The “Horizontal” Needs the “Vertical”

It is imperative progressively to transform terrestrial life according to the requirements of natural law and of the Gospel; nevertheless, the absolutely ultimate goal is not to transform terrestrial life, but to have souls enter eternal life and finally the vision of God; and the “horizontal” effort itself, directed to transforming the world, essentially needs, in the depths of human history, the “vertical” effort directed to expanding the realm of grace in souls; for both efforts are, in the long run, necessary to one another; but the most necessary is the vertical one.
Jacques Maritain (1882–1973)

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5 thoughts on “The “Horizontal” Needs the “Vertical”

  1. Profound thought. When younger, not so wise, I thought the transforming of the terrestrial meant everything, the ultimate solution. Metamorphosis necessary to transcend this earthly life. Wasn’t that what Christ did on the cross? No. A clever trick of Satan presenting prizes for fools seeking transcendence. Those willing to sacrifice the eternal for temporal spiritual gluttony. Transforming through natural laws and the Gospels (thus respect for all scripture) are not temporal or terrestrial imperatives, rather eternal mandates, ultimate liberating truths, freedom, salvation. The vertical superseding. Together the vertical and horizontal create a cross.

  2. The ‘not’ should be ‘more than’, ‘more than temporal or terrestrial imperatives’. I have the tendency to throw ideas about too casually, too fast. I perceive you to be scrupulously detail oriented, a stickler for preciseness. I do not want to pollute your blog. Jacques Maritain uses the word ‘progressively’. Through time, the path toward perfection transpires.

    • It may not be clear from one single quote, but Jacques Maritain has meaning behind the “not” in this exact wording. He says, “the absolutely ultimate goal is not to transform terrestrial life, but to have souls enter eternal life and finally the vision of God,” because he distinguishes an ‘infravalent’ end in the social realities of this world in time: it is rightly an end and goal in itself (not a mere means), but it is suspended from and directed towards a yet greater, absolutely ultimate goal (heaven, the beatific vision, salvation, eternity). =)

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