1- Jean-Jacques Olier (1608-1657)

2- St Louis Grignon de Montfort and Monsieur Olier

3- Devotion to the Interior Life of Jesus in Mary

4- “The Interior Life of Mary” in  Monsieur Olier’s Letters

5- Introduction to Olier’s letters extracts on Mary

6- Interest of these Extracts

7- Extracts from Olier’s letters on Mary

1- Jean-Jacques Olier (1608-1657)

olier

Olier was born in Paris in 1608 into a family of lawyers. He was educated by the Jesuits in Lyon (1617-1624) and later studied philosophy at the college of Harcourt, scholastic theology and patristics at the Sorbonne. After he had led a lukewarm Christian life for a few years, he experienced a true conversion of heart and considered becoming a priest from apostolic motives. He was encouraged to do so by St. Francis de Sales, who predicted his sanctity and great services to the Church.

Under the guidance of St. Vincent de Paul, he took part in the Spiritual Exercises at Saint-Lazare and was ordained priest in 1633. Prompted by St. Vincent de Paul, he devoted himself to giving parish missions. He met Agnes de Langeac, Marie Rousseau, and Father Condren, and their influence was decisive in his founding a seminary at Vaugirard in December 1641 for the training of Priests, then at Saint-Sulpice, where he was appointed parish priest in 1642. He was convinced that parish missions could bear no lasting fruit unless they were based on a solid spiritual and apostolic formation focusing on union with Jesus Christ.

After going through the crucible of a psychological and spiritual trial between 1639 and 1641, he became an outstanding spiritual director. In imitation of Condren and the Oratorians, yet in a more personal way, he dedicated himself to Mary in 1633, and to Jesus in 1642. In 1652 he took the vow of total oblation to the Trinity through Mary.

Olier dedicated himself to preaching parish missions in rural areas and to establishing seminaries (at Paris, Nantes, Viviers, Le Puy, Clermont), without neglecting his role as a zealous parish priest. In his last years he wrote a few spiritual books, which were to have a far-reaching influence: “La Journée chrétienne” (“The Christian Day”) (1655), “Le Catéchisme chrétien pour la vie intérieure” (“The Christian Catechism for the Interior Life”) (1656), “Introduction à la vie et aux vertus chrétiennes” (“Introduction to the Christian Life and Virtues”) (1657). A number of manuscript works, especially “Mémoires”, which he wrote at the request of his spiritual director, Father Bataille, are of great help in attempting to understand Olier’s thought. It is his letters, however, that best reveal what sort of spiritual guide he was.

H. Brémond describes Olier as an excellent follower and witness of Bérulle’s teaching. Four points in his spiritual message and teaching method constitute the essence of his legacy to the Church:

– The first chapter of “Directoire spirituel de Saint-Sulpice” (“Spiritual Directory of Saint Sulpice”) can be considered the “principle and foundation” of his whole teaching: “The primary aim of the Institute is to live completely for God in Christ Jesus our Lord so that the interior dispositions of His Son may permeate the deepest recesses of our souls and enable each of us to repeat what St. Paul confidently said of himself, ‘It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me’” (Gal 2:20).

– The apostolic spirit – the Spirit of Jesus – is the source of all ministry in the Church: “Apostolic men and all the apostles of Christ are Christ-bearers, they bring him wherever they go; they are like sacraments, which bear him so that under their appearance and through them he may proclaim the glory of his Father.”

– His method of prayer is entirely centred on Jesus and is a real school of prayer. An historian of spirituality has written: “We consider that the most practical contribution to Catholic spirituality by the French school has been its resolutely Christ-centred approach to prayer, as aptly illustrated in what is called the ‘Sulpician method.’ This method comprises the successive stages: the stage of adoration: Jesus before the eyes; the stage of communion: Jesus in the heart; the stage of cooperation: Jesus in the hands.”

– “O Jesus living in Mary” is the prayer that Olier learned from Condren and further adapted. It was and still is a prayer that “admirably sums up the teaching of Bérulle and his school.” H. Brémond writes that “it would be difficult to imagine a more perfect epitome of the French school.”

2- St Louis Grignon de Montfort and Monsieur Olier

montfort-1

Saint Louis Grignon de Montfort (1673-1716) is much more known than Olier; mainly because of his writings on Mary: “The Secret of Mary” and “True devotion to Mary”. But Montfort studied theology from 1695 to 1700 at Saint Sulpice seminary. Olier died in 1657, but his spirit and his writings were very much alive and certainly greatly influenced Montfort. The following in italics are some extracts from “The true Devotion to Mary” of Montfort where he expresses what he took from Olier, with my comments:-

[119] As this devotion essentially consists in the interiorthat it should form, everyone will not understand it in the same way. Some – the great majority – will stop short at the threshold and go no further. Others – not many – will take but one step into its interior. Who will take a second step? Who will take a third? Finally who will remain in it permanently (as in a state)? Only the one to whom the Spirit of Jesus reveals the secret. The Holy Spirit himself will lead this faithful soul from strength to strength, from grace to grace, from light to light, until at length he attains transformation into Jesus in the fullness of his age on earth and of his glory in heaven.

As we see, he uses the French expression “intérieur” (interior) to explain the main result of the Devotion to Mary he is preaching. So all that we learned from the letters of Olier about the interior of Mary, is called to be realised in us! It is also very interesting to see that this devotion to Mary, has like steps or depths. We can find many levels in the “interior” of Mary. But we should get to the most interior part of it and dwell in it, so it becomes like a stable state.

[187] (2) And they are never or very seldom at home, in their own house, that is, in their own interior, the inner, essential abode that God has given to every man to dwell in, after his own example, for God always abides within himself. Sinners have no liking for solitude or the spiritual life or interiordevotion. They consider those who live an interiorlife, secluded from the world, and who work more interiorlythan exteriorly, as narrow-minded, bigoted and uncivilized.

In this paragraph, Montfort is telling us, between the lines, that we are called to dwell in Mary. Our own interior coincides with her interior. This is confirmed by all his teaching.

