JESUS LIVING IN MARY: HANDBOOK OF THE SPIRITUALITY OF ST. LOUIS DE MONTFORT
I. Introduction. II. Types of Reparation in the Writings of Montfort: 1. Reparation as healing or restoration; 2. Reparation for public offenses. III. Saint Louis de Montfort and Reparation of Outrageous Insults to God: 1. Catherine de Bars and the Benedictines of the Blessed Sacrament; 2. The Visitation and Saint Margaret Mary; 3. Atonement for outrages: a. Letters; b. Hymns. IV. Conclusion. V. Evaluation: 1. The problem; 2. The solution. VI. Relevance.
Reparation is an ambiguous term. Even in profane use it may be employed in the sense of repair of a damaged object or an act of justice whereby payment of some sort is made for damage done. In religious use it has a variety of meanings. It means principally the work of redemption accomplished by Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sense of "repairing the damage done" by Adams revolt and the sin of his progeny; Christ restores us to Gods friendship. The term is also used in a generic way for restitution for injuries, usually when moral theology cannot measure precisely what such payment would entail. In popular devotional literature and also in ascetical theology, reparation is the making of amends for insults given to God through sin, either ones own or anothers. Through Saint Margaret Marys devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesusa devotion stemming through Saint John Eudes back through Saints Gertrude and Mechtilde and Saint Francis devotion to the Five Wounds and Passion of Christ"reparation" took on a more distinctive meaning. Saint Margaret Mary saw Christs heart and his love ignored and ridiculed; the response of man is to be reparation through adoration, prayer, and sacrifice.
After a brief review of Saint Louis de Montforts use of the term "reparation," the article will touch on his teaching of reparation as making amends for the insults given to our Lord through sin and negligence of his love.
II. TYPES OF REPARATION IN THE WRITINGS OF MONTFORT
The root "repar" is found in Louis Maries writings about forty times in such terms as reparation, reparatrice, repairer, to repair. The object of this "reparation" may be creation, humanity, Heaven, the Honor of God, and of course scandals and injustices. In most cases Montfort does not use the word as contemporary spirituality defines it, as compensation for an outrage against love.1 Occasionally he refers to reparation in ways that are unrelated or tangential to spirituality, e.g., repair of church buildings (RM 16), reparation for damage caused by an enemy (SR 99), for damage done to the property of others (H 29), or for honoring the devil (H 100; cf. also the word "irreparable" and the loss of "what one knows not how to repair": H 12:30; H 115:1; H 139:15).
1. Reparation as healing or restoration
It was in the writings of Poiré2 and Grasset that Montfort first encountered the idea that Mary, in unity with her Son, atones for the fallen world. He also knew Eadmer of Canterburys assertion that, through her piety, Mary had "succeeded most worthily in atoning for the fallen universeut reparatrix perditi orbis dignissime fieret."3 In LEW and TD, "reparation" means restoring the universe and, in particular, healing the wounds of mankind caused by sin. When Adam became a slave of the demon and the object of Gods anger, "nothing could restore his privileges" (LEW 40). Wisdom, by whose word "everything was made and everything was restored" (LEW 95), chose "to become man in order to restore fallen humanity" (LEW 104; see also TD 156; H 13, 14). In Mary, Jesus "has perfectly restored the glory" that sin had taken from the Father (TD 248). Mary, the "restorer of the human race" (TD 28), is completely united with the Son; as she gains the fidelity and perseverance of those who commit themselves to her, she "makes good the losses caused by Eves unfaithfulness" (TD 175). According to Alain de la Roche, "who restored the devotion of the Rosary" (SR 27), "by this prayer [the Angelic Salutation] the whole world was restored" (TD 250; see also SR 49). Through the Angelic Salutation, the ruins of heaven have been repaired and "the empty thrones in heaven have been filled" (SR 45).
2. Reparation for public offenses
Montfort cites the example of the preacher who at one time had preached against the Rosary and then "publicly acknowledged his former error" (SR 32), and that of the woman who had given herself to the devil and felt "an intense desire to make amends for this terrible deed" (SR 109). He called on the Daughters of Wisdom to make public reparation for their faults (RW 53, 306) and invited them to atone for "the scandals of all of your brothers" (H 37, 112; it is unclear whether he is referring to those who have committed these acts or to those who have been their victims). We know that Montfort founded confraternities for the reparation of such public wrongs.
