A Baptismal Spirituality

St. Louis Marie de Montfort was, above all, a missionary, whose call, as he saw it, was to recall to the Christian people of France the truth of what God had freely chosen to do for them, namely to make them his children, with all the dignity which that bestowed on them, but also with all the duties which such a high calling involved.

According to Christian teaching, we are made children of God by Baptism "in Christ Jesus", as St. Paul says (Rom 6:3). By our Baptism, we are cleansed of sin, clothed in Jesus Christ, and hence accepted by the Father as his sons and daughters. This is God's work, it is he who changes us and makes us into copies, as it were, of his own Son. Henceforth we are dedicated to him, to live with the life of Christ himself.

Baptism ceramicFor St. Louis Marie, as for the Church itself, this is the initial (and the most important) "consecration" by which we are dedicated wholly to God and his service. It is the basis of our whole Christian life. Yet, he recognises that many, if not most, of those who have been baptised and thus "consecrated" to God, do not live up to this exalted calling. And his explanation of this is that "scarcely anyone makes a personal ratification of the contract made with God through his sponsors." (TD 127) Scarcely anyone, that is, makes a personal, conscious renewal of the "vows" or "promises" of baptism. So it became the major aim of all his missions to bring people to the point of making such a "renewal of the vows of baptism", or personal ratification of the dedication to God brought about initially by baptism.

St. Louis Marie believed also that the best way to enable people to continue to live this "consecration" to God, or dedication to his service, was to get them to make this renewal of their baptismal consecration "through the hands of Mary", the Mother of Christ. He believed that, since Mary was the most faithful disciple of her Son, and the most devoted child of God, she could teach us, and help us in other ways, to be faithful in our turn to the calling given us. And so he proposes "Consecration to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, through the hands of Mary" as a perfect renewal of our baptismal vows (TD 120, 126).

St. Louis Marie's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is not, therefore, something peripheral. It lies at the heart of the Christian life, deriving as it does from an essentially "baptismal" spirituality.