(Pause with the Apostolic Missionary)


Humans are human pilgrims who come from the Creator and will return to Him at some point, such as the existence of a creature. From birth to death, he lived and was on a "pilgrimage". As the "pilgrim" (homo viator), he walks, moves, and moves from one place to another. That is why human life is always in the dynamics of "pilgrimage". According to F. Garat and E. Guil, the word "Pilgrim" comes from the Latin peregrinus. The root word is per-agrare which means "to travel far". If you refer to the meaning of the word "pilgrimage", when a person makes a "pilgrimage" as a "pilgrim", then it means he is taking a long journey, going to a foreign country, and stopping there. Recently, the meaning of the word "pilgrimage" has been construed (narrowed) in a spiritual-religious way. In this context "going on a pilgrimage" means making a journey to a holy place for religious purposes.[1]

According to studies by Garat and Guil, the origins of pilgrimage can be traced back to the most ancient times. Anthropologically, the "pilgrimage" culture has three stages, first, the ability to overcome the space (place) where a pilgrim must be able to break the routine of daily life and travel to other places to change oneself from within. Second, make contact (relate) with the holy place. Here, a pilgrim can demonstrate the practice of his pious deeds, for example hugging and kissing the holy statue he visits, praying and singing while walking or kneeling in front of the holy courtyard of Our Lady or other saints[2], leaving souvenir or souvenirs in the holy place, making vows before Holy One, etc. Third, the encounter with "divinity" and the "afterlife" where the Sanctuary (sanctuary) is a memory that gives a certain memory of it.[3]

Pilgrimage to holy places, in essence, reminds people of experiences or events of revelation, God's self-disclosure. In these places, every pilgrim can realize the presence of the Divine in and through contact or relationship with Him both personally and collectively.[4]

The Christian: the human pilgrim

The Christian man is a "human pilgrim" who is looking for a way to meet God. Because he is a "pilgrim", he is actually on a "searching journey", to be precisely looking for Him in life every day, every moment. In short, every Christian is God's people on a pilgrimage to Him just as Abraham, the Father of the faithful, has also made his pilgrimage. He was willing to leave his native country for the land (country) that God had promised him (cf. Gen 12:1; Acts 7:2-8). Or perhaps like the Holy Virgin Mary who after receiving the Annunciation of the Angel of God "goes on a pilgrimage" (walks) to visit her sister Elisabeth in the City of Ain-Karim in the mountains of Judah (cf. Lk 1:39-45). There he shared the joy of God's great work on him (cf. Lk 1:46-56). Likewise, Saint Louis de Montfort (hereinafter Montfort) is a "pilgrim" who never tires of seeking God. The pilgrimage of life that he lived during his life in France and in several other places as will be explored through the reflections of this paper can at least help everyone to see further or more closely how this holy young priest deserves to be a role model for Christian people, especially the contemporary Montfortans in tracing their respective "pilgrimage" of life. We all go on a pilgrimage to Rome with this saint, although not physically with him, but in prayer and silence, he accompanies us with his beloved Mother, the Holy Virgin Mary.

Montfort: the fiery apostle of Christ and Mary

Montfort (1673-1716) lived at a time when "Yansenism"[5] and "Gallicanism" flourished in France. During the time of Gallicanism,[6] this "Apostolic Missionary" demonstrated radical obedience to the Holy Father.[7] As it is known that this saint is very diligent and zealous in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ in and through Mary. The mission of preaching and ministry during his lifetime testifies to how Montfort has a deep passion to be an apostle of Christ and Mary amid the world. Encouraged by this, this Marial priest showed his enthusiasm to start the mission he aspired to by seeking guidance from the highest leader of the Catholic Church at that time.