[217] My dear friend, when will that happy time come, that age of Mary, when many souls, chosen by Mary and given her by the most High God, will hide themselves completely in the depths of her interior, becoming living copies of her, loving and glorifying Jesus? That day will dawn only when the devotion I teach is understood and put into practice. “Ut adveniat regnum tuum, adveniat regnum Mariae”: “Lord, that your kingdom may come, may the reign of Mary come!”

Again, we are called to hide ourselves in the depths of Mary’s interior and become living copies of her!

[246] b) Since the principal mystery celebrated and honored in this devotion is the mystery of the Incarnation where we find Jesus only in Mary, having become incarnate in her womb, […] dwelling enthroned in Mary, according to the beautiful prayer, recited by so many great souls, “O Jesus living in Mary”.

This is the prayer he probably learned during his studies in theology at St-Sulpice. It is Olier’s prayer: “O Jesus, living in Mary, Come and live in Thy servants, In the spirit of Thy holiness, In the fullness of Thy might, In the truth of Thy virtues, In the perfection of Thy ways, In the communion of Thy mysteries. Subdue every hostile power In Thy spirit, for the glory of the Father. Amen.”

[247] c) These expressions show more clearly the intimate union existing between Jesus and Mary.  So closely are they united that one is wholly the other. Jesus is all in Mary and Mary is all in Jesus. Or rather, it is no longer she who lives, but Jesus alone who lives in her. It would be easier to separate light from the sun than Mary from Jesus. So united are they that our Lord may be called, “Jesus of Mary”, and his Mother “Mary of Jesus”.

At Olier’s school he learned to contemplate “the intimate union existing between Jesus and Mary”.

[248] Time does not permit me to linger here and elaborate on the perfections and wonders of the mystery of Jesus living and reigning in Mary, or the Incarnation of the Word. I shall confine myself to the following brief remarks. The Incarnation is the first mystery of Jesus Christ; it is the most hidden; and it is the most exalted and the least known.

It was in this mystery that Jesus, in the womb of Mary and with her co-operation, chose all the elect. For this reason the saints called her womb, the throne-room of God’s mysteries.

It was in this mystery that Jesus anticipated all subsequent mysteries of his life by his willing acceptance of them. Consequently, this mystery is a summary of all his mysteries since it contains the intention and the grace of them all.

Lastly, this mystery is the seat of the mercy, the liberality, and the glory of God. It is the seat of his mercy for us, since we can approach and speak to Jesus through Mary. We need her intervention to see or speak to him. Here, ever responsive to the prayer of his Mother, Jesus unfailingly grants grace and mercy to all poor sinners. “Let us come boldly before the throne of grace.”

It is the seat of liberality for Mary, because while the new Adam dwelt in this truly earthly paradise God performed there so many hidden marvels beyond the understanding of men and angels. For this reason, the saints call Mary “the magnificence of God”, as if God showed his magnificence only in Mary.

It is the seat of glory for his Father, because it was in Mary that Jesus perfectly atoned to his Father on behalf of mankind. It was here that he perfectly restored the glory that sin had taken from his Father. It was here again that our Lord, by the sacrifice of himself and of his will, gave more glory to God than he would have given had he offered all the sacrifices of the Old Law. Finally, in Mary he gave his Father infinite glory, such as his Father had never received from man.

These previous paragraphs can be read all over again. We never stop tasting them! They speak about the same thing: “the interior of Mary”.

[264] When we have obtained this remarkable grace by our fidelity, we should be delighted to remain in the beautiful interior of Mary. We should rest there peacefully, rely on it confidently, hide ourselves there with safety, and abandon ourselves unconditionally to it, so that within her virginal bosom:

1) We may be nourished with the milk of her grace and her motherly compassion.

2) We may be delivered from all anxiety, fear and scruples.

3) We may be safeguarded from all our enemies, the devil, the world and sin which have never gained admittance there. That is why our Lady says that those who work in her will not sin, that is, those who dwell spiritually in our Lady will never commit serious sin.

4) We may be formed in our Lord and our Lord formed in us, because her womb is, as the early Fathers call it, the house of the divine secrets where Jesus and all the elect have been conceived. “This one and that one were born in her.” (Ps 86,5)

Montfort invites us not only to enter in the interior of Mary, but also to dwell in it. If we really appreciated what Olier says in his letters, the previous quotations of Montfort are a clear invitation to us to read again “The true devotion to Mary” in order to find in it more depths and insight about the interior of Mary, expressed by a true disciple of Olier.

3- Devotion to the Interior Life of Jesus in Mary[1]

The Son of God promised each one in the Church, that He would dwell in the soul, and that the soul would dwell in Him the same as God the Father lives in Him and as He lives in the Father.

This prophecy has been accomplished perfectly in the Most Blessed Virgin in Whom Jesus Christ lives altogether differently from the way in which He lives in the whole Church. In the Church, He gives only a portion of His divine life:  He communicates it to Mary in such fullness and superiority that there is nothing comparable to it in all the other outpourings of His gifts.

One must then consider Him living in Mary to please Our Lord more, and look at Him dwelling in Mary, as in the completion of His love and joy.

If the Church calls Mary the “Ark of the Covenant” it is so that we may honour Jesus Christ Who resides in Her to receive in Her our homage.

In Mary He is as on a Throne where He wants to be honoured in a Tabernacle where He wishes to be adored.  His dwelling place and residence within His divine Mother is to Him, as Man, a joy and bliss from which He will never be separated whether we think of Jesus Christ as dwelling in Heaven or in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar or in ourselves. He must not be seen as separate from His Divine Mother. There we can go to Jesus living in Mary. He Himself is the supreme life of His divine Mother who is His first outpouring, the most fertile participation that comes out from Him and through which he fills her so eminently with all the substance in which he forms his Church.

Therefore, one can aspire to the union and participation of this same life, communicated to Mary. This adorable life of Jesus in Mary, this degree of supremacy which up to now is so little known, loved and respected.

