If You Don’t Take Risks for God…

Whether you realized it or not, this past week was a special one for the disciples of Marian devotion. It involved two events linked to two great sons of Mary. The first occurred on Saturday, April 27th, with the 10th anniversary of the canonization of St. John Paul II, the “Marian Pope”, who took as the inspiration of his service to the Church the episcopal motto “Totus tuus”. The following day, April 28th, marked the liturgical feast day of the very man who inspired St. John Paul II’s motto: St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort.

The link between these two saints is Mary. Both men were not only consecrated to her, but both men completely trusted in her. They learned through their consecration to place everything in Mary’s hands. This total entrustment to Mary not only taught them how to be humble men, but also daring men. This seemingly contradictory combination of humility and daring should come as no surprise. It is oftentimes the mark of authentic sanctity to find supernaturally wed within the same soul, seemingly opposed virtues.

A particular example of the daring born from total entrustment to Mary is seen in the following episode from the life of St. Louis-Marie de Montfort.

In addition to founding the priestly religious order of the Company of Mary, St. Louis-Marie also founded a community of religious women called the Daughters of Wisdom. He was not alone, however, in this second endeavor. The co-foundress of the Daughters of Wisdom was Marie-Louise Trichet, who later took the name, Marie-Louise de Jésus.

At seventeen, Marie-Louise met Montfort for the first time. Montfort had just been appointed chaplain of the hospital of La Rochelle. His reputation as a preacher and confessor was already widespread among the youth of this region of Poitou.

Upon his appointment, Marie-Louise offered her services spontaneously to the hospital, dedicating most of her time to the service of the poorest among the sick. Just when she was settling into her charitable works, St. Louis-Marie asked her to move into the hospital, that is, to make it her home. Marie-Louise quickly accepted this invitation. But, there was a catch. Despite the saintly priest’s invitation, there was in fact, no open vacancy for her in the hospital as a resident worker. This did not phase Marie-Louise, however, she asked to be admitted as one more among the poor. At this time, she was only nineteen years old.

As enthusiastic as she was to move into the hospital, her mother thought she was mad. “You will become as mad as this priest”, her mother had told her. “What a ridiculous idea for a beautiful young woman from a good family to put on that grey habit and to spend one’s time taking care of tramps, the sick and plague victims! What folly to follow this mad priest!”

For ten years, Marie-Louise would fulfill, in the most perfect manner possible, her humble duty as a nurse. But at the close of those first ten years, St. Louis-Marie moved to Poitiers, and Marie-Louise was left alone in her charitable endeavor.

Then, at the beginning of 1715, she received a letter from Montfort inviting her to move to Poitiers:

My dear daughters in Jesus Christ, Marie Trichet and Catherine Brunet, May Jesus and his Cross reign forever! You have not answered my last letter and I wonder why. I have spoken several times to his Lordship, the Bishop of La Rochelle, about you and about our plans and he thinks you ought to come here and begin the work we want so much. He has rented a house for the purpose until another house can be bought and suitably furnished.

Marie-Louise was not convinced. Despite the sacrificial nature of her work at the hospital, she was content. She had built herself a nest, so to speak, in Poitiers. Sensing that she had become attached to her work in the hospital, St. Louis-Marie wrote to her a second time, and in these words we find a jewel of faith-filled conviction.

I know you are doing a great deal of good where you are, but you will do infinitely more away from home and we know that since the time of Abraham right up to the time of our Lord and even to our own day, God sends his greatest servants out of their own country because, as our Lord himself says, no prophet is accepted among his own people. I know you will have many difficulties to overcome but an enterprise which is going to do so much for the glory of God and the salvation of men will have its way strewn with thorns and crosses. If you don’t take risks for God, you won’t give anything worthwhile. I am writing to you on behalf of the Bishop, so keep this confidential.

If you don’t take risks for God, you won’t give anything worthwhile. Where did St. Louis-Marie de Montfort become convinced of such an ideal? What convinced him of the veracity of these daring words?

Pardon the pun, but I dare to say he learned it from Mary, from his total entrustment to her. His daring was a prolongation and participation of hers, i.e. that daring faith whereby a person totally entrusts themselves to God and the goodness of His will. Mary’s faith was a daring faith.

In a wonderfully insightful catechesis on Mary’s faith, St. John Paul II taught that her assent to God’s will manifests a “daring” faith because she was asked to believe in a revealed truth far loftier than Zechariah’s.

Mary is called to believe in a virginal motherhood…to assent to a truth never expressed before. She accepts it with a simple yet daring heart. With the question: “How can this be?”, she expresses her faith in the divine power to make virginity compatible with her exceptional and unique motherhood.

And what an exceptional mother she became through her faith! Her splendor shines forth even more in her children, who follow her example, among whom St. Louis de Montfort and St. John Paul II shine like two north stars. But they are not the only ones called to show forth the splendor of Mary and her daring faith. This vocation to marianization also belongs to us!

May is now here and that means Mary’s month is here. I can think of no better time than now to make bold on a renewed endeavor to marianize our lives. We can start by resolving to give to Jesus in Mary something bold and something worthwhile, that is to entrust to them everything that we have been holding back from them until now.

Seize the day and make it all Hers!