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Monday, December 15, 2008

Rahner and St. Ignatius on being Priest, Pastor & Leader

In a profound article on spirituality and essence of priesthood, [Karl] Rahner (+1984) said that St. Ignatius of Loyola wanted both to be ordained a priest and to found an Order of priests [Jesuits]. “However,” Rahner writes, … “This was simply because, for him, it was concretely the most practical way and condition of the possibility of getting on with what he really wanted to do. In his own spirituality he was not at all terribly insistent about saying Mass; if I remember rightly, he waited a whole year after his ordination before he got as far as that, but then he said Mass very gladly and with immense devotion.

“But with his first companions, he went into prisons and ministered to the sick. For him it was enormously important to be in the closest possible contact with the poor and the socially underprivileged of his time in the prisons and go into the hideous hospitals of that period, to convert prostitutes in Rome, perhaps also to run a school to inspire princesses, etc. In a word, what he in fact did seems open to the inane verdict or objection that it could all have been achieved by people who were not priests. … Preaching the Gospel, ministering to the poor, defending the underprivileged, following Jesus in this sense, prayer, a mystical sphere of one’s own existence, are just as much part of the priestly office as – and I do not mean it in a pejorative [negative] sense – being able to say Mass.”

Excerpt from the book, "Karl Rahner, Mystic of Everyday Life" by Harvey D. Egan, The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1998.

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