It is right to dedicate ourselves now to the holy mysteries which throughout the centuries the Providence of God takes delight in showing us.

The communications of Jesus and Mary is the mystery of mysteries: it is the most perfect, the most outstanding possession of Jesus Christ in all His virtues.

We must therefore count ourselves blessed, if God calls us to honour specially this most lovable and adorable life of Jesus in Mary, to respect and venerate this supreme communication which He makes of all His virtues and therein puts us in a state for us to have some share in this incomparable treasure.

Those who will make this very hidden mystery of Her Maternity known, promote it and shed light on it and the unknown life of Her Son within Her, will have a share in the divine life which She possesses in Herself.

That is why more progress is made to procure the glory of God, the well-being of the Church and one’s own perfection through union with Mary than in using all the other practices that might be available.

This interior occupation of the soul of Jesus towards Mary [attracts us].

He takes delight in finding hearts disposed to receive the workings of His love towards Her and who continue the life which He led on earth in Her regard, who was His whole solace and which He continues to live in Heaven.

Through this devotion to the interior life of Mary, Jesus gives His dearest friends the most pleasing and gentle movements of His Heart.

He makes them sharers in the love He has for His holy Mother.

[it is] a result of the grace given to St. John the Evangelist.

The priests ought to unite themselves unceasingly to Mary so that they may be made partakers of this divine virtue of engendering Jesus Christ in all hearts.

 

4- “The Interior Life of Mary” in  Monsieur Olier’s Letters

It is with great joy that we can offer for the first time to the English speaking public these gems on Mary, Mother of Jesus. They have been translated from French by sister Anne Prendergast SMG. They belong to one of the greatest mystics we have ever had: Jean-Jacques Olier. It is true that he didn’t write any treaty on Mary, but he expressed with great spontaneity his contemplation and understanding of Mary in many of his letters. This following contains the main passages.

Olier’s inspiration and contemplation is common to the Mariology of the French School of spirituality. This great school gave us the much more known saint Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort, quoted many times by Pope John Paul II – he even took from him his motto: Totus tuus (all yours Mary).

Each member of the French school expressed their understanding of Mary according to their own character and grace. We are happy to offer these texts in order to let the reader explore for the first time Olier’s deep way to see and explain the mystery of Mary.

We hope that these extracts will encourage many more people to study Olier’s contribution to Mariology and Spirituality. Since the Mariology of the French School of Spirituality is totally centred on Jesus, the great benefit of knowing Mary better will increase our knowledge and love for Jesus.

I would like to thank Sr. Anne Prendergast SMG; without her contribution in translating these extracts this book would not have come to the light.

 

5- Introduction to Olier’s letters extracts on Mary

Jean-Jacques Olier (1608-1657) is the Founder of the seminary and Society of St-Sulpice in France. He is also one of the greatest mystics we ever had. His spiritual experience – like all the members of the French School of spirituality[2]– is very much influenced by the presence of Mary. These extracts from his letters will help us discover, at first hand, the vision Olier had of Mary in her relationship with Jesus, and with us. In Olier’s writings, we often find the expressions “interior of Mary”and “interior life of Mary”. He forged these expressions. The first one is what John Eudes will call “The Heart of Mary” or “The admirable Heart of Mary”. The second in fact, indicates the interior and divine operations taking place in Mary. St. John of the Cross would call that: Mary’s “modality” or “way” to know and love God/Jesus. Olier’s teaching is very precious for it shows us the best modality/way, the most divine one, by which we can know and love Jesus Christ, which is Mary’s one. It shows us how we can have part in it thus enabling us to love Jesus Christ in and through the Heart of Mary.

“After having exhorted the souls to contemplate the interior life of Our Lord in its source, Monsieur Olier honours it in the Blessed Virgin. […]  Mary is the most perfect realisation of Jesus’ life : the abridgement of His interior life.

The devotion to the “interior life of Mary” that is, to the life of Jesus in Mary, returns frequently in his correspondence (Cf. Letter 225). He presents this devotion, which he owes to Bérulle and Condren, with such richness in images and symbols that he really makes it his own says Brémond (t. III p. 494). He dwells on it with a special readiness. One feels that he speaks from the abundance of his heart. His pen runs quickly without pausing, without any alterations. He writes with clarity and fullness: Calamus scribae velociter scribentis. It comes from the heart of a wholly devoted son overflowing with gratitude and love. Above all, this devotion is not sentiment; it is both dogmatic and Pauline.”[3]

6- Interest of these Extracts

What seems to attract Olier is the modalitywith and in which Jesus is found in Mary, the divine modalityof His action/life in Her. He makes Himself known to and loved by Her! This modalityof the presence and action of Christ in Mary is, compared to that of His existence in other souls, the highest one. For Olier, it is an object of contemplation! Likewise, what characterizes the teaching of St. John of the Cross – and it is precisely that to which we are called – is“the divine modality”of knowing and loving God. He is of the opinion that God wants to communicate it to us and we must not put any obstacle to him. St. John of the Cross rebels with a holy anger against any alteration of this fullness. Besides, in his works, he does not hesitate to point out – even briefly – the example of Mary! Fr. Louis Guillet O.C.D., one of the best connoisseurs of St. John of the Cross, also draws our attention to the “divine modality” God wants to establish in us. He has always been marked by it while reading St. John of the Cross! And it is what one feels on reading but the beginning of “The Interior Castle” of St. Teresa of Jesus. She is fascinated by this fullness of the “indwelling” of Christ in a soul! Are we not we at the centre of our Christian vocation with regard to this question.

The “divine interior”of Mary – the expression which Olier uses to signify this gift of God – is simply Her spirit (the highest part of Her soul). This marvellous and divine place, where Mary resembles God, where She is clothed with His beauty, and where She participates fully in the Trinitarian life.

