I.	Prayer in the Seventeenth Century: 
	1.	"The great century of souls"; 
	2.	The seminary of Saint-Sulpice; 
	3.	A God Incarnate. 
II.	Montfort, Man of Prayer: 
	1.	Montfort as he prayed; 
	2.	The beggar of prayers; 
	3.	The teacher: 
		a.	Prayer of faith, 
		b.	Prayer of pure faith. 
III.	The Missionary’s Prayer: 
	1.	The Rosary; 
	2.	Other forms of prayer; 
	3.	Consecration to Jesus through Mary. 
IV.	The Mind and the Heart: 
	1.	Doctrinal prayer; 
	2.	Affective prayer. 
V.	Prayer Today: 
	1.	Prayer beyond formula; 
	2.	Montfort, witness of prayer.

Prayer is both simple and complex: simple, for it is conversation with 
the Beloved; complex, for it stems from the very nature of our 
religious experience, and hinges on the psychological evolution of that 
experience, from childhood to adult life.1 Prayer is also complex in 
respect to its practice: unbelievers see no reason to address a being 
they believe does not exist; believers of all levels, from the 
non-practicing to the fervent, with whom prayer is either sporadic or 
habitual, are driven by utilitarianism or by grateful filial love. No 
matter how simple or complex, we cannot sidestep the subject, because it 
bears on everything in the universe: all creatures must give worship to 
their Creator, from those that were granted intelligence ("Therefore 
mortals fear him; he does not regard any who are wise in their own 
conceit" [Jb 37:24]) to the inanimate creatures of the cosmos ("We know 
that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now" [Rm 
8:22]). We must examine how St. Louis Marie de Montfort, at one moment 
in the Church’s history, enhanced the sense of God and of the worship 
due Him for Christians then and now, through his life of prayer and his 


1. "The great century of souls"
This phrase of Daniel-Rops well expresses how Christian life, on the 
spiritual level, was thoroughly renewed in the seventeenth century, 
just as profane life, on the cultural level, had been similarly renewed 
in the preceding century with the Renaissance. A galaxy of saints and 
other great spiritual figures like Francis de Sales, Vincent de Paul, 
John Eudes, Bérulle, Charles de Condren, Olier, and, among the laity, 
Gaston de Renty, had a deep impact on both society and the Church. 
Implementation of the Tridentine decrees created a better educated and 
more saintly clergy. Bishops such as Cospeau,2 bishop of Nantes and 
later of Lisieux, friend of Bérulle and John Eudes, with whom he 
carried on a correspondence, were highly effective instruments of 
Catholic reform.
2. The Seminary of Saint-Sulpice
Jean Jacques Olier established the Society of Saint Sulpice in order to 
train priests in piety, learning, and the apostolate. He adopted 
Bérullian doctrine and made it the basis of his plans. "The paramount 
aim of this Institute," he wrote, "is to live supremely for God, in 
Christ Jesus Our Lord, so that the interior dispositions of the Son 
reach into the depths of our heart, and each will be able to say what 
Saint Paul said of himself: ‘I live, but it is no longer myself, it is 
Christ who lives in me.’" Bérullian doctrine professes the virtue of 
religion to the utmost extent. Before the grandeur of God, the soul is 
struck dumb with wonder. Such grandeur gives rise to a deep feeling of 
adoration that simultaneously releases an overflowing joy, expressed in 
the "O" of admiration in the presence of the mystery: "O Jesus living 
in Mary." We see this often in Bérulle and his disciples. It has been 
called an "elevation," the purest form of prayer, whereby one honors 
and glorifies God while neither requiring nor desiring anything in 
return: gratuitous prayer of pure contemplation. For Olier, "living 
supremely for God" is an echo of this.
