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

EUCHARIST


Summary
I.	Seventeenth-century theology and practice of the Eucharist:
	1.	The Eucharist according to the French school;
	2.	The Mass;
	3.	Communion and devotion to the Eucharist.
II.	The Eucharist in the life of Montfort:
	1.	Before his ordination;
	2.	After his ordination.
III.	The Eucharist in the writings of Montfort: 
	1.	The Sacrament of the altar; 
	2.	Holy Communion; 
	3.	The Mass; 
	4.	The Eucharist and Mary. 
IV.	The Eucharist and Montfort spirituality today: 
	1.	The summit of Christian initiation; 
	2.	The Word of God and the Eucharist; 
	3.	The Eucharist and mission; 
	4.	Personal and ecclesial dimension; 
	5.	The Eucharist with Mary.

I. SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY THEOLOGY AND PRACTICE OF THE EUCHARIST

Anyone wishing to grasp Montfort’s way of thinking and teaching on the Eucharist must, first of all, discover the context in which the holy missionary lived. As the most authoritative members of the French school have produced an impressive corpus of doctrinal works in strict conformity to the Council of Trent, it is important to clarify their thought on the Eucharist, with special reference to the Mass, Holy Communion, and veneration of the Blessed Sacrament.

In the Middle Ages theoretical and practical emphasis was laid on the excellence of Christ’s presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Although the two sometimes overlapped, a dividing line was drawn between the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament, received in Holy Communion or as an object of adoration. In line with this traditional distinction, the Council of Trent dealt with the subject in two separate sessions: the Eucharist was treated in the thirteenth and the Sacrifice of the Mass in the twenty-second.1 When considering these questions, the Fathers of the Council of Trent were under pressure from outside the Church, because Protestant heterodoxy was seen as a threat, and from within, because of the widely felt need for appropriate renewal. In the dogmatic field, the council reasserted the Church’s belief in the sacrificial value of the Mass and in Christ’s Real Presence under the species of the bread and wine. In the pastoral and disciplinary field, the council strove to promote sacramental participation in the Eucharist, to restore dignity to worship, and to help the faithful to gain a better understanding of the rites and prayers of the Mass by providing appropriate explanations.

The distinction between sacrifice and sacrament, which was confirmed by the 1570 Missal and the 1614 Ritual,2 was a signpost for post- Tridentine theological research as well as for pastoral practice, influencing the devotion of faithful and clergy alike. Consequently it was taken for granted that the priest offered the Sacrifice of the Mass, whereas the faithful attended the Mass and received Holy Communion or, as often as not, confined themselves to adoring the Blessed Sacrament at the Elevation or outside Mass. Thus the Mass was distinct from the sacramental presence of Christ, which was considered as the comfort of devout souls. All mention of the Mass was confined almost exclusively to highlighting the part played by the priest 3 or to explaining the sacrificial aspect of the Mass.

In the post-Tridentine period, the theologians devoted their efforts to examining and explaining how and why the Mass is a real sacrifice though not a repetition of the bloody sacrifice offered on Calvary. 4 For their part, and with a variety of emphases, those engaged in pastoral work did their best to stimulate interest in devotion to the Mass, keeping Communion as a separate subject, as was done by the Council of Trent. The Mass was explained by reference to the categories of religious sacrifices considered generically, and occasionally with the help of medieval allegories; the Sacrament was examined in the light of philosophical concepts in an attempt to explain how the bread and wine were changed into the body and blood of Christ.

1. The Eucharist according to the French school

The essence of the sacrifice of the Cross and the nature of the Eucharistic sacrifice were among the topics considered most thoroughly by Bérulle, Condren, and Olier. All of them defended the “oblationist” view. Basing their arguments on Scripture, they maintained that the spiritual offering of Christ defined his priesthood, gave supreme glorification of the Eternal Father, and was the source of sanctification for sinful humanity.5

The interior or spiritual oblation,6 which consists in total surrender to God’s will, i.e., worship “in spirit and in truth,” is best expressed exteriorly in the immolation on Calvary. What gives a sacrificial value to the death of Jesus is therefore his obedience and total dedication to the Father’s will. This attitude towards the Father’s will had begun at the Incarnation in Mary’s womb; it reached its supreme height on the Cross, and continued in his life in glory. The Mass is the sacramental memorial of the spiritual oblation that permeates every mystery of the life of Christ.7

Although they did not break free from the dichotomy between sacrifice and sacrament, the members of the French school succeeded in basing their Eucharistic insights on Scripture. They situated their understanding within the history of salvation centered on the person of Jesus born of the Virgin Mary. The main points made by the various writers 8 clearly show a desire to encompass the total mystery of God and man.

In short, the view taken by the Bérullian School centers on the contemplation of the states of Jesus, inexhaustible sources of holiness, and on the importance of steeping oneself in these states in order to internalize them. Perfect conformity to the inner dispositions of the Word Incarnate comes about effortlessly through the mediation of the Blessed Virgin, who gave him her flesh and blood. The great devotion to Mary shown by the members of the French school was based on the mystery of the Incarnation, which is also the basis of the Eucharistic mystery, perpetuating “God with us for our sake.”9

Pierre de Bérulle championed the Incarnation. His successor, Condren, had an extensive knowledge of Jesus’ sacrificial and priestly mystery. Jean-Jacques Olier spared no effort to spread devotion to the Eucharist, as a memorial of Christ’s mysteries. When he was parish priest of Saint- Sulpice, he was concerned to make the Mass the center of his parishioners’ lives. In 1656 he published L’Explication des cérémonies de la grande messe de paroisse selon l’usage romain (Explanation of the Ceremonies of the Parish High Mass according to Roman Usage); he urged his parishioners to receive Holy Communion as the antidote to human weakness, and restored adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.10 His views, which he shared with the rest of the French school, are summed up in a picture he himself painted; he had it reproduced and copies distributed to his parishioners. The picture shows “a monstrance with the Holy Spirit in the shape of a dove hovering above it; higher up is the Father with His arms outstretched and flanked by the Blessed Virgin and St. John bowing in adoration. In the center is the Host in the shape of a slain lamb in the midst of flames and, coming out of it, fourteen rays bearing the names of various acts of worship, such as adoration, love, praise, etc.”11

In conclusion, it seems clear that the seventeenth-century leaders of the French school were driven by a desire to incorporate the advances of theology into the everyday life of the faithful. As both theologians and pastors, they left no avenue unexplored in their effort to offer a synthesis centered on the heart of Christian living, i.e., “living in Christ,” or rather “letting Christ live in us.” This is particularly clear in the case of the mystery of the Eucharist.

