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The notebook that he kept during his priestly formation will be our principle source along with the comments of his friend Jean-Baptiste Blain. There are no records about the influence of the Eucharist on his childhood years. When telling us about the period the young Louis spent in Paris, Blain mentions Holy Communion on three occasions. He states that during the time he was in the community run by Fr. Although his whole life was a preparation for this holy action, he used to prepare himself for this with particular devotion the day before.
His thanksgiving lasted an hour, and in order to make it in a quiet atmosphere and enjoy the presence of his Beloved, he would retire to the hidden recesses in the Church. These notes give us a glimpse of the teaching on the Eucharist that he received in Paris. Those which have been published are concerned with the Eucharist in general, the Mass, Holy Communion, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament;31 the unpublished notes are concerned with Mary and the Eucharist.
The notes he made in connection with Fr.
Liturgy: Beauty and Renewal
Never miss a single general Communion. Quotations from Scripture and the Church Fathers are scattered throughout these notes. In N, pp. This relationship had been central in the thoughts and actions of those in the seminary. In the Lady chapel of the church of St. Sulpice, Jean-Baptiste Blain attended the first Mass said by his friend. Blain also tells us about the puzzling encounter at Dinan between Montfort and his Dominican brother, whom he asked for permission to say Mass three days in succession.
The theme of the Eucharistic mystery is not often addressed by the biographers of Montfort, and yet we have to realize that it was central to the experience of the holy missionary. The greatness of the mysteries and the holiness of the celebrant struck the congregation forcibly. He is the one we need to guide us along the way to salvation. People flocked to hear him say Mass and contended for the honor of serving it. Finally, he handled the Blessed Sacrament so devotedly and fervently and with such dignity that the faith of those who watched him was increased. His faith inspired him with respect for Jesus Christ, God and man, whose body was present on the altar, and wherever he was, his faith made him keenly aware of the presence of God, whose immensity fills the universe.
Hence the recollected and devout countenance that he showed everywhere. Missionaries hesitated, therefore, to make daily Mass an ordinary exercise during the mission. As a rule, they relied on the local clergy for the daily life of the parish and focused their efforts on providing religious instruction and hearing general confessions. Although as we will see, he does preach on the Mass aside from the Communion, this was considered, above all, as the domain of priests.
Montfort, who was people-oriented, was laying more emphasis on Holy Communion and veneration of the Blessed Sacrament than on the Sacrifice of the Mass, which, as people saw it then, was the business of priests.
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The mystery instituted by Christ is the continuation in time of the love that prompted Eternal Wisdom to become man and die on the Cross LEW 70; H So he devised a marvelous way of dying and living at the same time, and of abiding with man until the end of time. With characteristic sensitiveness, Montfort asserts that Jesus instituted the Eucharist before he died in order not to be separated from his mother and to be able to continue his heart-to-heart relationship with her after the Ascension H Montfort stresses not only the benefits of the Sacraments for us; he also views them, most especially the Eucharist and Penance, as a means invented by Jesus to fulfill the longings of his heart to love us.
The seven hymns, one for each day of the week, with the Saturday canticle dealing with the Eucharist and Mary,48 were written in the form of a dialogue between Jesus and the faithful soul. H Since Christ abides in plenitude in the Blessed Sacrament cf. H , Montfort urged the faithful to have devotion to the Eucharist.
H ; ; One important ingredient of the visit to the Blessed Sacrament is reparation cf. H ; , 7; ; ; It is interesting to note the connection established between devotion to the Eucharist and the Sacred Heart cf. H , 8; H mentions the Sacred Heart in every verse; see also H During his missions, he stressed the importance of the act of reparation to the Blessed Sacrament cf.
H ; LS and also the importance of the procession for those who go to general communion in a body. These ever-valid reasons make Holy Communion supremely worthy of our longing; Hymn fosters the desire of the faithful to be one with Christ, identifying them with stray sheep, with starving, thirsty, blind, or sick people, and with the centurion in the Gospel. In the plans of two sermons that have come down to us LS , we note that during the mission, Montfort spoke of fervent, lukewarm, and unworthy Communion LS , ; this indicates that he was concerned about the preparation of the faithful for Communion, and he did his best to help them derive all possible benefit from it.
In RM 56 he makes a point of telling the missionaries how they should go about preparing the faithful adequately to receive Holy Communion, which is meant to set the seal on their life in union with Christ: Holy Communion is to be preceded by the renewal of the baptismal promises and by confession.
He stresses the importance of preparing children adequately for their first Communion during the mission by means of a good confession RM Montfort promoted fervent as well as frequent Communion. Although he laid stress on receiving Communion worthily, he encouraged people to receive it frequently. In those days devout souls were advised to receive Communion once a month;53 it is not surprising, therefore, if Montfort urged all Christians to make serious commitments, as Communion calls for conversion.
It has been pointed out above that Montfort laid more emphasis on Communion than on the Sacrifice of the Mass, as was done by those giving parish missions in those days. LS ; but the theme of Mass recurs several times in the Hymns. Montfort never resorted to allegories to explain the Mass, and it may be added that the French school had already gone beyond that stage.
The French school had a deep insight into the role of Mary at the Incarnation and, therefore, in all the mysteries of Christ. It is not surprising that Montfort experienced a further deepening of the mysteries through the Blessed Virgin. Since Mary gave the Redeemer his flesh and blood, it follows that she cannot but be involved in the mysteries that are a unique memorial of the same flesh and blood, that is, the Eucharist.
In light of these theological principles, Montfort elaborated his teaching, which is full of grateful admiration for the Father, that the Father through the Holy Spirit has entrusted His Son to Mary. With great sensitivity and in great depth, Montfort draws attention to the presence and action of Mary in the Eucharist without detriment to the excellence of the redeeming work of Christ.