3. A God Incarnate 
The God of Bérulle is not simply the Supreme and Transcendent being. He 
is God Incarnate in Jesus Christ, from whom arises the permanent states 
or attitudes that we must reproduce. These attitudes are interior, 
which is why they are called "states," and they are "mysteries" because 
of their depth (to distinguish them from "acts" which are exterior and 
transient). Again we discern the meaning of Olier’s words when he spoke 
of "the interior dispositions of the Son" that must "reach into the 
depths of our heart." Insofar as it begins with God and leads to Jesus 
Christ, Bérullian doctrine has as its focal point the Incarnation and 
the related mystery of the "only Son of Mary, Jesus Christ our 
sovereign Lord." Mary is therefore not merely a simple accessory of 
devotion, but an integral and essential part of the mystery of the Word 
Incarnate: without her God’s plan—because of His free choice—would be 
impossible, in the present order of salvation (and there is no other).


Montfort’s prayer and extraordinary contemplative life coexisted with 
intense apostolic activity. Through his incredible interior gifts he 
appears as a practitioner of prayer, a beggar of prayers, and a teacher 
of prayer.
1. Montfort as he prayed
In the spiritual environment described above, Montfort’s life of 
which had been pronounced in his childhood and adolescence, matured. 
From his youth he had showed an inclination toward prayer. His younger 
sister Guyonne-Jeanne (Louise), with whom he was very close, learned 
her piety from him. "He would secretly draw her away . . . with her 
young friends, to lead her in prayer to God."3 During his journeys to 
and from school, he never failed to stop in a chapel or church in Holy 
Savior, his parish; according to his uncle, Father Alain Robert, he 
sometimes stayed there an hour. Similarly, one of his biographers notes 
that "whenever he was on his way to class, he never failed to enter the 
church of the Carmelites to pray, and he often spent a considerable 
time before the image of the Virgin."4 He loved to kneel down before 
the Madonnas he saw on the corners of houses. As a member of the 
Sodality of Our Lady, he was faithful in reciting the office of the 
Blessed Virgin; he already prayed the Rosary daily and dedicated time 
to mental prayer. His friend Blain relates that upon his arrival in 
Chartres for a pilgrimage, "Montfort went in haste to bow down before 
the image of the holy Virgin . . . . The next day . . . he remained in 
prayer for six or eight hours at a time, from morning until noon, on 
his knees, unmoving and as if in ecstasy. After the noon meal . . . he 
began prayer again, in the same posture and with equal devotion, that 
was as lengthy as his morning prayer, lasting until the evening hour or 
until he was told that he must leave."5 Blain also recounts that, as a 
seminarian, Montfort watched over the dead every other night in order 
to earn some money, and that during this time he spent "four hours in 
prayer, two hours in spiritual reading, and two hours in sleep."6 At 
his first Mass, celebrated eight days after his ordination, he appeared 
"like an angel at the altar," according to Jean-Baptiste Blain. A 
prolonged thanksgiving followed each of his Masses. Traveling long 
distances as a pilgrim, he was always conscious of the presence of God, 
and he therefore went without a hat. In one of his letters he speaks of 
his "secret attraction for a hidden life" (L 5), and seems to refer to 
this desire in another letter: "During this time I made a short retreat 
in a little room where I enclosed myself, in the middle of a large town 
where I knew nobody" (L 6). However, he did leave his room to provide 
help to the poor of the general hospital. "I went into their little 
church to pray and the four hours I spent there waiting for the evening 
mealtime seemed all too short," but he acknowledged that the poor who 
saw him kneeling there thought it quite a long time (L 6). On many 
occasions he withdrew into solitude, at the cave of Mervent and at the 
retreat of Saint-Lazare. On his return from Rome, he spent fifteen days 
at Mont Saint-Michel.
2. The Beggar of Prayers
The communion of saints is the basis for their intercession and the 
intercession of God’s friends here below: "The fervent prayer of the 
just is very powerful."7 Montfort often reminded his correspondents of 
this. To his sister Guyonne-Jeanne (who was about to become Sister 
Catherine of Saint Bernard) he wrote, "Continue asking pardon of God 
and of Jesus, the eternal High Priest, for the offenses I have 
committed against his divine majesty in the Blessed Sacrament" (L 12). 
