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

Summary
I.	Introduction: 
	1.	The etymology of the word; 
	2.	From the profane to the religious sense; 
	3.	Salvation as God’s loving kindness. 
II.	Salvation in the Seventeenth Century: 
	1.	Parish missions; 
	2.	Jansenism. 
III.	Montfort and the Salvation of His Neighbor: 
	1.	Aspirations of the young priest; 
	2.	Montfort the missionary; 
	3.	His plan for his mission: 
		a.	Prayer for Missionaries, 
		b.	Rule of the Missionary Priests of the Company of Mary. 
IV.	Montfort’s Vision of Salvation: 
	1.	An all-encompassing vision; 
	2.	A unified concept: 
		a.	The Rosary, 
		b.	The Cross, 
		c.	Perfect Consecration to Jesus Christ through Mary.
V.	Conclusion.

I. Introduction
This article will present a general overview of the meaning of salvation 
and consider the method Saint Louis de Montfort employed to proclaim 
God’s healing love in and through Christ Jesus. The word “salvation,” a 
familiar one in the Christian language, has a long history. We can 
better understand its significance for us today if we briefly review 
this history and clear away the historical accumulations that have 
obscured the word’s meaning.
1. The etymology of the word 
Words become as familiar to our lips as the feel of coins in our 
fingers. Just as coins become worn and illegible, words lose their 
original meaning through repeated use. Such is the case with the word 
“salvation.” The concept can trace its lineage to the Sanskrit word 
sarvah,1 from which its rich etymological history derives. The root, 
sar, became sal in the Latin languages. Thus, for example, we have the 
French word salut and the English “salute,” to wish someone good health, 
as well as the words “salutary” and “salubrious,” promoting health. 
Later, the word “salvation” became associated with a danger from which 
one escapes, something that threatens the integrity of a material or 
physical good.
2. From the profane to the religious sense 
From the beginning of our existence, mankind has been surrounded by 
dangers. Pagans turned to their gods to ask for help and protection. The 
OT understanding of salvation springs from concrete experiences: 
deliverance from mortal danger, healing from serious illness, freedom 
from captivity, victory in battle (cf. Ps 7:11; 22:22; 86:2; etc.). It 
is not only individuals who cry out for liberation but the nation as a 
whole. To these chosen people, God revealed His name (Ex 3:14) and, at 
the same time, revealed Himself as the Savior of His people (cf. Ex 
3:16). Every subsequent revelation has contained this duality: God in 
His transcendence and God the Savior. “Your Redeemer is the Holy One of 
Israel” (Is 41:14). Judith, in her prayer, “cried out to the Lord with a 
loud voice and said, . . . thou art God of the lowly . . . savior of 
those without hope” (Jdt 11:1, 9). This notion of total healing of the 
people of God developed concurrently with the concept of the God of the 
covenant in the history of Israel, and of the breaking of this covenant 
through sin. Understanding of one allowed for understanding of the 
other, as we see in Zechariah’s hymn: “Blessed be the Lord God of 
Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. . . 
. He spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we 
would be saved from our enemies. . . . Thus he . . has remembered his 
holy covenant . . . to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of 
our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and 
righteousness” (Lk 1:68ff). Mankind’s greatest misfortune is to be 
separated from its Creator, especially if this separation should become 
final. Salvation—and here we return to the word’s distant etymological 
origins—signifies man’s complete flowering, in the fullness of his 
being, into eternal life. “And this is eternal life, that they may know 
you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3). 
This is the good news, the Gospel brought to the world by Christ and by 
those who followed him, proclaiming his message of salvation: “To you is 
born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the 
Lord” (Lk 2:11).
Although the NT employs for salvation the term sotería, which can mean 
both bodily health and the well-being of spiritual life, in NT it is a 
religious term and is almost never applied to purely earthly conditions. 
In its fullest sense, salvation is Jesus: “Today,” Jesus says to his 
host, Zacchaeus, “salvation has come to this house” (Lk 19:9; cf. Lk 
18:42). Those who turn to him in loving surrender encounter and accept 
God’s forgiveness personally enfleshed. They are “healed,” “saved” in 
and through a dynamic, mutual relationship with Christ Jesus. 
3. Salvation as God’s loving kindness 
“In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent 
his Son” (1 Jn 4:10). Cut off from God because of sin, mankind finds 
salvation only through God’s merciful initiative. “It was because the 
LORD loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors, that 
the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from 
the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know 
therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who maintains 
covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a 
thousand generations” (Deut 7:8-9). This love takes the first step. 
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. 
The more I called them, the more they went from me . . . . Yet it was 
I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did 
not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, 
with bands of love” (Hos 11:1-2, 3-4). In spite of mankind’s 
forgetfulness and rebellions, throughout the history of His people, God 
has never ceased to follow them with His love and to renew His pardon. 
He was not content to speak to them through His messengers, the 
prophets; He came Himself, in His Son. “For God so loved the world that 
he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may have 
eternal life” (Jn 3:16). This Son is Jesus, whose name means “YHWH 
saves.”

