return to religion-online

Grace in Freedom by Karl Rahner

Karl Rahner, S.J., studied theology under Martin Heidegger, then taught dogmatics in Catholic unversities in Munich and Innsbruck, Germany, between 1937 and 1984. He wrote more than a half-dozen books and was an observer at Vatican Council II in 1962-1965. Published in 1969 by Herder and Herder, New York. This book prepared for Religion Online by Paul Mobley.

Section 7: The Little Word "God"

Meditation on the Word "God"

What can be said about the word "God" in a short meditation is but a very brief introduction to this infinite theme. Such a meditation is both meaningful and difficult. It is difficult because one can ultimately meditate on a word only by examining its meaning. True, a word has a reality of its own, which is the concern of the various linguistic sciences, but it reveals its essence only if we leave it itself behind and approach what it signifies. If this is true, a meditation on the word "God" will yet again become a meditation on God himself, and this would certainly go beyond the possibility and the aim of these considerations. Nevertheless, we shall not be blamed if, by meditating on the word "God", we shall time and again transcend its limits and consider the reality it expresses.

Yet it seems to me that a meditation on the word "God" is, indeed, meaningful. This is so not only because, in contrast to many other experiences which can be realized without a special word, in this case the word alone can make real for us what it signifies. We shall come back to this later on. But the consideration of God can and must perhaps begin with the word for a much simpler reason. For we have no experience of God as we have of a tree, a man, or similar "external" realities. These, though never actually without a naming word, require that such a word be given them simply because they appear at a certain place and time. Hence it may be said that the simplest fact of the question of God is this, that man's spiritual existence contains the word "God". We cannot escape this simple fact by asking whether there might not be a future humanity in which the word "God" no longer occurs. In this case the question whether this word has a meaning and signifies an external reality either does not occur at all or else the word has no longer its original significance and must be replaced by a new word. At the moment, however, the word still exists. It is also always renewed by atheists who say that there is no God and that such a concept makes no sense, who build anti-God museums, make atheism a party dogma and invent all sorts of other things. Thus the atheists, too, contribute to the continued existence of the word "God". If they wanted to avoid this, they ought not only to hope that the word will one day disappear from the language of human society, they ought themselves to contribute to this disappearance by not mentioning it at all, not even calling themselves atheists. But how are they to do this if their partners in the dialogue from whose language they cannot separate themselves speak of God and are interested in this word?

The very existence of this word is worth considering. If we thus speak of God, we do not, of course, mean only the German or English word for "God". It does not matter if we say Gott in German or Deus in Latin, or El in the Semitic languages or teotl in Mexican and so forth, though it is, of course, a very obscure and difficult question how we can know that all these different words mean the same thing or person, for in this case we cannot simply point to a common experience of what is meant, independent of the term. But for the time being we will leave this problem alone.

There are, of course, proper names of God or gods, whether in the polytheistic religions or, as in ancient Israel, where the one omnipotent God, Yahweh, bears a special name because the people is convinced to have had a special experience of him in its history, which characterizes him despite his incomprehensibility and actual namelessness and thus confers a name on him. But of such names we do not want to speak.

The word "God" exists, and this by itself merits consideration. But the English word "God" (like the German Gott) says nothing about him. Whether this was so when the word was first used is another question. Today, at least, the word sounds like a proper name: what is meant by it must be known from another source. This is a fact, even though we are not usually aware of it. If, as happens in the history of religion, we were to call God Father, or Lord, or heavenly King or something like that, the word itself would convey a meaning through its well-known origin or secular use. But the mere word "God" says nothing about what is meant, nor is it a pointer to something outside it, as "tree" or "table" or "sun" is. Nevertheless, the very fact that this word is so indeterminate is well suited to its meaning, no matter whether it had originally been so or not. Today, at least, it reflects what it signifies: the Ineffable, the Nameless One, who is not part of the definable world, the Silent One that is always there yet always overlooked, and, because it says everything wholly and without multiplicity, can be passed over as meaningless. For it has really no word at all, because every word receives its own particular intelligible meaning only within a complex of other words. Thus the "blind" word "God" which appeals to no definite individual experience is just right to speak to us of God, because it is the last word before all is muted; because all definable individuality disappears and we are faced with the one who is the foundation of all.

