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An examination of mission

January 23, 2011

“To devote oneself to others and to act, misereor super turbam, that is the great saying, but how? Intellectual needs, moral needs, social needs, everything cried out for help. Christ is there, but who are we to give him to and where are we to take him? To devote oneself to others is the rule common to all men, just as Christianity is the universal remedy — but how? Is it to be in intellectual conflicts, in the melee of ideas?…Or in hand-to-hand fights, in the political and social fray?…Is it not action alone which defines ideas?…

There are three human ways of serving the supernatural: either my making room for it in the intellectual order, which invades it and seems to force it back, by preparing room for it with hte help of healthy, clearly defined, really scientific ideas in philosophy and in the theory of the human mind; or by making room for it in social and political action, by introducing it by example, by means of discussions and personal influence, into the traditions of the people, the customs of the countryside, through legislation and practical reason; or by calling upon it to reanimate the generosity of feelings, the dry or withering heart, the enthusiasm that is dulled by the abuse of material things, of positive, scientific things…In a word one must restore either the object, or the practice, or the feeling of religion and moral things. It goes without saying that each of these means only supplements the supernatural action upon any Christian, and upon others through the communion of saints. That is the common, impersonal source of the power for good; great thoughts, noble resolutions, striking and influential devotion to others, spring form the inchoate prayer and austerities of the humble and the ignorant.”

– Maurice Blondel, entry in Carnets Intimes for 15 Dec. 1883. Quoted in Introduction to The Letter on Apologetics and History and Dogma, p 37.

  1. newt permalink
    January 23, 2011 9:56 pm

    What does it mean to “prepare room for it with the help of healthy, clearly defined, really scientific ideas in philosophy and in the theory of the human mind” and how is that different from making room in the intellectual order?

    • January 23, 2011 11:01 pm

      Honestly, I don’t know yet. I haven’t actually read Blondel himself yet, only the introductory remarks which included this quote. Blondel in general is trying to argue for an integral realism as opposed both to an approach like DesCartes’ which is entirely in the intellect to the neglect of the practical order and also to an approach which is anti-intellectual and only concerned with the”practical.”
      I have to lecture on this in a couple of weeks. I’ll have more to say then.

      Thanks for reading and responding!

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