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Tuesday, 2 June 2015

A Re-Discovered Jewel

Among the books I am sorting out in a friend's basement, I have found one of my favorite books, which I think is out of print. Prayer and Intelligence by Jacques and Raissa Maritain. This little book refers to the spiritual and physical life which leads to perfection.

I decided to share some of the pearls from this little book and set aside the encyclical on the Mystical Body of Christ for now.

The first section defines the relationship between Sacred Doctrine and the soul. Over and over again on this blog, I have written that one must be completely dependence on God's action in the soul and use our intellect and all our faculties "with a view to our sanctification and that our neighbour."

We must dedicate ourselves, and consecrate our intellect to the service of God.  We must move our will by our consecrated intellect to know and love God, and then to know and love our neighbor. What is behind the purification of the intellect was stated in my perfection series--and that is prayer.

Prayer leads to the purification of the senses and the spirit, as also noted by the Maritains in this book, the process leading to the clarification and purification of the intellect. One must leave the sensory world in order to grow more perfect. The Maritains state here that the intellect grows more perfect "in proportion to its emancipation from sensory image.

Prayer allows the Spirit to share knowledge with us and only prayer, "by supernaturally rectifying our faculties of desire enables us to convert the truth into practice."

Interesting is the point the Maritains make that "Prayer, particularly in the case of intellectuals, can only preserve a perfectly right direction and escape the dangers which threaten it, on condition of being supported and fed by Theology.

Of course, the Maritains mean orthodox theology.

They go on to note that the study and knowledge of Sacred Doctrine shorten the spiritual journey. Sacred Doctrine "saves the soul from a number of errors, illusions and blind alleys."

And, here is a key point--"In relation to the purgative life, it (knowledge of Sacred Doctrine) possesses an ascetic virtue which succeeds in detaching the sould from the degradations and trivialities of self-love. "

For those in the illuminative state, or life, the purfication that it beings simplifies the gaze of the soul and turns it from the human self to God alone."

I shall comment on their explanation of Sacred Doctrine and the Unitive State later....