Author: St. Louis de Montfort




I. Introduction: 1. The centrality of the reign of God in the Gospels; 2. The centrality of the reign of God in Montfort spirituality. II. The Nature of the Kingdom. III. The Sources of Montfort’s Concept of the Reign: 1. Scriptural; 2. The French school of spirituality. IV. Trinitarian Reign: 1. The reign of the Father; 2. The reign of Jesus; 3. The reign of the Holy Spirit. V. Mary and the Reign of God: 1. Mary shares in the reign of God; 2. Mary, Mother of the personal embodiment of the Kingdom. VI. The Reign of Christ through the Reign of Mary. VII. The Perfect Consecration, the Means of Bringing About the Reign of Christ. VIII. The Inheritors of the Kingdom. IX. The Proclaimers of the Kingdom: 1. Apostles of the end times; 2. The members of the Company of Mary; 3. Priests throughout the world; 4. All men and women. X. The Time of the Reign. XI. The Reign of Pure Love. XII. Conclusion: 1. Basic insight into Montfort spirituality; 2. The eschatological character of Montfort spirituality; 3. The missionary character of Montfort spirituality; 4. A clarification of devotion to Mary.


God is love (1 Jn 4:8). God’s reign is the salvific rule of omnipotent Love embodied in Christ Jesus and extended through the Holy Spirit. This reign becomes fully operative when accepted in the interior of humankind’s heart, thereby "making all things new" (2 Cor 5:17).

The kernel of Saint Louis de Montfort’s spirituality can be summarized in his prayerful exclamation to Jesus: "Ut adveniat regnum tuum, adveniat regnum Mariae. ‘Lord, that thy reign may come, may the reign of Mary come!’" (TD 217). The vagabond missionary’s life goal was to implement the reign of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit for the glory of God Alone. He was convinced that this kingdom arrives only through the reign of Mary. "Montfort in the Church of God . . . is, before all else, the prophet and the apostle of the reign of Mary and, through that, of the reign of Jesus Christ."1

1. The centrality of the reign of God in the Gospels

"And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom" (Mt 9:35). The reign of God is the central issue for Jesus. He is consumed with the call to proclaim the Kingdom: "I must preach the Good News of the kingdom of God in other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose" (Lk 4:43). The importance and centrality of the reign of God in NT theology is difficult to exaggerate, for it is clearly the message of the Lord, a message which cannot be separated from his person. In the Gospels themselves, "the herald is already being presented as the one heralded."2

The Kingdom is identified with a poor, itinerant preacher. He himself is the proclamation of the reign. "In the coming of Jesus, the kingdom of God is arriving in a hidden way. Origen described the situation by saying Jesus was the autobasileia—the kingdom of God in person. To be more precise, we would have to say that Jesus is the kingdom of God in the form of concealment, lowliness and poverty. In him the meaning of his message is made visible and tangible; in him is made manifest what God’s kingdom is. . . . Person and ‘cause’ cannot be separated in Jesus. He is cause in person. He is the physical embodiment and personal form of the coming of the kingdom of God."3 In Christ Jesus the Kingdom of God has come upon us (cf. Lk 11:20). To mobilize all one’s forces in the service of the Gospel is to be an apostle of the reign of God.

2. The centrality of the reign of God in Montfort spirituality

Although Saint Louis de Montfort has no special work, or even a section of his writings, specifically devoted to the reign of God, nonetheless this theme encapsulates the saint’s life and teachings. Saint Louis Marie was consumed with the burning desire "to destroy sin and establish the reign of Jesus Christ over that of the corrupt world" (SM 59). He was, like Jesus, the Missionary of the Father, above all the herald of the Kingdom of God.

Montfort’s life and writings bear out this truth. Seventeen of his thirty-four letters or fragments of letters have the greeting "May the pure love of God reign in our hearts" (cf. L 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, etc.). The salutation in his later letters, "May Jesus Christ and his Cross reign forever! (Vive Jésus, Vive sa Croix)" (cf. L 26, 27, 29, 30, etc.), not only calls for the reign of Jesus but makes it known that Jesus reigns from the Cross (cf. FC).

Father de Montfort describes TD as "the preparation for the reign of Jesus Christ" (TD 227); the conclusion of his introduction to TD also summarizes his writing: "If then, as is certain, the knowledge and the reign of Jesus Christ must come into the world, it can only be as a necessary consequence of the knowledge and reign of Mary" (TD 13). The opening sentence of the TD manuscript, as we now possess it, sets the stage for the entire work: "It was through the most holy Virgin Mary that Jesus came into the world and it is also through her that he has to reign in the world" (TD 1). The reign of Christ through the reign of Mary, "is the central point of Montfort doctrine and practice. . . . All his Marian activity is entirely oriented to the rule of Jesus Christ as he never ceases saying (TD 62 and 227)."4 His burning desire, the impelling force of his life, is that "Jesus Christ, my dear Master will reign more than ever in the hearts of men" (TD 113).

Father de Montfort describes those who have made the Consecration to the Eternal and Incarnate Wisdom through the hands of Mary as people "who breathe only the glory and the reign of Jesus Christ by his holy Mother and who sacrifice themselves completely to bring it" (TD 133). He portrays Mary as the disciple in whom Jesus lives and reigns in a degree unimaginable (TD 248) and therefore sings the beautiful Sulpician prayer "O Jesus living in Mary" (cf. TD 246; H 111:1, 4). His plea to Jesus is that "to the glory of your Father, / In the power of your name / Reign in us through your Mother / Over nature and demon. Amen" (H 111:4). The purpose of the Incarnation itself is that God may reign: "By the Ave Maria, the Great Jesus will reign" (H 89). His purpose in founding his missionary Congregation, the Company of Mary, was that it may "reform the church, renew the face of the earth," so that the reign of God may come (cf. PM 5). His future members of the Company are told by Montfort that by being poor in spirit, the Kingdom of God is theirs (LCM 5, 7, 9). They form the core of "a great squadron of brave and valiant soldiers of Jesus and Mary, of both sexes, to combat the world, the devil and corrupted nature" (TD 114) in order to "extend His empire" over all (TD 59).