 

II. Salvation in the Seventeenth Century
The seventeenth century was a time of solid spirituality and 
extraordinary religious vitality that led to the development of saintly 
priests, including several who were canonized: Francis de Sales, Vincent 
de Paul, John Eudes. There was a sincere interest in the salvation of 
sinners and the task of leading them back to their Christian 
obligations. Some theologians, however, propounded doctrines on the role 
of divine grace and salvation that proved excessive, and their 
deviations led to a subtle and tenacious heresy called Jansenism,2 which 
was so rigorous that it closed the doors of hope and divine mercy to 
sinners, doors that had been so bounteously opened by the entire 
prophetic tradition.
1. Parish missions 
As Montfort was preparing himself for his ministry of parish missions, 
France could already boast of generations of pioneers in this apostolic 
ministry dedicated to the conversion and salvation of all. In 1625, 
Vincent de Paul founded the Congregation of the Mission,3 approved by 
Urban VIII in 1633. The priests of the Oratory, the Jesuits, the 
Capuchins, and the Eudists all were involved in forming mission teams. 
Toward the close of the seventeenth century and the beginning of the 
eighteenth, Brittany and the west of France were the scene of an 
impressive outbreak of evangelizing activity, due to the establishment 
of numerous monasteries and a revival of Christian life at every level 
in society. Missionaries traveled in groups of six to twelve or 
sometimes, as among the Capuchins, twelve to twenty. Several would 
preach, while others would hear confessions for eight, fifteen, or 
thirty hours.4 “They wished to convert and instruct sinners and at the 
same time lead them to holiness” (Bremond). These missions were 
supported by “endowments,” sometimes worth thousands of livres. The 
missions themselves had to be renewed every five or ten years.5 History 
has left us some celebrated names, such as Le Nobletz, Maunoir, 
Leuduger, and also the Father from Montfort.
2. Jansenism 
Before Christian people felt the effects of its moral teachings in the 
form of an excessively rigorous administration of Penance and the 
Eucharist,6 Jansenism was the product of an elite of theologians and 
spiritual figures.7 With the intention of presenting St. Augustine’s 
doctrine on grace in all its purity, the Dutch theologian Cornelius 
Jansen (Jansenius)—encouraged by Jean du Vergier de Hauranne, Abbot of 
Saint-Cyran and a friend and fellow graduate of the University of 
Louvain—taught that human nature was so thoroughly corrupted by original 
sin that it was incapable of doing good; as a result, the unfaithful 
were unable to love God. The sole remedy was grace, but God granted 
grace only to those who were predestined—those who were redeemed by 
Christ, whereas God is “the Savior of all people” (1 Tim 4:10). At 
Jansenism’s most extreme, this interior grace was said to be so 
irresistible that humans were deprived of their freedom and could not 
collaborate in their own salvation. In July 1705, eight months before he 
was to meet with Montfort, Pope Clement XI reiterated the condemnation 
of his predecessors Urban VIII (1643) and Innocent X (1653). Certainly 
Clement must have had the religious situation in France in mind when, 
after listening to Montfort, then a young priest of only six years, he 
made him a part of his apostolic plans, saying, “You have a great field 
in France in which to exercise your zeal. Stay in France, and always 
work with a perfect submission to the bishops of the dioceses to which 
you are called. By this means, God will give His blessing to your 
works.”8 Montfort returned to France with the title of “Apostolic 
Missionary.”

