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

SUMMARY
I.	Montfort’s Path Toward Sainthood: 
	1.	The evolution of Montfort’s sainthood; 
	2.	The marks of Montfort’s holiness; 
	3.	His reputation for holiness. 
II.	Montfort’s Writings on Holiness: 
	1.	The sources of holiness; 
	2.	The origin of holiness; 
	3.	The Holy Spirit through Mary; 
	4.	A secret of holiness; 
	5.	Models of holiness: 
		a.	Jesus Christ; 
		b.	Mary; 
		c.	The saints. 
	6.	Cooperation needed; 
	7.	The development of sanctity; 
	8.	The goal of sanctity. 
III.	Montfort, Founder of a School of Spirituality?: 
	1.	The Montfort spiritual tradition; 
	2.	Following the Montfort way of holiness.

I. Montfort’s Path Toward Sainthood
Montfort is among the saints who attained Christian perfection through 
a special gift of the Spirit. He did so by the "smooth, short, perfect 
and sure" Marian path of total consecration to the Eternal and 
Incarnate Wisdom, through Mary (TD 152). He knew well the grace-filled 
effort required for any true encounter with holiness, but his "Good 
Mother" was at his side to light up the darkness. She supported him as 
he faced battles and obstacles (cf. TD 152). She helped him use 
properly the gifts God had given him (cf. TD 54).
Upon his baptism into Christ Jesus on February 1, 1673, the young Louis 
become a son of God, a sharer in the Divine Nature and thus truly holy. 
Pauvert writes that later Louis Grignion would drop his family name and 
take that of Montfort,1 in tribute to the place of his baptism: "a 
significant choice, indicative of the character of this hero of the 
Cross, in whom divine grace would take root and flourish."2 Given that 
Montfort was a Christian who was faithful to the reality of baptism and 
to a life shaped by Christ’s death and resurrection, his path toward 
sainthood can be seen as a progressive, ascending journey toward 
perfection to "the measure of the full stature of Christ" (Ep 4:13).
1. The evolution of Montfort’s sainthood
Biographers have described and analyzed the various stages of 
Montfort’s holiness, including infancy (the stage of beginners, 
incipientes), adolescence (those who advance, proficientes), and 
maturity (the perfect, perfecti). De Fiores correctly states: 
"Montfort’s perfection was not fully realized at birth; he did not hold 
the same attitudes and profess the same doctrines from the beginning of 
his life to its end; rather, he appears as a person who was to pursue, 
over time, an uneven, divergent itinerary, but progressively acquiring 
the fundamental tenets of his own spirituality through dynamic grace, 
in harmony or in contrast with his environment."3
Thus any discussion of the evolution of Louis Marie’s sainthood must be 
predicated on our great respect both for the free and unforeseeable 
action of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 3:8) and for Montfort’s freely given 
response. In effect, "among the saints we always find the principles of 
newness and renewal . . . a surprise, a reaction" and we must also 
respect "that freedom that God has chosen to grant only to His 
saints."4 
His biographers are unanimous in observing that Montfort’s outstanding 
holiness had its beginnings in his childhood: in his love for prayer 
and the poor, in his filial tenderness toward his mother and toward 
Mary, and in his attention to others. His adolescence, which was spent 
at the Jesuit college in Rennes, saw him grow in wisdom and grace, so 
much so that "the friendships he made at school, in the Church, and in 
the ecclesiastical world in which he moved indicate that Louis Marie 
had, over the years, gained the admiration of his fellow students, his 
teachers, and even his most virtuous friends. They all openly said even 
then that he was a saint."5 H. Daniel observes, "If Louis Marie had 
died at the age of twenty-two, he would have left us with an image of a 
young saint rather like Aloysius Gonzaga, bearing the same tender 
devotion to Mary, the same horror of sin and scandal, the same 
absorption in God. We would admire him unreservedly. From his father he 
inherited a temperament that he himself admitted would, without God’s 
grace, have made him the most terrible man of the century."6 But 
Montfort outlived Aloysius Gonzaga and, although he never reached old 
age, he continued on his unique path toward sainthood.
Montfort’s sanctity—even in his youth—does appear to be truly profound, 
so much so that he was a mystery to many. Father Leschassier himself, 
Montfort’s spiritual director, found it difficult to believe that the 
saint had been led by the Holy Spirit. When after Montfort’s death he 
was reproached by Blain for being so hard on the great missionary, he 
candidly admitted: "You can see that I do not recognize saints." 7 
We can recognize moments of intense spiritual experience in Montfort’s 
journey toward Christian perfection, moments of transfiguration that 
reveal the inner light of his holiness, resulting from an intimate and 
friendly communion with God.
The letters that survive from the years 1694 to 1716 nearly always 
begin with a strong desire of Montfort’s soul: "May the perfect love of 
God reign in our hearts" (cf., e.g., L 2, 3, 5, 6). This desire 
explodes in three great hymns to charity (H 5, 14, 148) that are like 
tongues of fire erupting from a heart full of passionate love for God 
and neighbor. The hymn is sung by the voice of charity: "I enable the 
faithful soul / To ascend to God in a chariot of fire, / I join that 
soul to God in marriage, / And transform all in God’s sight" (H 5:10). 
"Charity embodies in itself / The most perfect holiness" (H 14:6).
