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St. Louis Marie de Montfort
on the Eucharist and Mary

Excerpts 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)

The French school had a deep insight into the role of Mary at the Incarnation and, therefore, in all the mysteries of Christ. It is not surprising that Montfort experienced a further deepening of the mysteries through the Blessed Virgin. St. Louis Marie highlighted the Mary/Eucharist relationship. The Sacraments, rooted in the economy of salvation, are essentially the actualization of the historical mysteries of Christ. Since Mary gave the Redeemer his flesh and blood, it follows that she cannot but be involved in the mysteries that are a unique memorial of the same flesh and blood, that is, the Eucharist.

In light of these theological principles, Montfort elaborated his teaching, which is full of grateful admiration for the Father, that the Father through the Holy Spirit has entrusted His Son to Mary. This praise extends to Mary as well, as her "fiat" made it possible for us to share the Eucharistic body and blood of her Son: "It was you, Virgin Mary, /Who gave us this body and blood / Which raises our status so high / that it is beyond the reach of the angels. May you be blessed throughout the world / For giving us such a great gift" (H [Hymns] 134:11).

The Blessed Virgin’s motherly care and concern for her faithful servants is epitomized in the fact that "she gives them the Son she has born, the Bread of Life" (TD [True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin] 208, which is full of scriptural quotations and allusions and is concerned with this particular term). It is Wisdom who prepares the table and says, "Come… eat the bread which is Jesus. Drink the wine of his love which I have mixed for you with the milk of my breasts" (TD 208). With great sensitivity and in great depth, Montfort draws attention to the presence and action of Mary in the Eucharist without detriment to the excellence of the redeeming work of Christ. Mary is mediatrix of Communion: "As Mary is the treasurer and dispenser of the gifts and graces of the Most High God, she reserves a choice portion, indeed the choicest portion, to nourish and sustain her children and servants. They grow strong on the Bread of Life; they are made joyful with the wine that brings forth virgins. They are carried at her breast" (TD 208).

In the conviction that sacramental Communion necessarily involves the presence of Mary, Montfort concludes TD with an exhortation to receive Holy Communion in union with Mary. She receives in us and for us the Word of God made Bread. The reason for this is that she received the Word of God "in her heart and in her body," as the Church Fathers put it. In the last few pages of TD (266-273), Montfort tells us why and how we should unite ourselves with Mary before, during, and after Holy Communion; his aim is to demonstrate clearly that in us and through us Holy Communion binds Christ and Mary together again. In other words, the union between Christ and Mary, which took place at a definite time and place, is repeated in a sacramental way when the faithful united with Mary receive Holy Communion.

In accordance with the thinking of the time, Montfort made no explicit mention of the ecclesial aspect of Holy Communion; if we make allowance for this, we can safely say that Montfort’s teaching on the Christ/Mary/faithful relationship is extraordinarily clear from the theological standpoint. In practice, the relationship reflects the mystery of the oblation and communion that united in one heart Christ, Mary, and John at the time of the supreme sacrifice, which redeemed humanity (cf. Jn 19:25-27). It was precisely because he had in mind the conformity of the faithful to Jesus Christ, with Mary playing an all-important role, that Montfort envisaged and introduced the Consecration to Jesus through the hands of Mary, which he meant to be made in close connection with Holy Communion: "They should go to confession and Holy Communion with the intention of consecrating themselves to Jesus through Mary as his slaves of love. When receiving Holy Communion they could follow the method given later on [cf. TD 266-273]. They then recite the act of consecration" (TD 231; cf. also SM [The Secret of Mary] 61, 76).

In the method that Montfort suggests for receiving Holy Communion in union with Mary, the three Persons of the Holy Trinity are clearly involved; the prayers to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit on the common basis of "Lord I am not worthy" (TD 267-269) highlight the relationship of each of the Divine Persons with the Eucharist and with Mary.

Finally, a theme dear to the heart of the missionary: the Eucharistic life of Mary, which he mentions in the hymn to the Blessed Sacrament on Saturdays (H 134). Jesus instituted the Eucharist in order to remain with Mary even after his death on the Cross and his Ascension; so he keeps coming back to her "nourishing her with his own body which she nourished when he was an infant"; "in exchange for the milk of her most pure breast, he strengthens her with his divine Blood"; the Blessed Virgin is the perfect model of all who receive Holy Communion.

Rev. Corrado Maggioni, S.M.M.


 



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