2. The Mass

One consequence of the advances of theology after Trent was that the parish clergy themselves discovered the value and significance of the Mass.12 Without questioning the role of the priest, who alone is able to consecrate, “the eager desire to bring the congregation to share as closely as possible in the sacrifice of the Mass”13 gradually spread, owing to the far-reaching influence of the French school and of the movements of that period (Augustinianism, Jansenism, etc.). The faithful themselves were expected to take part to some extent in the priest’s offering of the sacrifice of Christ.14

By referring to liturgical texts, particularly those of the Roman Canon, it was easy to demonstrate the ecclesial dimension of the Eucharistic celebration. The idea of involving the congregation was promoted in their books on the liturgy by such experts as Bona, Mabillon, Martène, Muratori, Tommasi, and Lebrun. In this way they prepared the faithful to do better than just be present at Mass, which for various reasons, not least because it was in Latin, was beyond their comprehension. Options varied, controversies arose, and many lawful claims verged on heresy. Without going into a detailed examination, and leaving aside the problem raised by the seventeenth- and eighteenth- century French Missals, a few points should be highlighted.15

A large number of Explicationes missae16 have come down to us. In literary or more informal language, according to the authors, they gave explanations of the texts used during Mass, and also of the actions and rites performed.17 “Exercises,” i.e. prayers and reflections,18 were used as a sort of guidebook during Mass, and the celebrant translated or paraphrased some passages for the benefit of the faithful. These exercises had a large circulation in the late seventeenth century. Most people, whether they were literate or not, said the Rosary during Mass. 19 Although they stopped short of saying the Canon aloud—as the Jansenists did—the congregation in some cases took an active part by singing the Gloria, the Kyrie, and the Pater Noster together, by responding to the celebrant at some points during Mass, by giving the kiss of peace, and by receiving pieces of blessed bread.20 After the Gospel reading, a homily was given that included prayers, pieces of advice, and announcements. It was still necessary to remind the faithful of their obligation to attend Sunday Mass, but the devout attended Mass daily in increasing numbers. Those attending the mission exercises, however, did not have to attend Mass daily; on the other hand, times were set aside during the mission for explanation of the “exercises.”21

“Even though the people did not understand the significance of each of the Masses they attended, even though the meaning of the prayers and rites was far beyond their comprehension, they were aware that at the Consecration during Mass Jesus becomes present and continues to be present in the Host placed in the tabernacle or the monstrance for adoration during Benediction; they believed what is humanly unbelievable and derived from it all a stimulus for a particular life-experience.”22

3. Communion and the devotion to the Eucharist

Towards the end of the Middle Ages, Holy Communion was rarely given during Mass, but instead either before or after, and very few people received it. The Council of Trent ruled in defense of the “private Mass” which was questioned by the Protestants, but it also expressed the desire that the faithful receive Holy Communion more frequently and that they do so with the dispositions required.23 This teaching was repeated in the Catechism, which recommended that the faithful nourish their souls even every day, as they nourish their body.24 In 1614 the Ritual of Paul V urged parish priests to do all they could to bring the faithful not only to honor the Blessed Sacrament but “to receive it frequently and with saintly dispositions, especially on the major feasts of the year.” The Ritual also ruled, and gave reasons for it, that Holy Communion be given to the people immediately after the priest had communicated, unless a reasonable cause made it advisable for the faithful to receive Communion after Mass. In spite of this, “at the end of the seventeenth century—and all the evidence available confirms this— the celebrant alone communicated during Mass. . . . The practice was strongly attacked, however, by many liturgical experts and theologians.” 25

To this we must add that the Jansenists were extreme rigorists in the matter of Holy Communion, and various movements had their own ideas on the subject. Against this background, however, the French school persisted in promoting frequent Communion and evolved pastoral directives to help the faithful receive Holy Communion worthily and fruitfully.26

There was widespread interest in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as a means of expressing faith in the Real Presence and of venerating and serving the One who is King of heaven and earth. In the seventeenth century, the French celebrated devotion to the Eucharist with great splendor in Benedictions, long periods of adoration, expositions, and processions.27 In some cases, Mass was celebrated in front of the Blessed Sacrament exposed, a custom that lasted up to the Second Vatican Council. Finally, much importance was attached to visits to the Blessed Sacrament, which renewed the feelings experienced at the time of Holy Communion: the sense of God’s sovereign majesty, the memory of the Incarnation, Passion, and death of Jesus, the feeling of being but one heart with the Heart of Jesus, the thought of one’s nothingness, and reparation for the outrages against the Sacrament of the altar.


II. THE EUCHARIST IN THE LIFE OF MONTFORT

It is not easy to describe the influence the Eucharist had on Montfort as an adolescent, as a seminarian at Saint-Sulpice, and as a missionary. The notebook that he kept during his priestly formation will be our principle source along with the comments of his friend Jean-Baptiste Blain.

1. Before his ordination

There are no records about the influence of the Eucharist on his childhood years. It can be reasonably assumed that at Saint Thomas à Becket school in Rennes, the Jesuits, who were great promoters of the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, helped the young student in his study of the profound mystery of the Real Presence of Christ and inspired within him the desire to be closely united with Christ during holy Mass and during meditation before the Blessed Sacrament.

When telling us about the period the young Louis spent in Paris, Blain mentions Holy Communion on three occasions. He states that during the time he was in the community run by Fr. de la Barmondière, Montfort “received Holy Communion four times a week; he did so with so much devotion that just looking at him inspired one with devotion. Although his whole life was a preparation for this holy action, he used to prepare himself for this with particular devotion the day before. . . . His thanksgiving lasted an hour, and in order to make it in a quiet atmosphere and enjoy the presence of his Beloved, he would retire to the hidden recesses in the Church.” 28 Blain also mentions the occasion when the young Grignion received Holy Communion at Chartres: “He received Holy Communion with a devotion and piety that the grace attached to the holy shrine seemed to bring to a climax; he continued in prayer for six to eight hours running . . . kneeling motionless as though in raptures.”29 Finally, Blain states that Louis Marie decided to take the vow of chastity when he was in “the church of Notre-Dame in Paris, where, out of devotion to the Blessed Virgin, he had made a practice of receiving Holy Communion every Saturday, together with a few other seminarians.”30 On the basis of Jean-Baptiste Blain’s account, we can confidently say that Montfort received Holy Communion frequently, with devotion, and with Mary.

Louis Marie Grignion used to note down what he found striking in his teachers’ classes and in his readings. These notes give us a glimpse of the teaching on the Eucharist that he received in Paris. Those which have been published are concerned with the Eucharist in general, the Mass, Holy Communion, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament;31 the unpublished notes are concerned with Mary and the Eucharist.32 From Fr. Gaye, Montfort borrowed a few notes explaining the well-known “O Sacrum Convivium” (LS 328-330), and also a few brief reflections on “the blessings we receive in Holy Communion” according to the Gospel and the Fathers of the Church (LS 330). The notes he made in connection with Fr. Leschassier’s teaching are concerned with the excellence of the Eucharist (receiving all the mysteries of Christ, which show the influence of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity; it is the feast of Jesus’ friends; respect, purity, humility [LS 331]); he also drew on texts about the outrages against the Blessed Sacrament (unworthiness, lack of reverence in church), about the duty of reparation (priests ought to suffer with Christ), about the ways of making reparation (good example in church for the edification of the faithful, adequate preparation, 33 instructing the faithful about adoration of the Eucharist, acts of reparation to the Blessed Sacrament, visits and penance [LS 332-333]). We also find a list of the “obstacles to fruitful Communion” (persistence of venial sins, lack of mortification of the passions, inadequate faith). While he was still at Saint-Sulpice, he made notes highlighting that the Eucharist is a wonder of God’s omnipotence, love, and liberality (LS 335). He dwells at some length on frequent Communion: he first establishes the biblical foundation (“Give us this day our daily bread” [Mat 6:11]), followed by an exhortation: “Long for Holy Communion; ask your directors to give it to you. Never miss a single general Communion. Prepare for it and give thanks to God continually for this great grace” (LS 336). Montfort gives three reasons to receive Holy Communion frequently: it is Christ’s desire (“My flesh is truly food” [Jn 6:55]); it is the desire of the Church (the Council of Trent); it is very profitable to us (LS 337). LS 338 gives the central viewpoint of Saint-Sulpice on the Eucharist: “the abundant love of Our Lord for us” is contrasted with “our extreme ingratitude.” Finally, the notes mention the priest-Eucharist relationship: “As the life of a priest revolves around the Blessed Sacrament of the altar, including the Mass, thanksgiving, preparation, and distributing Holy Communion, he either saves or loses his soul according as he makes good or bad use of this Sacrament.”

