30 Aug Totus Tuus: Totally Yours
Consecration to Mary with Saint Louis De Montfort
By Henry Walker
Saint Louis De Montfort lived in pre-revolutionary France – a time and place that popular history and culture (“Les Miserables”) have taught moderns to revile. But the France of Montfort’s time was hardly a country of impoverished masses; in reality it was a Catholic patchwork of provinces, all with their unique dialects, customs and cuisines. The whole country was governed under a monarchic and political system — the Ancien Régim – which made the people subjects of the king of France as well as members of an estate and province. Social rights and status were divided into three orders or estates: clergy (First Estate), nobility (Second Estate), and the rest of the population (the Third Estate).
De Montfort was born into the Third Estate, and in his short life had an enormous effect far beyond his birthplace. In this first of three articles, REGINA writer Henry Walker introduces us to the Saint and his work.
It was the papal motto of one of the foremost venerated Saints of our time: Saint Pope John Paul II. But the words actually came from another man’s lips, another great Saint.
The French Saint Louis Grignion-Marie De Montfort used the term “Totus Tuus Ego Sum” (“I am totally yours”) in reference to both Jesus and Mary. De Montfort attributed the quote to Saint Bonaventure but seems to have taken the phrase as his own.
MONTFORT’S FAMILY HOME: Born in 1673 in the lovely village of Montfort-sur-Meu in northwestern France, the Saint is largely known for his two great works, True Devotion to Mary, and The Secret of the Rosary – with The Secret of Mary coming in at a close third.
But this Saint was not only canonised for his devotional works (True Devotion was only discovered more than a century after his death in 1716). Louis De Monfort also lived a resplendent and saintly life.
De Montfort commenced his priestly formation at 19 in the renowned St. Sulpice seminary in Paris. During his long and arduous pilgrimage to the city seminary, the pious teenager distributed much of what he owned to the poor souls he met along the way. This love for the poor was a continuous feature in his life. He, too, knew poverty as one of eighteen children.
He launched many successful missions, and people flooded to hear him speak. He would preach on the Rosary, confront various errors of his day, and laud the merits of frequent reception of the Most Blessed Sacrament. By his preaching, he became such a thorn in the side of his enemies that he was poisoned. The murder attempt was unsuccessful; he continued to preach until meeting his happy end on the 28th of April, 1716, at 43.
If Saint Louis de Montfort is not primarily known for his preaching, it may be only because the consecration which he formalised is just so laudable an achievement. This Total Consecration to Mary involves giving all of yourself to the Heavenly Mother, binding your soul in Holy Slavery to the most bountiful of Queens.
Interestingly, Saint Louis De Montfort is often incorrectly cited as the creator of this practice. In fact, we know that ancient Saints practised this “self-giving” to Mary. The Greek Father Saint John Damascene, (born in the 6th century), is quoted as saying:
“O Lady, before you today we take our stand. Lady, I call you Virgin Mother of God and to your hope, as to the surest and strongest anchor, we bind ourselves. To you we consecrate our mind, our soul, our body, all that we are. We honor you as much as we can.” – (Homilia I in Dormitionem)
We see Saint Ildephonsus of Toledo (7th century) practised the same:
“For this reason I am your slave, because your Son is my Lord. Therefore you are my Lady because you are the slave of my Lord. Therefore, I am the slave of the slave of my Lord, because you have been made the Mother of my Lord. Therefore, I have been made a slave because you have been made the Mother of my Maker.”
The practice itself is clearly ancient, venerable, and breathtakingly transformative to all souls who choose to fervently embrace it. Saint Louis De Montfort actually only formalised a brilliant method of enacting this consecration, and conveyed it to the whole Church in a most accessible and practical form.
NEXT Article: Louis De Montfort lays down a 33 day program, which leads one first to a better knowledge of self, then to a heightened awareness and devotion to Our Lady, and finally to an intimate unification with Jesus Christ, the ultimate end of all true devotion.
Henry Walker is a freelance writer and novelist, focussing on sharing with others what he has come to discover as the greatest treasure and blessing… The Catholic Faith!