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Pope John Paul II and Louis de Montfort

Pope John Paul II and Louis de Montfort

Abstract from the original German talks given at the German Mariological Consortium on Influece of Mary on Pope John Paul II, provided by Sister M. Danielle Peters.

True Devotion to Jesus Through Mary According to Louis Marie de Montfort

– Anton Ziegenaus

Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort (1673-1716) is above all known through The Golden Book on True Devotion to Mary. Ziegenaus draws attention to the fact that not all translations of the book contain the Christological aspect of the true devotion entitled The Love of Eternal Wisdom. According to H.J. Jüngermann, this chapter is the most important aspect of de Montfort’s spirituality while the True Devotion could be considered its core.

With The Love of Eternal Wisdom Grignion encouraged the imitation of Jesus Christ, the Eternal Wisdom personified (chapter 2, 5). We have to find the power and beauty of Eternal Wisdom in God and in all of creation, above all in the human person (chapters 3-4). In order to enlighten humanity, Eternal Wisdom became a human being who earnestly desires to give Himself to man (chapter 6). Thus Eternal Wisdom left us a perpetual gift of His presence in the Eucharist (chapter 6, 71). Grignion presents four means necessary to reach union with Eternal Wisdom: An ardent desire, continuous prayer (above all the rosary), universal mortification and a loving and genuine devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary (chapters 15-17).

For Grignion devotion to Mary is the most efficient means to reach union with Jesus Christ because the Blessed Virgin Mary was the only human being who has received the grace to cooperate in the Incarnation of Eternal Wisdom (# 204-208). Grignion emphasizes that “Mary is like a holy magnet attracting Eternal Wisdom to herself with such power that he cannot resist. … Mary is the surest, the easiest, the shortest and the holiest of all the means of possessing Jesus Christ."(#212) Furthermore, Mary is also the Mother of all Members of Christ whom she conceives and generates through grace. True Marian devotion, writes Grignion, “must be sincere, free from hypocrisy and superstition; loving, not lukewarm or scrupulous; constant, not fickle or unfaithful; holy, without being presumptuous or extravagant.”(#216) Marian consecration “involves the offering of all we have acquired in the past, of all we actually possess at the moment, and all we will acquire in the future."(#219) The consecration prayer, which Grignion meant to be a renewal of the baptismal consecration, is addressed to Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father and of the Virgin Mary.

The core part of Grignion’s work True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin has a strong eschatological dimension. It is through the Mother of God “that souls who are to shine forth in sanctity, must find him."(#50) Moreover, the servants of Mary “will be true apostles of the latter times to whom the Lord of Hosts will give eloquence and strength to work wonders (#58)” which is an indication that the Marian Age announces the eschatological era.

Regarding the axiom “through Mary to Jesus” Grignion instructs in “Principal Practices of Devotion to Mary.”(#115ff) He emphasizes that consecration to Mary is the most perfect devotion because it is always also a perfect consecration to Jesus Christ. De Montfort stresses the connection of Baptism and consecration to Mary and sees in Mary as Mother of the Church the link between Christ and the faithful (cf. #32). Baptism initiates the person’s service to Jesus Christ and breaks with all enslavement to Satan. Just as Christ surrendered himself as a loving slave to the Blessed Virgin Mary and was obedient to her for thirty years (cf. # 139) so should all Christians consider their lives in total dependence on Mary. Such a style of piety and devotion known as Esclavitud Mariana is popular in the southern hemisphere above all in the context of devotion to St. Joseph. The scriptural foundation for the Esclavitud Mariana is Lk 1:38 and Ps 116:16. While our good works are incomplete Mary will enrich them with her own merits and virtues (cf. #147-182). Grignion also highlights the “wonderful effects which are brought forth in the soul due to total surrender to Mary.”(# 40) He summarizes the consecration as an act which should mark a cessation in the person’s life: “I am all yours and all that I have is yours, O glorious Virgin, blessed above all created things.”(# 216)

Ziegenaus clarifies that whoever confesses the sola fide and that Redemption was ransomed by Jesus Christ alone, will find no access to the teachings of Grignion de Montfort (cf. # 8, 10, 17, 18, 27, 142). On the other hand, Louis Marie does not deny the endless distance between Jesus Christ and Mary (cf. # 61, 69, 74). For this reason de Montfort cannot be considered a fanatic devotee of Mary. However, he does not share Luther’s argument that Marian devotion is idolatry. Catholic teaching instead holds that the more a person is devoted to Mary the more he or she contributes to the glorification of the Triune God.

[1] Mariologische Studien. Volume XVIII: Totus Tuus – Maria in Leben und Lehre Johannes Paulus II. Edited by Anton Ziegenaus. Regensburg 2004, 31-45.

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