28 April 2021

S Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort

Chaps who possess a copy of the 1962 Missal inform me that it contains de Montfort in its Appendix pro aliquibus locis; and the SSPX ORDO (the Francophone one) lists him for April 28 "en certes lieux". Chaps who use the Novus Ordo tell me that he has now entered (optionally) the Novus Ordo  Calendar! We aged chaps do try to keep-up-to-date, and depend so much upon you Bright Young Things to keep us informed. In return I can tell you that he is in the Ordinariate Calendar. How could he not be?

I have long had a high regard for this Breton priest; hence he is gummed into my (1955) Altar Missal, available always when the rubrics allow a Votive. This regard was shared by S John Paul II, who took his motto, totus tuus, from the Saint's writings. 

I first met S Louis Marie in the 1950s when I was a little boy, in the Catholic Church in Clacton-on-Sea, where, most suitably, a fine statue, very movimento as the Saint strides forward, stands right beside the culturally very Breton shrine of our Lady of Light. There's not much else that's Breton about Clacton! I wonder if the Confraternity of our Lady of Light still survives in that parish; if the Rosary is still said daily at that Shrine. (Regular readers will recall my series on the history of this superb devotion, involving the eccentic Cornish convert baronet the Reverend Sir Harry Trelawny, which I published in January 2020. Stuff you just couldn't make up! I beg readers who are new to this blog to go back to it.)

De Montfort comes from a Baroque devotional milieu which has been an object of criticism. Particularly out of favour has been the wholehearted style of his devotion to our Lady, which involves a consecration of servitus [slavery] to Mary. In fact, it wasn't too popular in his own time: there were unwholesome people around called "Jansenists" who sniffed at such things. 

Promise me that you will run a mile if you ever meet one.

Grounds for snooty disdain are obvious: granted that the word doulos [slave] occurs frequently in Scripture, surely, so the condescending will remark, it is Jesus whose doulos, slave, S Paul so often proclaims himself to be. So is the douleia of Mary just another example of popery putting the Mother of God into the place reserved for her divine Son?

But no reader will have forgotten the biblical verb hypotassesthai: to submit oneself, to order, to arrange, to subject oneself hypo, beneath, another, be that 'other' a master, a spouse, a ruler, or whatever. New Testament religion is a million miles from the individualistic Protestantism which knows only a relationship between the one and the One. S Paul in fact calls upon us to submit ourselves in this way one to another: not just to Jesus (although all must be en Christoi). And since Mary alone is unflawed by Original Sin, she is the one to whom a Christian can be hypotassesthai without that relationship being flawed (as all other hypotaxeis except that to her Divine Son can run the risk of being) by unchristlike traits in the other.

S Louis Marie is far from being the first Christian to have practised and promoted this Slavery of Mary. In his True Devotion to Mary he lists many predecessors in both East and West; to whom I would add my own favourite Bishop of Exeter, John de Grandisson. He concluded a life of servitus to Mary by having himself described on his lead coffin as Matris Misericordiae miserrimus servus. So clearly this devotion is authentic Anglican Patrimony! Since the terms kyrios(a) and doulos(e) are correlative, the terms domina and kuria [Lady], common in Catholic and Orthodox Christianity (not to mention the more archaic Greek despoina and the English phrase our Lady in the Book of Common Prayer), imply a Montfortian devotional attitude.

I think you should make the Montfortian consecration today.


Paul in Melbourne, Australia said...

Thank you, Father.

Yesterday, I was pondering why the servus Mariae devotion, which was once widespread, had died out. I had noticed that there was little except for the vintage medals inscribed with the words servus mariae nunquam peribit. As fellow readers will know, it can be traced back to Saint Germanus of Constantinople. It seems that the word "servus" has become a stumbling block in modern times. A recent servus Mariae devotion has been to consecrate yourself to Mary as her slave and to perform the following duties: recite the litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary morning and night and read the Little Office. I regard as a rather sweet form of servitude.

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

If one may be pedantic (re your last line) - the Consecration should (of course not necessarily to a truly well-formed soul) be made following a 33-day preparation, for which S Louis-Marie gives the outline, and other writers (in print) have expanded.

Ideally the Consecration is made on a Marian feast (though today would of course also be a very valid choice). Thus one begins 33 days previously.

But! one echoes our learned author - you CAN commit today to do so at the next available opportunity, and should do so! If you START today, you will finish on the Visitation, 31st May.

frjustin said...

In the English translation of the updated version of the "Officium Parvum", there is a fine prayer by one Bartolome de los Rios of the 17th century, which deserves to be quoted in full:

"Virgin of virgins,
I choose you today
as my sovereign, my queen, my empress,
and I declare myself, as I am in fact,
your servant and your slave.
I invoke your royal name of Mary,
that is, sovereign Lady,
and beg of you with all my heart
to admit me into the privileged circle
of your family
as one of your servants,
to do your will
as a humble slave and a loving child.

As a sign of your acceptance
engrave on my heart
with the fire of your love,
not the brand of an unwilling slave,
but those two gracious words of the angel:
Ave Maria.

As long as I draw breath
may your burning love ensure
that I bear these words
in my heart and in my memory,
and that until my dying breath
my will may be always on fire
with my great desire to serve you,
my sovereign and my queen,
glorious in your majesty.

Though I am in every way unworthy
of so honorable a title,
I resolve sincerely to be your slave,
to serve you wholeheartedly,
to protect your name,
and that of your Son,
against every insult,
as far as it may rest with me,
and never to allow anyone in my charge
to offend your Son in any way.

By your tender love for your Son,
by the glories you have received
from the Most Holy Trinity,
do not reject me from your service
but as my sovereign and my queen
preside over all my actions,
command whatever you will,
direct all my work,
remedy all its defects.

During my whole life
rule over me
as your servant and slave.
At the hour of my death,
as I hope for
at the end of my loving servitude
among the privileged members of your family,
receive my soul
and escort it
into the presence of God."

In some Benedictine monasteries, it is read as a Second Nocturn reading on August 22, the Memorial of the Queenship of Mary.

Anonymous said...

Maelmuire, meaning "servant of Mary", was a given name found in Ireland, Scotland and Northern England (cf. the place name Melmerby, Cumbria) in the middle ages, and since. I think it's now usually regarded as a girl's name, but there were bishops and noble lords who were not ashamed to bear it: including Mael Muire the Mormaer of Atholl, St Margaret of Scotland's brother-in-law.