After his ordination, the young Montfort felt a strong attraction to 
solitude and the hidden life (cf. L 5), the silence that is the true 
home of saints, where they pray to God in peace and where they secretly 
"taste my fires and receive my characteristics" (H 5:36). For Louis 
Marie this close communion with God led him to desire to do God’s will 
only and forever (cf. L 6), in the profound conviction that in faithful 
obedience to God—with Mary and in Mary—he would become rich in grace 
(cf. TD 54).
In 1704, after having desired so greatly and invoked so often the 
infinite treasure of divine Wisdom, after having yearned endlessly for 
this Wisdom, Montfort said good-bye to his mother, telling her of his 
happiness in mystical union with Wisdom: "In my new family—the one I 
belong to now—I have chosen to be wedded to Wisdom and the Cross for in 
these I find every good, both earthly and heavenly. So precious are 
these possessions that, if they were but known, Montfort would be the 
envy of the richest and most powerful kings on earth" (L 20). De Fiores 
remarks that Montfort, after traveling a tormenting road of 
purification and grace, attained the mystical state of "constant 
delight in the presence of Jesus and Mary even in the midst of his 
missionary activity."8 Montfort himself confides: "Here is something 
one will not be able to believe: / I carry her in the midst of me / 
Engraved with the marks of glory / Although in the obscurity of faith" 
(H 77:15).
2. The marks of Montfort’s holiness
"Our eye, which is sometimes dazzled by the splendor of the light that 
emanates from Saint Louis de Montfort, must, so to speak, examine its 
source." Thus spoke Pius XII on July 21, 1947, to the pilgrims who had 
come to Rome for the canonization of Louis Marie.9 As he added Montfort 
to the calendar of saints, the Pope spoke of his incessant devotion to 
prayer, his humility, his love for evangelical poverty, his penitence, 
his abnegation, his constant mortification, and his ardent devotion to 
the Virgin Mary.
As we examine the records of his beatification and canonization 
proceedings, the numerous biographies of his life, and his spiritual 
writings, we can see that Louis Marie’s holiness bears three essential 
characteristics: it is Trinitarian, Christocentric, and Marian. The 
point where these concerns meet is the focal, unifying, and dynamic 
point of his life, his apostolate and teaching. Montfort arrived at 
that stage through contemplation of the salvific and irrevocable plan 
that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit realize in the fullness of time 
and will continue to realize as the history of salvation continues 
throughout the centuries: Christ came into the world through Mary, and 
through Mary he must reign in the world (cf. TD 1). Montfort brought 
these concerns together in perfect, harmonious agreement in the 
threefold acclamation that closes TD: "Glory to Jesus in Mary! Glory to 
Mary in Jesus! Glory to God alone!" (TD 265).
"The Father gave and still gives His Son only through her. . . . God 
the Son was prepared for mankind in general by her alone. Mary, in 
union with the Holy Spirit, still conceives him and brings him forth 
daily. It is through her alone that the Son distributes his merits and 
virtues. The Holy Spirit formed Jesus only through her, and he forms 
the members of the Mystical Body and dispenses his gifts and his favors 
only through her" (TD 140).
In this light of faith, the Trinitarian and primordial source of grace 
and holiness ("Glory to God alone!") becomes Christocentric ("Glory to 
Jesus in Mary!") and Marian ("Glory to Mary in Jesus!").
Montfort’s spiritual journey centers on, and can be summarized by, 
consecration to Jesus Christ: "God has laid no other foundation for our 
salvation, perfection, and glory than Jesus" (TD 61). "The most perfect 
of all devotions is that which conforms, unites, and consecrates us 
most completely to Jesus" (TD 120).10 This is why Montfort so often 
mentions Paul’s exhortation to the Christians at Ephesus: "until all of 
us . . . come to the measure of the full stature of Christ" (Ep 4:13; 
cf. TD 33, 61, 119, 156, 164, 168; LEW 1, 214, 226).
From this emphasis on Christocentrism comes the ardent prayer (cf. TD 
67) that rises in Montfort’s soul and that he invites us to recite each 
day in order to receive the gift of Christ’s love. It is tempting to 
connect this prayer to Pascal’s Memorial, the famous "night of fire" in 
the Year of Grace 1654. That same inflamed love for Christ gives rise 
in Montfort’s heart to his prayer to the Holy Spirit, requesting 
missionaries to live on the mountain that is Mary, "on which Jesus 
Christ, who dwells there forever, will teach them in his own words the 
meaning of the eight beatitudes. It is on this mountain that they will 
be transfigured as he was on Mount Thabor; that they will die with him 
as he died on Calvary, and from it, they will ascend to heaven as he 
did from the Mount of Olives" (PM 25). Love of Christ carries Montfort 
forward on his spiritual journey and in his intense missionary work: 
love of Christ, Eternal and Incarnate Wisdom; love of the Cross, the 
Eucharist, and the Heart of Christ, translated into preferential love 
for the poor.11
The Christocentrism of Montfort’s spirituality necessarily entails 
devotion to Mary: "The greatest means of all, and the most wonderful of 
all secrets for obtaining and preserving Divine Wisdom is a loving and 
genuine devotion to the Blessed Virgin" (LEW 203). Montfort’s approach 
has the allure of a syllogism in this well-known text: "As all 
perfection consists in our being conformed, united and consecrated to 
Jesus it naturally follows that the most perfect of all devotions is 
that which conforms, unites, and consecrates us most completely to 
Jesus. Now of all God’s creatures Mary is the most conformed to Jesus. 
