Skip to comments.JESUS LIVING IN MARY: HANDBOOK, SPIRITUALITY OF ST. LOUIS DE MONTFORT, ROSARY [Ecumenical]
Posted on 04/28/2010 2:38:54 PM PDT by Salvation
JESUS LIVING IN MARY: HANDBOOK OF THE SPIRITUALITY OF ST. LOUIS DE MONTFORT
I. Introduction: II. The Rosary in the Life and Missions of Montfort: 1. "With his Rosary in his hand;" 2. In his missions; 3. Montfort and the Dominican Order; 4. Efficacy of the Rosary during missions. 5. Directives to missionaries. III. The Rosary in Montforts Writings: 1. An "exterior practice" of Marian devotion; 2. A teaching on the Rosary; 3. The legacy of a tradition; 4. A secret . . . destined for everyone; 5. In spite of contradictory advice; 6. Praying with faith; 7. "My Hail Mary, my touchstone;" 8. Meditation on the mysteries; 9. "The easiest of all prayers;" 10. "From my own experience;" 11. A blessed way of praying the Rosary: 12. Final advice; 13. A set of instructions: the 150 motives. IV. Montforts Methods of Reciting the Rosary: 1. The method of offering of the decades: 2. The method of adding phrases; 3. The Rosary said with a reflection before each Our Father and Hail Mary; 4. A Rosary in hymns: V. The Rosary in Montfort spirituality: 1. A devotion centered on Jesus Christ; 2. Learning about Jesus through the mysteries of the Rosary; 3. Special devotion to the mystery of the Incarnation; 4. "Long live Jesus, long live his Cross"; 5. The place of the Rosary in Montforts Spiritual Way. VI. Conclusion: Montfort and the Rosary Today.
Over the last two centuries, Montforts doctrine has played an important part in bringing about a renewed interest in praying the Rosary. How can Montfort spirituality contribute to the practice of praying the Rosary in our contemporary world, which seems to be searching for methods of prayer?
At the time of the French Revolution, the practice of saying the Rosary was common among Catholics. Rosary confraternities were established in most parishes. Pauline Jaricot of Lyons added great impetus to this devotion with her "Living Rosary" (1826). The Rosary carried by Our Lady at Lourdes also contributed to the popularity of this prayer. Pope Leo XIII, who was personally very influenced by the discovery of the Treatise on the True Devotion, published an encyclical on Marian devotion, and on the Rosary in particular, every year from 1883 to 1901.
The history of devotion to the Rosary, which for a long time had been encumbered by the legend of Alain de la Roche, was gradually clarified by historians: from the time of Esser and Thurston, to significant articles on the Rosary by W. A. Hinnebusch in the New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967) and by P. A. Duva in the Dictionnaire de Spiritualité (1988).1 Devotion to the Rosary also has benefited from the study, in the years prior to Vatican II, of the biblical sources of Marian piety, and from the teachings of Paul VI in Marialis Cultus (1974), Nos. 4255.
Today there seems to be a new hunger for "spirituality" and a desire for the support of those "methods of prayer" that have been tested and proved worthy by tradition. Montfort helps us rediscover, pray, and live the Rosary.
II. THE ROSARY IN THE LIFE AND MISSIONS OF MONTFORT
1. "With his Rosary in his hand"
It is evident from any biography of Montfort, such as Father Le Croms work,2 that throughout his life the Rosary was one of the most common expressions of Louis Maries Marian piety. With Rosary in hand, "He was affectionate and devoted to his brothers and sisters. Louise-Guyonne was his favorite and in his desire for her to practice virtue, he would take her aside while the others played, and they would say the Rosary together."3
In 1699, he made a pilgrimage to Chartres with some students of the Seminary of Saint-Sulpice. "When they spoke, they spoke only about Our Lady; when they prayed together, they recited the rosary, said their breviary and sang hymns from the Psalm Book of Saint Bonaventure."4 Later he was seen arriving at Ligugé, "his hat under his arm and his Rosary in his hand."5
In 1706, at the Dominican convent of Dinan, where his brother Joseph- Pierre was chaplain, he asked to celebrate Mass at the altar of Blessed Alain de la Roche, the famous preacher of the Office of Our Lady.6
2. In his missions
When Montfort left the poorhouse at Poitiers and undertook his first missions, the Rosary was the principal practice that he recommended. In 1705, at Montbernage, he erected a crucifix in the center of a barn: he had transformed the structure into an oratory, and had decorated the walls with fifteen banners, representing the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary. There, in order to obtain grace from God, the Rosary was recited before a statue of the Blessed Virgin every evening.7
Before Montfort left Poitiers, he wrote to the people of Montbernage: "Remember . . . to have a great love for Jesus and to love him through Mary. . . . Do not fail to fulfill your baptismal promises and all that they entail. Say your Rosary every day either in private or in public and receive the sacraments at least once a month."8
At La Chèze, in the diocese of Saint-Brieuc, Montfort established the Society of Virgins, the Society of the Friends of the Cross, and the Confraternity of the Rosary, in order to maintain the results of his parish mission. The entire Rosary was recited three times daily: morning, noon, and evening.9
To aid in praying the Rosary, Montfort used a variety of props. At Montbernage there were the fifteen banners representing the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary. At the end of the mission of Sallertaine, Montfort erected a cross, "whose beams bore a large Rosary wrapped around the Body of Christ."10 At the Hermitage of Saint-Lazare, very close to his native town, Montfort devised something novel: "In the sanctuary on a kneeler there was a large Rosary with iron links and beads as large as nuts which several people could finger at the same time."11
At the majestic Calvary of Pontchâteau, the Rosary had the place of honor: a field of 150 fir trees, interspaced with 15 cypress trees, formed an immense Rosary and several small chapels recalled the mysteries of Jesus and Mary."12 At Saint-Donatien in Nantes he had fifteen banners on the Rosary carried in procession, and during his homilies he used fifteen paintings on the mysteries.13 In his Testament, dictated on the eve of his death, he said, "I give to each parish of Aunis where the Rosary will be continued to be recited, one of the banners of the Holy Rosary."14
3. Montfort and the Dominican Order
Saint Dominic is considered by all to be the "originator" of the Rosary. Consequently, his order held a monopoly on founding and directing Rosary confraternities, especially from the time of Pope Pius V.15
Since Montfort was also a great preacher of the Rosary, he decided to become affiliated with the Dominican family by entering their Third Order. He made profession at the hands of the Prior of the Convent of Nantes on November 10, 1710.16
In May, 1712, he wrote to the Master General of the Dominicans to ask him for "permission to preach the Holy Rosary wherever the Lord calls me, and to enroll into the Rosary Confraternity with the usual indulgences as many people as I can. I have already been doing this with the permission of the local Priors and Provincials." Montfort made his request through the Provincial of France, and it was granted.17
4. Efficacy of the Rosary during missions
At La Rochelle, a Protestant town, it seems that Montfort showed particular zeal for the Rosary; he preached his first three missions there, in the church of the Dominicans, during the summer of 1711.
According to Besnard, "The apostle of the Rosary . . . used this heavenly devotion very advantageously to convert the Protestants, who had based some of their false doctrines on the Albigensian heresy. He left the controversies to those whom the Bishop had designated for this ministry, and dedicated himself to stimulating devotion to the Holy Rosary, and to explaining the mysteries that are called to mind at the beginning of each decade."18 The conversion of an important Protestant woman, Madame de Mailly, "caused a great sensation and convinced several people who were hesitant." It was specifically stated that "until her death in 1749, she was faithful to the daily recitation of the Rosary."19
According to the testimony of a priest, who had known Montfort in Paris during the summer of 1713, "No one was a more faithful disciple of Saint Dominic when it came to the devotion to the Rosary. He recommended its practice to everyone, and he confided that he himself had obtained from God, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, the conversion of the most obstinate sinners. He had a book on the marvels of the Holy Rosary, which he explained with such unction that everyone was amazed. I believe that he influenced more than a hundred thousand people."20
He summarized his beliefs in such expressions as: "Believe in the power of the Rosary; no sinner has ever resisted me once I have collared him with my Rosary."21
In September 1714, Montfort visited his good friend J. B. Blain, then a canon at Rouen. Blain relates two incidents in which Montfort challenged two very different groups of people with his Rosary.
