Quote of the day, 15 August: Père Jacques de Jésus

For the Virgin Mary, God’s preparation consisted of the fullness of grace that she received in her Immaculate Conception. In order for Mary to be completely free from sin, she had to be totally open to God’s will.

You are familiar with the writings of Saint Alphonsus of Liguori. In his explanation, by virtue of the Immaculate Conception, the Virgin Mary received not merely the negative privilege of freedom from sin, but more importantly the positive privilege of habitual grace. Her endowment exceeded the graces of all the other sins combined. Her graces multiplied and became torrents overflowing her soul.

“Divine preparations are always and above all spiritual rather than material” (Père Jacques de Jésus). #AssumptionofMary

Consider this woman, destined to bring into the world the One who surpasses all human expectations. Consider how God stripped this woman of all material riches. Although she is of royal ancestry, God wills the mother of his Son to be a simple worker from a worker’s family. He strips her of luxury and social standing. Paradoxically, the very poor woman who gives birth to the Son is the paragon of true wealth.

Again and again, we encounter the same lesson: in order to find the fullness of God, we must hold on to nothing, absolutely nothing. Our fingers and hands must be free. In order for God to penetrate our lives, we must separate ourselves from everything else.

So it was with the Virgin Mary. God alone dwelled in the depths of her soul. A stupendous surge of supernatural grace swelled within her and made her worthy to be the mother of the Word made flesh.

Servant of God Père Jacques de Jésus

Conference 5, “The Divine Preparation in Mary and in Us”
Retreat for the Carmel of Pontoise
Wednesday morning, 8 September 1943

Jacques, P 2005, Listen to the silence: a retreat with Père Jacques, translated from the French and edited by Murphy F, ICS Publications, Washington DC.

Featured image: This small miniature of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary comes to us thanks to the digitalization realized by the Renaissance Library at Nancy, France. It is one of the gems contained in the Des Fours family’s Book of Hours according to Roman use. The library’s description of the volume provides more information:

This is a Latin and French manuscript on parchment, ruled in red ink, covered on 28 lines with gothic writing in black ink, decorated with illuminations evoking the life of Christ [and his Mother].

This breviary was commissioned around 1510 by Nicolas II Des Fours, valet de chambre of Duke Antoine and general controller of the mint. His grandfather, Guillemin des Vieux Fours, had been ennobled on 10 October 1425 by Louis, Cardinal of Lorraine.

The Germanic style decoration includes eleven large miniatures, five small ones, painted lettering, alternating red and blue rubrications, enhanced with gold or white and line ends decorated with chains or twists. The binding is made up of two wooden boards covered with black glued fabric. In the flaps of an inverted skin folder, one can still see the violet-purple dye that was supposed to give the volume an extra sheen.

The first of the large miniatures, a full-page Annunciation, features a decoration in the margins of acanthus leaves, strawberries, and daisies where two peacocks support the shield of the Des Fours and Boileau families.

Their history, as well as that of the allied families, is amply documented in the livre de raison occupying the opening pages of the manuscript. Baptisms, marriages, and deaths provide us with precious information on alliances, clientele, and finally, on the social ascension of a family of ennobled men. We can thus follow the genealogy of a dynasty of ducal officers at the court of Lorraine over five generations [Translated by the blogger].

On the library’s website, you can view this entire book of hours, page by page.

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