Louis Marie de Montfort
on the End Times
from the book: Jesus Living in Mary — Handbook of the
Spirituality of St. Louis Marie de Montfort published by Montfort
Publications in Bayshore, NY, 1994) (Reprinted
with permission of the publisher)
MONTFORT’S CONCEPTION OF
Relationship between time and eternity
Montfort, the primary term of reference for evaluating our time on earth
is eternity. He often links
time and eternity as two essential stages in the life of Christ wisdom (LEW
(The Love of Eternal Wisdom) 13, 14, 19, 95, 223) and the life
of humans (LEW 2, 51: TD (True Devotion to Mary) 265;
SM (The Secret of Mary) 69).
Eternity is the axis of reference, a lasting phase, while our time
on earth is brief, and valuable only insofar as it prepares us for
blissful eternity: “Your momentary suffering will be changed into an
eternity of happiness” (LEW 180).
The value of
worldly time is relative: it must be directed toward eternity.
Montfort coins the phrase: “in time and in eternity” (LEW
2, 225; FC (Letter to the Friends of the Cross) 21; TD
265; H (Hymns) 20:18; 77:20), which he applies to the
glorification of God, to the possession of Wisdom, and to the gift of
oneself to Christ through the hands of Mary. By contrast, those who give absolute value to their time on
earth rather than eternity are “blind,” “imposters” who “to
Heaven prefer the earth / . . . and time to eternity” (H
Appreciating the true value of time
earthly time is precious, “of immense value” (H 30:8), and not “one
single moment” should be lost.
He laments the time spent in the search for comfort and diversion (LEW
81) or the philosopher’s stone (LEW 88), and in the useless
company of others, even the devout (LEW 200).
Montfort views time as a gift from God “to acquire heaven /
when our actions are just” (H 30:7) and later as a totality
that must be offered to God. Intermittent devotion to Mary, praying to her “occasionally”
(SM 25) and serving her “only for a time” (SM
33), is not enough: we must consecrate ourselves “to God through
Mary” as a slave of love, “for life” (SM 32-33, TD
The time in
which Montfort is interested has nothing to do with seasonal changes, even
though he is admitting Wisdom when he expresses his “wonderment at
the changes we see in the seasons and the weather”; they are the
seasons of salvation. He is
attentive to “time marked for the redemption of men” (LEW
33), which transforms time into a “gift of the Holy Spirit” and
confers on it “the price of Jesus’ blood” (H 30:8).
When he dies, the sinner, like those who play with cards and dice,
will have “a thousand regrets / For having lost his time this way /
In games and pastimes of today, / While never doing penance” (H
MONTFORT AND THE END TIME
Scenario of the end times
study of the three works in which Montfort speaks of the end times (SM,
PM, TD) leads us to distinguish four successive and
intersecting stages. Together they make up the scenario of the final days of the
First stage: tragic
state of the Church. In
the eyes of a missionary and mystic like Montfort, the state of the Church
and the society of his time offered scarce consolation.
Although historians agree that conditions at the close of the
seventeenth century improved as a result of the intense pastoral
commitment of the French clergy, Montfort would disagree.
In his converging texts, he refers to the “universal
failure” of contemporary Christian practice (TD 127), to the “corrupt
kingdom of the world” (SM 59) and the reign of the enemies of
God (PM 4). The
encroaching wave of sin takes on cosmic dimensions and does not spare even
the Church herself: “Your
Gospel is thrown aside, torrents of inequity flood the whole earth
carrying away even your servants. The
whole land is desolate, ungodliness reigns supreme, your sanctuary is
desecrated and the abomination of desolation has even contaminated the
holy place” (PM 5; see also PM 14: “the
ever-swelling flood of iniquity”).
The Church herself has become a “languishing heritage,” “so
weakened and besmirched by the crimes of her children” (PM
20). Behind the domination of
sin, Montfort sees the work of the devil, which is “daily increasing
until the advent of the reign of anti-Christ” (TD 51).
Montfort is so dismayed that he invokes his own death if divine
intervention does not bring a change: “Send me your help from heaven
or let me die” (PM 14).
Thus does he feel compelled to send up a cry of alarm when
confronted with such a grave and imminent danger: “The House of God
is on fire! . . . Help!” (PM 28).
Second stage: divine
intervention within salvation history.
This intermediary stage is the most dynamic and active, because
during this stage we pass from the reign of sin to the reign of Jesus
Christ in the hearts of men and women. Montfort is convinced that the Kingdom of God in Jesus Christ
should not be projected into the hereafter but must come into existence on
earth, in this world: “Is
it not true that your kingdom must come?” (PM 5). This is the leitmotif of TD from its first sentence:
“It was through the blessed Virgin Mary that Jesus Christ came
into the world, and it is also through her that he must reign in the
world” (TD 1; cf. 13, 22, 49, 157, 217, 262).
