JESUS LIVING IN MARY: HANDBOOK OF THE SPIRITUALITY OF ST. LOUIS DE MONTFORT
I. The Manuscript: 1. Time and place of composition; 2. Genesis: experience and tradition. II. Nature and Structure: 1. Prayer for missionaries; 2. Rule of the missionary priests; 3. Letter to the members of the Company of Mary. III. The Company of Mary in the Triptych: 1. Name of the institute; 2. Apostolic community: a. In the footsteps of the poor apostles; b. Apostolic vocation; c. Aggregation and incorporation; d. Deviation from vocation; e. Community and mission. IV. Spirituality of the Company of Mary: 1. Trinitarian perspective; 2. Marian dimension; 3. Priority and primacy of evangelization of the poor; 4. Anthropological component; 5. Vows and missions: a. Evangelical poverty; b. Apostolic obedience. V. Conclusion.
The Montfort triptych1 groups together the three writings defined as the fundamental Rule of Saint Louis Marie de Montfort for the Missionaries of the Company of Mary: the Prayer for Missionaries, the Rule, and the Letter to the Members of the Company of Mary. It is a unique document, not only because of its particular structure, but more importantly because of its basic inspiration. There is nothing quite like it among the other religious constitutions of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth century.
I. THE MANUSCRIPT
A 17 x 11 cm. chestnut brown leather binding covers Father de Montforts triptych manuscript. The text is comprised of three parts, which follow each other consecutively. The pagination is written in Montforts hand, showing that there was no doubt in his mind that it was a single document.2 The Montfort triptych does not include a title for PM, nor indeed for the entire manuscript. Those who saw it in its original state give no indication that it ever had a title. If it did have one, its wording would greatly help in interpreting the manuscript.3
1. Time and place of composition
Joseph Grandet, Montforts first biographer, was one of the people who actually read the triptych manuscript. In chapter seventeen of his biography he presents the beginning of PM, and at the end of the book he intimates that he would also have liked to include RM, but since it was too long he would publish it separately.4 Unfortunately, however, he never fulfilled that promise. Nevertheless, we owe the beginning of PM to Grandet,5 since in its present state the manuscript is missing the first two pages. He does not provide any other information on either the place or time of the writing of the triptych.
Grandets scanty information was added to by Father Charles Besnard, Superior General of the Company of Mary from 1755 to 1788. Besnard devoted nearly the whole of book five of his biography on Montfort to describe the genesis and development of the plan for the Company of Mary.6 Besnards writing provides us with a good framework from which to reconstruct the events that led Montfort to establish his company.
Saint Louis Marie fully developed his ideas for a company of missionaries between the second half of 1712 and the beginning of 1713. Besnard affirms that Montforts decision to found his institute came to fruition during a period of retreat: Not content with offering his prayers and adorable Sacrifice [of the Mass] for the accomplishment of this great and holy work, he also fasted, made pilgrimages, joined his tears to his prayers, and even drew blood in the severe mortification of his flesh. It was during a retreat that he finally decided to actively pursue the formation of the new society, and to devise for it a Rule which would join intense reflection and study of sacerdotal perfection to a zealous undertaking of apostolic work.7
Besnard indicates that it was during this retreat that Montfort quite suddenly made the decision to go ahead with his long-standing plans to institute the Company of Mary. However he had not as yet written the Rule. Saint Louis Marie decided to consult his Ordinary, Étienne de Champflour, the Bishop of La Rochelle,8 before proceeding to put his thoughts into writing. Besnard writes: Though he had endeavored in many ways to know Gods will, if no mistakes were to be made there remained a still surer path. This was the path of obedience. And this was the path he chose to follow, beginning with the submission of his proposal to the judgment and decision of the bishop in the diocese where he resided. The bishop was Étienne de Champflour of La Rochelle, a very enlightened prelate who supported and was in favor of anything that seemed to him to contain the spirit of God. The Bishop was completely sympathetic to Father de Montforts views and he approved his project and promised to do all he could to facilitate the enterprise and assure its success.9
We can date this meeting between Montfort and his bishop somewhere during the summer of 1712, before the resumption of missionary activity in the autumn period.10 However, even de Champflours explicit support did not hasten Montforts drafting of the Rule. It was as if he needed still more time to distill, through missionary experience, the idea that had matured in silence and prayer. For a variety of reasons, he delayed the composition of the Companys Rule until the end of the mission season.11
In the autumn of 1712, Montfort began giving missions again. The first took place at Thairé, where the cross was erected on October 28. On January 1, 1713, the founder wrote a letter to his sister at Rambervilliers, in which he talked mostly about the theme of the cross and did not mention the Company project.12 At the beginning of 1713, he preached a mission at Courson, and this was followed by other missions not mentioned by his biographers. The season finished with a mission at La Séguinière where his friend and collaborator, the Irishman Peter Keating, had been installed as parish priest.13
Thus Montfort, during the interval between the autumn-winter missions of 1712 and the spring of 1713, was able to breathe life into the project he had been thinking about for such a long time. Whenever the parishes where he preached were close enough to his Saint Eloi hermitage at La Rochelle, he would always take the opportunity of going there for a few days. It appears that the plan for the new missionary congregation was drawn up during these intermittent periods of solitude during missions. The plan was definitively completed by the end of June, 1713, when he left for Paris.14
However, later passage of Besnards seems to allude to a definitive version of the text which Montfort prepared before he met with the superiors of Holy Spirit seminary in Paris, in July of 1713. He writes: He described his plan and also read them the Rule that he had devised for those of their students, and any others, who might care to join him in order to follow the same vocation. His project was warmly applauded and all the priests and directors agreed to help him in the formation of students capable of sustaining and perpetuating his good work. As a result of this declaration, which can be regarded in some ways as a kind of contract, Louis Marie wrote these words at the beginning of RM: There is a seminary in Paris where young clerical students who are called to the mission in the Company receive academic and spiritual training to prepare them to become members. To make sure the readers would remember these words he included them a second time in the body of the work.15
The structure of the manuscript points to successive drafts attempting to integrate the three parts. Unfortunately, we do not have any record of this activity, but it probably happened during the period between the summer of 1712 and the summer of 1713.
