Trust in Divine Providence

St. Louis Marie de Montfort wrote in a letter to his uncle, Abbé Alain Robert, in September 1694: "Whatever happens I shall not be worried. I have a Father in heaven who will never fail me." This expresses perfectly his attitude of total trust in the Providence of God, which was a characteristic of his whole life. God was his Father, who would never fail to provide him with all that he needed to live fully as a human being and as a priest. This attitude, of course, requires a very strong faith, a faith that is based on an awareness of the tremendous love that God has for human beings - a love which St Louis Marie writes about especially in The Love of Eternal Wisdom. It is the same kind of faith expressed by St. Paul when he says (in Rm 8:28): "We know that in everything God works for good for those who love him." But is also requires a willingness to do what we can ourselves to help ourselves and others.

This trust in Divine Providence is evident throughout the life of St. Louis Marie, for example:

  • At the Pont de CessonAs he leaves for Paris to study for the priesthood in 1693, he refuses the offer of a horse, he gives away all his money and even exchanges his clothes with those of a beggar, so as to live in total trust in the love of God for him.
  • But, at the same time, he knows that he also must do his bit: so he takes on tasks that are normally considered distasteful (like watching over the dead at night), so as to help pay his tuition fees in the seminary. And he goes begging on behalf of other more needy students, rather than just looking after himself.
  • Despite his longing to create a band of good missionaries to work for the salvation of souls, and to establish a group of religious sisters to care for the poor, he often has to leave both these enterprises in the hands of God, trusting that God will provide the means necessary if such is his will. So a surrender to God's will goes along with complete trust in him.
  • During his missions, he would never accept payment for his services, and would always put his trust in God to provide the necessary accommodation and meals for himself and his helpers. On one or two occasions this trust was put severely to the test as he and his companions waited, seemingly in vain, for the evening meal to manifest itself.
  • The house where he stayed during all his missions was given the name "Providence", and was open to any needy people who would come there looking for help.
  • He lives as a vagabond missionary, his few possession packed into a knapsack, totally confident that all his needs will be taken care of by his loving Father, as expressed in one of his hymns: "With stick in my hand / My bare feet on the road, / I speed through the land / For I carry no load. / Like a bird in the tree / With no worry or care / My heart is quite free / For no burden I bear. / With no cash for tomorrow / I live day by day / And I know that I follow / The far better way" (H 144).

He expresses his views on trust in Divine Providence in many places in his writings, notably in his Hymn 28, which has been called a "little treatise on Providence". His letters. also, carry frequent exhortations to trust in Providence, for example Letter 7, addressed to his favourite sister Guyonne-Jeanne (Louise), in which he writes:

What God wants of you, my dear sister, is that you should live each day as it comes, like a bird in the trees, without worrying about tomorrow. Be at peace and trust in divine Providence and the Blessed Virgin, and do not seek anything else but to please God and love him... if you serve God and his holy Mother faithfully you will want for nothing in this world or the next.

In his Rules written for the Daughters of Wisdom and the Missionaries of the Company of Mary, he insists on the necessity of trust in Providence. The Daughters of Wisdom, he writes, abandon themselves, in everything, to the cares of divine providence which will help them in the manner and time that providence so wills. And, speaking of those who wish to join the Company of Mary, his Rule states that:

"Priests and Brothers alike must not accept even simple benefices and temporal possessions, even those they may inherit. If they did have any before entering the Company, they must return the benefices to those who presented them. What they inherited must be given to their relatives or to the poor, having first taken the advice of a good counselor. They thus exchange their paternal inheritance for one which God himself gives them, namely, the inexhaustible inheritance of his divine providence"

His Prayer for Missionaries describes the missionaries for whom he is pleading as "men abandoned to your providence", known for their "abandonment to providence and their devotion to Mary". And, addressing these missionaries directly in the Letter to the Company of Mary, he begins: "Fear not, little flock" for "the marvellous promises which God has made to you through his prophets... will be yours provided you put all your trust in him through Mary. Entirely dependent as you are on God's providence, it is up to him to support you and to increase your numbers ... fear nothing whatsoever and sleep in peace in your Father's arms."

St Louis Marie's insistence on trust in Divine Providence, in his own life and in his teaching, puts him alongside St. Francis of Assisi as an example and a teacher of this attitude of faith and love.