The Union of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary
In St. Francis de Sales and St. John Eudes
Arthur Burton Calkins
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
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
… has destined ... for Him this Wound not common to the Cross in order to place us ... within His Heart forever.
“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
O Heart of Mary living in Jesus and for Jesus!
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
it he continued to meditate on Mary’s participation in
the mysteries of Christ. As Cognet says:
he sees the very type of Bérulle’s
adherence; he shows her throughout her life, partaking in all the states of the God-Man in perfect conformity,
her soul corresponding
dispositions of that of her divine Son, and to the eternal Father’s counsels concerning him.
He goes into detail and examines the movements
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.
is the style that affective style commended by St.
Francis de Sales, but these marvelous “elevations” are
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
own writings. This
work of Gibieuf is a splendid example of the writings of
disciples who popularized their master’s doctrine,
and perhaps thereby proved it is more influential
than he did by his own writings. 79
B. The Venerable Jean-Jacques
Another great disciple and presenter of Bérullian thought was the Venerable
Jean-Jacques Olier [1608 - l657], founder of the Seminary
For him the primary mediator of this spirituality was
Charles de Condren [1588–1641], Bérulle’s immediate successor as General of the Oratory. To
authorship is due the famous prayer O Jesu
in Maria characterized by
Bremond as “the tessera of the French School.” 80
In fact, the
original version of the prayer was composed by
Olier’s spiritual director,
and began simply Veni, Domine Jesu, 81 but in his
hears Mary say to
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.
accordance with his intentions, these were instituted after his death.
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.
interior which it pleased the goodness of God
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
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,
and this wonderful piety which causes God to love Thee and to contemplate Himself in Thee. Oh! blessed be
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
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,
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
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
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
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.
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 Olier’s doctrine of “Jesus living in Mary,” Fr.
Gautier says that Olier distinguished three different modes of this living
the nine months within her virginal womb; sacramentally,
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.
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.
70. Cf. Vincent Vasey, S.M., “Mary in the Doctrine of' Bérulle on the Mysteries of Christ,” Marian Studies
71. Gautier 333 (emphasis
72. Œuvres complètes
de Bérulle 1046; cited in
75. Quoted in O’Carroll 79.
76. Œuvres de Piété #45, art. 9 quoted in
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).
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.
Pourrat 367; Gautier 333-334.
Mémoires, 8 July 1642, quoted
in Pourrat 397-98 (emphasis by Pourrat).
86. Quoted in Pourrat
362-363 (emphasis mine).
chrétienne as quoted in Pourrat 370 (emphasis mine).
Copyright ©; Msgr Arthur Calkins 2014
Version 22nd February 2014
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