According to Blain, a close friend, Montfort's pilgrimage to Rome was motivated by two fundamental reasons. first, he wanted to show his respect and obedience to the Head of the Church. Second, the desire to ask for guidance from the Holy Father so that he is allowed to work elsewhere so that in the end he will obtain abundant results. The background of the second reason is related to the difficulties and challenges he faced in France. Blain said that his friend had experienced so much suffering and challenges in France in carrying out his missionary work, moreover he was not sure whether his missionary work there could still be continued or not. Based on these considerations, the young priest departed for Rome for this purpose.[8]

Loreto: pause to contemplate the mystery of God's "Kenosis", the Incarnation

As it is known that in Potiers, this young priest faced a difficult situation. There existed a climate of resistance that threatened to hinder his missionary activities and render all his work useless. According to the accounts of Garat and Guil, Montfort was dismissed by his bishop, so he decided to travel to Rome and seek the advice of the Pope to see where God would call him in the future. The journey to Rome from Poitiers was not short[9], but a long journey on foot. Of course, this young priest's journey was very draining. Garat and Guil say that Montfort was traveling in a spirit of poverty. On his way, he put some coins in his pocket and asked the same thing of his traveling companions. He eats and sleeps as Divine Providence directs him.[10]

On his way to Rome, Montfort took the time to stop at a place that is often a place for many people to make pilgrimages, namely the "Holy House of Loreto" (la santa casa di Loreto). This French priest was a man of prayer as he is known and the pilgrimage moment was a handsome time for him to "pause" to draw spiritual strength from the Divine. He stopped there and prayed. It is said that Montfort was happy to follow the example of his teacher at Saint Sulpice: he prayed and meditated at length on the mystery of the Incarnation which was essential to "the foundation of his whole spirituality."[11] If you see Montfort leaving for Rome and stopping for a while in Loreto at the holy house of the Virgin Mary to contemplate: pray and meditate, what does this action mean for pilgrims who want to follow in his footsteps? Montfort's pilgrimage to Loreto has a very deep meaning. This reminds every pilgrim of the same fundamental mystery of the Christian faith, the "Incarnation of the Word",[12]  God who humbled Himself (kenosis) and clothed himself with human nature in and through the Holy Virgin Mary (cf. Jn 1:14; Phil 2:6 -9; Gal 4:4-5).

According to B. Cortinovis, for Montfort, it was like "music to the ear." As a Bérulle Schooler and Sulpician teacher, Montfort has placed the mystery of the Incarnation as the foundation of his spirituality, "The first mystery of Jesus Christ: the most hidden, the most glorious and the least known” (TD 248), “The mystery in which Jesus Christ can only be seen in Mary, and who became human in her womb"” (TD 246).[13]

It is said that near Paris, at the summer residence of St. Sulpice, there is a church dedicated to Our Lady of Loreto. J. J. Olier (1605-1657), founder of the seminary, was deeply devoted to the sanctuary at Loreto that he visited. He believed that Marian spirituality was founded on the mystery of the Incarnation, which is the core of all Christian Theology. [14]

Between February and March 1706, Montfort departed from France. B. Cortinovis explained that it is not known in detail which itinerary he was on, but explained that there is evidence in his possession that points to data on Montfort's presence in Rome in mid-May. Thus, it is assumed that Montfort was in Loreto during April, where he remained for about fifteen days, in prayer and meditation. Several times he stayed at several places (inns) provided for pilgrims and was then invited to the house of a Loreto resident.[15]

Rome: the final stage of a long pilgrimage

Rome marks the final stage of the Montfort pilgrimage. This is the longest pilgrimage ever undertaken by the young priest. It is said that when he saw the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, "he prostrated himself, bowed his face to the ground". When he woke up, he took off his shoes and walked the last distance barefoot. Montfort was granted an audience with Pope Clement XI on June 6, 1706. He confessed that he had been arrested with great respect before the Holy Father. He believes he has seen Jesus Christ Himself in the likeness or form of His representative in the world. The audience with the Pope gave the young French priest a new freshness for all his questions. As a keepsake, it is said that after returning from the pilgrimage, Montfort brought back the indulgenced crucifix (salib indulgensi) crucifix that had been given to him and affixed to his pilgrimage staff[16] It was from this Pope that this young priest finally found clarity about his missionary work, namely his own country, in the Diocese of Nantes to be precise.[17]

France the mission field for the young priest, Montfort

The impact of his pilgrimage to Rome was profound. Montfort did follow the advice of the Holy Father in that he was encouraged to return to his native places, proclaiming the renewal of the Baptist vows there.[18] P. Gaffney noted that actually, we can conclude very well that one of the possible results of the conversation, Montfort sharing with Pope Clement XI is the experience of Mary's presence that he experienced in his life and teaching. It was from this Pope that Montfort was called an "Apostolic Missionary", a herald of the Good News who found his evangelization in Western France.[19] Since then, without hesitation and anxiety, the missionary began his preaching work, even though there he still had to deal with various difficulties in his evangelization mission.

