One of the mission points contained in the implementation of the “Asia-Oceania Year of Mission 2022” is to “intensify collaboration with the laity”. Talking about “intensifying collaboration with the laity”, we may fall into a relationship of collaboration that is purely functional or utilitarian. Functional relations are relations that occur because of function, for example, between the parish priest of the parish council or parish functionaries, while utilitarian relations are relations based on the interests of their use, for example, seeking funds; project development or procurement etc. The question is, what kind of relationships need to be intensified? With regard to the interrelationships between members of the Church, the Second Vatican Council emphasized the importance of complementary relationships – complementary, and not just functional or utilitarian relationships. One theologian says that the intertwined relationships between Church members are not merely functional or utilitarian complementarities, but existential and theological complementarities. This existential and theological complementarity is revealed in the sharing of missions; share spirituality; share charisma. Existential and theological complementary relationships about identity and the nature of our being and our vocation as priests, religious or laymen. The existential and theological complementarity relationship is only possible if the members of the living form in the Church realize that although they have different charisms, they have the same degree and dignity as members of the mystical body of Christ (the Church). Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium affirms the equal status and dignity of every member of the Church, saying:
... Equal dignity of the members because of their rebirth in Christ; the same grace the sons; so is the call to perfection; one safety; one hope, and undivided love. So in Christ and in the Church, there is no difference… Even though some are appointed by Christ's will to be teachers, sharers of mysteries, and Shepherds for others, all of them are truly equal in dignity, equal in activities common to all believers in building up the Body of Christ.
It is in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council that I place my reflection on: The contribution of St. Montfort’s Spirituality for the Spirituality of Lay Christians.This reflection is a response to the invitation to intensify authentic collaboration with the laity, and not merely functional or utilitarian cooperation.
1. Get to know St. Montfort in its relations with the Lay
Saint Montfort lived in the spirit of the Council of Trent – the Council of Counter-Reformation so colored the life of the church. In reaction to the teachings of the Reformers, the Council of Trent reaffirmed the traditional doctrine of two statuses in the Church, that of the laity and the clergy. The Council of Trent affirmed that the clergy were real priests and excluded the general priesthood of the laity which was received in baptism. Only priests have rights in sacred spaces. This traditional doctrine is nothing but perpetuating what is called "the two ends theory" which was promoted by Pope Gregory VII in his "Gregorian reform". According to this theory, Christianity (Christian society) has two ends (poles), namely the spiritual and the material. In this case, the ordained (bishop – priest) is responsible for spiritual affairs, while the laity in material matters – temporal. In practice, the spiritual takes precedence over the material and is considered superior to the material. Consequently, it is not surprising that the ordained are seen and placed higher than the laity. In addition, spiritual areas and ministers are limited to arenas or places that are holy – sanctified (altar table – priest's home), separated from the secular world. In this context, the relationship that occurs is no longer an equal relationship and the laity also has no role in the spiritual realm and ministry of the Church. This atmosphere is still very strongly felt and found in the Montfort era.
However, what is interesting is that in the seventeenth century France appeared important figures who established very close relations with the laity and helped the laity to explore their spiritual life in the midst of the world. A very important figure who influenced subsequent figures, including St. Montfort, was St. Francis de Sales. He wrote a treatise entitled “Introduction la vie dévote” (Introduction to consecrated life), which is considered the first treatise on the spirituality of the laity. In the opening section of this treatise, St. Francis of Sales expressed his view thus:
Almost everyone who has written about the godly life instructs to withdraw from the world; or at least teach a way of dedication that leads to a total retirement from worldly affairs. However, my aim is to teach those who live in cities, in palaces, in their own households, and whose vocation requires them to live in society. . .
In the same book, in chapter III, St. Francis de Sales asserts:
It would be a mistake, even a heretical one, to try to banish the life of piety from the army guard room, mechanical workshop, princely palace, or household hearth. Of course, the pure contemplative life, which is especially practiced by religious and monastics, cannot be practiced in this secular vocation, but there are various other kinds of devotion that are suitable for leading those, whose vocations are secular, on the path to perfection.
Saint Francis de Sales believes that solid spirituality is possible for laypeople who live in a secular world. It does recognize the secular dimension of the laity's vocation, yet it must still be based on love. Saint Francis de Sales paved the way for a new awareness of the universal vocation to holiness and of conformity (harmony) with God's will in the everyday life.
The influence of Saint Francis of Sales is found in the way Saint Montfort views and relates to the laity. In a letter to the Friends of the Cross, Saint Montfort wrote:
Friends of the Cross, you are like crusaders, united against the world; not like the religious who withdrew from the world, but like the valiant warriors who entered the battlefield, refusing to retreat even an inch. . . .
