I personally love the saints who had a fiery temper. Saint Francis de Sales always appeared calm, until after his death scratch marks were discovered under his desk top from when he would ground his fingernails into the wood from “constrained” anger nobody knew anything about. While I appreciate the calm and meek saints, the ones with the tempers of zeal and passion are the ones I find myself drawn to the most. Both Padre Pio and Catherine of Siena were known for literally smacking (across the face) sense into some people who were living a life of sin.
There IS such a thing as a “holy temper” and, today in honor of his feast day, I just couldn’t pass up writing about one of my favorite saints of all time. He, himself was proof of this personality trait. Saint Louis de Monfort has had so much to do with how I discovered my devotion in Our Most Blessed Mother and Queen. I want to share a few humorous stories from the convent. To celebrate major feast days in Carmel, the nuns always performed skits and plays; they were actually very professional-looking with their improvised costumes and sets, I might add. On one particular feast day, I dressed up in the part of Saint Louis Marie (de Monfort) and read some of my favorite passages from his book True Devotion to Mary.
The setting was perfect because it was in the evening and we were testing out our new fireplace in the recreation room. Everything was dark with the only light coming from that of the fire along with the sound of de Montfort’s words prophesying that “the great saints who shall come at the end of the world, are reserved for Mary.” In the quiet of the room, I think you could hear a pin drop that night, as all the sisters seemingly didn’t want to miss a word on what these saints would possibly look like; how Mary would form these chosen souls and how true devotion to Her would set hearts on fire everywhere for love of Her Son.
These great souls, full of grace and zeal, shall be chosen to match themselves against the enemies of God, who shall rage on all sides; and they shall be singularly devout to our Blessed Lady, illumined by Her light, nourished by Her milk, led by Her spirit, supported by Her arm, sheltered under Her protection, so that they shall fight with one hand and build with the other.
In religious life, it is custom to eat meals in the refectory as a community; everyone eats in silence except for the selected reader of the week. This nun reads to the sisters from a chosen book on the life of a saint and of course, scripture. After that memorable night of dressing up as one of my favorite saints, my Mother Prioress found an excellent book based on the life of Saint Louis de Montfort and she was anxious to have us read it in the refectory during meals. It was providential that I just “happened” to be selected the reader for that week. The entire first chapter was about the various stories and occasions when Saint Louis Marie lost his temper, broke out into fist fights and citing what had provoked his anger!
The power of Mary over all the devils will especially break out in the latter times, when Satan will lay his snares against Her Heel; this is to say, Her humble slaves and poor children, whom She will raise up to make war against him.
We try not to laugh in the refectory; it’s a holy and sacred place, but in this instance most of us couldn’t contain our laughter. I began reading and it took us to a scene where Saint Louis was preaching a sermon and across the street was a rowdy bar of men being loud and interrupting his preaching. The author described how the saint stopped talking, walked across the street to the bar; no yelling could be heard, but the loud sound of tables being flipped upside down and the noise of fist fights occurring. Saint Louis de Montfort did not struggle with defending his faith; on the contrary, he had the opposite problem! A friend of mine once said he loved this saint because he’d heard a story about how a man had interrupted Saint Louis with disrespectful comments aimed at offending the Blessed Virgin Mary; de Montfort never hesitated when he plowed his fist into the offender’s chin…
I do commend this saint on this particular circumstance because I don’t think anyone would be calm when someone talks in negative terms about our own mothers, let alone the Blessed Mother! I could almost see Jesus rolling His eyes and shaking His head each time Saint Louis lost his temper, except of course, for the times he defended His Holy Mother! I have nothing but gratitude and love for this feisty saint; I remember reading True Devotion to Mary in college and feeling like the book was on fire in my hands. It made me want to leave all and fight for Her….with Her. If it weren’t for Saint Louis de Monfort , I wouldn’t have found my vocation in the Blessed Virgin and I wouldn’t know the importance of devotion to Her in our times. I do hope his brilliant writings have him proclaimed Doctor of the Church some day.
These souls shall be great and exalted before God in Sanctity, superior to all other creatures by their animated zeal, and leaning so strongly on the Divine Succor, that, with the humility of their heel, in union with Mary, they shall crush the head of the devil, and cause Jesus Christ to triumph.
All quotes are taken from Saint Louis de Montfort, the original fool of the Immaculata.
14 thoughts on “The Saint With a Zealous Temper.”
WOW! This is beautiful
The early Church Father Justin Martyr also had a “holy temper” when he disputed with his opponents. It’s been said that he’d turn red in the face and hit them with verbal insults.
I love it! I’ll have to read more on him, who’s your favorite Saint?
After the Blessed Virgin Mary, who’s in a league of her own by the Immaculate Conception, I’m not sure. But my favorite Gospel author is St. Luke who’s our first Mariologist, though he isn’t classified as a theologian like St. Paul is.
Whenever I give my answer I mentally already have Mary, Saint Joseph and Saint Michael on a whole different category! Luke has all the best on Mary, I’m with you on Saint Paul, Peter and Paul are a few of my favorites because their roles are so symbolic… the pope and the “two edged sword”
Of all the apostles, I believe Peter was the one with a “holy temper.” I’ve had the impression ever since I saw the movie ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ with James Farentino playing the role of Peter. But once he denied his Master three times, I believe the fire had gone out of him until it was time to start preaching in Jersusalem after Pentecost.
Great post – I love to think of St Louis as marching across the road to the pub – pretty awesome. I would call it a holy temper but also guts – real guts.
I love St Paul (duh!) and his zeal and guts – nothing was beyond him, nothing was too much, nothing frightened him off. We know from the First council of Jerusalem and his altercation with St James and also with St Peter, that he brooked no argument or opponent AND that he too had a ‘holy temper’.
St John is my favourite Evangelist, for too many reasons to be enumerated here and remember, he, after all, was the ‘foster-son’ of Mary and supported her all through the Passion.
How could I forget John I was just saying the other day how he, Peter and Paul are my top three favorites. Whenever I feel abandoned by priests (like Our Lord) I always say “I just need one John the Evangelist”. It is a beautiful image to know Mary also took care of John, and Her receiving communion from John. Love it!
Yes – I find it very easy to meditate on St John’s care of Mother Mary. Especially during the Sorrowful Mysteriest.
and you are absolutely right, real guts!
I believe that the saints who had a holy temper were strong in the virtue of justice but weak in the virtue of patience. These two virtues are like two opposite magnetic poles resisting each other.
WOW, no truer words have been spoken. I can attest to this in my own case. My prior Spiritual Director said somewhere the words of Our Lady help of Christians, Her favorite warriors in this day in age are sort of the rebel souls, because despite the controversy they face, their humor and temper makes them keep going in the battle. I love that image!
sort of funny too how the one with the lack of patience and fiery temper was made pope!
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