It therefore follows that, of all devotions, devotion to her makes for 
the most effective consecration and conformity to him. The more one is 
consecrated to Mary, the more one is consecrated to Jesus" (TD 120). 
Montfort experiences this consecration to Mary in a progressive 
spiritual itinerary: "At the outset, Montfort views her in terms of 
affective human expressions. . . . Later, he is conscious of living in 
unity with the Virgin, who is wholly spirit, brought to life in the 
Trinitarian God: ‘Mary is all . . . relative to God . . . she who does 
not exist except in relation to God . . . or the echo of God, saying 
and repeating only God.’ One must be a slave of Mary (‘consecrating 
oneself and sacrificing oneself entirely, without limit’) before one 
can receive the Holy Spirit . . . which is to allow oneself to be 
molded by the Spirit in Christ’s image: ‘They cast themselves in Mary 
and lose themselves in her in order to become the true portrait of 
Jesus Christ.’" 12 
It should be emphatically noted that Montfort not only wrote about 
holiness; it was something he lived, a reality he strongly experienced. 
What he writes is for the most part autobiographical; he is sharing 
with his readers not an abstract way, but a path of holiness he himself 
has trod. "Experience alone will teach us the wonders wrought by Mary 
in the soul" (SM 57). Montfort similarly cites experience as the best 
introduction to the way of Mary: "Experience will teach you much more 
about this devotion than I can tell you, but, if you remain faithful to 
the little I have taught you, you will acquire a great richness of 
grace that will surprise you and fill you with delight" (SM 53).
3. His reputation for holiness
After Montfort’s death, the bishop of La Rochelle, Étienne de 
Champflour, wrote to Father Mulot: "I will always believe that he was a 
great saint before God. Wherever he preached, he was met with 
gratitude, esteem, and devotion."13 For his part, the bishop of 
Poitiers, Jean-Claude de la Poype, affirmed on November 29, 1718, that 
Montfort "gave us an admirable example of penance, prayer, zeal, and 
charity, over the several years that he lived in our diocese."14 Jean-
Baptiste Blain tells the story of traveling as a pilgrim to the tomb of 
Louis Marie and encountering at Saint Laurent-sur-Sèvre, "crowds of 
pilgrims, from both near and far, who came to visit and honor the place 
where the body of the holy priest lay in repose."15 The reputation for 
holiness that accompanied Montfort from his youth and throughout his 
life, despite malicious rumors, grew and spread "through all of France" 
as we read in the decree on the heroic practice of his virtues.

 

II. Montfort’s Writings on Holiness
Montfort reveals to us the source of holiness (the Trinity), describes 
its origin (the Christian vocation), indicates its authors (the Holy 
Spirit working through the Mother of the Lord), reveals its marvelous 
secret (true devotion to Mary), proposes models of holiness (Christ, 
Mary, and the saints), reminds us of the necessity of mankind’s 
cooperation in order to acquire it (the virtues), traces the 
development of its intensity (the three stages of the spiritual life), 
and speaks to us of its final goal (eternal life).
1. The sources of holiness
The source and origin of all holiness is the one and indivisible 
Trinity, in and through Christ. One page in TD  is filled with Biblical 
passages that Montfort uses to emphasize Jesus’ central role in 
Christian life, e.g.: "For in him alone dwells the entire fullness of 
the divinity [Col 2:9] and the complete fullness of grace, virtue and 
perfection. In him alone we have been blessed with every spiritual 
blessing [Ep 1:3]" (TD 61).
In a hymn dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Montfort invites 
Christians to draw on the sources of holiness in the Savior: "This is 
the source of life / On whom all the saints have drawn, / This is the 
beautiful fire / In which their hearts were embraced. / . . . Here is 
the most holy retreat / Where we avoid all transgression, / Here the 
most imperfect soul / Can easily become the most holy" (H: 40, 16, 18).
2. The origin of holiness
Above all, Montfort reminds mankind, which is created in the image of a 
living God and saved by the precious blood of Christ, that God wishes 
us to become saints on earth, like Christ, and to become a part of His 
glory for all eternity. "It is certain that growth in the holiness of 
God is your vocation. All your thoughts, words, actions, everything you 
suffer or undertake must lead you towards that end. Otherwise you are 
resisting God in not doing the work for which He created you and for 
which He is even now keeping you in being" (SM 3).
He goes on to define sainthood with an exaltation that is reminiscent 
of the opening of St. Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle, where she 
compares the beauty and dignity of the soul in God’s grace to a crystal 
that is completely transparent: "What a marvelous transformation is 
possible! Dust into light, uncleanness into purity, sinfulness into 
holiness, creature into Creator, man into God! A marvelous work, I 
repeat, so difficult in itself, and even impossible for a mere creature 
to bring about, for only God can accomplish it by giving his grace 
abundantly and extraordinarily. The very creation of the universe is 
not as great an achievement as this" (SM 3). Finally, in his role as a 
spiritual teacher, Montfort suggests the necessary means of attaining 
saintliness: "sincere humility, unceasing prayer, complete self-denial, 
abandonment to divine Providence, and obedience to the will of God. The 
grace and help of God are absolutely necessary for us to practice all 
these" (SM 4–5).