The word "God" exists. Thus we return to the beginning, to the simple fact that in the universe of words with which we build our world and without which even the so-called facts do not exist for us, the word "God", too, occurs. Even for the atheists, even for those who say: God is dead, God exists, at least as the God whom they declare dead and whose ghost they must chase away, of whose return they are afraid. They would be at rest only if the word itself ceased to exist, that is if the question of God would no longer have to be posed at all. Nevertheless, this word is still there. Even Marx thought that atheism, too, would have to disappear, so that the very word "God", whether affirmed or denied, would occur no more at all. Is such a future conceivable? Perhaps the question is meaningless, because genuine future is that which is radically new, which cannot be foreseen. Or the question seems to be merely theoretical and immediately changes into a question of our freedom, whether we shall also challenge one an- other in future by saying "God", be it affirming, denying or doubting him. In any case, the believer sees only two possibilities: the word will either disappear completely, leaving no trace, or it will remain as a question for all men.

Let us consider these two possibilities. Supposing the word "God" had disappeared without leaving any visible gap and without being replaced by another word which would have a similar effect on us, which would pose at least the one fundamental question, even though we do not want to give or hear this word as an answer. What will happen if this hypothesis is to be taken seriously? Then man will no longer be confronted with the one whole of reality as such nor with the whole of his own existence. For this is done only by the word "God", whatever its phonetic form or origin. If the word "God" really did not exist, this twofold unity of reality and of human existence would no longer be there for man. He would forget himself completely, being wholly immersed in the details of his world and his existence. He would not even be confronted with the whole of the world and himself in silent confusion. He would no longer be aware of being only an individual, not Being itself; he would only ask questions, but not consider the basis of all questioning, he would only manipulate ever new single moments of his existence, but would never confront it as one whole. He would remain stuck within the world and himself, no longer able to think of himself as a unique whole and thus to transcend himself, entering the silent strangeness from which he now returns to himself and his world, differentiating and accepting both.

He would forget the whole and his own ground, and at the same time forget, so to speak, that he has forgotten. What would happen then? We can only say he would have ceased to be a man, he would have returned to the state of the animal. Today we can no longer so easily say that if a being on this earth walks erect, lights a fire and works on a stone, he must be a man. We can only say that he is a man if he thinks and speaks and freely questions the whole of the world and his existence, even if he cannot answer this one total question. Thus it might also be conceivable that humanity may die a collective death, continuing to exist biologically and technologically while changing back into a nation of incredibly clever termites. Whether this is a real possibility or not, the believer in God need not be frightened by this idea, for it does not contradict his faith. For he accepts a biological consciousness, an animal "intelligence" if we may call it such, which is not yet

aware of the question of the whole. For such a consciousness the word "God" has not yet become its destiny, and he will not easily venture to say what such a biological "intelligence" can achieve without being involved in the destiny signified by the word "God". But actually man exists only when he says "God", even only as a question answered in the negative. The absolute death of the word "God", wiping out even its past, would be the signal -- though heard by none -- that man himself has died. Such a collective death might be conceivable even despite a biological-rationalistic survival. It need not be more extraordinary than the individual death of sinful man. Where even the question had disappeared no answer would be necessary. But the very fact that the question of the death of the word "God" can be put shows that this word is still there because of man's very protest against it.

The second alternative is that the word "God" remains. Every man experiences his unique existence only through the language in which he lives, which he cannot escape. For he accepts its verbal relations, its perspectives and principles even when he protests and cooperates in its evolution. Language has still something to say to us, since we still speak through it even while protesting against it. Hence we must ultimately trust it, or else we shall either become completely dumb or contradict ourselves in the very act of speaking. This language in which we live responsibly contains the word "God". It is no accidental word which turns up at one time and disappears at another. For the word "God" questions the whole world of language in which reality presents itself to us. It asks what is the origin of reality, whilst the world of language contains a paradox, because it is both part of the world yet also its whole, because it is conscious. When speaking of something language also speaks of itself, pointing to its ground which is taken away from it, and by this very fact given: this is signified when we say "God" even though we do not mean by this the same as language as a whole, but the ground on which it rests. Precisely this is why "God" is not just any word, but the word, in which language -- that is the self-statement of world and existence -- apprehends itself in its ground. This word belongs to our language and thus to our world in a special and unique way, it is a reality in itself, moreover a reality which we cannot escape. This reality may be more or less obvious, it may speak to us more or less distinctly, but it is there, at least as a question.

