Friday, April 07, 2006

Free Weekend

This is my free weekend...the last of the experiment. Next week I work the overnight on Holy Saturday and the following week I shall reunite with my beloved Anne Hall. The following week is the Open House for our new community and, the week after that, I head back to sunny Detroit.

So, since this is my last "obligation free" weekend, it stands to reason that I feel lousy. I managed to dodge the cold that wound its way through our house two months ago and I thought I'd dodged the flu bullet, but I'm not so sure now. I've had a headache for two days and I'm just not feeling too great. I'm hoping to get a good night of sleep and feel better in the morning - Drew, Mike, and Eric are in from Detroit and I'd like to spend the day with them.

I want, before I go to bed, to offer an image that I use when I pray for patients. Sometimes in the silence I find myself imagining myself standing in an ocean of darkness, an ebony night that wraps around me. I hold in my hands the patient for whom I am praying and I commend that patient into the Divine Darkness surrounding me, the living night which consumes death itself. Given my special love for the theology of Karl Rahner, SJ, I pray that he be present with the patient, a guide into the very heart of God. In prayer I submerge my whole self into the inky stillness of God's silent presence and I pray that God guide and draw close to him or her.

I don't claim that Karl bears the sole responsibility, but I will report that both the baby I baptized last week and a 12-year old boy who coded on the table are still alive even when no one thought they would make it. Many aver that Rahner will never be made a saint of the church...and I suspect that it's an honor he would not have wanted. He was and is still a guide into the very life of God's love, a mystic of the every day life, and a theologian who tried to transmit to all the world his own experience of God's love and grace. It is to this man - a teacher of theology and a teacher of prayer - that I commend my patients and, one day, it is next to this man I hope to kneel in prayer for all eternity.

Karl Rahner, Pray for Us!


Joe said...


Beautifully put! What's a good starting point for someone who wants to learn more about Fr. Rahner?



Anonymous said...

Two questions: 1) I thought Jesus called himself the "Light" of the world? And don't we light the Paschal Candle and enter the darkened Church at the Easter Vigil to symbolize the Light of Christ which conquered the darkness of sin? The twisting of meanings of arguably divinely revealed symbols usually leads the twisting of meanings of divinely revealed moral laws (among other things).

2) Would you agree with Rahner in that the people you commend to his prayers, that once they die, if they make it to heaven, that they already possess their resurrected bodies since heaven exists "outside" of time?

Unknown said...

Hi Bert,

Good questions! Let me respond to your second question first: to be truthful, although I have a deep love of Rahner, I do not profess to be an expert on him or his theology. So, quite simply, I can't really comment on his theology of the resurrected body. I would assume that his teaching is very much in line with the traditional Church teaching with which I do agree.

As for your first question, I think it points out the (oh-so-humbling) reality that our human speech is limited. I do not intend to set "divine darkness" in opposition to Jesus' proclamation that he is the "light." Indeed, it is my faith in this that allows me to trust that, in the humanly tragic situation of death and sorrow, that God is very much present. In using this phrase I meant only to capture something of the Church's own mystical tradition (John of the Cross, for instance) of the "negative way" and apply it to my own ministry. Speaking out of my own experience, I have found that even when it seems like God is wholly not present (I suspect as Jesus felt on the cross when he cried out "my God, my God, why have you abandoned me) that we can still have the faith that the still silence is filled with the presence of God, that the "divine darkness" is in some way the blinding light of God's own self.

I hope that clarifies things somewhat.

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