Today is the Feast of St. John Eudes (1601-1680)
He lived at a time when Jansenism was active in France. It taught that human nature was corrupt, original sin rampant, and perfection was both necessary for salvation, and practically unattainable.
To counteract this, he started Seminaries for the proper formation of priests. He also encouraged devotion to the Sacred Heart. This was a defiant proclamation that the centre of God’s essence is God’s love, not condemnation.
There has often appeared in history an austere and harsh attitude to God and religion. It was certainly present in Paganism. It was also present in some aspects of the Jewish religion.
We know what a hard time the Pharisees gave Jesus and ‘sinners’.
In the Christian Church there has also appeared, from time to time, periods of rigorism. This tended to over-emphasise judgement, law and fear.
St. Francis De Sales, St. Alphonsus Ligouri, as well as St. John Eudes and many others, all strongly promoted the love of God.
These people were all great reformers. They did not stand on the sides and complain about corruption . They, instead, moved in and reformed by living the Gospel way of life from within the Church.
St. Paul, in Corinthians, tell us that “I can do all types of things, sacrifices, great feats of spirituality, but if I have not love, it is useless!”
The gentle love of God is what gives us life. God wishes all to be saved!
Of course, this does not mean that we can do what we like and then just rely on God to save us, without us responding back in love.
It does mean that God knows our weaknesses, understands our struggles, and is always ready to help us to make fresh starts.
It is the love and the Grace of God that helps us to leave the past behind and to move forward in love.
Love is eternal!