Jean-Baptiste Blain says that as a seminarian, Louis Marie “composed hymns, which he used later during his missions”;34 it is not unlikely that at least some of the hymns about the Eucharist were written during that period.

Montfort’s manuscript notebooks also include references to the Mass (LS 429-432; based on a sermon by C. Joly). He begins by quoting Mal 1:10-11; then, by way of introduction, he says: “We should attend Mass as often as possible (i) because, of all the acts of religion, it is the one that gives most glory to God and (ii) because it is the one from which we can derive the greatest abundance of graces.” This is followed by the three parts of the sermon: (a) the Sacrifice of the Mass (incomparable greatness of “the gift we offer to God,” “humility of Christ offering himself to the Father,” obligation of Sunday Mass, attention, interest;) (b) the teaching of the Council of Trent; (c) how we should attend Holy Mass (dignified posture, necessary interior attention). Quotations from Scripture and the Church Fathers are scattered throughout these notes.

In N, pp. 285-293, the young Louis Marie drew on Bernardin of Paris, d’Argentan, and Crasset for ideas on the link between Mary and the Eucharist; he expanded these ideas in his own way in his writings.

2. After his ordination

Louis Marie’s Sulpician training for the priesthood enabled him to understand that the priest and Mass were bound up together. This relationship had been central in the thoughts and actions of those in the seminary.

In the Lady chapel of the church of St. Sulpice, Jean-Baptiste Blain attended the first Mass said by his friend. “I was there, and what I saw was a man looking like an angel at the altar.”35 It is noteworthy that the Mass he celebrated in Poitiers Hospital opened an important chapter in his life: “As he was passing through Poitiers, he followed his inclination and went to the hospital to say Mass there.”36 The rest of the account, including the admiration he aroused and the desire of the poor people to keep him with them, is an invitation to us to reflect carefully on the celebration of Holy Mass as opening the mysterious path to genuine charity.

Blain also tells us about the puzzling encounter at Dinan between Montfort and his Dominican brother, whom he asked for permission to say Mass three days in succession.37 This “fraternal encounter” provides a valuable piece of information, namely, that Montfort celebrated Mass every day, although it was not a general practice in those days.38 We also learn at first hand that Montfort had a great desire to celebrate Mass in union with Mary: “The following day I suggested that in order to satisfy his devotion to Mary, he say Mass at the altar dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and called the altar of vows in the Rouen Cathedral.” 39

During the mission—which was to be his last—he was preaching at Saint- Laurent, Montfort wrote a letter, dated April 4, 1716, that shows how much importance he attached to celebrating Mass. The letter was a request to Bishop Nepveu of Nantes, who had forbidden him to preach and hear confessions, for permission to take a few days’ rest in his diocese and be allowed to say Mass, which is the source of countless graces (L 33).

After he had been given a first-hand account, Blain describes a procession which was organized by Montfort during a mission and in which “the Blessed Sacrament was carried”: “after a few moments’ silent recollection in front of Jesus Christ enthroned on a altar . . . he addressed the crowd with so much force and persuasion that all those present burst into tears.”40

The theme of the Eucharistic mystery is not often addressed by the biographers of Montfort, and yet we have to realize that it was central to the experience of the holy missionary. If we make allowances for the literary genre, the following passage from Besnard may help us to realize this: “Devout during his adoration, he was like an angel when saying Mass, such was the impression of those who watched him either saying Mass or during his thanksgiving, which he always made in the church. The greatness of the mysteries and the holiness of the celebrant struck the congregation forcibly. This reputation for holiness first spread in Poitiers Hospital; watching him recollected, motionless, lost in God in the chapel after Mass, the poor people said to one another, ‘Come and see a holy man. He is the one we need to guide us along the way to salvation . . .’ His face sometimes changed out of recognition when saying Mass: it became suffused with an unusual shade of red and looked as if luminous. People flocked to hear him say Mass and contended for the honor of serving it. Finally, he handled the Blessed Sacrament so devotedly and fervently and with such dignity that the faith of those who watched him was increased. His faith inspired him with respect for Jesus Christ, God and man, whose body was present on the altar, and wherever he was, his faith made him keenly aware of the presence of God, whose immensity fills the universe. Hence the recollected and devout countenance that he showed everywhere.”41


III. THE EUCHARIST IN THE WRITINGS OF MONTFORT

Montfort cared little for the “scholarly approach” to the mystery of the Eucharist; what he concentrated on was to make the revealed truths taught by the Church accessible to the faithful so as to help their faith and their faith-life.42 This is made abundantly clear in his writings, which express his thought and testify to his missionary activity. He mentions the Eucharist in LEW, TD, SM, and RM; but he reveals his way of thinking and his ideas on the Eucharist especially in the hymns that were sung during Mass, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, processions, etc.; they give us an inkling of the burning zeal that animated him when it came to helping people to understand and live the mystery of the Eucharist.43

Fr. Perouas has written: “If we look at all that Montfort has achieved in the liturgical field, we cannot but be amazed at the small place accorded to the Eucharistic celebration, despite the special emphasis laid on frequent Communion.”44 This is accounted for by the fact that parish missions were governed by long-standing principles that focused on personal conversion attested by confession and Communion. Missionaries hesitated, therefore, to make daily Mass an ordinary exercise during the mission. As a rule, they relied on the local clergy for the daily life of the parish and focused their efforts on providing religious instruction and hearing general confessions.45 We must also keep in mind that St. Louis Marie’s overriding interest was in the lay folk, and therefore he laid stress on Eucharistic devotions that were considered specifically their field: Holy Communion and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Although as we will see, he does preach on the Mass aside from the Communion, this was considered, above all, as the domain of priests. Montfort, who was people-oriented, was laying more emphasis on Holy Communion and veneration of the Blessed Sacrament than on the Sacrifice of the Mass, which, as people saw it then, was the business of priests.

Montfort’s missionary career shows that he was increasingly interested in the celebrative aspect of worship: he wanted it to be dignified (reverence and good order inside the church, sanctification of Sundays and feast-days, interior and exterior dispositions for worthy reception of the Sacraments); he urged the people to take part (frequent Mass and Communion, hymn singing, processions).46 These reflections suggested by the notes that Montfort made lead us to the thematic examination of the hymns.

