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October 2004 Vol 43 no 4


COMMITMENT AND FREEDOM

a special number in honour of Bernard Lonergan SJ (1904-1984),  John Courtney Murray SJ (1904-1967), and Karl Rahner SJ (1904-1984)



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Maintaining the Tension: Freedom, Commitment and Discernment

Contemporary culture sees freedom and commitment as opposites. But in fact the commitments we make enable us to deepen and develop our freedom through ongoing discernment.

Looking at God Looking at You: Ignatius' Third Addition

Before every period of prayer, Ignatius invites us to consider how God is looking at us. Prayer should open us up, beyond our own preoccupations, to a God who deals with us in freedom.

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More than Collaboration

Psychologists sometimes talk of the Exercises strengthening the ego, and of our collaboration with divine grace. Perhaps we should speak instead, even as psychologists, of our being drawn into relationality with God.

Moving Mysticism to the Centre: Karl Rahner (1904-1984)

For Rahner, it was not just privileged souls that were mystical; all human experience was caught up within the touch of God.

Karl Rahner and Liberation Theology

Perhaps the leading Jesuit liberation theologian reflects on how Karl Rahner supported the decisive new shifts in Latin American church life that emerged as his teaching career came to an end.

‘A Symbol Perfected in Death’: Rahner’s Theology and Alfred Delp (1907-1945)

One of Rahner’s most brilliant contemporaries was executed by the Nazis as a result of his involvement in resistance work. The spiritual process Alfred Delp went through in the months before his execution powerfully illustrates the conversions that Rahner and Lonergan describe more abstractly.

Freedom, Married Love and the Exercises

The spiritual freedom fostered by the Exercises can open couples to the sacramental reality of marriage, enabling spouses to find God’s own reality within each other.

Fidelity in Context: John Courtney Murray (1904-1967)

How John Courtney Murray’s groundbreaking work at Vatican II on religious freedom emerged from a lifetime of reflection on the US American constitution and its relationships with Catholicism.

A Spirituality of Democracy

It is often said that the Church is not a democracy. Eugene Bianchi honours Murray’s legacy by exploring anew the profound connections between democracy and the Christian spiritual tradition.

Conversion and Spirituality: Bernard Lonergan (1904-1984)

Lonergan’s theories about consciousness provide spirituality with a clear and systematic account of human integration, both intellectual and affective. For Lonergan, spirituality is the culmination of philosophy and theology.

The Truth That Makes Us Free

Study may sometimes be tedious, but at its best it liberates. Bruce Lescher here explores how the study of spirituality expands our freedom, and opens us to the otherness of God.

An Ignatian Way of Doing Theology: Theology Discerning ‘The True Life’

The Ignatian values of discernment and ‘the true life’ generate a quite distinctive style of theology, one which is only now coming into its own as contemporary society becomes ever more fluid.

When Cell Doors Close and Hearts Open

A report on how the Exercises are bringing a sense of interior freedom within a Swedish prison.



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From the Foreword

DISCIPLINES, whether or not overtly spiritual, have their place. But we follow them healthily only if we can move beyond them, only if we are captivated by the promise of new possibilities which they enable, only if they open us to the freedom of God. It is this complex interplay between commitment and freedom that we are exploring and celebrating as we present the special number of The Way for 2004.

This collection focuses particularly on three theologians all born exactly 100 years ago: Bernard Lonergan, John Courtney Murray and Karl Rahner. All three were Jesuits, formed within a distinctive set of spiritual and intellectual structures; all three passionately pursued the knowledge of God in which, as Cranmer puts it, ‘stands our eternal life’; all three strove to widen the Church’s vision, and to pioneer theologies ever more sensitive to the divine expansiveness. Their contributions to the Second Vatican Council were significant. They modelled a life of the mind that nourished, rather than constricted, the life of the Spirit. They taught us that healthy commitment is constantly expanding us, opening us up to new confrontations with the God who speaks in the otherness of our experience.

All too easily, the Christian imagination is tempted to settle for a less demanding vision. As we discover the vastness and variety of  the creation, we can easily end up abandoning any claim that Christ is the definitive revelation of God. Alternatively we can adopt a neurotic, ignorant defensiveness that only masquerades as fidelity. The Ignatian revival of the twentieth century involved not only a rediscovery of Ignatius the mystic, Ignatius the man of intense feeling; it was also an intellectual movement. It gave us powerful resources for an approach to Christianity at once generous and mature. Let no one be tempted to think these resources passé.