Who will be able to transform the world?
For Montfort there is no doubt: God alone can accomplish such a
task. He will intervene with “a
deluge of fire, love and justice” through the mediation of the
Spirit and the manifold acts of Mary (PM 13, 15, 24-25; TD
49-56). This divine
intervention will be through and in mankind, especially through the “apostles
of the end times” (TD 58).
Their task will be twofold: “destroying sin and setting up the
kingdom of Jesus” (SM 59).
Third stage: the
Second Coming and reign of Jesus Christ.
There is no doubt that “the whole Church expect[s] him [God]
to come and reign over all the earth and to judge the living and the
dead” (SM 58). This
Second Coming of Jesus will lead successively to the reign of Jesus in the
world and to the Last Judgment, although not in tandem.
Here we see the characteristic vision of Montfort: the universal
and stable reign of Jesus (PM 4) anticipated in time as an effect
of his coming. Jesus “comes
in glory once again to reign upon earth” (TD 158), “the
knowledge and the kingdom of Jesus Christ must come into the world”
(TD 13), “you yourself will ask of Jesus, together with Mary,
that he come with his kingdom on earth.” It
is not a visible and personal advent of Jesus and a temporal kingdom, as
millenarians would hope for; Montfort insists that the kingdom of Jesus is
“in the hearts” (TD 113) or “in our soul” (TD
68). In other words, Jesus
will reign when by the intervention of Mary, he is known, loved, and
served (TD 49). In TD
217, we have the logical and perhaps even chronological steps:
reign of Mary, coming of the Spirit, reign of Jesus Christ.
We also see here how Montfort spirituality has as its goal the
establishment of the kingdom of Christ:
“When will that happy day come . . . when God’s Mother is
enthroned in men’s hearts as Queen, subjecting them to the dominion of
her great and princely Son?” (TD 217).
Fourth stage: the
deluge of the fire of justice and the Last Judgment.
Montfort describes the end of time and the world from a
pneumatological and then a Christological perspective.
In the first, the deluge of the fire of love will be followed by
the deluge of the fire of justice, an expression of divine anger, which “reduces
the whole world to ashes” (PM 16-17).
In the Christological version, the reign of Christ in the world is
followed, as if in continuation of his Second Coming or the Parousia, by
the universal judgment: God will “come and reign over all the earth
and to judge the living and the dead” (SM 58).
Then the end times themselves will end, and the true
4. The protagonists
the four stages (tragedy, drama, happiness, and finally destruction and
judgment) of the end times, various personages will play a role.
The Trinity. This is the principal and final Agent, Who is the origin of
the plan for salvation and on Whom the glory of what has taken place in
time reflects (TD 22; 50,6).
three Divine Persons display Their efficacious works in the end times,
beginning with God the Father, to Whom Montfort attributes “merciful
plans” (PM 2); the selection, dispatch, and formation of the
great saints at the end of time (TD 47-48, 57); the revelation of
Mary (TD 50, 55); the enmity between Mary and her children and the
devil and his children (TD 52, 54); and the knowledge of time and
of how the end times will unfold (TD 59; SM 58).
protagonist of salvation is Jesus Christ.
His Second Coming on earth becomes real, and he once again reigns
over men and judges them (SM 58-59; TD 48, 217); the purpose
of the time of revelation is to lead us to know, love, and serve him (TD
49). The apostles of the end
times will be “the true disciples of Jesus Christ” (TD 59).
The Lord Jesus will again assume the power to give to Mary “this
new company so that you may renew all things through her” (PM
6). The missionaries will be
established on Mary, the mountain of God, and “Jesus Christ, who
dwells there forever, will teach them in his own words the meaning of the
eight beatitudes” (PM 25).
work of the Spirit is preponderant and efficacious.
The Spirit intervenes in the end times with a “deluge of fire,
love and justice” (PM 16-17), like a new Pentecost.
The Spirit will “create priests who burn with this same fire
and whose ministry will renew the face of the earth” and renew the
world (PM 17); the Spirit will sanctify them (PM 15),
assemble them (PM 20-21), and send them on their mission (PM
9; TD 57)
Mary. She is one of
the principal protagonists and supports, acting in many ways in the end
times and in collaboration with the three Divine Persons.
