Holy Spirit

Author: St. Louis de Montfort




I. The Holy Spirit in the life and times of Montfort: 1. Montfort’s influences and/or originality; 2. A synthesis of charisms and obedience; 3. A summary of influences; 4. The Holy Spirit in Montfort’s life. II. The Holy Spirit in Montfort’s theology: 1. The role of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity; 2. The Role of the Holy Spirit in the work of salvation and the cooperation of Mary; 3. The Holy Spirit and Mary: identification or union? 4. The Holy Spirit and the Church. III. Present relevance.

The Holy Spirit is of the utmost importance for Montfort. The Spirit made of him a true prophet, moved by unusual, irresistible charisms. Montfort referred constantly to the Holy Spirit, and he even thinks of Mary only by reference to the Spirit. He said that she was "entirely relative to God" (TD 225; cf. 148), but he thinks of her as entirely relative to the Holy Spirit. He wanted to call his Company of Mary the "Community of the Holy Spirit." This formula recurs four times in his will. His spirituality serves as an antidote to Spirit-related emptiness. It provided the inspiration for the Legion of Mary, a movement that was poor and humble yet Spirit-related and fruitful (though these qualities, hidden beneath the Legion’s external forms, went unnoticed by many). The charismatic renewal (that great twentieth- century movement of the Spirit) owes several of its most outstanding pioneers to this earlier movement. In particular, there was Cardinal Suenens, the first bishop to become involved in the movement (Paul VI entrusted him with guiding it), and Pierre Goursat, the humble founder of the largest and most international of the charismatic communities: the Emmanuel.

What exactly fashioned Montfort’s life and theology, which bridged the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? How are his life and work structured by the Holy Spirit, under what influences and towards what future? This is what the present study will attempt to establish.


1. Montfort’s influences and/or originality History would have us explain everything by reference to antecedents and milieu. The presupposition of historical research is that the person studied (even if it were Jesus, according to David Flusser) has drawn everything from his or her milieu, arriving at a sort of composite of whatever is available within it. Such a working hypothesis can be fruitful and help to identify certain continuities, constants, and causal relationships. But it also inclines the researcher to miss the originality and uniqueness of the truly novel personality, especially in the case of that "singular" man, Montfort.

It has been assumed that Montfort was influenced by the Jesuits of Rennes, the masters of his college. They certainly guided him and trained him in prayer and in the service of the poor. They must also have talked to him about the Holy Spirit, about whom Montfort learned in the catechism and the liturgy of Pentecost. But it is simply not known how much they spoke of Him nor how influential they were in this respect. Did they collectively lay great emphasis on the Spirit? If they did, which individuals amongst Montfort’s first teachers did so? There is no factual evidence to answer such questions.

Montfort arrived at the Seminary of Saint Sulpice in Paris (1692-1700) in the era of anti-mysticism. Fénelon’s work Maximes des Saints (Maxims of the Saints) was not condemned until March 12, 1699; but from July 1694 to March 1695, Monsieur Tronson (1622-1700), the general superior of the Sulpicians, was already joining forces with Bossuet and Noailles to attack Madame Guyon and quietist mysticism. The Conference of Issy and the thirty-four resulting Articles proclaimed opposition to adventures in spiritual experience; Louis Cognet has called these events the Twilight of Mysticism.1

Monsieur Tronson had succeeded Monsieur Olier († 1657). The latter was a mystic prone to occasionally disconcerting impulses; but Monsieur Tronson established observance of the rules, method, and obedience. In his view and in that of his successor, François Leschassier (1641-1725), who was Montfort’s spiritual director, there was no place for personal charisms. The slightest hint of novelty and originality was to be viewed as suspicious, particularly if it was a question of visions and revelations.2

In spite of the fact that they were often counterbalanced in an intelligent and useful fashion, Montfort’s extraordinary transports and charisms were therefore misunderstood and curtailed. His masters counted not on his dynamism but on his unlimited obedience. In spite of this obedience and his faithfulness, Montfort’s spiritual director finally washed his hands of the whole affair and left him to his own devices, as if in desperation.

2. A Synthesis of charisms and obedience

Although Montfort’s disquieting qualities led him to be misunderstood and suppressed by his masters, the latter did train him in the doctrinal and spiritual theocentrism of the French school. The humble young man surrendered to the Holy Spirit. He thirsted for light, for complete dedication, for mission, for the unconditional service of God and man, especially the poor. He was able to obtain the mystic texts he craved in the seminary’s library, where he worked.