1. The Sacrament of the altar

“Love’s invention” is what Fr. Olier called it,47 and it gave Montfort the key to his understanding of the “descent” of the Eucharist. The mystery instituted by Christ is the continuation in time of the love that prompted Eternal Wisdom to become man and die on the Cross (LEW 70; H 128:1). In order to remain with us, Jesus has left us the Eucharist: “Eternal Wisdom, on the one hand, wished to prove his love for man by dying in his place in order to save him, but on the other hand, he could not bear the thought of leaving him. So he devised a marvelous way of dying and living at the same time, and of abiding with man until the end of time. So, in order fully to satisfy his love, he instituted the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and went to the extent of changing and overturning nature itself” (LEW 71). With characteristic sensitiveness, Montfort asserts that Jesus instituted the Eucharist before he died in order not to be separated from his mother and to be able to continue his heart-to-heart relationship with her after the Ascension (H 134:1-3). Indeed, the permanent presence of Wisdom among men is meant to be an interior rather than exterior fellowship: “He does not conceal himself under a sparkling diamond or some other precious stone, because he does not want to abide with man in an ostentatious manner. But he hides himself under the appearance of a small piece of bread—man’s ordinary nourishment—so that when received he might enter the heart of man and there take his delight” (LEW 71). Montfort stresses not only the benefits of the Sacraments for us; he also views them, most especially the Eucharist and Penance, as a means invented by Jesus to fulfill the longings of his heart to love us.

To this descending dimension of the Eucharist, God’s condescension, corresponds the “ascending dimension” of man’s response, which all too often is marred by ingratitude. Hymns 128-134 give a detailed description of the encounter between God’s Heart, beating in the Sacrament, and man’s heart, with its mixture of greatness and meanness. The seven hymns, one for each day of the week, with the Saturday canticle dealing with the Eucharist and Mary,48 were written in the form of a dialogue between Jesus and the faithful soul. Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is addressed as “spouse,” “wisdom,” “physician,” “master,” “friend,” “brother,” “way,” “path,” “gentle light” (cf. H 129:5). The main themes of the Eucharistic spirituality promoted by the French school are there: faith in the Real Presence, the doctrine on the Eucharist and its grandeur, praise, adoration, thanksgiving, petition, reparation to the God-man present yet hidden and glorious yet humble, the humility of Christ and the perfect glory he gives to the Father, the gentle love of the Heart of Jesus, Jesus’ search for sinners and the forgiveness granted to them, our personal unworthiness before the Most High. A few examples suffice: “Since Jesus humbles himself / Because he loves us / His love urges us / To respond in kind: / Let us visit him often in the Eucharist” (H 128:6). “The Almighty, in his greatness / Equal to God the Father / In order to win our hearts / Lives in this mystery / I give you my flesh to eat. / Eat because I love you. / Drink my blood in great gulps / Even to intoxication” (H 129:1, 7). “Oh! How well the Blessed Sacrament / Can teach us in a short time / Without words and easily / The science of the virtues / Divine Wisdom! / This mystery is all about love / Or rather it is love itself” (H 130:1, 7). Since Christ abides in plenitude in the Blessed Sacrament (cf. H 5:33), Montfort urged the faithful to have devotion to the Eucharist. In the regulations designed for a man who became converted during the mission, we note the following pledge: “My greatest devotion / Is to the Blessed Sacrament. / Every month without fail / I adore him for an hour” (H 139:60). TD points out that “Devotion to our Lady is the holiest and best after devotion to the Blessed Sacrament” (TD 99).49 The visit to the Blessed Sacrament is often mentioned in the hymns, together with the reasons for it and the blessings deriving from it (cf. H 128:6; 130:9; 131:1-9). A terse sentence tucked away in a letter to his nun sister speaks volumes about his own experience: “Spend more time before the altar than in resting and eating” (L 12).

One important ingredient of the visit to the Blessed Sacrament is reparation (cf. H 44:7; 133:8-9), involving an act of reparation for the outrages committed by Christians—priests and laypeople alike—against the Blessed Sacrament or the places of worship (cf. H 33:19; 43:5, 7; 67:3; 133:1; 136:1). It is interesting to note the connection established between devotion to the Eucharist and the Sacred Heart (cf. H 128:4, 8; H 131 mentions the Sacred Heart in every verse; see also H 44:7). During his missions, he stressed the importance of the act of reparation to the Blessed Sacrament (cf. H 158:11-12; LS 530) and also the importance of the procession for those who go to general communion in a body.50 Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament also rated high in his estimation (cf. H 158:13-14).

2. Holy Communion

Montfort was strongly convinced that Holy Communion conformed man and his life to Christ: “When a just man receives Jesus Christ / He becomes another Christ / Is filled with his spirit / And his life” (H 158:9). The Blessed Sacrament is not there just to be visited and adored; Jesus gave us the gift of his body and blood with his soul and his divinity to transform us completely into himself: “He gives us his flesh to eat / His blood to drink / His soul and his whole being / To change us into himself” (H 132:3). In Holy Communion “Jesus and the soul are one / They have everything in common” (H 132:4), and the communicant can say with Saint Paul, “I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). These ever-valid reasons make Holy Communion supremely worthy of our longing; Hymn 112 fosters the desire of the faithful to be one with Christ, identifying them with stray sheep, with starving, thirsty, blind, or sick people, and with the centurion in the Gospel. When mentioning the feast given by Wisdom, Montfort suggests that we prepare for it as a community: “Let us eat the living bread and drink the wine of angels / Frequently / As the saints did. / Let us eat and drink / And grow stronger / Let us eat and drink / And have our fill / And give praise to God.” (H 158:9)

At a time when Holy Communion was only received under one kind,51 the repeated phrase “Let us eat and drink” is surprising; the use of the plural in a hymn meant to be sung by the congregation could only be conducive to a better understanding of the community dimension of Holy Communion.

In the plans of two sermons that have come down to us (LS 530-534), we note that during the mission, Montfort spoke of fervent, lukewarm, and unworthy Communion (LS 531, 533); this indicates that he was concerned about the preparation of the faithful for Communion, and he did his best to help them derive all possible benefit from it. In RM 56 he makes a point of telling the missionaries how they should go about preparing the faithful adequately to receive Holy Communion, which is meant to set the seal on their life in union with Christ: Holy Communion is to be preceded by the renewal of the baptismal promises and by confession. He stresses the importance of preparing children adequately for their first Communion during the mission by means of a good confession (RM 90). He draws attention to the dispositions required for Communion in one of the hymns: “Happy the man who receives Communion / With a humble, faithful and pure heart / Who is not lukewarm or a hypocrite” (H 5:34).

Montfort promoted fervent as well as frequent Communion. Although he laid stress on receiving Communion worthily, he encouraged people to receive it frequently.52 The regulations mentioned above and meant for a man who became converted during the mission say: “As a rule, every month / I receive the Sacraments / And more frequently if necessary / Depending on the times and places. / The more often I receive Communion / The better I live in Christ” (H 139:22; see also LPM 2).

In those days devout souls were advised to receive Communion once a month;53 it is not surprising, therefore, if Montfort urged all Christians to make serious commitments, as Communion calls for conversion. Writing to the first Daughters of Wisdom, he boldly says: “Provided you do not fall into deliberate sin, receive holy communion every day for you both need holy communion very much” (L 29). In RW the founder strongly recommends that the Daughters of Wisdom receive Holy Communion frequently, following the advice of their confessor and their superior (RW 147-151; 152-160); they are not to prefer “devotions” to receiving Holy Communion, or aim at enjoying “spiritual consolations” or look on themselves as privileged; rather, they are to receive Communion in order to “sacrifice all things to Jesus crucified and annihilated”; besides, they are to “assist at Mass and receive holy communion with the community.” Montfort also prescribed that all the group of pilgrims to Our Lady of Saumur receive Communion together (PS 9-10).

