Contemplative in the Mud

Jacques Maritain

The word “contemplation” is a word which it is indeed necessary to use, for want of a better one, but which itself is not good. There is no word to express something which takes place in man and which nevertheless transcends every human concept — that passio divinorum, that knowledge of God which is more experience than knowledge and yet supreme knowledge, and which comes about through love and the union of love, and which is miles from the theoria of the Greeks and from philosophical speculation or contemplation. The word “contemplation” was kept by Christian tradition because at least it saved the characteristic of supreme knowledge proper to the experience in question. But to tell the truth it survived only because it let itself be conquered by a meaning too heavy to carry, and because by virtue of an unconditional surrender it consented to become ambiguous, with a fortunate ambiguity…

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