A subsequent letter to his sister indicates that these offenses were 
"half-hearted communions" (L 19). "Thank God in my name for the crosses 
he has given me and which he keeps within limits to suit my weakness" 
(L 14). "Keep on praying, even increase your prayers for me; ask for . 
. . the weightiest cross, abjection and humiliations" (L 15). He asked 
that others join in praying for him: "So, my dear daughter, I ask you 
to enlist some good souls among your friends into a campaign of prayer 
especially from now until Pentecost, and to pray together for an hour 
on Mondays from one to two o’clock. I will be praying at the same time. 
Write and send me their names"  (L 15). The object of this prayer is 
often Wisdom: "Pray that I may receive divine Wisdom and get others to 
pray" (L 17).
3. The Teacher
Montfort taught what he practiced. He noted that prayer is second only 
to desire among the means of obtaining Wisdom. "The greater the gift of 
God, the more effort is required to obtain it. Much prayer and great 
effort, therefore, will be required to obtain the gift of Wisdom, which 
is the greatest of all God’s gifts. . . . Prayer is the usual channel 
by which God conveys his gifts, especially his Wisdom" (LEW 184). His 
Hymn 103 is a contemplative sigh, directed at Wisdom, in twenty-nine 
stanzas; all but one of the stanzas has the same structure, twice 
repeating the same line, in an insistent litany: "Come to me": "Son of 
God, supreme beauty / Come to me. / Without you I am anathema / Come to 
me. / With you I will be a king, / But a king that bows before your 
law" (H 103:2). "O Word, equal to Father, / Come to me. / Light of all 
lights, / Come to me. / With you I will see clearly, / And I will crush 
hell itself" (H 103:3). "Jesus, Wisdom uncreated, / Come to me. / 
Jesus, Wisdom incarnate, / Come to me. / With you, what could be 
happier? / But what hell exists without you!" (H 103:4). "A thousand 
times I desire you / Come to me. / Without you I suffer martyrdom, / 
Come to me. / With you I will have all that is good / Without fear of 
want" (H 103:12).
a. Prayer of faith. 
For Montfort, all rests on faith, "a strong and lively faith, not 
wavering, because he who wavers in his faith must not expect to receive 
any gift from the Lord" (LEW 185). In this case he is referring to the 
gift of Wisdom, but it clearly applies to everything else as well. Thus 
he himself prayed, "Come, O Wisdom, come! Hear this, a beggar’s plea / 
By Mary’s womb, by every gush / of Blood her Jesus shed for me, / 
Confound us not, nor bid us hush" (H 124:1). Notice the "us" of the 
conclusion, wherein Jesus, Mary, and the suppliant are united. 
Montfort’s faith is founded on the weight of the prayer of Jesus and 
Mary, united with his own. This faith is emphatic and persevering, 
unafraid to importune and confident of eventually being fulfilled. 
Witness the insistence with which he pleaded for his Company of Mary. 
"When I see the needs of the Church I cannot help pleading continually 
for a small and poor band of good priests" (L 5). His ardent PM has 
this same impassioned tone. "We ought not to act, as so many do, when 
praying to God for some grace. After they have prayed for a long time, 
perhaps for years, and God has not granted their request, they become 
discouraged and give up praying, thinking that God does not want to 
listen to them. They deprive themselves of the benefit of their prayers 
and offend God, who loves to give and who always answers, in some way 
or another, prayers that are well said" (LEW 188). As an illustration 
of this he cites the example of the man who arrives at his friend’s 
house late at night and aggressively requests some bread (cf. Lk 11:5–
8). "This man knocked and repeated his knockings and entreaties four or 
five times with increased force and insistence . . . . At length the 
friend became so annoyed by the persistence of the man that he got out 
of bed, opened the door and gave him all he asked for" (LEW 189). 