 

III. Montfort and the Salvation of His Neighbor
Cicero would have said, “One is born a poet, but one becomes an orator.” 
One is a gift of nature; the other, the result of art. In the words of 
his friend Blain, Montfort was “born for the apostolic life.” His 
earliest childhood years presaged his future, as he strove to initiate 
his young sister, Guyonne-Jeanne, into prayer: a missionary wholly 
dedicated to the salvation of his fellow human beings.
1. Aspirations of the young priest 
In a letter dated December 6, 1700, scarcely six months after his 
ordination, Montfort confided to his spiritual director, Leschassier, 
the superior at Saint-Sulpice, his desire for the apostolic ministry of 
preaching. Although the members of Saint-Sulpice had been watching over 
Montfort and had expected that he would remain there, they regretfully 
allowed him to leave and advised him to visit a holy priest at Nantes, 
named René Lévêque, who had established a community of priests intended 
for parish missions. This experience, as Montfort reveals in that same 
letter, was disappointing, and he describes it in detail (L 5). Several 
months later, he wrote again to Father Leschassier: “As you know, I have 
not the slightest inclination to stay in the Saint Clément community” (L 
9).9 He was torn between his attraction to a life in seclusion and his 
“tremendous urge to make our Lord and his holy Mother loved, to go in a 
humble and simple way to teach catechism to the poor in country places 
and to arouse in sinners a devotion to our Blessed Lady” (L 6). He cites 
the encouraging example of a good priest, unnamed: “He used to go about 
from parish to parish teaching the people catechism and relying only on 
what Providence provided for him.” Then he reveals the plans that he had 
probably harbored since his ordination and that tortured him inside: 
“When I see the needs of the Church I cannot help pleading continually 
for a small and poor band of good priests” to carry out this apostolic 
work (L 6). 
2. Montfort the missionary 
On the strength of his mission from the Pope, Montfort resumed the hard 
apostolic labor he had dreamed of. “It is done, I roam through the 
world, / I have the spirit of a vagabond / To save my poor neighbor. / 
What! I see the soul of my dear brother / Perish everywhere from sin / 
And my heart is not touched? / No, no, Lord, that soul is too dear to 
me” (H 22:1). “I see this soul, so beautiful, / Fall into eternal death. 
/ Shall no one feel any sorrow? / What! I see the blood of God who loves 
/ Spread among all in vain / And His prize forever lost? / I would 
rather be anathema” (H 22:2). We hear there an echo of St. Paul, who 
cried out: “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I 
could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the 
sake of my own people” (Rom 9:2-3). Montfort castigated evil everywhere 
that he found it. He describes at length, in LEW 75-82, the false 
wisdom, worldly, carnal, and diabolical, against which he does battle. 
He returns to this theme in ten hymns, numbers 29 through 39. In the 
first, made up of ninety-two stanzas of 6 lines each, or 552 lines in 
all, he speaks of every sin from all levels of society: pride among the 
great; indolence, self-complacency, ignorance among the peasants; 
drunkenness, slander; even in the religious Orders, envy and discord. 
“Injustice in the palace, / Scandals before the public; / In secret beds 
and places, / Filthy impurities” (H 29:19). “See the world and its 
misfortunes. / Can we love anything so miserable? / Can we follow its 
adherents / In their deplorable fate? / Let us all cry out together: 
