The seventeenth century was the period of transition between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. It witnessed the rise of the great European powers, the beginnings of modern science and the myriad inventions that changed age-old ways of life. It saw Copernicus and Newton, Harvey and Galileo, Bacon and Descartes. During its course, the New World was settled and the Old reshaped.
Seventeenth-century France saw the application of the new spirit of exploration and analysis to matters of the soul. Pierre de Bérulle, John Eudes, Jean-Jacques Olier and Mother Madeleine de Saint-Joseph left an indelible mark on the history of Christian spirituality in the West. Much of our current understanding of "spirituality" had its beginnings with these authors.
In his penetrating and probing introduction, Professor William M. Thompson presents the French school as a creative response to the challenge of the modern age that dawned with the seventeenth century. He shows how these authors created a "science of the saints" that blended metaphysical speculations with flights of mystical love. Their fascination with the intersection between human and divine experience unlocked for them the true meaning of humanity and focused their attention on the mystery of the Incarnation as a sublime mystery of adoration and service.
This volume is a comprehensive introduction to the spirituality of seventeenth-century France, containing, among others, selections from Bérulle's Discourse on the State and Grandeurs of Jesus, Madeleine de Saint-Joseph's Spiritual Letters, Jean-Jacques Olier's Introduction to the Christian Life and Virtues, and John Eudes's The Life and Kingdom of Jesus in Christian Souls.