3. A summary of influences

Montfort read the writings of Olier, who had influenced Monsieur Baüyn.3 This influence inspired the basis of Montfort’s thought.

Olier founded his seminary as an "apostolic house" made up of priests available for diocesan pastoral duties. Montfort founded the Company of Mary as a team of apostolic men, available for parish missions aimed at Christian revival.4

Olier affords a prophetic glimpse of the priests he wished to train: they are "rockets" that "fly through the air to wherever they are propelled by the impetuous force of love."5 Montfort saw these future missionaries as "thunder-clouds flying through the air at the slightest breath of the Holy Spirit" (TD 57) or "clouds that sail high above the earth . . . moving without let or hindrance, according to the inspiration of the Spirit" (PM 9). In both texts Montfort replaces "love" by "the Holy Spirit," which is indicative of his Spirit-filled nature.

Besides Olier, Montfort read the Lettres spirituelles (Spiritual Letters) of J.-J. Surin,6 and also Marie des Vallées (cited in TD 47), Marie d’Agreda (TD 207), and Agnès de Langeac, whose experience impressed him deeply (he refers to it twice, in TD 170 and 242). In N, Montfort copied the following definition: "It is the Spirit of Jesus Christ, his form and his life, that makes the Christian; just as the form and the life of man is the soul. . . . The Christian is a new creature . . . Erunt omnes docibiles Dei (Joann. 6:45). Quicumque Spiritu Dei aguntur, hi sunt filii Dei (Rom. 8:14)" (N, pp. 306A/B, 308A).

Montfort was indebted to the influence of his friend Poullart des Places (1697-1709), founder of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, with whom he instituted a prayer group at the Collège de Rennes (1685-1692), according to his biographer Besnard.7 It is difficult to know, to what extent, for between these two men there was a pre-established harmony, based first and foremost on the place the Holy Spirit held in both their lives. Montfort wanted to call his own foundation the Community of the Holy Spirit; and the convergence between the two men’s interests was so close, the exchanges between them so easy, that one might well wonder why they did not create a single Congregation. This was in fact due to the difference in their temperament and in their ideas on organization (Montfort strove for greater economy in this respect). The Holy Spirit Himself fostered the best in both these men, including their differences.

4. The Holy Spirit in Montfort’s life

Montfort never created a monument or event that represented the Holy Spirit directly. This was not an oversight but resulted from the very nature of the Holy Spirit. The Third Person of the Trinity is invisible, unlike Jesus Christ and the Blessed Mother. He does not even have His own name (as do the Father and the Son), or any adequate iconographic form of representation. In 1707-1708, however, Montfort restored a chapel, and in it he symbolized the objects of his leading devotions; not only did the name of Jesus, Our Lady of Wisdom, and the Rosary appear, but also, above the altar, the dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit.

The difficulties Montfort encountered in defining the role of the Holy Spirit result from the fact that the Spirit does not show Himself. He characteristically disappears, both to light up Christ, as a spotlight is hidden so that it can light up the stage, and in order that each Christian, each community, each people might wake to self-realization. For Montfort, the Spirit was a presence. This presence was unobtrusive, in accordance with the nature of its working, becoming progressively more powerful in Montfort’s life. As Louis Perouas observes: "Towards the end of Montfort’s life, the Holy Spirit seems to occupy a much more important place than the Father."8

It is not clear that one ought to follow Perouas in minimizing Montfort’s devotion to the Father; he certainly did practice this type of devotion, expressing it lyrically in his canticles to the Father (H 52:2, 8; 53). But Perouas is right to emphasize the increasing importance of the Spirit: "The disciples he desires will be led by the Holy Spirit (PM 9): he prays to the Spirit to send them to him (PM 15ff.). Their coming will announce the End Time, the era of the Holy Spirit (PM 15-16), of a purified, renewed Church, led entirely by the Spirit. . . . When he talks of the working of the Holy Spirit within Christians, Montfort adopts a warm and passionate tone, for instance in the following passages, which deal directly with Mary: TD 36, 217. These express the summit of Montfort’s mystical experience."9


The Holy Spirit is mentioned seventy-four times in TD alone. Montfort synthesized his thinking poetically in Hymn 141, which is a brief "treatise on the Holy Spirit." He there presents the Spirit’s "titles, His charisms, His work both within the soul and for the salvation of the world" (De Fiores) and insists that salvation cannot be obtained without the Spirit (H 141:10, 11). For Montfort, He is not the "unknown God," as O. Le Borgne observes. 10

The coherence of all this doctrine can be perceived only in Montfort’s personal experience, in his complete self-denial. This surrender placed him at the disposal of the Spirit, who worked in extraordinary ways in Montfort’s paradoxical and stormy life.