From this letter to the Friends of the Cross, we find out how St. Montfort recognizes the distinctive vocation of the laity in the world. In the Secret of Mary, in line with St. Francis de Sales, St. Montfort recognized that the universal call to holiness was for all the baptized, whom he called the elect. Explicitly, St. Montfort says:
You, the image of the living God… God wants you to be holy as He is in this life, and glorious as He is after this life. Gaining holiness is your sure calling: there you must direct all thought, word and deed, suffering and movement of life; otherwise, you are against God, because you reject the purpose and purpose of God in creating you and preserving your life to this day.
From this view, we can say that St. Montfort really respects the dignity of the laity as the elect. He was not trapped in the atmosphere of the times that carried out a strict dichotomy between the clergy and the laity. His concern for the dignity and vocation of the laity in the midst of the world prompted Montfort to write spiritual works to help the laity deepen their spiritual life. In the practice of self-dedication that leads to the renewal of the baptismal vows, St. Montfort really leads the laity to experience and live the path of holiness within the scope of their daily life.
If we see how St. Montfort relates to the laity in his missionary work, we will find that for Montfort the laity is companions in his missionary work. He is always present and involves the laity. Although he was a clergy, he did not place himself above the laity. The letter to the parishioners in Montbernage illustrates how Montfort relates to the laity. He wrote:
I freely write to you on my departure, like a poor father to his children, not to teach you new things, but to confirm what I am telling you in truth. The Christian friendship (fraternal) and paternal friendship that I have for you are so strong that I will always carry you in my heart, in life, in death, and in eternity.
Saint Montfort sees those he serves as friends in faith and love. Even after completing his mission work, he still shared his love and care. No wonder St. Montfort is known as “bon père” – “good father”. This reveals that Montfort's relationship with the people he serves is not merely a functional and utilitarian relationship.
Another interesting thing about St. Montfort is that he presents himself as an engaged companion. He does not present himself as a priest who only knows to command, just sits behind a desk, but is really involved, even doing physical labor. Joseph Grandet, the biographer of St. Montfort, who lived from 1646 to 1724, testifies to how St. Montfort worked together to build Calvary Ponchateau:
Their zeal (the laity) increased and made them work earnestly when they saw in front of them Montfort digging the ground, lifting and moving boulders. They all worked singing and talking about spiritual things.
For St. Montfort, being a priest is not a status, but a ministry to save souls and renew the spirit of the faithful life of the people. He is truly present, teaching and setting an example in pious living, working, and walking with the people. Therefore, the Montfort-style mission should be inspired by the spirit of saving souls and renewing the spirit of the faithful life of the people through the spirit of presence, example, walking, and collaboration with the people. The entire mission of St. Montfort is characterized by this. Without being inspired by the elements that have been mentioned, the Montfort-style mission will lose its soul and make us trapped in a relationship that is only functional or utilitarian. Closing this section, I would like to quote what was written by Saint Vincentius a Paulo: "the church has no worse enemy than its own priests." The priest referred to here is a priest who only enjoys status, office, and privileges, without presence and example, without the humility to walk and cooperate with the people.
2. The Importance of Awareness of the Identity, vocation, and peculiarity of the Layman's Mission in the Life of the Church and the World
Talking about the spirituality of the laity, we can never escape from the identity and distinctiveness of the laity's mission in the Church and the world. The Second Vatican Council and the Post-Council Church brought a breath of fresh air to existence: the identity and distinctiveness of the mission of the laity in the life of the church. This has a positive impact on the involvement of the laity in presenting Christ in the midst of their living space. The laity is no longer seen as passive spectators, but as active actors who bring vitality to the life of faith and the church. The Second Vatican Council emphasized 3 important points related to the existence of the laity that paved the way for the development of the spirituality of the laity, namely 1) the Church's acknowledgment that the laity is part of the People of God, the mystical body of Christ – God's chosen people (cf. Lumen Gentium [LG] 30, 31, 32); 2) the Church's recognition of the unique vocation and mission of the laity in the Church and the world (LG 31, 34 – 36; Gaudium et Spes [GS] 40, 43; Apostolicam Actuositatem [AA] 2, 4, 16); and 3) affirmation of the universal call to holiness.
The Church's acknowledgment of the existence of the laity as part of the members of the Mystical Body of Christ and the People chosen by God confirms that the laity has the same dignity as other members of the Church (clergy and religious) and has an important role in the Church together with other members. The Council states:
These faithful are by baptism made one body with Christ and are constituted among the People of God; they are in their own way made sharers in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly functions of Christ; and they carry out for their own part the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world.