Montfort is widely known as a person who never gets tired and always zealously proclaims the Kingdom of Jesus through Mary. All of this can be summed up in his so-called special call to "renewal of the people's Baptist vows." This is seen as a way or way of reforming the Church. One of her main beliefs, namely that Mary is intrinsically present in her great mission. This meant that he no longer needed to doubt that Mary was present in his mission. His presence intrinsically gives a strong influence on him. In my opinion, the presence of the Holy Virgin Mary for Montfort is a conditio sine qua non (absolute[ly] condition), that is, a necessary condition. It is said that because of Mary's presence here is not just an additional element, but a constitutive element for the young priest. In short, the missionary wanted to include Mary in the process of renewing the people's Baptist promises. In this regard, Gaffney said that the main lines of Montfort's Mariology are precisely in it.[20]

Montfort and his Marian pilgrimage: an inspiration?

Montfort's pilgrimage is inseparable from Mary, meaning that all the dynamics of his pilgrimage as homo viator ("man on a journey/man as a pilgrim" - human pilgrim) are always in an intimate, intimate union with Christ and His Mother. His union with Mary certainly cannot be separated from his main relationship with his Son, who is "the Way, the Truth and the Life" (cf. Jn 14:6), to whom the young priest continues the "pilgrimage" he has started on earth. this until finally full fellowship in the Kingdom of God in heaven. Just as Montfort is a homo viator who continues to "walk, make pilgrimages" in search of God and His will for all of his missionary works, this saint never forgets the role of the Mother he loves so much, Mary.[21] With him, he continued to "walk" doing good works, renewing the faith of the people and the Church in his time for a better change (repentance) as he longed for and wanted to live. His meeting with the Holy Father, Pope Clement XI, actually refreshed and renewed his soul and missionary spirit. Following in Montfort's footsteps "pilgrim" means "pilgrimage with the missionary" who never stays silent in "an established, comfortable life", he who never "relies on his strength and ability in his mission work", but in humility learn to seek God's will and ideals for him. All that he did with joy and total obedience and loyalty to God in and through Mary, his holy mother.

Final Note

If there is one aspect in which Montfort's personality and apostolate reach a high degree of unity, it is in the Jesus-Mary category. In this context, when this saint teaches his people to worship Mary, Jesus Christ must be seen as the central point or center of that service. Thus, both the missionary work and the teachings of the saint's Marian spirituality (Mariology) have a solid foundation, because Christ remains the central point of theological reflection and its main basis. Many spiritual writers or theologians have emphasized this truth. In short, centrality to Christ is the key to exploring the immense richness of his spirituality and Marian apostolate.

When a "pilgrim" wants to follow in Montfort's footsteps by making a pilgrimage both spiritually and physically - the moment when he will arrive at the place where this French saint once stopped there (Loreto) for a few moments before finally completing his "pilgrimage" to Rome – what do you hope to get from the pilgrimage? Does he want to just spend the "pause" period from being busy with service tasks in the parish, in the community, in the community, or categorical places while enjoying the beauty of the new and beautiful panorama or nature in another part of the world? Or is the "pilgrimage" that he is on just to feel the atmosphere of the local environment and culture? Or even this pilgrimage just to get to know other customs and traditions of a new society in the blue world (Europe)? Or does "he" want to interpret it differently and more deeply than a "journey", a pilgrimage that will help him be able to "walk, move and enter" further into the pilgrimage of the life of his vocation and missionary work? We hope that the moment of pilgrimage that Montfort lived and lived for almost 300 years ago (1706-2023) opened the hearts and minds of the "pilgrim" (you and I) to the meaning of a "journey" towards Allah, the Wisdom, the Source of and the Final Destination of the "pilgrimage" itself. Buon cammino!