1. The role of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity

The difficulties of expression that impeded Montfort are inherent in any theology of the Spirit. It is more difficult to objectify and formulate the Third Person of the Holy Trinity than the Father or the Son, who have names analogous to human-family relationships. The Spirit’s role is more precisely expressed in Scripture. If the Holy Spirit is unobtrusive, if He is elusive, it is because of the mystery that is love. Unlike intelligence (and the generative faculty), which issues in fruit (the Son, or the Word), love is lost, for it is a gift.

The Holy Spirit is in fact the gift of the Father to the Son and of the Son to the Father. This gift is a Person, and this Person is relationship, as Thomas Aquinas explains. The Holy Spirit exists in primary relation to the Father, but also to the Son, however difficult it is to define this relation, which remains a bone of contention between East and West. The Father is nothing but a father, and the Son nothing but a son, as their mutual relationship defines them. The Holy Spirit is nothing but relationship: an anonymous relationship of love, for love has no content. It is in itself relationship, communication, which explains the impossibility of adequately expressing this mystery. Montfort, who is not a speculative but a spiritual thinker, writes that the Holy Spirit is "the substantial love of the Father and the Son" (TD 36).

He is not at all tempted to take refuge in modalism, unlike certain theologians of our own time, amongst whom modalism is enjoying a subtle revival. For him, the Holy Spirit is most certainly a living Person. He knows this from experience, and this experience informs and inspires everything he says and does, including everything he cites and uses in his writing.

Montfort mentions the Persons of the Trinity in the usual way, placing the Holy Spirit in third position, in accordance with Christian tradition and the French school. For Montfort, the Holy Spirit "is not a self-contained, static entity but plays a dynamic part in the realization of the plan for salvation. He is not effaced by the theory of appropriation, since He keeps his distinctive character. This way of speaking of the Spirit is inherited from the Bérulle school; and it echoes a theology influenced by the Greek model of the Trinity, according to which all three Divine Persons share in the action of salvation and the Spirit ‘is the third element of the Trinity, which marks the transition to the created order, mediating salvation.’" 11

Montfort mentions the role of the Holy Spirit within the Trinity only rarely and briefly: He is the "substantial love of the Father and the Son" (TD 36), the "ineffable link" that unites them by His love (H 85:6), the "Spirit of the Father and the Son" (PM 16).

Montfort borrows a striking and singular idea from Louis d’Argentan, the unfruitfulness of the Holy Spirit "in God," to which we will return below, and the idea that the Holy Spirit becomes actively fruitful in Mary (TD 20-21).12

2. The role of the Holy Spirit in the work of salvation and the cooperation of Mary

Montfort does not forget the role the Spirit plays throughout the whole of the work of salvation, from the prophets to the mystery of Christ and our sanctification (TD 4, 50). He emphasizes the unity and permanence of the Spirit’s action at all stages: "The plan adopted by the three persons of the Blessed Trinity in the Incarnation, the first coming of Jesus Christ, is adhered to each day in an invisible manner throughout the Church and they will pursue it to the end of time until the last coming of Jesus Christ" (TD 22).

Montfort stresses the role of the Spirit in the formation of Jesus Christ in Mary’s womb (TD 20): "Together with the Holy Spirit Mary produced the greatest thing that ever was or ever will be: a God man", "It was with her, in her and of her that he produced his masterpiece, ‘God-made-man’: a God-man" (TD 35).