3. Mass

It has been pointed out above that Montfort laid more emphasis on Communion than on the Sacrifice of the Mass, as was done by those giving parish missions in those days.54 The LS makes no mention of Mass (cf. LS 530-534); but the theme of Mass recurs several times in the Hymns. The Regulations designed for the man who has been converted contains this commitment: “Whenever I can, I attend Mass / Every day devoutly / And in order to attend it I promptly drop / Whatever I am doing. / And I usually find afterwards / That things are going more smoothly” (H 139:18). The holy founder laid down that his missionaries should say Mass daily, having first prepared themselves suitably, and they should make a half-hour’s thanksgiving after Mass (RM 30).

Hymn 158 includes verses to be sung “at Mass,” “at the Sanctus,” “at the Agnus Dei,” “before Holy Communion.” The verse on Mass says: “This is the perfect sacrifice / Containing all those of the Law. / It alone brings us / Salvation. / A God is sacrificed to God as priest and victim” (H 158:6). The singing of these hymns during Mass—Blain tells us that he actually heard them sung after the Elevation and Communion at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre 55—shows that Montfort was doing his best to help the faithful take an active part in the Mass.56 In this connection, we must note that he prescribed that his missionaries should say “a rosary in the vernacular with the people in the morning during Mass before the sermon” (RM 57). 57

In Montfort’s writings one does not find explicit mention of the priesthood common to the faithful, in the fullness of the Eucharistic sacrifice which comes to us through our union with the priesthood of Christ. On the other hand, Montfort does mention the offering of Christ to the Father in union with Mary: “Father, I offer myself to you / Through the hands of Mary / That I may be sacrificed for all / As a host./ Here is my body, here is my blood, / Here is my dear Mother: / Immolate it all even now / If such is your will, Father” (H 49:3). This quotation makes us realize the connection between “Christ, the Eucharist, and Mary,” and we thus move from the historical plane to the sacramental plane. Montfort never resorted to allegories to explain the Mass, and it may be added that the French school had already gone beyond that stage.

4. The Eucharist and Mary

The French school had a deep insight into the role of Mary at the Incarnation and, therefore, in all the mysteries of Christ. It is not surprising that Montfort experienced a further deepening of the mysteries through the Blessed Virgin. St. Louis Marie highlighted the Mary/ Eucharist relationship.58 The Sacraments, rooted in the economy of salvation, are essentially the actualization of the historical mysteries of Christ. Since Mary gave the Redeemer his flesh and blood, it follows that she cannot but be involved in the mysteries that are a unique memorial of the same flesh and blood, that is, the Eucharist.

In light of these theological principles, Montfort elaborated his teaching, which is full of grateful admiration for the Father, that the Father through the Holy Spirit has entrusted His Son to Mary. This praise extends to Mary as well, as her “fiat” made it possible for us to share the Eucharistic body and blood of her Son: “It was you, Virgin Mary, / Who gave us this body and blood / Which raises our status so high / that it is beyond the reach of the angels. May you be blessed throughout the world / For giving us such a great gift” (H 134:11).

The Blessed Virgin’s motherly care and concern for her faithful servants is epitomized in the fact that “she gives them the Son she has borne, the Bread of Life” (TD 208, which is full of scriptural quotations and allusions and is concerned with this particular theme). It is Wisdom who prepares the table and says, “Come . . . eat the bread which is Jesus. Drink the wine of his love which I have mixed for you with the milk of my breasts” (TD 208). With great sensitivity and in great depth, Montfort draws attention to the presence and action of Mary in the Eucharist without detriment to the excellence of the redeeming work of Christ. Mary is mediatrix of Communion: “As Mary is the treasurer and dispenser of the gifts and graces of the Most High God, she reserves a choice portion, indeed the choicest portion, to nourish and sustain her children and servants. They grow strong on the Bread of Life; they are made joyful with the wine that brings forth virgins. They are carried at her breast” (TD 208).

In the conviction that sacramental Communion necessarily involves the presence of Mary, Montfort concludes TD with an exhortation to receive Holy Communion in union with Mary. She receives in us and for us the Word of God made Bread. The reason for this is that she received the Word of God “in her heart and in her body,” as the Church Fathers put it. In the last few pages of TD (266-273), Montfort tells us why and how we should unite ourselves with Mary before, during, and after Holy Communion; his aim is to demonstrate clearly that in us and through us Holy Communion binds Christ and Mary together again. In other words, the union between Christ and Mary, which took place at a definite time and place, is repeated in a sacramental way when the faithful united with Mary receive Holy Communion.

In accordance with the thinking of the time, Montfort made no explicit mention of the ecclesial aspect of Holy Communion; if we make allowance for this, we can safely say that Montfort’s teaching on the Christ/Mary/faithful relationship is extraordinarily clear from the theological standpoint. In practice, the relationship reflects the mystery of the oblation and communion that united in one heart Christ, Mary, and John at the time of the supreme sacrifice, which redeemed humanity (cf. Jn 19:25-27). It was precisely because he had in mind the conformity of the faithful to Jesus Christ, with Mary playing an all- important role, that Montfort envisaged and introduced the Consecration to Jesus through the hands of Mary, which he meant to be made in close connection with Holy Communion: “They should go to confession and Holy Communion with the intention of consecrating themselves to Jesus through Mary as his slaves of love. When receiving Holy Communion they could follow the method given later on [cf. TD 266-273]. They then recite the act of consecration” (TD 231; cf. also SM 61, 76).

In the method that Montfort suggests for receiving Holy Communion in union with Mary, the three Persons of the Holy Trinity are clearly involved; the prayers to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit on the common basis of “Lord I am not worthy” (TD 267-269) highlight the relationship of each of the Divine Persons with the Eucharist and with Mary.

Finally, a theme dear to the heart of the missionary: the Eucharistic life of Mary, which he mentions in the hymn to the Blessed Sacrament on Saturdays (H 134). Jesus instituted the Eucharist in order to remain with Mary even after his death on the Cross and his Ascension; so he keeps coming back to her “nourishing her with his own body which she nourished when he was an infant”; “in exchange for the milk of her most pure breast, he strengthens her with his divine Blood”; the Blessed Virgin is the perfect model of all who receive Holy Communion.59


IV. THE EUCHARIST AND MONTFORT SPIRITUALITY TODAY

The gift of the Spirit, Who was given to the Church by the risen Christ on the evening of Easter Sunday (cf. Jn 20:22) and poured on his Spouse the Church as her Life-Giver on Pentecost Sunday, is constantly renewed in the Sacraments. Among the Sacraments, the Eucharist holds a special place, as it is the centripetal and centrifugal moment of the anointing by the Spirit: “Grant that we, who are nourished by his body and blood, may be filled with the Holy Spirit, and become one body, one spirit in Christ. May he make us an everlasting gift to you” (Eucharistic Prayer III). It is in this perspective and in the postconciliar spirit that we must accept Montfort’s heritage, bearing in mind that the Montfort Eucharistic spirituality can only bear fruit if it is nourished by the ongoing life, teachings, and worship of the universal Church.

