The Spiritual Maxims of Père Grou

Père Grou is one of the great spiritual directors of the Roman Catholic tradition. His life was not strikingly eventful, for he lived what he taught: the dedicated interior life pursued in obscurity and self-effacement. It is in his writings that his mind and heart reveal their depth and vitality, particularly the Spiritual Maxims. These reveal what might be termed a deadly accurate knowledge of the human heart and its tortuous workings, coupled with an equally powerful gift for persuading that heart to surrender itself to God.

Père Grou was born in Calais in 1731, and was trained and worked as a Jesuit priest for twenty years. When the Jesuits were suppressed in Paris, he went into exile with them, but returned in 1766 at the invitation of the Archbishop of Paris, when he lived a secluded life, studying, writing, and directing the nuns of a nearby convent.

He always referred to 1767 as the most eventful year of his life, what he called the year of his ‘conversion’. During this time he was introduced to a nun called Soeur Pélagie, a woman of unusual devotion, who altered and deepened his interior life quite radically. From this time he lived in complete obedience and simplicity—a course that he thereafter recommended unreservedly to all those who sought his help.

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This article is from the Summer 2021 issue of Self-Knowledge Journal.