In a continuation of this most important work, it is the Holy Spirit’s function to produce and form Jesus Christ within Christians. Montfort often speaks of the birth and growth of Christ in the soul, or the production of the "children of God" and "members of Christ’s body" (TD 20, 35; SM 13, 67; MP 5; PM 15). He perceives a continuity between the conception of Christ in Mary and the birth of the elect today. Sanctification is a continuation of the Incarnation (Montfort’s intuition is a development of the "wondrous exchange" of which the Church Fathers speak). The Spirit will do His utmost, with Mary, in the latter times (we will return to this point below).

The Holy Spirit is the craftsman of the spiritual progress of Christians "that they may grow from strength to strength and from grace to grace" (TD 34) towards their maturity in Christ, in Mary. Thus he asks the Holy Spirit "that with her you may truly form Jesus, great and powerful, in me until I attain the fullness of his perfect age" (SM 67).

In short, the Holy Spirit, Who kept Mary concealed in the Gospel (TD 4), wants to see her reproduced in His chosen ones (TD 24, 34). He hid her in the first coming of Jesus Christ but will reveal her in the second (TD 49). It is He Who reveals Mary’s secret to us (SM 20, 70; cf. TD 229). Therefore we must pray to Him in order to know her (SM 2). To enter the place that is Mary is a special grace of the Holy Spirit (TD 263). This is to be "most ready to be molded in her by the working of the Holy Spirit" (SM 18).

The Holy Spirit even inspires loving slavery (TD 112, 114, 119, 152, 243; SM 20, 70) and its practices (TD 117), including the bearing of chains (TD 240, 241). He leads the faithful to such slavery (TD 119) and manifests its excellence (TD 112).

To give oneself to Jesus through the hands of Mary is to imitate the Holy Spirit, Who communicates His graces and His gifts exclusively through Mary (TD 25). Therefore it is necessary to pray to Him in order to prepare the Consecration (TD 228-230). He also reveals the value of the Rosary (SR 3).

In order to be sanctified, those who abandon themselves in Mary (cf. SM 18) to be formed by the Holy Spirit must practice a radical and persistent self-surrender involving the renunciation of selfishness, personal plans, and even spiritual gifts (TD 121, 135-137, 222, 259). Montfort requires true poverty, a complete emptying of the self that will liberate the believer from his own spirit and from the spirit of the world in order to render him open to Christian renewal.

This operation is compared to the action of molding (TD 220, 221; SM 16, 18), and on this basis he calls Mary the mold of God (TD 119, 219; SM 16): "But remember that only molten and liquified substances may be poured into a mold. That means that you must crush and melt down the old Adam in you if you wish to acquire the likeness of the new Adam in Mary" (TD 221).

This image is ambiguous, for it obscures the fact that it is a distinctive feature of the Holy Spirit to awaken each person, group, Church, and culture to its own resources and its own diversity: quite the opposite of a mold. But Montfort, who opposes a certain kind of activism, cultivates the passive ways that are essential to mysticism. He emphasizes above all the necessity for man to give up everything in order to receive the transcendent, transforming gift that comes from "God alone."

The Holy Spirit calls the soul to perfection (TD 257). He realizes this perfection by a fiery deluge of pure love (PM 16, 17); He sets us ablaze with His love (H 141:11-12; PM 17); He is also the divine sculptor Who shapes and polishes the stones of the heavenly Jerusalem (LEW 167). As the Spirit of truth, He enlightens us (H 7:4-6). As the Spirit of godliness, He purifies us (H 7:7-8) and sanctifies us (H 87:6; H 111:10-21). As the Spirit of strength, He fortifies us (H 7:9-10). The master of all knowledge (LEW 172), He teaches us to know ourselves (TD 79, 213, 228) and lives in the souls of the just (H 92:5). But He also inspires fidelity to even the least important of the community’s rules in Montfort’s missionaries (RM 24). Aware that the world is incapable of receiving Him (H 77:29-30), Montfort wants to open souls to Him.

For the Holy Spirit fashions the spiritual progress of Christians so, "that they may grow from strength to strength and from grace to grace" (TD 34), towards maturity in Christ. He is the source of Wisdom (LEW 118). Wisdom is the source of the gifts of the Holy Spirit (LEW 99), for the Heart of Christ is "the wondrous fountain of all the gifts of the Holy Spirit" (H 40:15); "From this source of light, / The favorites of Jesus Christ / drew the greatest of mysteries, / The greatest gifts of the Holy Spirit" (H 40:27).