The marvellous news is that this divine interior is given to us! Mary makes us share in Her divine interior and in Her capacity to know and love Jesus! This is the main interest of Oliers letters for our spiritual life! Therefore we can understand Olier’s prayer to Jesus[4]:

“Jesus, living in Mary,

        in the beauty of Your virtues,

        in the fullness of Your might,

        in the splendour of Your eternal and divine riches,

grant us to share in this holiness that draws her to God…”[5]

Yes, grant us to share Mary’s capacity of God, grant us to participate into her way of knowing Jesus and loving him. May we, by reading and meditating on the deep teaching enclosed in Olier’s letters, understand better the greatness of the Gift of God to us: the interior life of Mary.

 

7- Extracts from Olier’s letters on Mary

These translated extracts are taken from the French Edition of Olier’s letters of 1935: “Lettres de M. Olier, nouvelle édition par E. LEVESQUE PSS”, 2 vol., Paris, 1935.

Letter 221 to Mme. De Saujon[6](Issy, end of June, 1651)

This morning I was given to see interiorly that it was on this solemn day [Feast of the Visitation], that we ought to honour this interior life of Jesus in Mary and His wonderful workings in and through Her in the Church of which the first fruits have been so awesome and outstanding in St. John.

Letter 225 to Mme. De Saujon (Circa 16th July, 1651)

The special obligation which God puts on you to honour the life of Jesus in Mary is that you grow each day in the desire to consecrate yourself to this divine mystery to adore Him and to return Him all the duties of your religion. What Our Lord is to His Church, He is, par excellence, to His holy Mother.

[Our Lord] is Her interior and divine fullness; and as He has sacrificed Himself more especially for Her than for the whole Church, He gives Her God’s life more abundantly than to the whole Church. He gives it to Her out of gratitude, and in acknowledgement of the life He has received from Her.

[…] Jesus is now in Her, giving Her all the fullness and superabundance of life proportionate to such a vast subject of love, to such great capacity of His love and divine life.

We must then consider Jesus Christ as our All, living in the Most Holy Virgin in the fullness of God’s life: inasmuch as He has received from His Father as that which He has acquired and merited for mankind through the ministry of His Mother’s life. It is in Her that He shows all the treasures of His riches, the fullness of His beauty and the delights of His divine nature. It is there [in her] that one sees, an abridgement of his glory (which His ignominies have drawn down on the Church), all the joy and bliss which He acquired by His sufferings and all the riches which He merited for us through the poverty and abjection of the Cross.

       It is there Jesus Christ triumphs in His gifts.

       It is there He is glorious in His masterpiece.

       It is there He is in joy and delight at what He has acquired and prepared.

        O adorable sojourn of Jesus in Mary!

        O secret, worthy of silence!

        O deep mystery worthy of adoration!

        O incomprehensible commerce!

        O company of Jesus and of Mary inaccessible to the eyes of every human creature!

       […] which shall be those who will see this celestial and divine dwelling place of Jesus in Mary and of Mary in Jesus. This dwelling place is like to that of Jesus in God His Father and of His Father in Him. His Divine Mother, surpasses the rest of the Church, as the light of the sun surpasses that of all the stars. You cannot share in a mystery to adore God more gloriously, more pleasing to Jesus Christ, more useful and more precious to your state.

This august and solid mystery, this sublime honour which God gives you to apply yourself to it.

What is there sweeter and more pleasing to Jesus Christ than to seek Him in the garden of His delights, on this throne of grace in this loving furnace of holy love for the good of all mankind.

What more abundant source of grace and life than this place where Jesus lives as in the source of life of all mankind and in the foster-mother of the whole Church?

Let us together rejoice at this happiness, and benefit from the overtures of His love therein.

Letter 234 to Mme. De Saujon (28th October, 1651)

I am consoled in seeing the joy and taste you have for the things which concern the divine Mother, in Whom you ought to place all your interior life. It seems to me that our lovable All is so pleased that we adore, imitate and make known and honoured the divine life of Jesus and Mary, and that it is the only thing we should do in this world.

[…] How happy I am that Jesus and Mary wish to renew on earth Their inseparable life in their worshiping and their respect towards God! Nothing is more admirable than this life of Jesus in Mary.

This holy life which He continually pours out on Her, this divine life with which He endows Her and with which He animates Her, loving, praising and adoring in Her God His Father [considering her] as a worthy addition of His Heart, and in which He expands with pleasure. The whole of Jesus’ life and all his love in the rest of the Church, and even in His apostles and in His most cherished disciples, is nothing in comparison to what He is in Mary’s Heart. He lives there in fullness, and He acts in all His divine Spirit. He is but one heart, one soul, one life with Her. There is nothing more admirable than this union, this holy and mysterious unity. It is something which in its consummation, cannot be understood and what is consoling about it is, that this masterpiece is to last forever.

O how adorable Jesus is in His Mother!

One cannot understand what He is in her and in what manner God lets Him be for her and makes himself present in all her being. It is a work of faith, and the more faith there is, so too is it more holy and divine, and the more it gives to be relished in the intimacy of the soul. It is an abyss of love and charity which cannot be imagined; for one cannot know the extent of the love Jesus has towards Mary, nor the strength and purity of Mary’s love for Jesus.

[…] I will tell you again that this morning at prayer I felt the union and the loss[7]of Mary’s Heart in Jesus, that it was a nourishment, a perfect life and joy to this divine Mother.

[…] She was more in Jesus than any other creature. Other persons [united to Jesus] seemed unrefined and separated from Jesus, in comparison to the dispositions and the pure and holy state of Mary.

[…] I desire with all my heart that the divine Mother finishes Her work in you for all eternity, and that She will always keep you lost in Her so that you will not be capable to act for yourself and that neither Satan, the world, nor any creature will find to wound your heart which has to be inviolably in imitation of Mary.

     

Letter 235 to Mme. De Saujon (End of October, 1651)

Blessed be Jesus and Mary in the holiness of their divine state where only faith will allow us to enter during our present life.