The first episode took place among the Sisters of Ernemont, to whom he had preached a retreat, terminating it with a homily on the Blessed Virgin. After he had preached on the Rosary with great ardor and love, they asked him to "give them a demonstration" and to recite it himself, using his own method. He did so "with such tender devotion to Mary" that he inspired everyone to deep piety. He was remembered for his Rosary, which had fifteen decades and was worn openly on his belt. Thus, he was called the "priest with the big rosary."22
Another episode took place several days later, on a ferry crossing the Seine. As Blain described it, "It was a real Noahs Ark. . . . Ordinarily about two hundred people were on board, returning home on market days. It was not exactly the most propitious place to talk about God. . . . However, as soon as our missionary embarked, he knelt down in front of everyone, and with his large Rosary in his hand, invited them to pray with him. The sight of the holy priest inviting them to say the Rosary became a joke for the group. They were happy to have such a butt for their laughter. When they finished laughing, he invited them again to say the Rosary. The laughter began again, and continued for quite a while. After that, the devoted priest, whose zeal seemed to grow with each humiliation, invited them for the third time, to say the Rosary. He asked them so dynamically and devoutly, that he convinced the group to say the Rosary in its entirety, and to listen to his homily which lasted until the boat landed. This story was told to me by an eyewitness."23
5. Directives to missionaries
Each time that Montfort gave direction on Christian life, he mentioned the Rosary, whether it was in the "Covenant with God" that he wanted signed at the end of the missions (CG), in the "Rule of the Forty-four Virgins" (RV), or in the "Rule of the Penitents of Saint Pompain on Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Saumur" (PS). "Without attracting extraordinary attention, you may carry a Rosary and wear a crucifix over your heart . . . in their procession they will sing hymns, they will recite the Holy Rosary, and they will pray silently. . . . During the day they will recite the entire Rosary in two groups" (PS 2-5).
In his directive concerning the Rosary, Montfort was particularly insistent on its use for the personal prayer life and missions of the Missionaries of the Company of Mary. "Every day they will say all fifteen decades of the Rosary as well as the Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin." In their missions, "to renew the spirit of Christianity among the faithful . . . during the whole of the mission they do all they can to establish the great devotion of the daily Rosary and they will enroll as many as possible in the Rosary Confraternity (they have the faculties for this); they will explain the prayers and mysteries of the Rosary, either by instructions, or by pictures or statues which they have for this purpose; and they will give the people good example by having the whole Rosary recited aloud in French every day of the mission at three different times with the offering of the mysteries . . . this is one of the greatest secrets to have come from heaven" (RM 29, 52, 5657).
Let us conclude our consideration of the place of the Rosary in the life and missions of Montfort with two beautiful expressions from the "Prayer for Missionaries." Montfort asks for missionaries who will be "men after your own heart . . . like David of old, with the Cross for their staff and the Rosary for their sling," and for "true servants of the Blessed Virgin, who, like Dominic of old will range far and wide, with the Holy Gospel issuing from their mouths like a bright and burning flame and the Rosary in their hands" (PM 8, 12).
III. THE ROSARY IN MONTFORTS WRITINGS
1. An "exterior practice" of Marian devotion
In the TD, the Rosary is cited among the principal exterior practices of devotion to the Blessed Virgin: "Enrolling in her confraternities. . . . Singing her praises. . . . Giving alms and fasting in her honor. . . . Carrying such signs of devotion to her as the Rosary, the scapular, or a little chain. . . . Reciting with attention, devotion and reverence the fifteen decades of the Rosary in honor of the fifteen principal mysteries of Jesus Christ, or at least five decades which is a third of the Rosary." The traditional list of the joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries follows (TD 116).25
Even if some proud people "consider the Rosary to be a devotion suitable only for ignorant and illiterate people," Montfort affirms, "I know no surer way to discover if a person belongs to God than by finding out if he loves saying the Hail Mary and the Rosary" (TD 250 51).
At the beginning of his ministry, Montfort wrote: "For myself, I know of no better way of establishing the kingdom of God, Eternal Wisdom, than to unite vocal and mental prayer by saying the holy Rosary and meditating on its fifteen mysteries" (LEW 193).
We should not be any more concerned than Montfort himself was regarding the term "exterior practice" (cf. TD 226). We already perceive the essence of what he thinks about the Rosary and his insistence on praying it: insistence on the daily rosary, vocal and mental prayer, the Our Father and Hail Mary, and meditations on the mysteries of Jesus Christ. For Montfort, these would always be deeply important.
2. A teaching on the Rosary
Among Montforts manuscripts one finds an explicit teaching on the Rosary, in which there are two different forms: a) a text written primarily for parish priests and preachers: "The admirable secret of the Holy Rosary for conversion and salvation" (SR), which has two "blessed methods for the recitation of the holy rosary;" and b) An outline of instructions for the people in the form of the Rosary, "150 motives which oblige us to say the Rosary" which Montfort inserted in his Book of Sermons.26
3. The legacy of a tradition
In the first pages of SR, Montfort refers to the sources of his book on the Rosary: "All I have done has been to copy from very good contemporary authors and, in part, from a book written a short time ago, The Mystical Rose Tree, by Fr. Antonin Thomas, O.P." (SR 33)27 In comparing the texts one perceives that Montfort had in hand the second edition (Rennes 1698).28 This was very probably the "marvelous book on the rosary" that he had with him in Paris in 1713.29
Montfort began writing his SR in the Notebook (N), which he began keeping during his seminary years at St. Sulpice. He copied into it many Latin and French texts on the Rosary, in particular those of the Franciscan John of Carthagena.30 Also cited are texts by the Jesuits Boissieu and Spinelli and the Dominican Cavanoc. He cited one or more texts on abandonment by Alain de la Roche, in particular Apology and Psalter of the Virgin Mary, which Montfort knew in their Latin versions.31 It is evident that SR is for the most part a faithful rendering of the Dominican tradition of the Rosary, as explained by Alain de la Roche.32
Montfort accepted this tradition unconditionally, as did the Church of his time, (save for a few critics), for it had been approved by the popes since Pius V. Montfort was a missionary, not an historian. We might add that in the context of the Counter-Reformation, the Rosary appeared like a sign and a providential weapon against "heretics," very similar to how it had been used by Saint Dominic against the Cathars.
In order to highlight the Montfort spirituality of the Rosary, we shall concentrate on what Montfort considered essential to this prayer tradition and what he added to it.
4. A secret . . . destined for everyone
Antonin Thomas addressed his The Mystical Rose Tree to the Directors of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosarythat is, to priests. His intention was to supply them with material for preaching and for directing confraternities. He assured them that "it is the secret of winning the hardest hearts and of converting the most despairing people, of conserving penitent souls in the state of grace . . . and of helping those people who aspire to perfection, to make great strides in virtue." Montfort, after having written his "little book,"33 also addressed it with touching fervor to priests and above all to that company of missionaries about whom he never ceased to dream: "Ministers of the Most High, preachers of the truth, trumpeters of the Gospel . . . Let us not be satisfied, my dear brothers, to counsel it [the Rosary] to others; we must practice it ourselves . . . Let us imitate Jesus Christ, who began by practicing what he preached"(SR 12).
Then Montfort spoke directly to sinners, to pious people, and to little children: "Poor sinful men and women, I, a greater sinner than you, wish to give you this rose, which is crimson because the precious blood of Jesus Christ has fallen on it. . . . Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have already sold your soul to the devil, . . . sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and save your soul, if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death" (SR 34).
Truly the Rosary is for everyone: "Let the learned and the ignorant, the just and the sinners, the great and the small praise and honor Jesus and Mary night and day by saying the Holy Rosary" (SR 8).