Montfort prays with similar insistence in his hymn on "the desire for 
Wisdom": "Why do you prolong my painful martyrdom? / For you I languish 
night and day" (H 124:2). "My Beloved, Open!. I knock at your door. / . 
. . . If you do not want me to belong to you. / At least allow me in 
that case / The privilege of seeking you / Though finding not your 
hiding-place" (H 124:3–4). But faith carries all before it—especially 
Mary’s faith: "Worthy Mother of God, Virgin all-faithful, pure, / Lend 
me your faith; lift me on wings / Of faith, that I may mount secure / 
To Wisdom’s height, and have all things. / By Mary’s faith then come, O 
Wisdom heaven-sent! / You leapt to her as light to flame; / She gave 
you your embodiment, / In her Incarnate you became" (H 124:7-8).
b. Prayer of pure faith. 
Montfort’s demands are those of a true spiritual Master, equal to St. 
John of the Cross. Such pure faith does not mean "counting on 
consolations, visions or special revelations. Although such things may 
be good and true, as they have been in some saints, it is always 
dangerous to rely on them. For the more our faith is dependent on these 
extraordinary graces and feelings, the less pure and meritorious it is" 
(LEW 186). Therefore, "the wise man does not ask to see extraordinary 
things such as saints have seen, nor to experience sensible sweetness 
in his prayers" (LEW 187). This describes Montfort’s own prayer to 
Mary: "May the light of your faith dispel the darkness of my mind" (SM 
68). "As for my portion here on earth, I wish only to have a share in 
yours, that is, to have simple faith without seeing or tasting" (SM 
69). He speaks on several occasions of prayer and faith. They are so 
closely interwoven that it is impossible to put one before the other; 
they are bound like body and soul. A prayer without faith would be like 
a corpse without a soul. The faith that animates prayer can itself be 
the object of prayer. In his hymn on faith, Montfort writes, "You 
should often make this prayer: / Increase my faith, dear Lord, / Enable 
it to spread / From my head to my heart" (H 6:53). "Give me a faith 
that is simple and pure / Which accepts all without seeing or feeling / 
. . . . Pray for me, faithful Virgin. / I ask only that you increase my 
faith" (H 6:54–55).


Jesus expressed a fundamental law of the economy of grace when he said, 
"Apart from me you can do nothing" (Jn 15:5). This law is based on our 
complete and essential dependence on God; however, this dependence does 
not mean that we must become robots. There are always two actors: God 
and His creature. Mankind can do nothing without God, but God does not 
carry out His plan of salvation unless we freely open ourselves to His 
mercies. Montfort himself was imbued with this feeling. He was 
convinced that he was "unable to do anything conducive to [his] 
salvation" (TD 79). Thus he resorted to prayer. This conviction also 
permeated his apostolic work. His preaching could not be effective 
unless God touched the hearts of his listeners and disposed them to 
turn toward Him. The missionary requires the grace that will render his 
ministry fruitful. "I will give you words and a wisdom that none of 
your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict" (Lk 21:15). 
This is why Montfort so often prayed and asked others to pray that he 
would be granted this Wisdom. "How few preachers there are today who 
possess this most wonderful gift of eloquence and who can say with St. 
Paul [1 Co 2:7], ‘We preach the wisdom of God’" (LEW 97). There are 
several forms of prayer that Montfort values especially highly and that 
he often recommends.
1. The Rosary
For Montfort, the Rosary has a dual function. It is both worship and 
catechesis, summarizing the mysteries of Christianity. He loved to 
describe it as the Gospel in tableau form. The very title of his work 
The Secret of the Holy Rosary for Renewal and Salvation (written before 
his Rule for the Missionary Priests for the Company of Mary and only 
published two hundred years after his death in 1911) indicates his 
opinion of its effect: "renewal and salvation." Its origin is further 
proof: "It was given to the Church by St. Dominic, who had received it 
from the Blessed Virgin as a means of converting the Albigensians and 
other sinners" (SR 11). That is why it is the preferred weapon of her 
missionaries, "true servants of the Blessed Virgin who, like a 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 12).