       […] We must in this time particularly, immerse ourselves fully in Mary so as to enter into Her dispositions towards Jesus Christ and His Father.  For She is the Mother of One, and the holy Spouse of the other and we will not know how to find elsewhere anything better to satisfy our hearts in the love which we owe them and in the companionship which we must have with the Father and the Son.

       […] To have more union and greater bond with the holy Virgin.

       […] It is She alone who can give and abundantly make up for the homage which we are obliged to render His.

       […] to unite oneself to Her interior.

       […] this Father full of love for His Son wishes that she, (The Church) be united to the Most Holy Virgin to render in and through Her its duties towards Jesus which is the continual object of its worship.

Through this means, you will always increase and advance in the interior of God Himself. For the Blessed Virgin, as His Spouse, lives most intimately in His bosom; and Jesus in Her, as your divine way, will lead you to this place of delight.

Letter 237 to Mme. De Saujon (November, 1651)

[…] I do not doubt at all that He [Our Lord] will open my heart more and more on the subject of Jesus and Mary […]

Letter 238 to Mme. De Saujon (Mid-November, 1651)

[…] Jesus Christ […] made me taste so gently this morning what He was to the Most Blessed Virgin that he hardly gave me any peace so much so that I had to admit, before His Father, that I was to Mary all that She was to Him, for eternity

 […] Then […] to see, taste and feel in myself what Mary was to Jesus, how much She was all in all to Him and more to Him, a thousand times, than she was to Herself, and in Herself.

It is inconceivable to see this holy being of Mary absolutely lost in Jesus, to see how profoundly She lives in Him, how what is proper to Her is destroyed and annihilated and how one sees and feels only a total abandonment and an absolute relinquishment; but more than all that, the donation of Her whole being is made with such a living, ardent and pressing need  that She is in a continuous act of  abandonment, feeling by Her ardent desires that it seems to Her that She does not belong enough to Him, wishing, were it possible for Her, to belong still more.

Then, my daughter, grow more and more in Mary in the love of Jesus.

[…] to see and bring that in my prayer. I seem to see the divine interior of Mary, while living on earth with Jesus Christ was always growing in the desire to belong to Him, for God[8], believing that it is never enough.

O my daughter, how divine is this divine companionship and this adorable unity of Mary in Jesus!  Oh! how one must be wholly consecrated to God so as to honour and adore this loving bond and this divine masterpiece of love which is so little known and loved on earth!

I give myself more than ever to Jesus to enter with Him into this divine companionship of His Mother, to be in Him what He was for Mary…to expand and multiply not only one’s worship towards the Father, but also one’s love towards one’s Mother.

Letter 239 to Mme. De Saujon (Mid-November, 1651)

        I have an urgent wish […] to see the common life of Jesus and Mary practised on earth […]. Nothing urges my heart more ardently and forcefully than this charity of Jesus [towards Mary].

       […] In eternity, Jesus and Mary will be the main objects of God the Father’s delight after the eternal communication of the Three Divine Persons.   Long live God’s love in Jesus and Mary! I ask His goodness that He may accomplish this love [the love of God in Jesus and Mary], in the Church and in its most cherished children.

Letter 245 to Mme. De Saujon  (Last months of 1651)

I pray God, Who unites and accomplishes Jesus Christ and Mary in His sublime unity and holiness, that He will communicate this grace to His Church.  

Letter 246 to Mme. De Saujon (End of 1651)

Is it well known that absent souls see each other in God and speak about His goodness and love? How many times do you believe that the soul of Mary was present to the absent Jesus, and how Jesus spoke to His Mother though absent in body, but divinely present to Him?

How often Jesus was living, speaking and dealing with man, was he divinely visited, unseen by all, by His Divine Mother? What did the Spirit of love let Mary say to Him? However, how many of these divine visits, though momentary gave, joy and consolation to His soul? There are no words to express these surges of the holy and powerful love of Jesus towards Mary. It was the care which God took to console and assuage these two hearts which He had so strongly and effectively united in His Divine love.

 […] Divine Love, Divine Spirit, possess forever in Jesus and in Mary the souls who abandon all to belong to You.

Letter 264 to Mme. De Saujon (Lyon, circa 18th October, 1652)

I pray God that at no moment of my life, my interior gaze be except towards the Blessed Virgin filled with Jesus, from which God’s order has made me so dependent, that apart from that, I may not be concerned about anything else.

There was a time when I asked for this grace with all my heart: it is now presented to me, and I keep it infinitely dear to my soul. Likewise, I wish it for you according to the holy desire of God, which seems the same for you.

Letter 326 to Mme. De Saujon (Circa 8th September, 1653)

This mystery of the Birth of Our Lady is the anticipated Birth of Jesus Christ, and an admirable preparation for His holy birth on earth. Dedicate yourself to Jesus in Mary born in the world, and you bind yourself to Him in Her, so as no longer to live but for Him through Her…

The real charity is brought to the neglected works, and the true worship goes to the respect for the forgotten mysteries, let us sacrifice our lives to pay respect of love to this mystery which is so little known, and still less honoured in the world, and I assure you that the Mother of Beautiful Love will know how to repay it back to us.

That does not stop you from also going to find Him [Jesus Christ] in the Most Blessed Virgin, where He is as in a tabernacle, in a holy ciborium, and under a richer heaven as on these magnificent fabrics[9]under which He is exposed on the altars. It is there that He is content to be adored, loved and invoked by all mankind; it is there that He is delighted to receive our homage. In a word, it is there He finds His paradise of delights, the sojourn of His Love, the place of His riches and glories: and it is, however, where He is almost unknown, and is not sought after nor visited as He deserves.

Perhaps, you will tell me that you do not know how to have devotion to this mystery, because it is something from the past.. True, it is in the past in its exterior state; but interiorly, it is always living and subsisting in its grace, in His virtue and divine perfections. The Blessed Virgin, like Jesus, always has Her same interior; and all the virtues, graces, the sentiments towards God and the holy dispositions which She has ever had, are permanent in Her; in such a way that in faith we find them always the same. What happiness that God offers us such a treasure, and opens this beautiful door to enter His Kingdom!