With the Most High and by His will, Mary forms the apostles and the
great saints (TD 47, 59). With
Christ, she does battle with the proud Satan (TD 52, 54; PM
12-13) and brings the years of grace to an end with the new company of
missionaries that the Son, dying on the Cross, entrusted to her (PM
1, 6). With the Holy Spirit,
Mary is entrusted with begetting the sons of God and forming the saints of
the end times (PM 11, 15). The end times bring the full revelation of Mary, not in the
sense of a deeper abstract knowledge, but insofar as we will experience
her presence. She will be
revealed in her merciful love toward sinners, in her battle against the
enemies of God, and in her support of the faithful disciples of Christ: “In
these end times Mary must shine forth more than ever in mercy, power and
grace” (TD 50, 6). The
Mother of God is a spiritual leader and teacher for the apostles of the
end times, particularly the Missionaries of the Company of Mary.
Montfort affirms this by applying to Mary the symbolism of the
mountain: those who live in her grow in holiness and learn of
contemplation and intercession. They
are introduced to the logic of the evangelical beatitudes and participate
in the mysteries of Christ that took place on the mountain: the
Transfiguration, the Crucifixion, and the Ascension (PM 25).
The apostles of the end times. They
are the necessary instruments for the realization of God’s plan, as will
be detailed below.
establishes his own plan in opposition to God’s plan.
He will plot dire attacks on the heel of Mary (TD 54; PM
13), he will redouble his attacks (TD 50), and he will instigate
wicked persecutions that will increase until the reign of the Antichrist (TD
51). The devil will lead the
battle with the enemies of God, who will b e his active intermediaries in
the end times; trembling with rage, they are ready to break out in every
direction, rebelling, uniting, and sounding the alarm (TD 48, 50; PM
5, 27, 28).
THE APOSTLES OF THE
this phrase, (TD 58) of Montfort,
is used only once, it summarizes his thought on the end times.
He describes at length the condition, activity, and spirituality of
Who are they?
identity gradually becomes clear. Montfort
speaks first of “great saints” (TD 47), “great
souls filled with grace and zeal” (TD 48).
He then refers to them as “the valiant soldiers and loyal
servants of Jesus Christ . . . . the true children and servants of the
Blessed Virgin” (TD 50,6; 52; 54), “the elect” (TD
55), “these servants, these slaves, these children of Mary” (TD
56). Finally he refers to their sacerdotal character: “ministers
of the Lord . . . . the children of Levi” (TD 56), “true
apostles of the end times . . . . in the midst of other priests,
ecclesiastics and clerics” (TD 58).
In his ardent prayer for vocations to the Company of Mary, he
speaks of “missionaries” (PM 3, 20, 21, 25) and of “priests”
(PM 2, 18, 25, 29). His
proposed congregation of missionary priests forms the core of these
apostles. But the activity and the mighty battles of the end times must
not be reserved to them alone. In
two other prophetic texts, Montfort speaks more generally of “chosen
souls” in whom Mary will reign sovereign (TD 217), and he
enlarges the horizon to embrace “a mighty legion of brave and valiant
soldiers of Jesus and Mary, both men and women” (TD 114).
work of the apostles of the end times swings essentially around two poles,
one negative, the other positive: “destroying sin and establishing
the reign of Jesus Christ” (SM 59).
The first pole involves a series of aggressive actions against the
forces of evil: they “will give battle, overthrowing and crushing” (TD
48), they “will thunder against sin, they will storm against the
world, they will strike down the devil and his followers” (TD
57), they “will be the odor of death to the great, the rich and the
proud of this world” (TD 56).
In the PM, along the same lines, Montfort foresees
missionaries who will attack and overthrow the “enemies of God” (PM
8, 29), who will “crush the head of the serpent” (PM
12), “address their ardent prayers to heaven, turning them into the
weapons which will overcome or convert their enemies” (PM
25). The positive pole, which
is described in more detail, consists of actions directed at the reform of
the Church and its extension into the world: their “ministry will
renew the face of the earth and reform your Church” (PM 17).
With this objective, the apostles of the end times will carry out
sanctifying apostolic work: they “will enkindle everywhere the fires
of divine love” (TD 56); “wherever they preach, they
will leave behind them nothing but the gold of love” (TD 58);
they will be the “sweet fragrance of Jesus” (TD 56).
They will “build the temple of the true Solomon and the
mystical city of God” (TD 48), and they will “shower
down the rain of God’s word and of eternal life” (TD 57).
Moreover, they will work to extend the Lord’s empire “over
the impious, the idolators and Muslims” (TD 49), receiving
the deluge of fire that will empower them to convert “Muslims,
idolators and even Jews” (PM 17).
c. The Marian
describes this with enthusiasm: “these great souls . . . will be
exceptionally devoted to the Blessed Virgin.
Illumined by her light, nourished at her breast, guided by her
spirit, supported by her arm, sheltered under her protection” (TD
48; cf. also 55). They are
“those who belong to the Blessed Virgin,” her “true children and
servants,” “her humble slaves and children,” “her heel,”
who will crush the head of the serpent (TD54).
The experience of the Cross.
