The Very Rich Hours of Jacques Maritain is distinguished philosopher Ralph McInerny’s hymn of praise to the spiritual and intellectual life of the great Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain (1881–1973). The structure of this work is modeled on the medieval book of hours, making use of the daily offices, from Matins through Compline, to examine each stage of the life of Maritain and his wife, Raïssa. Through this unique blending of biography and meditation, McInerny creates a powerful portrait of the Maritains, one that reveals a model of the intellectual life as lived by Christian believers.
McInerny’s authoritative work provides an interesting and accessible avenue of entry to Maritain’s life and thought. Among the topics McInerny covers are Maritain’s remarkable and diverse set of friends, his involvement in French politics, and the development of his views on the nature and future of democracy, the church, and Catholic intellectual life. By skillfully interweaving Maritain’s philosophy with anecdotes from his life, McInerny demonstrates what distinguished Maritain as a Catholic philosopher and why he is a source of inspiration for McInerny and others of his generation.
This engagingly written book will appeal to anyone who values the thought of Jacques Maritain and the work of Ralph McInerny.
Ralph McInerny (1929-2010) was Michael P. Grace Professor of Medieval Studies and director emeritus of the Jacques Maritain Center, University of Notre Dame. He was the author of numerous works in philosophy, literature, and journalism, including A First Glance at St. Thomas Aquinas, Characters in Search of Their Author, and his autobiography, I Alone Have Escaped to Tell You, all published by the University of Notre Dame Press.
“[McInerny] masterfully links the stages of Maritain’s rich spiritual journey with the hours of daily liturgical office . . . Maritain’s life is indeed a quintessentially spiritual and specifically Catholic life. [McInerny] captures and documents this life in an eminently readable, entertaining and inspirational fashion.” — Theological Studies
“. . . succeeds admirably. The author’s feeling not only for the man but for the work, and not only for the work but for its philosophical and cultural ambience, stimulates, informs, clarifies. McInerny does justice to all the chief aspects of Maritain’s many-sided achievement.” — Ecclesiastical History
“. . . a nuanced portrait of a great Catholic mind and a key era in modern Catholic thought.” — The Catholic Herald
“McInerny is a master teacher of the vast literature Maritain produced as he manages . . . to attend to many essential ideas in Maritain’s philosophical work and to summarize Thomistic principles that animated Jacque’s work. Maritain’s life work, and McInerny’s book, invite us to wonder how a Catholic’s faith affects his philosophy without violating the rights of the natural intelligence. In any case, I finished McInerny’s book with gratitude to the director of the Jacques Maritain Center for writing it as he has and being as he is.” — The Thomist
“No better introduction to Maritain or to philosophy itself or, yes, to spirituality can be found than this profound and charming book of Ralph McInerny.” — American Catholic Studies
“. . . enthusiastically recommended for all academic libraries and for all who share a love for Thomism.” — Catholic Library World
“There is much to praise in this fine work—not the least of which is McInerny’s graceful portrait of how a modern intellectual can become a saintly man.” — Choice
“McInerny delivers a luminous biography of one of Thomas Aquinas’ most astute modern commentators. In narrating Maritain’s life, McInerny illustrates the transforming power of truth, pursued not merely to stimulate the intellect but to redeem the soul. This nuanced portrait . . . is a major work and will help secure Maritain’s status as a modern Catholic icon." — Booklist
“McInerny’s spiritual and intellectual biography of Maritain and his wife, Raissa, was one of my favorite books from the past year, and I am keeping it close at hand to dip into again.” — Books & Culture
“For most of us, watching a masterful artist at work is always delightful and humbling. This is the sort of conclusion I think many people will form after they put down Ralph M. McInerny’s delightful monograph The Very Rich Hours of Jacques Maritain. Coming to contact with a great intellect, even at a far distance, is a joy. Being introduced to a great intellect by a masterful author, a great mind, in a personal way, is doubly enriching. In every way, this is a beautiful book.” — Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
. . . a beautifully made book, a joy to hold.” — ChristianityToday.com
“. . . a delightful introduction to the life and thought of Jacques Maritain. . . . I cannot more highly recommend this book. No matter if one knows quite a bit or next to nothing about this influential twentieth-century Catholic philosopher, there is much that can be learned from this work.” — Providence
“One of the many pleasures in reading this book is to recall that both Jacques Maritain and Ralph McInerny lived unified lives; their unity shines through their very humanity, through their very living, choosing, and being in the world, which is the foundation of their impressive intellectual corpora. . . . What is remarkable about this book is how Maritain’s thinking, scholarship, and learning are presented in the most spiritual of senses, that is as essential means of revealing who one is as a Christian person.” — Christian Books Review