Appeared in Summer 1991, Vol. XVII, No. 2

Dr. DeMarco illustrates in this essay how Maritain’s Catholic Faith led him to develop a philosophic personalism based upon the teachings of St. Thomas. This key element in his thought may serve as a counter current to the contemporary world’s exaltation of selfishness.

Jacques Maritain was born in Paris on November 18, 1882. He grew up in that city, barely nourished spiritually on the lukewarm Protestantism of his mother. When he entered the Lycee Henri IV, he possessed no particular religious convictions. He enrolled at the Sorbonne in 1901 during France’s rich and corrupt third republic, a time when rabid French anti-clericalism had turned the church into an intellectual ghetto. The school’s rigid empiricism had effectively excluded any respectful discussion of spiritual matters. One day, as Jacques walked hand in hand through a Paris park with his Jewish girl friend, Raissa, the two made a pact that if, within a year, they could not find any meaning to life beyond the material, they would commit suicide.

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