A dear friend in Massachusetts recently reminded me of the wisdom of the great theologian Karl Rahner. When all the other books are long gone, Rahner’s will the only theologian I’ll still have at my bedside. It is for good reason that he’s been called “Doctor Mysticus,” for the God-Mystery imbues even his most difficult works.
My friend, John Carmody, introduced me to Rahner’s work when I was an undergraduate, and then I went on to study him further in graduate school with Jesuits whose own lives had been deeply shaped by him: William Dych, SJ, and Michael J. Buckley, SJ, to whom I am immeasurably grateful. Rahner has been an inspiration to me and countless others through many years.
Here is an excerpt my friend sent me from Rahner’s treasure of a book, Encounters with Silence. It comes from the chapter entitled, “God of My Life.”
Only in love can I find you, my God.
In love, the gates of my soul spring open,
allowing me to breathe a new air of freedom
and forget about my own petty self.
In love, my whole being streams forth
out of the rigid confines of narrowness
and anxious self-assertion,
which makes me a prisoner of my own
poverty and emptiness.
In love, all the powers of my soul flow
out toward you,
wanting never more to return,
but to lose themselves completely in you,
since by your love you are the
innermost center of my heart,
closer to me than I am to myself.
But when I love you,
when I manage to break out of the narrow circle of self and
leave behind the restless agony of unanswered questions,
when my blinded eyes no longer look merely from afar and from the outside
upon your unapproachable brightness, and much more
when you yourself, O Incomprehensible One, have become
through love the inmost center of my life,
then I can bury myself entirely in you,
O mysterious God, and with myself,
all my questions.