In number 33 which we saw in the introduction, Lumen Gentium expressly states the official view of the Church regarding the dignity and status of the laity in ecclesiastical life. It is very clear that the Council recognized that the choice to live as a layman was neither a lower choice nor a “concession to human weakness”. The choice to become a laity (married or unmarried) is a call from God that has the same degree and dignity as other life choices in the Church, such as being a priest and/or religious. What distinguishes them is only the modality – the way of being – to serve and work for Christ and His Kingdom.
Speaking of the vocation and mission of the laity, the Second Vatican Council emphasized that the laity are called to play an important role in the Church and the world. According to the Council, although not exclusive to the laity, the distinctive dimension of the laity's vocation and mission is secular. The Council clearly says:
The distinctive and special feature of the laity is their worldly (secular) nature… By virtue of their unique calling, the laity is obliged to seek the Kingdom of God by dealing with temporal matters and administering them according to God's will… They are called by God to fulfill their own duties with zeal to the gospel, and thus like leaven bringing their contribution to the sanctification of the world from within. That's how they radiate faith, hope, and love, especially with the testimony of their lives, and show Christ to others.
Emphasizing the secular nature that is peculiar to the laity, the Council recognized that the Christian vocation does not require an individual to escape from the world: fuga mundi, but requires the laity to be involved in the world and make the world their place and means to interpret God's call to them. Pope John Paul II in Christifideles Laici reaffirmed what the Council taught by saying:
they (the laity) are not called to leave the position they have in the world. Baptism does not take them at all from the world … (1 Corinthians 7:24). Instead, he (Jesus) entrusts a vocation to those whose focus is on the world.”
In this regard, the Council negates the dichotomy between the spiritual life and the secular life of the laity. In other words, the spiritual life of the laity can be lived, interpreted, and developed in the context of their secular life. They are called to not only bring Jesus into the world but also to find Jesus in the secular world in which they live and work. The Council emphatically stated:
… deviate from the truth of those … who think they can shirk their duties in the world, without heeding that it is precise because of their own faith that they are more bound by the obligation to carry out those duties according to their respective vocations. However, they are no less misguided, who on the contrary think that they can so far immerse themselves in worldly affairs, as if they were completely separated from religious life, based on the assumption that religion only means carrying out worship activities and a number of activities. purely moral obligation. The divorce between the faith professed and the daily life of many people must be seen as something urgent in this day and age.
Reducing or limiting the appreciation of faith only in worship – the church room and separating it from the experiences and struggles of daily life that are secular in character is something that is not justified, even considered a deviation.
Another important aspect of the identity, vocation, and mission of the laity emphasized by the Council is the universal call to holiness. The Council affirmed that the call to holiness is given to every member of the Church. This affirmation ends the narrow view that sees the call to holiness as a vocation reserved only for a group of members of the Church, such as priests and religious. It means that the identity, vocation, and mission of the laity are also directed to holiness – to the perfection of love. The Council explained that the call to Christian holiness is a free grace that God gives to His people through Jesus Christ. The church is holy because it is united with Christ. Christ united the Church in Himself as His mystical body and bestowed upon her the grace of the Holy Spirit to sanctify the church for the glory of God the Father. Because Christian holiness flows from Christ, there is only one way of holiness for all the Christian faithful, namely to unite with Christ in love. Christ is the pinnacle of all Christian holiness. It is clear that the identity, vocation, and mission of the laity can never be separated from Christ, the source of the holiness and apostolate of the Church. The vocation and mission of the laity should flow from their union with Christ. In this regard, the Council affirms that the vocation and mission of the laity are nothing but sharing the priestly, prophetic, and royal duties of Christ  and "are also called to in all things be witnesses of Christ in the midst of human society" through their duties and responsibilities.
Concerning the priestly duties of the laity, the Council expanded the notions of worship and sacrifice to include the various activities of the laity that culminate in the Eucharist. Carrying out the duties of the priesthood of Christ, the laity are called to make all works, lives, and families as living spiritual sacrifices, pleasing to God through Christ.
As those in charge of Christ's prophetic work, the laity is called to make the power of the gospel shine through in their daily lives, in their families and communities, and to express their faith and hope with patience and courage through their secular lives. The council said: “Let them not hide this hope in their hearts. Let them express it by unceasing repentance and by the struggle against the rulers of darkness … also through the structures of worldly life.” As prophets, the laity is called upon to carry out two tasks at once, namely to criticize people, groups, or institutions who are oppressing and give freshness – a comfort – a relief to those who are oppressed, abandoned, and unnoticed.
Participating in Christ's royal duties, the laity is called to spread the kingdom of God in the world. This implies a spiritual struggle – emptying oneself to overcome the kingdom of sin in oneself and the world. Repentance and asceticism (mortification) became important.
The vocation and mission of the laity that flow from Christ should be placed in the context of the mystery of the communion of the Church. Pope John Paul II asserted: “Only from within the mystery of the communion of the Church is the identity of the laity known and their basic dignity revealed.” The vocation of the laity is essentially a call to communion. This refers to a dual self-giving participation, namely communion – communion with God in Christ and communion with the members of God's people – the Church. Since the vocation of the laity is communion – directed to communion, the consequence is that the spiritual accompaniment of the laity should also be placed in the context of the mystery of the communion of the Church. In this regard, Pope John Paul II said: “Lay people are formed by the Church and within the Church in a mutual communion and cooperation with all members of the Church: priests, religious and laymen.” This aspect of communion becomes important because if the Spirituality of the laity is detached from this aspect of communion, without the guidance of the Church, it will become inauthentic. In this regard, Segundo Galilee, a theologian, said: “A spirituality that does not share in the life of the Church, its sacraments and movements, its preaching and formations of faith … ends by being extinguished or by becoming sectarian and subjective.”
It is clear that the laity's call to holiness is not a call to escape from the concrete world or from everyday experience; nor is it a calling that is individualistic, only self-directed – self-centered; nor solely as the satisfaction of personal spiritual needs. This call is apostolic and communal. In other words, the laity's call to holiness is always directed at missions; leads to involvement in the life of the church and the world.
3. Contribution of St. Montfort’s Spirituality to Lay Spirituality
Having looked at the identity, vocation, mission of the laity, and other aspects that follow and give content to the spirituality of lay Christians, let us see what was the important contribution of the spirituality of St. Montfort to the spirituality of the laity: for the vocation, mission and spiritual journey of the laity. In this section, I would like to present 4 aspects that contributed to the spirituality of St. Montfort for the spirituality of lay Christians.
a. Spirituality of St. Montfort: The Path of Holiness in the World, Rooted in the Mystery of the Incarnation and Leading to the End Times
St. Montfort Spirituality offers the laity a path of holiness in the world rooted in the mystery of the incarnation and directed at the second coming of Christ. St. Montfort Spirituality provides a solid and deepening theological basis – intensifying the distinctively secular and incarnational dimensions of lay spirituality.
The mystery of the incarnation, for Montfort, is the right mystery for the Christian life. Saint Montfort reminds the laity that the vocation of the laity, which is to grow in the holiness of God in the secular world, is nothing but total entry into the mystery of the incarnation, which is the source of the whole mystery of Jesus. In this regard, St. Montfort says:
The Incarnation was the first mystery of Jesus Christ… In this mystery, Jesus anticipated all the other mysteries of His life that would follow… and the result: this mystery was the summation of all mysteries, the mystery that contained the purpose and grace of all other mysteries.
It means that the laity's vocation is to participate totally in the life and mission of Jesus through their worldly work and duties. In Montfort's view, this is a call to enter into a continuous journey of knowing and loving Jesus Christ in concrete life situations.
Montfort believes that the mystery of the incarnation, the mystery of the Word incarnate in the midst of the world becomes a model for the spiritual pilgrimage and mission of the laity in the midst of the world. Montfort says:
The pattern of action that the three persons of the Most Holy Trinity followed at the time of the incarnation, namely the first coming of Jesus Christ, remains with them every day in the Church imperceptibly, until the end of time, that is, when the last coming of Jesus Christ. . .
There are, at least, three important aspects that are always present in the mystery of the Incarnation, namely the aspect of kenosis – total self-emptying, the aspect of the Cross, and the Marian aspect. These three aspects are an integral part that cannot be separated from the mystery of the incarnation. In the emptying of Christ, the Eternal Wisdom incarnate, there is the cross and there is Mary. Even in the book Love of Eternal Wisdom, Montfort dares to say that the mystery of the incarnation which is the mystery of Jesus' self-emptying is the mystery of the Cross. Therefore, Montfort said that the Eternal Wisdom Incarnate had loved the Cross from his mother's womb. The cross, for St. Montfort, is not a symbol of suffering, but a symbol of his love and obedience to the will of the Father. This is in line with Jesus' own teaching which said: "If anyone wants to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mt 16:24). Montfort invites every Christian believer, including the laity, to always practice discernment: to distinguish between worldly wisdom and God's wisdom. Entering into this discernment process is nothing but entering into the process of emptying oneself and embracing the Cross of Christ (Wisdom of God).
