Remembering Raissa

The influence on my  prayer life and  faith of Raissa Maritain. In my late teens I  came across the Journal of Raissa Maritain in a Carmelite monastery In Zimbabwe and began reading. The journal was an intimate diary only read by her husband, the philosopher Jacques Maritain, after Raissa’s death

Error is like the foam on the waves, it eludes our grasp and keeps reappearing. The soul must not exhaust itself fighting against the foam. Its zeal must be purified and calmed and, by union with the divine Will, it must gather strength from the depths. And Christ, with all his merits and the merits of all the saints, will do his work deep down below the surface of the waters. And everything that can be saved will be saved.

She was born into a Jewish Hasidic  family in the Ukraine, Russia, in 1883. Her family moved to France before the Russian revolution and she met Jacques Maritain while studying at the Sorbonne in 1904. Together as a married couple they  entered the  Catholic Church in 1906 under the  influence of Leon Bloy and would take an active part together in Catholic life in America until Raissa’s death in 1960.They are sometimes called ‘medieval Modernists’, friends of  Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin of the Catholic Worker, ardent Thomists, Raissa the contemplative, Jacques the activist.

 

Raissa Maritain on abandonment in prayer, so crucial to penance:

During silent prayer I feel inwardly solicited to abandon myself to God, and not only solicited but effectively inclined to do it, and do it, feeling that it is for a trial, for a suffering, for which my consent is thus demanded. I make this act of abandon in spite of my natural cowardice.

Raissa maritain

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