by Karl Rahner, S.J.
Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight. PhD
When I first picked up this book, I was thinking maybe there are two Karl Rahner’s as I read his texts in regard to the Vatican II documents. I knew right away this was one and the same Jesuit who has a deep knowledge and love of God.
Rahner’s thoughts on mysticism are beautifully laid out in the introduction and throughout the book where he explains how God lends purpose and meaning to humanity….mysticism helps recover the presence of God in the world and our everyday life. He believes that mysticism is serious about where people are, their fears and how they experience life right now. He believes that our entire universe is called to mysticism! He believes that our entire human experience can be summed up with the word grace. This is the grace we receive that is everywhere! Grace is shown most commonly in life’s banalities, in its humdrum activities and burdensome expressions! Grace is in the ordinary, the repetitive, the boring aspects of life. Grace is basically loving your neighbor and in serving him/her even when we don’t want to! Mysticism according to Rahner is the experience of an immediate interaction between the personal God and the human being, an interaction that is grounded in Christ’s grace. (p.141)
There are essays throughout the book on lent, Easter, Corpus Christi, the mystery of the saints and the mystery of everyday life. In the meditation on the mystery of everyday life, he draws us into the experience of music, of seeing and of hearing others. How these ordinary, everyday experiences provide us with thoughts and images that assists us in making His presence even more real and beneficial to us and to the people we meet. He reminds us of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and how we can see them in others and in ourselves and then use them for the kingdom.
The book is replete with prayers that Rahner offers to us to focus on the Ignatian way. The one on hope on page 167 helps us in today’s need for hope: “We pray, God of grace and eternal life, that you may increase in us and strengthen us in hope. Grant us this virtue of the strong, the power of the confident, the courage of the unshaken. Let us always have a longing for you who are the infinite fulfilment of our life, let us always count on you and your faithfulness, let us always unflinchingly hold onto your power, let us be of such a mind, shape in us such a mind by your Holy Spirit, for then, Our Lord and God will we have the virtue of hope. Then we can tackle the task of our life with courage, then there will live in us the joyous confidence of not laboring in vain.”