III. SAINT LOUIS DE MONTFORT AND REPARATION OF OUTRAGEOUS INSULTS TO GOD
After examining some of the historical roots of Montforts desire "to make amends" for insults to the Lord, a study of his letters and hymns will reveal his own thoughts on reparation for outrages committed by Christians against divine Love.
1. Catherine de Bars and the Benedictines of the Blessed Sacrament
Montfort was familiar with the spirituality of Catherine de Bar (Mechtilde of the Blessed Sacrament, 16141698), the foundress of the Benedictines of the Blessed Sacrament, if only because his sister Guyonne-Jeanne had joined the order in 1702. Since the beginning of the seventeenth-century, Christianity had known some great profanations of the Blessed Sacrament, which renewed attention to the atonement dimension of adoration and gave rise to various societies for the Blessed Sacrament. The first monastery was officially established on March 12, 1654, and the queen herself was present to read an official proclamation of atonement. In the view of Catherine de Bars, the adoration offered by the religious was rooted in their status as victims, as a result of their unity with Christ in the Eucharist. They were obligated to make reparation for those who did not pray. Catherine de Bars, however, did not consider herself among the "innocent victims" offering their lives in reparation, but rather as among the sinners atoning for sins against the Lord, especially in the Eucharist. We can see her influence at the beginning of the eighteenth century in formulas for atonement and exercises of reparation that were included in various manuals for adoration and for confraternities of the Blessed Sacrament.
2. The Visitation and Saint Margaret Mary
While at the Monastery of the Visitation at Poitiers, Montfort, although he never mentions her name or convent, in all probability became familiar with Saint Margaret Mary (16471690), a nun of the Order of the Visitation at Paray-le-Monial, she had mystical experiences which led to devotion to the Sacred Heart. An apparition in 1673 was the starting point for her mystical life. In it Jesus invited the future saint to exchange her heart for his. She was no longer simply his slave, but the object of his passionate love. This in a way goes beyond the kind of "slavery" advocated by Cardinal Pierre de Bérulle (died 1629), founder of the Oratory of France and also of what Brémond has called the French School of spirituality. Saint Louis de Montfort considers "slavery of love" a recognition on our part of the tender and passionate love of God for us in Jesus Christ.
Margaret Mary had another apparition, in 1675, in which Jesus lovingly complained that, even among those consecrated through religious vows, his love for mankind was returned only with ingratitude. Our Blessed Lord requested that the first Friday after the octave of the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament be established as a feast day to honor his Sacred Heart and to atone for the insults inflicted upon it. Devotion to the Sacred Heart is characterized by redamatio, the atoning love of the faithful who have in some way experienced the love that Christ has first given them and who wish to give their love to Christ in return.
3. Atonement for outrages
Atonement for outrages is discussed both in Montforts letters and in his hymns.
In his letters, Saint Louis de Montfort uses the term "victim" to indicate a person whose life is spent in atonement for the insults offered Our Lord through sin but especially to the Eucharistic Lord. To his sister, admitted to the monastery of the Benedictine Nuns of the Blessed Sacrament, he wrote: "You are now immolated, truly, deeply and for ever. Let no day pass without offering yourself in sacrifice as a victim. Spend more time before the altar praying than in resting and eating" (L 12). Montfort encouraged her to live the life of a sacrificial victim, in the spirit of the Benedictines of the Blessed Sacrament, and to atone for him: "It is a source of great of happiness and a great honor for me to have someone so near to me offering loving sacrifices to make up for the faults ["outrages"] I have, alas, so often committed against Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament" (L 19; cf. also Letters 17, 18). He even addresses her, in light of her vocation, as "Dear victim in Jesus Christ" (L 19).
The Cantiques of Montfort call for reparation to Jesus for insults committed against him in general and most especially in the Eucharist and to his Sacred Heart.