So, in complete union with Christ and Mary, the Holy Spirit is the giver of virtues, graces, and gifts (LEW 99; SM 35; TD 25, 140, 217), especially the gift of Wisdom (TD 217; PM 22) and devotion to Mary (SM 1, 67, 70, 78; TD 119, 152, 229).

3. The Holy Spirit and Mary: identification or union?

Like Kolbe, Montfort was intensely aware of the close links, the privileged links, between Mary and the Holy Spirit. He has some difficulty expressing himself on this uncharted theological territory, and could not find a way adequately to define the mutual relationship of two clear spiritual truths. For to him it is quite obvious that the Holy Spirit is God, He is everything. He makes everything, even Mary, "the true earthly paradise of the new Adam . . . this most holy place consists of only virgin and immaculate soil . . . with neither spot nor stain by the operation of the Holy Spirit who dwells there" (TD 261).

On the other hand, Mary seems to be everything herself, in a sense, for Montfort subordinates everything to her universal role, and the Spirit wills to work with her: "God the Holy Spirit wishes to fashion his chosen in and through Mary. He tells her, "My well-beloved, my spouse, let all your virtues take root in my chosen ones that they may grow from strength to strength and from grace to grace. When you were living on earth, practicing the most sublime virtues, I was so pleased with you that I still desire to find you on earth without your ceasing to be in heaven. Reproduce yourself then in my chosen ones, so that I may have the joy of seeing in them the roots of your invincible faith, profound humility, total mortification, sublime prayer, ardent charity, your firm hope and all your virtues. You are always my spouse, as faithful, pure, and fruitful as ever. May your faith give me believers; your purity, virgins; your fruitfulness, elect and giving temples" (TD 34).

Notwithstanding this tendency to unify and identify the two, Montfort does not confuse the roles of Mary and the Holy Spirit. For him, it is quite clear that the Holy Spirit is God and that Mary is a humble creature whom God required to make Himself a gift of human humility and weakness (TD 18, 157, H 57). It is indeed the Spirit Who brings everything about: "Dear friend, what a difference there is between a soul brought up in the ordinary way to resemble Jesus Christ by people who, like sculptors, rely on their own skill and industry, and a soul thoroughly tractable, entirely detached, most ready to be molded in her by the working of the Holy Spirit" (SM 18). Montfort perceives an identification, a spiritual coincidence between the Spirit and Mary: "I have said that the spirit of Mary is the spirit of God because she was never led by her own spirit, but always by the spirit of God, who made himself master of her to such an extent that he became her very spirit" (TD 258).

Here, as in everything that precedes, Mary appears as the epitome of the Church and the model to which any Christian soul must conform. Montfort adopts this view in conformity with the doctrine of the Church Fathers. We must be "living copies of Mary" (TD 217) and display the same docility towards the Holy Spirit who leads us to her. Between the Spirit and Mary there is a moral union, an affinity, and even an irrepressible attraction. Wherever Mary is, the Spirit comes: "When the Holy Spirit . . . finds Mary in a soul, he hastens there" (TD 36).

It seems that this attraction is reciprocal according to Montfort. The Holy Spirit comes to where Mary is, and Mary goes to where the Holy Spirit is. He leads to her, and she leads to Him Who brings everything about.

It is a mutual harmony. It is not that they can be substituted for each other, but their moral union means that the idioms expressing the maternal role of Mary and of the Spirit can be interchanged, whilst their roles are clearly distinguished ontologically.

Montfort seeks to express their complementary relationship, and he does so by contrasting the unfruitfulness of the Holy Spirit in God with His fruitfulness on earth with Mary, His complement, His representation, the expression of His power.13

Montfort finds it difficult to find a phrase to sum up this singular, privileged relationship, which is something whose existence he feels. The expression to which he returns most often in his writing is "spouse of the Holy Spirit" (TD 4, 5, 20, 21, 25 34, 36, 37, 49, 152, 164, 213, 217, 269; SM 13, 15, 76, 68; PM 15). He describes her as the dear spouse (TD 20, 35, 217), faithful spouse (TD 5, 34, 36, 89, 269; SM 15, 68: PM 20), inseparable spouse (TD 20, 269), fruitful spouse (TD 20, 21, 35, 36; PM 15).

