PROVIDENCE
Saint Louis de Montfort’s theological, ecclesial, and general cultural 
context differ greatly from that of contemporary society. Not 
surprisingly, his teaching runs counter to several present currents. The 
autonomy of humankind in formulating its destiny is a characteristic of 
many modern men and women of the First World (the industrialized 
countries). The marvelous technological advances with repercussions most 
especially in First World society have influenced some to disregard, for 
all practical purposes, God’s governing presence in every particle of 
creation. With the emphasis on rugged individualism, the notion that God 
has an infallible plan for the human race appears outlandish. As always, 
the personal and collective calamities and perennial injustices raise 
serious doubts in many minds that God’s loving care is a reality. 
Montfort’s insistence that God governs all things in Christ Jesus 
through Mary and that we should have total abandonment to the designs of 
so loving a Father appears to many rather quaint, at best.
Without denying the need to update the expressions of Saint Louis 
Marie, it must be said that Montfort offers a healthy confrontation with 
contemporary thought. Three points especially should be noted which make 
his teaching  relevant for today’s society.
1. Insistence on the Grandeur of God 
Montfort’s stress on the absolute supremacy of God is needed in a neo-
Pelagian world. The missionary’s teaching recalls not only the Sermon on 
the Mount but also the words of Paul: "For he has made known to us in 
all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose 
which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to 
unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him, 
according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to 
the counsel of his will, we who first hoped in Christ have been destined 
and appointed to live for the praise of his glory" (Ep 1:9–12).
Connected to this stress on the grandeur of God is the saint’s 
emphatic teaching that God’s greatness does not distance Him from 
creation. Rather, it is precisely His Majesty which enables Him to be so 
intimately present within us. For the Omnipotence of God is love. This 
loving presence in every particle of creation—most especially in human 
persons, directing all freely to the final goal—is an important lesson 
for a society so filled with fear of tomorrow while attempting to handle 
burdensome responsibilities without God. Montfort appears to be crying 
out to the present generation: "You are loved by God who dwells within 
you, there is purpose in life, your goal is glory with Christ, the son 
of Mary; do not be frozen by fear."
2. Abandonment to God’s Will 
Montfort calls upon us to be who we really are. To ignore God’s will and 
to do whatsoever one pleases, to withdraw Christ from the goal of all 
creation and set up aims with no relation to the Lord, is to live a 
counterfeit existence. "Seek the Lord and His righteousness, His Kingdom 
and His Love," (H 28:14) is the only prescription for a fully human 
life. Such is the meaning of abandonment to God’s will. The missionary 
is a realist and at times will call this surrender—nothing more than an 
acceptance of our reality—a heavy cross. He himself experienced grave 
and painful illnesses, extreme poverty with all its consequences, 
injustices from authorities, betrayal by friends, the death of loved 
ones, apparent failure after failure; and yet there was in the midst of 
his tears a deep peace if not a joyful light-heartedness. He knew that 
in some mysterious way God’s will was being accomplished; he was 
convinced of the loving care of the Trinity who continually shared life 
with him and rejoiced in the experience of the presence of Mary. "Thy 
will be done," was his formula for peace. He calls this total 
abandonment to God. It is a lesson that every generation must constantly 
learn.
Saint Louis’s teaching on the consecration to the eternal and 
incarnate Wisdom through Mary encompasses total abandonment to divine 
Providence. Seen in this light, the consecration with its liberating 
"slavery of love" takes on a clearer and more urgent meaning.
3. The Need for Human Response 
Taken out of context, excerpts from the saint’s teaching may appear to 
neglect human cooperation and to over-stress trust in God, as if we were 
to do nothing, but such is definitely not his thought. Providence, as 
God’s continual creation, is the ground and source of our freedom, which 
must be used to promote the glory of God. True, the missionary’s stress 
is on God’s sovereign, loving care; yet that means that we are to be 
open to that care by hard work. Following his example, that implies 
boldly living the gospel, protesting injustices, standing up for the 
truth even at the cost of one’s life, seeking help and advice, 
creatively proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ to the poor and the 
marginalized. To be open to the guiding Spirit is to be filled with zeal 
for God’s glory. This is, for Montfort, intrinsic to a balanced 
understanding of "abandonment to God." His teaching offers a corrective 
to any quietistic understanding of the response to God’s loving care.
P. Gaffney

 

Notes:
(1) CCC 302. The Catechism is quoting Vatican Council I, Dei 
Filius 1 (DS 3003) and also Ws 8:1 and Heb 4:13. (2) CCC 303. (3) Cf. 
Ernst Niermann, Providence, in Smun, 1314–15: "There is no rivalry or 
competition in the relation between divine and creaturely freedom. 
Divine freedom is the transcendent cause which enables the creatures to 
be free. The exact relationship is a controversial question in 
theology." (4) CCC 305. Cf. also CCC 322: "Christ invites us to filial 
trust in the providence of our heavenly Father (cf. Mt 6:26–34), and St. 
Peter the apostle repeats: ‘Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares 
about you’ (1 Pet 5:7) cf. Ps 55:23)." (5) Summa Theologiae, II-II, 49, 
6 and ad 1. (6) Ibid., I, 22, 2. (7) Saint Louis de Montfort seems to 
refer to the text of Paul: "For what can be known about God is plain to 
them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the 
world his invisible nature, namely his eternal power and deity has been 
clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without 
excuse" (Rom 1:19–20). (8) "God, as the absolute Master, can give 
directly what he ordinarily dispenses only through Mary, and it would be 
rash to deny that he sometimes does so. However, St. Thomas assures us 
that, following the order established by his divine Wisdom, God 
ordinarily imparts his graces to men through Mary." Saint Louis de 
Montfort is discussing the question of Mary, mediatrix of all graces. 
All his writings insist on this privilege, and SM 23 must be read within 
that context and not considered as some momentary hesitation about the 
universality of Mary’s mediatrix role. The text of Montfort is to be 
understood in the light of LG 60, 62. (9) Cf. CCC 307: "To human beings 
God even gives the power of freely sharing in his providence by 
entrusting them with the responsibility of ‘subduing’ the earth and 
having dominion over it (cf. Gn 1:26–28)." (10) Cf. Grandet 8–9. (11) 
Blain, 24. (12) B. Papāsogli, Montfort: a Prophet for Our Times, 
Edizioni Monfortane, Roma 1991, 61. (13) Cf. ibid., 414.

 


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 Š All Rights Reserved.

 

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