Maritain on the terrible sign which the Council has inscribed upon the wall

Maritain on the terrible sign which the Council has inscribed upon the wall

Jacques Maritain understands Vatican II as a long culmination following ten centuries of Church history. I cannot here recount his deep analysis of the inquisition and crusades in On the Church of Christ; it is the most profound extraction of its rationale, its error and its spiritual significance. Maritain ends his analysis by noting that the Church must always fight heresy, and heresy is rampant today. Most of all he says we need the witness of truth in charity. Here are his concluding thoughts:

The Council made itself heard at the term of a long process which led to a complete reorientation, to a revolution with regard to ten centuries of history. To tell the truth, what is called for there is simply to return in an explicit prise de conscience to that which in the real life itself and the profoundly lived experience of the Church has always held the first place: has she not for soul grace with its free gifts, for life the love of charity? . . .

The defense against heresy, which remains always for the Church a supreme duty, has ceased to be the purely and simply supreme and absolutely first concern. That which, according to the teaching of the Council, must henceforth be for the personnel of the Church the absolutely first concern is the love of Christ (His love for us, and our love for Him) to be manifested to men, and the truth of Christ to be communicated to them. . . .

Meanwhile, it remains nevertheless singularly desirable that when they touch upon things where nothing has sense except through the love of Christ, — which caused Him to die on the Cross, — and through the truth of Christ, — that truth in order to bear testimony to which He came into the world, — men, and especially Churchmen, know a little of what they are speaking. The great renewal called for by the Council is first and above all, and in an absolutely necessary manner, an interior renewal, in living faith. In its absence there is nothing to be hoped. Such is the terrible sign which the Council has inscribed upon the wall.

It is by the soul, in which God dwells secretly, that it is necessary to begin, and for this it is necessary first to believe in the soul. It is to the plenitude of supernatural charity that it is necessary to aspire, and for this it is necessary first to believe in the supernatural order and in grace. It is to the truth hidden in the transcendent God, and revealed by Christ to His Church, that it is necessary to adhere with all one’s heart, and for this it is necessary first to believe in the transcendence of God and in the Church of Christ. It is to prayer and to the life of prayer that it is necessary above all to give oneself, and for this it is necessary first to believe truly in prayer. It is the Cross of Jesus that it is necessary to embrace, and for this it is necessary first to believe truly in the Incarnation of the uncreated Word, and in redemption through the Cross.

 See On the Church of Christ, chapter XIII, found here (and surrounding chapters).

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