5. In spite of contradictory advice
There have always been critics of the Rosary. Montfort was aware that his life and preaching were opposed to those of many clergymen and well-known people. He was often careful to justify himself in speaking to the humble and the sinners: "if I thought that the grace God has given me to know by experience the efficacy of preaching the Holy Rosary to convert souls would move you to preach this beautiful devotion in spite of the fact that priests are not in the habit of doing so these days, I would tell you how I have witnessed the most wonderful conversions it has wrought, but instead of all this I think it will be quite enough for this little summary if I tell you a few ancient yet authentic stories about the Holy Rosary." (SR 2; cf. 17, 33).
It is not surprising that Montfort seemed to accept without difficulty anecdotal stories of the sort that critical contemporary historians would never accept. He was a man of his times. It is evident from what he says that he discerned clearly the difference between divine faith, human faith, and "pious faith." We know that he saw the difficulty in being neither "too credulous nor too critical" (SR 33). This keeps us from caricaturing him as a person with an insatiable desire for the unusual.
6. Praying with faith
Speaking of the Creed that was recited on the crucifix of the Rosary, Montfort highlighted the need for faith as the "root, foundation and beginning of all Christian virtues" (SR 34). "Since faith is the only key which opens all the mysteries of Jesus and Mary for us, we must begin the Rosary by saying the Creed very devoutly, and the stronger our faith the more merit our Rosary will have. . . . One must not be looking for sentimental devotion and spiritual consolation in the recitation of the Rosary, nor should one give it up because the mind is flooded with countless involuntary distractions nor because one experiences a strange distaste in the soul. . . . Neither feelings, nor consolations, nor sighs, nor transports, nor the continual attention of the imagination are needed to say the Rosary well. Faith and good intentions are quite enough" (SR 35).
7. "My Hail Mary . . . my touchstone"
When speaking of the prayers of the Rosarythe Our Father and the Hail MaryMontfort followed the second decade of The Mystical Rose Tree step by step. He repeated word for word what seemed truly useful, skipped several paragraphs or even whole chapters that seemed very complicated, and added his own personal comments here and there. We will examine closely what he says about the Hail Mary, highlighting his original contributions.
Montfort repeated everything that referred to the Incarnation, the Mother of God, and the glory of the Holy Trinity, and he added this conviction: "The Angelic Salutation is a most concise summary of all that Catholic theology teaches about the Blessed Virgin" (SR 44).
At the beginning of the subsequent chapter of The Mystical Rose Tree Montfort found these words, attributed to Mary by Alain de la Roche: "It is a probable and imminent sign of eternal damnation to have an aversion for the Rosary, to be lukewarm and negligent in the recitation of the Angelic Salutation which has saved the world; and on the contrary, it is a great sign of predestination to be devoted to it" (The Mystical Rose Tree II, 10). Montfort felt challenged; he affirmed and completed the thought using Alains Latin quote, and added his personal comments: "Heretics, all of whom are children of the devil . . . have a horror of the Hail Mary. . . . Among Catholics, those who bear the mark of Gods reprobation, think but little of the Rosary. . . . Even if I did not believe what was revealed to Blessed Alain, even so my own experience would be enough to convince me of this terrible but consoling truth . . . that a devotion which appears to be so insignificant can be the infallible sign of eternal salvation, and its absence can be a sign of Gods eternal displeasure.
The Hail Mary, the Rosary, is the prayer and the infallible touchstone by which I can tell those who are led by the Spirit of God from those who are deceived by the devil. The Hail Mary is a blessed dew that falls from heaven upon the souls of the predestined, giving them a marvelous spiritual fecundity. . . . The Hail Mary is a sharp and flaming blade which, joined to the Word of God, gives the preacher the strength to pierce, move, and convert the most hardened hearts." (SR 5051)34 After these very personal asides, Montfort takes up the text of The Mystical Rose Tree from where he left off: "This divine salutation." He pauses once again to include two other statements of Alain de la Roche cited by John of Carthegena, which he had copied a long time previously in his notebook: "The court of heaven rejoices and earth is lost in wonderment whenever I say Hail, Mary" (SR 55).
Finally he excerpted exactly the beautiful paraphrase of the Angelic Salutation that followed in The Mystical Rose Tree: "Are you in the miserable state of sin?" Evidently, Montfort loved to cite this text which concurred admirably with his own personal devotion, and with his pastoral zeal.35
To transmit his love for the Hail Mary to Christians, Montfort composed a hymn with twenty-six stanzas: "The Triumph of the Hail Mary," with its well-known chorus: "Through the Hail Mary / Sin will be no more. Through the Hail Mary / Jesus we adore" (H 89).
8. Meditation on the mysteries
"Those who pray the Rosary say it better if they say the Hail Marys while meditating on the life, passion, and glory of Jesus Christ. Meditation is the soul of this prayer. The Rosary without meditating on the sacred mysteries of our salvation would almost be a body without a soul, excellent matter, but without the form which is the meditation, and which distinguishes it from other devotions" (SR 61).
Montfort has taken these two statements from The Mystical Rose Tree (IV, I), the first from Blessed Alains tradition. Pope Paul VI, (in MC 47) repeats the same idea: "Without contemplation, the Rosary is a body without a soul." We are now at the heart of the Rosary.
The numbering of the fifteen mysteries (SR 6264) is identical to that in The Mystical Rose Tree with two slight differences: the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple comes before the Purification of the Blessed Virgin; and the crucifixion of Jesus is completed by his death on Calvary. While summarizing, Montfort made his own the teaching of Father Antonin Thomas on the meditated Rosary, in the fourth, fifth, and sixth decades of The Rose Tree. The titles that Montfort added at the beginning of the twenty-second, twenty-third, and twenty-fourth roses highlight what seemed most important to him: "The meditation of the mysteries conforms us to Jesus; the Rosary is a memorial of the life and death of Jesus; the meditation of the mysteries is a great means of perfection."
Montfort adds a personal remark: "A Christian who does not meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary is very ungrateful to Our Lord and shows how little he cares for all that our divine Savior has suffered to save the world" (SR 70).
9. "The easiest of all prayers" (SR 76)
There was lively debate in the spiritual centers of Montforts time concerning the importance of meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary. Montfort alludes to this debate when he mentions the "false Illuminists and Quietists of our times." He is certainly referring to the notion of Quietism, revived in France in 1685 by the publication of A Short and Easy Way to Pray by Madame Guyon. Saint Sulpice considered as suspect anything related to "Illuminism," and Father Tronson was at Bossuets side in 16941695, at the Seminary of Issy, to question Madame Guyon about her doctrine. In 1698, Bossuet published his rigorous treatise On Quietism.36
These were precisely the years when Montfort was a student for the priesthood. Torn between his spiritual fervor and his Sulpician formation, he was certainly knowledgeable about the essence of the debate: should one consider as opposites "prayer of the mind" and "prayer of the heart," meditation and union with God, the practice of virtue and infused prayer?
The Mystical Rose Tree (V, 9) answers the questions that Montfort pondered: "There are three types of prayer: meditation, which is a form of reasoning within oneself . . . ; contemplation, which is the union of a soul with God . . . ; and the prayer of the heart. . . . It is this last type of prayer that one engages in ordinarily while meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, and considering lovingly and gratefully Jesus Christ in the stages of his hidden lifehis suffering life and his glorious life to encourage oneself in the practice of virtue and the avoidance of sin. Prayer of the heart is the balance between meditation and contemplation, it shares the advantages of both, and is the end toward which they tend, which is the love of and transformation into Jesus Christ."
But Montfort knows very well that this debate will do nothing for his "dear member of the Rosary Confraternity" (SR 78). So he gives free rein to his heart and to his pen: "Never will anyone be able to understand the marvelous riches of sanctification which are contained in the mysteries of the Holy Rosary. . . . Nor is there anything in the world more moving than the wonderful story of the life, death and glory of Our Savior, unfolding before our eyes in the fifteen mysteries. How could there be any prayer more wonderful and sublime than the Lords Prayer and the angels Ave? . . . For learned men and women, these mysteries are the source of the most profound doctrine, while simple men and women find in them a means of instruction well within their reach. We need to learn this easy form of meditation before progressing to the more sublime heights of contemplation. . . . It is dangerous, not to say fatal, to give up saying the Rosary under pretext of seeking a more perfect union with God. . . . Believe me, dear member of the Rosary Confraternity, if you genuinely wish to arrive at a high degree of prayer in all honesty and without falling into the illusions of the devil so common with those who practice mental prayer, say the whole Rosary every day, or at least five decades of it . . . on the other hand, if while saying the Rosary, God in his infinite mercy draws you to himself as forcibly as he did some of the saints, let yourself be drawn to him, let God work and pray in you and let him say your Rosary in his own way" (SR 7577).
For Montfort, the Rosary was more than an easy way of prayer available to everyone: it was a spiritually sure way to the highest forms of union with God. "The Rosary, recited while meditating the mysteries, brings about marvelous results: it gradually brings us a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ; it purifies our souls from sin; it gives us victory over all our enemies; it makes the practice of virtue easy; it enflames us with the love of Jesus Christ; it enriches us with graces and merits"(SR 81). Knowledge and love, practice of the virtues and grace; the Rosary is a complete prayer. And Montfort concluded, "It must not be imagined that the Rosary is only for women, and for simple and unlearned people; it is also for men, and for the greatest men" (SR 95).
10. "From my own experience" (SR 113)
The fourth decade of SR is somewhat deceiving: there Montfort copies entire pages from The Mystical Rose Tree on "the marvels that God has performed through the Rosary," and these marvels are of almost no interest to us today. But at the end Montfort abruptly adds: "I, who write this, have learned from my own experience that the Rosary has the power to convert even the most hardened hearts. . . . When I have returned to Parishes where I have preached missions, I have seen tremendous differences between them. In the parishes where the people had given up the Rosary, they had generally returned to their sinful ways, whereas in places where the Rosary is said faithfully, I found the people were persevering in the grace of God and advancing in virtue day by day. . . . Dear reader, if you practice and preach this devotion, you will learn more by your own experience than from any spiritual book" (SR 113114). Montfort was not a theoretician but a spiritual master, and a missionary who knew how to judge the tree of the Rosary by its fruits.
11. A blessed way of praying the Rosary
With Montfort, we shall now look at the eighth decade of The Mystical Rose Tree or "the guidelines for reciting the Rosary devoutly and fruitfully." These include the states of grace, attention, humility, and universal charity. Here we have a practical method of reciting the Rosary while meditating on the mysteries of our Redemption in order to imitate the virtues of Jesus and Mary and to plead for our neighbors needs. Montfort also tells us how to pray the Rosary in two choirs. Finally a series of fifteen meditations is suggested.
The fifth decade is by far the most personal, starting with this beautiful prelude: "It is not so much the length of a prayer as the fervor with which it is said which pleases God and touches his heart. A single Hail Mary said properly is worth more than a hundred and fifty said poorly . . . . Let us consider how we should pray if we want to please God and become more holy"(SR 116117).
a. State of grace. (cf. The Rose Tree VIII, 1).
This is a delicate issue, and a pastoral one. One could cite the words of Cardinal Hugues: "One must be as pure as an angel to approach the Blessed Virgin and say the Angelic Salutation" (SR 118).
Between the rigidity of the Jansenists and the moral laxity of the Quietists, Montfort suggested in The Mystical Rose Tree an excellent alternative: "To say the Holy Rosary well, one must be in the state of grace or at least be fully determined to give up sin" (SR 117). This allowed him to add this comment: "We earnestly advise everyone to say the Rosary: the virtuous, that they may persevere and grow in the grace of God; sinners, that they may rise from their sins" (SR 118).
b. Sufficient attention. (The Rose Tree VIII, 2).
This is another problem inevitably encountered by anyone who truly tries to pray. "For God listens to the pleas of the heart rather than to the voice. It would be gravely irreverent to pray with voluntary distractions and this would make saying the Rosary useless and even sinful" (SR 119). Here again, Montfort, like a good teacher, highlights that he is speaking about voluntary distractions. "Of course, you cannot say the Rosary without having a few involuntary distractions . . . but you can say it without voluntary distractions, and you must try to lessen involuntary distractions and control your imagination . . . above all, do not fail to offer each decade in honor of one of the mysteries, and try to form a picture in your mind of Jesus and Mary in connection with that mystery" (SR 120).
c. Invoking the Holy Spirit.
"After you have prayed the Holy Spirit for the grace to say your Rosary well, recall for a moment that you are in the presence of God" (SR 126). The Mystical Rose Tree does not mention the Holy Spirit, but Montfort insists that we do so, and at the beginning of his first method he writes: "Veni, Sancte Spiritus."
d. Practical advice.
From his own experience Montfort knew what would improve prayer the most: "Whenever you say the Rosary, be sure to ask for some special grace or virtue, or strength to overcome some sin. . . . Control your tendency to hurry and pause at times while saying the Our Father and the Hail Mary. . . . Whenever possible, the Rosary should be said kneeling, with hands joined, clasping the Rosary. . . . But it can be said while walking or even working . . . If you cannot find the time to say five decades continuously, say a decade here and a decade there; you will in this way be able, in spite of your work and other demands on your time, to complete the whole Rosary before going to bed"(SR 12630).
e. The Rosary said in common.
"Of all the ways of saying the Holy Rosary, the most glorious to God, the most salutary for our souls, and the most terrible to the devil is that of saying or chanting the Rosary publicly in two choirs. God is very pleased when people pray together. . . . If you live near your parish church or a chapel, go there at least every evening, with the approval of the pastor, together with all who want to participate and say the Rosary in two choirs; do the same at home or in a neighbors house if a church or chapel is not available" (SR 13134).37 Today many people who pray the "family Rosary" find these words very encouraging.
12. Final advice
Like all good preachers, Montfort concludes with a powerful expression: "Say the Rosary often with faith, humility, confidence and perseverance" (SR 136). Then he develops each of these aspects with the help of the Gospel on which he had often meditated.
Montfort insisted, "Never omit the least part of your Rosary, even if you experience boredom, distaste for prayer and discouragement . . . like a brave follower of Jesus and Mary, say the Our Fathers and Hail Marys without seeing, feeling or tasting, concentrating as well as you can on the mysteries" (SR 143).
Having arrived at the end of his treatise on the Rosary, Montfort says freely, "To arm yourselves against attacks . . . from those who are considered respectable and even from devout people who have no use for the Rosary, I am going to tell you simply some of what they say every day. . . . What is this babbler of the Rosary saying? He is lazy! All he does is finger his beads, it would be much better for him to work, rather than amuse himself with such foolishness! He thinks that all you have to do is say your Rosary and good luck will drop from heaven . . . how many saints have never said it? . . . The Rosary is fine for little old ladies who cant read . . . Forget about exterior devotions; true devotion is in the heart, etc. . . . Finally, dear brothers and sisters, the daily Rosary has so many enemies that I consider the grace of persevering in it until death as one of the greatest favors God can give us" (SR 148 50).
13. A set of instructions: the 150 motives
Montforts LS does not contain a single sermon on the Rosary. The third mission sermon on Palm Sunday, probably in the evening, speaks of the Rosary.38 But, under the title "150 Motives for saying the Holy Rosary" (cf. MR 32-37), we find an outline in Rosary format with a reflection for each Our Father and Hail Mary, but without any allusion to the customary mysteries. It seems to be a type of memory aid that Montfort devised spontaneously for speaking to people in parishes. Several passages are especially worth noting.
(V.) "The Hail Mary is a divine compliment which wins the Virgin Marys heart. . . . It is the prayer of Catholics and of souls who are destined for heaven"
(VI.) "The Rosary is the divine summary of the mysteries of Jesus and Mary . . . . After Holy Mass, saying the Rosary is the best thanksgiving one can make, because it is both a memento and a re-enactment of what Jesus did and suffered for us."39
(XV.) "Of the different ways to say the Rosary . . . say only the Our Father and Hail Mary with the intention of the mystery . . . add a few words pertinent to each mystery . . . make a small offering at each decade . . . genuflect at each Hail Mary," etc.
The outline in "150 Motives" . . . gives us a precise idea of what Montfort preached about the Rosary to the people.40
IV. MONTFORTS METHODS OF RECITING THE ROSARY
The strength of the Rosary lies in its uniting the body, the mind, and the heart. It consists of a sequence of specific prayers known by everyone; it suggests fifteen specific themes to meditate on, which encompass the core of the mystery of Christ; finally, it puts one in contact with Mary, our Spiritual Mother.
Like all his great predecessorsDominic the Carthusian, Alain de la Roche, Sprenger, Castellano, and even Father Antonin ThomasMontfort suggested different "methods" to say the Rosary well, that is, to meditate on the joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries of Jesus and Mary (cf. SR 154).41
1. The method of offering of the decades
This method consists in saying or listening to simple formulas before each prayer to be recited. (cf. MR 1-5, 7-13)
a. Introductory prayers.
Besides the "general intention of the Rosary," one may develop an instruction on the Trinitarian structure of Christian prayer in union with Mary and all the saints (cf. MR 1).
b. The mysteries of the Rosary.
The fifteen formulas have an identical format: "We offer you O Lord Jesus, this first decade in honor of the mystery of your Incarnation," "this second decade in honor of the Visitation of your Holy Mother to her cousin Saint Elizabeth." Let us take note of some variations. The decade of the Nativity is offered to the Child Jesus, and the decade of Pentecost to the Holy Spirit. The fourteenth decade is offered to Jesus, but in honor of the mysteries of the Immaculate Conception and of Marys Assumption. Montforts method is simple: "Above all, do not fail to offer each decade in honor of one of the mysteries, and try to form a picture in your mind of Jesus and Mary in connection with that mystery" 120).
c. The grace of the mysteries.
During the great discussions of the seventeenth century on the "ways of prayer," the Illuminists and the Quietists were accused of being insufficiently concerned with the practice of the virtues, with striving to lead a moral life. That is why The Mystical Rose Tree insists on the imitation of the virtues of Jesus and Mary, as Montfort also did: "The chief concern of the Christian should be to try to be perfect . . . the Christian must always have before his eyes the life and virtues of Jesus Christ" (SR 65). That is why he said, "Always be sure to ask, by this mystery and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, for one of the virtues that is most evident in that particular mystery or one of which you are in special need" (SR 126). This request is expressed in the offering of each mystery: "We ask you by this mystery and through the intercession of your Holy Mother, profound humility." It is also recalled after the decade has been recited: "May the grace of the mystery of the Incarnation descend into our hearts and make them truly humble" (MR 2).
Here we find once again an explicit application of what the French School, following Bérulle, said of the states of Jesus (the profound sentiments which motivated Christ in his mysteries, and which have permanent value). If his acts are completed, his states last forever; and they should penetrate us in such a way as to transform us gradually into his image. This communion with the states of Jesus should allow us to say with Saint Paul, "it is no longer I who live, it is Christ who lives in me" (Ga 2:20). It is Marys mission to form us into Jesus Christ, and to form Jesus Christ in us. She is there to help us interiorize this grace of the mysteries, upon which we meditate in the Rosary.
2. The method of adding phrases
After the method of "Offering Each Decade", Montfort suggests a "shorter method of celebrating the life, death and glory of Jesus and Mary, and of decreasing distractions. To do this, a word or two is added to each Hail Mary of the decade reminding us of the mystery we are celebrating. The words should follow the name of Jesus in the middle of the Hail Mary" (MR 6). Then Montfort suggests a list of fifteen "phrases" corresponding to each mystery. The first decade then becomes "Hail Mary . . . and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus becoming man. Holy Mary . . ." The following decades of Hail Marys includes "Jesus sanctifying" . . . Then, "Jesus born in poverty . . . Jesus sacrificed . . . Jesus holy of holies . . . Jesus in his agony," to "Jesus raising you up,. . . Jesus crowning you." This venerable method of phrases, older than the Rosary itself42 is very useful to unite the heart to the voice, the mind to the word. It integrates vocal prayer with the meditation of the mysteries, and simultaneously highlights the fact that these are Jesus mysteries that we meditate with Mary. It also encourages creativity because there are no limits on the choice of the phrases.43
3. The Rosary said with a reflection before each Our Father and Hail Mary
In Montforts LS, under the title "Summary of the life, death, passion and glory of Jesus and Mary in the Holy Rosary" (MR 1631) there is a plan for saying a short reflection before each prayer of the Rosary; "Credo: 1. Faith in the presence of God, 2. Faith in the Gospel, 3. Faith in and obedience to the Pope as vicar of Jesus Christ. Pater: unity of one, living and true God, 1. Ave: to honor the eternal Father. . ." For each of the one hundred fifty Hail Marys of the decades a different focus is suggested, which allows us to expand on the theme of each mystery. For example, the mystery of the Finding of Jesus in the temple spans the whole life of Jesus up to Holy Thursday: 1. Ave: To honor his hidden, laborious and obedient life at Nazareth. 2. Ave: His preaching and his being found in the temple among the doctors. 3. Ave: His fasting and his temptations in the desert. 4. Ave: His baptism by St. John the Baptist. 5. Ave: His wonderful preaching. 6. Ave: His astounding miracles. . ." (MR 21).
The mystery of Pentecost may give rise to a vast catechesis on the Holy Spirit. As for the mystery of the Assumption, it celebrates the whole life of Mary, including her eternal predestination, her immaculate conception, her fullness of grace, her nativity, etc.(MR 30).
The meditated Rosary is solid catechesis, organized around the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary.44
4. A Rosary in hymns:
a. "The new Rosary or crown of the Blessed Virgin" (H 90).
The stanzas of this hymn correspond to a Rosary with five decades. The first decade is dedicated to the joyful mysteries of Maryfrom her "pure conception" and birth, to the finding of Jesus in the temple. The second decade is dedicated to the sorrowful and glorious mysteries, up to the "descent of your Spouse" (Pentecost). The third decade honors Marys life, death, Assumption, and Crowning in heaven. What follows is a Marian litany: Virgin and Mother, Full of grace and beauty, Sovereign of the universe, Treasurer of divine gifts, Mirror of the Divinity. . .etc. The end of each stanza is often a request, very similar to the "grace of the mystery."
The "New Rosary" is a beautiful spiritual poem, in which Montfort freely expresses his Marian piety, without the confining structure of the mysteries of the Rosary.
b. "A Hymn on the Rosary."
This hymn is found only in Fradets collection of Montforts cantiques.45 The first five stanzas are a brief instruction on the Rosary, a summary of the "150 motives." Then follows a stanza on the Creed and one each for the fifteen customary mysteries. The stanzas are very simple: "An Angel from Heaven came down/And greeted Mary;/ She conceived by the Holy Spirit/ Jesus, our Life". . .There is a petition after each mystery. Undoubtedly the Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Gloria were recited after each stanza.
Summary: We have seen at least four of Montforts methods of worthily reciting the Holy Rosary: making offerings, adding phrases, providing reflections for each Our Father and Hail Mary, and hymns. It seems that he did not use the method of including biblical verses for each Hail Mary, which is a practice that comes from the modern biblical renewal.
V. THE ROSARY IN MONTFORT SPIRITUALITY
After having examined what Montfort explicitly said about the Rosary, we shall now look at his writings to discover what might contribute to a Spirituality of the Rosary, and also to discover what influence the Rosary might have on ones spiritual life.
1. A devotion centered on Jesus Christ
The Rosary has been faulted with being a "Marian devotion" which risks obscuring somewhat the central and unique focus on Jesus Christ. This was certainly not true of Montfort.
