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

Summary
I.	Introduction. 
II.	Saint Louis de Montfort and the Psalms: 
	1.	Montfort’s knowledge of the psalms; 
	2.	Montfort’s interpretation of the psalms. 
III.	Examples of Montfort’s Interpretation of the Psalms: 
	1.	Psalms dealing with God, 						
		a.	Jesus, 
		b.	Wisdom, 
		c.	Missionaries, 
	2.	Marian texts: 
		a.	Images; 
		b.	Allusions. 
	3.	Texts concerning man: 
		a.	Invitation to praise; 
		b.	The Sinful Nature of Man; 
		c.	Human suffering and the Cross; 
		d.	Death. 
IV.	The Psalms in Contemporary Montfort Spirituality.

I. INTRODUCTION
The Psalter is the hymn book of Israel, or to be more precise, the 
songbook of the Temple.1 The numbering of the psalms has caused some 
confusion since Psalms 10 to 48 in the Hebrew Bible are one figure ahead 
of the Greek and Vulgate, which join 9 and 10 and also 114 and 115, but 
which divide 116 and 147 into two. The Hebrew numbering is followed in 
this article. 
The book is a collection of one hundred fifty psalms, which may be 
divided structurally into hymns of praise (e.g., 33, 46–48, 96–100, 145–
150) that celebrate the glory of God; psalms of suffering or laments 
that are national (e.g., 44, 60, 83, 85) or individual entreaties (e.g., 
5–7, 69–71, 140–43); and psalms of thanksgiving (e.g., 18, 21, 30, 65–
68). This tripartite division is by no means watertight, for often one 
psalm has characteristics of all three types. 
However, the above division is based upon the principal theme of the 
psalms, which calls for a certain structure. Based primarily on content, 
the psalms may be divided into several categories, e.g., historical 
narratives (e.g., 105–106, 135–36); those entirely devoted to liturgical 
worship (e.g., 15); royal psalms wherein the king appears to be the 
speaker or the subject of the piece (e.g., 2, 18); and wisdom psalms, 
which seem to show an affinity with the content of OT wisdom literature 
(e.g., 1, 34, 37).
This divinely inspired prayer book of the Old Testament was recited by 
Jesus, Our Lady, and the apostles. It is also the official prayer of 
Christianity, which sings the psalms in the light of the Incarnation, 
death, and Resurrection of the holy one of Israel, Jesus the Christ.
The psalms run the whole gamut of human emotions and experience, from 
despair, mourning, even wish for revenge, to compassion and bold hope. 
For the most part, they are the inspired voice of humanity crying out to 
God, an authentic and at times startling voice, which seems to echo the 
depths of the soul.

 

II. SAINT LOUIS DE MONTFORTAND THE PSALMS
1. Montfort’s Knowledge of the Psalms.
Montfort has without doubt drunk often from this fountain of Christian 
spirituality. Grandet tells us that the Holy Bible and the Breviary were 
his constant companions, and from these he came into daily prayerful 
contact with the psalter. Evidence that his spirituality is steeped in 
the psalms is the fact that there are numerous references to the psalms 
in his writings.
By temperament Montfort was an artist and a poet endowed with an 
esthetic sense. His poetic soul would have vibrated with the psalms of 
praise as he felt the joy in God, in Eternal Incarnate and Crucified 
Wisdom, in Mary, in the poor, and in nature. The psalms of lamentation 
would have found echoes in his soul as he faced persecution from his 
enemies and the rejection of bishops, always putting his trust in "God 
Alone" (Ps 62). He not only loved the psalms but composed himself many 
songs and canticles inspired by these canticles: e.g., H 117 is a 
paraphrase of Psalm 113, and H 160 a paraphrase of Psalm 117.
2. Montfort’s Interpretation of the Psalms
Montfort’s exegesis is similar to that of spiritual writers of his age, 
such as Bossuet and the followers of Bérulle. He "develops" scripture 
texts to support what he writes. Occasionally he comments on a scripture 
text, as in FC. In other places, he paraphrases the Bible text. 
Sometimes he interprets the same text in different ways in different 
contexts (e.g. Psalm 84: 1-3 in TD 196 and in HD 48). He is against a 
too scientific exegesis, and this causes him to sometimes interpret the 
Bible in an unusual way, as in his commentaries on Psalm 68 in PM 19–25. 
Most often, however, his faith leads him to an interpretation that helps 
him go beyond the literal text to discover the spiritual or mystical 
sense inspired by the divine author and to find the application that is 
apposite to the present situation. M. Gilbert, a modern exegete, calls 
Montfort’s interpretation a "spiritual exegesis."2 The originality of 
his exegesis comes from his ability to uncover the hermeneutic keys of 
Eternal Wisdom and of Mary and to find "an abundance of meaning" in the 
texts that he uses.3 Saint Louis Marie’s interpretation of the psalms is 
spiritual if not mystical at times and is very different from 
contemporary scholarship in its concerns and content.
His contemplative reading of the psalms became a treasury for his 
preaching and also for his writings. The rather free interpretation the 
saint gives to some of the psalms will become evident in the course of 
the article. Psalms speak to Father de Montfort exactly where he is, in 
the circumstances before him, and he finds in them the voice of God 
guiding him, according to the mind of the Church. At times his 
understanding of a verse or two of a psalm has little if anything to do 
with what appears to be the original meaning; Montfort freely 
accomodates it to light up the path God has picked out for him.
Even a cursory study of Montfort’s writings demonstrates that he was 
intent on basing his doctrine on scriptural foundations. Psalms is the 
book of the Old Testament most often cited, and after the Gospels of 
Luke and Matthew it is the book most often referenced. There are at 
least seventy-eight explicit citations and forty-nine allusions to the 
Book of Psalms interspersed in the works of the saint. A few of the 
explicit quotes will be studied in order to give the reader a grasp of 
the manner Saint Louis prayed the psalms.