In this context it does not matter how we react to this word-event, whether we accept it as pointing to God himself or reject it in desperate fury, because as part of the world of language it wants to force us, who are part of the world, to confront the whole of the world as well as ourselves without being the whole or being able to rule it. And at the moment we will leave it open how this original whole corresponds to the manifold world and the many words of language.

We would here only draw attention to one thing, because it is directly related to the word "God". What has so far been said about it does not mean that we first actively think the word "God" individually and that it thus invades our existence. No, we hear it passively; it meets us in the language in which we are caught up willy-nilly and which questions us as individuals without being itself in our power. Thus this history of language in which the word God which questions us occurs is once more an image and parable of what it announces. We must not think that the word "God" is our own creation only be- cause its phonetic sound is produced by us. Rather the word creates us, because it makes human beings of us. For the true word "God" is not simply identical with the same word as found in the dictionary among a thousand other words. For this dictionary word is only a substitute, as it were, for the real word. This real word is present to us in the connection and unity of all individual words and confronts us with reality as a whole, at least as a question. This word is present in our history and indeed creates it. And because it is a word we may hear it, as Scripture say, with ears that hear but do not understand. Nevertheless, it is there. Tertullian's concept of the anima naturaliter christiana, i.e. the originally Christian soul, derives from this inescapable word "God". It has the same origin as man himself and it ends only in his death; it may still have a history which we cannot imagine, simply because it keeps open the free and unplanned future. This word opens an unfathomable mystery; it wears us out and may irritate us, because it disturbs our life which wants clarity and planning. It is always open to the objection of Wittgenstein who tells us to keep silence about what we cannot say clearly, but who violates this very maxim by pronouncing it. Properly understood the word itself agrees with this mystery, because it is itself the last word before the silent worship of the ineffable mystery, which does not, of course, mean that the end of all speech is to be followed by that death which turns man into an inventive animal or a damned sinner. If it were not to be heard as an all- transcending word, it would only be an everyday word among other words and would have nothing but the sound in common with the true word "God". There is a good amor fati. The proper translation of this "love of fate" is "love of the spoken word", that is of the fatum which is our destiny. Only this love of the necessary liberates our freedom. Ultimately this fatum is the word of God.


Text of a broadcast on the South German Radio, 3 March 1968


God is No Scientific Formula

It may be said that God is not present in the realm of science and in the world organized by it, that the scientific method is therefore a priori a-theistic, since it is concerned only with the functional relationships of the individual phenomena. The believer will not contradict this. For God may not be used as a stop-gap. For what happens in this sphere, that is, what can be proved experimentally, can certainly not be what we mean by God in the proper sense of the word.

God is not "something" beside other things that can be integrated into a common homogeneous system. If we say "God" we mean the whole, not indeed a sum of phenomena to be examined, but the whole in its incomprehensible and ineffable origin and ground which transcends that whole to which we and our experimental knowledge belong. This ground is meant by the word "God", the ground which is not the sum of individual realities but which confronts them freely and creatively without forming a "higher whole" with them. God is the silent mystery, absolute, unconditioned and incomprehensible. God is the infinitely distant horizon to which the understanding of individual realities, their interrelations and their manipulation must always point. This horizon continues to exist just as distantly even when all the understanding and action relating to it have come to a standstill. God is the unconditioned, but conditioning ground, the sacred mystery because of this everlasting incomprehensibility.

If we say "God" we must not imagine that everyone understands this word and that the only question is whether what all mean by it really exists. Very often the man in the street believes it to mean something which he rightly denies, because what he imagines it to mean really does not exist. He thinks it is a hypothesis for explaining phenomena until science can give the true explanation, or someone to frighten children until they realize that nothing extraordinary happens if they are naughty. The true God is the absolute, sacred mystery to which one can only point in silent adoration. For he is the silent abyss and thus the ground of the world and of our knowledge of it. He is incomprehensible in principle, for even if we were to discover a "world formula" it would not even explain ourselves, and this formula, precisely because it was understood, would again be enveloped in the infinite mystery.