Although somewhat neglected in early studies of Montfort’s spirituality—as the biblical theme of the Kingdom was in theology manuals—the reign of Jesus Christ is a passkey unlocking the ultimate driving force of Montfort’s life and writings.


It is not without purpose that Father de Montfort prefers the term "reign" over "Kingdom." "Kingdom" has connotations of a territory, a land, a realm, which is not its primary meaning in the thought of Saint Louis Marie. "Reign" stresses the dynamic, penetrating, current rule of the God of love among those who accept that rule. These inheritors of the Kingdom experience its corresponding "interior" transforming effects, which overflow on the world itself. This thought coincides with contemporary theology, which prefers to translate the scriptural basileia tou theou (the Kingdom of God) by "the lordship or reign of God since basileia means primarily the exercise of royal power, sovereignty and dignity, and only secondarily the realm or territory."5 Montfort expressly says: "The kingdom of Jesus Christ consists principally in the heart or the interior of man —according to the words ‘The kingdom of God is within you’—in like manner the kingdom of Our Blessed Lady is principally in the interior of man; that is to say, his soul" (TD 38; cf. TD 113). Not that Saint Louis Marie does not envision the final, ultimate transformation of the universe itself. Montfort speaks of a reign that includes "the reform of the church and the renewal of the face of the earth" (PM 17), of great things being accomplished "in the world" (SM 59) and "on the earth" (TD 272). This can only be achieved, however, by transforming human hearts. It is this "interior" transformation of humankind—the result of the reign of Jesus Christ through the reign of Mary—to which he principally dedicates his life and writings, so that there will be truly an evident reform of the church and a visible renewal of the face of the earth.

The missionary’s interpretation of the scriptural reign of God is dynamic. As Kingdom parables often denote growth (cf. Mk 4:30-32), so Saint Louis Marie emphasizes the unfolding of the Kingdom. He dedicates himself wholeheartedly to the development of the total rule—the lordship of Christ—within the hearts of all so that humankind may be lead in the Spirit to the interior castle of the Father, God Alone, God Who is Love (TD 215; H 5). The Kingdom is a present reality, inasmuch as God’s reign imparts new life to the world now; but Montfort’s view of the biblical Kingdom of God is primarily eschatological. He looked forward with extreme urgency to the fullness of that reign and yearned to be a faith instrument in bringing it about. He was intent, therefore, to form others—through the perfect renewal of Baptism—to be an army filled with the Holy Spirit to transform the reign of Satan into the reign of Jesus Christ. This goal ahead mesmerized the saint. His life and writings were a response to the challenge consuming him: the reign of God must be constantly intensified and thereby become a full reality in the hearts of humankind and in the world itself.

Montfort understood this scriptural reign of God as the fruit of the Holy Spirit working through Mary. His contemplative praying of the proto-evangelium (Gen 3:15) and the Lucan Annunciation narrative (Lk 1:26-38) convinced him that the Gospels are proclaiming that the reign of Christ Jesus will only come about through the reign of Mary. For, as she is the indissoluble Spouse of the Holy Spirit (TD 85), the Spirit is operative through her in a unique and all-encompassing way, forming not only the Head of the Mystical Body but also "all the divine persons outside of the Trinity" (PM 15).


The sources from which Montfort drew the essential lines of his teachings on the Kingdom of God were primarily the Gospels and the French school of spirituality.

1. Scriptural

Saint Louis de Montfort was a man imbued with a love for the inspired Word of God. The Bible was the principal source of his preaching and writings. Texts from the Word of God literally abound in his works. Without doubt, Montfort’s contemplative study of the Scriptures was the primary root giving rise to his teachings on the Kingdom of God. When the saint writes to his sister, "Seek ye first the kingdom," (L 7) he is reflecting his own living of this text (Mt 6:33). As the reign of God is the principal theme of the preaching of Jesus, so it is not surprising that it became the principal theme of the proclaimer of Jesus. Montfort was determined to fulfill the central petition of the Lord’s Prayer, "Thy kingdom come" (Mt 6:10).

Montfort’s spirituality is founded upon the Annunciation narrative (Lk 1:26-38); so too his doctrine on the reign of God. God, Who is King from all eternity (cf. FC 55; PM 25, etc.), reigns in person among us in Jesus the Lord: "the reign of God, the Eternal Wisdom" (LEW 193). It is in Mary’s womb and through her hypothetically necessary consent that Jesus, the reign of God, came to be. Mary herself, then, is filled with the glory of the Kingdom; she is Queen (TD 38) alongside and subordinate to Christ the King (TD 38; SR 36, 89).

2. The French school of spirituality

Although the topic of the Kingdom of God is part of the Ignatian Exercises that Saint Louis de Montfort experienced during his studies at Rennes and during his several retreats at Jesuit residences, it would appear that the French school of spirituality was the primary contemporaneous source where Montfort culled his material for his teachings on the Kingdom of God. Olier and John Eudes—and Eudes’ enigmatic dirigée, Marie des Vallées6—play a principal role in Montfort’s understanding of the reign of Jesus Christ and of the end times, so intertwined with the saint’s formulation of the Kingdom.

John Eudes represents the influence of many of the French school on Montfort’s understanding of "reign." In his Kingdom of Jesus he repeats a Sulpician theme dear to Montfort: "This must be our desire, our concern, and our principal occupation: to form Jesus in us, i.e., to have him live and reign in us and to have his spirit reign in us, his devotion, his virtues, his sentiments, his inclinations and dispositions . . . that he may be established and reigning in everything."7 "O Jesus, only Son of God, only Son of Mary, I contemplate and adore you living and reigning in your most holy Mother." 8 Charles de Condren also used expressions that would find a place in the preaching and writing of Montfort: "The reign of sin," "the empire of the devil," "establishing the reign of God."9 Saint Louis de Montfort was not a copyist; he digested, contemplated, and integrated the treasures of a variety of authors and of diverse schools of spirituality. His creative spirit then intertwined these various strands into a new synthesis of the biblical theme of the Kingdom of God.


Montfort’s stress on the Trinity is integral to his concept of the reign of God. His doctrine on the triune God is not something merely theoretical; it is lived, experienced, flowing from his mystical union with the three Persons of God. Like Elizabeth of the Trinity centuries after him,10 Mont-fort expresses what he has himself tasted in the depths of his being. God reigns as triune.

