“Chaminade understood that the Church of the nineteenth century would not move forward on the same foundations as before the Revolution,” comments Bernard Payrous, a priest of Bordeaux. “Very innovative in the area of the apostolate of the laity, Chaminade wanted to create ‘a man who does not die.’ In an era fraught with crisis of thought, this man of immense courage leads me to think of a Socrates of Bordeaux, a man of enormous influence. He helped large numbers of young people become men, and he was a great educator.” Less known than a contemporary like [Félicité Robert] Lamennais, Chaminade will perhaps leave an imprint that will be more profound.”
His devotion to Mary, which takes up anew the ongoing theme of the “donation to Mary” stemming from the great [Pierre de] Berulle, is wedded to the convictions of the author of the “Treatise on True Devotion,” [Louis Marie] Grignon de Montfort, canonized in 1996 by John Paul II. “It is in alliance with the Virgin and under her protective standard that the Brothers of Mary will be able to collaborate with her work of salvation, especially in the field of education,” comments Bernard Peyrous. “A spiritual guide, never a detached mystic, fundamentally confident of the action of God among men, Chaminade was convinced that the education to this effect is possible.”
In an era when the demise of the Church is yet again proclaimed by so many people, the confidence in the future is perhaps the most precious legacy bequeathed by Father Chaminade to the Marianists of the twenty-first century.