Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Saint Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort - The Marian Apostle

This French saint was born in 1673. At the age of 12, he entered the Jesuit College in Rennes.
Listening to the stories of a local priest about his life as an itinerant missionary, he was fired with zeal to preach missions. Under the guidance of some other priests, he began to develop his strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin. At some time during his college days, he became aware of a call to the priesthood.
As he left Rennes, to begin a new stage in his life, Louis Marie acted out a little drama which was symbolic of the life-style he had now determined to pursue. His family had offered him a horse to ride to Paris, but this he refused; his mother provided him with a new suit of clothes, and his father presented him with 10 écus to cover the expenses of his journey. Some of his family accompanied him as far as Cesson, where the road to Paris crossed the River Villaine, and there said their good-byes to him. Crossing over the bridge, Louis Marie took the first opportunity offered to him to give away his 10 écus, and then to exchange his new clothes for those of a beggar, and continued on his way, determined from then on to rely solely on Providence for his needs, and to live close to the poor.
He was ordained priest in June 1700, and a few days later he said his first Mass at the altar of the Blessed Virgin in the church of Saint- Suplice. His first appointment was to the Community of Saint-Clément in Nantes. After a few months, he was persuaded to go to Poitiers, there he agreed to become chaplain to the inmates of a work-house where the very poor were incarcerated.

He began preaching missions in and around Poitiers, and probably felt that at last he was doing the work God had called him to do. After making a retreat at Mont-Saint-Michel, he set off to find the missionary band headed by one of the greatest of Breton Missioners, Father Leuduger, and having caught up with them in Dinan, was accepted as a member of the team. Always he would choose for his own attention the poorest areas of the towns where the missions were held, and would often introduce some new initiatives for the relief of the poor, for example a soup-kitchen which was set up in Dinan. For two years, he preached many missions in and around Nantes, the vast majority of which proved extraordinarily successful in terms of the conversions wrought among the people. His reputation as a great missioner grew, but most of all he began to be known everywhere, by the ordinary people, as "the good Father from Montfort". He tried to perpetuate the spiritual results of his missions by setting up confraternities and associations which would encourage the people to be faithful to their renewal of Baptismal commitment, and by erecting physical reminders of the mission in the form of mission crosses.
He was constantly occupied in preaching missions, always travelling on foot between one and another. Yet he found time also to write - his True Devotion to Mary and The Secret of Mary, rules for the Company of Mary and the Daughters of Wisdom, and many Hymns which he used in his missions, often set to contemporary dance tunes.
Worn out by hard work and sickness, he fell ill and died on 28 April at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre. Thousands gathered for his burial in the parish church, and very quickly there were stories of miracles performed at his tomb.
In 1888, Louis Marie was beatified, and in 1947 declared a Saint. The charisma of St Louis Marie was to carry out his mission to establish the Kingdom of God, the Reign of Jesus through Mary.

Here are three quotes for our reflection, they come from the introduction of his treatise on true devotion:

“It was through the Blessed Virgin Mary that Jesus came into the world, and it is also through her that he must reign in the world.”

“I declare with the saints: Mary is the earthly paradise of Jesus Christ the new Adam, where he became man by the power of the Holy Spirit, in order to accomplish in her wonders beyond our understanding. She is the vast and divine world of God where unutterable marvels and beauties are to be found. She is the magnificence of the Almighty where he hid his only Son, as in his own bosom, and with him everything that is most excellent and precious. What great and hidden things the all-powerful God has done for this wonderful creature, as she herself had to confess in spite of her great humility, "The Almighty has done great things for me." The world does not know these things because it is incapable and unworthy of knowing them.”

“My heart has dictated with special joy all that I have written to show that Mary has been unknown up till now, and that that is one of the reasons why Jesus Christ is not known as he should be. If then, as is certain, the knowledge and the kingdom of Jesus Christ must come into the world, it can only be as a necessary consequence of the knowledge and reign of Mary. She who first gave him to the world will establish his kingdom in the world.”

No comments: