Monday, August 19, 2013
The Unsung Marian Doctor, St. John Eudes
St. John Eudes is a name one hears little of nowadays, though few saints ever sung the praises of the Blessed Virgin Mary with such devotion as he did. In a time where the Church was threatened from within by the heresy of Jansenism, St. John Eudes rose up as a staunch defender of the orthodox faith. He remains one of the greatest French saints, and yet still remains virtually unmentioned in the modern Catholic world. It's time to change this.
Now, when most Catholics think of the great saints who wrote beautifully and profoundly on the Virgin Mary, I think St. Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Louis de Montfort are the more common ones to be mentioned. To be sure, St. Bernard's devotion to the Immaculate Virgin was tremendous, and few books have impacted the Catholic devotional world as that of St. Louis' True Devotion to Mary (if you don't already own it, you can pick it up here).
But it is St. John Eudes' work entitled The Admirable Heart of Mary that is a masterpiece. In its pages, he delves into the spirituality behind the Immaculate Heart for the precise reason that "a study of her heart ultimately becomes a study of Jesus' heart."1 In my life, I have never encountered a saint who wrote on our Lady that had such an incredible, almost encyclopedic knowledge of the Fathers and saints of the Church. With astounding skill, St. John weaves together one of the greatest defenses of the Church's teachings on Mary ever written.
One must also mention that in his propagation of devotion to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary, he effectively combatted Jansenism, a heresy of the time that sought to cultivate Calvinist errors amongst the faithful, discouraged frequent Holy Communion, and the like. In addition to this, he founded many orders (now commonly lumped under the umbrella term of "Eudists").
Much of our devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary nowadays is due to this holy saint, amongst others such as St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. His intense piety, exemplary love of Christ, and profound insights on our Lady all make him a saint absolutely worth getting to know.
1 - William M. Thompson, qtd. in Berulle and the French School: Selected Writings, pg. 53