Raissa Maritain third notebook


Raissa muses on the search for truth and true knowledge and where to find it.

 ‘At twelve, I thought it lay in medicine; at eighteen, in the natural sciences; at twenty, in metaphysics; at twenty-two in theology. I know now that it does indeed lie there, and that holiness, when added to it, infinitely increases it, and that the wisdom proper to it can do without everything… It was not enough for me to live, I wanted a reason for living and moral principles which were based on an absolutely certain knowledge.’

Raissa thanks God for instilling in her such a desire for truth but her times of ill health bring her to a deeper sense of God. Early entries are full of book quotes but as her health begins to fail these give way to feelings. She writes that her inner prayer remains the same, but with long periods of ‘dryness’ nevertheless

‘however arid it is, I cannot replace it either by reading or by meditation which would do violence to my feelings and which tire me greatly; whereas arid silence with God sustains me, rests me and I would not give it up for anything. … I reproach myself for having too often tried to read in order to excite myself to devotion; it has only succeeded in tiring me.’

She struggles with some of the demands on her ‘the management of oneself and of things’ where there is always the possibility of ‘imperfection’ and in 1921 decides that to love and to abandon oneself to God is the only necessary thing – even more than being silent with God.

A year later she writes that everything must be based on ‘the presence of God’ – the soul has to become simple and unified:

‘Once it seemed to me that I was on the brink of an ocean of love, that it only needed a little, a very little of me to be engulfed in it … Jesus, my God, make me all yours! … When you are there, making the soul rest in silence with you, drawing it to you and uniting it, there is no room for doubt. But when one finds oneself alone again, seeing how great is the poverty of the soul and remembering one’s sins, one doubts the graces received on account of their divine value.’

Raissa adds that she could not live without God, her only hope lies in God.