LETTER OF ST. LOUIS DE MONTFORT
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE COMPANY OF MARY
St. Louis de Montfort
1. "Fear not, little flock, because it has pleased your Father to
bestow a kingdom on you" (Lk. 12:32).
Fear not, although, humanly speaking, you have every cause for fear.
You are only a little flock, so few in numbers that a child can count
you. Ranged in opposition against you are nations, worldlings, misers,
pleasure-seekers and profligates, all banded together in their
thousands ready to fight you with mockery, calumnies, contempt and
violence. "They have united with this in mind" (Ps. 2:2).
2. You are of little account. They are influential.
You are poor. They are rich.
You have no influence. The have the backing of
all who matter.
You are weak. They are men in positions of
But let me repeat: Have no fear, at least, no deliberate fear. Listen
to Jesus Christ who tells you: "It is 1, do not be afraid. It is I who
have chosen you. I am your good shepherd and I know you for my sheep.
Do not be surprised if the world hates you, but know that it began by
hating me. If you belonged to the world, it would hold you dear as
something of its very own but, because you do not belong to the world,
you must endure its hatred, calumnies, insults, contempt and outrages."
3. "I am your protector and your bulwark. I hold you in my hands,
little company," says our Eternal Father (cf. Gen. 15:1; Is. 49:16). "I
have graven you on my heart and on the palms of my hands in order to
cherish and defend you because you have put your trust in me and not in
men, in my Providence and not in wealth. I will deliver you from the
snares they set for you, from the calumnies they spread about you, from
the terrors of the night and from the devil who roams at noonday to
I will shelter you under my wings, I will carry you on my shoulders. I
will provide your sustenance. I will arm you with my truth and you will
find it such a powerful weapon that you will see with your very eyes
your enemies falling by the thousands around you: a thousand wicked
paupers on your left hand and ten thousand evil rich on your right. You
yourselves have nothing to fear from my avenging power. It will not
even come near you.
You will trample on the asp and on the basilisk with all its envy and
calumny. You will crush underfoot the lion and the dragon of
ungodliness with its proud fury. I will hear you when you pray and I
will be at your side when you suffer. I will deliver you from all the
evils that beset you. All the glory that I have will be yours and will
be revealed to you after I have given you length of days and abundant
blessings upon earth.
4. Dear little Company of Mary, these are the marvelous promises
which God has made to you through his prophets. They will be yours
provided you put all your trust in him through Mary.
Entirely dependent as you are on the Providence of God, it is for him
to support you and to increase your numbers, saying to you, "Increase
and multiply and fill the earth" (Gen. 1:28). Do not, therefore, be
discouraged because you are few in number. It is for God to be your
defender, so do not be afraid of your enemies. It is for God to provide
all that is necessary for your bodily needs. Do not, then, be afraid
that you will go short of the necessities of life in these hard times
which are hard only because people do not have enough trust in God. It
is God who will glorify you, and have no fear that anyone will take
this glory from you. In a word, fear nothing whatsoever and sleep in
peace in your Father's arms.
5. But it is not enough to be just unafraid. God wants you to hope
for great things from him and to be filled with joy by reason of this
hope. Our bountiful Father wants to give you the kingdom of his grace.
He has made you his kings and priests by the Christian faith and the
priestly ordination he has conferred on you, and your voluntary poverty
gives you an additional right to be called kings, for blessed are the
poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:3). Our
Lord does not merely promise the kingdom of heaven in the future but
states that, because you are poor in spirit, you possess it now. How is
this to be explained?
6. (1) The blessed in heaven feel no need of the things of this
world since they have a superabundance of all things, spiritual and
eternal. God is theirs in his fullness. Likewise, men such as you who
profess voluntary poverty feel no need for the things of this world
because they neither want nor desire them. If they did, they would not
be truly poor in spirit. As the wise man says, "The poor man's riches
are proportionate to the desires of his mind and heart" (Sir. 38:20).
If his heart is contented, he is rich and wants for nothing.
7. (2) The poor in spirit are rich in faith and the other virtues.
