Raissa's Journal

The following quotations come from Raissa’s Journal. Presented by Jacques Maritain. Albany, NY: Magi Books. 1974.

Raissa Maritain kept a spiritual journal at different times in her life that Jacques got to read only after her death. I hope that these quotations will be an inspiration for you. (The number in front of each paragraph indicate the page it came from.)



31 footnote. Oraison signifies in general silent prayer, the prayer of the heart… not meditation in which the soul is occupied in considering ideas, concepts and images, but a wordless, intuitive and quite simple prayer, a loving attention to God in which the soul is primarily occupied in letting God have its way with it, and in which… it suffers divine things, in silence void of words, concepts and images.

Recueillement – indicates an inner state which is… a gift received, a quiet absorption of the soul which, far from being inertia, is a secret and unifying activity too deep to be perceived.

35 Suddenly, keen sense of his nearness, of his tenderness, of his incomprehensible love which impels him to demand our love, our thought… Joy of being able to call him Father with a great tenderness, to feel him so kind and so close to me.

37 The Father is he who gives of his life.

Aspirations and sighs into the darkness.

42 I have observed two quite distinct kinds of recueillment (absorption in God).

In the first, the eyes remain open, the intellect is enlightened and the soul is in a kind of ecstasy.

In the second, the eyes are closed, the intellect receives nothing, all the affections of the will are, as it were, focused in a single point and united to God. A union which is ardent, often delightful, but takes place in a kind of darkness.

52 Nothing is so good as to weep before God.

…your sorrowful and bleeding heart tells me not to be afraid and to have confidence…

…you have a heart like ours so that we can go to you with confidence, and that we can have faith in the Faith which you came to bring by your Word and to testify by your death.

55 The storm of temptation sweeps away all that is frail and lays bare the rock of faith. The soul lives then on humility, on obedience, in the absolute nakedness of faith.

66 I love the saints because they are lovable; and the sinners because they are like me.

69 We must… make death itself voluntary (although it be inevitable) by finding it good – which is impossible without faith, hope and charity.

71 …the same simple demands of God: gentleness, humility, charity, interior simplicity; nothing else is asked of me. …through them (these virtues) the soul becomes habitable for God and for one’s neighbor in an intimate and permanent way… humility and gentleness welcome, and simplicity reassures.

75 Contemplative prayer is not a question of making God descend from heaven! He is already there, in us, by grace. It is a question of descending into ourselves, to the bottom of our soul, and that, once again, by sweeping away obstacles.

It astonishes me to think of the value the Lord attaches to our poor love.

77 It seems to me that one thing only is demanded of me, to love my God, to spend my life in loving him.

78 The love of God becomes consciously felt in the heart. It presses on it; it seems as if it wants to burst out of the breast, to appear, to shine out in splendour – and this is an ecstasy of love!

81 the temptation… to devote myself to active life (which would lead me quickly to despair)

82 God the Creator… maintains us in existence every instant.

96 Jesus… Only one thing is necessary, absolutely – to love you.

102 (A boy, age 7, said:) "If God is everywhere and we don’t see him, we are looking through him all the time."

103 Consent to be completely inactive and useless better to allow God to work in me, and to desire only what He desires.

Be attentive to divine impressions.

Be attentive to all the movements of my heart.

104 Value only the love of God.

… nothing is higher than contemplation because nothing is higher than the love of God.

105 …this voice said to me, a little impatiently: "You are always asking what you ought to do: the only thing is to love God and serve him with all your heart."

111 Among all the sciences it is a metaphysics which after all, seems to me the best suited to a feminine mind with a gift for abstraction.

120 … and silence with God sustains me, rests me and I would not give it up for anything.

124 Where does Love live and nourish itself? In meditating on the other world.

And so once again: necessity of mortification and prayer.

131 It is evident that everything must be based on the presence of God and on his action by sanctifying grace, which gives the soul a special life, a divine life.

The divinely living soul attains its highest and most intimate simplicity in this divine life.

Contemplation requires the simplification of this natural life, and this simplification is obtained by active and passive mortification.

Mystical contemplation begins with this special action: this work of love is very particularly the work of the Holy Spirit.

135 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 for me to be engulfed in it – I was not engulfed in it, poor me!

When you are there, making the soul rest in silence with you, drawing it to you and uniting it, there is no 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. One wonders how the Lord cannot weary of every day drawing to himself a soul which seems to make no progress in good.

136 Give me a new heart, a generous heart, pure, forgetful of itself, beating only for you…

146 I understand clearly what Jacques’ vocation is: alone, or with others, he is to work in the light. He is to help to promote St. Thomas.

161 Vivifying and insensible light, at the highest point of the spirit.

175 The straight way that leads to God is infinitely short, for He is as close to us as our own soul

225 I enter into the presence of God with all my load of misery and troubles. And He takes me just as I am and makes me to be alone with Him.

