Recently I reread the A.G. Sertillanges’s classic work on the life of the mind: The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods. Sertillanges (1863-1948) was a Catholic writer and a member of the Dominican Order. He published The Intellectual Life in 1934. Read the entire series here.
p.123: …the spirit should animate the worker; and we need first of all, before any special mode of its application, a spirit of earnestness.
p.124: The mind is like the airplane which can only keep aloft by going forward with all the power of its propeller. To stop is to crash. On the other hand, earnestness and tenacity can carry us beyond all forseen limits into regions undreamed of.
p.125: To know, to seek, to know more and to start afresh to seek more, is the life of a person devoted to truth, just as to make more money, whatever his or her fortune, is the aim of the miser. The intellectual who is sincere says every day to the God of truth: “The zeal of Thy house hath eaten me up.”
p.127: …let your soul be all intent on whatever it is that is established in your mind as a dominant, wholly absorbing idea. Make an orderly series of your different studies, so as to throw yourself into them completely. Let each task take entire hold of you, as if it were the only one.
p.127-28: We must allow each thing its separate place, do it in its own time, provide all the conditions necessary for the work, devote to it the fullest resources at our disposal, and once it has been brought to a successful issue, pass on quietly to something else.
p.131: Study might be defined by saying that it is God becoming conscious in us of His work
p.141: …a sense of mystery must remain, even after our maximum effort and even after truth has seemed to smile on us. Those who think that they understand everything prove by that alone that they have grasped nothing.