At the beginning of his work on the admirable secret of the Holy 
Rosary, Montfort addresses his readers as "dear ministers of the most 
high God, you my fellow priests who preach the truth of God," so that 
they will keep in their hearts and in their mouths the truths that are 
revealed in the Rosary. "Please keep them in your heart so that you 
yourselves may make a practice of the Rosary and taste its fruits. 
Please have them always on your lips too, so that you will always 
preach the Rosary and thus convert others by teaching them the 
excellence of this holy devotion" (SR 1).
The priest or director who is given its secret "will say the Rosary 
each day and will encourage others to say it. God and his blessed 
Mother will pour abundant grace into his soul, so that he may become 
God’s instrument for his glory; and his word, though simple, will do 
more good in one month than that of other preachers in several years." 
Montfort concludes: "It will not be enough for us to preach this 
devotion to others; we must practice it ourselves" (SR 1-2). Montfort 
repeats his counsel to priests and directors of souls, but in stronger 
terms, in the RM, as a guide for their apostolate, the purpose of which 
is "to renew the spirit of Christianity among the faithful" (RM 56). We 
can see Montfort’s practical, methodical temperament in this passage 
from RM: "During the whole of the mission, they must do all they can by 
the morning readings and by the conferences and sermons, to establish 
the great devotion of the daily Rosary." To ensure that this can be 
done, "they will enroll . . . as many as possible in the Rosary 
confraternity." The Rosary is also included in the catechism classes 
given during the parish mission: "They will explain the prayers and 
mysteries of the Rosary either by instructions or by pictures and 
statues which they have for this purpose." Montfort would not have 
hesitated to utilize modern video technology. He ends by saying, "They 
will give the people the example by having the Rosary recited aloud 
every day of the mission, saying all fifteen decades in French [i.e., 
not in Latin] with the offering of the mysteries" (RM 57).
2. Other Forms of Prayer
Although the Rosary looms large in Montfort’s perspective, he does not 
neglect other forms of prayer. Among external practices of true 
devotion to the holy Virgin, he also mentions the chaplet of five 
decades, which comprises one-third of the Rosary. With certain groups 
he refers only to the chaplet; the Rosary appears to be optional.
He acknowledges other practices that were common in his day: "The 
Rosary of six or seven decades in honor of the years our Lady is 
believed to have spent on earth," or the fourteen Our Fathers and Hail 
Marys in honor of her fourteen joys; a certain amount of genuflecting 
or bowing each morning while saying "Hail Mary, Virgin most faithful" 
sixty or one hundred times in order to obtain her faithfulness, or, in 
the evenings, "Hail Mary, Mother of Mercy," to be pardoned for the 
day’s sins (TD 116).
He also mentions the Little Crown of the Blessed Virgin, three Our 
Fathers and twelve Hail Marys in honor of her twelve stars or 
privileges. He suggests still other liturgical prayers, depending on 
the liturgical season, such as the Alma, the Ave Regina coelorum, the 
Salve Regina, and the Regina Coeli, as well as the Ave Maris Stella and 
the Magnificat (TD 116).
3. Consecration to Jesus through Mary
Montfort composed several prayers, including those to Wisdom (LEW 1), a 
prayer for Wisdom [O God of our fathers . . .] (MR 11), and to Jesus 
and to Mary (SM 66-69), in addition to composing his methods for saying 
the Rosary and his inspired writing  "vocation prayer," PM. However, in 
Montfort’s missionary perspective, consecration ranks above all else.