God is very indulgent to souls who run towards him, even if they happen to fall heavily on the way… provided they promptly get up again and cry out to him.

227 When suffering overwhelms you, suffer thoroughly, suffer to the depths, but suffer before God.

228 As everything is good in the degree that it has being, so everything is worthy of love in the same degree.

229 …A certain very simple prayer by which we take into our heart those for whom we wish to pray/ and then we offer this heart, with all its desires and anxieties to God, in order that He may come into it with all his love, give Himself.

This very simple prayer can be practiced anywhere and at any time. It brings great meekness into the soul, calms all impatience, melts all hardness at the core of this double, yet single, love of God and our neighbor.

235 Everything that is in Jacques’ work we have first lived in the form of a vital difficulty, in the form of experience – problems of art and morality, of philosophy, of faith, of prayer, of contemplation.

236 All this has been given to us first of all to live, each according to his nature and according to God’s grace.

239 …we have, under the action of grace and through the travail of the soul, to leave our bounded heart for the boundless heart of God. This is truly dying to ourselves.

240 For some months now I have had the feeling that deep below the surface, almost without my being conscious of it, I am undergoing profound, important transformations, destined one day to emerge into full light and be expressed.

257 And it was as if I had been made to understand that everything is much simpler and happier than I thought.

263 Above all, docility to let Him act.

The road of death and the road of love

Are one road to the footsteps of love.

At the core of holy death is a higher life.

264 The night of the spirit is the sign of the maturity of the soul.

265 Vocation of the contemplative. He must be still – cease all occupation. And see. See God in the eternal present. See him face to face, although under the veil of faith.

The apostle has to live in the eternal future.

266 The role of contemplatives among us is to be mirror of the Image of God, reservoirs of his grace and his love – the unfailing memory of the Eternal amongst us.

They are face to face with God, alone with Him, not yet in the evidence of Vision but in the union of friendship. And God appears to care about nothing in the world but their love and faithfulness. "Be still and know that I am God."

God halts contemplatives on the threshold of vision, and he shows them his face behind a thin veil.

270 To desire nothing – to love everything.

271 The time of this world is the joy of life, the free play of the passions, and the intellectual and artistic creation.

274 I have spent so many years in mortifying the imagination to create in myself the silence propitious to being alone with God.

280 (Vera) No one should wish to avoid the cross, yours will be very merciful… People do not have enough faith in my mercy.

294 …this luminous perception that I belonged to Jesus…

302 (just got to Rome) I made a point of setting myself to silent prayer the very first day. May I persevere in this!

308-9 …it is not true that the human soul is in the body like a bird in a cage – the soul informs the body and makes it human..

309 But the body is not, in this life, entirely proportioned to the spiritual soul, and, because of that, it weighs heavily on it and prevents it from having all the soaring energy of which it is capable. And in circumstances where the body is weighed down by climatic conditions, by illness, by weariness, it weights down the spirit. If, on the contrary, it finds itself in favorable physical conditions, the soul is made freer in its activity, lighter, more energetic (happier if it is not, in other respects, going through some trial). These favorable conditions can either be strictly physical or they can be of a mental order, as when the soul is stimulated to a deeper intuition of spiritual things by music, by the sight of beautiful things, whether in nature or art – similarly too (on another plane) by the knowledge of philosophical or theological truth, etc. These remarks are especially true of the supernatural life.

The resurrected body of the elect, the glorified body will no longer in any way hinder the full contemplative activity of the soul.

318 …Let us keep watch by everlasting gates

The long night through

Until the dawn when God shall tell the soul

To enter into self, and into Him.

324 But it is indeed the will of God that this spiritual union should be realized in quite various forms of life, in lines of great or minimal solitude, of imperceptible or of immense activity. The question for each one of us is to find, to implore God to make known to us the form of Christian life that should be ours.

328 Letting singing and music act in oneself, letting the soul "open itself to divine things." (St. Thomas)

Sources of peace: God and trees.

339 …love’s inventive powers are infinite.

356 …my soul, of its own accord, tends inward, towards obscurity and rest in God.

…in the mystical life God acts by a very special infusion of his grace which leads him sometimes to enlighten our mind, sometimes to kindle our will, sometimes to strengthen our heart, or to give us simultaneously supernatural light, ardour and strength, or to let us be aware only of the destruction of our human mode of acting, of our impotence, our nothingness.

358 The gift of wisdom… is the most simplifying.

359 The gift of Wisdom produces the experimental, loving and ineffable knowledge of God.

In contemplation… the intellect must recognize its incapacity, and submit to love which, through the infusion of divine Wisdom, connaturalizes the soul with God and makes it know him with an obscure and ineffable certainty.

361 God… is perceived as someone who touches us and not as someone who is seen.