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Jean-Pierre de Caussade’s life and work
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Jean-Pierre de Caussade
Jean-Pierre de Caussade
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Biography of Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Little is known about the life of the Jesuit priest Jean-Pierre de Caussade (1675-1751) beyond the bare facts of his career. He was born in 1675 and entered the Jesuit novitiate in Toulouse at the age of eighteen. Later, he taught classics in the Jesuit college in Aurillac. He was ordained a priest in 1705 and took his final vows in 1708. From 1708 to 1714, he taught in the Jesuit college in Toulouse, and then devoted himself to the itinerant career of a missionary and preacher.

Between the years 1730 and 1732 he was in Lorraine, and, as John Joyce, S.J., mentions:
it was during this period that he made his first contact with the nuns of the Order of the Visitation in Nancy, to whom we are indebted for having preserved his letters and the notes of his conferences. In 1731 he was sent as spiritual director to the seminary in Albi, but two years later was back in Nancy in charge of the Jesuit Retreat house there. During his seven years in this office he gave frequent conferences to the Visitation nuns and undertook the personal direction of several of them.
After some administrative responsibilities in various institutions in the south of France, he had more and more difficulty with his eyes but “he bore [this blindness] with courageous fortitude and in the spirit of his own great principle of self-abandonment to the will of God.” He died in 1751 at the age of seventy-six.

Caussade’s writings occupy the largest part of the World Wisdom anthology For God’s Greater Glory, edited by Jean-Pierre Lafouge. The choice of Jean-Pierre de Caussade for this anthology could appear inappropriate at first view considering the controversy over his method. But, as Robert M. McKeon has indicated, this very contemplative approach to Christian spirituality is one of the best answers, in the Western tradition, to the needs of those Christian laymen and laywomen who are drawn to interior silence and contemplative prayer rather than to ordinary piety and outward activity. For hundreds of years Christianity promoted contemplativity and inwardness as the first characteristic of its method and Caussade is consequently very à propos in this respect. As McKeon remarks:
We are all called to contemplation and mystical union with God. But how do we proceed, especially those laypeople among us who lead full, active lives? Has anyone written an accessible guide book on prayer like Francis de Sales’s Introduction to the Devout Life? The answer is a resounding yes! Jean-Pierre de Caussade’s Treatise on Prayer from the Heart, written around 1735, leads the reader step by step into deep mystical prayer. He answers our thirst for prayer by showing a simple and direct path to prayer.
“Without me, you can do nothing” said Christ. In keeping with Christ’s recommendations, and the graces of the apostolic tradition, it should be strongly emphasized here that Caussade’s method should not be practiced outside an authentic and orthodox religious framework.

Three sets of texts were chosen from Caussade's writing for inclusion in For God’s Greater Glory: the first one is The Sacrament of the Present Moment; the second is The Fire of Divine Love: Readings from Jean-Pierre de Caussade,; and the third A Treatise on Prayer from the Heart: A Christian Mystical Tradition Recovered for All, which is given almost in its entirety.

An excerpt from The Sacrament of the Present Moment also appears in Pray without Ceasing.

Books/DVDs containing the work of Jean-Pierre de Caussade

World Wisdom books featuring Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade's writing:

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