The expression is inadequate, for the Holy Spirit is not the father of Jesus Christ, it is not He Who plants the seed as in the caricatured representation of the Holy Spirit given by the psychoanalyst Jones. It is necessary to retain an awareness of the limits of this formula, as Montfort did, at least implicitly.

What Montfort means is that this union, this loving covenant that identifies Mary with the Holy Spirit, makes of her not a transparent figure (for she is visible while the Spirit is invisible) but an expression, a representation, an image, an icon—but also a temple of the Spirit, for He dwells in her.

He dwells in us (LEW 176). And it is Mary who forms His chosen ones in herself and also gives Him "temples" (TD 34).

4. The Holy Spirit and the Church

Montfort is too centered on the contemplation of God, and especially on His life and His dynamic action in us, to have thought about defining the role of the Holy Spirit in relation to the Church: the Creed places Him before the Church, for He forms the Church.14

For St. Louis Marie, however, the Holy Spirit is definitely the architect or craftsman of the Church: "You know that you are living temples of the Holy Spirit and that, like living stones, you are to be set by the God of love into the building of the heavenly Jerusalem. And so you must expect to be shaped, cut, and chiseled under the hammer of the cross. . . . It may be that this skillful and loving craftsman wants you to have an important place in his heavenly kingdom. So let him do what he pleases" (FC 28).

But as De Fiores emphasizes, Montfort is not comprehensive in his treatment of the functions of the Spirit. He never speaks of the resurrection of bodies as the work of the Spirit, and "at the ecclesial level, he neglects the Pauline doctrine of the charisms. He does not even present the Spirit as a source of unity in the Church."15 But all this is included in his metaphor of the architect. More-over, he points out the marvels performed by the Spirit in the history of salvation and the marvelous age that He is preparing for the Church. The Spirit prepares for the age to come both in quantitative terms, when he speaks of the conversion of the pagans and the Jews (PM 5, 17, 35; TD 48, 50, 59), and in qualitative terms, when he speaks of the renewal and reform of the Church (PM 5, 17).

Montfort accepts the theory of the three reigns, aligning himself not so much with Joachim de Flore as with Marie des Vallées († 1659), "whose life has been written by M. de Renty" (TD 47). The third and last of these reigns is that of the Holy Spirit: "The reign especially attributed to God the Father lasted until the Flood and ended in a deluge of water. The reign of Jesus Christ ended in a deluge of blood, but your reign, Spirit of the Father and the Son, is still unended and will come to a close with a deluge of fire, love and justice" (PM 16).

This deluge of fire, which is a deluge of love and justice, has three functions, according to Montfort: a. the numerical increase of the Church by the conversion of all nations (PM 17); b. qualitative progress in Godliness by renewal and reform (PM 17); c. the creation of missionaries to help bring about this increase and reform (PM 17). The latter will be "great saints," the apostles of the end times (TD 46-47, 58). They will be the ideal model of the apostolic Church. The Holy Spirit, "God of truth" (PM 25), will create these apostles; He is, according to Montfort, the source of all good inspirations (H 159:8), love of the Holy Scripture and joy (H 1, 14, 19, 30), even in the bearing of crosses (FC 44, 51). Montfort repeatedly refers to them as "liberos," which means both children and free.

According to Montfort, the condition of such action of the Holy Spirit is absolute poverty (PM 7), giving oneself completely, renouncing everything in a radical and persistent fashion (TD 121, 135-137, 222, 229). On these conditions, one will be filled with the Holy Spirit (SM 57) and sent out by Him.

III. Present Relevance

In conclusion, the main lessons offered by Montfort are the following: 1. He was the prophet of a rediscovery of the Spirit, reacting against a growing Spiritual emptiness. He believed in the Spirit, its dynamism, its power, its future, which explains his eschatology (which is mysterious, not millenarian).

2. He inspired more or less directly many Spirit filled or charismatic renewals. He inspired Frank Duff, founder of the Legion of Mary, who brought out fully the practical side of Montfort’s Spirit-related teaching. His teaching inspired such men as Cardinal Suenens, and Pierre Goursat, founder of the charismatic community of the Emmanuel, (which the Legion of Mary led to charismatic renewal).