 

III. EXAMPLES OF MONTFORT’S INTERPRETATION OF THE PSALMS
Montfort’s use of the psalms can be divided into texts dealing with God, 
with Jesus, with Mary, and with man.
1. Psalms Dealing with God
• In SR 39 Montfort is commenting on the Our Father and more precisely 
on the first petition, "Hallowed be thy name." He explains the meaning 
of these terms: "The name of the Lord is holy and to be feared, said the 
prophet-king David, and heaven, according to Isaiah echoes with the 
praises of the seraphim who unceasingly praise the holiness of the Lord, 
God of hosts."
The psalm cited is 99:3: "Let them praise thy great and terrible name! 
Holy is He!" This is the last of the enthronement hymns celebrating YHWH 
as the Victorious King of all creation. It is a chant of praise to the 
holiness of His Name, the cry of the people extolling the reign of YHWH. 
Like some modern commentaries, Saint Louis de Montfort refers his 
readers to a similar thought found in Is 6:3: "Holy, Holy, Holy is the 
Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory." It is remarkable 
that Louis Marie beautifully concludes his commentary on this verse of 
the Our Father by stating: "We pray that all may be holy because God 
himself is holy" (SR 39). The absolute Holiness of God is not, for the 
missionary, only to be adored and praised; thanks to the mercy of the 
All-Holy, this Holiness of God is to become our life.
• TD 70 explains that there are three types of slavery: "natural 
slavery, enforced slavery, and voluntary slavery." And Montfort is quick 
to add: "All creatures are slaves of God in the first sense, for ‘the 
earth and its fullness belong to the Lord.’" Saint Louis Marie is 
quoting Psalm 24:1: "The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof." 
The psalm itself is victorious praise of YHWH the Creator and Lord of 
the universe; its words recall the Genesis account of creation. 
Everything then belongs to the Lord, the farthest speck of existence 
belongs to the Lord. All are "slaves of God" by nature.
• PM 30—the conclusion of Saint Louis’ fiery prayer for missionaries—
quotes two psalms, 68:2 and 44:23 in the Latin: "Exsurgat Deus et 
dissipentur inimici ejus!" Exsurge, Domine, quare obdormis? Exsurge." 
("May the Lord rise up and his enemies be scattered! Lord, Arise! Why 
are you sleeping?") 
Psalm 68 is recognized as probably the most obscure and therefore the 
most difficult of the psalter. The RSV translation reads: "Let God 
arise, let his enemies be scattered." Whether the psalm is a triumphal 
hymn or, more likely, a series of short ancient hymns is of little 
interest here. Montfort interprets the psalm quite literally, begging 
the Lord to destroy all His enemies so that His kingdom may come.
Psalm 44, on the other hand is a lamentation of a people oppressed by 
the enemy. Verse 23 is an urgent appeal to YHWH to rise up from His 
sleep and come to the aid of His people. With these two verses the 
ardent prayer of Montfort for missionaries reaches its climax. 
• Psalm 90:11: "Who considers the power of thy anger?" is quoted in FC 
to underline the gravity of sin: "Dear Friends of the Cross, we are all 
sinners . . . if punishment for our sins is put off till the next world, 
then it will be God’s avenging justice . . . which will inflict the 
punishment, a dreadful, indescribable punishment: ‘Who understands the 
power of your anger?’" (FC 21, 22). This wisdom psalm, a cry of national 
lament, underscores the eternal nature of God and the passing sinful 
nature of man. In this psalm, man appears as the object of God’s anger 
(vv. 7, 9, 11) and judgment. Mont-fort wanted to convince the Friends of 
the Cross that if we sinners do not accept the cross and sufferings here 
below, we will be punished in the next world by the terrible anger of 
God. However, the knowledge of God’s anger should make wisdom enter our 
hearts.
a. Jesus. 
It is somewhat surprising that the principal Christological work of 
Montfort, LEW, makes only one reference to Psalm 40:8, a Christological 
psalm. FC mentions only this verse and psalm 22:6 when referring to 
Christ.
• Psalm 40:8 is referrred to in FC 16: "I . . . Who came into the 
world only to embrace the Cross, to set it in my heart," and in LEW 16: 
"At his coming into the world, while in his Mother’s womb, he received 
it [the cross] from his eternal Father. He placed it deep in his heart, 
there to dominate his life, saying: ‘My God, and my Father, I chose this 
cross when I was in your bosom. I choose it now in the womb of my 
Mother. I love it with all my strength and I place it deep in my heart 
to be my spouse and my mistress.’" The psalm itself reads: "I delight to 
do thy will, O my God, thy Law is within my heart." In this psalm of 
thanksgiving, a poor man of YHWH, saved from great danger, thanks God in 
peace and offers himself to God. The verses 7–9 are a prophetic 
meditation on true worship, which does not mean sacrifices but the 
observance of the Torah of God, which is in the heart (cf. Jr. 31:33). 
The Letter to the Hebrews, radically changing the Septuagint version of 
this psalm, turns it into a messianic text and places it on the lips of 
