Louise was a mystic… and that was what led her to serve the poor.
In a well documented study “Saint Louise de Marillac, a mystic“, Benito Martínez Betanzos, CM, comes to the conclusion that “Mysticism led Louise de Marillac to serve the poor.” “Mysticism, if it is true mysticism, leads us to work for the salvation of those who are poor. This is very different from quietism which put forth a personal spirituality of withdrawal and interiority in which the union of the human persons with God became total and there was no need for mediators or sacraments or Jesus Christ or moral barriers.”
“In contemplative prayer Louise discovered that it was not so important to see God in the poor but rather that the poor would see Christ in her when she approached them to comfort them. Therefore it was most important that she empty herself and clothe herself in the Spirit of Christ … in this way she became an active and a contemplative saint.”
At the end of the study he asks why we have not know of this dimension of Louise. H points out that her writings were in effect purged of any elements that spoke of things mystical because that was suspect in her day.
“Louise’s writings which were published by Gobillon under the title of meditations were simply reworked compositions based on some fragments that were written by Louise. In both the meditations and the biography that Gobillon wrote he removed every trace of mysticism. Why. Because as a result of quietism, mysticism remained under a cloud and all those who experienced mystical phenomena or spoke about mysticism were suspected of quietist heresy or semi-quietist heresy .
“Public manifestation of mysticism, especially among women, became less tolerated by ecclesiastics and the laity. This reality clipped the wings of the mystics who in many cases (especially during the more creative periods of its existence) led a semi-religious life in which compassion toward the neighbor was based on “being absorbed” by the divine Lover. Therefore, the mystics had to be isolated and controlled by their confessors and spiritual directors. Nevertheless, there were occasions when, as in the past, the spiritual director, little by little, became an equal, a friend and even a disciple of the person being directed and this presented some very delicate problems” .”