3. The Holy Spirit through Mary
Pope Paul VI referred to the "hidden relationship between the Spirit of 
God and the Virgin of Nazareth, and . . . the influence they exert on 
the Church" (MC 27). Montfort is noteworthy among spiritual theologians 
for his efforts to make this vital relationship between the Holy Spirit 
and Mary visible.16 In a classic passage from TD he reveals the links 
between Mary and the Holy Spirit in the Trinitarian economy of 
salvation as well as the reciprocal relationship between life in the 
Spirit and devotion to Mary: "God the Holy Spirit wishes to fashion his 
chosen ones in and through Mary. . . . The formation and the education 
of the great saints who will come at the end of the world are reserved 
to her, for only this singular and wondrous virgin can produce in union 
with the Holy Spirit singular and wondrous things. When the Holy Spirit 
. . . finds Mary in a soul, he hastens there and enters fully into it. 
He gives himself generously to that soul according to the place it has 
given to his spouse. One of the main reasons why the Holy Spirit does 
not now work striking wonders in souls is that he fails to find in them 
a sufficiently close union with his faithful and inseparable spouse" 
(TD 34–36).
4. A secret of holiness
While it is true that Montfort believed that life in the Spirit and 
devotion to Mary are inseparable in any journey to Christian holiness 
(cf. TD 14–42)—specifically for those who are called to a particular 
perfection (cf. TD 43–46), the children of Mary (cf. TD 56), and the 
apostles of the end times (cf. TD 47–54)—it is also true that in his 
Marian writings Montfort proposes and recommends a special form of 
holiness that he calls "perfect devotion to Mary," the keynote of his 
own spirituality.17 Here is how he describes this secret of holiness, 
the filial sacrifice in Mary’s hands: "I have seen many devout souls 
searching for Jesus in one way or another, and so often when they have 
worked hard throughout the night, all they can say is, ‘Despite our 
having worked all night, we have caught nothing.’ . . . But if we 
follow the immaculate path of Mary, living the devotion that I teach, 
we will always work in daylight, we will work in a holy place, and we 
will work but little. There is no darkness in Mary, not even the 
slightest shadow since there was never any sin in her. She is a holy 
place, a holy of holies, in which saints are formed and molded" (TD 
218).
In his hymns, Montfort speaks of receiving grace and gaining happiness 
for having discovered such a marvelous secret of saintliness: "All 
through her / Nothing without her, / This is my secret / For becoming 
perfect" (H 75:9); "I do all things through her. / This is the surest 
way / To do God’s will, the spur / And key to sanctity" (H 77:19).
5. Models of holiness
Montfort is a teacher, an expert in the spiritual life: he educates us 
in holiness not only by teaching a sound ascetic and mystical theology 
but also by providing us with models of such holiness.
a. Jesus Christ. 
Jesus is the teacher and the exemplar of all Christian sainthood. 
Montfort asserts this vigorously in both LEW and TD: "Eternal Wisdom 
alone enlightens every man that comes into this world. He alone came 
from heaven to teach the secrets of God. We have no real teacher except 
the incarnate Wisdom, whose name is Jesus Christ. He alone brings all 
the works of God to perfection, especially the saints, for he shows 
them what they must do and teaches them to appreciate and put into 
practice all he has taught them" (LEW 56). Montfort again emphasizes 
the unique mediation of Christ in the order of salvation and holiness: 
Jesus Christ "is the only teacher from whom we must learn; the only 
Lord on whom we should depend; the only Head to whom we should be 
united and the only model that we should imitate" (TD 61).
In his hymns, Montfort describes Jesus as a model of humility (H 8:9–
10), tenderness (H 9:3–11), obedience (H 10:5–8), patience (H 11:13–14; 
41:1–37), charity toward others (H 14:11, 40), prayer (H 5:10), poverty 
(H 20:2–8), silence (H 23:18), thankfulness (H 26:6), modesty (H 25:6), 
and love of the Cross (H 19:6.9–12).
b. Mary. 
For Montfort, Mary is "the perfect model of every virtue and 
perfection, fashioned by the Holy Spirit for us to imitate, as far as 
our limited capacity allows" (TD 260). Since Mary is the "great queen 
of virtue" (H 4:22), the Christian must imitate all of her virtues, and 
particularly her ten primary virtues: "deep humility, lively faith, 
blind obedience, unceasing prayer, constant self-denial, surpassing 
purity, ardent love, heroic patience, angelic kindness, and heavenly 
wisdom" (TD 108). Montfort mentions several of Mary’s other virtues 
that the Christian should imitate: poverty (H 25:8–9), silence and 
ability to listen (H 23:19), modesty (H 25:8–9), thankfulness (H 26:11–
12, 24), and her abandonment to Providence (H 28:17).
c. The saints. 
The saints are also exemplary models of Christian perfection: "The 
saints seek perfection, full of ardor, / for their grandeur and 
beatitude; / Unhappy are they who do not have this (desire) / Or who do 
not make the saints / Their principal study here below!" (H 4:8).