Woe, woe / Woe to this deceitful world” (H 29:91). We must imagine these 
words on the lips of a preacher who is burning with passion, in order to 
grasp the effect they must have had on his audience. This preacher was 
animated with the Spirit of the ancient prophets: “They proclaim their 
sin like Sodom, they do not hide it. Woe to them! For they have brought 
evil on themselves. . . . Woe to the guilty! How unfortunate they are, 
for what their hands have done shall be done to them” (Isa 3:9, 11). How 
many times did Jesus himself condemn the world? “Woe to you who are full 
now, for you will be angry. Woe to you who are laughing now, for you 
will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is 
what their ancestors did to the false prophets” (Lk 6:25-26). “Woe to me 
if I do not proclaim the gospel!” said St. Paul (1 Cor 9:16). This was 
Montfort’s view, in spite of the dangers he encountered from those on 
both ends of the religious/theological spectrum who tried on several 
occasions to kill him.10 He preached without any endowment to ensure his 
subsistence, relying totally on Divine Providence.11 His only companion 
at that time was a young man to whom Montfort said one day, like Christ, 
“Come, follow me.” This man became Brother Mathurin. Less than three 
years before he died, in August 1713, Father de Montfort traveled to 
Paris to find heirs to his spirit and to throw his coat, like Elijah, 
over some new Elisha (2 Kings 2:13). He had prayed for thirteen years to 
have missionaries for his little Company who would continue his 
proclamation of salvation.
3. His plan for his mission 
It was during this long gestation that Montfort carried in his heart and 
in his prayer the missionaries whom he wished to associate with him. PM 
gives a general description of his ideal missionary for his Company. RM 
describes his intentions for his Company in more detail. Its author’s 
clear and methodical mind is apparent throughout and expresses perfectly 
his expectations for the mission.
a. Prayer for Missionaries. 
This work, more than any of his other writings, displays the purity and 
transparency of his apostolic ardor and indicates how deeply he took the 
salvation of souls to heart. It should certainly not be classified as 
simply one prayer among others. Its spiritual quality is exceptional, 
akin to what one finds in the highest reaches of the mystical life, the 
sixth mansion, wherein St. Teresa of Avila places the zeal of souls. 
Something similar animated Montfort. He wanted to convert sinners and 
ensure their salvation so that he might restore to God the glory that 
sin had taken from Him. “But above all, bear in mind your dear Son . . . 
his cruel death and the blood he shed, all these cry out to you for 
mercy, so that, by this Congregation, his kingdom may bring down the 
empire of his enemies and rise upon its ruins” (PM 4). With all the 
strength and familiarity of Elijah speaking to YHWH (cf. 1 Kings 18:27), 
he cries out: “Be mindful, Lord, of your Congregation, when you come to 
dispense your justice. . . . Your divine commandments are broken, your 
Gospel is thrown aside, torrents of iniquity flood the whole earth 
carrying away even your servants. . . . Will everything come to the same 
end as Sodom and Gomorrah?” (PM 5). One cannot help thinking of St. John 
of the Cross’s remark about how few souls arrive at that intense degree 
of charity that bears fruit in an apostolate, a doctrine that conforms 
to the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas: “The preaching of the divine word 
must proceed from the fullness of contemplation.”12 As a young priest, 