Letter 334 to Thérèse d’Aubray Bourbon  (May, 1654)

You must leave your whole interior and exterior to the spirit of Mary, so that She alone possessing you fully may use you, not allowing any exterior creature to find place in you.

Letter 339 to Mme. De Saujon (Circa July-August, 1654)

You remain clothed in the most Blessed Virgin, in Whom I wish you always to retire and enclose yourself for the glory of God, for the edification of your neighbour and for your own peace. The first way will always cause you bother and trouble; and the second, on the contrary, which is the losing of yourself in your loving and holy prison, which is the Blessed Virgin, will always give you freedom and peace.

The recollection in faith of the Most Blessed Virgin puts you at rest and in peace, making disappear the many things of the future which are uncertain and vain, that is because they belong to this world and to the creatures.

Letter 340 to a Saint-Sulpice Ecclesiastic (circa mid-September, 1654)

God puts in their divine Mother all that is the greatest and most admirable of the splendour of the Saints until the end of time, and all that Our Lord spreads of light and grace outside of Himself, She already contains it from the first moment of Her  life!

It seems to me that the life, not only of a man, but of the entire Church, would do well to venerate this mystery [the birth of the Virgin] and be grateful for this grace. For myself, I consecrate my life to it, I acknowledge owing the life of my soul and my body to this divine mystery and I dedicate myself to God to occupy all the time to let it be honoured.

Letter 351 to Mme. de Saujon (Thursday 5th August, 1656) (Our Lady of the Snows)

Today’s feast is dedicated to the Most Blessed Virgin as a living temple of the Son of God.

Letter 353 to Charles Picoté (end of 1656 or the beginning of 1657)

Lately I feel that I am scarcely separated from the interior of the Most Blessed Virgin, in Whom I find all that I can wish for on this earth.

Letter 396 to one of his spiritual daughters

Since your dear Spouse has a jealous love [of your heart], especially during this time when He separates you from every creature, so that you belong to Him alone, live in Him and with Him in the Most Blessed Virgin.  It is this solitude where you feel that your soul is drawn, which you must guard with fidelity for your only Spouse, and where you will find all you can wish for on earth.

Letter 415 to one of his spiritual daughters

You have to follow the attraction which Our Lord gives you to draw you into the Most Blessed Virgin.

Jesus Christ, Who established Himself in Her as on a throne of grace and mercy, now draws you with more strength and sweetness than ever.  Go to Her then, in full trust, for there is nothing that She cannot do under the spirit of Her Son, through the principle of love which He has for Her, and which He will always have.

If in nature such powerful love can be found, which drives man not to have anything for himself, and to be nothing to himself, so as to be all in all to the one he loves, in such a way that the lover does all she wishes with the loved one, what will Jesus’ love be towards His Mother, who is so great and so powerful, that it cannot be understood? For He so belongs to Her, that She disposes of Him, that She can do all through Him, that She can have from Him all that She wishes, that She can use His power as something belonging to Her and that She can apply it wherever She wishes; such is the love of Jesus for Mary and with a love which is a mainspring of  this great power..  You sometimes see and feel in yourself these truths and Our Lord makes you even feel this love so that you are able to have an idea of Jesus’ love towards Mary, and that you want to publish it everywhere so as to give credence to this love and to make the power of Mary in the Church understood and thus engender this love and honour throughout the world.

I seem to see Jesus and Mary united as one, Who seem but one person, and seem to rejoice in their innocent, pure and divine love for all eternity. I cannot express this mutual love which transmits and carries them one to the other. Alas! It is a love which alone is capable of being a paradise. So the kiss, which is spoken of in the Canticles, is accomplished: the Bride rejoices in her request, she confesses that the Spouse had introduced her to his cellar; for she has her fill of love and its delights from the Spouse.  So well does she captivate him since letting himself go to her, and allowing her to find him that she no longer wants to leave him, to the point until she has entered heaven.  She is no longer troubled about asking where he rests at midday, since she rejoices in him in her place of glory. It is there where she is all clothed with the sun, and she appears to be no longer in herself, but in Jesus Christ, in Whom she is wholly transformed in the beautiful day of eternity. Be faithful in this life to losing yourself in her, and you will with her, be lost in Jesus Christ for time and eternity.

Letter 416 to one of his spiritual daughters

Have you forgotten this adorable life of Jesus in Mary? This life which He gives continually to her, this life with which he animates her, loving, praising and adoring in Her God the Father, as a worthy addition of her heart, in which he delights and increases Himself with joy. What is the adorable and admirable consummation of this soul in Jesus! O admirable accomplisher, renew this life, and continue it in the Church.

Do you remember what I told you before, that the life of Jesus and His love in the rest of His Church, and even that of His apostles and most cherished of His disciples, comes nowhere near to what He is in Mary’s  Heart. He lives there fully. He operates in the fullness of His divine spirit. He is but one heart, one soul, one life with Her. All other creatures have but little resemblance to what She is. How many times has this divine Saviour sighed on leaving His Mother, after having seen what She is, He considers the hardness and self-interest of his apostles! How monstrous to his eyes, after noticing the humility of Mary, to see the self-seeking of His disciples. Let us open our hearts to Jesus Christ, and leave ourselves to Him that we may be penetrated with this adorable life which He gives to this divine creature. Let us enter into the love of Jesus towards His Mother, and in Mary’s respect for Jesus, and remember that Their love was never languid, even though it passed through much bitterness, but that they always grew in their total consummation in heaven. You know very well that it is the union to this divine mystery which has the same effect on souls; and you also see how this devotion tends towards rest and tranquillity of your heart. Farewell.

Here is an exercise to help you honour Jesus Christ living in the Most Blessed Virgin, and you can use according as it draws you.

         I adore You, O my Divine Jesus, dwelling and living in the Most Blessed Virgin.

          I adore the greatness and the perfections with which Her soul is adorned.

         I adore Your reign in Her and the absolute power which animates her whole being.