Montforts faith and piety were resolutely centered on Jesus Christ, Incarnate Wisdom. For him, "If devotion to Mary distracted us from Jesus Christ, we would have to reject it as an illusion of the devil" (TD 62). On the contrary, according to Montfort, true devotion to Mary is "an easy, short, perfect and sure means of attaining union with Jesus Christ" (TD 152). "Mary is the surest, the easiest, the shortest and the holiest of all the means of possessing Jesus Christ" (LEW 212).
Montfort loved the Rosary because he found in it an efficacious means of meeting Jesus Christ, particularly by means of the "short phrases" attached to the name of Jesus.
2. Learning about Jesus through the mysteries of the Rosary
"Why is Jesus, the adorable, eternal and incarnate Wisdom loved so little if not because he is either too little known or not known at all" (LEW 8). Full know-ledge of God is not "esoteric knowledge," a human speculation on the unknowable mysteries and greatness of God. It is a discovery of the love of God through the mysteries of the life, death and glorification of Jesus, Incarnate Wisdom. The "summary of the divine life" of Jesus, from his Conception to his Ascension is very close to the mysteries of the Rosary (cf. LEW 109116). This is why Montfort insists that the Rosary be "recited while meditating on its mysteries," for in this way it "raises us unconsciously to the perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ" (SR 81).
In particular, the structure of the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries helps us to efficaciously focus our meditation on what is essential in the mystery of Jesus Christ: Incarnation, Cross and Glory.
3. Special devotion to the mystery of the Incarnation
Those who are truly devoted to Mary should esteem highly devotion to the great mystery of the Incarnation (TD 243) because "this mystery is a summary of all his mysteries" (TD 248).
We have already said that for Montfort, the first mystery of the Rosary is almost always designated "the Incarnation," not the Annunciation. One could even say that one of the principal bases of the TD (and thus with even stronger logic one of the principal bases of the perfect practice of the true devotion), is precisely "the Incarnation, where we find Jesus only in Mary . . . Jesus living and reigning in Mary" (TD 246).
In the Rosary, this special devotion to the Incarnation is expressed not only in the first mystery or in the joyful mysteries (e.g., the Visitation or the Nativity), but throughout the whole Rosary by the recitation of the Hail Mary: Jesus, the fruit of your womb . . . Mother of God. In this way, all the mysteries are associated with the Incarnation.46
4. "Long live Jesus, long live his Cross"
Surely, one of the reasons for Montforts devotion to the Rosary is his strong experience of the mystery of the Cross, meditated in the sorrowful mysteries. To pray the Rosary in the spirit of Montfort, one must allow oneself to be filled with Montforts love for the Cross, and to follow Jesus: "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must renounce himself, take up his cross and follow me" (FC 13).
In the Rosary with Mary we already experience the Cross in the poverty of the Crib (Nativity) in the prophecy of the "piercing sword"(FC 31) and in the three days of anguish spent searching for Jesus. With Mary we accompany Jesus as he carries his Cross to Calvary and in his last prayer on the Cross. But it is also with Mary that we enter into the joy of Easter and of the Ascension, which draws us to Heaven. The Rosary can make us gradually become "Friends of the Cross."
5. The place of the Rosary in Montforts Spiritual Way
Every "true devotion" leads one to live ever more intensely with Mary. Life in Mary attains exceptional intensity through what Montfort calls "the perfect practice of the true devotion." This demands that intention "to perform all ones actions through Mary, with Mary, in Mary and for Mary in order to perform them more perfectly through Jesus Christ, with Jesus Christ, in Jesus and for Jesus" (TD 157). It is evident that the Rosary assists us in meditating on the conduct and sentiments of Mary as found in the Gospel, "especially: her lively faith, by which she believed the angels word without the least hesitation, and believed faithfully and constantly even to the foot of the Cross; her deep humility . . . , her truly divine purity" (TD 260). The mystery of the Visitation implores "that Marys spirit be in each of us to glorify the Lord" (TD 258).
The Rosary leads us to "look upon Mary as a perfect model of every virtue and perfection fashioned by the Holy Spirit for us to imitate, as far as our limited capacity allows"(TD 260). The Rosary prayed regularly helps us to remain in the beautiful interior of Mary with delight (TD 264). The recitation of the fifth glorious mystery, the "Coronation of Mary" encourages us not to remain idle, and to undertake and carry out great things for our illustrious queen (TD 265).
The Rosary in having us repeat untiringly, "Holy Mary, pray for us," teaches us to have recourse to Mary with great confidence, as "our Mediatrix of intercession" (TD 86).
Thus, one sees that there is a close link between the spiritual way of Montfort and devotion to the Holy Rosary: both are rooted in contemplation of the mystery of the Incarnation. Meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary is a privileged way of living day by day with Mary in order to live more perfectly with Jesus.
VI. Conclusion: Montfort and The Rosary Today
For a century, the work of historians, biblical scholars, and theologians, as well as the doctrinal teachings of Vatican II (cf. LG. chapter 8) have elicited a profound renewal of Marian devotion, and thus a renewal of interest in the Rosary.47 But Montforts spiritual experience and his undying devotion to the Rosary have never aged. Montfort encourages us to deepen our meditation on the Rosary, in light of the Incarnation, the Cross, and our desire for Heaven. On the practical level, he helps us to rediscover the method of "phrases" attached to the name of Jesus.48 Our times demand Spiritual Masters; Montfort is one who shows us the way to union with Jesus Christ, the only Savior.49
J. C. Laurenceau
Notes: (1) A. Duval, Rosaire (Rosary), in DSAM, Vol. 13, Beauchesne, Paris, 1988, 93880. This is a synthesis of the history of the rosary from the beginnings to the present day, with a complete bibliography. (2) L. Le Crom, Un apôtre marial: saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (A Marian Apostle: Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort), Librairie mariale, Pontchâteau, 1942. (3) Ibid., 10. (4) Ibid., 77. (5) Ibid., 165. (6) Ibid., 17778. (7) Ibid., 13738. (8) Ibid. 154; cf. LPM 2. (9)Ibid. 189190. (10) Ibid., 268. (11) Ibid., 200. (12) Ibid., 22932. (13) Ibid., 439; cf. 351. (14) Ibid., 371; OC 832. (15) Cf. A. Duval, Rosaire, 95255. (16) Le Crom, Un apôtre marial (A Marian Apostle), 245. (17) Ibid., 28485; cf. L 23. (18) Le Crom, Un apôtre marial, 258, 283; cf. 255. (19) Ibid, 286. (20) Ibid., 311. (21) Cf. Ibid., 306. (22) According to Le Crom, Father de Montforts seal showed "a religious on his knees with a rosary hanging from his cincture", ibid., 333. (23) L. Pérouas, Grignion de Montfort ou laventurier de lÉvangile (Grignion de Montfort a Gospel Adventurer), Ed. Ouvrières, Paris, 1990, 100101. Cf another intervention in Rennes, Le Crom, 339. (24) The Rosary is also mentioned in H 12:43; 15:33; 89:25; 90; 92:4,16,22; 93:5; 95:8; 115:13; 139:20; 147:4; 159:14. Additionally, in H 109 Montfort paraphrases the Our Father and the Hail Mary. (25) Other mentions of the rosary in TD are at 42, 229, 254. (26) Despite the indication of Our Father and Hail Mary, we regard this text as didactic. This sort of presentation of a teaching on the rosary, taking the form of fifteen decades, was common at the time. (27) Fr. Antonin-Thomas (Drugeon) was born in Rennes and took the habit of the Domnicans at Dinan Priory in Brittany on August 15, 1653. He died in 1701 at the age of seventy and was buried in the Chapter Room of the Priory at Dinan. Besides Rosier mystique, his known works are Les marques les plus sensibles de la tendresse de la T. S. Vierge envers lOrdre des Frères Prêcheurs (The Most Touching Marks of Tenderness shown by the Blessed Virgin to the Order of Friars Preachers) (1688) and a translation of Traité de la Vie Spirituelle by St. Vincent