For the mystery is the only thing that is certain and that goes without saying. It calls forth the movement which examines whatever can be explained, but it is not gradually exhausted by this movement which we call science; on the contrary, it grows with the growth of our knowledge. Hence we cannot imprison God in an exact formula, we cannot assign a place to him in a system of coordinates. We can only stammer of him and speak of him vaguely and indirectly. But we ought not to be silent about him only because we cannot speak of him properly. For he is present in our existence. True, we may always miss him, because there is no definite point which we might indicate and say: There he is. Hence we may be told to be silent about what cannot be expressed distinctly. But the believer will, because of his own experience, understand a "worried" atheist who is silent before the dark secret of existence. Simone Weil's words, namely that a man who denies God may be nearer to him than one who only speaks of him in cliches, may well be applied also to many who call themselves Christians. Such a man may be nearer to God because of his unfulfilled metaphysical longing, that is if he does not selfishly enjoy, but truly suffers it. For in this case he knows more of God than the so-called believer who regards God as a question which he has long settled to his own satisfaction.

Nevertheless, God is there, not here or elsewhere, but everywhere in secret: where the ground of all silently confronts us, where we encounter the inescapable situation of responsibility, where we faithfully do our duty without reward, where we realize the blissful meaning of love, where death is accepted in the midst of life, where joy no longer has a name. In all such modes of his existence man is involved in something other than the strictly definable. Hence he must become more conscious of transcending what is individually determined; he must accept this transcendence -- perhaps against much resistance -- and finally courageously defend it. This speaking of God may ultimately only point to the question which is man himself and thus hint at God's mystery in silence, the result may be less adequate than any statement on another subject, the answer, aimed at God's bright 'heaven', may ever again fall back into the dark sphere of man or may consist in inexorably upholding the question that transcends any definition, formula or phenomenon. At least in such efforts, whether successful or not, man continues to question, he does not despair and he will receive an answer because just this question is blessed with the experience of the incomprehensibility which we call God.

If a man who has experienced this trusts that this incomprehensibility, ineffably close, communicates itself protectingly and forgivingly, he can hardly be called a mere "theist" any more. For such a man has already experienced the "personal" God, if he understands his "formula" correctly and does not imagine that God again becomes merely a "good" man. For what this truly and blessedly means is that God cannot be less than man, endowed with personality, freedom und love, and that the mystery itself is free protective love, not an "objective order" which one can, after all, possess (at least in principle), and against which one could ensure oneself. Such a man has already understood and actually accepted what Christians call divine grace. The primeval event of Christianity has already taken place in the centre of existence, namely the direct presence of God in man In the "Holy Spirit". However, much must happen before this man will become a Christian in the full, authentic sense of the word, namely the encounter of this primeval Christian event with its own historical appearance in Jesus Christ, in whom the ineffable God is present to us also in history, in the word, in the sacrament, and in the confessing community which we call the Church. But this necessary and holy institutional Christianity only has a meaning and is not ultimately a sublime idolatry if it really introduces man to the trusting, loving surrender to the holy and nameless mystery. This surrender is accomplished by freedom, which receives itself from this silent mystery, and thus our answer comes from the "Word of God" itself.

Of course, man of our scientific age, brought up, as he thinks, to sober exactness, will call such talk emotional, mere poetry and cheap comfort. For it is no formula according to which we ourselves experiment in order to arrive at a palpable result. This talk babbles of the one experiment of life which the mystery accomplishes in us. And in every life, even in that of the scientist and technologist, there are moments which will draw him into the centre of existence, when infinity looks at and calls him, who is now one with the responsibility of existence itself. Will he then shrug his shoulders and look the other way? Will he only wait until he is "normal" again, that is, absorbed by his interest in research and his daily life? Perhaps one may often react in this way, making commonplace man who forgets himself over material things the measure of all things, even when he investigates the universe -- but will such an escape always be successful? Will he then be quite honest with himself? Surely this flight may not really be caused by sober objectivity, and a man may even pretend to venerate the incomprehensible silence while his whole attitude actually remains an escape and he only wants a superficial and guilt-ridden well-being in order to escape from the claim of the incomprehensible. Could this escape succeed even when life no longer permits a man to pass on to research and the daily round? Perhaps he may even violate the ultimate dignity of both daily life and research because he refuses to let them reach into the sacred sphere of mystery which surrounds them. We can master life with scientific formulae insofar as one has to make one's way among various events, and this may be frequently successful. But man himself is grounded in an abyss which no formula can measure. We must have sufficient courage to experience this abyss as the holy mystery of love -- then it may be called God.


Text of a contribution which appeared in several West German newspapers on 24 December 1965 and part of which was used in a lecture in Munich on 14 December 1966.


