From ancient times, Celtic warriors have struck terror in the hearts of their enemies. Nobody ever wanted to mess with them.
Jean Grignon looks like he descended from these wild warriors for nobody wanted to mess with him either. He was known to have the most fiery temper in all of Brittany, one of the 6 Celtic nations.
His son Louis who was born at Montfort on 31st January 1673 was no better, having a temper as extreme as his dad’s. Louis however, channelled his fiery passion, not into threats and violence but into labouring for the greater glory of God… except of course for the time when he knocked out a couple of drunks who were troubling him during his preaching.
As I reflected on the life of Louis, I realised that my life in many ways resembled his.
I too had a pretty bad temper probably inherited from my dad who, though not the most feared in Goa, was pretty fiery himself.
Like Louis who made time whenever he could for adoration, I too have developed a great love for the Blessed Sacrament and my day feels incomplete without a visit to meet Jesus.
Louis entered the Jesuit seminary in Rennes at the age of 12. He was ordained priest at the age of twenty-seven, and for some time fulfilled the duties of chaplain in a hospital. In 1705, when he was thirty-two, he found his true vocation, and thereafter devoted himself to preaching to the people.
For seventeen years, he preached the Gospel in countless towns and villages. As an orator he was highly gifted, his language being simple but replete with fire and divine love.
Over the last few years I realise how the Lord has been leading me from place to place to preach his word. He has not only taken me to plenty of areas in Goa but also to Bangalore, Ranchi and Pune. The Lord has helped me grow as an orator and in recent times, I have had the opportunity to address people outside this community too.
It is well known that the tree that bears the most fruit gets stoned the maximum. Louis was no exception. His great work found him plenty of detractors who tried everything from poisoning him to attempting to assassinate him.
While recuperating from the effects of the poisoning, he wrote the masterpiece of Marian piety, “True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin,” (EWTN) which as he rightly prophesied, was found only 200 years after his death.
Louis had so many moments of humiliation, frustration and despair. He wanted to do many things but yet he accepted Gods will in all things.
I take a look at my own life and think of the numerous times where I want things done my way only. The inability to see things through the eyes of God and to surrender to Him in all things is my constant struggle and an area in which I have been constantly working.
Recently, I was at the receiving end of a lot of humiliation and rebellion from the people who were closest to me. It was during those days of great pain that I was able to experience inordinate consolation through meditating on the life of Louis.
Often when things don’t go our way it is easy to despair.
A year before his death, Fr. Louis de Montfort founded two congregations — the Sisters of Wisdom, who were to devote themselves to hospital work and the instruction of poor girls, and the Company of Mary, composed of missionaries. He had long cherished these projects but circumstances had hindered their execution, and humanly speaking, the work appeared to have failed at his death, since these congregations numbered respectively only four sisters and two priests with a few brothers.
The Lord’s ways and plans are however not comparable to our plans. At the beginning of the twentieth century the Sisters of Wisdom numbered five thousand, and were spread throughout every country; they possessed forty-four houses, and gave instruction to 60,000 children. The company of Mary is currently spread over more than 30 countries worldwide.
Like Fr. Louis, I believe that to be in union with mother Mary is the secret to obtaining all graces in this life. As he would write,
“The greatest saints, those richest in grace and virtue will be the most assiduous in praying to the most Blessed Virgin, looking up to her as the perfect model to imitate and as a powerful helper to assist them.”
Father Louis died at Saint Laurent sur Sevre on 28 April, 1716. He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1888 and was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1947.
The devotion promoted by St Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort found no greater admirer than St. John Paul the Great who wrote,
“At first, it had seemed to me that I should distance myself a bit from the Marian devotion of my childhood in order to focus more on Christ. Thanks to St Louis de Montfort, I came to understand that true devotion to the Mother of God is actually Christocentric, indeed, it is very profoundly rooted in the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, and the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption”
Holding Mary’s hand by praying the rosary daily has drastically reduced sin in my life. As Father Ramiro would say: Either sin or the rosary can exist in your life. Not both. If somehow, both do exist, it means that either your sin isn’t serious enough or your rosary isn’t serious enough.
May Mama Mary walk with us every step of our life and may St. Louis de Montfort intercede for us daily.