Karl Rahner (1904-1984), who was born on this day, has been called one of the most influential Catholic theologians of the twentieth century. He spent most of his life teaching theology at universities. Rahner believed that prayer was the most important element of the Christian way, saying in a discussion with a friend, "I believe because I pray." The turning point in his life came when he was 60 and participated in the Second Vatican Council (1962 - 1965). Although previously seen as a traditionalist, the German theologian was transformed into an advocate for change within Catholicism. Rahner spent considerable energy trying to make Christianity relevant to the modern world and to explain the significance of "a world church," as he called it.
Ponder and Practice
Here are some quotations from Karl Rahner's writings to take into your heart and live out in your life on his birthday:
- "Each individual man or woman is a unique and unrepeatable term of God's creative love. Each must find their path to God in a way that is proper to themselves." (God Hunger: Discovering the Mystic in All of Us by John Kirvan)
See each person your meet today as a creation of God's love.
- "In the coming age, we must all become mystics — or be nothing at all." (Why Not Be A Mystic? by Frank Tuoti)
Do something to express the mystic inside you.
- "I must confess to you in all honesty that for me God is and has always been absolute mystery. I do not understand what God is; no one can. We have intimations, inklings; we make faltering attempts to put mystery into words. But there is no word for it, no sentence for it." (Awareness by Anthony DeMello)
Find a gesture or a simple way to signify your surrender to the Absolute Mystery of God
- "Only when human beings are taken seriously — to the utmost — is it possible to know something of God, and only when we know something of God is it possible to take human beings seriously — to the utmost." (The Doubleday Christian Quotation Collection edited by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild)
Take human beings seriously.
Read and Reap
- Read Karl Rahner: Spiritual Writings edited by Philip Endean for an overview of his life and a wide selection of his writings.
- Read an excerpt on love by Rahner from "God of My Daily Routine" in Encounters with Silence.
- Check out Karl Rahner: Mystic of Everyday Life by Harvey D. Egan in the Crossroad Spiritual Legacy Series.