In addition, according to Montfort, Jesus' self-emptying in the mystery of the incarnation is clearly revealed in His dependence on the Virgin Mary. It is not only a physical dependence which is a logical consequence of the incarnation, but also a personal dependence between Jesus and His mother. However, Montfort reminds us: “We must be careful not to view this dependence as a kind of humiliation or imperfection in Jesus Christ. Because Mary is infinitely far below her Son, who is God…” In Montfort's view, God chose to depend on Mary in the mystery of the incarnation because of His great love for man and also because of the great love of man, which Mary represents for God. Jesus' obedience to Mary is an expression of His obedience to the Father. For Montfort, the mystery of the incarnation does not stop at the birth of Jesus in the world but extends to the birth of a new man in Christ. In other words, the incarnation is the beginning of a long process of the new birth of God's children in Christ. Montfort expresses this reflection as follows:
The pattern held by the three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity at the time of the Incarnation and the first coming of Jesus Christ is held daily by these three persons of the Most Holy Trinity, imperceptibly, in the Holy Church, and will continue to be held by these three persons of the Most Holy Trinity until the end of time, when the last coming of Jesus Christ.
So, Montfort strongly believes that the presence and involvement of Our Lady in the journey of our spiritual life continues. Moving on from the pattern of the mystery of the incarnation, Montfort offers 4 means of knowing and loving Jesus the Wisdom Who incarnates the source and fullness of our holiness, namely passionate longing, constant prayer, penance (self-denial), and Mary (see Eternal Love of Wisdom no. 181 – 122).
Montfort saw that the journey of holiness rooted in the mystery of the incarnation should lead to the coming of Jesus at the end of time. In this regard, Montfort awakens us to the eschatological dimension of our vocation and mission. Why is this dimension important to emphasize? By being aware of the eschatological dimension of the laity's vocation and mission, Montfort helps the laity to understand that the reality of the Kingdom of God is "already" and "yet to come". It is important to emphasize that the laity are not over-optimistic by identifying their work and duties with the ultimate goal: the redemptive work of God and the kingdom of God. Lay people are really called to be involved in the world through their worldly duties and work, without making or identifying it with the kingdom of God. They should direct all their duties and work to the Kingdom of God. Lay people are called upon not to separate their professed faith from their concrete life.
b. Spirituality of St. Montfort: The Path of Discipleship: The Path of Struggle and Communion – Fellowship
The basic goal of Christian spirituality is to make everyone a disciple of Christ. Therefore, the spirituality of lay Christians is a path of discipleship, a spiritual pilgrimage following Jesus Christ and His Gospel. The way of holiness, which for Montfort is the way of knowing, loving, and sharing Jesus Christ, is really the way of discipleship. It is a choice to place Jesus Christ at the center of our lives. Without Christ, the identity and dignity of true disciples lose their meaning. The fertility of the vocations and apostolate of the laity depend on their union with Christ.
For Montfort, the path of discipleship is a path of struggle – struggle. Entering the path of discipleship involves the process of allowing ourselves not to be led by worldly wisdom, but by the wisdom of the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ. In other words, the path of discipleship is the path of “non-conformity” with all kinds of evil forces embedded within us and the world around us. Consequently, walking the path of discipleship always involves conflict, suffering and the cross. In this regard, St. Montfort says that a true disciple is a friend of the cross. The cross is the inevitable choice of the loving choice to follow Christ, that is, to be involved in the life and work of Jesus. However, true disciples do not see the cross from a passive-fatalistic perspective, but they live and experience the cross as an expression of loving self-giving, as a form of emptying themselves into God's will. For Montfort, the Cross was indeed an essential means of following Christ. Montfort said: "there has never been a cross without Jesus and there has never been a Jesus without a cross." More St. Montfort said: “The cross makes us look like Jesus Christ … God has used this testimony to prove that he loves us. At the same time, the cross is a testimony that God asks to show Him that we love Him.”
St. Montfort emphasizes that the path of discipleship is not an individualistic path, but a communal one. It means walking together with the other members of the mystical body of Christ like crusaders united against the world, renewing the spirit of the Christian faith, for the sake of the Church of God and bringing about the Work of peace and love. Our involvement in the life of Jesus always implies our involvement in the life and mission of the Church and in our brothers and sisters who are treated unfairly and excluded. The dedication to Jesus through the hands of the Virgin Mary that leads us to the renewal of the Baptism promise is none other than this path of discipleship.
c. Spirituality of St. Montfort: The Marian Path of Holiness– Christocentric
St. Montfort for lay spirituality is to offer the Marian-Christocentric way of holiness to the laity. This is in line with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. The Second Vatican Council recognizes that Our Lady plays an important role in the spiritual journey of God's people. The Council teaches:
This maternity of Mary in the order of grace began with the consent which she gave in faith at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, and lasts until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect… By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and cultics, until they are led into the happiness of their true home.
St. Montfort’ Spirituality does not contradict the teachings of the Church, in fact, it provides a solid and clear basis regarding the Marian-Christocentric dimension.