God, Our Father

I thought it went without saying that "Father" was a basic theological concept, hence I looked up the word in the excellent Handbuch theologischer Grundbegriffe by H. Fries (Munich 1963). But the word has no entry of its own and is not even contained in the subject index. This may be only an accident, such as happens even to theologians, especially as the thing itself, of course, can be found under other headings. But it may also indicate an uncertainty as to whether we are still able to call God "Father".

The God of the philosophers is no "Father", but the incomprehensible ground of all reality which escapes every comprehensive notion because he is a radical mystery. This is always only the beyond, the inaccessibly distant horizon bounding the small sphere we are able to measure. He certainly exists for us also in this way, as the unanswered question that makes possible any answerable one, as the distance which makes room for our never-ending journey in thought and deed. But does this ineffable being which we call God exist only in this way? That is the question. True, the distance which philosophical theology establishes between God and ourselves is still necessary to prevent us from confusing God with our own idols, and thus it is perhaps more than philosophy, it is a hidden grace. But the question whether God is only unapproachable ineffability must be answered in the negative. He is more, and we realize this in the ultimate experience of our existence, when we accept it without rejecting or denying it under pretext of its being too good to be true. For there is the experience that the abyss protects, that pure silence is tender, that the distance is home and that the ultimate question brings its own answer, that the very mystery communicates itself as pure blessedness. And then we call the mystery whose customary cipher is "God"-Father. For what else are we to call it?

Much paternalism in our world has certainly tried to invest custom and inherited power with a glory designed to prevent us from bearing freedom and responsibility ourselves, as well as the loneliness resulting from both. We experience the technical achievements of this world not exactly as an expression of tender, fatherly feelings but rather as hard and inhuman. The pressure of life often prevents us from realizing what we mean by calling God Father, a concept distilled from our notions of human fatherhood. Nevertheless, if we are resolved to let God be God, if we adore him as an ineffable mystery, not to be inserted as a definable factor into the sum of our life, we may suddenly experience him as communicating him- self, as merciful and forgiving, indeed, as grace, and thus call him Father; though mother, love or home would express this just as well, because they also describe a primeval experience, preserving the bliss of the secret hour.

"Father", however, is also a good word and suited to the world which is given to us and through which we must express him. For there will always be fathers in this world, and even today we experience them not only as exercising an irksome authority, but also as the power that supports us by sending us forth into our own life and liberty. Applied to God, the word "Father" signifies the origin that is without origin, the ground that remains incomprehensible, because it can be comprehended only through his grace that keeps us while we emerge from it. "Father" means the serenely loving seriousness, the beginning that is our future, the creative power that accomplishes its work patiently and without haste, which does not fear our desperate complaints and premature accusations. He sends us his mystery, himself, not anything else as partial answers; he sends himself to us as love and thus answers the question which we ourselves are, and thus reveals himself as ‘Person", disposing of himself in full knowledge.

Such experience exists, and not only momentarily, but always. It opens itself to us always new, in serene detachment. Nevertheless, it is difficult to encounter this experience; for its opposite is quicker and imposes itself more brutally. But we need not have this experience by ourselves, for in this respect, too, no man lives to himself alone. Even our most intimate, unique experiences happen in our life because they encounter similar ones in other men, and thus meet themselves. The history in which we live our common life together is the place where everyone finds himself. Now there we may find a man who called himself simply the Son and who said "Father" when he expressed the mystery of his life. He spoke of the Father when he saw the lilies of the field in their beauty, or when his heart overflowed in prayer, when he thought of the hunger and need of men and longed for the consummation that ends all the transitoriness of this seemingly empty and guilty existence. With touching tenderness he called this dark, abysmal mystery, which he knew to be such, Abb a (which we ought almost to translate as "daddy"). And he called it thus not only when beauty and hope helped him to overcome the incomprehensibility of existence in this world, but also when he met the darkness of death and the cup in which was distilled all the guilt, vanity- and emptiness of this world was placed at his lips and he could only repeat the desperate words of the Psalmist: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!" But even then that other, all-embracing word was present to him, which sheltered even this forsakenness: "Father, into thy hands I commend my life."

