The Montfort Brothers, had our origins nearly 300 years ago, when Louis Marie de Montfort gathered disciples around him and formed them into the “Community of the Holy Spirit” in 1715 A.D. Our way of consecrated life has become the object of special attention now as we have taken upon ourselves the responsibility of being authentic leaders for greater brotherhood. This shows that not only the Church is fond of this form of consecrated life but the world itself is aspiring to achieve greater brother/sisterhood. Becoming an authentic Montfortian Brother of St Gabriel places lots of responsibility and tasks on us and invites us to realize and imbibe the necessary qualities.
Call to serve the poor
Montfort was the kind man who does everything superbly well. He was an artist, a sculptor, a singer and a poet. He wrote hymns and set them to popular tunes, so catchy that a listener simply had to sing with him. He wrote books that will never die. He had such strength you wouldn’t believe it.
He had a very big nose, long hair, dimples in his cheeks, and a pair of eyes that is full of compassionate love. When he smiled, he had you…..fall in love with him. His clothings, was little more than a sack, his shoes were never good enough for the roads he travelled, nor for the climates he encountered. He left “bloody footprints” wherever he walked. Yet always, even when he was weary, even when the dust and the flies, heat and rain…..he would lift up his heart and sing to the Lord.
Montfort was the beggar of beggars, the poorest of the poor. He lived, through most of his life, on what Divine Providence gave him to the way of alms. He walked farther, worked harder and longer, endured more punishment and abuse, ate less and slept less, than any other man of his time. His only luxury was the bit of straw he put into his mattress. No man can find clean straw every day while he is travelling; and sometimes a wanderer has to sleep where he can, indoor or out. But always Montfort could find a suitable rock for a pillow. He usually walked wherever he was going. He usually carried a crucifix and a small statue of Mary, both of which he had carved. He had an intense love or the Cross. He never sought one, for he wanted to do not his own will but God’s; yet he knew there was great joy in the acceptance of all crosses. He used to say to people…..”May God bless you and give you many little crosses…..”; “If we do not risk anything for God, we will never do anything great for Him.”
What good come from him
LOUIS MARIE DE MONTFORT had such a strong desire to be in communion with the poor, he gave the first beggar he met all his money and even exchanged clothes with him. He wanted to become a missionary and to go about his work in a poor and simple way.
Most of all, he loved to proclaim the Good News to outcasts and to catechize poor children. This desire was to culminate in the founding of the Congregation of the Montfort Brothers of St Gabriel (in 1715, of which its tercentenary (300 years) celebration will be slated in 2015). Montfort organized classes for common-folk children and homes for the poor. He preached simply and courageously, and opposed the enemies of the Church, who repeatedly attempted to kill him.
The Spirituality of St Louis Marie de Montfort
The spirituality of Montfort is the one of a preacher, for whom the spiritual life cannot be separated from the ministry. A spirituality in the service of restoring the spirit of Christianity in the heart of the baptized and in human societies.
The essence of Montfort’s spirituality, which the Brothers inherited from our Founder, is:
1. GOD ALONE
2. Jesus Incarnate Wisdom
3. The Care for the Poor
4. The Cross
5. The Baptismal Promises
6. Mary – the Consecration to Jesus through Mary
1. GOD ALONE
The Spirituality of St Louis Marie de Montfort is nourished by the great spiritual masters of the 16-17th centuries. Following St Ignatius of Loyola – “Ad majorem Dei gloriam”-, St Teresa of Avila – “Solo Dios basta” -, St John of the Cross, Montfort gives the Church the famous “GOD ALONE” which was his motto.
Everything is measured according the absolute and the greatness of God. And for Montfort, it is not just words. It’s the only acceptable explanation for his lifestyle choices and behaviour, what were confusing, even for his family, colleagues and friends.
To a friend, who questions his conduct and manners, he replies: “ An apostolic man has to provide the glory of God. The apostolic missionary must be centred on GOD ALONE. God’s glory must be his sole preoccupation”.
GOD ALONE is the sole reason for his desire to go for distant missions and the unique motivation for parish missions.
2. Jesus Incarnate Wisdom
In his missions, Montfort experimented how a thousand desires can deviate the ordinary parishioners out of the way that leads to GOD ALONE. Therefore, the challenge is of importance; the conversion from a merely human way of life to God’s way of life; a conversion to a new wisdom, God’s Wisdom.
Rereading the Bible in his own way, Montfort, sees God’s Wisdom friendly to men. The work of personal conversion and change of behaviour taking place during the time of one’s doing mission – is an appropriation of the Wisdom of God. But the Divine Wisdom “is not found in the soul of those who live in comfort.” We should desire it and ask for it “day and night, without wearying tirelessly or becoming disheartened.” (To be continued next issue)