1. The summit of Christian initiation

“Renew the spirit of Christianity among the faithful.” This goal of Montfort was prompted by the Holy Spirit. He spent his missionary life trying to achieve it, and it is the gist of the message he left to his followers. The folly of Wisdom and the preferential option for the weakest are rooted in the likeness to the crucified Christ-Victor conferred on us in Baptism.

“To be a Christian means to live like one.” Montfort was fully aware of this, and he focused his energy on making Christians aware of the grace and obligations of their Baptism and Confirmation, and on exhorting them to live out their commitments. His constant concern was to give a paschal dynamic to the life of the faithful, urging them to be totally open to grace so as to be freed from the slavery of sin and start a new life of loving service to God. This was one of his characteristics; but in order to grasp it properly, as well as the spirituality it generated, we must look at it as part of the Christian initiation. The purpose of this initiation is to bring Christians gradually to conform their lives to Christ’s, and the most effective means to this end is the reception of the Eucharist, in which Christians are grafted on to Christ and have their lives renewed “Sunday after Sunday.”60 If we look at it from this angle, the reason that Montfort promoted the reception of Holy Communion will become evident to us. His perception of the relationship between Baptism and the Eucharist is confirmed by the fact that during the mission, Communion was to be given only to those Christians who had publicly and solemnly renewed their profession of faith and their baptismal promises (RM 56).

The Consecration to Jesus through Mary, seen as the perfect renewal of the vows and promises of holy Baptism (TD 120), should be regarded as part of Christian initiation and therefore be linked to the Eucharist. This ties in with Montfort’s view, since he brings together the act of Consecration and the reception of the body and blood of Christ. The Eucharist is indeed the Sacrament of the new and eternal Covenant, which calls for the humble and total gift of self in return for Christ’s gift of love, which no words can express. According to a widespread postconciliar practice, the Consecration is renewed after the liturgy of the Word as a response to it and in anticipation of the liturgy of the Offerings. It might be good however, if serious consideration were given to the value of making the Consecration after Holy Communion, as Montfort suggests. We would thus underscore the fact that the Montfort Consecration finds its best expression in sacramental Communion, and make clear the commitment involved in receiving the Bread and Wine “consecrated and consecrators.” In any case, it is clear that there is a connection between the Montfort Consecration and the Eucharistic celebration, the supreme Consecration of baptized and confirmed Christians.

2. The Word of God and the Eucharist

The Second Vatican Council has helped us to take a comprehensive view of the Eucharist by restoring unity to the Holy Mass and presenting it as a celebration shared by the whole Church. SC requires that “richer fare be provided for the faithful at the table of God’s Word” (SC 51) and reminds us that “the liturgy of the word and the Eucharistic liturgy are so closely connected with each other that they form but one single act of worship” (SC 56). The Eucharist and the Word of God can therefore no longer be kept apart when we consider Holy Mass or the adoration of the Eucharist outside Mass.61

The Eucharistic mystery is the accomplishment of the Word of God, “from the bread of the Word to the bread of the Eucharist.” At Mass, the paschal sacrifice of the Lord, the liturgy of the Word announces the Communion of God and his people, which had been promised in the OT and was realized in Jesus Christ. The liturgy of the Eucharist actualizes what the Word has announced and brings about: Communion between God and the faithful in, with, and through Christ, in the Holy Spirit.

We are not saying that Montfort highlights the connection between the proclamation of the Word and the Eucharist as much as present-day theology does. We cannot deny, however, that his teaching on the Eucharist is based on Scripture, as examination of his hymns on the Blessed Sacrament has shown. It cannot be denied, either, that he understood and appreciated the celebrative side of the Eucharist. We celebrate because the Word is accomplished “here and now” in the Sacrament of the altar. We are called in a vital manner to offering worship “in spirit and in truth” that Jesus himself inaugurated. The gospel of the Annunciation, which is the bedrock of Montfort spirituality, is most significant in this respect: the mystery of the Word taking flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the working of the Holy Spirit evokes the mystery of the Word becoming Bread in the Church in order to be with her a single mystical living being.

3. The Eucharist and the mission

SC makes the following significant point: “The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the foundation from which all her power flows. For the goal of apostolic work is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of his Church, to take part in her sacrifice, and to eat the Lord’s supper” (SC 10). In another passage the Council Fathers say: “The most blessed Eucharist contains the Church’s entire spiritual wealth. . . . Hence the Eucharist shows itself to be the source and the apex of the whole work of preaching the gospel” (PO 5). In the light of these principles, Montfort spirituality, rich with the missionary experience of Montfort, which he handed on especially to the Company of Mary, is bound to acknowledge that the Eucharist is both the foundation of the mission and its ultimate goal; it is indeed in the Eucharist that the fruits of the mission mature when, sitting at the banquet of the Lamb, we enjoy indestructible Communion with him. This reminds one of Montfort quoting Wisdom, in which Wisdom is described as running about the streets and inviting people to the banquet of life.

4. Personal and ecclesial dimension

“Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf” (1 Cor 10:17). The Second Vatican Council Fathers express this by saying: “The Eucharist makes the Church.” These words are a strong reminder of the timeless purpose of the celebration of the memorial of the Lord’s death and Resurrection. The “real presence” of Christ in history is the Church, living body in time and space, his beloved Spouse, “one flesh” with him; the Real Presence in the Sacrament of the altar is therefore geared to the upbuilding and increase of the Church.

The French school and the seventeenth-century movements have contributed to clarifying the Eucharist-Church relationship, but we cannot expect the theology and the pastoral directives of that century to go as deeply and as extensively as the relationship requires. Although Montfort urges the Daughters of Wisdom and the pilgrims to Our Lady of Saumur to receive Holy Communion together and frequently says in the plural, “Come, eat and drink,” his writings stress the personal character of Holy Communion. This should lead to the discovery of the community dimension, without losing sight of the real intimate relationship. Eucharistic spirituality should strike a balance between the personal and community dimensions.

If we apply to Mass what Montfort teaches about fervent Communion, which requires preparation and should influence the way we live, we come to the conclusion that the time before and after Mass should receive special attention.

5. The Eucharist with Mary

Though it is a unique and unrepeatable event, the Incarnation of the Word in Mary’s womb is sacramentally perpetuated in the Eucharistic celebration, which makes God present with us for our sake.62 What the eyes see changes but the reality is the same. As St. Justin wrote as far back as the second century, the sacrifice accomplished in the bread and wine is not “the sacrifice of the bread and wine,” because we Christians “know that by virtue of the words of the prayer that comes to us from Christ, this bread and wine become the body and blood of the same Jesus who took flesh” (Apologia I, 66).

On this rich though simple theological vision, the French school grafted its teaching and stressed the link between the Incarnation and the Eucharist, rather than the link between Easter and the Eucharist. Montfort adopted this teaching and renewed it, adding the touch of his own charism. TD ends with instructions on how to practice this devotion at Holy Communion (see above), so that we can say that the reception of Holy Communion with Mary (or living the Mass through Mary) turns out to be a key aspect of Montfort spirituality. The sacramental union that makes the faithful “one flesh” with the Son of God is the supreme expression of the Consecration received and lived out, of the covenant that affects and renews life. It is precisely this mystery, through which we become blood relations of Jesus, that brings the Virgin Mary into play, because “from her has sprung the mysteries of our salvation.”63 In reality, the determining presence of the Virgin, “faithful Spouse of the Holy Spirit,” is not limited to the moment in time when she gave the flesh and blood of the Son of God to the world for our salvation. She is there again at the sacramental moment that repeats the unique event today. The words Saint Ambrose applied to Mary— “throne-room of God’s mysteries”—and which Montfort repeats in TD 248,64 are then found to be an apt description. The idea recurring in Montfort’s writings, namely, that Mary forms the members since she has formed the Head, is realized in a concrete manner in the Eucharist: “Her womb is, as the early Fathers call it, the house of the divine secrets where Jesus and the elect have been conceived” (TD 264). Hence the link between Mary, the Eucharist, and the Church.