Consistent with his implication that grace is in the realm of quasi- formal causality, each Person of the Trinity reigns in the Christian according to His individual properties. This be-comes evident in the saint’s description of Mary as the daughter of God the Father, the Mother of God the Son, and the Spouse of the Holy Spirit (cf. TD 16-36). God reigns in Mary in three distinct ways, as three distinct Persons of the one Godhead.11

Montfort the mystic-apostle is not speaking of three different reigns or three different kingdoms. All three Persons must reign in the soul simultaneously, for, as relational realities, one Person cannot reign without the other (perichoresis). 12 The soul is possessed by the one God in three distinct and non-interchangeable ways.

This helps us to understand the missionary’s famous statement, borrowed substantially from the enigmatic Marie des Vallées: "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). The expression cannot be violently wrenched from the entire context of Montfort’s Trinitarian thought and used to uphold some variation on a heterodox Joachimite division of the reigns of God.13 Such an interpretation goes counter to the most fundamental thought of the saint on the reign of the Trinity.14

1. The reign of the Father

The Father reigns in the soul precisely as the origin, the source, the fountainhead of all holiness, as the Infinite Lover (H 52 passim; H 53), the eternal infinite Speaking, the "good Father" (H 109:33, 38; H 52:2), the "God of tenderness" (H 109:26; H 52:11; etc.), "Father loving us even to excess" (H 109:2). God Alone is the source from which the Son and Holy Spirit proceed without any subordination. The Father is the Lover pouring Himself out. All things flow from the Father; all return to the glory of God Alone.15 The Father, termed "the Ancient of Days" (Dan 7:13) to signify His eternity, is the eternal day-spring, eternal dawn, creative outpouring of life. This mighty God of tenderness reigns not only in the brightness of eternal light but also "here on earth" (TD 217), "in this world" (H 109:35, 37). It is to the glory of God the Father that we are led through Jesus in the power of the Spirit.

Adapting in a positive manner the ominous words of the mystic Marie des Vallées, Montfort describes the special reign of God the Father as culminating at the Flood in a deluge of water. The Flood may well signify the blocking by man through sin of any depth experience of God’s reign as Father, Abba. Not that the Father ceases to reign; tragically, his reign is not accepted by creatures. It will be through the Incarnate Son, through a deluge of blood, and in the Spirit through a deluge of love, that we can again cry out from the depths of our spirits, "Abba, Father" (H 7:31).

One could summarize by saying that according to Montfort, the First Person of the Trinity reigns in us precisely as the good Father of Infinite Love, the God of tenderness, the source and goal of all (cf. H 52; H 53).16 This reign is truly experienced through the redemptive Cross of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

2. The reign of Jesus

The Son reigns precisely as the Beloved, as the Wisdom of the Father, as the infinite and eternal being-spoken, the Word. He is the divine Second Person of the Trinity, Who is now personally externalized in and through this creation. The infinite Lord has sent His beloved son (Mk 12:6) into the vineyard; the Word of the Father is made flesh (Jn 1:14). The Incarnate Wisdom is the reign of God (LEW 193), "the physical embodiment and personal form of the coming of the kingdom of God."17 He has come so that we may have life and have it more abundantly through the "deluge of blood," as he reigns on Calvary. His lordship in us is always marked by the Cross (cf. FC passim).

Any sharing in the divine life, any entry into the reign of God must, then, be in and through Jesus. "He is our only Way who can lead us; our only Truth whom we must believe; our only life who can animate us; and our only All in all things who can satisfy us" (TD 61). All of our perfection, our life in God Alone, comes only, Montfort insists, through the Son, in the power of the Spirit. This could be paraphrased as saying that the reign of God is a gift, unmerited, to which we have access only through the culmination of all creation, Jesus, the personal epiphany of the Wisdom of the Father.

Although the reign of God in person, Jesus is only fully manifest as the reign through the paschal mystery. Even in the womb of Mary at the moment of his conception, he has come to do the will of the Father (cf. TD 248), to redeem humankind through his life, death, and Resurrection. There is, then, in Jesus a dynamic "becoming" in his presence as the Kingdom of God. Having taken on the opaqueness of our humanity, which was in rebellion against the Creator, he becomes more and more transparent of who he is from the first moment of his conception: the reign of God. His Resurrection is the climactic epiphany of the reign. It is only when glorified that he, as the victorious Eternal and Incarnate Wisdom, is the sender with the Father of the Holy Spirit.

Yet from our point of view, Jesus does not fully reign. Although the supreme gift of the Father, he is not fully known and loved by all. Here we are at the core of Montfort’s theology of the reign of God. Each person must inherit the reign of God by repentance and faith: "The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel" (Mk 1:15). The metanoia, the kenosis of each human being must be complete: the emptying of self of all other reigns, of everything that impedes the permeating of the divine rule in us. We must forcefully turn away from sin, acknowledge the nothingness of ourselves, our sinfulness, our rebellion. This repentance however, cannot be separated from faith: the total, active, and responsible surrender of the self to God. Through grace’s empowering call, we must release ourselves into the reign of God Who is Jesus. That means, for Montfort, the total, absolute, surrender on every level of being to Jesus (cf. TD 121-125). Through Jesus, in the Spirit, we experience the Father. It is only in total surrender that we are conquerors, only in losing that we find ourselves, only in dying to self that we live. Only by lovingly accepting who we are18—slaves of Jesus—do we share in the reign of God. This is Montfort’s goal: to proclaim this truth by every means possible, to attract all to a life of sharing in the divine omnipotence of love, of partaking in the reign through the obedience of faith for the glory of God Alone. Only through this growth of the reign of God among people will the Church be reformed and the earth renewed. This is the craving of his life, the all- consuming drive propelling him to proclaim everywhere and to all: Let Jesus Christ be known and loved. Let Jesus Christ reign in our hearts!

3. The reign of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit reigns in the soul as the infinite breath of the Father, the Loving uniting the Lover and the Beloved (TD 36; H 141:1), as the ecstasy of pure receiving from Father through the Son. These Persons are three intrinsic personal relationships in which the one Love Who is God subsists.

