This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Friday, August 19, 2011

August 19 -- Feast of Saint John Eudes

One of the most intriguing elements of Christianity for me is the identification of different aspects of the Divine for different people. The Passion (suffering) of Jesus is a facet to which some saints have dedicated their lives and meditations. The Holy Name is an aspect which I find least compelling, perhaps because I don't really understand it. Some Christians, struck be the identification of the Divine with feminine virtues, have become Marists, dwelling on the Theotokos and leading puritans of all ages to brand them polytheists and idolaters. [I once fell into this puritan trap myself, though I think I have recovered.]

Saint John Eudes lived in seventeenth century France, caught on the horns of a struggle between the Jansenist heretics and the Jesuits. The Jansenists had preached that you couldn't have confession without perfect contrition, and you couldn't have communion unless you were spiritually perfected by confession. That much perfection rules out a lot of us imperfect sinners (like everyone, in my theology) so their version of Christianity only succeeded in disaffecting a lot of potential adherents. Nice work, Jansenists.

On the other side, the Jesuits were busily combating their work through scholarship and rhetoric. That's all very good for some folks (it would work on me, for example) but folks like John Eudes were far more impressed by the spiritual, the mystical, and the merciful aspects of God. For John, who founded the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, the Sacred Heart of Jesus was the most compelling aspect of the Divine. He wrote, he preached, he worked himself to exhaustion, reminding the French that Jesus had preached about a merciful God who demanded adherence and devotion, not spiritual perfection.

I know there are adherents to Judaism, Islam, and old school Unitarianism who take except to the notion that trinitarianism can be monotheism. For my part, I think that even Hinduism is a monotheistic religion when one remembers that all gods are incarnations of different aspects of the single, divine Oversoul. Creator, Preserver, Destroyer, Sufferer, Messiah -- and yes, for some, even meditation on the Theotokos will bring us closer to God.

Wow. That took a serious turn. I expected more histrionic denunciations of the Jansenists and less sober reflection on spirituality. Thanks you, Saint John Eudes, for your part in it.

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