Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A New Adventure Begins...

It is with great joy, and tremendous relief, that I can share that I've been accepted to Boston College's doctoral program in systematic theology. I interviewed almost two weeks ago and heard yesterday afternoon. Throughout my years of Jesuit formation, it has become increasingly clear to me that I have both a desire and passion for higher studies in theology and I'm so enormously grateful that I will have the opportunity to begin these studies.

I'll spare you the details of exactly what I hope to study: in addition to being boring to most people, it changes within me each day!

I will share, however, why I love studying theology.

I love the study of theology because it was through the guidance of a theologian that I learned to pray. Years ago, when I was in college, I bought a copy of Karl Rahner's The Need and Blessing of Prayer. As I recall, I was a senior in college and my roommate was working overnight shifts at a local FedEx. One evening, after I'd finished studying, I took a notion to make my first foray into Rahner.

Within pages, I found a short passage with an image that has haunted me ever since:
...Become aware that God has been expecting you for quite some time in the deepest dungeon of your rubbled-over heart. Become aware that he has been quietly listening for a long time whether you, after all the busy noise of your life, and all the idle talk that you called your illusion-free philosophy of life, or perhaps even your prayer during which you only talked to yourself, after all the despaired weeping and mute groaning about the need of your life, whether you finally could be silent before him and let him speak the word, the word that seemed only to be like a deadly silence to the earlier person who was you.
The image of the "rubbled-over heart," drawn from Rahner's own memories of women and men being sealed in the cellars of their houses during German bombing raids, described perfectly my own spirit at that time.

I am passionate about theology, a passion I owe greatly to Rahner, because he gave me the courage to confront my "rubbled-over heart" and in that cramped and confined space, helped me to pray. No fireworks. No mystical visions. Simply the total silence of being with the Holy One in the depths of my interiority.

Saint Ignatius believed we could find God in all things. Karl Rahner helped me to find God in the most unexpected of places: my heart. How, then, could I not trust Rahner to lead and guide me through theological reflection? I would never insult the great theologian by claiming to be a "Rahnerian." Instead, I would like to think I have something of Rahner's intrepid spirit to ask, and pursue, questions wherever they lead me...because I am confident that the same God who dwells within my heart animates and directs
the questions of my mind.

I cannot express how excited I am this morning. This is, I believe, my 1152 blog post and I can't begin to imagine how many posts over the last decade have been influenced or inspired by my theological interests. Questions and ideas arising in these pages will continue, no doubt, to inform and shape the way I pursue my studies. Again, all I can say is that I am so grateful to have this opportunity to immerse myself in the studies for which I am passionate and hope that I'll be able to share this passion for discovering the God of the "rubbled-over heart" with others. 

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