Among the virtues of the saints, we must imitate:18 the splendor of 
their humility (H 8:15), the charm of their tenderness (H 9:14), the 
excellence of their obedience (H 10:10), their strength of patience (H 
11:19), the beauty of their virginity (H 12:16), the necessity of their 
penance (H 13: 8, 11), the tenderness of their brotherly charity (H 
14:13–15), their joy of pardon (H 14:37), their blessed solitude (H 
5:36), the frequency of their prayer (H 15:10), their power of fasting 
(H 16:6), the generosity of their alms (H 17:11), their love for the 
Cross (H 19:15–17; H 37:91), the treasures of their poverty (H 20:15–
16), the flame of their zeal (H 24:16), the wisdom of their silence (H 
23:2), their experience of the presence of God (H 24:12), the pleasant 
appeal of their modesty (H 25:10), their thankfulness (H 26:8), their 
abandonment to Providence (H 28:17–18), and even their innocent games 
(H 30:3).
In all, fifty saints are mentioned in Montfort’s writings.
(a.)   Of these, just over half are listed in SR: Agnes (128), 
Augustine (37, 40, 53, 88), Albert the Great (88), Alphonsus Rodriguez 
(25), Antoninus (51), Bonaventure (30, 53), Bridget (72), Charles 
Borromeo (80), Catherine the martyr (128), Cyprian of Carthage (36), 
Dominic (11, 16, 19, 20, 22, 26, 31, 51, 61, 66, 79, 90), Francis of 
Assisi (25, 32, 130), Francis Borgia (80), Francis de Sales (80, 130), 
Francis Xavier (8), Gertrude the Great (54), Jerome (40, 73), Gregory 
of Nyssa (65), Louis IX, king of France (98), Mechtilde of Helft (48), 
Michael the archangel (79, 81), Peter of Verona (34), Pius V (80, 93), 
Teresa of Avila (8), Thomas Aquinas (69, 76, 88), Thomas of Villanova 
(80).
(b.)   Those named in True Devotion are: Augustine (8, 33, 40, 67, 127, 
145, 219, 230), Alphonsus Rodriguez (258), Ambrose (217, 258), Anselm 
of Canterbury (40, 76), Bernardine of Siena (27, 40, 76, 141, 152), 
Bernard (27, 40, 76, 141, 152), Bonaventure (8, 27, 40, 75, 85, 86, 
116, 152, 174), Cecilia (170), Cyril of Jerusalem (40), Dominic (42, 
249, 250), Ephrem (40, 153), Francis of Assisi (42), Francis de Sales 
(152), Germanus of Constantinople (40), John Capistran (249), John 
Damascene (40, 41, 152, 182), Gregory the Great (199, 226), Laurence 
the martyr (222), Michael the archangel (8), Odilo (159), Thomas 
Aquinas (40, 127), Vincent Ferrer (48).
(c.)   In The Love of Eternal Wisdom: Augustine (30, 213), the Apostle 
Andrew (175), Arsenius the Great (200), Carpas (130), Francis of Assisi 
(166), Francis of Paula (166), John Chrysostom (9, 21, 175), John of 
the Cross (177), Gregory the Great (60), the Apostle Peter (175), Peter 
of Alcantara (177), Teresa of Avila (177), Thomas Aquinas (94, 163). 
(d.)   In The Secret of Mary: Augustine (14), Ambrose (54), Bernardine 
of Siena (10), Bernard (10), Thomas Aquinas (23).
(e.)   In the Prayer for Missionaries: Francis of Paula (2), Catherine 
of Siena (27), Dominic (12), Michael the archangel (28), Vincent Ferrer 
(2).
(f.)   Finally, in the Letter to the Friends of the Cross: Augustine 
(58), Catherine of Siena (27), Elizabeth of Hungary (54), John 
Chrysostom (37), Ignatius the martyr (32, 34).
Montfort spoke prophetically of the Marian secret of sainthood and had 
a natural sympathy for saints who, like himself, had followed the 
virginal and immaculate way of Mary to grow in wisdom, maturity, and 
holiness: "There have been some saints, not very many, such as St. 
Ephrem, St. John Damascene, St. Bernard, St. Bernardine, St. 
Bonaventure, and St. Francis de Sales, who have taken this smooth path 
to Jesus Christ, because the Holy Spirit, the faithful Spouse of Mary, 
makes it known to them by a special grace. The other saints, who are 
the greater number, while having a devotion to Mary, either did not 
enter or did not go very far along this path. That is why they had to 
undergo harder and more dangerous trials" (TD 152). Drawing on this 
observation, Montfort formulates a new argument for Christians to 
embrace perfect devotion to Mary: it is an easy way "of attaining union 
with our Lord, in which Christian perfection consists" (TD 152).
6. Cooperation needed
Everyone in the Church is called to saintliness. But sainthood is 
expressed through the external manifestation of virtuous acts. For this 
reason, "the saints seek perfection, full of ardor, / for their 
grandeur and beatitude" (H 4:8). "Through virtue the saints have / 
Consummated all their plans" (H 36:68). "Without virtue, all is lost" 
(H 4:14). We must thus abandon the worldly spirit that prevents us from 
becoming holy (H 29:27) and subdue our concern about the opinions of 
others (H 38:120). Montfort speaks of "poor saints" (H 23:33), 
hypocrites who waste their time chattering before God, blind persons 
whose false holiness will lead them to perdition (cf. H 23:33).