There are various reasons for this experience: the need to be “thoroughly
purified by the fire of Great Tribulations” and to carry “the
myrrh of mortification in their body” (TD 56); the fact that
they will be preaching devotion to Mary, which “will make many
enemies” (TD 48); the description of the “heel” of
Mary, which implies that they will be “down-trodden and crushed” (TD
four elements are found in the spirituality of the apostolic men whom
Montfort describes in the PM. These
apostles will be united with God, because they are “enriched by the
dew of heaven and the fat of the earth” (PM 25); “entirely
dependent on Providence, who will feast to their heart’s content on the
spiritual delights you provide” (PM 21); and endowed with “their
great love for Jesus Christ which enables them to carry his cross” (PM
24); uniquely preoccupied with the “glory” of the Holy Spirit (PM
23), whose breath urges them forward to their mission (PM 9).
In addition, they will burn with “holy anger” and “ardent
zeal” (PM 21), because the Holy Spirit will create “priests
who burn with the same fire” (PM 17) and who will have a “perfect
love . . . for their neighbor” (PM 24).
They will do battle against the enemies of God “with the Cross
for their staff and the Rosary for their sling” (PM 8) and
with an irresistible wisdom (PM 22, 25), and “they will crush
the head of the serpent wherever they go” (PM 12).
They will thus become the “true children . . . . true servants
of the Blessed Virgin” (PM 11, 12), characterized by “their
true devotion to Mary” (PM 12) and her maternal solicitude (PM
11, 25). Finally, they will experience persecutions and crosses,
because “the devil will lie in wait to attack the heel of this
mysterious woman, that is, the little company of her children” (PM
expresses the spirituality of these missionaries using meteorological
symbols (rain, snow: PM 20, 25), cosmic symbols (fire, sun: PM
12), and animals (dogs, lambs, doves, eagles, bees, deer, lions: PM
13), especially those of the four evangelists (man, lion, ox, eagle: PM
21). The key word that embodies this spirituality and that
Montfort repeats six times, each time in a way that gives it new meaning,
is liberos, in the twofold etymological sense of “free” and
“son”: the missionaries of the “special reign” of the
Spirit are free of all human ties (PM 7).
They will accomplish God’s plans with a total availability; their
means will be poverty (PM 8), always open to the breath of the
Spirit (PM 9) and “to the voice of authority” (PM
10), “true children . . . and servants of the Blessed Virgin” (PM
whole of Montfort’s doctrine on time is precious for Montfort
compels us to recall the past, to value the present in view of eternity,
and above all to prepare for the future of the world.
Montfort’s coherent outline on the end times has consequences
both for a correct understanding of Saint Louis Marie and for the Marian
devotion that he taught.
The future: a key to
the life of Montfort
Louis Marie de Montfort’s determination to become an itinerant
missionary has often been explained as an expression of his desire to live
the life of the early apostles. This
explanation remains true, but it should be complemented with Montfort’s
projection toward the future. The
prodigious activity that the missionary accomplished in his brief life was
also due to the urgency he experienced in proclaiming the reign of Jesus
Christ. This purpose is intrinsic to both his preaching and his
writing. Although undoubtedly
guided by the example of Christ Wisdom and the Apostles living in poverty,
Montfort’s existence is energized by the urgent need of transforming the
reign of sin into the reign of Jesus Christ.
The saint opens himself, therefore, to the breath of the Spirit and
the maternal action of Mary, becoming a priest full of fire to reform the
Church and renew the face of the earth.
Devotion to Mary
read TD without the perspective of the end times—which for
Montfort means the present time (“these end times,” TD
50)—gives the impression that Montfort is simply attempting to introduce
his readers to “the interior and perfect practice” of Marian
devotion. But there is one
dimension of Montfort’s Marian teaching that is often forgotten: his
thought is eschatological and therefore Spirit-related and apostolic.
indissolubly uniting Mary and the Holy Spirit as the begetters of Christ
and Christians (TD 34-36), and by locating this action in the
special reign of the Spirit, of the Father, and of the Son (PM
15-17), Montfort avoids the danger of Christomonism.
this Marian spirituality cannot fall back on itself, because in
Montfort’s view it is projected toward the future and the kingdom of
Jesus Christ. It is finalized
and dynamically outstretched toward the fulfillment in history.
Those who are consecrated to Christ through the hands of Mary will
be bound to destroy the kingdom of evil, to establish the reign of God,
and to spread His kingdom throughout the entire world.
When they breathe Mary as the body breathes air, becoming living
copies of her, then Jesus will be loved and glorified (TD 217).
In other words, only when the Church becomes Mary will Jesus be
“born” a second time and return to establish in the Spirit the
fullness of the reign of the Father.
Stefano De Fiores, S.M.M.