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CHICAGO STUDIES

Word, and the practical demands of the gospel for secular justice, service, mercy, etc. The life of the counsels, too, must enflesh the gospel, but its first witness is to the free othemess from which God works man's fulfillment. By formal renunciation of secular goods, the religious professes faith that God alone fills man's heart, and that sinful man is divinized through a cruciform redemption. Rahner is aware of the practical problems of finding institutional forms which effectively channel this eschatological import (perhaps especially with poverty), but his view of the core meaning of religious life is clear enough: it reminds the world that human fulfillment is crosswon grace, and it is essential to the constitution of the Church, insofar as she must always show the transcendental otherness of the love which works salvation. Neither vocation can boast of any special privileges in Rahner's view. Both serve the good news of the kingdom in our midst, sanctifying those who make this call the beckoning which holds first place in their hearts. What Rahner has to say of ascesis (properly Christian renunciation and spiritual effort) is regularly set in the context of his theology of death. Death is the great trial of human life. It infiltrates our being progressively, as we feel the abrasion of time, finitude, and physical dissolution. Death moeks our aspirations for perfect existence; it makes man, whose dynamic finality stretches out towa,¡¡rls the vision of Gorl, wonrler whether his dark mystery is not really an absurrl. The consummate act of human faith is therefore the acceptance of death's sundering, in trust that God will show himself a merciful Father who comes at our dying to take all for his love. At the end of our lives, we shall make a final, summarizing use of our freedom, choosing or rejecting life on God's terms. Thus death shows the basic passion built into human existence. Throughout life, God is the sovereign master. True freedom is opening our hearts to his rule. As Christ descended into "hell," suffering the full despoliation of death, so the Christian descends into death's darkness freely, because his God of love demands this. He knows death is the wages of sin, and he pays the price of his passover from alienation to intimacy with hope. Indeed, he may anticipate death's final surrender to God's mercy and

Profile for Chicago Studies

Spring 1969  

Volume 8:1

Spring 1969  

Volume 8:1

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