Amends for injuries to Jesus in General.
Montforts hymns invite us to make amends for songs that are offensive to Gods honor (H 1:23), and to restore, through penance, the "glory and honor of the Lord" (H 13:12) while also making amends for "the outrages / against Jesus at his Passion" (H 13:13). He notes that "To righteousness, repentance / Makes an atonement of honor" (H 13:38).
Amends for Injuries to the Eucharistic Lord.
He particularly invites us to atone for the outrages inflicted on the Blessed Sacrament: "Make honorable amends / To Jesus dishonored / Even in a sacred place . . . / Cry, angels, cry, / Cry and atone / For this excess, this supreme insult" (H 158:12). H 136, "Reparation (Making Amends) to the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar," is a nineteen verse bitter satire on the customs of his times which so often ignored if not insulted the Eucharistic presence: "Let us moan, let us bitterly weep / . . . For Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament / Is Forgotten, Insulted even in His Extreme Love (H 136:1). After detailing the disgraceful state of the church building, the missionary does not hesitate to point out the blasphemous attitude of some of the people towards the Blessed Sacrament, but reserves his sharpest barbs for the cleric in charge of the church. His hymn ends with the prayer: "Pardon, my sweet Jesus, both for them and for us / Have pity on us, have pity on you yourself! / Ah!, that we would be able to atone these outrages / By your own Blood and our weak homage" (H 136:18).
Reparation and devotion to the Sacred Heart.
Montfort demands reparation for the outrages inflicted on the Blessed Sacrament, especially in the seven hymns that are expressly written to foster devotion to the Sacred Heart (H 4044, 47, 48). There we see devotional characteristics that can be traced to Paray-le-Monial: Jesus reproach that his love is insulted, redamatio, and acts of reparation.
Jesus love insulted.
The Sacred Heart is the symbol of the love that the Son bears for us and that he demonstrated by surrendering himself completely to the Father for our sake (H 40, 41; also H 132:7: "My heart has exhausted itself for you"). But this love is too often insulted: "All of my labors are tossed to the ground / My blood, my Heart, my charity" (H 42:16). He is overwhelmed by non-Christians, heretics, and, especially, malicious Catholics, who "surpass the cruelty" of the others and who show "only indifference" toward his Heart (H 43:13, 17).
"Redamatio" (returning love with love) and the offer of comfort.
The Heart of Jesus "looks for solace" to give to the penitent soul (H 42:2). "Your tears give me pleasure," it says to that soul. "I have suffered many affronts / So that I can be here now for you. / Make amends with your homage" (H 42:5.33). "My Heart loves and desires you, / For you my heart was pierced, / My heart longs for your heart" (H 43:38). "Let us love this Heart, because it loves us, / Love is paid with love" (H 44:2; cf. also H 47:18; H 132:8; H 133:9; H 135:4).
Acts of reparation.
The act that is "The most glorious to the Lord . . . / Is to restore His honor" (H 44:17). We must "atone for the injury / That we have done to this divine Heart" (H 44:18) and make "honorable amends" (H 133:9). Hymn 47, entitled "Reparation to the Heart of Jesus," asks for pardon on behalf of many different sinners, from the unfaithful laity to wicked priests. For a missionary such as Montfort, pious desires alone do not make reparation: "It is the end that I crown / And not the beginning," says Jesus in the hymn. The invitation to the "Princes of France" to love the "victorious heart," accompanied by a promise of victory for their troops (H 42:30), may be our oldest written trace of Saint Margaret Marys message to Louis XIV.