In Montfort’s concept of the reign of God, the Holy Spirit plays a unique role. It is the Spirit—pure receiving—Who at the Incarnation shares this property so that the humanity is the pure receiving of the divinity, binding the humanity to the divinity hypostatically: the Incarnate Wisdom of God, the lordship enfleshed. After the Resurrection, the Spirit is sent by the Father through the Incarnate Son to draw all people into the life of God. Pentecost—the outpouring of the Spirit— binds Christians together in the love of God, forming the one Body of Christ for the glory of the Father. In the Spirit, through the glorious embodied reign—the Son—we are led back into the Father.

The Spirit overshadows Mary, reigning in her as the deluge of pure love, forming within her the personal form of the reign of God. It is, then, this deluge of pure love that must be poured out on all people (cf. Joel 2:28-29), transforming them into inheritors of the reign of God. Montfort prays for this deluge (PM 16, 17), this continual Pentecost, so that the reign of God may come into the hearts of all totally surrendered to divine love. "Mary has produced, together with the Holy Spirit, the greatest thing which has been or ever will be—a God-Man; and she will consequently produce the greatest saints that there will be in the end of time" (TD 35).


The role of Mary in the theology of the reign of God is essential, according to the thought of Saint Louis de Montfort.

1. Mary shares in the reign of God

No pure creature19 so shares in the reign of God as Mary. In her we see the supreme exemplification of the conditions to enter the Kingdom: turned away from sin and turned—actively, responsibly—to the Lord. She is the Immaculate Conception, the sinless one, and therefore totally poor, empty of self. She is also total response to the Trinity’s empowering call to share in divine life through Jesus, her Son. She is the first participant in the reign; she shares in its fullness as no other. Her life is also a pilgrimage of faith, of a deepening share in the reign through her ever-intensifying consent to God’s inscrutable will.

Mary is the holy one in the Holy, Jesus the Lord. So intensely does she share in the Incarnate Holiness, her Son, that she forms with him but one heart (H 40:36, 37; H 134:8). In her, God reigns supreme. No one participates in the life of the Incarnate Son, the reign of God, as his mother. Through her divine motherhood and her fullness of grace, she shares in the reign of God beyond what the mind can fathom (cf. TD 5-7). Mary is the model of participation in the Kingdom, for she is "poor in spirit," "pure in heart," "like a little child"—the requirements laid down by Jesus for entry into the reign—in total surrender to Infinite love. To gaze upon her is to see in a living person what is meant by entering the Kingdom of God.

Mary, as the "first" in the reign of God, is expressed by Montfort in analogies of presence, sharing: she is "the paradise of God," "the tabernacle of God," "the resting place of the trinity," etc. (cf. TD 262).

2. Mary, Mother of the personal embodiment of the Kingdom

It is through the Incarnation—the root of all mysteries—that the reign of God becomes an enfleshed reality in our creation. Mary’s fiat gives entrance to the in-breaking of the victorious life of the Beloved, Who conquers the reign of Satan. God has made Mary’s consent hypothetically necessary so that the Kingdom of God may rise upon the ashes of the kingdom of Satan. It is in the name of all creation, held bondage to sin, that Mary surrenders to the overshadowing Spirit so that the Father may speak his Eternal Word—establish His reign—in Mary’s bosom, for us. Through her salvific and eternal Yes, she is the "cause of our joy," for through her divinely willed assent God reigns in this world (cf. LEW 107; H 27:9; SR 45; TD 15, 49).


If it is through Mary that the reign of Christ in this world has begun, it is only through Mary that the reign of Christ can be implemented and reach fulfillment. "If then, as is certain, the knowledge and the kingdom of Jesus Christ are to come into the world, they will be but a necessary consequence of the knowledge and the kingdom of the most holy Virgin Mary, who brought Him into the world for the first time and will make His second advent full of splendor" (TD 13; cf. TD 1, 22, 262). Montfort’s thought centers on the Incarnation, the summary of all the mysteries of the faith (TD 246-248). The Incarnation is the beginning, the never-to-be-repealed law governing God’s plan of salvation. For the beginning is not only the first; it encapsulates everything that flows from it. The reign of Christ is, therefore, the prolongation and fulfillment of the Incarnation. And as the Incarnation calls for the salvific, effective, eternal, representative role of Mary,20 then it is only through Mary’s divinely willed cooperation that Jesus reigns in the world. The full flowering of the reign of Christ finds its root in the Incarnation, where Mary’s Yes plays an intrinsic, hypothetically necessary role. Mary must, then, play an intrinsic role, willed by God, in the growth of the reign of God within human hearts. "The conduct which the three persons of the Most Holy Trinity have deigned to pursue in the incarnation and the first coming of Jesus Christ, they still pursue daily, in an invisible manner, throughout the whole church; and they will still pursue it even to the consummation of ages in the last coming of Jesus Christ" (TD 22).

As the inseparable Spouse of the Holy Spirit (TD 34, 36), she is indissolubly united to the Spirit (TD 85) in His role of drawing all into the reign of God through the deluge of pure love. The Spirit works through Mary in forming the Head; the Spirit works through Mary in forming the members (PM 15; SM 13; TD 32). The deluge of pure love—the Holy Spirit—brings about the bonding of the humanity to the divinity hypostatically at the Incarnation through the consent of Mary. The deluge of pure love—the Holy Spirit—gives entry for all peoples to the reign of God through the eternal consent of Mary.

It is not that God has any absolute need of Mary in order to reign in this world. But as Montfort consistently repeats, since God has chosen Mary as the means by which He will reign in this world, it is only through Mary’s reign in us that we enjoy the participation in the life of the King. According to God’s plan, which does not change (TD 15), the age of Mary is the time when the Spirit ever more intensely overshadows the cosmos and brings forth Christ in our hearts for the glory of God the Father (TD 217). This reign of Mary will bring with it the return of those separated from the Catholic Church and the entry of non-Christians into the Church (TD 50). The reign of Satan was begun by a man, a woman, and a tree; the reign of Christ will overcome the kingdom of Satan in the same way in which the devil conquered: a tree, the Cross; a New Adam, Jesus the Lord; a New Eve, Mary (cf. TD 52-54).