Montfort must surely have received, at the moment of his ordination, a 
special grace of the Holy Spirit, in light of the mission he was to 
accomplish. When Samuel anointed David, “the spirit of the LORD came 
mightily upon David from that day forward” (1 Sam 16:13). The imprint of 
the Holy Spirit is apparent in the words that fall from his pen: “Would 
it not be better for me to be dead, Lord, than to see you offended daily 
so deliberately and with such impunity and, daily, to stand, myself, in 
ever-increasing danger of being swept away by the ever-swelling flood of 
iniquity?”—as if it were a question of his own salvation. “I would 
rather die a thousand deaths than endure such a fate. Send me your help 
from heaven or let me die” (PM 14). His zeal had no limits except those 
of the absolute reign of God. “When will it happen, this fiery deluge of 
pure love with which you are to set the whole world ablaze and which is 
to come, so gently yet so forcefully, that all nations, Moslems, 
idolaters and even Jews, will be caught up in its flames and be 
converted?” (PM 17).
b. Rule of the Missionary Priests of the Company of Mary. 
The deepest desire of Montfort’s soul, even before his sole companion 
had joined him at his side, was codified in the Rule that stipulates 
what he wanted from his missionaries. Their apostolic objective took 
priority, and they were to dedicate themselves wholly to the task of 
saving souls, and that task alone. Others could train priests or form 
seminarians. “Only priests who have already completed their seminary 
training are to be admitted to the Company” (RM 1). All other 
occupations, no matter how beneficial, were to be abandoned “as being 
contrary to their missionary vocation so as to feel free at all times to 
repeat after Jesus Christ: pauperibus evangelizare misit me Dominus, the 
Lord has sent me to preach good news to the poor, or, as the Apostle 
said: non misit me Dominus baptizare sed evangelizare, Christ did not 
send me to baptize but to preach the gospel” (RM 2). “The purpose of 
these missions is to renew the spirit of Christianity among the 
faithful. Therefore, the missionaries will see to it that, as the Pope 
has commanded, the baptismal vows are renewed with the greatest 
solemnity. They are not to give absolution or communion to any penitent 
who has not first renewed his baptismal promises with the rest of the 
parishioners” (RM 56). Montfort was not, of course, acceding to the 
rigorism of Jansenism, but he clearly wished to convey the seriousness 
of this step. Montfort was not the sort of confessor that worldly people 
seek for themselves. “They go looking for some broad-minded confessor 
(that is how they describe lax confessors who shirk their duty) to 
obtain from him on easy terms the peaceful sanction for their soft and 
effeminate way of living and a generous pardon for their sins” (LEW 81). 
Montfort maintained in himself and required of his missionaries a 
healthy balance in the work of the confessional: “They must not be 
either too strict or too lax in imposing penances or granting absolution 
but must hold to the golden mean of wisdom and truth” (RM 59). The true 
preacher in Montfort’s eyes is the man who has the gift “for knowing and 
relishing the truth and getting others to relish it” (RM 60). This is a 
difficult thing; it requires that we receive from God, “as a reward for 
one’s labors and prayers, a tongue, a mouth and a wisdom which the 
enemies of truth cannot withstand” (RM 61). Such preachers “have 
received the gift of proclaiming God’s eternal word,” and “all the 
members of the Company of Mary must one day be preachers of this 
caliber” (RM 62).