The deep Montfort insight opens up spiritual vistas based on the liturgy of the Church.65 It is a question of rediscovering the mysterious links between Mary and the Eucharist. This can be done especially on the occasion of Marian feasts and solemnities, during Advent and the Christmas period, and when on pilgrimage to Marian shrines. As the Eucharistic celebration is the memorial of all the mysteries of Christ, we cannot ignore the admirable Mother of the Savior, as she is inevitably involved in all of them.66

C. Maggioni


Notes: (1) Cf. L. Godefroy, Eucharistie d’après le Concile de Trente, (The Eucharist according to the Council of Trent), in Eucharistie (Eucharist), DTC 5/2, 1326-1356; J. Rivière, La Messe durant la période de la Réforme et du Concile de Trente, (The Mass during the Period of the Reformation and of the Council of Trent), in Messe (Mass), DTC 10/1, 1085-1142. (2) The Ordo Missae in the Roman Missal of Pius V does not deal with the rite of the distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful; this rite, which is to be used even during Mass, is dealt with in the Ritual of Paul V under the heading “De Eucharistia.” (3) The Missal of Pius V makes no provision for a congregation joining in the celebration: it does not mention the faithful or their taking part in the Mass; this is left to the priest’s discretion. (4) Cf. A. Michel, La Messe chez les théologiens postérieurs au Concile de Trente (The Mass in the Writings of Theologians after the Council of Trent), in Messe (Mass), DTC 10/1, 1143-1316. On the subject of immolation and oblation in the explanation of Mass, see S. Marsili, Teologia della celebrazione dell’ eucaristia, in AA. VV., Anamnesis 3/2; La Liturgia eucaristia: teologia e storia della celebrazione, Marietti, Casale Monferrato 1983, 122-125. (5) Cf. J. Galy, Le Sacrifice dans l’école française de spiritualité (Sacrifice in the French School of Spirituality), Nouvelles éditions latines, Paris 1951 (includes a bibliography on the subject on pp. 388-389). (6) Olier established the feast of “the interior of Jesus” for celebration at the seminary and in the parish of Saint-Sulpice. (7) The distinction made by Bérulle between the actions and the states of Christ, with the emphasis placed on the latter, is well known. (8) See H. Brémond, Histoire littéraire du sentiment religieux en France depuis la fin des guerres de religion jusqu’à nos jours , vol. 3, La conquête mystique (The Mystical Conquest), Bloud et Gay, Paris 1921. English translation, A Literary History of Religious Thought in France from the Wars of Religion down to Our Own Times, trans. K.L. Montgomery, Macmillan, New York 1928. On the spirituality of the Oratory, see also A. Molien, Oratoire de Jésus (Oratory of Jesus), in DTC 10/1, 1104-1138, especially 1107-1130. (9) The index to J. Galy, Le Sacrifice dans l’école française, makes this clear. (10) On Olier’s thought about the Eucharist, see the excellent synthesis ibid., 319-329. About the spirituality of the Mass and the pastoral thinking promoted by Olier, cf. Darrigau, La messe et le prêtre dans l’ésprit de l’Ecole française de spiritualité (Mass and the Priest in the Spirit of the French School of Spirituality), in AA. VV., Histoire de la Messe: XVII-XVIII siècles (History of the Mass: Seventeenth-Eighteenth Centuries), Librairie D.U.C., Paris 1980, 57-62. (11) Ibid., 57. (12) About Mass and the French school, cf. A. Michel, La messe chez les théologiens, 1192-1212; it may be helpful to refer to H. Brémond, Le saint sacrifice, in Histoire littéraire, vol. 9, La vie chrétienne sous l’ancien régime (Christian Life under the Ancien Régime), Bloud et Gay, Paris 1932, 129- 206. (13) Ibid., 173. (14) The French Oratory gave a strong impulse to the efforts made to assert the values of Mass: “No effort was spared to draw together private prayer and the liturgy with a public character; the followers of Bérulle, especially Condren and Olier, promoted participation in the Sacrifice of Christ as the basis of any devotion. The liturgical aspect of a sacrifice offered by the Church was highlighted, and the faithful were encouraged to join in the action of the priest” (J. Jungmann, Missarum Sollemnia, Marietti, Casale 1953, 1:122; English translation, The Mass of the Roman Rite, Its Origins and Development, trans. Francis A.Brunner, rev. Charles K. Riepe, Benzinger Bros., New York 1959). (15) On the problematics, cf. J. de Viguerie, La dévotion populaire à la messe dans la France des XVIIème et XVIIIème siècles (Popular Devotion to the Mass in France of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries), in AA. VV., Histoire de la Messe, 7-25; J. Jungmann, Missarum Sollemnia, 1:121-136; L’Eucaristia, in A. G. Martimort, ed., La Chiesa in preghiera, rev. ed., Queriniana, Brescia 1985, 2:206-212; English translation, The Eucharist, trans. Matthew J. O’Connell, Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minn. 1986. (16) Cf. Dom Oury, Les explications de la messe en France du XVIème au XVIIIème siècle (The Explanations of the Mass in France of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries), in AA. VV., Histoire de la messe, 81-93. (17) A significant example is given in François de Harlay, La vraie manière de bien entendre la messe de paroisse tirée du Manuel de Rouen par le Commandement de Monseigneur l’Archevêque pour l’instruction des Familles (The True Manner of Hearing the Parish Mass Well, Taken from the Manual of Rouen by Command of the Archbishop, for the Instruction of Families), 3rd ed., Rouen 1653 (the first edition was published in 1650). On pages 196-197, commenting on the expression “Plebs tua sancta” used in the Canon, the author says, “It does not say Populus but Plebs, which refers precisely to the humble people, the People of the Poor, as the Church is called in the Prophets, Populum Pauperum. The Church is the People of the Poor: she glories in her poor, who make up most of the People of God: the Church respects them . . . Plebs tua sancta; all these poor people to be seen in the streets and outside church doors are the People of God; all the poor village people are the holy souls to whom this expression refers.” (18) Most of these texts are conducive to meditation on the Lord’s Passion and arouse sentiments of adoration of God Incarnate, self-offering, sorrow for sins, desire for heaven, etc. (19) On reciting the Rosary during Mass, P. Stella, L’Eucaristia, cf. of MC (20) Cf. J. De Viguerie, La dévotion populaire, 16-19. (21) Cf. Ibid., 12. (22) P. Stella, L’Eucaristia, 147 (our translation). (23) Cf. section 13: 2 and 8 (DS 1638 and 1648-1649); section 22: 6 (DS 1747). See J. Dhur, Communion fréquente, in DSAM 2:1271-1273; on the French section, see H. Brémond, La communion fréquente, in Histoire littéraire, 9:45-128. (24) This was the line that even the Sacred Congregation for the Council always followed when answering questions about frequent Communion, which was only to be received on the advice