Maritain on faith and the democratic ideal

“Faith in the dignity of the human personality, in brotherly love, in justice, and in the worth of the human soul, outweighing the whole material universe – faith, in a word, in the conception of man and his destiny which the gospel has deposited at the very center of human history – this faith is the only genuine principle by which the democratic ideal may truly live. Any democracy that lets this faith be corrupted lays itself open to that extent to disruption.”

I am discovering the work of Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain by way of an anthology from Sophia Press entitled Christianity, Democracy, and the American Ideal. The book clusters bits and pieces from Maritain’s work into chapters on various civic themes: the American experience, social solidarity, freedom of association, and so on.

The looming national election gives point to what I’m reading. The quote above brought me up short the other day. It rings true in a way the pile of campaign literature on my table does not.

Grace in a graceless season

Spare a moment and a prayer for the political types, please and thank you. I’m one of them.

The bitter election-year exchanges on every platform are part of my daily life. Whether on television on online, shutting them down altogether is not an option, appealing though it may be. Politics is part of my vocation. Times like these, I’m tempted to wish it were otherwise.

This is a plague-on-both-your-houses year. I am reading  C.S. Lewis’s  Mere Christianity this month, and something he wrote in there captures my attitude.

I feel a strong desire to tell you – and I expect you feel a strong desire to tell me – which of these two errors is the worse. That is the devil getting at us. He always sends errors into the world in pairs – pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.

Providence was at work when I pulled that book off the shelf days ago. Continue reading “Grace in a graceless season”