Devotion to Mary must be holy; only then will it lead those who 
practice it to avoid sin and to imitate the virtues of the Virgin (cf. 
TD 108). Those who wish to be virtuous must remember that Mary is the 
queen of virtue (cf. H 4:22): we must request virtue of her, and from 
her we shall receive it (cf. H 104:8). We must follow the example and 
the virtue of the saints: "We must confound our lack of courage / By 
contemplating the holiness / Of all the saints, our brothers. / Beside 
these powerful giants, / We are idle dwarves, / Filled with human 
misery. / They are made of iron and fire, / And we are fragile as glass 
before God" (H 4:19).
Among the numerous virtues that Montfort considers part of a spiritual 
path, two in particular should be emphasized: obedience, which Montfort 
describes to the Company of Mary as "the foundation and unshakable 
support of all its holiness" (RM 19), and charity, which "in itself 
contains / The most perfect holiness. / It is the fulfillment of the 
law; / Without it, there is no law" (H 14:6; cf. H 17:29).
7. The development of sanctity
Montfort’s spirituality is dynamic: those who adopt it are introduced 
to the itinerary of spirituality and accompanied throughout their 
journey; it guides Christians through the stages of (a) purification, 
(b) illumination, and (c) union. The month-long exercises in 
preparation for consecration to Jesus by the hands of Mary (outlined by 
Montfort in TD 227–33) reveal this path of (a) purification: liberating 
oneself from the worldly spirit that is counter to the spirit of Jesus 
Christ; (b) illumination: charismatic knowledge of Mary and of her way 
of living, dynamic presence in the mystery of Christ and the Church, 
and thus in the spiritual life of the Christian; and (c) union: filling 
oneself with Jesus Christ by means of Mary.
The Marian element of Montfort spirituality, far from diminishing the 
dynamism of this march toward saintliness, in fact enhances it. In 
order to describe this dynamism, Montfort invokes the Biblical 
narrative of Rebecca and Jacob, in which he sees depicted a life of 
consecration to Jesus Christ by the hands of Mary: "What does this good 
Mother do when we have presented and consecrated to her our soul and 
body and all that pertains to them without excepting anything? Just 
what Rebecca of old did to the little goats Jacob brought her. (a) She 
kills them, that is, makes them die to the life of the old Adam. (b) 
She strips them of their skin, that is, of their natural inclinations, 
their self-love and self-will and their every attachment to creatures. 
(c) She cleanses them from all stain, impurity and sin. (d) She 
prepares them to God’s taste and to his greater glory" (TD 205).
This purification is followed by illumination: "Once this good Mother . 
. . has stripped us of our own garments, she cleanses us and makes us 
worthy to appear without shame before our heavenly Father. . . . She 
clothes us in the clean, new, precious and fragrant garments of Esau, 
the first born, namely, her Son Jesus Christ. . . . Finally, Mary 
obtains for them the heavenly Father’s blessing" (TD 206–207). We are 
thus led to union with Christ (cf. TD 152–168): "Furthermore, once Mary 
has heaped her favors upon her children and her faithful servants and 
has secured for them the blessing of the heavenly Father and union with 
Jesus Christ, she keeps them in Jesus and keeps Jesus in them. She 
guards them, watching over them unceasingly, lest they lose the grace 
of God and fall into the snares of their enemies. ‘She keeps the saints 
in their fullness’ (St. Bonaventure), and inspires them to persevere to 
the end" (TD 212).
8. The goal of sanctity
If "Mary raises up, develops, and crowns the saints,"19 and if the 
death of the saints is their dies natalis, then their entire life must 
be considered their formation in the womb of Mary, mother in the order 
of grace. On this subject, Montfort writes, "St. Augustine, surpassing 
himself as well as all that I have said so far, affirms that in order 
to be conformed to the image of the Son of God all the predestinate, 
while in the world, are hidden in the womb of the Blessed Virgin where 
they are protected, nourished, cared for and developed by this good 
Mother, until the day she brings them forth to a life of glory after 
death, which the Church calls the birthday of the just" (TD 33).
But the fact that the saints dwell in Mary’s womb does not mean that 
they are passive and inert. We must imitate Mary’s virtues until the 
end. For Montfort, the greatest inducement to embrace perfect devotion 
to Mary is that it is "a wonderful means of persevering in the practice 
of virtue and of remaining steadfast" (TD 173). He places these 
consoling words on the lips of the Virgin: "Happy are those who 
practice my virtues and who, with the help of God’s grace, follow the 
path of my life. They are happy in this world because of the abundance 
of grace and sweetness I impart to them out of my fullness, and which 
they receive more abundantly than others who do not imitate me so 
closely. They are happy at the hour of death which is sweet and 
peaceful for I am usually there myself to lead them home to everlasting 
joy. Finally, they will be happy for all eternity, because no servant 
of mine who imitated my virtues during life has ever been lost" (TD 
200).

 

III. Montfort, Founder of a School of Spirituality?
The conviction is ever-growing that Saint Louis de Montfort founded a 
school of spirituality, an outgrowth of the Bérullian school and of 
many other strands of holiness in the Church.
