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Posted December 7, 2011

Book: The Very Rich Hours of Jacques Maritain: A Spiritual Life
Author: Ralph McInerny
Notre Dame Press, South Bend, IN. 2002. Pp. 235

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

McInerny delivers a luminous biography of one of Thomas Aquinasís most astute modern commentators. In narrating Maritainís life, McInerny illustrates the transforming power of truth, pursued not merely to stimulate the intellect but to redeem the soul. This nuanced portrait ... is a major work and will help secure Maritainís status as a modern Catholic icon.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Students of Thomasís teaching on the transcendental properties of being often have trouble with beauty as a transcendental. In the early discussions of being and its transcendental properties, beauty is not mentioned. And indeed Thomasís teaching on this subject has to be pieced together from discussions having quite different ends. The beautiful, Thomas quotably remarked ó James Joyce embraced this account ó is that which, when seen, pleases: id quod placet. Maritain takes this to mean that there is an intuitive knowledge bo beauty that gives joy.

The beautiful is what distinguishes the fine arts from the products of the artisan. The latter is chiefly concerned to make something useful ó shoes for walking, a house to live in ó whereas the find artist ... Well, how does he differ from the mere artisan? Like the artisan, the artist makes something, and there may well be, as in the case of the sculptor, a good deal that is quite sweaty and servile in that making. Maritain suggests that the making component arises from manís sensible nature, whereas the beautiful component answers to that which is spiritual in him. He then suggests the analogy between contemplation and art. The fine arts should turn our minds to the transcendent, should sublimate the material so that it signifies the immaterial.

Table of Contents:


Before Raissa




Spiritual Directions


The Villard bequest

Action Francaise


Les Cercles díetudes thomistes

Vae mihi si non thomistizavero


Maritainís Kulturkampf

Art and scholasticism

Contesting the hegemony of Gide


Primacy of the spiritual

Controversy over Christian philosophy

Degrees of knowledge

Gilson and Maritain

Second thoughts on a first book

Return to the left

Dispute with Claudel


Exile in New York

The heart of the matter

Adventures in grace

Ambassador to the Vatican


Man and state

Creative intuition

Intuition of being

Moral philosophy

Liturgy and contemplation


The journals

Peasant of the Garonne

Little brother of Jesus

Nunc dimitis