2. Genesis: experience and tradition
The basis of the triptych is rooted in the many experiences of Father de Montfort; his personality, the spiritual and pastoral directions of the Church and of society in his time, and, especially, the living tradition of popular missions.16 In fact, the triptych was written in the course of parish missions then actually being preached by the saint.
The incomparable thematic richness of PM reflects the complex motives that inspired it and form its base: they matured throughout Montforts life. The mission theology formulated in PM was probably influenced by the thought of Thomas Aquinas as well as of Bérulle. The fundamental elements of the institution, already expressed by Montfort from December 1700 (a small and poor company of itinerant missionaries, giving themselves up to Providence, and under the standard and protection of Mary [L5]), become focused in PM. The project becomes more and more precise as the elements of his original intuition are further distilled: the missionaries of the Company of Mary will not be tied down to any one place, but they will be always available and free to fly at the breath of the Spirit wherever their action against the reign of Satan, and in support of the reform of the Church, may be needed. Always vitally important are the priests all aflame with the love of God (PM 17), following in the steps of the apostles (RM 2).
Certain of these elements are also found in J. J. Oliers (16081657) original conception of the seminary of Saint Sulpice.17 In his view, the seminary was an Apostolic House, in which everything is directed towards reproducing the spirit of the Twelve Apostles; the members of the house were to be filled with zeal to spread the Church of Jesus Christ throughout the world. The seminary is therefore called the smallest portion of the Church; it does not belong to any particular diocese and it does not receive any benefits, so that its members may realize the ideal of the priest animated by the interior fire of the Holy Spirit. Fundamentally, Oliers and Montforts texts converge in the idea of an apostolic company characterized by its lack of fixed roots in any one place, the total availability of its priests, and its devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Various passages from Oliers writings correspond so well with Montforts thinking, particularly in PM, that one has to conclude that Montfort relied considerably on Father Olier. Montforts originality consisted most of all in the transfer of the Apostolic House into a vibrant company of apostolic missionaries destined to renew Christianity among Christians. De Fiores further clarifies: while Olier plans formation of priests for his day, Montfort projects his missionaries towards the future and the reform of the Church in the context of the end times.18
PM employs a series of images taken from military language: a troop of nimble deer, a battalion of bold lions (PE 18). The final section (2730) is particularly rich in examples: How is it that scarcely one soldier lines up under your standard? . . . Let all the worthy priests . . . those still in the fight . . . come and join us. Vis unita fit fortior, with the cross as our standard let us form a strongly disciplined army drawn up in lines of battle. Let us make a concerted attack on the enemies of God who have already sounded the call to arms (PE 2829); a chosen company of soldiers (PE 30).
These phrases of themselves hardly indicate an influence stemming from Saint Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Company of Jesus. In fact, Saint Ignatius use of the word company was very vague and undefined, until a year before his death. In its most primitive sense, what was meant by Company of Jesus was simply companions of Jesus.19 In fact, being armed in the Company of Jesus has a direct relationship to going to war for God under the standard of the Cross. Ignatius does not have any military intentions, but he wants to indicate the depth of the involvement in the Reign of God and total abandonment to it. The Cross becomes its own standard, and the service of its members is obedience to Christ and to his Vicar on earth, the Pope. 20
Military terminology in Montforts writing, therefore, corresponds to the then prevalent demand for boldness on the evangelical front; this was a characteristic of other religious and apostolic institutions and was typical of the age of Counter-Reformation. However, this recourse to military metaphor should not be seen as a kind of apostolic aggression. The saints use of military terms is based on the model of the archangel Saint Michael (PM). As Michael shouted: Who is like unto God, so too the missionaries must proclaim that God is king. Michael also serves as an example of the boldness and courage of missionaries in the face of the opposition with which historically the announcement of salvation is greeted (RM 6061). However, there is a strong ignatian influence on the concept of the vow of obedience in relation to the very mission of the Company of Mary (RM 19), and to the community life of its members.21
It is impossible to ascertain with any certainty from RM whether there was a material dependence on the constitutions of other congregations of the time. However, there are certain analogies between the text of RM and that of other missionary communities. Montfort himself referred explicitly to the Congregation of the Mission of Saint Vincent de Paul (cf. RM 7, 66) and to Saint Ignatius of Loyolas Company of Jesus (cf. RM 15, 19, 66).22
Sections of the allocutio, To the Members of the Company of Mary, echo Man of Prayer by Jacques Nouet, especially 511, which are linked to the theme of the voluntary or evangelical poor.23 The theme of voluntary poverty was at the heart of a burning debate on the poverty of priests, which greatly upset the ecclesiastical and monastic communities of the time. The result of this debate was that the seventeenth century, except for notable exceptions, appeared to scorn the value of voluntary poverty; with the decrease in mystics it had fallen out of favor, and it was not approved by the clergy itself.24 Montfort was therefore proposing that his associates take on a way of lifevoluntary, evangelical povertythat was counterculture, clearly going against the grain of society.
II. NATURE AND STRUCTURE
The triptych as such was first published in 1932, for the collection, Vade-mecum du montfortain (Handbook for the Montforts), published by H. Huré, then father general of the Company of Mary.25 In the presentation of the booklet, extracted from his circular of May 31, 1931, he sums up the aim of the edition: to present the Rule of our holy Father in a pocket volume, with the prayer for missionaries as preface, and the allocutio as conclusion.26 It was clearly grasped that the three parts formed a coherent whole since their pages were numbered consecutively.27 Similarly, the Complete Works (1966), present the triptych as a trilogy.28
The publication of the three parts as a single work is due not only to the unity of the manuscript itself, but, more profoundly, to its single basic theme: The Company of Mary. It follows that the reading of the text should be done considering the Trilogy as a whole, not as three distinct works.
Constitutions appeared in the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries as new orders and congregations were founded; they were generally presented as large and complex collections of norms and ordinances in which everything was defined and prescribed with minute and prolific prescriptions. Montforts Rule of the Daughters of Wisdom (1715), easily fits into this category. Moreover, to facilitate the smooth running of the institution, constitutions also specified the aim of the institute concerning its government, the rights and duties of each member according to his standing and his function, etc. The triptych is, strangely enough, much closer to various Rules of Medieval origin, whose principal role was to propose an ascetic code of life within the context of the spiritual life; they contained only general precepts of a disciplinary nature inherent to the observance of the regular life.
