Jointly authored by Jacques and Raissa Maritain, Prayer and Intelligence is a practical book about mental prayer and how to pray. It is also a book about the intellectual life. How does our intellectual search for God influence our life of prayer and how does the discipline of a life of prayer act as the necessary grounding for a profound and sustained search for the truth? In the pages of this book, philosophy and the spiritual life intertwine and are seen to strengthen each other. Accompanying Prayer and Intelligence are two essays, Liturgy and Contemplation, also written by Jacques and Raïssa together, and Notes on the Lord’s Prayer, written by Raïssa. The former is a study of how the Church’s liturgy prepares for our union with God by contemplation of love. The latter is a powerful meditation on the great gift of the prayer of Christ himself, “the prayer that is universally true and needed.” All three of the works contained in this volume are written by friends, for friends, seeking to know and love God. If we wish to grow in our spiritual life, this book serves as a great guide.
About the Authors
Jacques Maritain (1882–1973), perhaps the greatest Catholic philosopher of the twentieth century, and his wife Raïssa (1883–1960), a renowned poet and mystic, were key figures in the revival of Thomistic thought in the modern era. Through their friends Léon Bloy and Humbert Clerissac, O.P., the Maritains were introduced to the writings of Thomas Aquinas, and spent their lives reading and writing on the Thomistic tradition.
Words of Praise for Prayer and Intelligence
“Maritain was a master in the art of thinking, living and praying.” ~Blessed Pope Paul VI
“In this fine collection, the Maritains give us a biblical theology of prayer. Here, too, we find their warm familiarity with saints. St. Thomas leads them; they walk with the Carmelite mystics; they embrace St. Benedict Labre, the beggar-saint. Would not Mother Teresa be just as close? She charged her missionaries to be contemplatives in the world. Jacques, in like spirit, writes that only prayer enables us to act “from the superabundance of contemplation.” Indeed, the liturgy itself leads us to contemplation. And philosophy? Raïssa limns the interplay of God’s will and our own in the Our Father’s “Thy will be done,” and in glossing “Thy Kingdom Come” she identifies the freedom that makes for history. The Maritains, honoring the primacy of love, agree with Leon Bloy that when the mind reaches for God it is like a blind lion searching for a desert spring.” ~James Hanink, PhD, President of the American Maritain Association
These three essays written by Jacques and Raïssa Maritain are wonderful reminders of the strong current of Catholic literary and theological revival underway in the early twentieth century. But more importantly, these writings still speak to us today, asking us to delve deeper into scripture, tradition and prayer to revitalize our faith and help redeem the world. As Raïssa writes in her essay on the Lord’s Prayer, “We ask ourselves, tremblingly, what barriers man in the course of his history… has raised and continues to raise against the Gospel.” For anyone seeking to break through the world’s barriers and get closer to God, Prayer and Intelligence & Selected Essays is a precious find.” ~Richard Francis Crane, Benedictine College
“In his commentary on Jesus’s parable of the vine and the branches, St. Thomas Aquinas observes that the branch grafted to the vine of Christ concerns itself, as a consequence of its grafting, with the growth of the other branches. This is because the sap that now nourishes the branch is charity, which regenerates the branch to love divinely not only God but also neighbor. As a result, a positive sign of the branch’s new life is its love for its fellow branches. Jacques and Raïssa Maritain apply this truth to their study of Christian contemplation in Prayer and Intelligence & Selected Essays. In the three essays collected here, the Maritains explain how the infusion of charity orients the contemplative not only to the joys of God but also to the joys—and especially to the sorrows—of one’s neighbor. For confirmation of their thesis, the authors look to Christ’s own prayer. His contemplation, they observe, “turned, in the tears of the gift of knowledge, toward that poor humanity whose languors it was his mission to bear” (p. 168). To contemplate as Christ contemplated, the Maritains conclude, is to love as Christ loved.” ~Aquinas Guilbeau, O.P., Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC