He [Maritain] was a saintly man. That is what I sensed as I scuffled through the leaves on my way back from Maritain’s last lecture at Moreau (later published as The Uses of Philosophy). He loved the truth, but his purpose in life was not to win arguments. He wanted to be wise. Such an odd ambition for a philosopher! He succeeded because he prayed as well as he studied.
In a touching essay, Professor Ralph McInerny recalled listening as a young man to the last lecture the French Thomist philosopher Jacques Maritain gave one autumn night in 1958 at the Moreau Seminary on the South Bend campus. Here is what McInerny–whose book St. Thomas Aquinas is a must (see Chapter 7), and whose novel The Noonday Devil a delight–said, reflecting on the event:
This sort of experience is why we go to a university as young men and women; the chance to find there, once or twice if we are lucky, a wise man to teach us, or at least to teach us about the wise men and women who lived before our own lifetimes.
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