Maritain and Wojtyla on Spiritual Renewal

Maritain and Wojtyla shared an understanding of the renewal called for by would require the appropriation of the faith by the lay faithful. The faith should be minimized or watered down for them, but they must rather be elevated to live a new life in faith.

Maritain set out a vision for renewal of the Church and society through the kindling of “true new fires” of love and wisdom: “the true new fire, the essential renewal, will be an inner renewal.” The renewal will incorporate genuine discoveries and “Christian consciousness will penetrate deeper and further into the truth by which it lives and the evangelical reality.”

Wojtyla saw the need for a pastoral effort to teach the laity the meaning and depth of their faith: “The implementation of Vatican II, or the process of Conciliar renewal, must be based on the principle of the enrichment of faith. . . . .In the present study, designed to help towards the realization of Vatican II, we shall concentrate on the consciousness of Christians and the attitudes they shall acquire.”

This “consciousness raising,” if you will, is not at all like the sixties new age notion of a secular enlightenment, but a prayerful meditation upon the truth of the faith. I think that Wojtyla would have agreed with the passage from Maritain:
The task which the new age we are entering expects of Christians is so difficult that they can not possibly accomplish it unless there are multiplied, in the very heart of and throughout the world, constellations of spiritual energy composed of humble stars invisibly shining, each a contemplative soul given over to the life of prayer. In each of them (this is the classic notion of “infused contemplation”) the gifts of the Holy Spirit place the theological virtues in a state where they act in a higher and more perfect way, and they elevate the whole activity, including love itself to a “super-human” mode. Without contemplative love and infused prayer, and the participation of souls given over to them in the redeeming Cross, and without the invisible support which they bring to the work of all in the mystical Body, and to that strange traffic (not lacking in irony) which Providence carries on here below, the task demanded of the Christian, of all Christians, would be too heavy, and the great hope which is rising would be in vain. Jacques Maritain, Peasant of the Garonne, pp. 82-83
But Maritain was hopeful; he saw signs of renewal —  “This hope will not be in vain, for the humble stars I am speaking of have begun secretly to glimmer; there are many more of them than one realizes strewn across the world.” No doubt Wojtyla saw the humble stars as well. But many more are needed — these “constellations of spiritual energy composed of humble stars invisibly shining.” Unobservable to the Hubble. Stephen W. Hawking is clueless here.

As Pascal has said: “The infinite distance between bodies and mind symbolizes the infinitely more infinite distance between minds and charity for charity is supernatural. . . . The greatness of intellectual people is not visible to kings, rich men, captains who are great in a carnal sense. The greatness of wisdom, which is nothing if not of God, is invisible to the carnal minded and to intellectuals. Great geniuses have their power, their splendor, their greatness, their victory and their lustre, and do not need carnal greatness, which has no relevance for them. They are recognized not with the eyes but with the mind, that is enough. Saints have their power, their splendor, their victory, their lustre, and do not need either carnal or intellectual greatness, which has no relevance for them, for it neither adds nor takes anything away. They are recognized by God and the angels, and not by bodies or curious minds.” (S308/B793) or 

The heart has its order, the mind has its own, which uses principles and demonstrations. The heart has a different one. We do not prove we ought to be loved by setting out in order the causes of love; that would be absurd. Jesus Christ and St Paul possess the order of charity, not of the mind, for they wish to heat up, not to teach. The same with St Augustine. (298)


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