For St. Montfort, Mary's motherly role in the spiritual journey of the laity is really necessary. Mary's motherly role is not artificial, but it is the will of the Triune God. Regarding this, St. Montfort wrote:
God the Father wants Mary to be the mother of His children until the end of time … God the Son wishes to form himself, and, in a manner of speaking, become incarnate every day in his members through his dear Mother … God the Holy Spirit wishes to fashion his chosen ones in and through Mary
Montfort saw this need not as an absolute necessity, but as a necessity called a "hypothetically necessity" - meaning that Mary was needed because God wanted her. In this regard, St. Montfort writes: “…because of the need of God, by necessity what we call 'hypothetical' meaning that, as a result of His will, the Most Holy Virgin is needed by mankind more and more to achieve the ultimate goal.”
St. Montfort truly believes that to become a disciple of Christ meant to be true servants or children of Mary. Montfort said: "It is useless for us to be satisfied with the thought that we are children of God and disciples of Wisdom if we are not children of Mary." For Montfort, the union between Jesus and Mary and Mary with Jesus was so close, inseparable. The union between Jesus and His Mother continues. In this regard, Montfort said:
If Jesus Christ, the head of mankind, is born of her (Mary), the predestinate, who are members of this head, must also as a necessary consequence be born of her. One and the same mother does not give birth to the head without the members nor to the members without the head, for these would be monsters in the order of nature. In the order of grace likewise, the head and the members are born of the same mother…
However, St. Montfort cautions that Mary's maternal role does not replace the act or role of the Triune God. Mary's role must always be seen in her obedience, openness, and cooperation with the Triune God. In other words, Mary's maternal role in the holiness order must be placed in her mystical union with the Triune God.
As our Mother, Mary is the most excellent means of the help of all kinds of help that God offers us. Mary is the most superior of all kinds of means that God offers us. Mary is the most Christlike. He is “the mold of God, created by the Holy Spirit to give natural form to the Divine Man by means of the hypostatic union and to give divine form to man by grace.” Our Lady never allowed her own spirit to lead her, but always allowed the Spirit of God to rule and direct her. Very beautifully, St. Montfort describes the complete union between Mary and her Son Jesus thus: “Jesus and Mary are united so intimately that the one is wholly in the other: Jesus is wholly in Mary and Mary wholly in Jesus. Or rather: it is no longer Mary who lives, but only Jesus who lives in Mary.” From this, St. Montfort invites the laity to allow themselves to be molded by Our Lady with a trusting and unconditional attitude because there is only God in Mary.
For St. Montfort, true and pure devotion (devotion) to Our Lady, which is characterized by being inward, full of trust, continuous and selfless, is a form of surrendering ourselves to be formed by Our Lady. In this true and loving devotion, we give all of ourselves and our lives (past, present, and future) to Mary so that we may belong to Christ. In other words, true and loving devotion is one that leads us to totally dedicate ourselves to Jesus Christ in and through Mary. St. Montfort reminded us that in this devotion we do not do two devotions, namely to Mary and then to Jesus, but we do only one thing:
we consecrate ourselves at one and the same time to Mary and to Jesus. We give ourselves to Mary because Jesus chose her as the perfect means to unite himself to us and unite us to him. We give ourselves to Jesus because he is our last end. Since he is our Redeemer and our God we are indebted to him for all that we are.
Because this devotion is a form of total self-dedication to Jesus, according to Montfort, this devotion is nothing but the renewal of Baptist promises. By linking true devotion to the renewal of the baptismal promises, St. Montfort touches on the essence of true devotion to Our Lady, namely 1) to lead us to grow continuously in the riches of baptism and faith and to live them to the full; 2) to make us more actively participate in the life and mission of Jesus in our concrete life situations. For St. Montfort, "Jesus Christ our Redeemer, truly God and true man, must be the ultimate goal of all our devotions, otherwise, devotion is inaccurate and misleading."
The Marian-Christocentric way of holiness is a very valuable contribution to the spirituality of St. Montfort for lay spirituality, in particular how St. Montfort links true devotion to the Virgin Mary or a complete dedication to Jesus in and through Mary's hands with the complete renewal of the baptismal promises.
d. Spirituality of St. Montfort: A Holistic and Marian Coaching Process (Formatio) – Christocentric
The formation of the laity is one of the fundamental aspects of the life and vocation of the laity. This is clearly confirmed by the Church in the decree on the Apostolate of the Laity – Apostolicam Actuositatem Chapter VI and by Pope John Paul II in Christifideles Laici. In the Christifideles Laici document no. 59-60, Pope John Paul II stated that the form of formation – the formation of the laity should be comprehensive – holistic, touching all aspects of life. In addition, Pope John Paul II places the formation of the laity in the context of ecclesial communion. He stated: "Lay people are formed by and within the Church in mutual communion and cooperation with all members of the Church: clergy, religious and lay people."