This consecration is made to Jesus Christ: "I give myself entirely to 
Jesus Christ" (CG), through the hands of Mary: "I, an unfaithful 
sinner, renew and ratify today through you my baptismal promises" (LEW 
225). Mary thus takes into her charge the consecrated soul and ensures 
its continuing growth, which can only be accomplished in her. Montfort 
prays to the Virgin that he become "in everything so committed a 
disciple, imitator, and slave of Jesus, your Son, incarnate Wisdom" and 
thereby be given "the fullness which Jesus possessed on earth, and . . 
. the fullness of his glory in heaven" (LEW 227).


Created in the image of God, man has both intelligence and a will, and 
they are mutually dependent. We cannot love what we do not know, but 
once we are brought to this knowledge, intelligence, by action of the 
will, will attempt to gain even greater knowledge of the object that it 
loves. Montfort is thinking of this law of nature when he says of 
devotion to Mary that "it comes from within the mind and the heart, . . 
. the high regard we have for her greatness, and the love we bear her" 
(TD 106). This explains why his prayer is so rich in its doctrinal 
content, which aids intelligence, and so full of tender confidence, "the 
confidence that a child has for its loving Mother" (TD 107).
1. Doctrinal Prayer 
Montfort prayer is highly doctrinal, profoundly theological, and Bérullian
in approach, and yet it is comprehensible to all. He articulates the truths 
of Christian dogma in formulas that are intricate but clear. For example, 
in his methods for reciting the Rosary, Montfort speaks of the "unity of 
one, living and true God" and of the Trinity: of the "eternal Word, equal 
to his Father and who with him produces the Holy Spirit by their mutual 
love," of the "Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son by the 
way of love" (MR 16). He then mentions "the creation of the soul and the 
formation of the body of Jesus in the womb of Mary by the Holy Spirit" 
(MR 17) and "the coming forth of the eternal Word from the womb of Mary 
without breaking the seal of her Virginity" (MR 19). Montfort recalls 
the life of Mary: "the eternal predestination of Mary to be the 
masterpiece of God’s hands," her "Immaculate Conception" and her 
"fullness of grace and reason in the very womb of St. Anne"; "her 
fullness of pre-eminent virtue"; "her divine Motherhood and her 
relationship with the three persons of the most Holy Trinity"; "her 
resurrection and triumphant Assumption" (MR 30). For Montfort, Mary is 
"queen of heaven and earth . . . . treasurer and dispenser of the graces 
of God, the merits of Jesus Christ and the gifts of the Holy Spirit . . . 
mediatrix and advocate of men . . . nurturing Mother of sinners" (MR 31).
In a Bérullian approach, Montfort honors God with each Our Father in the 
Rosary for His Immensity, His most adorable Majesty, His Wisdom, His 
Holiness, His unspeakable Beauty, His unlimited Omnipotence, His 
Providence, His unattainable Glory (MR 17-31).
Bérulle’s great work, the Discourse on the State and Grandeurs of 
Jesus, is full of the words "greatness" and "ineffable." We find them 
similarly in Montfort. He writes, "There is not and there never will 
be, either in God’s creation or in his mind, a creature in whom he is 
so honored as in the most Blessed Virgin Mary" (SM 19). Mary derives 
her greatness from the greatness of God within her. And everything that 
Bérulle most admires in what is "ineffable" can be seen in this passage: 
"Mary is God’s garden of Paradise, his own unspeakable world, into which 
his Son entered to do wonderful things" (SM 19).