Ferrer. It is worth noting that Alain de la Roche also took the habit at Dinan Priory about 1445. Cf. J. Quétif et J. Echard, Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum, published by R. Coulon, Rome, 1909. (28) Le Rosier mystique de la T. S. Vierge Marie ou le T. Sacré Rosaire (inventé) par S. Dominique (The Mystical Rose Tree of the Blessed Virgin Mary or The Sacred Rosary of St. Dominic). . . went through two editions in Fr. Antonin-Thomass lifetime: one at Vennes (i.e. Vannes, where St. Vincent Ferrer died: cf. Preface) in 1686, and the other at Rennes in 1698. The two editions are in the Bibliothèque du Saulchoir, Paris. (29) Cf. Le Crom, Un apôtre marial, 311. (30) Jean de Carthagène (d. 1618), cf. DSAM, Vol. 8, 323. (31) Probably in B. Alanus de Rupe redivivus, de Psalterio seu Rosario Christi ac Mariae. . . by J. A. Coppenstein, o.p., Fribourg/Br 1619 or Cologne 1624. The latter warns us, "Materia Alani, forma mea." (32) Concerning Alain de la Roche (d. 1475), see A. Duval, Rosaire, Vol. 13, 94649; or La dévotion mariale dans lOrdre des Frères Prêcheurs (Marian Devotion in the Order of Friars Preachers), in Maria, Vol. 2. Beauchesne, Paris, 1952, 73982. (33) Cf. SR 1. (34) This passage of SR is almost identical to TD 24953. Other mentions of the Hail Mary in TD 8, 9, 95. (35) See also the paraphrase of the Hail Mary in two verses of H 109:3940. (36) See the dictionary Catholicisme (Catholicism) under "Guyon et Quiétisme" (Guyon and Quietism) and DSAM under "Guyon et Oraison" (Guyon and Prayer). (37) The stress on the fifteen decades of the Rosary prayed every day, "as all the confrères used to do," ties in with the preaching of Alain de la Roche, who asked his confrères to pray every day the Psalter of the Blessed Virgin, i.e., 150 Hail Marys. (38) Cf. OC 1745. (39) On the connection between the Rosary and the Eucharist, see also SR 88. (40) Also informative on the Rosary are the first five verses of Rosaire en cantique , ed. Fradet (S. 31). (41) The various methods proposed by Montfort are grouped together in GA, 23362, quoted in MR; except the Rosaire en cantique. (42) The "short clauses" of the Rosary had been forgotten until about 1950, except in German-speaking countries. The historical studies of Dom Gourdel, Klinkhammer, and Heinz take us further back than Dominic the Carthusian to the Cistercian nuns of the diocese of Trier, who, by about a.d. 1300 already said the Hail Mary with short clauses like, "Jesus adored by the Magi," "Jesus tempted by the devil," and "Jesus who washed his disciples feet." Cf. Duval, DSAM. Vol. 13, 94346. (43) The practice of short clauses, which was reintroduced in France in the years 19671968 (Esnard, Eyquem-Laurenceau) is mentioned favourably by Paul VI in Marialis Cultus, No. 46. It is a pity that the word "clausule" used in the original (Latin or Italian) has been left out of the French and English translations. (44) The first method indicates the "Glory be . . ." Cf. SR 59. (45) Le Rosaire en cantique is not included in the Oeuvres Complètes (1966) nor in God Alone (1987) because the work was not included in Montforts manuscript notebooks, but Fradet regards it as "undeniably authentic" (cf. Fradet, 777). (46) Paul VI is in perfect agreement with Montfort when, in Marialis Cultus No. 46, he writes, "As a Gospel prayer, centred on the mystery of the redemptive Incarnation, the Rosary is therefore a prayer with a clearly Christological orientation." (47) Among the recent works that have benefited from this renewal is R. Barile, Il Rosario, Salterio della Vergine, EDB, Bologna, 1990. After some courageous historical clarification, the author proposes a judicious revision of the fifteen mysteries, with short clauses. (48) In the Livre dOr, new edition, Librairie Mariale Nouvelle Cité, Paris, 1989, the Montfort Rosary of the Daughters of Wisdom, which combines offerings and short clauses, is followed by the refreshing proposal of a Rosary "in the spirit of Father de Montfort" with 150 short clauses to be added to the name of Jesus. (49) For more on the Rosary, cf. Brother Gabriel-Marie, Notre rosaire ou le Secret daller à Jésus par Marie (Our Rosary or the Secret Path to Jesus through Mary), St. Gabriel, St. Laurent-sur Sévre, 1958. Brothers of Saint Gabriel, Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre, 1958.
Taken from: Jesus Living in Mary: Handbook of the Spirituality of St. Louis de Montfort (Litchfield, CT: Montfort Publications, 1994).
Provided courtesy of the Montfort Fathers © All Rights Reserved.
Electronic Copyright © 1998 EWTN All Rights Reserved
Awesome! Thank you so much for making it a Caucus thread!
Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Catholic News Ping List.
....We might add that in the context of the Counter-Reformation, the Rosary appeared like a sign and a providential weapon against "heretics," very similar to how it had been used by Saint Dominic against the Cathars....
The above is not appropriate for a Catholic Caucus. Ecumenical thread, maybe, but not caucus material.
This is historical. It does not distract from the Catholic Caucus, in my opinion.
Are you a moderator? If not, please address your problem to the Moderator. Otherwise, this is a Catholic Caucus thread. If you are not Catholic, please leave the thread.
I first made this consecration on the feast of the Assumption a few years ago. I renew it every year. What a treasure!
Johnnette Benkovic, one of my favorite people, introduced this to us at a Women of Grace retreat.
“”I renew it every year””
I do also,at Adoration I repeat it sometimes as well
The words of consecration are:
O Eternal and incarnate Wisdom! O sweetest and most adorable Jesus! True God and true man, only Son of the Eternal Father, and of Mary, always virgin! I adore Thee profoundly in the bosom and splendors of Thy Father during eternity; and I adore Thee also in the virginal bosom of Mary, Thy most worthy Mother, in the time of Thine incarnation.
I give Thee thanks for that Thou hast annihilated Thyself, taking the form of a slave in order to rescue me from the cruel slavery of the devil. I praise and glorify Thee for that Thou hast been pleased to submit Thyself to Mary, Thy holy Mother, in all things, in order to make me Thy faithful slave through her. But, alas! Ungrateful and faithless as I have been, I have not kept the promises which I made so solemnly to Thee in my Baptism; I have not fulfilled my obligations; I do not deserve to be called Thy child, nor yet Thy slave; and as there is nothing in me which does not merit Thine anger and Thy repulse, I dare not come by myself before Thy most holy and august Majesty. It is on this account that I have recourse to the intercession of Thy most holy Mother, whom Thou hast given me for a mediatrix with Thee. It is through her that I hope to obtain of Thee contrition, the pardon of my sins, and the acquisition and preservation of wisdom.
Hail, then, O immaculate Mary, living tabernacle of the Divinity, where the Eternal Wisdom willed to be hidden and to be adored by angels and by men! Hail, O Queen of Heaven and earth, to whose empire everything is subject which is under God. Hail, O sure refuge of sinners, whose mercy fails no one. Hear the desires which I have of the Divine Wisdom; and for that end receive the vows and offerings which in my lowliness I present to thee.
I, N_____, a faithless sinner, renew and ratify today in thy hands the vows of my Baptism; I renounce forever Satan, his pomps and works; and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life, and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before. In the presence of all the heavenly court I choose thee this day for my Mother and Mistress. I deliver and consecrate to thee, as thy slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions, past, present and future; leaving to thee the entire and full right of disposing of me, and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to thy good pleasure, for the greater glory of God in time and in eternity.
Receive, O benignant Virgin, this little offering of my slavery, in honor of, and in union with, that subjection which the Eternal Wisdom deigned to have to thy maternity; in homage to the power which both of you have over this poor sinner, and in thanksgiving for the privileges with which the Holy Trinity has favored thee. I declare that I wish henceforth, as thy true slave, to seek thy honor and to obey thee in all things.