3. Finally, like Kolbe, he was fascinated by the mysterious links between Mary and the Holy Spirit, which remain hidden and impenetrable. He experienced intensely their union and their mystical identification. But he did not believe them to be one and the same. He sensed the transcendence of the Holy Spirit and saw Mary as entirely relative to Him, entirely in reference to Him. In spite of these ontological differences, he did not set them apart from each other, but united them. And it is in order to express their personal relationship of love that he employed the approximate image of the spouse. Mary and the Spirit awake men to renunciation and willing slavery, to love and peace. They bring us back to the Father by the Son.

Everything Montfort writes is imbued with a deep experience and by a great mystical, charismatic, and eschatological vigor, inspired by the Spirit.

R. Laurentin

Notes: (1) L. Cognet, Crépuscule des mystiques: Bossuet-Fénelon (The Twilight of Mysticism: Bossuet and Fénelon), Desclée, Tournai 1958. (2) Cf. S. De Fiores, Montfort, un homme disponible à l’Esprit (Montfort, a Man at the Disposal of the Spirit), in the collective work Dieu seul: A la rencontre de Dieu avec Montfort (God Alone: Encountering God with Montfort), Centre international montfortain, Rome 1981, 93-94. (3) Cf. S. De Fiores, Itinerario spirituale di S. Luigi Maria di Montfort (1673- 1716) nel periodo fino al sacerdozio (5 giugno 1700) (The Spiritual Itinerary of St. Louis Marie de Montfort [1673-1716] in the Period up to His Priesthood [June 5, 1700]), in Marian Library Studies 6 (1974), 191- 203. (4) Ibid., 187-187. (5) J.-J. Olier, Traité des saints Ordres (Treatise on the Holy Orders), La Colombe, Paris 1953, 111. (6) Cf. S. De Fiores, Itinerario, 136, 171-176. (7) Besnard , 174-275. (8) L. Perouas, Ce que croyait Grignion de Montfort et comment il a vécu sa foi (What Grignion de Montfort Believed and How He Lived Out His Faith), Mame, Tours 1973, 158. (9) Ibid. (10) O. Le Borgne, Introduction aux Oeuvres de Montfort (An Introduction to Montfort’s Works), Centre international montfortain, Rome 1962, 1:B-9 (roneotype). (11) S. De Fiores, Montfort, un homme, 97, closes with a quotation from G. Philips, Le Saint-Esprit et Marie dans l’Eglise (The Holy Spirit and Mary in the Church), in EtMar 25 (1968), 14. (12) Cf. L. d’Argentan, Conférences théologiques et spirituelles sur les grandeurs de la très-sainte Vierge Marie, Mère de Dieu (Theological and Spiritual Lectures on the Greatness of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God), Paris, 1687, 1, 4 and 3, 3, transcribed by Montfort in N, pp. 163 and 172. (13) Elsewhere I interpreted TD 20, where the Holy Spirit became fruitful through Mary, producing in her Jesus and his members, as the awakening and the actualization of the feminine and maternal powers of Mary (Esprit saint et Marie en théologie mariale (The Holy Spirit and Mary in Marian Theology), in NRT 99 (1976), 38. This interpretation is in accordance with the traditional doctrine according to which the Holy Spirit, infinitely discreet, awakens every person to himself and every community to itself at the same time as to Christ. The Holy Spirit disappeared before Him and before each personality, so that they can be formed in an internal rather than an external mold. This pia interpretatio possesses its own theological truth, but it is beyond TD 21, where Montfort does not speak directly of the fruitfulness of Mary but of the fruitfulness of the Holy Spirit, who is as nothing within the Trinity but is actualized in the Incarnation "by the mediation of the holy Virgin." The fact remains that this action in Mary does not amount to making her fruitful, it is not an exchange involving two parties (Montfort does not say so), but, according to Christian tradition, an internal awakening on the part of Mary to her feminine and maternal potentialities by a purely virginal generation in perfect affinity with the Holy Spirit. Cf. R. Laurentin, Dieu seul est ma tendresse (God Alone is my Tenderness), OEIL, Paris 1984, 181-193. (14) Y. Congar, Je crois en l’Esprit saint (I believe in the Holy Spirit), Cerf, Paris 1979, 2:13-25. (15) S. De Fiores, Montfort, un homme, 99.

Taken from: Jesus Living in Mary: Handbook of the Spirituality of St.
Louis de Montfort (Litchfield, CT: Montfort Publications, 1994).

Provided courtesy of the Montfort Fathers © All Rights Reserved.

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