The Montfort triptych can be classified as one of the great contributions to the tradition of popular missions, for it stands above all else as a universal model for apostolic life. The legal or normative aspect is not dominant; the text of RM is subordinate to and framed within the spiritual and mystical dimension of PM and LCM. The net result is a kind of template rule for those who choose an apostolic form of life.29
1. Prayer for missionaries
Grandet tells us that the first part of the triptych is a fervent and eloquent prayer.30 Besnard prefers to call it a kind soliloquy that he placed at the head of the document.31 Picot de Clorivière says that each word is a burst of flame.32 Closer to our time, the oratorian W. Faber,33 in the preface to the first English edition of TD, written in 1862, says: Since the Apostolic Epistles it would be hard to find words that burn so marvelously as the twelve pages of his prayer for Missionaries (TD edition 1946, ix).
What is most striking about PM is its fire-like spirit, which burns from beginning to end. It is not a literary artifice; neither is it what some today would term a result of a spiritual high. Rather, it is one of those rare cases in which writer and text are completely fused. It could be said that in this composition Montfort reaches the height of his spirituality. It is as if a fiery volcano burst forth burning magma that solidified into words.
A somewhat classical style34 is softened by a conversational format filled with words and images from the Bible, and in particular from the Psalms. The Prayer is a montage of symbols and figurative representations. PM is an authentic mystical creation. Even a cursory glance at the triptych shows the incredible level of spiritual perfection that Montforts inspiration attained.
The Trinitarian structure itself raises this urgent plea to the very heights of the Trinity. With the emotional repetition of questions and of key terms such as Liberos, there is a more and more intense build- up in the prayer imploring the Trinity to grant Montforts plea for a company of missionaries, the Company of Mary.
The prayer is both revelation and recall: revelation in the sense of a subjective mystical enlightenment, i.e., an intuition of the truth through a depth of contemplation; recall in the sense of a remembrance of biblical themes like the repetitive, mysterious beat of Psalm 73:2: Memento Domine Congregationis tuae quam possedisti ab initio, which is written into the structure of the prayer. This theological recall is to show that the Company of Mary is on the same level as the other marvels of the Lord, the God of all history: Renew your wonders and perform other miracles (Si 36, 5; PM 3). In the same way the Memento of PM has a salvific content. The request for redemptive intervention on the part of God is answered by the sending of the Company, a sign of salvation in action. Again from the beginning (PM 1), ties the Company to Gods mercy of times past (PM 4). The Company is His divine purpose (PM 26).35
PM, a true literary and vocational masterpiece, was created in an ecstatic moment of contemplation in which all of Montforts thinking about the Company was clarified. The result is a kind of synopsis of everything he wanted to say about the Company of Mary. 36
2. Rule of the Missionary Priests
Grandet is flatteringly appreciative of RM: It is very fine and quite perfect, but as it is so long we will do an abbreviated analysis of it.37 However, as we know, Grandet only published the text of PM. Besnard is just as flattering when he calls RM a very beautiful work that admirably conveyed the apostolic spirit.38
Perhaps more than his predecessors, it was the Jesuit, Picot de la Clorivière, who discerned that RM, far from being limited because so short, was open to all necessary modifications depending on time and place. Some regret that Saint Louis Marie did not go into detail; however, he intends to write no more than an outline concentrating on the essential structure which is always to be animated by PM and LCM. If anything else would be needed, it could be added later, either by him or his successors. He believed that the inner covenant, engraved on the hearts of the members by the Holy Spirit, would have more power than all the rules that he could have given, and that would be enough for those apostle-like men who would form the future company. 39
As Clorivière consulted the works of Grandet and Besnard, who only give a simple resume of Montforts original Rule,40 it is only natural that he also saw RM as a simple essay. A rather strange exception to the prevalent understanding of RM is the opinion of the Promoter of the faith, Andrea M. Frattini, who in Posito super scriptis (1815), writes: In the second part [of the Triptych] there is a fully developed Rule for missionaries, as much in what regards their particular conduct, as in what regards the work of holy missions.41 As he did not have the same stereotypes to refer to, Frattinis opinion differs from other preconceived judgments. The Jesuit Giovanni Ferrone (17941876), in a view expressed to the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regular Clergy, defines the character of the Company of Mary as being sui generis and qualifies Father de Montforts Rule as very simple.42
In the twentieth century, the hagiographer Mgr. Laveille, inspired in his turn by Pauvert, introduced a more positive tone: Nothing more supple than this Rule exists.43 More recently, Cardinal Tisserant called the text an outline of a Rule.44 Father Le Crom, a Montfort, deplores the lack of detail in what concerns the problems of government; on the other hand he does say that Montfort believed more in experience than norms, recalling a similar statement made by Louis Marie to his friend Blain.45
Montfort did not write RM for an institution or congregation in the accepted sense. Rather, he had in mind a team of itinerant missionaries engaged for nine months of the year in preaching parish missions and retreats. The Rule should therefore not be viewed as if it applied to an established community with an organic structure of government containing highly specific roles and a series of rigorous and punctual practices. When the Rule is seen in this way, the project does appear to be no more than an outline or draft. What the Rule actually does is to present the criteria for the apostolic life of an itinerant community whose lifestyle is both modeled on the preaching of parish missions and actually spent in preaching parish missions.
3. Letter to the members of the Company of Mary
The last section of the triptych, the Allocutio, is entitled Letter to the Members of the Company of Mary. It is an exhortation on voluntary poverty expressed as abandonment to Providence and as apostolic detachment.
Father de Montfort closely ties together abandonment to Providence and the mission of the Company of Mary. The character of the Company is based on the salvific mission that God the Father entrusted to His Son, a mission in which the apostles participated, and through them the missionaries of the Company of Mary.46
In LCM Saint Louis de Montforts vision of the poverty of the Company of Mary is highly radical. Not only does LCM bring to the fore the lifestyle and mission of the Company, but it also makes clear the specific though not exclusive character of the institute in the Church. For Saint Louis Marie, the very concept of an apostolic way of life transcends any exclusively individual needs. The very title stresses the strong community dimension, as do the terms company and associates; so much so that communitarianism becomes a characteristic of the entire Montfort foundation. The authenticity of the apostolic nature of the itinerant group is realized through poverty: solidarity with the people to be evangelized and trusting openness to loving Providence.
