Prayer is the expression of desire; its value comes from our inward aspirations, from their tenor and their strength. . . . We ought always to pray is the same as saying: we must always desire eternal things, the temporal things which serve the eternal, our daily bread of every kind and for every need, life in all its fullness earthly and heavenly.
-Sertillanges, The Intellectual Life, 69-70
I cannot imagine a better book: serious, wise, transporting. The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods was originally written in 1921, revised, and then translated after WWII. It is not dry, not for a moment. It is inspiring, full of the wisdom of the long Dominican tradition, full of clear French reason and earnestness. Sertillanges admires two men more than any others: Aquinas and Pascal. Who could admire better?
And it is a pious work, a work about vocation, about God’s calling and the virtues that calling requires. The spirit of the intellectual life is the great thing this book discloses, but the conditions are prudently expounded, and the methods practically and reasonably explained.
I’ll have to buy it. By reading one chapter every month, in nine months I can read through it every year. What a boon to find this book, right before I get started on the dissertation. The credit goes to the ISI through Twitter.