by Pierre de Bérulle
translated by Lisa Richmond
Catholic University of America Press, 2023
Cloth: 978-0-8132-3765-7 | eISBN: 978-0-8132-3766-4
Library of Congress Classification BT220.B46513 2023
Dewey Decimal Classification 232.1

Pierre de Bérulle (1575–1629) is one of the foremost personalities of early modern Catholicism. As the founder of the “French school” of spirituality, he has exercised a profound influence on the Church from the seventeenth century to the present day. Until now, however, very little of Bérulle’s writings have been available in English. This volume provides the first complete English translation of his best-known work, first printed in Paris in 1623 and titled Discourses on the State and Grandeurs of Jesus, by the Ineffable Union of the Deity with Humanity, and the Submission and Servitude that Is Due Him and His Most Holy Mother in Response to This Wondrous State. Composed in his maturity, this work expresses Bérulle’s theology of the Man-God, whose self-emptying has enabled us to become “capable” of God.

In contrast to other spiritual writers who taught that mystical union with God follows the extinction of all sensory and conceptual awareness and all activity of willing, Bérulle’s focus is on the faithful soul’s participation in what he calls Jesus’ “states,” or inner dispositions. The state that Bérulle describes and honors supremely in this text is Jesus’ state of self-emptying in the mystery of the Incarnation. In the hypostatic union, our humanity in Christ is lifted up to heaven, and Christ is the first fruit of humanity-made-divine, the “firstborn among many brothers.” Through him we become children of God by adoption, participants in God’s divine being.

This is an outstanding translation, conveying not only the meaning but also the beauty and rhetorical features of the original. The Discourses will repay reading as a poignant source of personal devotion, a primary text of the Catholic Reformation, and a classic of spiritual theology.

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