"In this world," says St. Jerome, "the poor are rich in faith and he
who is poor with Jesus is rich beyond measure." He is rich in divine
consolations. He does not have to live the thorny life of the rich nor
share their urge for riches. Like one who reigns in heaven, he has
turned away from the enjoyment of earthly consolations in order to
enjoy those which God has provided for him in such abundance. He even
counts heavenly glory as part of his wealth in spite of not yet being
in heaven. One can say that what has the value of gold is gold, and, by
analogy, we can say that what is equivalent to heaven is heaven. What
is being poor in spirit equivalent to? The kingdom of heaven and
8. (3) The man who is truly poor in spirit possesses God himself in
his heart. "What is more glorious for a man than to sell all he has in
exchange for Christ Jesus?" says St. Augustine. What a profitable sale
and what a good bargain! "Man doe not realize its worth" (Job 28:13).
Understand this, dear brothers, no man realizes the value of your
evangelical poverty, "The man who embraces the poverty of Christ is
always rich because what he possesses more than offsets what he lacks
and he is not afraid of being deprived of anything in this world since
he has been given the grace of possessing all things by possessing the
Lord of all."
9. To increase the rich treasure your poverty brings you and remain
in possession of the kingdom you have conquered, there are three things
you must put into practice:
(i) You must set a great value on this real and effective poverty
to which you have committed yourself and have a real love for it. No
one becomes rich more easily or knows the best use to make of these
riches, says a holy bishop, than the man who is truly poor in spirit.
He knows that wealth only serves to reduce to poverty and misery those
whose heart is centered on it, whereas those who give up this wealth
through a holy and praiseworthy contempt for it become rich and happy
in the truest sense of the word. "Riches make a man poor and miserable
if he loves them. If he despises them for Christ's sake, they make him
rich and happy" (Umbertus).
Be careful then and do not look back at the patrimony or benefice you
have given up. "No one putting his hand to the plough and looking
behind is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62). Be careful, too, not
to glance enviously around you at the thousand and one benefits,
ecclesiastical or otherwise, which you could acquire with as much right
as anyone else, for "they arouse the fool's concupiscence" (Wis. 15:5).
10. (ii) Feel then for yourselves the effects of poverty, for
instance, (1) the labor it entails in the pulpit or the confessional by
which you earn your bread at the sweat of your brow; (2) the
humiliation and disdain which are usually shown to poor clerics; (3)
other humiliations which poverty brings with it: lack of suitable
clothing, proper food and accommodation, the fatigue and traveling it
11. (iii) Let all your longing be centered on eternal things. Knock
on the door which opens to you the mercy of Jesus Christ who recognizes
and hears without fail those who are dressed in the livery of his
The man truly poor in spirit sees the world as a frightful wilderness
and turns his heart from it. He avoids getting involved in worldly
affairs, "No man enlisted in God's army gets involved in other
business" (II Tim. 2:4). To his relatives and friends in the world he
only . . .
In the same way, therefore, that a traveler bent on reaching some royal
city, towards which he is directing his swift passage, and who, wholly
taken up with this one idea, passes on indifferently without stopping
to consider the beauty of the countries through which he is passing, so
the missionary, carefree like St. Francis, walks with great haste
towards the heavenly Jerusalem, solely taken up with the charms of the
immortal city of peace and glory; he has eyes only for its
contemplation; and he can't give the name of pain to what it has cost
him to get there, nor the name of pleasure to what could turn him away
from it. Like another St. Paul, he doesn't consider visible things but
the invisible, because he tells himself, the visible are passing and
perishable; death takes them away, just when one thinks to enjoy them;
indeed, they are often lost in anguish before death; while invisible
goods, those intangible treasures, which are only tasted in the
possessing of God, are eternal.
And so, at last, the missionary, sustained and spurred on by this noble
hope, which beats high in his breast, can't deceive himself, and
persevering in his holy and sublime vocation, he will have the
happiness of being able to repeat with confidence when he is dying,
those beautiful, those consoling words of Jesus Christ's most zealous
missionary: "Bonum certamen certavi, cursum consummavi, fidem servavi;
in reliquo reposita est mihi corona iustitiae quam reddet mihi Dominus
in illa die iustus iudex. Amen"). (I have fought the good fight, I have
finished my course, I have kept the faith. As to the rest there is laid
up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the just Judge, will
render to me on that day. Amen).
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