Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Immediate Experience of God from "Ignatius Speaks to a Jesuit Today" by Karl Rahner, SJ:

As you know, I wanted - as I used to say then - to "help souls": in other words, to say something to people about God and God's grace, and about Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen one, that would open up and redeem their freedom into God's. I wanted to say this just as it had always been said in the Church, and yet I thought - and this opinion was true - that I could say what was old in a new way. Why? I was convinced that I had encountered God, at first incipiently during my sickness at Loyola and then decisively during my time as a hermit at Manresa; and I wanted to communicate such experience to others as best one could.

When I make this sort of claim to have experienced God immediately, this assertion does not need to be linked to a theological disquisition on the essence of this kind of immediate experience of God. Nor do I want to talk about all the phenomena that accompany such experiences - phenomena that of course have their own histories and their own distinctive God and human experience characteristics. I'm not talking about pictorial visions, symbols, words heard; I'm not talking about the gift of tears and the like.

I'm just saying that I experienced God, the nameless and un-searchable one, silent yet near, in the Trinity that is His turning to me. I have also experienced God - and indeed principally - beyond all pictorial imagining. God, who, when He comes to us out of His own self in grace, just cannot be mistaken for anything else. Such a conviction perhaps sounds innocuous in your pious trade, working as it does with the most elevated words available. 

But fundamentally it is outrageous: outrageous for me from where I am, in the past-all-graspness of God that is experienced here in a quite different way again; outrageous for the godlessness of your own time, a godlessness that is actually in the end only doing away with the idols - idols that the previous age, with an innocence that was at the same time appalling, equated with the ineffable God. Why shouldn't I say that this godlessness extends right into the Church? After all, the Church throughout its history, in union with the crucified one, is meant to be what happens when the gods are abolished.