         I adore Your life, which fills and animates Her heart and all Her faculties.

          I adore the abundance of the gifts, the fullness of the virtues, and the fruitfulness of the graces you place in Her for the whole Church.

         Divine Jesus, reign in and through Her on us forever.

         Divine Lord, Your power is worthy to be adored, Your yoke and reign are always sweet, but it is never sweeter than under this throne of love.

         How willingly we come to the feet of this holy tabernacle to render You our duties, and pray that You will destroy in us what is opposed to Your reign and life!

         Divine Jesus, vivify our hearts; don’t accept in us any other life than Yours; destroy and annihilate all that is contrary to it..  Act in us like You do in Mary; that You alone live there and let all that is mortal be absorbed in Your life.

         Grant that the virtues of Your spirit be in us as in Her, and by Her same virtue all that comes from the corruption of the flesh be destroyed and annihilated in us.

         What an admirable communion of the spirit, life and virtues of Jesus in Your soul, O my divine Mother! To me You are but one with Jesus, so much is He living in You, and You consumed in Him.

         Adorable model of the communion of all Christians, would to God that Your divine remembrance would fill our soul with its holy abundance, and with the fullness of His life with which He vivifies You, O divine Mistress!

         Divine Jesus, live in us through Your Mother, and give us the fullness of your gifts and holy graces, so as to be one with You and with Your dearest Mother.

Letter 432 to one of his disciples

Sir,

Honour especially, in the mystery which the Church suggests to us in these days [of Advent], the life of Our Lord in the most Blessed Virgin. Never has there been a more perfect communion, never a more shared possession than that of Jesus and Mary.  The Son of God said to His Father: “All that is mine is Yours, and all that is Yours is mine”, not having anything in them that was not shared; this is what consist of the true and perfect companionship of the Father and the Son during eternity. Now, it is the same with Jesus and His Mother in time.  All that is mine, He says to Her, is Yours and all that is Yours is Mine, or better still it can be said: all is common between us. I have only one spirit with you, I have the same wishes and dispositions as You in everything, all is perfect harmony in us.

Now this annihilation of the eg[10]is the principle and the basis of all perfect companionship and unity in the Church: and as there never was a soul so annihilated in itself, nor so full of Jesus as that of Mary; as there is nothing where Jesus has lived with such fullness as in His Mother, in whom He lived and triumphed over all, making Her perfectly one in Him, from there we see that we could not take a more saintly model, nor one more pure, nor more perfect for our little society, than She, Who establishes its subjects between them in a unity all divine.

Jesus Christ, our Master, infinitely jealous to be seen, loved and adored in this divine companionship with His Mother, simply does not only suggest it to the Church as a pledge of devotion and obligation; for it is true that He lives in His divine Mother in such a manner as is necessary to his family, that He wants the Church to be obliged to go to her in its weakness.

He lives in her as in his temple; for there He is the victim of love of His Father, and there also He consumed His Mother in it, to make of Her with Him a host of praise. He lives also in Her as in the place of His delights, communicating His joys and consolations to Her, but communicating them to Her as to His dear Bride and in a special way to His only love, who has the prerogatives of His love which are not communicated to any other person.. In such a way, that as God the Father has His delights in His Son, and reserves a special kindness towards Him, which is not shown towards the rest of mankind; so Our Lord has the same for His divine Mother, Who is all beautiful, and is His only love.[11]

God the Father has graces for His Son which will not be given to any other but to Him alone; and Jesus Christ too has graces, which will not be given to any other than to His divine Mother; and though choosing the body of the most holy Virgin to be the Mother of his natural body, He has, at the same time, chosen Her to be Mother of His Church which is His mystical Body, and which she nourishes with the grace and life of Her Son, She has nonetheless special gifts and graces, which She brings in Her soul as the character of the singular and unique love of Jesus Christ.

The angels in Heaven, though they give their light and life to inferiors, reserve however, for themselves, special graces which they do not bestow on others. Jesus Christ has put in the Heart of the Most Blessed Virgin particular gifts which She alone possesses and which will never be given to any other creature. I do not know even if the angels understand and if they will ever be discovered by the Blessed [in heaven]. True, the singularity of these gifts will never be put shared with anyone. It’s the seal which Jesus Christ has put in Her Heart and which I think nobody will ever take away.

Jesus Christ has broken the seven seals and the seven letters which keep the great mysteries of His love towards the Church enclosed in Him, which overflow and are communicated through the gifts and the Sacraments.  This adorable Conqueror has broken them in revealing His gifts, His holy love to the Faithful.

But for the divine fire with which He burns for the Most Blessed Virgin, He has never fully uncovered nor shown it except to Her. We must be content with adoring this inexplicable mystery in its secret and particular expressions of the love of Jesus towards Mary. Our worship must confess that it has only the silence and the night of faith for this mystery.

Besides a number of innumerable qualities and prerogatives according as to how Our Lord lives in His Most holy Mother, He is in Her the source of life for the Church; God gave to His Son the quality of the Father of the future century[12], in recompense for having died for mankind. He gave Him His place to be naturally, and more suitable to our state, the Father of the living, He gave Him the fullness of life which ought to nourish mankind. The same, living in Mary, He has united Her with His life for the Church, and however sterile She is, as the Prophet says[13], He makes Her Mother of all his members, and an innumerable number of children who are nourished with the milk of her breasts and quench their thirst from the substance from which Christ vivifies Her. It is there where He calls the whole Church. It is there where He wishes that all His children will go to be made partakers of  pure love. It is in Her bosom where one gathers the fruits of a holy honesty, as Scripture says[14]; in a word, it is in Her that Jesus Christ lives as a source of life; for He puts Her in companionship with the life which He has received from His Father to water and nourish the Church, which is this only daughter that the adorable Father has engendered in Mary in engendering His Son.

