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(889 words)

1. Its meaning. The original Greek word means rapture, being inspired or possessed by a god. Used disparagingly in the 17th century of the religious attitude of the Puritans and in the 18th of that of the Methodists, the English word now has the general sense of passionate eagerness in any pursuit.

2. Its nature: Enthusiasm is not something a man “has”, but something which he is plunged in. To be enthusiastic means that one’s life is caught up in something which, however, is also within man and impelling him on. The other basic trait of enthusiasm …

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Klaus Hemmerle, “Enthusiasm”, in: Sacramentum Mundi Online, General Editor Karl Rahner, SJ. Consulted online on 25 February 2024 <>
First published online: 2016

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