SAINT LUIS MARIA GRIGNON DE MONTFORT AND THE MARIAN SLAVERY
in the light of Saint John Paul II
On this day when the Church celebrates Saint Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort, we want to refer to a central aspect of her spirituality and doctrine, the total consecration to Mary in maternal slavery of love as taught by the saint in his work Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin nº 55:
«God in these times wishes his Blessed Mother to be more known, loved and honoured than
she has ever been. This will certainly come about if the elect, by the grace and light of the Holy Spirit, adopt the interior and perfect practice of the devotion which I shall later unfold. Then they will clearly see that beautiful Star of the Sea, as much as faith allows. Under her guidance they will perceive the splendours of this Queen and will consecrate themselves entirely to her service as subjects and slaves of love».
Therefore, with the grace and light of the Holy Spirit, we must strive to enter and penetrate the interior and perfect practice of this devotion to Mary. To deepen the importance of the colossal and prophetic work of Saint Louis Marie, I would like to follow the teachings and example of Saint John Paul the Great, father of our Religious Family, because we are on the centennial of his birth and because in his life and pontificate we find a perfect synthesis of this ideal and a clear and finished example of a “Marianized” life, totally centered on Mary. His pontificate, in fact, was framed, among other things, by great Marian milestones: highlighted by his motto and shield with the words Totus tuus Maria, by the event that miraculously saved the life of the Pontiff from the death attack on the 13th of May 1981, memory of Our Lady of Fatima, as well as for the jubilee of the two thousand years of the Incarnation of the Word in the womb of Mary.
The testimony of St. John Paul II on St. Louis of Montfort
For me, St Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort is a significant person of reference who has enlightened me at important moments in life. When I was working as a clandestine seminarian at the Solvay factory in Kraków, my spiritual director advised me to meditate on the True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Many times and with great spiritual profit I read and reread this precious little ascetical book with the blue, soda-stained cover. By relating the Mother of Christ to the Trinitarian mystery, Montfort helped me to understand that the Virgin belongs to the plan of salvation, by the Father’s will, as the Mother of the incarnate Word, who was conceived by her through the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary’s every intervention in the work of the regeneration of the faithful is not in competition with Christ, but derives from him and is at his service. Mary’s action in the plan of salvation is always Christocentric, that is, it is directly related to a mediation that takes place in Christ. I then realized that I could not exclude the Mother of the Lord from my life without disregarding the will of God-the-Trinity, who wanted to “begin and complete” the great mysteries of salvation history with the responsible and faithful collaboration of the humble Handmaid of Nazareth.
Mary, a unique gift from God
St. John Paul II says: «Throughout its history, the People of God has experienced this gift of the crucified Jesus: the gift of his Mother. Mary Most Holy is truly our Mother who accompanies us on our pilgrimage of faith, hope and charity towards an ever more intense union with Christ, the one Saviour and Mediator of salvation (cf. Constitution Lumen Gentium, nn. 60, 62). As is well known, my episcopal coat of arms symbolically illustrates the Gospel text quoted above; the motto Totus tuus is inspired by the teaching of St Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort (cf. Gift and Mystery, pp. 42-43; Rosarium Virginis Mariae, n. 15). These two words express total belonging to Jesus through Mary: “Tuus totus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt”, St Louis Marie wrote, and he translates his words: “I am all yours, and all that I have is yours, O most loving Jesus, through Mary, your most holy Mother” (Treatise on True Devotion, n. 233). This Saint’s teaching has had a profound influence on the Marian devotion of many of the faithful and on my own life. It is a lived teaching of outstanding ascetic and mystical depth, expressed in a lively and passionate style that makes frequent use of images and symbols. However, the considerable development of Marian theology since St Louis Marie’s time is largely due to the crucial contribution made by the Second Vatican Council. The Montfort teaching, therefore, which has retained its essential validity should be reread and reinterpreted today in the light of the Council».
The slavery of Jesus and Mary, basis of our Marian slavery
St. John Paul II teaches that with his incarnation the Word of God became a slave, since he assumed the form of a slave by becoming a man to save us. Upon receiving the announcement that the Word was to become incarnate in her womb, his Mother, Mary Most Holy, in turn became slave to God and to this divine plan of redemption. It is this design of God’s mercy and this free association and cooperation to the mystery of redemption, which gives Mary an exclusive place in the redemption of the human race as Coredemptrix. She is the first to assume the way of life that the Son of God chose to save us, because just as He became obedient to the plan of salvation until death on the Cross, so she, in turn, becomes a slave of God and cooperates with the whole of her being to the plan of redemption. Therefore, we too, for our part, want to cooperate with God’s plan for the salvation of men, especially those of our time, with our total dedication or slavery to Jesus Christ, through Mary. In this way, we put our ideal in responding with total love to the immense love of the Son of God and of his Mother in the work of the incarnation and redemption. At the foot of the Cross, we were made children of Mary, and there our destiny was associated with the mystery of Redemption at Calvary, our total incorporation into Christ through Mary. (Cf. S. John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem, 5).
Mary and the Mystery of the Trinity 
«Trinitarian spirituality in communion with Mary: an aspect which is characteristic of Montfort’s teaching. He does not, in fact, offer a theology without influence on practical life, nor a Christianity “by proxy” without the personal acceptance of the commitments stemming from Baptism. On the contrary, he invites us to an intensely lived spirituality; he encourages us to make a free and conscious gift of ourselves to Christ and, through him, to the Holy Spirit and to the Father. In this light, we understand how reference to Mary makes the renewal of our baptismal promises perfect, since Mary is indeed the creature “most conformed to Jesus Christ” (True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, n. 120).