Christ (Heb. 10:5–10). Montfort, deepening the Christian interpretation 
of the Old Testament, identifies the "will and the law of God" with "the 
cross." LEW 169 combines Psalm 40:9 with Wisdom 8:2 and says that 
Incarnate Wisdom has put the cross deep in his heart. FC 18 presents 
Jesus as following the words of Psalm 40:8–9 as an invitation to anyone 
who wishes to follow him in his humiliations.
• Psalm 22:6 is found in FC 16: "If anyone wants to follow me who so 
humbled and emptied myself that I have become rather a worm than a man." 
The verse of the psalm itself reads: "But I am a worm and no man, 
scorned by men and despised by the people." Montfort applies v. 6 to 
Jesus and considers Psalm 22 as messianic, since the opening of this 
psalm, an individual lament, occurs on the lips of Jesus crucified. Even 
though v. 7 is not used in the New Testament, it describes the abject 
humiliation of the psalmist who, as the Servant of YHWH, "is despised 
and rejected" by men (Is. 53:3). In these words, according to Montfort, 
Jesus describes his kenosis as he invites the Friends of the Cross to 
follow him.
• Psalm 84:9 is cited in PM 4: "Look upon the face of your anointed 
one." Psalm 84 is the great chant of the pilgrim journeying towards 
Sion, the house of YHWH. The official prayer of the temple (v. 9) gives 
the prayer for the anointing of the Lord, the Hebrew king (cf. Ps 1:2). 
However, after the fall of the davidic dynasty, these supplications were 
transformed into pleas for the coming of a definite and perfect Messiah. 
In PM 4, after giving other reasons, Montfort asks God to look on the 
face of his ‘anointed,’ his only son Jesus so that the missionary’s plea 
for a new congregation, the Missionaries of the Company of Mary, may 
come about.
• Psalm 30:9 is cited in PM 4: "What value do you see in my death?". 
The RSV has: "What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the 
Pit?" Montfort reminds God of the agony and shame Jesus endured and 
makes of the text a loving complaint of Jesus in the Garden of Olives. 
It forms part of Saint Louis Marie’s plea to God to raise up his 
community of the Company of Mary. This psalm itself is a song of 
personal thanksgiving for deliverance from mortal danger. Verse  9 
accepts the traditional idea of Sheol of the Old Testament, as a place 
of silence where God is not praised. 
b. Wisdom.
In LEW, so steeped in the wisdom books of the Bible, Montfort cites 
three psalms. 
• Psalm 34:8 ("O taste and see that the Lord is good!") is found in 
LEW 10: "Taste and see." In this psalm, the poor person, who prays to 
the Lord in his distress for delivery, asks his hearers to taste and see 
how the Lord is good. Montfort makes this an invitation of Divine Wisdom 
to taste the joy and sweetness of this wisdom. 
• Psalm 107:43 ("Whoever is wise let him give heed to these things") 
is found in LEW 33 and 227: "Let he who is wise consider these things." 
This psalm, a hymn of thanksgiving of the community, ends with an 
invitation to anyone who is wise to understand the "steadfast love of 
the Lord." In LEW, the "wise person" is the one who has received the 
gift of Wisdom from the Eternal Wisdom, and "these things" are the 
mysteries of nature revealed by the marvelous power of Divine Wisdom. In 
LEW 227, the verse is the last phrase of the book.
• Psalm 4:2 (How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies?") 
becomes in LEW 181: "How long will you go on loving vain things and 
seeking what is false?" All want good things but often seek them in 
vanity and lies. Montfort suggests a burning desire as the first means 
of acquiring Divine Wisdom and exhorts his reader to desire Wisdom in 
place of vanity and deceit.
c. Missionaries. 
In PM Montfort uses the psalms thirteen times. He calls the band of 
missionaries for whom he is praying "the congregation" (PM 1–6), borrowing 
from Psalm 74:2: "Remem-ber thy congregation which thou hast gotten of 
old." Quoting Psalm 106:47, Montfort prays in PM 18: "Lord, gather us from 
the nations." The readiness of the missionaries of the Company of Mary to 
respond to the call of obedience is described by citing Psalms 57:7 and 
108:1: "My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast!" and also 
psalm 40:7: "Behold I come." In PM 14, showing his confidence in God he 
makes allusion to Psalm 34:6: "this poor man cried and the Lord heard him" 
and cites Psalm 118:17: "I shall live and recount the deeds of the Lord." 
In PM 17, he cites Psalm 19:6: "there is nothing hid from its heat," an 
allusion to the deluge of fire of the pure love of God, which the Almighty 
will send for the conversion of all nations.
In PM 19 we find the longest passage from the psalms, 68:9–16. In PM 
19:25 Montfort gives a liberal and somewhat personal exegesis of this psalm 
which, as mentioned above, is most probably the most difficult psalm of the 
entire psalter.4 "The abundant rain with which the Lord nourishes his 
faltering heritage," "the creatures" who live in the heritage of the 
Lord, "the animals" prefigured by the mysterious animals of Ezekiel 
(1:5–14), all become symbols of the missionary saints he is requesting 
in his prayer. It is to them that "the Lord gives his commands." In all 