 

IV. Montfort’s Vision of Salvation
However eloquent he must have been, to judge from the crowds that 
pressed round to hear him speak, Montfort was not only a prestigious 
preacher but a holy preacher with only one ambition, one reason for 
being, which was to have his people experience the need for salvation 
and to find that need fulfilled in Christ Jesus. Like the prophet 
Elijah, he was consumed with zeal for God: “I have been very zealous for 
the LORD, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your 
covenant” (1Kings 19:10).
1. An all-encompassing vision 
Montfort’s viewed salvation not simply as bringing the sinner out of 
moral misery but also as bringing him or her to a stable and progressive 
Christian life. Montfort was not a preacher who, on completing a parish 
mission, simply left to begin new work elsewhere, as if he had merely 
carried out a contract to do missionary work in that area for a couple 
of weeks. Montfort articulated a universal vision of his mission. 
Preaching led to conversion, but conversion was only a way station, not 
the final destination. Perseverance and progress in virtue were needed. 
“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning” (Eccles. 7:8).
2. A unified concept 
Saint Louis Marie speaks of “the means of saving . . . souls, such as 
confession, holy communion, prayer, etc” (LEW 80). There are, however, 
three means of salvation proposed by Montfort that should be given 
special attention: the Rosary, the Cross, and most especially the 
baptismal Consecration renewal through Mary.
a. The Rosary. 
In one of his methods for saying the Rosary, Montfort dedicated the 
tenth decade to “the conversion of sinners, perseverance for the just” 
(MR 9). Montfort knew that perseverance could be obtained through 
prayer, which is why he established the Rosary everywhere. The Ave Maria 
“obtains indulgence / And grace for the sinner, / To the just go fervor 
/ And perseverance” (H 89:16). “I, who write this, have learnt from my 
own experience that the Rosary has the power to convert even the most 
hardened hearts. . . . When I have gone back to parishes where I had 
given missions, I have seen tremendous differences between them; in 
those parishes where the people had given up the Rosary, they had 
generally fallen back into their sinful ways, whereas in places where 
the Rosary was said faithfully I found the people were persevering in 
the grace of God and advancing in virtue day by day” (SR 113).
b. The Cross. 
The mystery of the Cross is a cornerstone of Montfort’s doctrine; he is 
traditionally referred to as an apostle of the Cross and the Rosary. The 
Cross plays a critical role in every one of his written works, because 
“God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through 
our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us” (1 Thess 5:9-10). It would be 
impossible for us to speak of salvation without speaking of the Cross. 
Montfort’s all-encompassing vision of salvation required that he address 
this essential point. As mentioned above, his mission was not short-
term—it did not end with conversion. Its ultimate outcome was a life 
given wholly to God, a life in which we fulfill the potential promised 
by our Baptism and live the mystery of the Cross. This does not simply 
mean leading a virtuous life; rather, it means authentic holiness, as 
Montfort himself expressed it so clearly. It was with this goal in mind 
that he often founded the Association of the Friends of the Cross on the 
completion of a parish mission, which normally lasted several weeks. 
Those who had followed thirty-three sermons of the mission were eligible 
to join. After solemnly planting a large cross, Montfort would 
distribute to each member a small embroidered cross, to be pinned to his 
or her sleeve as a reminder of discovered truths. For many years after 
his death, one of these groups continued to exist at La Rochelle, with 
about sixty members. For Montfort, this was a way of encouraging 
perseverance in Christian perfection. “Christian holiness consists in 
this: 1. Resolving to become a saint: ‘If anyone wants to be a follower 
of mine’; 2. Self-denial: ‘Let him renounce himself’; 3. Suffering: ‘Let 
him take up his cross’; 4. Acting: ‘Let him follow me’” (FC 13). It is 
rare indeed today to hear words as urgent as those Montfort spoke to his 
Friends of the Cross!
c. Perfect Consecration to Jesus Christ through Mary. 
Montfort’s logical mind would never have allowed him to leave out of his 
vision of salvation “the greatest means of all, and the most wonderful 
of all secrets for obtaining and preserving divine Wisdom” (LEW 203), 
which is perfect devotion to Mary, the act of “losing ourselves” in Our 
Lady so that she can mold us into Jesus Christ. This is, in Montfort’s 
view, a “perfect renewal of the vows and promises of holy baptism” (TD 
120). Here again we see the same urgent demands for holiness: “Chosen 
soul, living image of God . . . , God wants you to become holy like him 
in this life and glorious like him in the next” (SM 3). This is 
salvation. He tells the soul in whom he is confiding his secret of Mary: 
“Inspired by the Holy Spirit, I am confiding it to you, with these 
conditions: . . . That you use this secret to become holy and worthy of 
heaven” (SM 1). Saint Louis Marie gave his people, through his preaching 
of total Consecration, a solid means of living their faith, a program of 
life that, precisely because it so intensifies union with Our Lady, is 
such an excellent means of living in Jesus Christ, our salvation.