Rome, January 31, 2023
350th Anniversary of the Birth of St. Montfort
Fr. Fidel Wotan, SMM

[1]  F. GARAT – E. GUIL, “Pilgrimage” dalam S. DE FIORES (ed.,), Jesus Living in Mary. Handbook of the Spirituality of St. Louis Marie de Montfort, Montfort Publications, Bay Shore (NY) 1994, hlm. 931. Bdk. Edisi Italianya, IDEM, “Pellegrinaggio” dalam S. DE FIORES (a cura di), Dizionario di Spiritualità Montfortana, Edizioni Monfortane, Roma 2005, hlm. 1311-1324.  

[2]  Dalam praktik ulah kesalehan (pious excercises), kesalehan umat (popular piety) bisa dijumpai aneka bentuk ekspresi kesalehan/kerohanian umat seperti “prosesi”, “jalan salib”, “doa novena”, dll. Bdk. S. ESPOSITO, Liturgia: Mistero di Cristo e storia della salvezza. Line per una catechesi liturgica, Poligrafica Marotta & C.S.r.l, Napoli 1994, hlm. 24. Bdk. C. MAGGIONI, «Educare alla Pietà Popolare», dalam M. SODI (a cura di), Liturgia e pietà popolare, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano 2013, hlm. 167.  

[3]  Bdk. F. GARAT – E. GUIL, “Pilgrimage”, dalam JLM, p. 932. Tempat Suci (Sanctuary-Shrine) seperti Loreto dan banyak tempat suci lainnya pada hakikatnya merupakan tempat perjumpaan manusia dengan Tuhan. Manusia dapat berkomunikasi, berelasi secara khusus dengan-Nya melalui tempat suci tersebut. Melalui tempat khusus ini, para peziarah terbantu dalam kehidupan mereka setiap hari. Mereka didukung dalam tingkah-laku hidup dalam kaitannya dengan masa lalunya yang kurang baik (masa yang gelap), dibantu dalam menatap masa depan yang cerah dan juga dibantu dalam hal kesehatan mental dan fisik. Di tempat seperti itu, mereka dapat memohon dan menerima berkat dari Tuhan untuk kehidupannya. Bdk. J. RIES, Pélerinages, pèlerin et sacralisation de l’espace, dalam P. C. VON SAUCKEN (sous la direction de), Pèlerinages. Compostelle, Jèrusalem, Rome, Editions Zodiaque – Desclée de Brouwer, Paris 1999, hlm. 22.  

[4] Bdk. S. DE FIORES, Maria presenza viva nel popolo di Dio, Edizioni Monfortane, Roma 1980, hlm. 195. Bdk. FRANCESCO, «Il santuario il luogo del popolo», dalam I. RICUPERO – M. TREMBLAY (a cura di), Il santuario porta aperta per la nuova evangelizzazione: la pietà popolare una novità antica, San Paolo, Cinisello Balsamo (Milano) 2021, hlm. 11-18.  

[5] Yansenisme adalah sebuah bidaah soal rahmat. Nama Yansenisme ini diambil dari Kornelis Otto Yansen (1585-1638). Ia adalah seorang berkebangsaan Belanda, alumnus dari Universitas Leuven, Belgia dan menjadi profesor di sana. Yansenisme merupakan sebuah gerakan bainisme (Michael Baius, seorang yang sangat memengaruhi Kornelis Otto Jansen terutama dalam hal “kodrat dan rahmat, penolakan akan adanya kehendak bebas pada diri manusia dan ajaran predestinasi”). Gerakan ini memeroleh dukungan, kekuatan dan disebarluaskan melalui taktik politik-religius. Aliran ini, ditingkat akademik ternyata memikat beberapa orang, antara lain: St. Cyran dan belakangan kemudian dibela habis-habisan oleh Arnauld (seorang teolog). Sejak awal, heresi ini menimbulkan polemik dan sama sekali tidak mendapat sambutan positif dari para Yesuit dan Kuria Roma. Bdk. DICTIONARY OF DOGMATIK THEOLOGY, Cet. IV, terj. E. DORONZO, The Bruce Publishing Company, Milwaukee 1964, hlm. 153. Bdk. W. DOYLE, Jansenism: Catholic Resistance to Authority from the Reformation to the French Revolution, Studies in European History, Palgrave Macmillan, T:t. 2000, hlm. xi.  