The reign of Mary implies total openness to her effective rule as Mother and Queen, enabling us to be like her in total surrender to the deluge of pure love, the Holy Spirit. Christ, embodiment of the reign of God, will then be formed more intensely in our hearts. Mary, the first disciple, the first Christian, enthrones the King in her heart and in her womb by her loving, total fiat. When we enter into Mary and lose ourselves in her dispositions, Christ will capture our hearts in the power of the Spirit, to reign as King. Such is the inscrutable plan of God. When Mary is Queen, Christ will truly be King. "Ut adveniat regnum tuum, adveniat regnum Mariae" (TD 217). It is the age of Mary that will usher in the reign of Christ: "When will that happy time come when the divine Mary will be established as Mistress and Sovereign in hearts in order to submit them fully to the empire of her great and princely Son? When will souls breathe Mary as the body breathes air? When that time comes wonderful things will happen on earth. The Holy Spirit, finding his dear Spouse present again in souls, will come down into them with great power. . . . When will that happy time come, that age of Mary, when many souls . . . will hide themselves completely in the depths of her soul, becoming living copies of her, loving and glorifying Jesus?" (TD 217). "Sooner or later the Blessed Virgin shall have more children, servants and slaves of love than ever; and that by this means, Jesus Christ, my dear Master, shall reign in hearts more than ever" (TD 113). "Mary has to be made known and revealed by the Holy Spirit in order that through her, Jesus Christ may be known, loved and served" (TD 49; cf. TD 50).


Devotion to Our Lady intensifies oneness with Christ, the reign of God. In LEW 193 Montfort therefore can say: "For myself, I know of no better way of establishing the reign of God, Eternal Wisdom, than to unite vocal and mental prayer by saying the holy Rosary and meditating on its fifteen mysteries." Perfect devotion to Mary is synonymous with the perfect Consecration, whose goal is the implementation of the reign of Christ in the hearts of all (LEW 227). This perfect renewal of Baptism entails losing oneself in Mary (TD 259), taking on her spirit, so that with her, in her, by her, and for her we can live more perfectly in Christ Jesus. It is not only a formula to be pronounced but, above all, a life to be lived, a life in total and loving conformity to reality: Jesus is Lord who comes to us through Mary.

Montfort, therefore, sees the need of proclaiming the Consecration so that the reign of Christ may be more intensely lived in the hearts of all people. If only the poor, the pure in heart, those who are like children, enter the Kingdom of God, then the Consecration fulfills these evangelical conditions, for it is a total stripping of pride, a kenosis of everything that we claim as our own, so that our lives may be lived with Mary and under her maternal influence for God Alone. Since the Consecration is the perfect renewal of the baptismal vows, the Gospel lived to the hilt, it is a sure means of entering into the Kingdom who is Jesus. "That time [the age of Mary] will not come," writes Saint Louis de Montfort, "until people shall know and practice this devotion [the life of total Consecration] which I am teaching" (TD 217; SM 259).


The personal commitment (faith) demanded by Jesus for participation in the Kingdom is equivalent to saying that the Kingdom is for the poor. For faith is the living-out of the reality of our utter existential poverty. Its opposing concept is pride, haughtiness, self-righteousness. Jesus tells us: "Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 18:3). The Gospels stress this point by depicting Jesus as "proclaiming the gospel to the poor" (cf. Mt 9:35; 11:5). The reign is for those who "labor and are heavy laden" (Mt 11:28), for "tax-collectors and sinners" (Mt 11:19), for the sick, the lame, the deaf, the blind. So insistent is Jesus that the Kingdom is only for the poor that he proclaims in the first Beatitude, which summarizes them all: "Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God" (Lk 6:20). He boldly proclaims: "I came not to call the righteous but sinners" (Mk 2:17); and addressing some of the haughty religious leaders of the day, he states: "Truly I say to you, the tax collectors and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you" (Mt 21:31).

It is on this scriptural foundation that Montfort founds his proclamation of the Kingdom to the poor. It is one of the most predominant elements of his life; it is an essential element of his spirituality, an integral part of the rules given to his religious Congregations. His writings are not for the proud and haughty but for "the poor and simple" (TD 26, 65). It is only those who carry the Cross with Jesus who share in the glory of his reign (LEW 180; FC 9, passim). Montfort’s identification with the poor, to a point that baffled the ecclesiastical authorities, is founded upon his obedience to the Gospel, Good News for the poor of the Kingdom of God (cf. Mt 11:4-6).


Montfort yearns to form a squadron of men and women who are not only sharers in the reign but who become Spirit-filled instruments in bringing about the reign of Christ. These apostles of the end times live the baptismal perfect Consecration to Jesus Christ through the hands of Mary. Baptism is of its every nature apostolic; Marian devotion is of its very nature apostolic.21 The Consecration, as the renewal of our baptismal vows with its explicit Marian dimension, propels those who live it to proclaim the reign of Christ, no matter the cost. Whoever lives the Consecration authentically is of necessity an apostle of the reign of Christ. As Montfort insists, devotion to Our Lady—and particularly the perfect Consecration —is a requisite for these apostles. It not only preserves them in the reign of God but is their weapon in conquering the empire of Satan.

1. Apostles of the end times

These proclaimers of the Kingdom Montfort creatively terms "apostles of the end times." "Apostles," for they are truly sent by the Spirit to kindle the fire of divine love throughout the world, to renew the face of the earth and reform the Church. They are apostles of "the end times," i.e., they bring about the flowering of the reign of Christ, which takes place as the universe approaches ever more closely to its goal, Omega, the triumphant reign of Christ the King, when all creation will be a shout of Alleluia to the Lord. In a certain sense, these apostles bring about the end times by their bold, charismatic preaching. Their apostolate instills a greater knowledge and love of Mary and, therefore, of Jesus. The Spirit, the deluge of pure love, works through them, binding all people to the Father and the Son and thereby giving entry into the very life of the Godhead. "We are given to believe that, towards the end of time and perhaps sooner than we expect, God will raise up great men filled with the Holy Spirit and imbued with the spirit of Mary. Through them, Mary, most powerful Sovereign, will work wonders in the world, destroying sin and setting up the kingdom of Jesus her Son upon the ruins of the corrupt kingdom of the world" (SM 59).