1. The Montfort spiritual tradition
In his encyclical Redemptoris Mater, John Paul II includes Saint Louis 
Marie de Montfort among the many witnesses and teachers of Marian 
spirituality, and describes the specific nature of this spirituality: 
"Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort . . . proposes consecration to 
Christ through the hands of Mary, as an effective means for Christians 
to live faithfully their baptismal commitments" (RMat 48). 
Fundamentally, of course, there is only one uniform school of Christian 
spirituality in the Church. However, the Spirit, "according to His own 
richness and the needs of the ministries, distributes His different 
gifts for the welfare of the Church" (LG 7). In this sense, we can 
speak of diverse forms or schools of Christian spirituality.
In his book The Spiritual Life at the School of the Blessed Louis Marie 
de Montfort, A. Lhoumeau discerns in Montfort’s teaching a true "system 
of spirituality."20 "A century later, Lhoumeau’s assessment remains 
completely valid, and the numerous and ever-multiplying studies of 
Montfort’s works since that time have demonstrated that this assessment 
rests on an increasingly sure foundation. A. Martinelli, for example, 
has asserted that Montfort’s TD forms the "basis for modern Marian 
spirituality."21 For his part, John Paul II has invited us to be 
faithful "to the inexhaustible source of spirituality that Montfort 
left for us, by teaching us the meaning of true devotion to Mary."22
Deville recently described Montfort as one of the great heirs of the 
Bérullian school. He summarizes Montfort’s mission and his particular 
grace as follows: "In many aspects of his thought and teaching, 
Montfort remains one of the best witnesses of the French School; 
Brémond unhesitatingly referred to him as the ‘last of the great 
Bérullians.’ He is certainly a part of the Bérullian tradition, but 
with his own particular emphases, notably on the subject of eternal 
Wisdom. He colors and enriches that tradition . . . with his long, 
loving contemplation of the Wisdom of God, which is the person of the 
Word incarnate." Deville also observed that, among the teachers of what 
is called the French School, and perhaps "among all of the saints, 
Grignion de Montfort has probably done the most to put this theological 
study of devotion to Mary at the service of the lives of the most 
ordinary Christians. John Paul II, a great reader of True Devotion to 
the Blessed Virgin, could say: ‘Grignion de Montfort introduces us to 
the ordering of the mysteries in which our faith lives, enabling it to 
grow and become fruitful.’"23
Among the elements that make up Montfort spirituality, the dominant 
motifs are the Trinitarian, Christocentric, and Spirit-filled elements 
that characterize Montfort’s pedagogy of baptism. His missionary work 
and his writings were all concerned with preparing for the reign of 
Jesus Christ and with renewing personal consecration to Eternal and 
Incarnate Wisdom. And the Marian element is intertwined throughout his 
thinking. On the subject of Mary’s presence in God’s salvific plan, 
Montfort suggests that we live with, in, and for Mary, the mother and 
model of Christian life, to experience the fundamental, constitutive 
consecration of baptism into Christ Jesus. This synthesis can be 
expressed as follows: "Montfort received in the Church the charism to 
express, with great vigor, the marvels and demands of baptism, which 
consecrates us to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and at the 
same time to illuminate clearly the theological and pastoral value of 
true devotion to the Mother of the Lord. With this secret of grace, we 
can become alive to the duties that our covenant with God entails and 
that make us Christians, and thus to the fundamental consecration of 
baptism."24
In this way, the path of holiness that Montfort describes becomes the 
path that baptism laid down before us. Thus, with God’s help, we must 
maintain and perfect the holiness that becomes ours when we receive 
this sacrament of spiritual rebirth. By renewing his or her baptismal 
promises in the hands of Mary, the disciple of Montfort will journey 
toward holiness, conscious "of his elevation, or rather, of his rebirth 
to the most happy reality of being the adopted Son of God, to the 
dignity of being a brother or sister of Christ, to the grace and joy of 
the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, to the vocation to a new life."25 
The itinerary that Montfort proposes can thus be called an easy, short, 
perfect, and certain path, open to everyone, a path to sainthood for 
"daily . . . or ordinary time." If trust in Mary "makes us give Jesus 
and Mary all our thoughts, words, actions, and sufferings and every 
moment of our lives without exception" (TD 136), then the consecrated 
Christian finds comfort in the thought that "everything is done for 
Jesus and Mary. Our offering always holds good . . . unless we 
explicitly retract it" (TD 136).
2. Following the Montfort way of holiness
From the time of the rediscovery of TD in 1842 until today, many have 
followed the path that Montfort proposed.
We can agree that "Montfort spirituality has been accepted by and given 
a place of honor in the contemporary Church. No book or dictionary on 
spirituality can ignore him."26 It surely could be said that the deep, 
renewed devotion to Our Lady so resembles Montfort’s thought that he 
could well be named its precursor.