Although these passages are not integral parts of a prayer, the 
admiration that permeates them, transporting the writer and the reader, 
turns them into a kind of contemplative prayer. It is in this sense 
that, in order to show how Mary is not an obstacle but rather a means 
to prayer, Montfort could write, "Rest assured that the more you turn 
to Mary in your prayers, meditations, . . . seeing her, if not perhaps 
clearly and distinctly, at least in a general and indistinct way, the 
more surely will you discover Jesus" (TD 165). The admiration that 
emerges from a passage like this is expressed in increasingly elevated 
language. Confronted with the greatness of Mary, he cries, "What 
incomprehensible height! What indescribable breadth! What immeasurable 
greatness! What an impenetrable abyss!" (TD 7). His "Consecration of 
oneself to Jesus Christ, Wisdom incarnate" opens with a passage of 
splendid sublimity, even closer to the style of the French School: 
"Eternal and incarnate Wisdom, most lovable and adorable Jesus, true 
God and true man, only Son of the eternal Father and of Mary always 
Virgin, I adore you profoundly, dwelling in the splendor of your Father 
from all eternity and in the virginal womb of Mary, your most worthy 
Mother, at the time of your Incarnation" (LEW 223). It would be 
difficult to give a more compact doctrinal presentation of the mystery 
of the Word incarnate. In the text of this consecration he again 
addresses Mary in the same Bérullian style: "Gracious Virgin . . . O 
admirable Mother . .. Mother of mercy . . . Virgin most faithful" (LEW 
2. Affective prayer
As doctrine leads to admiration, admiration expresses itself in 
outbursts of the soul. Montfort composed several prayers to Mary that 
illustrate these feelings. At the end of the Rosary St. Louis Marie 
prays: "Hail Mary, well-beloved daughter of the eternal Father, 
admirable Mother of the Son, most faithful spouse of the Holy Spirit, 
glorious temple of the Blessed Trinity. . . . Hear, O my Queen, the 
prayers of a heart that desires to love and serve you faithfully. . . . 
O my hope, my life, my faithful and immaculate Virgin Mary" (MR 15). 
The opening of his Prayer to Mary (SM 68) and the prayer that comes 
after the Little Crown follow the same lines: "Virgin most faithful . . 
. Gracious Mother . . .O Queen of heaven . . . O daughter of the King 
of kings" (MP 13). In his Night Prayer we find the well-known prayer, 
"O Jesus living in Mary" (NP 20).But, more than any of his other 
writings, his hymns, appropriately for a lyric genre, display 
Montfort’s most ardent feelings. They could be quoted endlessly. "A 
thousand times my heart desires you, / Divine love, come to me: / To be 
without you is to martyrdom, / Come to me and give me the law" (H 
5:40). "Here is my body, here is my soul: / All are yours, O queen of 
heaven, / Light your flame so it shines over all, / Sacrifice 
everything to your fires" (H 5:41). We should particularly note his 
hymns to the Sacred Heart. "Hear my divine lament. / Friends of the 
Heart of my Savior, / If I open my breast / It is to allay the grief of 
my heart" (H 43:1). "Speak, my heart, speak, my tears. / Sigh, cry, a 
thousand times. / Wherever I feel such strong alarms / Then I have 
neither words nor voice" (H 43:2). "You wish to ask me now / Why my 
heart is afflicted, / Why I sigh and I cry. / Ah, my Jesus has been so 
attacked" (H 43:3). The following stanza would be an excellent prayer 
to repeat often: "O my Jesus, my love, I love you / From the depths of 
my heart, / Above all, I love you" (H 45:30).


1. Prayer Beyond Formula
For many people, even the pious, prayer is a rote oral statement ("to 
know one’s prayers"); they cannot believe that any prayer that does not 
come wrapped in that verbal packaging is truly prayer, although in fact 
their lives are often permeated with thoughts of God. This is to confuse 
essence and appearance. The Gospel speaks of Anne, the prophetess, a 
widow, eighty-four years old, who never left the temple: "she worshipped 
there with fasting and prayer night and day" (Lk 2:37). Her service to 
God lay not simply in words but in her constant prayer and thoughts of 
God there in the temple. However, as it is traditionally defined, 
"prayer" always refers to God. Saint John Damascene saw in prayer "an 
elevation of the soul" toward God,8 and Saint Augustine also noted its 
"affective" character, but every definition includes lovingly recognizing
an attribute of God, and letting it form us more perfectly in His Image. 
