Monthly Archives: June 2011
On Wednesdays, Judy, creator of an inspiring blog, A Thankful Woman’s Book of Blessings encourages participants to list their blessings, to give thanks for the five things in the past week and then link to Judy’s blog.
This week I am thankful for:
- Graham Greene’s masterfully written The Heart of the Matter. It’s beautifully written.
- Hazelnut cappuccinos – though I have to be sure that I cut back on them.
- The sound of rain as one falls asleep.
- Blogs – they make me find so many good ideas, beautiful thoughts and images. They’re a great creative outlet.
- Sunny days in June.
Part four of Karl Rahner’s Homily, which I began earlier this week.
If, then, all are asked if they are not afraid of the spirit, this does not mean striving after the golden mean with the secret intention of smoothing everything out so that all remains as before and each one sticks to his opinion and attitude. The prayer to the Holy Spirit, the appeal to leave everything to him, means rather a readiness to admit into the life the incalculable, the new that becomes old, the old becoming new’ it often means having no clearly worked out answer in the concrete situation, but with a secret confidence on which adequate reflection is impossible, leaving the existing and enduring question itself to count as the answer; it means continuing, because the past provides enough reason for hope, but in fact only for hope.
The word of the Holy Spirit does not provide prescriptions which we merely need to carry out. It commands boldness, experiment, decision, which cannot be justified by general principles (the law and the letter). The word of the Holy Spirit is the question to each individual in his irreplaceable uniqueness as to whether he has the courage to venture, to experiment, to endure the opposition of the great mass (whether traditionalist or progressive); whether he trusts in something which in the last resort cannot be rationally proved, but which is of course supremely rational wisdom–that is, in the Holy Spirit.
With this courage everyone in the church must do his own part, even though at first sight he is not in agreement with what the other does for his part. Each must do this conscious of the fact that her gift and her mission are different from the Spirit’s gift to others. But if the unity of the Spirit in the variety of his gifts is to be maintained, there are in fact many gifts. An antagonism, a dispute, among these gifts in the church simply cannot be avoided. For if these gifts were unambiguously and palpably already reconciled for us, there would be no need of a Holy Spirit who is of himself this unity; and, because not comprehensible and controllable by us, this unity escapes us.
This duty exist for us only if we blast open what the Spirit has given us for our own — so that we do this and not something else — in the loving hope that all these gifts are one, even though we cannot see into and control this unity, even though we must bear witness to our faith in this incomprehensible unity in terms of the sort of unity that we ourselves can achieve in humility and a willingness to adapt ourselves.
But how this courage in regard to our own gift of the Holy Spirit and the will for the unity of gifts in the church can coexist at the same time is in the very last resort once again not a question to be solved by the principles of systematic reasoning, but the gift of the Holy Spirit who gives himself to us in a way that does not place Him under our control. We should have no fear of this Spirit, we should admit him, each of us being critical in regard to ourselves. Then the Spirit’s improvisation, which we call the church, is more likely to succeed than seeking to form the church only according to the principles which we have taken under our own control.
Part three of Karl Rahner’s Homily, which I began a few days ago.
. . . For real confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit in his church implies also the hopeful faith that he constantly prevails in this church with his power of renewal. But why then are these “progressives” so often irritated and impatient? How is the faith in God’s Spirit constantly renewing “the face of the earth” of the church compatible with the peevish threat to leave the church if she does not soon undergo a thorough change, while granting her somewhat optimistically a brief period in which to become again a home which they don’t have to leave?
Don’t the “progressives” also dictate to the Holy Spirit where He has to be active? Namely, at a critical distance from the church which is identified with office and tradition, in purely social commitment, in the will of the unity of Christians at all costs. Not, however, in worship of God, in love for a real, concretely existing neighbor, in fraternal patience and magnanimous understanding for those of His brethren who have to serve the church in office to which they never quite do justice (how could it be otherwise?) with goodwill and an open mind even toward initiatives which emerge from official sources in the church in an open-mindedness without which, whether we admit it or not, we remain complacently and autocratically entangled in our own subjectivity. Are the “progressives” not often afraid of the Holy Spirit when they fear death, which means here fear of the mute, unrewarded sacrifice in the service of the church and of her mission, a sacrifice which cannot be justified in terms of a will for a merely intramundane future?
If the question is put to “traditionalists” and “progressives” in this way, as to whether they are not both afraid of the Spirit, the double question must not be suspected as a cheap, dialectical reconciliation of the two standpoints, nor be misused by professors and, today, by bishops who are inclined to advise a cheap “both this and that” or a “golden mean.” Of course, there are appropriate middle ways, and certainly the extremes of the terribles simplificateurs are stupid and can lead only to disaster. Certainly among the Christian virtues are moderation, patience, and the realism which is not fanatical and does not want to turn the world too quickly into a paradise soon to become a concentration camp of universal forced happiness.
But the Holy Spirit is simply not a compromise between intramundane antagonisms, the the golden mean, not the holiness of narrow-minded mediocrity. The Holy Spirit in particular must not be understood as one side of a dialectic, the other being made up of the letter, the law, the institution, rational calculation. Rather He is the one who constantly blast open all such empirical, dialectical unities of opposites (although these have their justification) and sweeps them into the movement directed toward the incomprehensible God, who is not merely another particular factor in the world and in the counter-and-interplay of its forces.
From The Great Church Year, Karl Rahner, New York, NY: Crossroad, 1993. pages 217-18.
Click here for the conclusion.
create in me
a new heart.