In his encyclical Redemptoris Mater, John Paul II notes that "in our 
own time too new manifestations of this spirituality and devotion are 
not lacking" (RMat 48). John Paul II’s example and word, signified by 
his motto "Totus tuus," invite the twentieth-century Church to 
scrutinize and carry out Montfort’s spiritual message as a path toward 
Christian holiness.27 The Pope himself has expressed this message in 
new and personal terms based on his own experience: "Grignion de 
Montfort even shows us the working of the mysteries which quicken our 
faith and make it grow and render it fruitful. The more my inner life 
has been centered on the mystery of the Redemption, the more surrender 
to Mary, in the spirit of Saint Louis de Montfort, has seemed to me the 
best means of participating fruitfully and effectively in this reality, 
in order to draw from it and share with others its inexpressible 
riches."28 In these words of John Paul II we can hear a distant echo of 
Paul VI’s exhortation to the Montfort family on January 31, 1973, the 
three-hundredth anniversary of Montfort’s birth: "There are still 
greater secrets of your Father to be discovered; you must live and 
proclaim Jesus Christ, eternal Wisdom; you must bring others to know 
and love Mary as the surest path to Jesus."
If it is true that "Saint Louis-Marie de Montfort’s spiritual legacy 
has been received by countless souls, even beyond the religious 
congregations he founded"; if it is also true that "the Montfort 
movement is strengthening, extending throughout the world" and that 
"new forms of social communication are accelerating and multiplying the 
spread of Montfort’s message in the world,"29 then we must rejoice with 
all our hearts. This heralds a new springtime of holiness.
A. Rum

 

Notes:
(1) According to Grandet (p. 45), Louis-Marie first used the 
name "de Montfort" in a letter to his sister Guyonne-Jeanne (L 12, 
October 1702). On August 28, 1704, in a letter to his mother, he called 
himself simply "Montfort": ". . . Montfort would be the envy of the 
richest and most powerful kings on earth" (L 20). (2) A. Pauvert, Vie 
du vénérable Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort . . . (Life of the 
venerable Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort), Oudin, Poitiers-Paris 
1875, 12. (3) De Fiores, Itinerario, 4. (4) G. De Luca, Luigi Maria 
Grignion de Montfort. Saggio biografico (Biographical Essay), 2nd ed., 
Edizioni di storia e letterature, Rome 1985, 152. (5) Ibid,. 85. (6) H. 
Daniel. Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort. Ce qu’il fut, ce qu’d 
fite, (St. Louis de Montfort, Who He was and What He Did), Téqui, 
Toulouse 1967. 27. (7) Blain, 227. (8) De Fiores, 264. (9) Pius XII, 
Discourse of the pilgrims gathered for the Canonization of St. Louis-
Marie de Montfort, July 21, 1947, in AAS 39 (1947), 411. (10) The first 
authentic title for the manuscript of TD was "The perfect consecration 
to Jesus Christ" (TD 120). Montfort wrote it in large letters to 
indicate its importance. (11) Apart from LEW and FC, one can find 
various hymns that Montfort composed in honor of Christ’s passion and 
Cross, the Eucharist, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In RM 7, Montfort 
exhorts his missionaries to share in "the most tender inclinations of 
the heart of Jesus, their model." (12) T. Goffi, P. Zovatto, La 
spiritualità del Settecento (The Spirituality of the Eighteenth 
Century), Edizioni dehoniane, Bologna 1990 175–176. (13) Grandet, 440. 
(14) Grandet, 440. (15) Blain, 201. (16) Cf. S. De Fiores, "Le Saint-
Esprit et Marie chez Grignion de Montfort" (The Holy Spirit and Mary in 
Grignion de Montfort) in CM 20 (1975), n. 99, 195–216. (17) A. Rum, "La 
spiritualità mariana di s. Luigi Maria Grignion de Montfort," (The 
Marian Spirituality of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort) in E. 
Ancilli, ed., Le grandi scuole della spiritualità cristiana (The Great 
Schools of Christian Spirituality), Edizioni O.C.D., Rome 1984, 577–
596. (18) Often, in the margin of his hymns, Montfort wrote, "The 
examples of the saints." (19) Pius XI, for the canonization of Jeanne 
Antide Thouret. (20) A. Lhoumeau, La vie spirituelle a l’école du Bx. 
Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (The Spiritual Life at the School of 
Blessed Louis Marie de Montfort), Oudin, Paris 1901). (21) In Palestra 
del Clero, February 1965, 207. (22) John Paul II, To the General 
Chapter of the Brothers of Saint Gabriel, 1985. (23) R. Deville, 
L’école française de spiritualité (The French school of spirituality), 
Desclée, Paris 1987, 162. (24) A. Rum, La spiritualità, 584. (25) Paul 
VI, Encyclical Ecclesiam suam, August 6, 1964, 23. (26) Ibid., 591. 
(27) Cf. M. Comin, "Movimento mariano monfortano," (Montfort Marian 
Movement) in A. Favale, ed., Presenza di Maria nelle aggregazioni 
ecclesiali contemporanee (Presence of Mary in the contemporary 
ecclesial societies), LDC, Leumann 1985, 15–28. This article gives an 
insight into the influence of Montfort Marian spirituality on the 
progress of the Church. (28) A. Frossard, "Be Not Afraid!": Pope John 
Paul II Speaks Out on his Life, his Beliefs, and his Inspiring Vision 
for Humanity, St. Martin’s Press, New York 1984, 126. (29) B. 
Cortinovis, "Presentazione" (Presentation), in S. Luigi Maria da 
Montfort, Opere (Works) vol. I: Scritti spirituali (Spiritual 
Writings), Edizioni monfortane, Rome 1990. 

 


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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