In LCM the law of poverty becomes liberty; self-affirmation no longer exists; the gift of self to others is a way of life; total adherence to the salvific plan of God is a requirement. Apostolic poverty is total availability, which translates the demands of metanoia even to the structural level of government, to the control of property, and, most especially, to the demands of mission. From this perspective, LCM always remains an upsetting, challenging, and prophetic document for the Company of Mary.
III. THE COMPANY OF MARY IN THE TRIPTYCH
1. Name of the institute
Montfort adopted the word company (from the medieval Latin: cum pane = those who share the same bread; in this case, those who share the same mission) with full recognition of its institutional and spiritual spinoffs. The use of the word company for missionary institutes was widespread in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Generally, however, the term usually referred to groups of diocesan missionariesmission teamslike those under the Dom Jean Leuduger, which operated on a strictly regional level.
Montfort, in adopting Company of Mary, no doubt based it on the names currently in use during that time. However, his Marian option reflects an evident spiritual and missionary choice, which finds in PM a profound theological justification. The members belong to Mary and she to them.
2. Apostolic community
a. In the footsteps of the poor apostles (RM2).
Throughout the history of the Church the Apostolic College has often been depicted as a kind of premier religious institution or community. Those who did not find it sufficient to live the evangelical counsels on a personal level often endeavored to establish a religious community, citing the apostolic community as their example. This was a characteristic of the promoters of a poorer, purer, more holy and missionary church: if the Church becomes like the apostles, it will respond more faithfully to Christs message.
Montfort did not concern himself with theoretical claims. For him, the model of the poor apostles was an authentic example of behavior, a recall of the radical demands of following Christ and of the community that it engendered. He formally prescribed in RM a missionary life in the apostolic style. In the ecclesiastical language of the seventeenth century, both missionaries and preachers were usually called apostolic, but this qualification had two distinct meanings.
When applied to a missionary, it signified that his powers emanated from the highest Church authority; the apostolic missionary was therefore theoretically someone who had received approval and ultimately special powers from the Roman Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. However, several French bishops believed that the missionaries they sent into their diocese were invested, by their authority, with powers and duties that were rightfully theirs by fact of apostolic succession.
The second meaning of apostolic referred to a way of preaching commonly employed by a popular missionary, which had therefore become particular to him.
The two meanings clearly reveal the importance of the relationship to the Twelve Apostles. Whenever someone in Montforts time wanted to talk about missionary activity, the apostolic attribution indicated that the missionary, like the apostles, had been sent to announce the Gospel.
b. Apostolic vocation.
Montfort believed that an apostolic life was primarily a calling which took its initiative from God Himself: The priests who enter must be called by God to preach missions in the steps of the Apostles who were poor (RM 2). Therefore the vocation of the Company of Mary clearly does not equate with a generic call to the priesthood, for it was based by Montfort on the perception of a real apostolic fitness. The founder thus demanded a definite, clear, and conscious choice from those who were called by God to preach missions in the company and to receive academic and spiritual training to prepare them to become members (RM 1). He excluded anything that might compromise the apostolic dynamism of the institution and anything that would even remotely transform the candidates into habitatores quietis (RM 2). It followed that the suitability of the candidate for the missionary vocation demanded a clearly apostolic choice of life. Montfort warns of this in an imperative: He must.
c. Aggregation and incorporation.
The missionary groups of the time were formed through the membership of its occasional and regular collaborators. Montfort even uses associates in the title of LCM. They formed the core on which Montfort counted for the evangelical efficacy of his missionary community.
Two different levels of membership are evident in RM: aggregation and incorporation.
With regards to the conditions of aggregation: before being admitted to the Company, the candidates had to return any benefices and they had to cede their inheritance to their relatives or to the poor (cf. RM 5). Personal money had to be deposited into the purse of Providence (RM 17). These conditions of Montfort are in line with the criteria for the suitability of candidates to the apostolic vocation (RM 2).
Montfort uses the expressions before entering the Company (RM 5) and enters the Company (RM 17). He foresaw here a stage of aggregation, a period of candidacy before the more final and definite incorporation into the company: If before or after making his vows, one of the missionaries (RM 18); Montfort thereby implies the possibility of being temporarily associatedaggregatedwhile awaiting permanent membership, which involved taking simple vows: To be accepted as permanent members of the Company, they must, first, in the presence of the Superior, make simple vows of poverty and obedience for one year. These vows are renewable annually. Then, if, at the end of an unbroken five-year period spent in the Company, they themselves feel they are truly called by God to belong to the Company and are judged to be so called, they take the two vows of poverty and obedience in perpetuity (RM 8). It is clear from this that Montfort demanded at the pronouncement of first vows the intention of a final commitment.
In order to leave the Company after having taken final vows, it was sufficient to obtain a dispensation from the bishop. Montfort also covered dismissal from the institute in the case where one of its members, even after final vows, should his behavior become an occasion of scandal, rather than edification, in spite of the steps taken to correct him (RM 8), as well as in the case of express disobedience (cf. RM 25).
d. Deviation from vocation.
Once he had established the apostolic mission of the Company, Montfort outlined the ecclesiastical functions that were to be considered as subtle temptations: the missionaries were not allowed to be curates or parish priests, or teachers in colleges or seminaries (cf. RM 2). These interdictions are more strictly formulated in RM 9.
The subtle temptations are given more space. Montfort was faced with the situation of several good communities which were established in recent times by the holy inspiration of their founders for the purpose of preaching missions and which, under the pretext that they could do more good, truly deviated from their original goal. Some turned to educational work, others to the training of priests and clerics. If they still give a few missions, these are only incidental and unplanned. Paragraph 2 of RM reflects how completely conscious Saint Louis Marie is of the factbased on the historical experience of his timethat following in the steps of Apostles, far from being an empty anachronism, is a guarantee of institutional identity. This must not be distorted by simple solutions that distance the Company from its original inspiration; this would inevitably cause the institute to lose its significance, meaning that it would no longer be the sign that it is meant to be in the life of the Church; it would lose its raison dêtre.
The last part of the text elucidates the basic idea that Montfort holds most dear. The distortions that so many communities experienced resulted from losing some of the holy inspiration of their founders, they were transformed into habitatores quietis, and spent years that are entirely sedentary. It is this mentality of being rooted and settled that the founder wanted to avoid at any price.
e. Community and mission.
