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The Union of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary

In St. Francis de Sales and St. John Eudes

Arthur Burton Calkins

Part 2

II.  The French School

Fr. Pourrat in the third volume of his authoritative Christian Spirituality says that “St. Francis de Sales forms a school of spirituality by himself alone.  He is its beginning, its development, its sum-total. 62  He points out that the current of spiritualty initiated by Cardinal Pierre de Bérulle [1575-1629], acknowledged as the founder of the French School “not of theology, but of the interior life and the highest spirituality,” 63 was not Salesian. 64  Pourrat, Bremond and many other authors provide many reasons why this is so, yet in terms of our study I am convinced that the continuity is greater than the discontinuity.

A.  Cardinal de Bérulle

            According to Louis Cognet, “Urban VIII – when or where it is not known – is said to have given Bérulle the title of Apostle of the Incarnate Word.” 65  This surely is an apt, even if not exhaustive description, for it pinpoints one of Bérulle’s greatest contributions to Catholic spirituality.  It was his inspiration to insist not only on the Christian’s abnegation or self-emptying modeled on the annihilation of the Eternal Word in the Incarnation, 66 but also on his adherence to Christ in His mysteries i.e., in the events of His life. 67  The exterior dimension of the mystery, which consists in the deeds that Christ performed, is past and unrepeatable, but the interior dimension, which is comprised of the dispositions and inward feelings that Christ had in each of His mysteries, is eternal. These interior dispositions of the soul of Christ are called in Bérullian language states. Whereas the exterior dimension of the mysteries of Christ is transitory, the interior dimension is eternal. Let us allow the great Cardinal to give us his own examples:

The Infancy of the Son of God is but a transitory state, the circumstances are already past, He is a Child no longer; yet there is something Divine in this mystery, that still continues in Heaven, operating as then in a method of grace for souls on earth, whom it pleases Jesus Christ to move and consecrate to this lowly first state of His Person. We even see that Jesus has conceived the incorporation of a measure of His Passion in the state of His Glory, imprinting therein His Scars; so if He could thus preserve something of His Passion in His Glorious Body, wherefore should He not preserve something in His Soul of the consummated states of His Glory? Yet that which He retains of His Passion both in Body and Soul, is life and glory, and He suffers neither in Soul nor Body; and that which remains in Him of the mysteries that on earth form a means of grace is now applicable to souls chosen to receive it. Thus by these means of grace the mysteries of Jesus Christ, His Infancy, His Passion and the rest, continue and live upon the earth, to the end of Time. 68

Bérulle’s preferred approach to Christ the Incarnate Word, then, is in terms of his “interior states, the intimate dispositions, and the operations of the Holy Spirit in His most Holy Soul; and also His life in us, our participation in His state.” 69 Following this predilection to savor the mysteries of Jesus and to adhere to the states of His soul, he founded the Oratory of Jesus, precisely so that its members might be consecrated to the contemplation of the mysteries of Jesus which would produce as a by-product the reform of the clergy. 70 For this same reason, he established in his congregation the “Feast of Jesus” as a way of summing up all of the mysteries of Jesus under one heading. Here is the way Fr. Gautier explains Bérulle’s rationale in the establishment of this solemnity:

Everything in Jesus is adorable because all His acts are the acts of a God. Their power and Their perfections are infinite. Within every word and deed are to be found an emotion and a thought which rise from a profound source. This deep inner source is the soul of the Incarnate Word. From the exterior we ought to penetrate to the center, from effect to cause, from the transitory to the eternal, from the mysteries of Jesus to the mystery of Jesus. 71

While Cardinal de Bérulle did not see the Heart of Jesus as the focal point and compendium of all the mysteries of Christ – that would remain to be the great insight of St. John Eudes – he nonetheless instinctively recognized the inherent symbolism of His pierced Heart and its interior and eternal dimension.