Therefore, we can elevate ourselves before God by recognizing His 
Greatness, and adoring it; by remembering His blessings, and expressing 
our thanks to Him; by becoming conscious of His rights, and asking His 
forgiveness for having ignored or scorned them; and finally by requesting
His help in our need. By our very nature we always tend to disguise our 
feelings in that verbal packaging. This is true of prayer as well. It is 
first and foremost "an affair of the heart," or, in St. Augustine’s 
thinking, "a loving attempt to approach God." Only as a last resort does 
it become visible, like a volcano that carves out an opening so that its 
flames can escape. We can pray very well without a formula, just as we can 
pray mechanically by repeating words without truly praying.
The Second Vatican Council spoke of "the spiritual bond linking the 
people of the New Covenant with Abraham’s stock" (NA 4). The Jewish 
liturgy was "the symbolic and direct setting of the encounter with 
God."10 This was not an intellectual concept, a theology, but an 
experience of life, so that prayer in Judaism was not part of some 
other realm. It was a part of the life of Israel under the Torah. 
Worship meant becoming familiar with what it contained. So, over time, 
prayer moved away from being a precise formulation. "Its value is in 
its spontaneity, in the outpouring of the heart."11 It was this liturgy 
on which Jesus, Mary, the Apostles, and the first Christians were all 
2. Montfort, Witness of Prayer
"There are spiritual and religious values present in today’s culture, 
and man, notwithstanding appearances to the contrary, cannot help but 
hunger and thirst for God."12 Montfort is a great witness for our time 
to this hunger and thirst for God. He made it his motto: "God alone." 
He is a witness as much for priests as for the Christian people who, by 
the force of his missionary zeal, were led to God. John Paul II remarks 
as well that "an intimate bond exists between the priest’s spiritual 
life and the exercise of his ministry."13 As members of the laity are 
invited to intensify their activity on behalf of the Church, by virtue 
of their baptism, this principle, which is true for all of us, is new 
impetus for them to live a more intense life of prayer and in closer 
union with Christ and, through him, in the Holy Spirit, with the 
Father. Mary is a "smooth, short, perfect and sure way" (TD 152) of 
entering into intense union with Christ. Those who have consecrated 
their lives to Mary become so closely one with her that, even without 
words, they can live a life of continuous prayer. "We must gradually 
acquire the habit of recollecting ourselves interiorly and so form 
within us an idea or a spiritual image of Mary. She must become, as it 
were, an Oratory for the soul where we offer up our prayers to God" (SM 
47). In this silent intimacy, "we naturally turn to Mary for help, with 
never a fear of importuning her or displeasing our Lord" (TD 106).
H.M. Guindon


(1) Cf. M. Parent, Expériences de Dieu (Experiences of God), Ed. 
Paulines-Médiaspaul, Montreal-Paris 1983); 22-23. (2) Y. Durand, 
"Nantes," in Histoire des diocèses de France 18 (History of the 
dioceses of France), Beauchesne, Paris 1985); 93–94. (3) Grandet, 2–3. 
(4) Clorivière, 17. (5) Blain, 100-101. (6) R. Laurentin, Dieu seul est 
ma tendresse (God alone is my tenderness), O. E. I. L., Paris 1984, 77. 
(7) Fifteenth ordinary Sunday, response after first reading. (8) 
"Ascensus mentis in Deum," De Fide orthodoxa, vol. III, 24, PG 94, 
1090. (9) "Oratio namque est mentis ad Deum affectuosa intentio," Sermo 
IX, n. 3. (10) C. di Sante, La prière d’Israel (The prayer of Israel), 
Descleé-Bellarmin, Paris-Montreal 1986); 12. (11) R. Le Déaut, A. 
Jaubert, K. Hruby, "Le Judaisme" (Judaism), DSAM 2 (1975), 109. (12) 
John Paul II, I Will Give You Shepherds (apostolic exhortation), 46. 
(13) Ibid., 24.


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.


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