ST. LOUIS DE MONTFORT
Imprimi Potest, Nihil Obstat, Imprimatur, 1950
This tract can be found online at other web sites, but this presentation is the most complete as far as we could determine because it includes the preface and the poem.
PREFACE: ABOUT THE SAINT
I. THE GRANDEUR OF THE NAME, FRIENDS OF THE CROSS
II. THE TWO GROUPS:
FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST AND THE FOLLOWERS OF THE WORLD
III. THE DESIRE TO BECOME A SAINT; SELF-DENIAL
V. SUFFERING IN CHRIST-LIKE FASHION
VI. THE TRIUMPH OF THE CROSS: POEM BY ST. LOUIS DE MONTFORT
ST. LOUIS DE MONTFORT
St. Louis Mary Grignon de Montfort (1673-1716), author of this tract which was written as a letter, is widely known for his treatise on "True Devotion to Mary", earning him the title, "Apostle of Mary". He is also called by the title, "Tutor of the Legion of Mary". Addressing the many pilgrims at the canonization of St. de Montfort, July 1947, the Holy Father calls him "the guide who leads you to Mary and from Mary to Jesus." Speaking of St. Louis' "Prayer for Missionaries," Father Faber says: "Since the Apostolical Epistles, it would be hard to find words that burn so marvelously." He has founded two religious congregations: the priests and the brothers of the Company of Mary (Montfort Fathers) and the Daughters of Wisdom. To his sons and daughters he has left a rich heritage of doctrinal writings.
In this "Letter" St. Louis manifests his passionate love for the Cross and pours forth the noble sentiments of his ardent soul. Like St. Paul, he is "determined to know nothing ... except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2-2); "indeed a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles, but to those who are called ... the Wisdom of God" (1 Cor 1-23, 24).
While giving missions in the city of Nantes in 1708, this eloquent preacher of the Cross and devout slave of Jesus in Mary formed, from the most fervent souls among his audiences, an association of "The Friends of the Cross." This fraternity or association was established in the localities evangelized by the holy Missionary to fight against the many disorders and vices of the times and to make reparation for the outrages perpetrated against the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Each time he visited these places he exhorted the members to persevere in their first fervor. Alas! Suddenly he was forbidden to preach to them. Through intrigues, machinations and calumny his arch enemies, the Jansenists , prevailed to have their redoubtable adversary silenced.
During the summer of 1714 Father de Montfort stopped at Rennes. Here, too, with diabolical hate and fury, the Jansenists succeeded in having the saintly Missionary silenced. Welcoming this added humiliation---for his heaviest cross was to be without a cross---he took refuge at his alma mater, the Jesuit College at Rennes, where he was warmly received. Here he buried himself in an eight day retreat meditating on the mystery of Calvary. From an incessant heart-to-heart talk with the Man of Sorrows and His Blessed Mother he received a new light and a more ardent love for the Crucified Savior.
On the last day of the retreat St. Louis, always eager to lead the faithful souls on the Royal Road of the Cross, desired to communicate to his fervent followers the fruits of his sublime meditation and poured forth the burning sentiments of his apostolic soul in the following "Letter."
In this epistle he gives us a holy doctrine which he preached and lived all his life thus imitating his Divine Master, Jesus Christ. It is believed that as a seminarian he wrote those two wonderful poems: "The Strength of Patience" (39 stanzas) and the "Triumph of the Cross" (31 stanzas) in which we find the elements contained in this "Letter." [The first is not in print as far as we can establish, so we have not been able to obtain a copy.] As a young priest he wrote his first book, "Love of Eternal Wisdom," and in its beautiful fourteenth chapter, "The Triumph of Eternal Wisdom in the Cross and by the Cross," is demonstrated the author's great love for the Folly of the Cross. In his allocution on St. de Montfort, quoted above, the Holy Father said: "Being crucified himself he has a perfect right to speak with authority on Christ Crucified. ... He gives a sketch of his own life when drawing up a plan of life in his 'Letter to the Friends of the Cross'" (Cf. "Letter," No. 4, Par. 2).
When this "Letter" appeared St. Louis had already written the "Secret of Mary" and most probably had finished its lucid development "True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary" to which this "Letter" is very closely related and is, as it were, the development and completion of the saintly author's "plan of forming a true client of Mary and a true disciple of Jesus Christ" (True Devotion No. 111).
We have added his poem/hymn to Mary in her directory. You may access it HERE.
Although written more than two centuries ago to fight against the evils and vices of those days this "Letter" retains all its usefulness and freshness. It wages a holy war on the evils, vices, pagan materialism and secularism of the present day. St. Louis gives us a panacea for all these ills: Christian mortification, prayer and a total consecration of ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. In a strong staccato tone he tells us "to suffer, to weep, to fast, to pray, to hide ourselves, to humiliate ourselves, to impoverish ourselves, to mortify ourselves. He who has not the spirit of Christ, which is the spirit of the Cross, does not belong to Him, but they who belong to Him have crucified their flesh and their concupiscences."
Is this not the message Our Lady of Fatima gave to the world---penance, mortification, sacrifice, prayer and consecration to her Immaculate Heart---in 1917. Is it not Our Blessed Mother who guided and inspired her faithful Apostle to write it!
Thus imbued with a burning love for Christ Crucified, a love born of humiliation, suffering, persecution and contempt, like his Divine Master, St. Louis gives us, at the close of his "Letter," some wise, prudent rules that teach us how to suffer and bear our crosses patiently, willingly and joyfully in the footsteps of Our Lord and Crucified Savior. Thus convinced of the necessity of the Cross, stimulated by the happy effects it produces in our souls, and guided by these same rules laid down by St. Louis De Montfort we will more readily renounce Satan, the world and the flesh; we will more patiently bear our trials, crosses and tribulations and we will more carefully heed Christ's admonition: "If anyone wishes to come after Me let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me" (Luke 8-23). The Editor
Dear Friends of the Cross:
1. Since the Divine Cross keeps me hidden and prevents me from speaking, I cannot, and do not even wish to express to you by word of mouth the feelings of my heart on the Divine excellence and practices of your Association in the adorable Cross of Jesus Christ.However, on this last day of my retreat, I come out, as it were, from the sweet retirement of my interior, to trace upon paper a few little arrows from the Cross with which to pierce your noble hearts. God grant that I could point them with the blood of my veins and not with the ink of my pen. Even if blood were required, mine, alas!, would be unworthy. May the spirit of the living God, then, be the life, vigor and tenor of this letter. May His unction be my ink, His Divine Cross my pen and your hearts my paper.
1. Followers of the heretical doctrines of Cornelius Jansen of Ypes, Belgium, who taught that Jesus did not die for all men, the human nature was completely corrupt, that men no longer have free will; this and other aspects of his false teachings gave rise to a rigid, severe practices regarding Holy Communion, only for the few "elect" among other practices that were condemned by three Pontiffs, Urban VIII, Innocent X and Clement XI. Jansenism lasted for almost a century.---Web Master.
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