Mission was the goal of the community, but it was also an integral part of the communal and institutional life. In fact, mission is seen by Montfort as not only a pastoral task, but the very form of the community. The mission life is not by accident and in passing. Rather, the Montfort community cannot exist without mission, or exist independently of it: the mission is not extrinsic to the community, but is rather part of its very being. The missionas modeled by Montfort in his preaching of parish missions and retreatsis not only the result of a pastoral choice but is the space, or better still, the form of the communitys realization and expression.
Community life expressed in community apostolate (the mission) and in community prayer is clearly the rule of the founder, both in the course of missions and during the summer rest (RM 28-35; 67-78). However, communal life, in the strict sense of the term as applied typically to a settled or monastic community, is periodic according to RM: it comprises the summer months from July to September, when they continue to perfect themselves for the next round of itinerant preaching. Montfort clearly takes a stand against all forms of settled life that would undermine the necessary apostolic force of the community. Any kind of stability is perceived as institutional fossilization and implies the failure of the community. Montforts desire for a rootless, mobile community (instabiles) ever ready to pull up stakes and move on to where Providence calls, reflects his missionary ideal.
This concept of the Company is clearly stated in RM 12. Dealing with the restrictions on fixed property it is one of the longest and is perhaps the most casuistic of all the passages. Once the basic criteria had been formulated, Within the realm of France, the Company will own two houses and never more than two, Montfort waived this rule only in the case of some benefit accruing from other houses that the Company eventually might receive from divine Providence; he specified, however, that these houses must belong to the local bishop.
This idea of a company whose structure is subordinate to its mission is decidedly prophetic, in the sense that the organization of the Company depends on its mission: the ordo societatis is legitimized by the ordo missionis.
The company Montfort planned is therefore opposed to monastic stability and to a priesthood in the service of a settled community. It is a dynamic mission band which has as its house not the monastery but the world to be evangelized. The company must, then, be free from attachments such as the benefit system in order to devote itself exclusively to the prophetic service of the Word. These characteristics disclose the true identity of the Company within the Church.47
IV. SPIRITUALITY OF THE COMPANY OF MARY
The spirituality of the Company of Mary can be said to flow from the triptych. Without tackling the subject ex professo, Montfort presented certain constituent elements of this spirituality in this triple work. The full picture of what can be called the spirituality of the Company must also take in more clearly the vital aspects of Wisdom, Mary, Consecration, the Cross, Providence, End Times, and Reign, which should be studied in the articles under those titles.
1. Trinitarian perspective
The mission of the Company is born from the Trinity as a prolongation of the Triune Gods own salvific mission. Montforts theological option, deeply entrenched in the theology of the Word Incarnate of the Bérullian School, is reflected in the structure of PM which reveals the salvific functions of the Persons of the Trinity. Thus, the founder developed a Trinitarian theology of salvation applied to the mission of the Company and its members. What he is talking about here is a particular flow of movement, coming from the Trinity and going toward the Trinity, through the historical mediation of the Company of Mary.
2. Marian dimension
In Montforts historical and salvific remembering, Zalmon mountain (cf. Ps 68:14) appears as a symbolic representation of the Virgin (PM 25). In connection with this symbol, Saint Louis Marie interprets Psalm 68 as Gods search for a dwelling place and also mans search for a home. The mountain rises high as the symbol of the function of Mary in the history of salvation, predestined as she is to be the dwelling place of her Company. The link established by Montfort between Mary and the Company appears in all its glory: in this way a dwelling place for the poor missionaries, entirely dependent on Providence (PM 21), is assured. Such a space becomes a memorial, a guarantee of the divinitys presence as well as a magnetizing center. . . . Like the temple of Jerusalem, a center of attraction for all people; the devotion to Marya new sanctuary for the Lord of all armies; it universalized the mission of these followers of the apostles and placed it in the sphere of the present Kingdom, already here and yet to come (PE 22). 48 The missionaries live on the top of the mountain that rises high above the others, the holy mountain of Mary.
Protagonist after the Trinity, Mary brings about the renewal of the Church through its apostles. Jesus Christ himself will give to his Mother a company to renew the world through Mary, and the time of grace will come to a close (PM 6).
It then becomes clear that the specific name, Company of Mary, is not a mere attribution but a much more deliberate act of belonging to Mary. The Company is a gift from God the Son to Mary: Da Matri tuae liberos. This secures the Marian component of the Institute: through Mary the Company takes its place in the history of salvation to renew the Church. This living in Mary expresses itself in all aspects of the Company; the saint who stipulates so few regulations in RM does insist that, Every day they will say all fifteen decades of the Rosary and also the Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin at a convenient time. The purpose of these heaven-sent devotions is to call down the blessing of God on themselves and their ministry. They experience daily the efficacy of these prayers (RM 29).
3. Priority and primacy of evangelization of the poor
As so many of the missionaries of his time, he too states: pauperibus evangelizare misit me Dominus (Lc 4, 18; cf. RM 2). Evangelization (RM 2) and catechism (RM 79-91), oriented towards the renewal of Christian spirit in Christians themselves (RM 56), enjoy an absolute primacy in relation to what is called today sacramentalization: non misit me Dominus baptizare sed evangelizare (1 Co 1, 17).
The role of converting magical and sociological Christianity to Christianity lived consciously and in a responsible way is a task assigned by Montfort to his Company. For this to happen, he insisted on the solemn renewal of baptismal promises; this was a personal involvement with the intention of a lifelong, on-going conversion.
The poor and the marginalized, that is, the groups of humanity desperately in need of support, are the ones to whom the announcement of salvation is to be made. In announcing the Gospel to the poor and giving them preference, the Company of Mary would model itself on the example of Christ, and in this way fulfill the Churchs mandate. The Company is, therefore, to detect the signs of the times, and to fill in the pastoral gaps that have resulted in the marginalization of certain of Gods people.
4. Anthropological constituent
PM 612 opens with the citation from Gn 30:1: Da Matri tuae liberos, alioquin moriar: give me children or let me die (PM 6).