2. The members of the Company of Mary

Specifically, these apostles of the end times comprise for Montfort, first of all, his Company of Mary. To this chosen bodyguard of God’s house and glory (PM 30) the Lord has, in a special way, given the charge of renewing the earth and reforming the Church, thereby bringing about the reign of Christ through Mary. PM describes this company as the core group of the apostles of the end times. Living the Consecration themselves, shining examples of the reign of Christ through the reign of Mary, wherever they go they destroy the empire of Satan and establish the reign of Christ. In the thought of Montfort, entry into the Company of Mary is admission into the "garde-corps (bodyguard)" whose purpose is to establish the reign of Christ through Mary.

3. Priests throughout the world

But Montfort is no elitist; in no way does he limit these apostles of the reign to the Company of Mary. His is an urgent call, a heartfelt plea to all priests to join with him in battle against the forces of evil (PM 29; TD 56-59). His call is for a renewal of authentic priestly life, a plea to priests to shake off any lethargy and be who they are by their ordination: the sacramental expressions of Jesus Priest-Victim. Like so many of the French school of spirituality who became involved in the renewal of the clergy—Vincent de Paul, Jean-Jacques Olier, John Eudes—so too Montfort sees that the reign of Christ will come about when the priests are exemplary proclaimers of the Kingdom of God. But Montfort is not involved in the teaching or academic formation of clerics, and he prohibits his Company of Mary from engaging in it. His role is, rather, to call all priests to a profound interior renewal of their priestly vocation as effective announcers of the reign of God.

4. All men and women

The missionary’s squadron of apostles of the reign is not a snobbish clerical organization. It also involves laymen and laywomen who, by their living examples and apostolic life, will join in this incursion into the realm of Satan and plant the victorious standard of the Cross of Christ the King. These laity must be filled with the spirit of Mary, the Spouse of the Holy Spirit; they must know and cherish their life of Consecration to the Eternal and Incarnate Wisdom in order to share more fully in the reign of Christ her Son. They are to be the children of Mary and, therefore, apostles of her Son who fearlessly bring about the reign of Christ especially to the poor, the disenfranchised, the rejects of society (TD 47, 48, 114).

Montfort is calling, therefore, for a revolution of love in order to implement the reign of Christ. Faithful to the Good News, he overturns accepted values of the world for the radical demands of Jesus Christ. In the eyes of the world, his plan to establish the Kingdom of God—identical to the Gospel plan—is foolishness. Its strength can only be experienced by people of faith who under the effective influence of Mary, Mother and Queen, freely release themselves wholeheartedly into the life of a renewed and vibrant baptismal vocation.


When will the reign come about? As stated in a more detailed manner in the article End Times in this Handbook, the time of the reign of God has been interpreted by Gebhard and Plessis as simultaneous with a "spiritual reign," "the coming of Jesus among us . . . through grace."22 There are, therefore, three advents of Jesus: the Incarnation, grace, and the Parousia. According to these authors, Montfort situates his teachings on the reign of Christ within the "second" coming, i.e., through grace. The primary text used for this opinion is TD 22: "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."

Frehen, however, following the lead of Lhoumeau, interprets Montfort’s vision of the reign of Christ as connected to the Parousia itself: "The reign of Jesus, connected to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, consists in an ‘entire reign,’ that is to say, that Jesus Christ is perfectly loved and perfectly served; this demands, as a necessary presupposition, that he be ‘perfectly known.’"23 Frehen stresses Montfort’s words: "When our loving Jesus comes in glory once again to reign upon earth—as he certainly will—he will choose no other way than the Blessed Virgin by whom he came so surely and so perfectly the first time. The difference between his first and second coming is that the first was secret and hidden but the second will be glorious and resplendent. Both are perfect because both are through Mary" (TD 158; cf. TD 22). Frehen believes that when Montfort speaks about the reign of Jesus Christ, he is speaking about the necessary presupposition for the Second Coming of the Lord, the Parousia, i.e., that Jesus be perfectly known and loved, and thereby glorious and resplendent.

J. Séguy considers the reign of Christ as explained by Montfort as an earthly triumph of an undetermined length of time between the time of the Church and the Parousia.24 According to this classification, Montfort is implicitly following a Marian adaptation of the millenarian thought of Joachim of Flore,25 an opinion strenuously and rightfully denied by R. Laurentin26 and Cardinal de Lubac.27

A critical study of the time of the reign of Christ as envisioned by Saint Louis de Montfort has been done by S. De Fiores.28 According to this opinion, Montfort conceives four stages for the final times of the Church. First, the reign of the Antichrist (cf. SM 59; TD 51; PM 4, 5, 13, 20). Second, an intermediate stage: the reign, or the age, of Mary. This era entails the work of the Holy Spirit, the deluge of love (PM 16, 17), and the apostles of the end times (TD 58), which inaugurate a horrible combat between the devil and the children of Mary (TD 48, 54). Third, the reign of Jesus Christ (SM 58; TD 48; PM 4); Montfort is anything but precise on the length of this reign because he is speaking not of a literal Parousia but a dynamic and intensifying knowledge, love, and service of Jesus leading to the fullness of the reign.29 Finally, everything is fulfilled by the deluge of fire and of justice (PM 16), which reduces all the earth to ashes (PM 17) and, probably after this deluge, the final Judgment by Christ: "God will come a second time . . . to judge the living and the dead" (SM 58).30

The division of the first three phases should not be considered as clearly distinct successive moments. Although the writings of Father de Montfort lean to such a sharp division, this is more for the sake of clarity, characteristic of the preacher to the masses. In reality, there would seem to be an overlapping of the first three periods: the time of evil; the flourishing of the reign of Mary and therefore of the working of the Holy Spirit and of the apostles of the end times; the flowering of the reign of Jesus upon earth, reaching its fulfillment in the visible Parousia.

The reign of Jesus Christ is, then, a dynamic eschatological concept. It is a "happening," going on now secretly, for the most part, but it will flourish as Mary’s reign intensifies, so that the Holy Spirit’s deluge of love will overcome the evil of the world. The full flowering of the reign will be the Parousia, when Jesus will come again in glory with Mary and all the saints to transform the universe into the realm of God in the power of the Holy Spirit.