 

V. Conclusion 
Our faith proclaims: “For us men and for our salvation he came down from 
heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary 
and became man.” Basing himself on this truth, Montfort writes: “The 
salvation of the world began through Mary and through her it must be 
accomplished” (TD 49). Montfort’s voice no longer resounds in the 
churches of Brittany, but his works still speak to us. Their message is 
a vibrant, undiluted call to salvation. Two hundred and fifty years 
after Montfort, the Second Vatican Council endorsed a similar vision (LG 
52), and John Paul II, for his part, has referred to the “precise place 
in the plan of salvation” of the Mother of the Redeemer (RMat 1). The 
Vicar of Christ has not hesitated to point out explicitly Saint Louis de 
Montfort’s Consecration as “an effective means for Christians to live 
faithfully their baptismal commitments” (RMat 48).
H. M. Guindon

 

Notes:
(1) R. Grandsaignes d’Hauterive, Dictionnaire des racines des 
langues européennes (Dictionary of the Roots of European Languages), 
vol. Sal-V, Larousse, Paris 1987, 129. (2) Dictionnaire practique des 
connaissances religieuses (Practical Dictionnary of Religious 
Knowledge), Letouzey-Ané, Paris 1925, 3:1145. (3) “He was alone in Paris 
in having established an institution that was dedicated exclusively to 
missionary work.” B. Porcheron, Paris I, in Histoire des diocèses de 
France (History of Dioceses in France), Beauchesne, Paris 1987, 
20:244. (4) “These missions, which were one of the great novelties of 
Tridentine pastoral activity, multiplied in number. They were conducted 
along standard lines that various accounts and narratives describe: 
preaching, conversion of sinners, confessions, communions, solemn 
ceremonies and processions, with shocking and dramatic sideshows that 
were a part of the pedagogy of such missions. . . . There is no 
indication that these missions bore any lasting fruit.” Ibid., 246. (5) 
In 1678 a lawyer, Pierre Lebardier, founded a mission at Montoir to 
provide for the Capuchins at Croisic every seven years. Y. Durand, 
Nantes, in Histoire des diocèses de France, 1985, 18:136. (6) Even 
though severity seemed to be the rule in the second half of the 
seventeenth century (B. Häring, La Loi du Christ [The Law of Christ], 
Desclée, Tournai 1960, 1:45), an excessive number of confessors were 
accused of leniency and of leading sinners to damnation because it was 
necessary to postpone or deny absolution until the penitent could give 
proof of his or her improved conduct. Le Camus, bishop of Grenoble, 
wrote: “In a town like Grenoble or Chambéry . . . there are scarcely 
forty persons to be absolved out of four thousand, if we have to find 
converts to absolve them: if confessors are doing this, it is 
scandalous.” H. Baud, Genève-Annecy, in Histoire des diocèses de France, 
1985, 19:141. (7) This includes disciples of Bérulle. At Lyon, “the 
Oratorians had welcomed the new doctrine.” J. Gadille, Lyon, in Histoire 
des diocèses de France, 1983, 16:141. “Jansenism came to Nantes from the 
Oratory. . . . The congregation was won over by the theories of Jansen.” 
The same was true of the Benedictines with Dom Louvard, who convinced 
the faculty of theology at Nantes (Durand, Nantes, 139f). (8) Grandet, 
100. (9) The goal of this community was to conduct parish missions. Its 
founder provided “more than sixty” such missions, but it was languishing 
at the time of Montfort’s stay there, and later it became contaminated 
with Quesnelism after the bull Unigenitus condemning Jansenism, and its 
members were “appealers” of the bull at the next council (Durand, 
Nantes, 139). (10) Some young libertines who were told to leave one 
mission waited for Montfort for four hours at a street corner. He never 
came. “We would have cracked his skull if he had come by.” On the other 
hand, his speech was immensely successful. “After the men, three 
thousand women followed the mission in an atmosphere of intense piety.” 
Father Gabriel-Marie, Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, routier de 
l’évangile (Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, Traveler of the Gospel), 
Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre/Montreal 1966, 127, 129. (11) Montfort formally 
excluded these foundations: “They will give all their missions in 
complete dependence on Providence and must not accept any endowment for 
future missions as do some communities of missionaries founded by the 
King or by private persons” (RM 50). (12) Summa Theologiae I-II, q. 188, 
a. 6.

 


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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