The Saint uses the Latin word liber (plural: liberi) meaning free and also sons. This term is explained by Montfort who gives it a particular weight in the expression: children and servants. In fact the word liberos, as intended by the Saint, explains the double situation of missionaries: free (PM 710) and at the same time slaves of Jesus in Mary (PM 1112).
The terminology also clearly indicates a significant double aspect of the word consecration: the missionaries are consecrated to Mary as children and servants in order to live more intensely consecrated to Christ, thereby becoming men totally free to announce the Gospel.
In this central part of PM, the originality of Montfort concerning devotion to Mary in the mission context is evident. He understands consecration as a path of interior liberty. The profile of the person consecrated in view of living within a Marian mission band discloses two types of freedom: freedom from everything and everyone that would impede living in the footsteps of the apostles; and freedom for total service to others in the apostolic life envisaged by Montfort.
5. Vows and missions
In RM Montfort adopted simple vows of poverty and obedience. The qualification simple, in the context of the seventeenth century, is synonymous with private.49 However, the phenomenology (so to speak) of the vow and the responsibilities that derive from it are very fluid.50 Montfort opted for what was then the current custom, in order to insure the possibility of an episcopal dispensation for someone who would leave the institute or for someone the community expels. However, he explains the demands of the vows for those living an apostolic life in terms of the purest evangelical radicalism.
The very strong link between vows and mission makes it understood that vows are not a religious option tacked on to the apostolic commitment. Rather, the apostolic life demands the vows with the view of a total commitment to the cause of mission in the Company.
a. Evangelical poverty.
Poverty for St. Louis de Montfort is an expression of apostolic detachment and its roots are found in following the example of Jesus who from his riches made himself poor.51 The apostle loves the company of the voluntarily poor Christ, so that the follower of Jesus can also minister to the poor. This is also the reason for Montfort calling his Institute the Company of the voluntarily poor (RM 18).
Montfort delved more deeply into this view of apostolic detachment in the second part of LCM by quickly examining the message of the Beatitudes, a theme evident in LEW.52 We come into contact here with a strong point in Montforts teaching: he demands total self-emptying, surrendering the centrality of the self. With this in mind, he lists practices to maintain this rich treasure of your poverty and this great realm that you have conquered. If missionary life provides material security denied to so many of the poor, the effort towards generous service must be even greater. The practices are the concrete expression of voluntary poverty, willingly accepted, and freely offered, so that freedom may grow, and with it total renunciation for the Kingdom of God.
b. Apostolic obedience.
Obedience for Montfort means that both the demands of the community and of the mission interpenetrate. The style of apostolic life remains unaltered whether the missionaries are giving a mission or whether they have completed their mission schedule and return to enjoy the rest which divine Providence provides for them and counsels them to take (RM 35;cf RM 78).
The style of life of the Montfort community entails the complementarity of community in mission and community of mission. It follows that the relationship between authority and mission is interdependent. As has been emphasized, the mission of the Company cannot be confined to a pastoral method. Mission rather is the fundamental form of the community. Thus a superiors authority must be perceived in the context of a community in mission, which is the definition of the Montfort community. The mission itself and those it serves thus becomes the center of authority, and not something merely internal to the community.
Each member must faithfully discharge the duties entrusted to him and will not, unless directed to do so by obedience, pry into the work of another in order to find out what he is doing or how he is doing it (RM 23). Montfort sets forth here the missionarys personal responsibility to carry out his duties faithfully. The missionaries form a group: vis unita fit fortior (PM 29). However, Montfort does not exclude but, on the contrary, urges dialogue, which implies some individual responsibility: They are, however, permitted to state openly and straightforwardly the reasons they may have for omitting or for not undertaking what is commanded (RM 27). In this the founder is within the thinking of the traditional teams and communities involved in parish missions. An understanding between the mission band and the superior of the mission is the guarantee of the good order of the Company. This dimension of the dialogue is made clearer in the Rule of the Daughters of Wisdom (1715), which in relation to the text of the Rule of the Missionary Priests of the Company of Mary (1713), shows the evolution in the founders thought with regard to the authority-obedience relationship: They may, and often should, present their reasons for doing or not doing a certain action (RW 50). The incidental and often should emphasizes a precise duty and not a mere permission. Far from demanding a purely passive obedience, Montfort on the contrary pushes for personal responsibility.
The originality of the Montfort triptych consists in the combination of three texts in a single document, which by virtue of their contents and literary genre, fulfill the following functions:
1. The spiritual and theological foundations of the true mission of the Company of Mary are clearly enunciated in the PM as explained above.
2. The structural dimension of the communitys apostolic ministry popular missionsand its spirituality of following Christ in evangelical radicalism (apostolica vivendi forma and vows in view of the mission), as well as submission to the Spirit and to Mary (as outlined in TD and SM) are all placed in the Rule of the Missionary Priests of the Company of Mary.
3. LCM proposes once again a fundamental dimension of the apostolic spirituality so dear to Montfort: the voluntary poverty of the missionary. Service for the reign of God demands this as a sign of an apostolic vocation for evangelization of the poor.