Montfort makes several references to the reign of pure love. As noted above, many of his early letters contain the greeting, "May the pure love of God reign in your heart." The reign of the Holy Spirit is termed a "deluge of fire of pure love" (PM 17). Those who implement the reign of Christ are "ministers of the Lord who like flaming fire will enkindle everywhere the fires of divine love" (TD 56). This pure love "God only shares with those who have died to themselves and whose life is hidden with Jesus Christ in God" (TD 81, 154). The grace of pure love is a gift, an effect of total Consecration, "so that you will then cease to act as you did before, out of fear of the God who is love, but rather out of pure love. You will look upon him as a loving Father and endeavor to please him at all times. You will speak trustfully to him as a child does to its Father" (TD 215).

At first sight, the expression "the reign of pure love" smacks of quietism. "Dispute over quietism or dispute over pure love have become synonyms."31 There is, however, no heretical quietism in Montfort’s spirituality. The "pure love" as explained by extreme quietists—a love so "disinterested" that it permits one to give into temptation32—has no place in the life and writings of Montfort. The apparent misuse of the expression "pure love" by some Spanish and French quietists does not destroy the orthodoxy of the phrase.

The reign of pure love is, for Montfort, found especially in Mary, in her total, active, and responsible abandonment to the overshadowing Spirit. She is addressed, "O All-aflame / with divine Love" (H 90:30; cf. H 84:5). The opposite of pure love for Saint Louis de Montfort is "self-love," and the saint insists upon the constant battle needed to destroy this idol so as to center our entire lives on Jesus Christ (H 5:20, 30; TD 81, 146, 149, 197; LEW 202). The reign of pure love, then, that Montfort wishes for his readers is the Holy Spirit, the infinite Loving of the Father and the Son, which enables us to live for God Alone. It destroys scruples and servile fear, immersing us in the God of love (TD 107, 169, 215, 264). The reign of pure love as illustrated by Montfort shows how his teaching steers in between the Scylla and Charybdis of his day, Jansenism and quietism. Montfort insists upon the love and approachableness of God (against Jansenism) but he also insists upon the need for the constant struggle to empty ourselves of all idols (against the quietistic pure love).33


A brief study of the theme of the reign of God in Montfort spirituality leads to some important conclusions.

1. Basic insight into Montfort spirituality

The reign of God can serve as an epistemological prime principle not only for the doctrine of Saint Louis de Montfort but also for his life. The concept undergirds Montfort spirituality, and all aspects of it may be seen as spin-offs of this fundamental truth: "The time is fulfilled. The kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel" (Mk 1:15). Montfort, man of the absolute in his life and writings, was dedicated to the fulfillment of this inaugural sermon of Jesus. His preaching, his religious Congregations, his indefatigable drive, his penances, his unequivocal dedication and total commitment—all resulted from the urgency he experienced to extend the reign of Christ.

2. The eschatological character of Montfort spirituality

It is a travesty to depict the spirituality of this vagabond missionary as introverted, turned into itself. Rather, Saint Louis de Montfort is open to the future, yearning for the coming of the fulfillment of God’s rule. His spirituality is dynamic, tending to the goal ahead, when the Kingdom of God will be established on the ruins of the empire of evil. There is a vigorous thrust towards the future, towards the victorious fulfillment of salvation history, which lies at the very foundation of his spirituality.

In order to be proclaimers of the fulfillment of the reign, those devoted to Our Lady must involve themselves in "the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted in any way . . . nothing that is genuinely human fails to find an echo in their hearts. For . . . united in Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, [they] press onwards towards the kingdom of the Father" (GS 1).

3. The missionary character of Montfort spirituality

It is the reign of God that forced Montfort to go into every sector of the population and animated him to volunteer for the remotest missions of the Church. His spirituality does not remain in the Upper Room. Filled with the boldness of the Spirit, those who follow him are ipso facto missionaries. They experience an unquenchable zeal to go to every town and place to proclaim that the Kingdom of God has come in Jesus and that through Mary, the Spouse of the Spirit, we must implement that rule of Infinite Love.

4. A clarification of devotion to Mary

The essential Marian dimension of Montfort spirituality is the direct opposite of a narcissistic attitude. Rather, it spurs us on to bring forth Christ in the souls of men, to strip ourselves of everything in order that Jesus be known. The Christocentrism of Montfort Mariology is seen even more clearly in light of his doctrine on the Kingdom of God. The age of Mary is not an end in itself. It is pregnant with Jesus, the embodied reign of God. It must experience the birth pangs of struggle with evil in order to bring forth the King. The more we "lose ourselves in Mary," the more we will live the reign of Christ and become bold apostles ushering in the victorious rule of God.

The communicating of a deeper knowledge and love of Our Lady has as its goal a deeper knowledge and love of Our Lord so that he may reign in our hearts (TD 49, 50). Devotion to Our Lady is for those willing to risk all in living the radical demands of the Kingdom. It is for those willing to be dynamic signs of the Church of the eschaton. When Christians breathe Mary as they do air, especially through total Consecration to the Eternal and Incarnate Wisdom, we have present one of the signs that the goal is at hand, that the fullness of the reign is fast approaching.34 "When the Church is ‘Mary,’ Christ will be able to be born and finally to reign in the world."35 "The Mother of Jesus . . . is the image and beginning of the church as it is to be perfected in the world to come. Likewise she shines forth on earth until the day of the Lord shall come (cf. 2 Pet 3:10), a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God" (LG 68).


