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Posted July 15, 2011

Book: Manís Approach to God
Author: Jacques Maritain
Edited by Rene Kollar, O.S.B.
WIPF and Stock Publications, Eugene, Oregon, Archabbey Publications. Latrobe, Pennsylvania. 2011. Pp. 41

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Manís Approach to God was the 5th lecture in the Wimmer Memorial Lecture Series (1947-1970) at Saint Vincent and was given in 1951 by Jacques Maritain. Maritain was one of the most influential figures in the Thomistic revival of the 20th century. Both in his personal life and in his prolific academic corpus. Maritain modeled the Churchís commitment to the interrelationship between faith and reason. So seriously did he take his intellectual commitments in his student years that, along with soon-to-be wife, Raissa Oumansoff, he made a suicide pact that he would only break if he could find some meaning to life. This search ultimately led him to Catholicism. Maritainís works reveal an active mind capable of applying his speculative thought to virtually any subject. Every one of his works was an exploration of reason and its limits, and of how faith completes the natural desire to know.

An Excerpt from the lectures:

As concerns art and poetry, suffice it to quote the famous page where Baudelaire has translated into his own language a passage from a lecture by Edgar Allan Poe on The Poetic Principle. It is the immoral instinct for beauty, he said, which makes us consider the world and its pageants as a glimpse of, a correspondence with, Heaven . . . .It is at once by poetry and through poetry, by music and through music, that the soul divines what splendors shine behind the tomb, and when an exquisite poem brings tears to the eyes, such tears are not the sign of an excess of joy, they are rather a witness of an irritate melancholy, an exigency of nerves, a nature exiled in the imperfect which would possess immediately, on this very earth, a paradise revealed.

Our art, Dante said, is the grandchild of God. The poet completes the world of creation; he cooperates in divine balancing, he moves mysteries about; he is in natural sympathy with the secret powers that play about in the universe. A slide down the inclined plane of heaven, a push from grace: the sleeper will change sides, and will wake up with God.

In the last analysis, all genuine poetry is religion. Even if a poet has no conceptual knowledge of God, even if he is or believe he is an atheist, it is toward the primary source of Beauty that in actual fact his spiritual effort is oriented. And thus, if no intellectual or moral hindrance thwaarts this spiritual dynamism, he will naturally be led by poetry to some conscious notion and awareness of the existence of God at Whom he is unconsciously looking, in and through his art and his work.

Table of Contents:

Foreword, Rene Kollar, O.S.B.

Introduction, Dr. Michael P. Krom

Wimmer Memorial Lectures

Part I

Part II

Part III