What is interesting is that the formation of the laity is also an integral part of the spirituality of St. Montfort. St. Montfort who is nicknamed “Bon Père” or “Pastor Bonus” has a concern for the upbringing of the laity. It not only provides a Marian-Christocentric theological basis for the spiritual journey of the laity but also offers an intensive process of formation that helps the laity to grow in faith maturity and interpret their vocation in concrete life.
The coaching process offered by St. Montfort was the process of formation that we now call the Totus Tuus pilgrimage. This process is actually intended not only for the laity but for all the Christian faithful: the clergy, the religious, and the laity. This process is a spiritual pilgrimage process for 33 days or 33 meetings to prepare ourselves to renew our baptismal commitment to Christ through the hands of the Virgin Mary. 33 taken by St. Montfort as a symbol of the age of fullness – the maturity of Christ. Therefore, the process of 33 days or 33 meetings aims to lead the laity and anyone who enters this process to Christ's maturity.
This form of coaching is holistic and Marian-Christocentric because it includes St. Montfort provides spiritual training that helps lay people to enter into the process of knowing and growing in 4 relationships, which are an integral part of every spiritual life journey, namely 1) growing in understanding of the world, a place where the laity are called to fulfill their calling – to be sensitive to the graces and the dark side of the world; 2) growing in self-knowledge – the fertile ground where the seed of the Word and the Spirit of Divine and Incarnate Wisdom grows: realizing our own weaknesses and strengths and our dependence on God; 3) grow in the knowledge of Mary, our Mother, God's preeminent means of help; and 4) growing in the knowledge and love of Christ the source and fullness of our pilgrimage of holiness. For 33 days (33 meetings) the laity is prepared to truly explore these four relationships in an atmosphere of prayer and fellowship. At the end of this pilgrimage process, the laity is invited to make an important decision, namely to surrender themselves again to belong to Christ in the hands of Our Lady, through the renewal of the Baptism promises. This is the time when the laity is reborn anew in Christ through the Virgin Mary. Saint Montfort places this consecration within the framework of the sacramental celebration, in particular the sacraments of penance and the Eucharist. It is in this context that the ecclesial dimension – communion becomes increasingly visible.
By inviting and preparing the laity for self-dedication or renewal of baptismal vows to Christ through and in the hands of Our Lady, the spirituality of St. Montfort reaffirmed the commitment of the laity as Christian faithful and intensified their involvement in the mission of Jesus as king, priest, and prophet in the concrete situations of their lives. Thus, we can say that the form of lay formation that St. Montfort touches on is the basic purpose of lay people's existence, which flows from their baptism.
As mentioned earlier, this reflection is a response to an invitation to intensify authentic cooperation with the laity and not merely functional or utilitarian cooperation. I sincerely hope that through this reflection, we Montfortians will become more aware of the riches of our spirituality and be able to present and share these treasures of spirituality in our relationships with lay people wherever we are sent in a spirit of complementarity. In addition, the reflection on existence: the call and mission of the laity in the life of the church awaken us, including the laity themselves, of the nobility of dignity and the vocation of the laity in the life of the church. This awareness is important to further deepen the theological and existential reciprocal relationships. And, hopefully, by looking at St. Montfort for the laity, the laity can find spiritual tools that can help the laity in living and taking responsibility for their calling received from God.
Fr. Yoseph Putra Dwi Watun, SMM
 Bonifacio Fernandez Garcia, “New Ecclesial Articulation of Different Lifestyles,” in The Laity in Religious: Towards the Church of the Future (Quezon City: Claretian Publications, 1988). P. 21. “It is not a matter of merely functional or utilitarian complementarity, but rather of an existential and theological complementing of one form of ecclesial life by another.”
 Dokumen Konsili Vatikan II, Lumen Gentium: Konstitusi Dogmatis tentang Gereja, terjemahan R. Hadiwiryono, SJ (Jakarta: Obor, 2017), no. 32
 Helmut T. Lehman, ed., Luther’s Works Volume 36 (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg press, 1959), p. 116. For Luther, we are all equally priests, that is to say, we have the same power in respect to the Word and the sacraments. However, no one may make use of this power except by the consent of the community or by the call of a superior.”
 Yves M. J. Congar, Lay People in the Church. (Westminster: The Newman Press, 1965), p. 70
 Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, Letter to Friends of the Cross, in God Alone: The Collected Writings of St. Louis-Marie de Montfort (Bay Shore, New York: Montfort Publications, 1995), p. 124
 Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, The Secret of Mary (Bandung: Serikat Maria Montfortan, 1993) no. 3, hal. 3.