the missions that they undertake, their only goal will be to give glory 
to the Lord for "the spoils" he has won from his enemies. "The silver 
wings of the dove" are given them because of their complete dependence 
on Providence and their devotion to Mary. They will be "covered in gold 
like the wings of the dove" by their perfect love for their neighbor and 
for Jesus Christ. "The mountain of God, . . . mysterious mountain" is no 
other than Mary, the well-beloved elect of God. Happy those missionaries 
of the Company of Mary that God has chosen as his own to live with him 
on the divine mountain of all delights. Montfort uses Psalm 68:10 in LCM 
7, and 68:13 in TD 58, always with reference to the missionaries and 
apostles of the end times for whom this ardent prayer is made.
In TD 59, he says that God knows when these apostles of the end times 
will come and that, for our part, we must long for these times and wait 
for them in silence and prayer. He finishes with Psalm 40:1: "I have 
waited patiently for the Lord," or as Mont-fort transcribes it: "I have 
waited and waited." He concludes the rousing Prayer for Missionaries 
with Psalm 29:9: "And in his temple all cry ‘Glory.’"
2. Marian Texts
Montfort’s Marian use of the psalms can be divided into images and 
allusions.
a. Images. 
Following patristic exegesis, and sometimes going beyond it to personal 
spiritual exegesis, Montfort uses several images of the psalms in 
referring to Mary.
• Mother. In his remarks on the need for devotion to Mary and her role 
in the sanctification of souls, in TD 32 he borrows from Psalm 87:5: "In 
her all are born." In the canticle of Sion, symbol of Jerusalem, Sion 
appears as a mother, which enables it to be applied to the Mother of the 
Lord. 5 The word "born" in v. 4, 5, and 6 introduces the idea of the 
maternal womb. Sion becomes the womb of a fruitful mother from which all 
nations are born. Using Sion as the symbol of Mary, Montfort says in TD 
32: "According to the explanation of some of the Fathers, the first man 
born of Mary is the God-Man, Jesus Christ. The second is simply man, 
child of God and Mary by adoption." In TD 33, when he says that Jesus is 
always the fruit of the womb of Mary, he declares with Saint Augustine 
that all the just are also formed in her womb. Again in TD 264, he 
repeats this text in the context of the interior practice of doing 
everything "in Mary," and how "her womb, as the Fathers say, is the room 
of the divine sacraments, where Jesus Christ and all the elect are 
formed."
• The fourth wonderful effect of TD, "a great confidence in God and 
Mary" paraphrases Psalm 131:1–2: "O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my 
eyes are not raised too high, I do not occupy myself with things too 
great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul 
like a child quited at its mother’s breast" (cf. TD 216). Montfort 
applies to Mary the image of abandonment to God shown in the 
relationship of a child resting on the lap of his mother, and ends: "It 
is on her breast that all good things come to me."
• The daughter of the King, the fiancée. In his introduction to TD, 
Montfort recalls Psalm 45:13: "All the glory of the daughter of the King 
is within" (TD 11). Traditionally, the Church has used this royal 
wedding song in liturgical celebrations of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The 
poet keeps his attention on the daughter of the king, become fiancée and 
queen of another king. She appears all glorious, adorned with a glory 
like the divine glory. Montfort applies the "interior" of the palace to 
the "interior" of the daughter of the king, Mary, and understands that 
her external glory is as nothing compared to that which she received 
internally from her creator. He uses Psalm 45 in TD 196; and in TD 46, 
he makes the Marian application of Psalm 45:12.
• The ark and the dwelling. Explaining the connection between Holy 
Communion and the living of perfect consecration, Saint Louis Marie 
recommends: "Implore him (Jesus) to rise and come to the place of his 
repose and the ark of his sanctification," recalling Psalm 132:8, 
"Arise, O Lord and go to thy resting place, thou and the ark of thy 
might." Using the only psalm that mentions the ark, Montfort makes of 
Mary the dwelling place of Jesus and the ark that of his sanctifying 
power, and makes this text a prayer to Jesus before Communion.
• In TD 196 he mentions Psalm 84:3–4 and addresses it to "Lord Jesus" 
instead of to the "Lord of hosts." He adds: "Lord Jesus, how lovely is 
your dwelling place! The sparrow has found a house to dwell in and the 
turtle-dove a nest for her little-ones! How happy is the man who dwells 
in the house of Mary, where you were the first to dwell! . . . ‘How 
lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, God of hosts!’"
• The City of God. In TD 48, Montfort adapts Psalm 59:13–15: "They 
will be converted towards evening, and will be as hungry as dogs. 
Suffering this hunger, they will go around the city in search of 
something to eat." Providing a spiritual exegesis of "city," "hunger," 
and "evening," he goes on: "This city, around which men will roam at the 