Thus he has encouraged us to believe in him as the Son, to call the abyss of mystery Father, to realize both our origin and our future in this word alone, and thus to measure the dimensions of our dignity, of our task, of the danger and experience of our life. True, only the crucified is the Son. But he is also the sign that we all are truly children of God and dare and must call Father this true God himself, and not only the finite idols we ourselves imagine and create. Because he is the Son we are empowered to set aside the daily experience of the absurdity and torment of this life, to realize the true ground of this experience and to change it into an incomprehensible but blissful mystery by calling it Father. Can we say anything more improbable? But how else can we break through the mere semblance of truth, which we short-sighted "realists" regard as truth itself, and come to the authentic truth that makes us blessed? For may truth not redeem and save? That is the question which decides our life. Whoever opts for the blessed truth calls it "Father". And we may be allowed to hope, if a man thinks that, in order to remain true, he must opt for a deadly truth, he has nevertheless loved in his heart the blessedly protecting truth of the Father, because he has been faithful to the truth he thought bitter.

If we believe in the fatherly truth that makes free we must celebrate four festivals. First, that the Son has come, which is Christmas; second, that he said "Father" in the abyss of absurdity, which is Good Friday; then, that he arrived at God the Father with the whole reality of his being, that is Easter; and finally, that he gave us the courage of his heart to repeat "Father" after him, which is Pentecost.

Let us consider especially Christmas. It is the feast of the Son who came from the Father, in whom God as the Father is accessible in everyday history, and not only in the inaccessible experience of the inner man if we repeat the word "Father" after the Son.

So we will celebrate this feast. The message of faith which comes in the word we hear opens by grace the eye of inner experience so that it may dare to understand itself and to accept the "sweet secret of its strangeness" as its true meaning. God is really near us, he is where we are if we have really -- not only notionally -- reached the authentic man who is open to God's infinity. If this is the case, then God's descent into the flesh will explain to us the secret and blessed meaning of the

openness of our all- transcending spirit and of our flesh that is penetrated by death. The message which encourages us to believe in the message of our own grace filled heart says that God's distance is but the incomprehensibility of his all-penetrating nearness. He is there tenderly, he is near, his love gently touches the heart. He says: Do not fear. He is inside the prison. We only think that he is not there because there has never been a moment in our life when we did not have him in the sweetness of his ineffable love as soon as we began to seek him. He is there like the pure light which, though everywhere, hides itself by making all other things visible in the silent humility of its nature.

The incarnation of God means: Trust the nearness, be- cause it is not void. Let go, then you will find; give up, and you will be rich. The incarnation says in the words of history, not only with the words of longing: The infinite mystery which silently surrounds you does not rush towards you so that you will flee from it into your own familiar little life until it overtakes and destroys you in death; it is not only the judgment which orders your small world from the distance and judges Its guilty finiteness. It is rather the promised beatitude. It can approach us without destroying us, it can tenderly enter our heart without breaking it asunder, it does not, like a crushing judgment, dash from distant heavens into the small sphere of our existence. No, it comes as grace saving us into its own freedom which it makes ours. It is not the source of the fear of death but the promise of our own infinity.

If we are not bored by the message of the incarnation as it is presented to us in helpless words from the pulpit, but meet it with a longing heart hoping to confront the ultimate question of existence, then we shall be able to celebrate the feast of the advent of the Son in which the mystery we call God (often imagining that this word has explained the mystery) is truly protectively near, on earth and in the flesh where we are. Then we may well call the mystery Father. Then we may continue to say the most ancient and wide-spread prayer of all religions: Our Father in heaven. It is never old, neither today nor tomorrow. Then we can repeat with the Son: Our Father who art in heaven. Then we can speak it also in the darkness of our death which we share with the Son. We shall then confess the most simple thing of our existence, to understand which needs a brave heart and spirit; namely that God is not only good in himself, but -- though it could also have been different -- that he has entered this world in all his glory as love, as our own future and its last end. Then, if we are ourselves good, that is, if we are full of fatherly love and childlike trust, if we are so "silly" and so "naive" to risk this, we shall be embraced and supported by the strength of the sacred secret of the world and of our own existence which we call God.

Ultimately only the man who believes in the holy origin can believe in a final salvation, only he can believe in an infinite future (for all else would merely be transitory and a beginning of death) for whom history starts with this infinite future that posits the beginning of history. Only if a man believes in a holy God will he believe in a blessed life to come. Only few dare to say that they regard such a future as a chimera. And these few protest against the absurdity of existence probably only because they, too, measure life by the standard that belongs to eternal life and which they, too, presuppose. Hence all might confess: I believe in God, the almighty Father. Though even then there would still be the problems which are bitter until the bitterness of death. But they would be mysteriously redeemed.


Christmas supplement of Presse, Vienna, 24 December 1964.

Viewed 75936 times.