[6] Gerakan Gallikanisme (Gallia = Prancis) bertumbuh subur pada masa kekuasaan Raja Louis XIV (1643-1715). Ini merupakan sebuah gerakan yang terjadi di dalam Prancis yang semakin menghebat pada abad ke-17 dan ke-18. Gerakan ini mau memisahkan diri dari Gereja Katolik Roma. Louis XIV, didukung oleh Universitas Sorbonne dan begitu banyak imam dan uskup, menuntut ”otonomi” dari otoritas Gerejawi Roma. Pada tahun 1681, disusunlah empat hasil keputusan Gereja Prancis yang menolak intervensi Paus. Keempat butir keputusan itu, yakni first, Paus tidak memiliki otoritas atas kekuasaan duniawi. Ia hanya berkuasa dalam bidang rohani. Raja dan ratu tidak tunduk pada  otoritas gerejawi. Second, konsili ekumenis berada lebih tinggi dari Paus. Third, penggunaan kekuasaan apostolik Paus mesti selaras dengan Tradisi Gereja Prancis. Fourth, setiap keputusan Paus dalam hal iman harus mendapat persetujuan dari seluruh Gereja. Bdk. E. FAHLBUSCH – J. PELIKAN (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Christianity, vol. 2, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Michigan 2001, hlm. 378. Bdk. G. O’COLLINS – E. G. FARRUGIA, Kamus Teologi, Kanisius, Yogyakarta 1996, hlm. 85.  

[7] Bdk. L. M. GRIGNION DE MONTFORT, Cantique dalam M. GENDROT (sous la direction), OEuvres completes de saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, Éditions du seuil, Paris 1966, No. 6:50, p. 895. Selanjutnya disebut Kidung. cf, song 57; song 147.  

[8] Bdk. J.-B. BLAIN, Summary of the Life of Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, terj. B. J. RABILLER et al., St. Gabriel Press, Rome 1977, hlm. 173.  

[9] Menurut catatan salah satu situs, Montfort berjalan kaki sepanjang ribuan mil (a thousand miles) / seribu-an langkah kaki. Seribu mil (= 1.609 km). Dalam bahasa Indonesia, kata “a thousand miles” sesungguhnya merupakan sebuah “metafora yang sempurna”. Jadi untuk mengetahui secara persis datanya – menurut hematku perlu diperiksa data-data yang valid atau rute perjalanan mana saja yang ditempuh oleh Montfort dari Poitiers ke Roma. Saya kutip: “St. Louis De Montfort walked to Rome — a thousand miles — and put his case to Pope Clement XI.” Http://www.catholictradition.org/Classics/secret-mary12.htm. Diakses pada 24 Januari 2023, pkl. 10.10 a.m. Tentang rute perjalanan Montfort di sini, B. Cortinovis mengatakan bahwa tidak diketahui rute perjalanan mana yang ditempuh Montfort, namun dikatakan bahwa ada bukti yang dimiliki yang merujuk pada data keberadaan Montfort di Roma pada pertengahan Mei. Bdk. B. CORTINOVIS, “Guardando a Fatima 2017. I Santuari mariani nella vita di Montfort: Loreto”, dalam L’Apostolo di Maria (2017).  

[10] F. GARAT – E. GUIL, “Pilgrimage” JLM, hlm. 935.  

