Expert Answer Forum

Guyon QUESTION from Jean Burle June 12, 2000 Thank you so much for the information on Fenelon. What about Madam Guyon? Are her writings condemned by the Church?
ANSWER by Mrs. Suzanne Fortin, B.A. on June 16, 2000 Dear Jean
Mme Guyon's Short Method of Prayer was placed on the Index because it contained propositions that resembled quietism. Quietism is a heresy that was propagated by Luis de Molinos and condemned by Innocent XI in 1687. It states that true union with God consists in letting him act in you so that all your intellectual faculties stop and you concentrate only on Him. For example, in extreme forms, Quietism leads to people not making an examination of conscience, because if you're thinking about your sins, you're not focusing on God. The individual must become COMPLETELY passive to God's action. Mme Guyon's ideas did not go so far. She did not believe, for instance, that the individual should remain passive when confronted with temptation. However, as I mentioned in my other post, the French commission that examined her book found thirty-four heretical articles. Mme Guyon submitted to the condemnation.
I tried reading Mme Guyon's autobiography, but I gave up because I thought it lacked something. When I read St. Teresa of Avila's books, I just want to keep going because it's so engaging. Her autobiography didn't excite me at all and didn't strike me as having any significant insight about prayer life. Mind you, I didn't finish it or even go half way.
Mme Guyon's writings were all but forgotten by Catholics. If they've come down to us today, it's due to the following she has among Protestants. I did some research on the net, and it seems that those who were trying to promote her thoughts had something of an anti-Catholic streak in them. They see Mme Guyon as a victim of Catholic persecution and something of a hero. It's not necessarily the Bible Alone crowd— the sites I visited tended to be more liberal.
I wouldn't recommend reading her works. There are so many books whose insights are far superior to hers.
Thank you for your question.
God Bless, Suzanne Fortin
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