The triptych constitutes a rule of apostolic life which remains to this day a valuable support and guide to authentic evangelization. In the grace shared by the founder with his Company, resounds the voice of the Spirit, who calls for a sequela Christi in which the truth will be a Company.53
P. L. Nava
Notes: (1) The name Montfort triptych has officially been used in the Company of Mary since 1975 cf. The Montfortorian Today, Rome 1975, 3). (2) The manuscript is in its third printing. The original was verified at the beginning of 1957. (Cf. with regard to this D. M. Huot, Traite prêtres de la vraie dévotion. La voix du manuscrit [Treatise on True Devotion. The manuscripts voice], DMar 2  25n.26). For a wider and more detailed presentation of the manuscript, cf. H. M. Guindon, La Régle des prêtres missionnaires de la compagnie de Marie. Présentation materielle (Rule of the Missionary Priests of the Company of Mary. Material presentation), DMar 3 (1958) 5758. (3) In its original form the manuscript started on page 3 and ended on page 82. At the end of the text a note in pencil (in a unknown hand) said: Memo. The last section was 6 leaves (24 pages). Now it begins on page 65. This section is therefore missing 3 recto-verso or 6 pages. The unfortunate loss of the first and the last leaves of the manuscriptwhich cuts out the beginning of PM and the end of LCMhas also deprived us, probably, of a title which would definitely have contributed to a more correct interpretation of the triptych. (4) We are not presenting here, as promised, the Rule of the Company of Mary, because it is too long; we will publish it separately as we deem this more appropriate (Grandet, 251). (5) Grandet, 24445. (6) Besnard I, 273328. (7) Besnard I, 186. (8) For the character and episcopate of Mgr. Étienne de Champflour (17021724), cf. the classic work of L. Pérouas, Le diocèse de La Rochelle de 1648 à 1724. Sociologie et Pastorale (The Diocese of La Rochelle from 1648 1724. Sociology and Pastoral), Paris 1964, 256360. (9) Besnard I, 286. (10) Cf. P. Eijckeler, Quelques points dhistoire montfortaine, Ier vol.: Des origines à Monsieur Mulot exécuteur testamentaire (Several Points of Montfort History, vol. 1: From its Origins to Mr. Mulot, Executor), Rome 1972, 5859. (11) Besnard I, 28687. (12) The addressee was Sr. Catherine of Saint Bernard (Guyonne-Jeanne) who entered the Benedictine order of Rambervilliers in October 1702. (Cf. L 24). (13) P. Eijckeler, op. cit., 58. (14) Besnard I, 299. (15) Besnard I, 315. (16) V. Devys view of the influence exerted over Montfort by his contemporaries remains valid: Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, le dernier des grands berulliens, (Saint Louis Marie Grignion of Montfort, the last of the great berullians), Revue de lUniversité dOttowa (University of Ottowa Review) 18 (1948) 249315. More recently, B. Papàsogli, in her general introduction to Montforts works, gives an excellent synthesis of the sources and spiritual currents underlying the Montfort production: Opere, vol. 1: Scritti Spirituale (Works, vol. 1: Spiritual Writings), Edizioni, Monfortane, Rome 1991, 2171. (17) On Oliers idea of seminary cf. BSS generally, especially from 1976, and in particular G. Chaillot, La pedagogique heritée de M. Olier daprès ses Memoires (The Legacy of Oliers Teachings Based on His Memoirs), BSS 2 (1976) 2764; Id., Critères pour la formation spirituelle des pasteurs: la tradition pédagogique heritée de M. Olier (Criteria for the Spiritual Formation of Pastors: The Legacy of Oliers Teachings Based on His Memoirs), BSS 4 (1978) 1523; id., Monsieur Olier educateur spirituel des pasteurs daprès les sources principales du Traité des saints ordres (Father Olier, Spiritual Teacher of Pastors According to the Principal Sources of the Treatise of Holy Orders), BSS 4 (1978) 205 38; Id., J. J. Olier et la formation pastoral des clercs (J. J. Olier and the Pastoral Formation of Clerics), BSS 15 (1989) 1217; Id., Aux sources de lesprit missionaire de Jean-Jacques Olier (At the Source of Jean Jacques Oliers Missionary Spirit), BSS 17 (1991) 1829; A. Giraldo, La formation sacerdotale dans la compagnie de Saint-Sulpice hier et aujourdhui (From the Past to the Present: Sacerdotal Formation in the Company of Saint Sulpice), BSS 5 (1979) 2742. (18) S. De Fiores, Le Saint-Esprit et Marie dans les derniers temps selon Grignion de Montfort (The Holy Spirit and Mary in the End Times According to Grignion de Montfort), EtMar 43 (1986) 14849. (19) Ibid., 60. Cf. M. Olphe-Gaillard, La vie commune et lapostolat dans la compagnie de Jésus (Communal Life and Apostleship in the Company of Jesus), in Collectif, La vie commune (Communal Life), Le Cerf, Paris 1956, 6174; SantIgnazio di Loyola, fondatore della Compagnia di Gesu (Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Founder of the Company of Jesus), La Civiltà cattolica Catholic Life 142, 3 (1991) 11124. (20) La Compagnia di Gesu nel 450 anniversario della sua fondazione (The Company of Jesus on the 450th Anniversary of its Foundation), La Civilta cattolica Catholic Life 141, 3 (1990), 455. (21) Cf. P. Blet, Note sur lorigine de lobéissance ignatienne (Footnote on the Origins of Ignatian Obedience), Gregorianum 25 (1954) 99111; Id., Les fondements de lobéissance ignatienne (The Foundation of Ignatian Obedience), Archivum historicum societatis Iesu (Historical Archive of the Company of Jesus) 25 (1956) 51438. (22) Regarding the profound influence of the Jesuits during the visit to the Saint Thomas Beckett College of Rennes (16481692), cf. S. De Fiores, Itinerario, 3451. (23) Cf. J. Nouet, Lhomme doraison. Ses méditations pour les jours de lannée (Man of Prayer: Daily Meditations for the Year), Paris 1866, vol. 7, 6067. (24) Cf. P. Christophe, Les Pauvres et la pauvreté du XVIe siecle à nos jours, IIe partie (Poverty and the Poor from the sixteenth century to the present, second part), Desclée, Paris 1987, 6784. (25) Vade mecum du montfortain (Montfortian Vade-mecum), Mame Editions, Tours 1932, pro manuscripto, 64. This edition was presented in the Institutes official bulletin LÉcho des missions (Mission Echo) 104 (1932) 36, where it was affirmed that the edition is as faithful to the original text as is possible. Note that we say, as is possible (at 4). In fact many inaccuracies were found in it: cf. J. Frissen, Transcriptions fautives dans notre Vademecum (Transcription Errors in the Vademecum), DMon 33 (1976) 7677. (26) Vademecum 5. (27) Cf. LÉcho des missions (Mission Echo), 104 (1932) 4. (28) OC 673. (29) Cf. Ph. Maroto, Regulae et particulares constitutiones singulorum regligionum ex jure Decretalium usque ad Codicem, in Acta congressus iuridici internationalis VII saeculo a Decretalibus Gregori IX et a XIV a Codice Iustiniano promulgatus (Rome, 1217 November 1934), Rome 1937, vol. 4, 21547; in particular the definition of Rule and Constitution, 214; J. Gribomont, Regola. Visione generale filologicastorica delle regole e coistituzioni religiose, in Dizionario degli istituti di perfezione (Dictionary of the Institute of Perfection) 7 (1983) 141114; G. Rocca, I codici legilslativi dei chierici regolarie e degli istituti del 600700 (The Legislative Codes of Regular Clerics and of Institutes of 1600-1700), ibid. 143549. (30) Grandet, 224. (31) Besnard I, 284. (32) The prayer that Montfort placed at the top of his project is comprised of nothing more than a collection of fervent aspirations which he used frequently. One cannot read it without feeling in oneself some of the holy saints enthusiasm. Everything in it gives evidence of the most ardent zeal, each word is like a burst of flame; and in his depiction of Marys children one has to see oneself (Clorivière, 3034). (33) About W. Faber (18141863), cf. R. Plus, Loratorien Faber. Lécrivain, le maître spirituel (Faber the Oratorian: Writer and Spiritual Master), in NRT 72 (1950) 296301, with bibliographical appendix. (34) Cf. J. Freneau, Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, ecrivain (The Writer, Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort), DMon 47 (1972) 10. (35) Regarding the structure of PM, cf. H. Frehen, Le caractère particulier de la compagnie de Marie suivant le P. de Montfort (The Particular Nature of the Company of Mary According to Fr. de Montfort), DMon 40 (1967) 12. For the contents cf. J. Bombardier, Prière pour lEglise. Prècis de la Priere de St L-M de Montfort (Prayer for the Church: Summary of St. L. M. de Montforts Prayer) DMon 46 (1969) 15. Regarding certain literary precedents reflecting the theme of PM, with particular reference to St. Franci Xavier and to St. John Eudes, cf. J. Bombardier, Deux precedents de la Prière embrasée (Two precedents of the Prayer for Missionaries), in DMon 37 (1966) 16. (36) Cf. P. L. Nava, Il Trittico monfortano: natura e ermeunetica. Riflessioni sulla Regola. (The Montfort Triptych: Nature and Harmeneutic. Reflections on the Rule). QM 1 (1982) 11215. (37) Grandet, 244. (38) Besnard I, 304. (39) Clorivière, 312. (40) Cf. the text of the Rule in Besnard I, 3004, and in Clorivière 30410. (41) S. Rituum Congregatio, Positio super scriptis, Rome 1851, 31. (42) Cf. S. Congr. de Vescovi e Regolari, Super approbatione Instituti et Constitutionum . . ., Rome 1853, 25. (43) A. Laveille, Le Bx L.-M de Montfort (16731716) daprès des documents inédits (The Blessed L. M. de Montfort: the Unedited Documents), Poussielgue, Paris 1907, 392. (44) E. Tisserant, Luigi-Maria Grignion de Montfort, le scuole di carita e le origini dei fratelli di San Gabriele (Louis Marie de Montfort, the School of and the Origin of the Brothers of Saint Gabriel), Tip. del Senato, Rome 1943, 248. (45) Cf. L. Le Crom, Un apôtre marial. Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (16731716) (A Marian Apostle: Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort), Les Traditions Françaises, Tourcoing 1946, 406. (46) Cf. H. Frehen, Le caracterè particulier de la compagnie de Marie suivant le P. de Montfort (The Particular Nature of the Company of Mary According to Fr. de Montfort), DMon 41 (1967) 115. (47) Picot de Clorivière (1785) had already discerned this particular character of the Company: The idea he gives of the Company of Mary is noble and sublime; it demands of its members an unusual degree of perfection, this not only from the simple faithful but also from fervent Clergymen and good Religious; in short, a truly Apostolic perfection. This idea also sets this new Company apart from all the others like it which consecrate themselves to Mission work. Among these, there are none which do not also embrace other zealous and charitable works, sometimes in great number, but this variety of works, as good as they might be, prevents the company from devoting all its resources and attention to this principal work; the Company of Mary, on the contrary, confines itself only to this work, in order to be a body of light infantry, always ready to speed on its way, whenever requested by the good Bishops, and wherever the people most urgently are in need of them. (48) M. Zappella, Il salmo 68 e la Preghiera infuocata, QM 4 (1986) 11617. (49) Cf. D. M. Huot, La Règle des prêtres missionnaires de la compagnie de Marie. II. Présentation juridique (Rule of the Missionary Priests of the Company of Mary. II. Judicial Presentation), Dmar 3 (1958) 7677. (50) Cf. R. Lemoine, Lépoque moderne 15631789. Le monde des religieux (The Modern Age 15631789: the Religious World) (History of Law and Institutions of the Western Church, vol. 15/2, under the direction of G. Le Bras and J. Gaudement), Paris 1976, 37. (51) Cf. I. Noye, La formation du clergé à la pauvreté dans la seconde moitie du XVIIe (The Clergys Embrace of Poverty in the Second Half of the Seventeenth Century); J. Meuvret, La situation materielle des membres du clergé séculier dans la France du XVIIe. Possibilites et limites des recherches (The Material Situation of Members of the Secular Clergy in Seventeenth-Century France: Possibilities and Limitations of Research), RHEF 54 (1968) 4758; J. P. Devaise, Clergé rural et documents fiscaux. Les revenus et charges des prêtres de campagne au nord-est de Paris, daprès les enquetes fiscales des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (Rural Clergy and Fiscal Documents: Revenues and Charges of Country Priests in the North-East of Paris According to Fiscal Inquiries During the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries), RHMC 17 (1970) 92152. (52) Chapter 12 of LEW presents the principal utterances of Wisdom Incarnate which we must believe and practice if we are to be saved. This is not merely about the clever juxtaposition of evangelical passages. In this central part of his work, Montfort takes the Lords actual words as the guide line for the inspiration of those who seriously wish to live in accordance with Jesus Christ and Eternal Wisdom Incarnate. The chapter ends with a paragraph reserved for the eight Beatitudes according to Matthew (Mt 5.310); cf. LEW 151, 153). On the mountain of Zalmon, symbolic image of Mary, the missionaries will receive a great lesson: Jesus Christ, who dwells there forever, will teach them in his own words the meaning of the eight beatitudes (PM 25). (53) A. Manaranche, Prêtres à la manière des Apôtres pour les hommes de demain (Future Priests in the Mold of the Apostles), Centurion Editions, Paris 1967, 82.
Taken from: Jesus Living in Mary: Handbook of the Spirituality of St. Louis de Montfort (Litchfield, CT: Montfort Publications, 1994).
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