Grou, Jean Nicolas
GROU, JEAN NICOLAS
Jesuit spiritual writer; b. Calais, France, Nov. 23, 1731; d. Lulworth Castle, England, Dec. 13, 1803. He entered the Society of Jesus in November of 1746 and taught humanities at the College of La Flèche from 1751 to 1755. After the suppression of the Jesuits in France, he moved to Lorraine, first to the novitiate house in Nancy and then to the University of Pont-à-Mousson, where he was professor of Greek for two years. During this time he was particularly interested in the study of Plato and Cicero, and produced several important translations of Plato, the République (2 v. Paris 1762), the Lois (2 v. Paris 1769), and the Dialogues (2 v. Amsterdam 1770). With the suppression of the Society in Lorraine in 1766, he returned to Paris and directed a convent of nuns as a secular priest.
After 1770 he turned to the writing of spiritual treatises, for which he is best remembered. His first works were Caractères de la vraie dévotion (Paris 1778), Morale tirée des Confessions de s. Augustin (2 v. Paris 1786), and Maximes spirituelles avec des explications (Paris 1789). Because of the French Revolution, he went to England (1792), where he enjoyed the hospitality of the Thomas Weld family at Lulworth Castle, and remained there the rest of his life. The Méditations en forme de retraite sur l'amour de Dieu (London 1796) provoked accusations of quietism. Grou denied the charge but sought for more precise expression in preparing his next work, L'intérieur de Jésus et de Marie (2 v. Paris 1815). Along with some other Jesuits who sought to reconstitute the society in England, Grou was able to renew his profession shortly before his death.
Grou's spirituality is reminiscent of that of Pierre de bÉrulle and was strongly influenced by the teaching of Jean Joseph surin. While suspicious of the manifestations and jargon of mysticism, he stressed the idea of pure love of God, untainted by self-love. His teaching on the virtue of hope needs to be properly qualified. Among the voluminous manuscripts left after his death, a number have been subsequently edited and published, including Le chrétien sanctifié par l'oraison dominicale (Paris 1832); Manuel des âmes intérieures (Paris 1883), perhaps his best known work; L'école de Jésus-Christ (2 v. Paris 1885); Retraite sur les qualités et les devoirs du chrétien (Paris 1913); and Retraite spirituelle sur la connaissance et l'amour de Jésus-Christ (Paris 1920). Very widely read, Grou's works have gone through numerous editions and have been translated into English, German, Italian, Spanish, Flemish, and Polish.
Bibliography: a. a. cadrÈs, Le Père Jean-Nicolas Grou (2d ed. Paris 1866). p. pourrat, Christian Spirituality, tr. w. h. mitchell et al., 4 v. (Westminster, MD 1922–55) 4:278–284. p. bernard, in Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 1903–50; Tables générales 1951–) 6.2:1888–90. e. quÉlennec, Catholicisme. Hier, aujourd'hui et demain, ed. g. jacquemet (Paris 1947–) 5:313–314. c. sommervogel, et al., Bibliothèque de la Compagnie de Jésus, 11 v. (Brussels-Paris 1890–1932v. 12, supplement 1960) 3:1868–82. h. hurter, Nomenclator literarius theologiae catholicae, 5 v. in 6 (3d ed. Innsbruck 1903–13) ; v. 1 (4th edition 1926) 5.1:830.
[j. c. willke]