It is what is expressed by the words of the Prophet[15]: Homo et homo natus est in ea: “Man and man is born in” the Most Blessed Virgin. “Man and man”, that is Jesus Christ and His Church, for Jesus Christ being born in the womb of His Mother, the whole Church is born at the same time with Him; for Our Lord receiving in Himself the fullness of the Father, has, at the same time sufficient life to vivify all its members. God the Father continually communicating this divine life to His Son to preserve it in the Church. The Father – who lives in the Son –, while nourishing the Son, nourishes the Church. And as Jesus Christ, intimately united to His Divine Mother, receives life for Himself and for the whole Church, it happens that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, partaker of this divine life, also becomes in Her Son Jesus Christ, the Mother nurse of the Church. Thus, by an absolute dependence, God the Father links all His children to this adorable and loving bosom; and the Church is always infinitely happy that the Blood and the substance of Jesus Christ are changed into milk for the Church from the breasts of the Most Blessed Virgin.

Therefore, we must with love and joy go and suck this milk, this Blood and divine substance, acknowledging that God subjects us and that the Church calls us to it. Blessed is the soul who sees only Jesus and Mary; who converses only with Jesus and Mary; who no longer has joy, nor any desire in this world but to hear about the news of Mary in Jesus and Jesus in Mary. It is a marvellous means that God gives us for a holy life, during this difficult present life. It is there I wish you to all be lost as in an abyss, so that the world no longer sees you and that through this means you are hidden from all creatures.

Letter 448 to a newly-ordained priest                                                    

The state of priesthood in which you now are, obliges you to have a special love for this divine princess.. It seems to me that all the priests and clerics have very good reasons to commit themselves to this devotion.

The first is the love which Our Lord has for her. The spirit of Jesus lives in the priests, and since he cannot be idle or ineffective in them, he fills them with His inspirations. Even though, He must first of all vivify their hearts with feelings of love for the Blessed Virgin, for it is towards Her that He has the strongest love after that of God the Father.

The second, is the super abundance of love She bears towards Jesus Christ; She is all to Him, She has only being, life and movement but for Him. She only breathes, sees, speaks and works interiorly and exteriorly but for Him. Therefore the priest ought to be delighted that he is able to be bound to the interior of the Most Blessed Virgin. Because when a soul is first of all very united to Her, it feels carried to Jesus Christ by Her love. At the same time the soul enters into the holy and ardent ways of pure love towards Jesus, Who is the priest’s whole treasure.  

The third is the charm which She has in Herself according to the sentiments of the holy Fathers and the experience of the Church, to powerfully draw souls to Jesus Christ.  That is why they call Her the bait of the Divinity.  Esca spiritalis hami, qui est Divinitas. God, who wants to draw souls to His Son uses the sweetness and gentleness of the Blessed Virgin as a bait at the end of a line, to catch souls so that in this divine creature, priests will find the charm and sweetness which they need to draw souls to Jesus Christ, according to their duty and obligation, and for that they must keep closely united to Her and lose themselves in Her.

The fourth is Her capacity as Mother of Jesus Christ for as Mother She has the fertility to engender souls. That is why the priests, who are obliged to fashion Him the hearts of people ought to live unceasingly in Her, so that in being partakers of the this divine virtue of God the Father, who makes Her fertile, they may worthily fulfil with dignity such a holy ministry.

__________

[1]We don’t know the origin of this text, maybe it is a mix from Monsieur Etienne-Michel Faillon (1799-1870), a Priest of St. Sulpice, and Olier. Faillon published Jean Jacques Olier’s seventeenth-century work entitled TheInterior Life of the Most Holy Virginin 1866.

[2]”The French school of spirituality” is composed by all the great men that made the golden century in France during the 17thCentury. At their head we have Cardinal Pierre de Bérulle Founder of the French Oratory. Even though Grignon de Montfort didn’t live in that Century he is considered as one of their best heirs, at least in Marian teachings.

[3]From the Preface of the French edition of the letters of 1935: Lettres de M. Olier, nouvelle édition par E. LEVESQUE PSS 2 vol., Paris, 1935.

[4]This prayer is inspired by Condren’s “little prayer” (Cf. J.-J. Olier, Mémoires, II,120).

[5]This version of Olier’s prayer is taken from an autograph. It underlines better the fact that we can share the same divine life Jesus had in Mary. The more common form is taken from the book: “Journée chrétienne”, Paris, 1655, and is as follow: “O Jesus, living in Mary! come and live in Your servants, in the spirit of Your holiness, in the fullness of Your might, in the perfection of Your ways, in the truth of Thy virtues, in the communion of Your mysteries; …”This prayer is in fact the same prayer Frances Taylor (1832-1900), the Foundress of the Congregation of the “Poor Servants of the Mother of God”(SMG), said daily – she developed the same marian spirit of the Ecole Françaisewith her own genius. This prayer is said frequently by the sisters of her Congregation.

[6]Monsieur Olier meets the 25 years old Anne Campet de Saujon in May 1651. She was in the French Court, fille d’honneur of the Duchess of Orléans. She entered the Carmelite monastery of Paris on the advice of her spiritual director, Abbé de la Croix-Christ, because the Duke d’Orléans was interested in her. Even though, the Duc d’Orléans made pressure through a decree of the Parliament to let her out. It is at that time that Monsieur Olier meets her and starts to help her spiritually. After his death she will be, with Madame Tronson, the foundress of a society of women called: the work of the “Daughters of the Interior of the Virgin Mary”.

[7]Abandonment.

[8]”for God” means: in order to worship God.

[9]Fabrics put over the Blessed Sacrament to adorn it.

[10]Any type of possession or attachment.

[11]Monsieur Olier often spoke of the mutual love of Jesus and Mary. It even seems, in reading his diverse writings that he had a special mission to make this mystery known and honoured.  At the Saint-Sulpice seminary he wanted the altar in the tribune to be dedicated to this love of Jesus for Mary and Mary for Jesus.

[12]Isaiah 9:6.

[13]Isaiah 4:1.

[14]Sirach24:23 (Vulgate).

[15]Ps 86:5 accommodative meaning.