Saint John Eudes is a saint’s name really unknown to many. But when you read what he did, you realize his importance for the life of the Church and for our personal devotion to the sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the priesthood and preaching on the them of mercy.
“How culpable are we, if, instead of honoring the sacerdotal dignity, we degrade it; if instead of behaving worthily in the holy surroundings and becomingly handling holy things, we sully them with sacrileges; and if, instead of seeking only the glory of our master and the salvation of souls, we run after the glory of the world and our own particular interests.” (St. John Eudes)
Influenced by the teaching of the French school and the teaching of Saint Francis de Sales, as we see in his Treatise on the Love of God, with distinct revelations of the Benedictines Saint Gertrude and Saint Mechtilde, John Eudes was completely dedicated to the Divine Heart because it is keenly an acceptance of the Incarnation.
The French devotion to the SacredHeart of Jesus through Bérulle’s devotion to the Incarnate Word, Eudes saw the value of being a witness to the gentleness and warmth of Saint Francis de Sales. Eudes’ intuition was correct because an emphasis on the humanity of Lord’s heart is a fact taught through the centuries but overlooked as unimportant by some. How did he manage this? Eudes was able to move the individual and private character of the devotion into a devotion for the whole Church by locating the Sacred Heart’s devotion into the sacred Liturgy. In the Liturgy of the Church you realize that Catholics dovetail the community in prayer (Holy Mass and the Divine Office) and the personal prayer of an adherent. Writing the prayer texts first for his own religious communities which were approved by several local bishops before spreading throughout the Church. Pope Leo XIII spoke of John Eudes’ heroic virtues in 1903, gave him the title of “Author of the Liturgical Worship of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Holy Heart of Mary“.
John Eudes taught the mystical unity of the hearts of Jesus and Mary and wrote: “You must never separate what God has so perfectly united. So closely are Jesus and Mary bound up with each other that whoever beholds Jesus sees Mary; whoever loves Jesus, loves Mary; whoever has devotion to Jesus, has devotion to Mary.”
The most striking characteristic of the teaching of St. John Eudes on Devotion to the Sacred Heart-as indeed of his whole teaching on the spiritual life—is that Christ is always its centre.