Saint Louis de Montfort, His Life and Work – The Friends of the Cross

cover of the ebook 'Saint Louis de Montfort: His Life and Work', by Georges RigaultSuch is, says De Montfort, “the greatest secret of the King, the greatest mystery” of the divine Counsels. He makes it his duty to repeat it to souls ever tempted to forget it or who interpret it in such a way as to falsify its meaning. The finest and most powerful commentary upon it, since we lack his sermons, is his letter “To the Friends of the Cross,” written probably at Rennes in 1714 and intended for his Nantes guild.

The following is a definition of a friend of the Cross: Born in the sorrowful heart of the Saviour, he comes into the world through His right side, stained with His blood; he never forgets His birth and crosses; death to the world, the flesh and sin are all he lives for, that even in this world his hidden life may be hid with Christ in God.”

Among such chosen ones are not found “great geniuses and freethinkers, those who are persuaded of their own knowledge and gifts and puffed up with them,” nor “talkers with their noise and absence of any works save those of vanity,” nor “the Pharisee who bears everywhere Lucifer’s: ‘I am not as other men are,’ who cannot take blame without making excuses, or meet attack without resistance, or abasement without a toss of the head;” “but those to whom intelligence and knowledge have not been given, if they suffer joyfully,” these are among the privileged. There are not many; Grignion does not hesitate to say “so few that if we knew, we should die of grief. One here and there, scattered up and down the world.”

In speaking to these chosen ones he does not stand on ceremony. Bach of these faithful disciples is immediately loaded with the heavy Cross: let him bear it, not drag it, unwaveringly, ungrudgingly, openly. Let him hold it aloft without impatience or sorrow, without complaint or voluntary murmur, without any natural sparing of himself, without shame or human respect.

Even before the Redemption there were those who went along this thorny path. “Just Abel, whom his brother slew; Abraham, a stranger in the land; Jacob, persecuted by his brother; Tobias, a just man but struck with blindness; Job, poor, humiliated, covered with sores.”

He does not say that it will be easy to practise the sublime virtues. Compared to such great saints, wonders of courage and spiritual foresight, “roaring lions, swift eagles,” we are poor and feeble indeed. In a pitiless analysis Grignion puts us on our guard against the illusions of pride and displays to us all the unhealthy germs of corrupt nature, even when the soul is working hard at its purification. How difficult it is to do without human consolations, the ready excuse, the complaint, the slander so carefully disguised under the cloak of brotherly love, the complacency of one much tried, an inner feeling of sulkiness as to the cause of our ill, or the devil’s own pride in the thought that suffering is to make us great, exalted, consecrated. There is no limit to the turnings and byways of nature, which would take from our sacrifices their supernatural character, their value in the order of salvation. But Montfort did not lead his disciples to Calvary to fill them with Jansenistic despair. If he shows them the precipice and the threatening cloud, he sets between these a Christ whose arms are outstretched more widely than the Crucified of whom Port Royal taught. There is grace for all; God chastises with one hand and soothes with the other. And according to Holy Writ, our days are in His hand, ever since we were born; “He will not permit us to be tempted above what we are able, in this showing His gentleness; He helps us with a powerful grace which is adapted to the power and duration of the temptation and the affliction, in this showing His power.”