 Charles Besnard, Vie de M. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (Roma: Centre International Montfortain, 1981), hal. 95
 Joseph Grandet, P.S.S., The Life of Monsieur Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (Roma: Centre International Montfortain, 2006), hal. 97. “And what greatly increased their fervor and made them at every opportunity put their hand to the task, was the fact that they saw M. de Montfort at their head, digging the ground, and moving and carrying big stones. They all sang hymns and talked about pious subjects while the worked.”
 S. Gaspari, “Priest” dalam Stefano de Fiores, gen., ed., Jesus Living in Mary: Handbook of the Spirituality of St. Louis-Marie de Montfort (Bay Shore, New York: Montfort Publications, 1994), hal. 982. “The Church has no worse enemies than its priest.”
 Dokumen Konsili Vatikan II, Lumen Gentium…, ibid., no. 31. Lihat juga Apostolicam Actuositatem no. 2.
 A. Faivre, The Emergence of the Laity in the Early Church (New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1990), hal. 69 By the end of the third century, “… the layman was quite certainly regarded as inferior to the clergy. It is here that we find the true foundations for the distinction that came to be made between clergy and the laity.”
 Dokumen Konsili Vatikan II, Lumen Gentium…, ibid., no. 31
 Pope John Paul II, Chritifideles Laici diakses dari (www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_exhortations/documents) (19 Januari 2022) (Pkl. 21.31) no. 15. “They are not called to abandon the position that they have in the world. Baptism does not take them from the world at all, as the apostle Paul points out: “So, brethren, in whatever state each was called, there let him remain with God” (1 Cor 7:24). On the contrary, he entrusts a vocation to them that properly concerns their situation in the world.”
 Dokumen Konsili Vatikan II, Gaudium et Spes: Konstitusi Pastoral tentang Gereja di Dunia Dewasa ini, terjemahan R. Hadiwiryono, SJ (Jakarta: Obor, 2017), no. 43.
 Lihat Dokumen Konsili Vatikan II, Lumen Gentium …, ibid., no 31
 Dokumen Konsili Vatikan II, Gaudium et Spes …, ibid., no. 43.
 Dokumen Konsili Vatikan II, Lumen Gentium …, ibid., no. 34
 Ibid., no. 35
 Ibid., no. 36
 Pope John Paul II, Chritifideles Laici, Ibid., no. 8
 Ibid., no. 61
 Segundo Galilea, The way of Living: A Spirituality of Liberation (Manila: Claretian Publications, 1991), hal. 40
 St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary (Malang: PusatSpiritualitas Marial Montfortan, 2019), no. 248.
 Ibid., no 22
 St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, Cinta Kebijaksanaan Abadi, diterjemahkan oleh Arnoldus Suhardi (Malang: Seminari Montfort, 2009), no. 169. “Baru saja Dia masuk ke dunia tatkala Dia menerimanya, dalam rahim ibu-Nya, dari tangan Bapa kekal. Dan Dia telah menempatkan Salib itu di pusat hati-Nya, di mana Salib itu akan memerintah, sambil berkata: ‘Aku suka melakukan kehendakMu, ya Allahku; TauratMu ada dalam dadaKu.’ Ya Allahku, ya BapaKu, Aku telah memilih Salib ini di dalam pangkuanMu, Aku telah memilihnya di dalam rahim ibuKu.”
 Lihat Ibid., no: 75 – 82 St. Montfort berbicara mengenai kebijaksanaan duniawi.
 St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, Bakti Sejati kepada Maria …, ibid., no. 27
 Ibid., no. 22
 Dokumen Konsili Vatikan II, Apostolicam Actuositatem, terjemahan R. Hadiwiryono, SJ (Jakarta: Obor, 2017), no. 4
 St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, Letter to Friends of the Cross …, ibid., hal. 124 – 125.
 St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, Cinta Kebijaksanaan Abadi …, Ibid., no. 172
 Ibid., no. 176
 Dokumen Konsili Vatikan II, Lumen Gentium …, ibid., no. 62
 St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, Bakti Sejati kepada Maria …, ibid., no. 29, 31, 34
 Ibid., no. 39
 St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, Cinta Kebijaksanaan Abadi …, ibid., no 214
 St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, Bakti Sejati kepada Maria …, ibid., no 32
 St. Louis-Marie de Montfort, Rahasia Maria …, ibid., no. 17
 St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, Bakti Sejati kepada Maria …, ibid., no. 247
 Ibid., no. 125
 Ibid., no. 61
 Pope John Paul II, Chritifideles Laici …, ibid., no. 61