His Heart is eternally open, eternally wrung with anguish; His Glory does not remove the Wound, for it is a wound of love; the piercing of the lance is but a symbol of the true and interior piercing of His Heart.

  This Pierced Side is peculiar to Jesus, with nothing in common with His Crucifixion or with those others crucified with Him, an eternal Piercing. It is a death wound, yet lasting through the life eternal, it is not expedient for other sufferers, for their sufferings will not endure in the Resurrection. Let us give thanks to the Father Eternal, Who … has destined ... for Him this Wound not common to the Cross in order to place us ... within His Heart forever. 72

“If Bérulle is rightly styled the ‘apostle of the Word Incarnate’,” reasons Fr. Michael O’Carroll, “he is also the apostle of the Mother.” 73  One of his great delights in meditating on the enfleshment of the Word was to consider His nine-month dwelling in the womb of Mary, His state and hers. In this Bérulle would be faithfully followed by all his disciples. As the one who established the Teresian reform of Carmel in France, comments Fr. Vincent Vasey, Bérulle

brought back from Spain not only Carmelites – who had the influence of St. Teresa and were Incarnation oriented – but also the knowledge that certain old confraternities lived there in dependence on Mary, an idea that was to become central in his Mariology, a concept which harmonized so well with the dependence of the Word Incarnate on Mary shown in His conception and dwelling in her womb for nine months. Mary was pur regard vers Jésus, that is, completely and perfectly oriented towards Jesus. 74

As the great Cardinal himself would put it, “The Virgin is too linked to her Son not to be conformed and like to him; she is too near and familiar to be ignorant of His state and His secrets.” 75 

It was precisely this mystery of Jesus living in Mary which would prompt Bérulle to make a reflection in his Works of Piety that brings him very close to St. Francis de Sales.

This point is so tender and sensitive that it should be celebrated with the heart rather than with the tongue. Furthermore, it is a mystery of the heart and thus the tongue cannot express its sweetness and tenderness. It is a mystery of the two most noble and United Hearts which will ever exist ... O Heart of Jesus living in Mary and through Mary! O Heart of Mary living in Jesus and for Jesus! O happy union of Hearts! Blessed be the God of love and unity who brought these Hearts together: May He join our hearts in these two Hearts, and make our hearts live united, in honor of the sacred unity of the three Divine Persons. 76

While his preferred approach to the unbreakable liaison of the Incarnate Word and His Mother was to speak of “their mysteries,” 77 nonetheless his intuition leads him to the “happy union of Hearts.

Guillaume Gibieuf [1591-1650] not only edited the works of Bérulle, but also summed up the great Marian themes of his master in his own work The Life and Glories of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God [1637]. In it he continued to meditate on Mary’s participation in the mysteries of Christ. As Cognet says:

In Mary he sees the very type of Bérulles adherence; he shows her throughout her life, partaking in all the states of the God-Man in perfect conformity, her soul corresponding to the dispositions of that of her divine Son, and to the eternal Fathers counsels concerning him. He goes into detail and examines the movements of Mary’s soul, her interior, as it was then called, in its different states. The whole constitutes a life of the Blessed Virgin, more or less analogous to that life of Jesus which Bérulle had undertaken, but which stops unfinished even before the Nativity. This is no mere treatise on Marian theology. Not only is the style that affective style commended by St. Francis de Sales, but these marvelous “elevationsare filled with spiritual considerations. 78

Of this same work of Gibieuf, Vasey says:

Of this work it can be said that Bérulle taught better there than by any of his own writings. This work of Gibieuf is a splendid example of the writings of Bérulles many disciples who popularized their masters doctrine, and perhaps thereby proved it is more influential than he did by his own writings. 79