[11] Ibidem. Menurut B. Cortinovis, dalam perjalanan menuju Roma, Montfort ingin mengutamakan Loreto, sebuah tempat kudus, tempat perlindungan Maria. Dengan berjalan kaki ke Italia (Roma) dan singgah (istirahat sejenak) di Loreto, itu seakan-akan mau mengatakan bahwa «Melalui Marialah Yesus Kristus harus meraja di dunia» (TD 1). Dikatakan bahwa Loreto pada tahun 1700 sudah menjadi tujuan banyak peziarah, dari Italia dan bahkan hampir seluruh Eropa. Saat ini tempat suci tersebut telah dikunjungi oleh begitu banyak peziarah tidak hanya dari Eropa saja, tetapi juga dari berbagai belahan dunia lainnya. Asal diketahui, sebetulnya terdapat begitu banyak orang suci telah pergi ke sana. Dalam perjalanan dari utara, Loreto seringkali menjadi tempat persinggahan sebelum mencapai Roma. Loreto merupakan sebuah Rumah Suci, peninggalan unik di dunia, dan tempat yang menarik perhatian manusia yang ingin berziarah dan berdoa (berdevosi) ke sana. Bdk. B. CORTINOVIS, “Guardando a Fatima 2017. I Santuari mariani nella vita di Montfort: Loreto”, dalam L’Apostolo di Maria (2017).  

[12] cf, Ibidem.  

[13] cf, Ibidem.  

[14] cf, Ibidem. Bdk. F. GARAT – E. GUIL, “Pilgrimage” JLM, cit., hlm. 935.  

[15] Bdk. B. CORTINOVIS, “Guardando a Fatima 2017. I Santuari mariani nella vita di Montfort: Loreto”, dalam L’Apostolo di Maria (2017).  

[16] Bdk. F. GARAT – E. GUIL, “Pilgrimage”, JLM, cit., hlm. 935.  

[17] Pada mulanya Montfort memang cukup sukses melakukan karya misinya di sana. Di mana-mana ia diterima, disukai dan dihormati, tetapi kekaguman penerimaan itu tidak bertahan lama karena kini ia harus menanggung derita lagi. Ia ditolak dan diusir oleh uskupnya sendiri. Ketidaksimpatisan terhadap dirinya ternyata terus menimpanya. Sekali lagi ia dicobai. Bukit kalvari yang baru saja didirikannya ternyata tidak mendapat restu dari pihak Keuskupan Nantes dan ia dilarang juga untuk berkotbah dan memberi sakramen pengakuan dalam keuskupan tersebut. Bdk. F. B. WOTAN, Salib adalah Kebijaksanaan dan Kebijaksanaan adalah Salib (Skripsi), STFT Widya Sasana, Malang 2008, hlm. 48-49.  

[18] Dikatakan bahwa sekembalinya ke Prancis, Montfort mencari Bruder Mathurin di Biara Ligugé dan menjalani retret selama delapan hari di tempat seorang sahabatnya; pastor paroki di sekitar Poitiers. Garat dan Guil menulis: “Tatkala ia menyelesaikan retretnya, rencana-rencananya diputuskan: ia akan menjalankan misi-misi barunya di bawah perlindungan Perawan Suci Maria dan Malaikat Agung Santo Mikael. Bersama Bruder Mathurin, ia pergi ke Notre Dame des Ardilliers dan melewati Angers, berjalan terus menuju Bukit Saint Michel.” F. GARAT – E. GUIL, “Pilgrimage”, JLM, cit., hlm. 935.  

[19] Bdk. P. GAFFNEY, “Mary”, in JLM, hlm. 697.  

[20] cf, Ibidem.  

[21] Ziarah bagi imam muda Prancis ini pada hakikatnya juga merupakan kesempatan yang tampan baginya untuk dihidupi. Sahabatnya, Blain melukiskan kepergian Montfort ke Paris di jembatan Cesson, dekat Rennes demikian: “Matanya sering terarah pada langit, hatinya di St. Sulpice, doa yang terus-menerus pada Maria keluar dari bibirnya, demikianlah ia meninggalkan Rennes.” J.-B. BLAIN, Summary of the Life of Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, hlm. 18. Bdk. F. GARAT – E. GUIL, “Pilgrimage”, JLM, p. 938.