end of the world, seeking conversion and the appeasement of the hunger 
they have for justice, is the most Blessed Virgin who is called by the 
Holy Spirit, the City of God." The text also seems to refer to Psalm 
87:3: "Glorious things are spoken of you, O City of God." In the first 
paragraph of TD 48, Montfort speaks of "the mystical city of God, that 
is to say the most blessed Virgin, who has been called by the Fathers of 
the Church the temple of Solomon and the City of God." TD 266 applies to 
Mary, the City of God, Psalm 46:5: "God is in the midst of her: she can 
not be moved."
• The mountain of God. Reference has been made above to PM 25, where, 
using Psalm 68:14, Montfort speaks of the mysterious mountain of God, 
which is no other than Mary, "whose beginnings you established on the 
heights," making reference also to Psalm 87:1: "on the holy mount stands 
the city he founded."
• The way. Explaining the pertfect practise of true devotion as the 
best way to attain the Lord, Montfort says that, if someone were to give 
him another way, no matter how perfect, "I would choose the immaculate 
way of Mary," referring to the "way" of Psalm 18:32: "God . . . has made 
my way safe."
b. Allusions. 
Montfort makes at the very least seven allusions to Mary based on the 
psalms. Psalm 119 is a psalm of the Torah in which each of eight verses 
in each stanza contains a reference to the law of God in three different 
ways. In TD 200 he applies the commandments of v. 21 to Mary’s orders. 
In TD 216 he adds the invocation: "Holy Virgin" from v. 94. In TD 179, 
he translates  v. 56 by: "Mary is made for me," and in SM 66 by "Mary is 
in me." In SR 46, he notes that the "new song" of Psalm 144:9 "is the 
salutation of the archangel" to Mary. In TD 272, he recalls Psalm 17:2: 
"let your eyes see nothing in me but the virtues and merits of Mary." 
And in TD 56 the "arrows" of Psalm 127:4 are the "children of Mary."
3. Texts Concerning Man
A rapid glance at some of Montfort’s psalm references to man can be 
grouped according to theme.
a. Invitation to praise. 
In TD 271, speaking about the practise of total consecration after 
communion, Father de Montfort suggests an invitation to all creation to 
thank, adore, and love Jesus through Mary, and mentions Psalm 95:6: 
"Come, let us adore." In SR 141, speaking of the good fortune of those 
who join the confraternity of the daily rosary, he uses psalm 84:4: 
"Blessed are those who dwell in thy house, ever singing thy praise!"
b. The sinful nature of man. 
When he speaks of our spoiled nature, Montfort paraphrases and expands 
Psalm 51:5: "Our bodies are so corrupt, that they are referred to by the 
Holy Spirit as bodies of sin, as conceived and nourished in sin and 
capable of any kind of sin" (TD 79). Praising Wisdom for confiding to 
Mary all the graces we receive through total consecration, he alludes to 
Psalm 119:141 and notes: "But bitter experience has taught me that I 
carry these riches in a very fragile vessel and that I am too weak and 
sinful to guard them by myself" (TD 173). In LEW 129, in order to show 
that Incarnate and Glorified Wisdom continues to be lovable in heaven, 
he tells us how a dissipated man was converted by the words of psalm 
51:1: "O God, have mercy on me."
c. Human suffering and the Cross. 
In FC 45 Montfort strongly recommends a prayer to obtain the wisdom of 
the cross and using Psalm 51:10–12, he advises: "If you stand in need of 
such (the spirit to carry crosses courageously), pray for wisdom, ask 
for it continually and fervently without wavering or fear of not 
obtaining it and it will be yours." In FC 51, he writes that the joy of 
suffering does not come from the body but from the soul and goes on to 
cite Psalm 84:2: "In that way, someone who is suffering greatly can say 
with the psalmist ‘My heart and my flesh ring our their joy to God the 
living God.’" In FC 54, to exhort the acceptance of all sorts of 
crosses, he uses the words of Psalm 57:7 and 108:1: "My heart is ready, 
O God, my heart is ready." He changes the exhortation "to praise" to the 
exhortation to "suffer all sorts of crosses." In FC 58, to suggest the 
reward of a crown in heaven as a reason for accepting suffering, Psalm 
69:7 is cited as saying: "We suffer persecutions for the reward," 
instead of the literal: "for thy sake."
d. Death. 
The seven short pages of HD have six quotations from and two allusions 
to the Psalms. HD 24 notes: "Recite, if you can . . . the psalm: "I 
rejoiced because they said to me" (122:1). HD 33 evokes Psalm 51:10: 
"Create in me a pure heart, O my God. Wash me completely from my fault; 
purify me from my offense." In HD 46, he appeals to Psalm 31:1 and 71:1: 
"I have my refuge in you, Lord; keep me humble always" ("let me never be 
put to shame"). In HD 48 there is reference to Psalm 116:9 "the land of 
the living" and further on, a reference which combines two quotations 
and a reference: "My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life" (Ps 
42:2); "How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord of hosts" (Ps 84:1); "I 
will be satisfied when your glory appears" (Ps 17:15). In HD 49, 
Montfort recalls Psalm 150:6: "Let everything that breathes praise the 
Lord."