of one’s confessor. (25) J. De Viguerie, La dévotion populaire, 206-208; P. Stella, L’Eucaristia, 163-164. (26) Cf. Ibed, 58-59, P. Stella, L’Eucharistia o.c., 159, observed that for the devout of the 17th C. frequency of communion was weekly or almost never daily. (27) Cf. H. Bremond, Histoire litteraire, ix, o.c., 207-246 (L’Adoration reparatrice); R. Cabie, L’Eucharistia, o.c., 206-208; P. Stella, L’Eucharistia, o.c., 163-164. (28) Blain, 31. (29) Ibid., 100. (30) Ibid., 101. (31) We have been using the publication Le livre des sermons du Père de Montfort: Documents et recherches (The Book of Sermons of Father de Montfort: Documents and Research), vol. 9, Centre international montfortain, Rome 1983. The passages quoted refer to the period before Montfort’s ordination; see introduction, i-ix. (32) The unpublished notes are those contained in Montfort’s N, which were transcribed with comments by Fr. Pierre Eijkeler, SMM (memeographed text). (33) See LS 339, probably by Fr. Leschassier again. (34) Cf. Blain, 70. (35) Ibid. 105-106. (36) Ibid., 112. (37) Ibid., 142- 143. (38) Cf. J. De Viguerie, La dévotion populaire, 13. (39) Blain, 191. (40) Ibid., 163. (41) Besnard II, 182-183. (42) On the person and role of the seventeenth-century spiritual mediator between theologians and the people, see P. Stella, L’Eucaristia, 145-146. (43) Hymns 112, 128-134, and 158 are concerned with the Eucharist; some verses of Hymns 5, 44, and 139 also deal with the same theme. Though we do not know when they were written, we know that they were sung during the missions, and this is an important piece of information, as it allows us to regard them as reflecting, so to speak, what Montfort preached on the subject of the “Eucharist.” (44) Cf. L. Perouas, Grignion de Montfort: Les pauvres et les missions (Grignion de Montfort: The Poor and the Missions), Cerf, Paris 1966, 124. (45) Cf. Ibid., 124; J. De Viguerie, La dévotion populaire, 12. (46) Cf. L. Perouas, Grignion, o.c., 113- 124. (47) J.J. Olier, Explication des Cérémonies de la Grande Messe . . . , in Oeuvres complètes, publ. Migne, 432-433: “Holy Communion is the invention devised by the love and religion of Our Lord Jesus Christ that his praise, adoration, and love of his Father, in paying homage to his Father, as he wants us to join him in offering it”; cf. J. Galy, Le sacrifice, 324-325. (48) The order in which they are given suggests that they were meant to be sung over a week during a mission. We must add Hymn 158, which in the first part deals with faith in the Real Presence, while the second part is a collection of prayers for the various stages of Mass. (49) This argues strongly in favor of Montfort’s sound theological presentation. (50) On processions, cf. L. Perouas, Grignion, 122. (51) At that time many people were objecting to the prevailing practice, and arguments were put forward in favor of Communion under both kinds for the faithful; it appears, however, that Montfort, holding onto the teaching of the Council of Trent, stressed that the whole of Christ was really equally present under both species. It can be argued that his frequent realistic references to flesh and blood, eating and drinking, which were based on the Gospel, have something to do with the Eucharist-Incarnation relationship to which he attached so much importance. (52) Jansenism and Augustinianism placed less emphasis on this. The Ritual of Paul V urged parish priests to see that the faithful received Holy Communion frequently and with devotion, especially on the major feast days of the year. (53) Cf. L. Perouas, Grignion, 119. (54) Cf. Ibid. 120. (55) Blain, 204. (56) On the use of hymns and prayers, including the Rosary, during Mass as a remedy for absenteeism particularly during the parish missions, see J. A. Jungmann, Missarum Sollemnia, 1:125. (57) See Note 19. (58) On the same subject, see A. Lhoumeau, La vie spirituelle à l’école du Bx L.M. Grignion de Montfort, Mame, Tours 1920, 459-474 (Mary and Holy Communion), in which the author sets out to supplement Montfort’s teaching on attending Mass in union with Mary. (59) Speaking of the Magnificat, Montfort mentions Gerson’s view and suggests that we say the canticle after Holy Communion, in imitation of Mary, who used it in thanksgiving after Holy Communion; cf. SM 64 and TD 255. (60) Cf. Ordo Initiationis Christianae Adultorum and Ordo Baptismi Parvulorum, praenotanda, especially nos. 1-2. (61) Cf. De sacra Communione et de cultu Mysterii Eucharistici extra Missam (On Holy Communion and the Cult of the Eucharistic Mystery outside Mass), editio typica, Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, Vatican City 1973, nos. 26, 29, 44, 58, 71, 89, 95. (62) Sur les implications Incarnation Marie-Eucharistie, voir C. Maggioni, Annunciazione Storia, eucloogia, telogia liturgica, C.L.V. Roma, 1991, pp. 156-209. On the Implications of the Incarnation, Mary, Eucharist) (63) The expression is borrowed from a fifth-century Ambrosian preface: “De cujus [Mariae] ventre fructus effloruit, qui panis angelici munere nos replevit. Quod Eva voravit in crimine, Mara restituit in salute. . . . Inde fusa sunt venena discriminis, hinc egressa mysteria Salvatoris”; A. Paredi (publisher), Sacramentarium Bergomense (Sacramentary of Bergamo), Monumenta Bergomensia 6, Bergamo 1962, no. 85. Cf. A. M. Triacca, La Vierge Marie, Mère de Dieu, dans la liturgie eucharistique ambrosienne “Hinc egressa mysteria Salvatoris” (The Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the Ambrosian Eucharistic Liturgy “Hinc egressa mysteria Salvatoris”), in A. M. Triacca A. Pistoia (publisher), La Mère de Jésus Christ et la Communion des Saints dans la Liturgie (The Mother of Jesus Christ and the Communion of Saints in the Liturgy), Conférences Saint-Serge, Paris, 1985, C.L.V., Rome 1986, 283- 332. (64) Ambrose demonstrates the truth that the body of Christ is really present in the Eucharist by referring to the Incarnation: “ The Blessed Virgin has given birth outside the order of nature. Well, we produce the body borne of her. Why seek the order of nature in the body of Christ when the Lord Jesus himself was born of a Virgin outside the order of nature? It is the same body of Christ that was crucified and buried. The Eucharist is therefore the Sacrament of his body.” De Mysteriis 53, Sources chrétiennes 25 bis, 187.189. (65) On the mysteries of Christ celebrated by the Church “with” and “like” Mary, see Collectio Missarum de BVM, praenotanda nos. 4-18, especially 12-13, 17. See also: Congregatio pro Culto Divino, Orientamenti e proposte per la celebrazione dell’anno mariano, nos. 19-20, in Notitiae 23 (1987), 354- 355. (66) Cf. SC 103; LG 53, 57.

 

Back to Index Page


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.

Electronic Copyright © 1998 EWTN
All Rights Reserved

.

Eternal Word Television Network
5817 Old Leeds Road
Irondale, AL 35210
www.ewtn.com


HOME-EWTNews-FAITH-TELEVISION-RADIO-LIBRARY-GALLERY-CATALOGUE-GENERAL
ESPAÑOL