We may now speak of Jansenism, the most insidious heresy ever introduced into the Church, against which the Society of Jesus combated literally to the death. A part of the doctrine of Martin Luther, accentuated by Calvin, was that man had no free will, that he always remained bad, and that we were saved independently of any merit of our own.
Jansenism was Calvinism disguised, and the art of the disguise consisted in this, that no number of declarations from Rome itself could induce its upholders to admit that they were not the best and saintliest of Catholics while teaching the veriest and rankest Protestantism.Jansen, or Jansenius, bishop of Ypres, who gave his name to the sect, taught, with Calvin, that some commandments of God were impossible of observance, that grace was irresistible (therefore that we could not help doing what we were inclined to), that Christ did not die for all men, etc.,—propositions which were all condemned of course, and several times.
The Catholic doctrine, which is so reasonable, teaches that sanctifying grace is an interior thing, by which man who is justified is made holy, though still inclined to evil; that Our Lord died for all men ; that actual grace is offered to all, and that we are perfectly free to correspond with it or not, and hence our merit and the variety of merit; hence also the justice of God, Who only punishes those who of theirown free will refuse to obey His commandments, which it is in the power of all to observe.In morals the Jansenists were as rigid as they were severe in dogma. Their law was the law of fear. Above all things they opposed frequent communion ; they wrote books against it, exaggerating the conditions which were required to receive worthily. Consequently their nuns at Port Royal worshipped Our Lord—at a distance; they exposed Him on the altar, but did not receive Him into their hearts.
No wonder, then, that when Our Saviour Himself revealed to the Blessed Margaret of the Visitation the devotion to His Sacred Heart, of which the first apostle was her confessor, the venerable Father de la Colombiere,and which was to be propagated by the Society of Jesus, the Jansenists should have risen in arms against
Painting is of Jansenius, bishop of Ypres