The theme of reparation (in the spiritual sense) is not explicitly discussed in the prose works as it is in the hymns. But we can assume that Montfort was aware of what was happening at Paray-le-Monial while he wrote these works. His spiritual experience led him down many different paths. He affirmed the goodness of the Lord, who is touched by the misery of fallen humanity. Divine Wisdom brought together the members of the Trinity, so to speak, "for the purpose of rehabilitating man in the state he formerly created him" (LEW 42). Montfort also writes of the love that is ridiculed by all, even by Christians (FC 11), and he discusses the satisfactory value of atonement for sins committed (TD 122, 171). Like Margaret Mary, he affirms the redamatiothe response of love to the gift of lovebut Montfort sees this as a total, all-inclusive response. It refers not to specific practices of atonement, such as on the first Friday, but to making a complete gift of oneself, a consecration. To make such a gift is in Montforts view the ideal in any Christian life; and although Montfort never explicitly mentions it, reparation would certainly be encompassed by this gift. He does not discuss reparation when he speaks of the works undertaken by the friends of Wisdom "for the glory of God and the salvation of souls" (LEW 100), nor when he explains why the Cross is "precious" (LEW 176) and why we should consecrate ourselves to Jesus through Mary (TD 13537), nor even when he explains how consecration gives greater glory to Jesus Christ (TD 22225). But this act of consecration does indeed contain an element of reparation. In this act we in effect acknowledge how much Wisdom has done for us through love, and, simultaneously, we acknowledge our own unfaithfulness (LEW 223, 225). By offering ourselves through the mediation of Mary, we are truly honoring Jesus Christ, because "we are showing that, because of our sins, we are unworthy to approach his infinite holiness directly on our own" (SM 36; cf. TD 223).
1. The problem
Treading unconsciously in the footsteps of the late medieval nominalists, and forgetting that mankind is joined by a constitutive, essential link with its Creator, modern Western thinkers have too often set mankind and God in opposition to each other, as if in the present order of things man could go his way and God His own. Some contemporary thinkers then reject God; the others reject mankind. Even for some members of the French School, who were anxious to assert Gods greatness, creation itself and mankind in particular were considered as somehow "separate" from the Creator and Redeemer to such an extent that it was said that "the entire universe should be destroyed for His glory."4 From this perspective, reparation provides additional grounds for mans destruction: his sin.
2. The solution
Although Montfort is generally grouped with the French School, there is no problem of this kind in his writing. Saint Irenaeuss statement that "the glory of God is a living person"5 reflects Montforts conception of mankinds relationship with God. But there is no sanctimony in Montforts optimism: he thinks of mankind as disfigured, precisely because its connection with God has been substantially damaged by sin. Reparation necessarily implies restoration of the glory of God, redamatio, and the Cross. It also implies service to man and to society, as many encyclicals, dating back to Leo XIIIs Rerum novarum (1891), as well as the Second Vatican Council (GS 3), have affirmed.
Montfort can contribute to a spirituality of atonement precisely because he enables the Christian to overcome artificial distinctions between various kinds of reparation, and thereby to experience reparation in its profound unity, in accordance with the highly comforting yet incredibly urgent teachings and examples of Wisdom incarnate (LEW 173). Montforts unifying theme of Wisdom not only clarifies the meaning of "reparation," but also brings contemporary man face to face with the horror of insulting our brother, Jesus the Eternal and Incarnate Wisdom.
From another standpoint, Saint Louis Maries teaching on reparation shows an essential inter-relatedness of all within the Body of Christ. The insults to the Lord committed by an individual affect the entire creation, the blasphemies of nations even more so. Montfort therefore hopes to offset this lack of harmony by acts of reparation, especially by acts directed to the Eucharistic Lord; for love of Jesus expressed by even one individual helps to restore the relationship of this universe with God in Christ Jesus.
J. Stern - P. Gaffney
Notes: (1) É. Glottin, "Réparation," in DSAM 13 (1988), 394. (2) Cf. in particular Triple couronne (Triple crown), second Treaty, ch. VI; cf. Montforts Notebook, 57 60. Montfort used the 1639 edition. (3) De excellentia Virginis Mariae, c. 9 (PL 159, 573D); cf. A. Cabassut, "Éadmer," in DSAM 4/1 (1960), 4. Montfort attributes this text to Saint Anselm and also to Saint Bernard. (4) Attributed to Condren (15881641) by his biographer, Amelote; cf. A. Molien, "Condren," in DSAM 2 (1953), 1376. (5) Contra haereses, IV, 20, 7.
Taken from: Jesus Living in Mary: Handbook of the Spirituality of St. Louis de Montfort (Litchfield, CT: Montfort Publications, 1994).
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