 

IV. THE PSALMS IN CONTEMPORARY MONTFORT SPIRITUALITY
Even though the reading of the psalms is necessary for all Christian 
spirituality, they hold a special place within the hearts of those 
inspired by Saint Louis de Montfort. Although his manner of 
interpretation may not be ours, nonetheless, it is evident that he is 
totally imbued with both the spirit and words of the psalms. His 
contemplative praying of the psalter opened up for him magnificent 
vistas not accessible through a cold, academic study of "the psalms as 
literature."
Nonetheless, praying the psalms is not always easy. First, the psalms 
may appear as strange expressions of centuries ago, hardly relevant in 
the third millenium. Life experiences are perhaps necessary to be in 
tune with many of the psalms.6 Anguish, joy, praise, victory coupled 
with sickness, and lamentable defeat and fear of death all resonate 
throughout the psalter. The psalms give words to our innermost feelings. 
Like Saint Louis de Montfort, our own life experiences and our own 
community events are to interpret the psalms, as the psalms themselves 
interpret us.
Secondly, the psalms of revenge shock us and scandalize us. We avoid 
them, taking out a few verses from a few psalms, or give them a 
spiritual meaning. We ought to recognize that vengeance is not only 
found in the psalms but in ourselves, and that we all have a tendency to 
hatred. This revenge should be humbly acknowledged and completely 
confessed; only then can it give way to the mercy of God, as in the 
psalms of complaint. There is always, however, the "wrath" of God. It 
should be seen as another face of divine compassion, a way of speaking 
of the moral order in which God is acting in favor of his "people." In 
the psalms, as elsewhere in the Bible, God acts for his "faithful"—that 
is, the just—and in the name of "the poor and oppressed" against their 
op-pressors. The "compassion" of God for Israel becomes "revenge" against 
Israel’s enemies. God’s victory is assured.
Third, the psalms of creation and nature, such as Psalm 104, recall to 
us our duties of working for the protection and conservation of the 
environment and the ecosystem, which we have received from the hands of 
the creator, God.
Saint Louis de Montfort’s intense love for the hymns of Israel 
inspired him to see God’s loving, triumphant hand in all events of his 
life and in the history of the universe. The hymns empowered him to 
proclaim the victory of God in Christ Jesus and our duty and privilege 
of implementing that victory in spite of individual and collective 
difficulties. 
T. A. Joseph