B.  The Venerable Jean-Jacques Olier

Another great disciple and presenter of Bérullian thought was the Venerable Jean-Jacques Olier [1608 - l657], founder of the Seminary of St. Sulpice. For him the primary mediator of this spirituality was Charles de Condren [15881641], Bérulle’s immediate successor as General of the Oratory. To Oliers authorship is due the famous prayer O Jesu vivens in Maria characterized by Bremond as “the tessera of the French School.” 80 In fact, the original version of the prayer was composed by Oliers spiritual director, de Condren, and began simply Veni, Domine Jesu, 81 but in his prayer of 22 October 1649, Olier hears Mary say to him “I want you to continue living God’s life in me,and meditating on the scene of the Visitation, he admired “those interior and hidden communications of the Son and the Mother.82  As a disciple of Bérulle, who established the Feast of Jesus to honor all His states, Olier wished to establish in his seminaries a Feast of the Interior Life of Our Lord and another of the Interior Life of Mary. In accordance with his intentions, these were instituted after his death. 83

For Olier, Pourrat tells us, the interior of Jesus, His soul, His Heart, are all synonyms. 84  In support of this assertion, he produces this beautiful text of M. Olier:

This divine interior which it pleased the goodness of God formerly to make known to me, is the most beautiful and wonderful thing in the world. O my Jesus, nothing is equal to Thee in thine inner self, and God grant that I may be eternally lost in adoration of Thy sanctity! O adorable interior! O deified soul! O soul wholly in God to my eyes, wholly changed into God, having nothing of the weakness which exists outside Thy adorable Person! O my Jesus, how deceived are they in seeing Thee, and how little of Thee do we see, by contemplating Thee from without! Men look upon Thee thus and despise Thee, but faith, penetrating to Thy Heart, makes Thee to be seen otherwise. And it is this adorable  interior which we must unceasingly contemplate, which gives virtue to all that is external in Thee, without which Thy works would not be of such value before God. It is this immense love, this deep religion, this respect, this devotion, and this wonderful piety which causes God to love Thee and to contemplate Himself in Thee. Oh! blessed be

Thou, adorable Heart of my Jesus; and be Thou blessed, praised, and adored by all men forever! 85

The fact is that in the history of spirituality, there has often been a confusion between soul and spirit for both are “interior” realities, the soul being the self comprising intellect, will and emotions, the spirit being the “fine point,” the “summit of the soul” which is our link to God and in-built orientation to Him. While he is not totally consistent in language, we have noted this distinction in St. Francis de Sales; we will see it yet more clearly in St. John Eudes. Both of these dimensions are present in Olier’s description of the Heart of Christ even if neither he nor M. Pourrat, his worthy interpreter, explicitly distinguishes them.

In the prayer he composed to be recited before the divine office, Olier prays:

Grant, O my Lord Jesus, that Thy Church may spread abroad that which Thou hast enclosed within Thyself alone, and outwardly express that divine religion which Thou hast for Thy Father in the secret of Thy heart, in heaven and on our altars ...

  Therefore, O my God, grant that all these praises and canticles, these psalms and hymns, which we are about to sing to Thy honor, be only the expression of the inner spirit of Jesus Christ, and that my mouth may say to Thee only what the soul of my Savior says to Thee within itself.

  Clinging, then, to Thy spirit, O my Lord Jesus, who art the life of our religion, I desire to render to Thy Father all the homage and all the duties due unto Him, which Thou alone understandest and Thou alone renderest to Him in Thy sanctuary.

  Annihilate, my God, everything in myself, who am a miserable and shameful sinner; I adore Thy Son, the true and only perfect religious of Thy name; and I unite myself to Thy Holy Spirit in the purest part of my soul in order to glorify Thee in Him. 86

Here, it should be noted that the “religion” or link between Jesus and the Father, the “locus” of His Beatific Vision is not in the soul, but in the “summit” or “fine point,” that very part which Olier describes in this prayer as “the secret of Thy heart,” “the inner spirit of Jesus Christ,” “Thy sanctuary.” It is precisely that part of His divine Person which corresponds to “the purest part of my soul.” On the other hand, when Olier speaks of the annihilation of Christ’s heart in the Eucharist, 87 it is not of His “inner spirit” which is His and our link with the Father of which he is speaking, but of His soul.