O admirable Mother, present me to thy dear Son as His eternal slave, so that as He has redeemed me by thee, by thee He may receive me! O Mother of mercy, grant me the grace to obtain the true Wisdom of God; and for that end receive me among those whom thou lovest and teachest, whom thou leadest, nourishest and protectest as thy children and thy slaves.
O faithful Virgin, make me in all things so perfect a disciple, imitator and slave of the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ thy Son, that I may attain, by thine intercession and by thine example, to the fullness of His age on earth and of His glory in Heaven. Amen.
Maybe you can help me with this! I love the St. Louis de Montfort consecration, and I pledge it with all my heart. The problem for me is, during the course of my daily, hectic life, I forget to live it out.
I also want to gain a deeper understanding of it. St. Louis is very deep and profound. Do you have any suggestions for incorporating this special sprituality?
"In 1699, he made a pilgrimage to Chartres with some students of the Seminary of Saint-Sulpice. When they spoke, they spoke only about Our Lady; when they prayed together, they recited the rosary, said their breviary and sang hymns from the Psalm Book of Saint Bonaventure." [emphasis; mine]I agree with him; there is nothing important to say that is more important than prayer. LOVED this thread a lot, Salvation. Thank you!
Thanks for the thread and the caucus.
The late Blessed Father John Hardon is helpful about this. He was a gifted Marian Catechist
Finally, consecration to Mary means confiding in Mary. Sharing with Mary ones thoughts and desires, and I should add ones fears.
Consecration to Mary means (let me tell the three of you) it means talking to Mary. Let me change the sentence. It means talking with Mary. You never talk to Maryhear itwithout her talking, shall I say, back to you.
Consecration to Mary means not only loving Mary, but telling her in the deepest sense in which these three monosyllables can be used; I love you! And in saying these words all that we are doing is what we are sure Jesus, many times, how many times, in plain simple Aramaic told his mother, I love you.
That is excellent - exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!
I didn’t know Fr. Hardon was Blessed now!! When did that happen?
Well... He is not been Sainted yet,but he does hold a special place in my heart and in my life. I hope he will be a canonized Saint soon
I wish you a Blessed Evening!
Y’all have absolutely no idea what a joyous blessing this thread is to me, a brand-new Catholic, and how all of you with your ideas and experiences about the Rosary lift me up. You are all great. Especially you, Salvation (big hug!)
(I can’t believe this is happening, it’s so wonderful.)
I will change the label to "ecumenical" to disallow antagonism.
From Philip Schaff's HISTORY of the CHRISTIAN CHURCH, volume 5, chapter 10:
In Southern France they were called Albigenses, from the town of Albi, one of the centres of their strength. From the territory in Eastern Europe, whence their theological tenets were drawn, they were known as Bulgari, Bugares, or Bugres.968 Other titles were given to them in France, such as Tessarants, Textores, from their strength among the weavers and industrial classes, or Publicani and Poplicani, a corruption of Paulicians.969From the article on Catharism at Wikipedia
It was the general belief of the age that the Cathari derived their doctrinal views from heretical sects of Eastern Europe and the Orient, such as the Paulicians and Bogomili. This was brought out in the testimony of members of the sect at their trials, and it has in its favor the official recognition which leaders from Eastern Europe, Bosnia, and Constantinople gave to the Western heretics. The Paulicians had existed since the fifth century in Asia Minor, and had pushed their way to Constantinople.970 The Bogomili, who were of later origin, had a position of some prominence in Constantinople in the early part of the twelfth century.971 It is also possible that seeds of Manichaean and Arian heresy were left in Italy and Southern France after these systems were supposed to be stamped out in those regions.
The Paulicians rejected the Old Testament and taught a strict dualism. The Bogomili held to the Sabellian Trinity, rejected the eucharist, and substituted for baptism with water a ritual of prayer and the imposition of hands. Marriage they pronounced an unclean relationship. The worship of images and the use of the cross were discarded.
Like many medieval movements, there were various schools of thought and practice amongst the Cathari; some were dualistic (believing in a God of Good and a God of Evil), others Gnostic, some closer to orthodoxy while abstaining from an acceptance of Roman Catholicism. The dualist theology was the most prominent, however, and was based upon the complete incompatibility of love and power. As matter was seen as a manifestation of power, it was also incompatible with love. They did not believe in one all-encompassing god, but in two, both equal and comparable in status. They held that the physical world was evil and created by Rex Mundi (translated from Latin as "king of the world"), who encompassed all that was corporeal, chaotic and powerful; the second god, the one whom they worshipped, was entirely disincarnate: a being or principle of pure spirit and completely unsullied by the taint of matter. He was the god of love, order and peace.See also the article Albigensian Crusade, at Wikipedia
According to some Cathars, the purpose of man's life on Earth was to transcend matter, perpetually renouncing anything connected with the principle of power and thereby attained union with the principle of love. According to others, man's purpose was to reclaim or redeem matter, spiritualising and transforming it.
This placed them at odds with the Catholic Church in regarding material creation, on behalf of which Jesus had died, as intrinsically evil and implying that God, whose word had created the world in the beginning, was a usurper. Furthermore, as the Cathars saw matter as intrinsically evil, they denied that Jesus could become incarnate and still be the son of God. Cathars vehemently repudiated the significance of the crucifixion and the cross. In fact, to the Cathars, Rome's opulent and luxurious Church seemed a palpable embodiment and manifestation on Earth of Rex Mundi's sovereignty.
JESUS LIVING IN MARY - HANDBOOK OF THE SPIRITUALITY OF ST. LOUIS DE MONTFORT
|Links to the articles in Jesus Living in Mary:|
Brothers of St. Gabriel
Company of Mary
Legion of Mary
Love of Wisdom
Path of Perfection
Secret of Mary
Slavery of Love
The dualism of the Albigenses was also the basis of their moral teaching. Man, they taught, is a living contradiction. Hence, the liberation of the soul from its captivity in the body is the true end of our being. To attain this, suicide is commendable; it was customary among them in the form of the endura (starvation). The extinction of bodily life on the largest scale consistent with human existence is also a perfect aim. As generation propagates the slavery of the soul to the body, perpetual chastity should be practiced. Matrimonial intercourse is unlawful; concubinage, being of a less permanent nature, is preferable to marriage. Abandonment of his wife by the husband, or vice versa, is desirable. Generation was abhorred by the Albigenses even in the animal kingdom. Consequently, abstention from all animal food, except fish, was enjoined. Their belief in metempsychosis, or the transmigration of souls, the result of their logical rejection of purgatory, furnishes another explanation for the same abstinence. To this practice they added long and rigorous fasts. The necessity of absolute fidelity to the sect was strongly inculcated. War and capital punishment were absolutely condemned.
(NOt something I would want to agree with.)
Ok - I thought you were saying that he has been beatified. He is wonderful, no doubt. I join in your wishes for his sainthood. :-)
One cannot say enough good things about the rosary!
This whole concept is very mysterious to me. I can’t see why reciting these words over and over should have such a powerful effect, but they do. Why? Why? Why should Our Lady respond so strongly to this, rather than to the words of spontaneous prayer? Clearly she does, but I don’t understand why. Do we know why or do we just accept it as fact?
I will say that when I join other members of my congregation in reciting the Rosary after weekday mass, I have never felt such a sense of reverence, awe, and plain spiritual gratitude.
if during the course of your “daily, hectic life”, you are doing the duty required of you in your particular state in life, you are doing exactly what the Lord and his mother would want you to do.
It’s called the “sacrament of the moment”.
It’s sufficient to begin our days with the intention to glorify God in all that we do—and then go about doing it.
Mother of the Word Incarnate, pray for us.
That is good advice. One of the priests at my parish said something very similar to me once. He said to just try to make everything that we do, even the smallest thing (like folding laundry) an offering to the Lord. He said you have to work at it, and then eventually it comes more naturally.
“The most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live, has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary, to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families...that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.”
I have that quote printed out and hanging where I can see it when I am working. And as Padre Pio said “the Rosary is THE WEAPON”.
He was/is a good priest. :-)
Exactly what my priest says too. Make everything a prayer — do your best!
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