Tag Archives: St John Eudes

Saint John Eudes

St John EudesSaint 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.

Saint John Eudes

John Eudes (1601-80) who, as a child, made a vow of chastity.  He was educated by the Jesuits at the College of Caen, where it is said that he was conspicuous for piety; and, committed to the protection of the Virgin Mary. Eudes apparently would sign a covenant with the Blessed Mother in his own blood.

Following his education, Eudes joined the Fathers of the Congregation of the Oratory de Bérulle, and was ordained priest at Paris. His natural capacities were perfected by grace: he had an intense love of neighbor and the education of the young for service in the priesthood Jesus Christ. In the 20 years of Oratorian life Eudes was elected Rector of the Oratorian house at Caen, but instead left the fraternity and set on his own drawing together priests under the inspiration of the holy names of Jesus and Mary for to do what his heart desire, a new seminary.

Formed by the Jesuits and Oratorians, John Eudes was zealous for the Kingdom. He promoted devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary which it seems he was singular in doing. Today’s devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is closely linked to Eudes.

Historians tells us that John Eudes courageously resisted the heretical doctrines of the Jansenists, he preserved unalterable obedience towards the Chair of Peter.

Pope Pius X beatified John Eudes and Pope Pius XI canonized him while making Saint John Eudes a saint to be honored on the universal calendar of the Church with an Office and Mass.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus: What does the Church teach?

It bears reading and knowing what the Church advocates with regard to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Why? Because we are meant to be in relationship with God through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. We live in relation (communio) to Jesus –as Savior, brother, Redeemer, lover– through whom we see the face of God. In The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy tells us:

The Roman Pontiffs have frequently averted to the scriptural basis of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

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Jesus, who is one with the Father (cf. John 10, 30), invites his disciples to live in close communion with him, to model their lives
on him and on his teaching. He, in turn, reveals himself as “meek and
humble of heart” (Mt 11, 29). It can be said that, in a certain sense,
devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a cultic form of the prophetic and evangelic gaze of all Christians on him who was pierced (cf. John 19, 37; Zac 12, 10), the gaze of all Christians on the side of Christ, transfixed by a lance, and from which flowed blood and water (cf. John 19, 34), symbols of the “wondrous sacrament of the Church.”

The Gospel of St. John recounts the showing of the Lord’s hands and his side to the disciples (cf. John 20: 20), and of his invitation to Thomas to put his hand into his side (cf. John 20: 27). This event has also had a notable influence on the origin and development of the Church’s devotion to the Sacred Heart.

These and other texts present Christ as the paschal Lamb, victorious and slain (cf. Apoc 5,6). They were objects of much reflection by the Fathers who unveiled their doctrinal richness. They invited the faithful to penetrate the mysteries of Christ by contemplating the wound opened in his side. Augustine writes: “Access is possible: Christ is the door. It was opened for you when his side was opened by the lance. Remember what flowed out from his side: thus, choose where you want to enter Christ. From the side of Christ as he hung dying upon the Cross there flowed out blood and water, when it was pierced by a lance. Your purification
is in that water, your redemption is in that blood
” (ed. emphasis).

Devotion to the Sacred Heart was particularly strong during the middle ages. Many renowned for the learning and holiness developed and encouraged the devotion, among them St. Bernard (+1153), St. Bonaventure (+ 1274), the mystic St. Lutgarda (+1246), St Mathilda of Marburg (+ 1282), the sainted sisters Mathilda (+ 1299) and Gertrude (+ 1302) of the monastery of Helfta, and Ludolf of Saxony (+1380). These perceived in the Sacred Heart a “refuge” in which to recover, the seat of mercy, the encounter with him who is the source of the Lord’s infinite love, the fount from which flows the Holy Spirit, the promised land, and true paradise.

In the modern period devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus underwent new developments. At a time when Jansenism proclaimed the rigours of divine justice, the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus served as a useful antidote and aroused in the faithful a love for Our Lord and a trust in his infinite mercy symbolized by his Heart. St. Francis de Sales (+ 1622) adopted humility, gentleness (cf. Mt 11, 29) and tender loving mercy, all aspects of the Sacred Heart, as a model for his life and apostolate. The Lord frequently manifested the abundant mercy of his Heart to St. Margaret Mary (+ 1690); St. John Eudes (+ 1680) promoted the liturgical cult of the Sacred Heart, while St. Claude la Colombière (+ 1682) and St. John Bosco (+ 1888) and other saints
were avid promoters of devotion to the Sacred Heart.

Devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus are numerous. Some have been explicitly approved and frequently recommended by the Apostolic See. Among these, mention should be made of the

  • personal consecration, described by Pius XI as “undoubtedly the principal devotional practice used in relation to the Sacred Heart”;
  • family consecration to the Sacred Heart, in which the family, by virtue of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony already participating in the mystery of the unity and love of Christ for the Church, is dedicated to Christ so that he might
    reign in the hearts of all its members;
  • the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, approved for the whole Church in 1891, which is evidently biblical in
    character and to which many indulgences have been attached;
  • the act of reparation, a prayer with which the faithful, mindful of the infinite goodness of Christ, implore mercy for the offences committed in so many ways against his Sacred Heart;
  • the pious practice of the first Fridays of the month which derives from the “great promises” made by Jesus to St. Margaret Mary.

At a time when sacramental communion was very rare among the faithful, the first Friday devotion contributed significantly to a renewed use of the Sacraments of Penance and of the Holy Eucharist. In our own times, the devotion to the first Fridays, even if practised correctly, may not always lead to the desired spiritual fruits. Hence, the faithful require constant instruction so
that any reduction of the practice to mere credulity, is avoided and an active faith encouraged so that the faithful may undertake their commitment to the Gospel correctly in their lives. They should also be reminded of the absolute preeminence of Sunday, the “primordial feast”, which should be marked by the full participation of the faithful at the celebration of the Holy Mass.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart is a wonderful historical expression of the Church’s piety for Christ, her Spouse and Lord: it calls for a fundamental attitude of conversion and reparation, of love and gratitude, apostolic commitment and dedication to Christ and his saving work. For these reasons, the devotion is recommended and its renewal encouraged by the Holy See and by the
Bishops. Such renewal touches on the devotion’s linguistic and iconographic expressions; on consciousness of its biblical origins and its connection with the great mysteries of the faith; on affirming the primacy of the love of God and neighbour as the essential content of the devotion itself.

Popular piety tends to associate a devotion with its iconographic expression. This is a normal and positive phenomenon. Inconveniences can sometimes arise: iconographic expressions that no longer respond to the artistic taste of the people can sometimes lead to a diminished appreciation of the devotion’s object, independently of its theological basis and its historico-salvific content.

This can sometimes arise with devotion to the Sacred Heart: perhaps certain over sentimental images which are incapable of giving expression to the devotion’s robust theological content or which do not encourage the faithful to approach the mystery of the Sacred Heart of our Saviour.

Recent time have seen the development of images representing the Sacred Heart of Jesus at the moment of crucifixion which is the highest expression of the love of Christ. The Sacred Heart is Christ crucified, his side pierced by the lance, with blood and
water flowing from it (cf, John 19, 34). (167-173).

Blessed Jeanne Jugan

Today is the liturgical memorial of Blessed Jeanne Jugan (Sister Mary of the Cross), a relatively unknown sister here in the USA unless you you’ve met them begging for money to sustain their life and work. She is soon to be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 11th.

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The congregation of sisters founded by Blessed Jeanne, The Little Sisters of the Poor, are an exceptional group of women who dedicated themselves to doing small things for the poor for the sake of the Gospel: be humble, i.e., be little in order to be close to the humble and making the poor happy is everything. It was the spirituality of Saint John the Baptist: I must decrease and He must increase. Jugan was very much influenced by Saint John Eudes because in him she saw a path that corresponded to her heart: we must be other Christs on earth and to go to Jesus through Mary. Jugan called together women to serve poor elderly women, a work of charity that Jeanne had done for her own conversion since she was a young woman. Not only did Jeanne address the physical needs of the women she served, but she also attended to the spiritual ones too. The Little Sisters take a 4th vow of being hospitable: showing mercy to our poor brothers and sisters.
Here in Connecticut the Little Sisters of the Poor are located in Enfield but there was a time that they had a house in New Haven. Sadly, the New Haven community closed when the health care politics got to be too much for the sisters to handle.
When I am visiting the local Catholic cemetery I make it a point to visit the graves of the Little Sisters who died in New Haven. For me it is a way being grateful for the work and witness of the sisters in New Haven.
Watch the video clip of a recent first vows profession ceremony…
Among the recent books about Blessed Jeanne are:

Saint John Eudes: a guide for ecclesial renewal who said give self to Christ

Yesterday’s general audience (August 19, 2009) Pope Benedict took the opportunity to draw our attention to the saint being memorialized in the Liturgy, Saint John Eudes, as a model for personal renewal which will lead to the renewal of the priesthood. The zeal, the desire for the face of God, the need for conversion will lead, I am convinced, not only the renewal of the priesthood (and seminarians) but also the entire Church. Christ is the one thing we are seeking, the one person we are seeking. As the Baptist said, “He must increase; I must decrease.” AND focus on CHRIST!!!!!  