As the founder of Saint Sulpice wished to honor the interior life of the Son, even so the venerable author of O Jesu vivens in Maria wished to honor that same interior life of the Son in the interior life of the Mother:

We must then consider Jesus Christ, our all, living in the most holy Virgin in the fullness of the life of God, as much in that life which He received from His Father as that which He obtained and merited for men through the ministry of the life of His Mother ...

  There is nothing more wonderful than this life of Jesus in Mary, the holy life that He pours continuously into her, the divine life with which He animates her, loving and praising and adoring God His Father in her, giving a worthy supplement to her heart wherein He abounds with pleasure. All the life of Jesus and all His love in the remainder of the Church, even in His apostles and His dear disciples, is nothing in comparison with that which He has in the heart of Mary. He dwells there in plenitude; He works there to the full extent of His divine spirit, He is but one heart, one soul, one life with Mary. 88

Albeit by a different route, Olier comes to the same. conclusion as de Sales i.e., that Jesus “is but one heart, one soul, one life with Mary.” By way of summarizing Oliers doctrine of “Jesus living in Mary,” Fr. Gautier says that Olier distinguished three different modes of this living in Mary:

physically during the nine months within her virginal womb; sacramentally, by the Eucharist, and this presence ceased with Mary’s last communion on earth; finally, He continues to live in her mystically, by grace, in a higher degree because Our Lady holds a privileged place in the Mystical Body of which her Son is the head. The Holy Spirit is constantly at work in Mary in order to communicate to her dispositions similar to those which He effected in the soul of the Savior. 89

If the first two of these modes were past, they were still according to Bérullian thought eternal in their interior dimension.  Ultimately all three of these ways celebrate the union of Jesus’ Heart with Mary’s, His reign in her heart.


62. Pourrat 272.

63. Bremond 1.

64. Pourrat 323.

65. Cognet 71.

66. Pourrat 347-350.

67. Pourrat 357-35.

68. Œuvres complètes de Bérulle (Paris: Migne, 1856) 1052-53; cited in Bremond 59-60. For another English trans. of the same passage, cf. (Pourrat 358.

69. Pourrat 330.

70. Cf. Vincent Vasey, S.M., “Mary in the Doctrine of' rulle on the Mysteries of Christ,” Marian Studies 36 (1985) 60.

71. Gautier 333 (emphasis mine).

72. Œuvres complètes de Bérulle 1046; cited in Bremond 60.

73. OCarroll 79.

74. Vasey 62.

75. Quoted in OCarroll 79.

76. Œuvres de Piété #45, art. 9 quoted in Gérald de Becker, SS.CC., (Rome: Études Picpuciennes #5, 1959) 254. English trans. by Fathers and Brothers of the Sacred Hearts, private printing, Fairhaven, Mass., 1963, Part 111:6-7 (emphasis mine).  

77. Vasey 64.

78. Cognet 88-89.

79. Vasey 67.

80. Bremond 83.

81. Pourrat 367.

82. Irenée Noye, P.S.S., “O Jesus Living in Mary,” trans. Roger M. Charest, S.M.M., Queen of All Hearts 32:5 (Jan.-Feb. 1982) 9. Note the similarity to the final quote employed from St. Francis de Sales above.

83. Pourrat 367; Gautier 333-334.

84. Pourrat 397.

85. Mémoires, 8 July 1642, quoted in Pourrat 397-98 (emphasis by Pourrat).

86. Quoted in Pourrat 362-363 (emphasis mine).

87. Pourrat 380.

88. Journée chrétienne as quoted in Pourrat 370 (emphasis mine).

89. Gautier 336.

Copyright ©; Msgr Arthur Calkins 2014

Version 22nd February 2014

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