 

Notes:
(1) For bibliography on the psalms and a concise introduction and 
commentary, cf. John S. Kselman and Michael L. Barré, "Psalms," in The 
New Jerome Biblical Commentary, R. Brown, J. Fitzmyer, R. Murphy, eds., 
Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N. J. 1990, 523–552. (2) Cf. M. 
Gilbert, L’exégèse Spirituelle de Montfort in NRT, Nov. -Dec. 1982, pp. 
678-691. (3) Cf. J. S. Croatto, Biblical Hermeneutics, Orbis Books, New 
York 1987, 20–35. (4) Cf. the work of M. Zappella, Psalm 68 and the 
Prayer for Missionaries. Exegetical notes, QM 4 (1986) 110–17, where he 
states that Montfort "shares with the psalmist a reading of history of 
salvation, understood as a dwelling of God with his people" (p. 116). Cf 
also C. Carniti, Psalm 68. Literary Study, LAS, Rome 1985. (5) The 
Septuagint translates the first part of verse 5: "the mother of Sion 
says to man," creating a problem among the sages from Augustine up to 
certain modern experts, who, to keep the term "mother," have altered the 
text of the Hebrew. Cf. Ravasi, The Book of the Psalms, vol 2, 795. Cf 
also the notes 56 and 57 of GA 379–80. (6) Cf. W. Brueggemann, Praying 
the Psalms, St. Mary Press, Minnesota 1986.

 


Taken from: Jesus Living in Mary: Handbook of the Spirituality of St.
Louis de Montfort (Litchfield, CT: Montfort Publications, 1994).
Provided courtesy of the Montfort Fathers © All Rights Reserved.

 

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