Notes: (1) J. M. Hupperts, Pour elle (For Her), Série Immaculata 5, Secretariat Marie-Médiatrice, Louvain 1957, 24. (2) J. Fitzmyer, The Gospel according to Luke (I-IX), Doubleday, Garden City, NY 1981, 153. (3) W. Kasper, Jesus the Christ, Paulist Press, New York 1976, 100- 101; cf. Mk 10:29, where it appears there is an identification of Jesus with the Good News. Cf. J. Fitzmyer, The Gospel according to Luke, 153. (4) J. Hupperts, Pour Elle, 56. (5) P. Hunerrmann, Reign of God, in The Concise Sacramentum Mundi, Seabury, NY 1975, 1349; cf. R. Schnackenburg, Note on Theological Terminology, in God’s Rule and Kingdom, Herder & Herder, New York 1963, 354-357. (6) Cf. S. De Fiores, Le Saint Esprit et Marie dans les derniers temps selon Grignion de Montfort (The Holy Spirit and Mary in the End Times according to Grignion de Montfort), in EtMar 43 (1986), 133-171. (7) St. Jean Eudes, Royaume de Jésus (Kingdom of Jesus), in Opera Completa, 1:271ff., cited in Lectionnaire propre à la congrégation de Jésus et Marie (Lectionary Proper to the Congregation of Jesus and Mary), Paris 1977, 56-57. (8) S. Jean Eudes, Royaume, 432; Lectionnaire, 129. (9) Charles de Condren, Pièces diverses, ed. Auvray des Lettres, 541, cited in Lectionnaire, 167. (10) Cf. Jean Lafrance, Elizabeth of the Trinity: The Charism of Her Prayer, Darlington Carmel, 1983. (11) Montfort shows a remarkable knack of getting across profound Trinitarian theology in many of his hymns, e.g., "In God there are Three Persons / Father, Son, Holy Spirit / Three infinitely Good, / I believe it for God has said it. / Three make only one God for the Three have only one Essence: / The Father is God, the Son is God, / The Holy Spirit is God. / All equal in substance" (H 109:2). (12) Cf. W. Kasper, The God of Jesus Christ, Crossroad, New York 1982, 283-285; cf. DS 1331. (13) Cf. J. Séguy, Millenarisme et "Ordres adventistes": Grignion de Montfort et les "Apôtres des Derniers Temps" (Millenarianism and "Adventist Orders": Grignion de Montfort and "The Apostles of the End Times"), in Archives de Sciences sociales des religions, 53/1 (January-March 1982), 29-30. (14) The literary genre of PM must also be a hermeneutical tool in deciphering Montfort’s understanding of the reign of the Father, the reign of the Son, and the reign of the Holy Spirit. He is caught up in contemplative prayer, in a lovingly violent pleading with God that springs from the center of his soul, begging God to send missionaries all aflame to proclaim the Kingdom of God. The text is not from an academic treatise on De Deo Trino. Using analogies borrowed from mystics, Montfort speaks of the triple reign of the triune God: a deluge of water, a deluge of blood, a deluge of love. The text cannot be wrenched from the total context of his Trinitarian teachings without distorting the thought of the saint. (15) Cf. R.Laurentin, Dieu Seul est ma tendresse, (God Alone is my Tenderness), O. E. I. L., Paris 1984, 198. (16) Cf. ibid., 195- 198. (17) W. Kasper, Jesus the Christ, 101. (18) Montfort is speaking about an explicit, faith acceptance of the reign. But if that is not possible, a desire—whether actual (in re) or, if that also is not possible, through desire (in voto), even implicit desire (etiam implicito)—gives entry into the Kingdom. Cf. DS 3869-3872; LG 16. (19) Mary is a "pure creature" (TD 14), i.e., she is, in the totality of her being, creaturely, ab alio. Modern Christology stresses the full humanity of Christ, insisting correctly that it is "creaturely." Because of the hypostatic union, however, the humanity of Jesus is the humanity of the Second Person of the Trinity. Jesus, therefore, cannot be called a "pure creature," a term that can be applied to all other human beings, who are, of course, ontologically human persons. (20) Montfort is interested in the present order of salvation, for in reality there is no other. And as is evident from the development of salvation history, Mary’s consent is hypothetically necessary (i.e., not necessary in itself but only because of God’s free will) in salvation history; cf. TD 14, 15, 39. (21) Spontaneously addressing the members of the 1987 general chapter of the Montfort Missionaries, Pope John Paul II, speaking directly to the superior general, said: "You have pointed out that the two elements go together: Missionary and Marian. . . . This has been stressed in the encyclical Redemptoris Mater and likewise in the teaching of Vatican II in Lumen Gentium, chapter 8." The full text of the address of the superior general and of the Holy Father’s response can be found in QOAH (May-June 1991), 11. (22) Cf. H. M. Gebhard, SMM, Commento al Trattato della vera devozione a Maria Vergine (Commentary on the Treatise of the True Devotion to the Virgin Mary), in RDC 5 (1918), 3-4; A. Plessis, SMM, Commentaire du Traité de la vraie dévotion (Commentary on the Treatise of the True Devotion), Librarie Mariale, Pontchâteau 1943, 83-84, 152-171. (23) H. Frehen, Le second avènement de Jésus Christ et la "méthode" de Saint Louis-Marie de Montfort (The Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the "Method" of Saint Louis Marie de Montfort), in Dmon 7 (1962), 101; cf. A. Lhoumeau, La Vierge Marie et les apôtres des derniers temps d’après le B. Louis-Marie de Montfort (The Virgin Mary and the Apostles of the End Times according to Bl. Louis-Marie de Montfort), Mame, Tours 1919, 7-14. (24) J. Séguy, Millenarisme et "Ordres Adventistes;" cf. L. Perouas, Ce que croyait Grignion de Montfort et comment il a vécu sa foi, Mame, Paris 1973, 186- 187; English translation, Way to Wisdom. (25) Cf. M. F. Laughlin, Joachim of Flore, in New Catholic Encyclopedia, 7:990-991. (26) Cf. R. Laurentin, Dieu Seul est ma tendresse, 268. (27) H. De Lubac, La posterité spirituelle de Joachim de Flore (The Spiritual Posterity of Joachim of Flore), Paris, Lethielleux, Paris 1979, 232. (28) S. De Fiores, Le Saint Esprit et Marie dans les derniers temps selon Grignion de Montfort (The Holy Spirit and Mary in the End Times According to Grignion de Montfort), in EtM 43 (1986), 133-171. (29) Ibid., 143. (30) Ibid., 144. (31) Jacques Le Brun, La question du l’amour pur (The Question of Pure Love), in DSAM, 12B:2824. (32) Cf. T. K. Connolly, Quietism, in New Catholic Encyclopedia, 12:26-28. (33) This authentic total abandonment—demanding so much from the soul as Montfort insists— has become well known through the popularity of Father de Caussade, The Joy of Full Surrender, Paraclete Press, Orleans, Mass. 1986. (34) Cf. De Fiores, Le Saint Esprit et Marie, 145-146. (35) Ibid., 171.

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

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