They grow strong on the Bread of Life; they are made joyful with the wine that brings forth virgins.
In the conviction that sacramental Communion necessarily involves the presence of Mary, Montfort concludes TD with an exhortation to receive Holy Communion in union with Mary. She receives in us and for us the Word of God made Bread. In the last few pages of TD , Montfort tells us why and how we should unite ourselves with Mary before, during, and after Holy Communion; his aim is to demonstrate clearly that in us and through us Holy Communion binds Christ and Mary together again.
In other words, the union between Christ and Mary, which took place at a definite time and place, is repeated in a sacramental way when the faithful united with Mary receive Holy Communion. In practice, the relationship reflects the mystery of the oblation and communion that united in one heart Christ, Mary, and John at the time of the supreme sacrifice, which redeemed humanity cf.
Jn When receiving Holy Communion they could follow the method given later on [cf. TD ]. Finally, a theme dear to the heart of the missionary: the Eucharistic life of Mary, which he mentions in the hymn to the Blessed Sacrament on Saturdays H He spent his missionary life trying to achieve it, and it is the gist of the message he left to his followers.
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The folly of Wisdom and the preferential option for the weakest are rooted in the likeness to the crucified Christ-Victor conferred on us in Baptism. His constant concern was to give a paschal dynamic to the life of the faithful, urging them to be totally open to grace so as to be freed from the slavery of sin and start a new life of loving service to God.
This was one of his characteristics; but in order to grasp it properly, as well as the spirituality it generated, we must look at it as part of the Christian initiation. His perception of the relationship between Baptism and the Eucharist is confirmed by the fact that during the mission, Communion was to be given only to those Christians who had publicly and solemnly renewed their profession of faith and their baptismal promises RM The Consecration to Jesus through Mary, seen as the perfect renewal of the vows and promises of holy Baptism TD , should be regarded as part of Christian initiation and therefore be linked to the Eucharist.
According to a widespread postconciliar practice, the Consecration is renewed after the liturgy of the Word as a response to it and in anticipation of the liturgy of the Offerings. It might be good however, if serious consideration were given to the value of making the Consecration after Holy Communion, as Montfort suggests.
The Second Vatican Council has helped us to take a comprehensive view of the Eucharist by restoring unity to the Holy Mass and presenting it as a celebration shared by the whole Church. The Eucharist and the Word of God can therefore no longer be kept apart when we consider Holy Mass or the adoration of the Eucharist outside Mass. The liturgy of the Eucharist actualizes what the Word has announced and brings about: Communion between God and the faithful in, with, and through Christ, in the Holy Spirit.
We are not saying that Montfort highlights the connection between the proclamation of the Word and the Eucharist as much as present-day theology does. We cannot deny, however, that his teaching on the Eucharist is based on Scripture, as examination of his hymns on the Blessed Sacrament has shown. It cannot be denied, either, that he understood and appreciated the celebrative side of the Eucharist.
The gospel of the Annunciation, which is the bedrock of Montfort spirituality, is most significant in this respect: the mystery of the Word taking flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the working of the Holy Spirit evokes the mystery of the Word becoming Bread in the Church in order to be with her a single mystical living being. In the light of these principles, Montfort spirituality, rich with the missionary experience of Montfort, which he handed on especially to the Company of Mary, is bound to acknowledge that the Eucharist is both the foundation of the mission and its ultimate goal; it is indeed in the Eucharist that the fruits of the mission mature when, sitting at the banquet of the Lamb, we enjoy indestructible Communion with him.
This reminds one of Montfort quoting Wisdom, in which Wisdom is described as running about the streets and inviting people to the banquet of life. The French school and the seventeenth-century movements have contributed to clarifying the Eucharist-Church relationship, but we cannot expect the theology and the pastoral directives of that century to go as deeply and as extensively as the relationship requires. This should lead to the discovery of the community dimension, without losing sight of the real intimate relationship.
Eucharistic spirituality should strike a balance between the personal and community dimensions. If we apply to Mass what Montfort teaches about fervent Communion, which requires preparation and should influence the way we live, we come to the conclusion that the time before and after Mass should receive special attention. As St. On this rich though simple theological vision, the French school grafted its teaching and stressed the link between the Incarnation and the Eucharist, rather than the link between Easter and the Eucharist.
Montfort adopted this teaching and renewed it, adding the touch of his own charism. TD ends with instructions on how to practice this devotion at Holy Communion see above , so that we can say that the reception of Holy Communion with Mary or living the Mass through Mary turns out to be a key aspect of Montfort spirituality. She is there again at the sacramental moment that repeats the unique event today. Hence the link between Mary, the Eucharist, and the Church. The deep Montfort insight opens up spiritual vistas based on the liturgy of the Church.
This can be done especially on the occasion of Marian feasts and solemnities, during Advent and the Christmas period, and when on pilgrimage to Marian shrines. As the Eucharistic celebration is the memorial of all the mysteries of Christ, we cannot ignore the admirable Mother of the Savior, as she is inevitably involved in all of them. Notes: 1 Cf.
On the subject of immolation and oblation in the explanation of Mass, see S. Montgomery, Macmillan, New York On the spirituality of the Oratory, see also A. About the spirituality of the Mass and the pastoral thinking promoted by Olier, cf. My Morning Prayer was conceived out of the desire to find With simple down-to-earth language Rohlheiser illustrates the importance of prayer and offers insights on how to pray, using examples from daily life, scripture and Saints and spiritual writers, preachers and poets, prayers and hymns - since the early church, Christians have celebrated the grace, the virtues, and the loving heart of A very accurate translation from the Hebrew and Greek biblical texts to the real language used by ordinary people.
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