Read a portion of the Pope’s address.

While contempt was being spread for the Christian faith by some currents of thought that were prevalent then, the Holy Spirit inspired a fervent spiritual renewal, with prominent personalities such as that of Berulle, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louis Mary Grignion de Montfort and St. John Eudes. This great “French school” of holiness also had St. John Mary Vianney among its fruits. By a mysterious design of Providence, my venerated predecessor, Pius XI, proclaimed John Eudes and the Curé d’Ars saints at the same time, on May 31, 1925, offering the Church and the whole world two extraordinary examples of priestly holiness.

Eudists arms.jpg

In the context of the Year for Priests, I wish to pause to underline the apostolic zeal of St. John Eudes, directed in particular to the formation of the diocesan clergy.

The saints have verified, in the experience of life, the truth of the Gospel; in this way, they introduce us into the knowledge and understanding of the Gospel. In 1563, the Council of Trent issued norms for the establishment of diocesan seminaries and for the formation of priests, as the council was aware that the whole crisis of the Reformation was also conditioned by the insufficient formation of priests, who were not adequately prepared intellectually and spiritually, in their heart and soul, for the priesthood.

This occurred in 1563 but, given that the application and implementation of the norms took time, both in Germany as well as in France, St. John Eudes saw the consequences of this problem. Moved by the lucid awareness of the great need of spiritual help that souls were feeling precisely because of the incapacity of a great part of the clergy, the saint, who was a parish priest, instituted a congregation dedicated specifically to the formation of priests. He founded the first seminary in the university city of Caen, a highly appreciated endeavor, which was soon extended to other dioceses.

The path of holiness he followed and proposed to his disciples had as its foundation a solid confidence in the love that God revealed to humanity in the priestly Heart of Christ and the maternal Heart of Mary. In that time of cruelty and loss of interior silence, he addressed himself to the heart so as to leave in the heart a word from the Psalms very well interpreted by St. Augustine. He wanted to remind people, men and above all future priests of the heart, showing the priestly Heart of Christ and the maternal Heart of Mary. A priest must be a witness and apostle of this love of the Heart of Christ and of Mary.

Today we also feel the need for priests to witness the infinite mercy of God with a life totally “conquered” by Christ, and for them to learn this in the years of their formation in the seminaries. After the synod of 1990, Pope John Paul II issued the apostolic exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis, in which he took up and actualized the norms of the Council of Trent and above all underlined the need for continuity between the initial and permanent moments of formation. For him, for us, this is a real point of departure for a genuine reform of priestly life and apostolate, and it is also the central point so that the “new evangelization” is not simply an attractive slogan, but rather is translated into reality.

The foundations of formation in the seminary constitute that irreplaceable “humus spirituale” in which it is possible to “learn Christ,” allowing oneself to be progressively configured to him, sole High Priest and Good Shepherd. The time in the seminary should be seen, therefore, as the actualization of the moment in which the Lord Jesus, after having called the Apostles and before sending them out to preach, asks that they stay with him (cf. Mark 3:14).

When St. Mark narrates the vocation of the Twelve Apostles, he tells us that Jesus had a double objective: The first was that they be with him, the second that they be sent to preach. But in going always with him, they truly proclaim Christ and take the reality of the Gospel to the world.

In this Year for Priests, I invite you to pray, dear brothers and sisters, for priests and for those preparing to receive the extraordinary gift of the priestly ministry. I conclude by addressing to all the exhortation of St. John Eudes, who said thus to priests: “Give yourselves to Jesus to enter into the immensity of his great Heart, which contains the Heart of his Holy Mother and of all the saints, and to lose yourselves in this abyss of love, of charity, of mercy, of humility, of purity, of patience, of submission and of holiness” (Coeur admirable, III, 2).

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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