Yes, the whole Christocentric and Marian spirituality taught by Montfort flows from the Trinity and leads back to it. In this connection, we are struck by his insistence on the action of the three divine Persons in Mary’s regard. God the Father “gave his Only-begotten Son to the world only through Mary” and “wishes to have children through Mary until the end of the world” (ibid., nn. 16, 29). God the Son “became man for our salvation but only in Mary and through Mary” and “wishes to form himself and, so to speak, incarnate himself every day in his members through his dear Mother” (ibid., nn. 16, 31). God the Holy Spirit “has communicated his unspeakable gifts to Mary, his faithful Spouse” and “wishes to form elect for himself in her and through her” (ibid., nn. 25, 34). […]
By repeating “Totus tuus” to her every day and living in harmony with her, we can attain an experience of the Father in confidence and boundless love (cf. ibid., nn. 169, 215), docility to the Spirit (cf. ibid., n. 258) and transformation of self into the likeness of Christ (cf. ibid., nn. 218-221)».
Mary and the Mystery of the Incarnation “Ad Iesum per Mariam”
St Louis Marie contemplates all the mysteries, starting from the Incarnation which was brought about at the moment of the Annunciation. Thus, in the Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, Mary appears as “the true terrestrial paradise of the New Adam”, the “virginal and immaculate earth” of which he was formed (n. 261). (…)”All our perfection”, St Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort writes, “consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ; and therefore, the most perfect of all devotions is, without any doubt, that which most perfectly conforms, unites and consecrates us to Jesus Christ. Now, Mary being the most conformed of all creatures to Jesus Christ, it follows that, of all devotions, that which most consecrates and conforms the soul to Our Lord is devotion to his holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to Mary, the more it is consecrated to Jesus” (Treatise on True Devotion, n. 120).
Holiness and theological life: Slavery of love
In Montfort spirituality, the dynamism of charity is expressed in particular by the symbol of the slavery of love to Jesus, after the example and with the motherly help of Mary. It is a matter of full communion in the kenosis of Christ, communion lived with Mary, intimately present in the mysteries of the life of her Son. “There is nothing among Christians which makes us more absolutely belong to Jesus Christ and his holy Mother than the slavery of the will, according to the example of Jesus Christ himself, who took on the status of a servant for love of us” – formam servi accipiens – “and also according to the example of the holy Virgin who called herself the servant and handmaid of the Lord (Lk 1: 38). The Apostle refers to himself as “the slave of Christ’ (servus Christi) as though the title were an honour. Christians are often so called in the Holy Scriptures” (cf. Treatise on True Devotion, n. 72). […]The slavery of love should therefore be interpreted in light of the wonderful exchange between God and humanity in the mystery of the incarnate Word. It is a true exchange of love between God and his creature in the reciprocity of total self-giving.
In the writings of St Louis Marie we find the same accent on the faith lived by the Mother of Jesus in her journey from the Incarnation to the Cross, a faith in which Mary is the model and type of the Church. St Louis Marie expresses this with a range of nuances, when in his letter he expounds on the “marvellous effects” of perfect Marian devotion: “The more, then, that you gain the favour of that august Princess and faithful Virgin, the more will you act by pure faith; a pure faith which will put you above all sensible consolations and extraordinary favours; a lively faith animated by charity, which will enable you to perform all your actions from the motive of pure love; a faith firm and immovable as a rock, through which you will rest quiet and constant in the midst of storms and hurricanes; a faith active and piercing, which like a mysterious skeleton key, will give you entrance into all the mysteries of Jesus, the ultimate goal of man, and into the heart of God himself” (cf. Treatise on True Devotion, n. 214).
The Holy Spirit invites Mary to reproduce her own virtues in the elect, extending in them the roots of her “invincible faith” and “firm hope” (cf. Treatise on True Devotion, n. 34). In the antiphon Salve Regina, the Church calls the Mother of God “our Hope”. The same term is used by St Louis Marie who took it from a text of St John Damascene, who applies to Mary the biblical symbol of the anchor (cf. Hom I in Dorm. B.V.M., 14: PG 96, 719): “”We fasten our souls'”, he says, “”to your hope, as to an abiding anchor’. It is to her that the saints who have saved themselves have been the most attached and have done their best to attach others, in order to persevere in virtue. Happy, then, a thousand times happy, are the Christians who are now fastened faithfully and entirely to her, as to a firm anchor!” (Treatise on True Devotion, n. 175). Through the devotion to Mary, Jesus himself “enlarges the heart with firm confidence in God, making it look upon him as a Father” (ibid., n. 169).
Let us ask through the intercession of Saint Louis Maria Grignon de Montfort and Saint John Paul II, the grace to grow in our love and service to the Blessed Virgin so that by this easier, shorter and safer path, we come to contemplate Jesus, the blessed fruit of Mary.
Sister Maria de Montserrat
 Letter of John Paul II to the Montfort Religious Family, Vatican December 8, 2003; http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/letters/2004/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_20040113_famiglie-monfortane.html
 St. Johan Paul II, Address to the participants in the 8th mariological colloquium, n.1 (13/10/2000) http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/speeches/2000/oct-dec/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_20001013_8-colloquio-mariologia.html
 Letter of John Paul II to the Montfort Religious Family, 8/12/2003, nn.2, 4.
 Letter of John Paul II to the Montfort Religious Family, 8/12/2003, nn.6-8.