Karl Rahner, SJ

Almighty, holy God, to You I come,
to You I pray. I acknowledge You,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
I praise You, glorify You and adore You.
I give You thanks for Your great glory.

What can I say to You, my God?
Shall I collect together all the words
which praise Your holy Name,
shall I give You all the names of this world,
You, the Unnamable?

Shall I call You God of my life,
Meaning of my existence,
Hallowing of my acts, my journey's End,
Bitterness of my guilty hours,
Home of my loneliness,
You, my most treasured happiness?
Shall I say: Creator, Sustainer, Pardoner,
Near One, Distant One, Incomprehensible One?

O, my God of asteroids and comets,
You are God of April rain
and of mice and men.
You are Wisdom, Power, Loyalty,
and Truthfulness,
Eternity and Infinity, You the All-merciful,
You the Just One, You Perfect Love itself!

But what can I say to You, my God?
Shall I reproach You for being
so far from me or for Your seeming silence which is so terrible and leaves me so afraid?
Shall I complain because you seem incomprehensible, hidden and incalculable?

But how can I reproach You
with Your distance, when I find Your nearness equally mysterious with Your forbearance, when you forgive my sin;
with the incomprehensibility of Your ways,
when it is the wickedness and confusion
of my own will which has complicated
and clouded my understanding?

What can I say to You, my God?
Should I consecrate myself to You?
Should I say that I belong to You
with all that I have and am?

O, my God, how can I give myself to You,
unless Your grace accepts me?
How can I devote myself to Your service,
unless You cleanse me and call me?
Let me recognize Your call, and come running in the night!

Though I sometimes fail to be faithful
to You, I will now endeavor to bend my fickle will to Your service. Indeed, Lord,
I know that Your yoke is sweet
and your burden light.

I thank You for all that You have given me
in my life and all that You have wisely denied me. I thank You for the day I was born
and I beg of You to take me to You
when I come to the hour of my death.
I offer up to you my many, many days
of happiness and my few hours of misery.

Lord, though I am a lazy and head-strong servant, please never dismiss me
from Your service. You have power
over my heart. You have power over me
even in the depths of my soul,
where I alone am master of my eternal fate,
for Your grace is the grace of eternal omnipresence.

Wise, merciful, loving God,
do not cast me from You.
Keep me in Your service
all the days of my life.
Ask of me what You will.
Only grant what you command of me.
Even if I tire in Your service,
You in Your patience will never tire of me.
I know You will come to help,
I know You will give me the strength
to make a fresh start
again and again; to hope against hope;
in all my defeats to have faith in final victory and in Your triumph within me.

What can I say to You, my God,
but that I am a sinner?
But You know that better than I
and I would certainly neither believe
nor admit it, if Your word did not testify against me.

Lord, do not depart from me, for I am
a sinful man. Surely it is better to make this my appeal? Where, if not with You,
could I take refuge in my weakness,
in my spiritual sloth,
in the duplicity and unreliability
even of what is best in me?

God of sinners, God of the habitual,
daily, cowardly sinner,
of the ordinary sinner!
O God, there is nothing grand about my sin;
it is so everyday, so normal, so much
the accepted thing, that I can easily overlook it - only of course,
when I overlook You, Most Holy One,
I forget that You love us with a jealous love
and want to possess our hearts,
whole and undivided,
burning and ready for anything.

O God, whither could I flee?
The great sinners could perhaps sate themselves for a time with the diabolical enormity of their sins.
But I feel only disgust for my wretchedness,
my complacent slowness of heart, my neglect of You, the frightening mediocrity
of my "good conscience".

Only You could continue to tolerate
such a heart, only You could continue to love me so patiently.

You alone are greater than my poor heart.
(1 John 3:20)

God of sinners, God even of the lukewarm
and the slow of heart, have mercy on me!

Behold, O God, I enter your presence:
God, holy and just, You who are Truth,
Loyalty, Serenity, Justice, Goodness.
In Your presence I must needs prostrate myself as Moses did, and say with Peter:

Depart from me for I am a sinful man
(Luke 5:8

I know that there is only one thing
that I can say to You: Have mercy on me.
I need Your mercy, because I am a sinner.
I am unworthy of Your mercy,
because I am a sinner.
But I humbly desire Your unfailing mercy,
for I am a being of this world, not yet lost;
one who still longs for the heavens
of Your goodness, who willingly
and with tears of joy receives
the inexhaustible gift of Your mercy.

Lord, look upon me, see my misery.
To whom should I flee, if not to You?
How could I tolerate myself,
but for the thought that You can tolerate me,
but for the knowledge that You
are still my friend?

Look upon my misery. Look upon your servant who is lazy, headstrong and superficial.
Look upon the meanness of my heart,
which offers You only as much as is absolutely necessary and will not be
generous in loving You.

Look upon my prayers:
see how sullenly and reluctantly I fulfill this duty
and how cheerfully,
for the most part, my heart turns
from talking with You to other things.

Look upon my work: it is barely satisfactory,
extorted from me by the pressure of daily life, prompted by true love of You.
Listen to my words: the words of selfless kindness and love are rare.

Look upon me, O God: You will see no great sinner, only a small one; one whose very sins are small, mean and commonplace; whose will and heart, mind and strength are mediocre
in every respect, even in wickedness.

But, my God, when I really reflect on this,
I am greatly afraid. Surely the things
I am forced to say of myself are precisely those which characterize the lukewarm heart? And have You not said that you prefer a cold heart to a lukewarm one? (Apoc. 3:16)

Is not my mediocrity the cloak
behind which
I hide the worst thing of all, in the hope that it will not he discovered: a selfish
and cowardly heart, a dull and insensitive heart which knows no generosity of spirit
nor breadth of mind?

Have pity on my poor heart, magnanimous
and loving God,
God of blessed abundance.
Send Your Holy Spirit into my poor barren heart and fashion it. May your Spirit burn deep into my dead heart with the fire
and fear of Your judgment and let my heart awaken! May Your Holy Spirit fill it
with fear and trembling: let it shake off
the deathly grip of hopelessness
and resignation!

May Your Spirit make my heart humble
and contrite. Let it be filled with longing for Your sanctity and with confidence
in Your all-powerful grace! May Your Spirit fill my heart with the holy penitence
which is the beginning of the heavenly life
and with confidence in the invincible power of Your assistance, which brings courage
and readiness, cheerfulness and boldness
to the hearts which serve You.

Only if You give me Your grace, can I feel how much I need it. Only the gift
of Your mercy makes me recognize and confess that I am a poor sinner. Only Your love gives me the courage to hate myself without despairing.

You have had mercy on me, holy God.
Your Son has given His Body for me.
This is why I can call upon Your mercy.
He has tasted death,
which is the wages
of sin. (Rom. 6:23)

This is why I need not despair in the sinful darkness of my life. I venerate the mystery which shows the death of the Lord until
He comes. This is why I can be confident
when the weakness of the flesh and of sin
seems to crush me. Through Him
who was crucified, all is changed:
darkness into light, death into life, weakness into strength,
emptiness and loneliness into fullness
and closeness to You.

Through that sacrament in which our crucified and risen Lord is truly present now I pray You, eternal Father, I, a poor sinner,
pray You, Father of mercies
and God of all comfort: Have mercy on me,
O God, according to the great fullness
of your mercy, And my poor heart will praise your goodness for ever.



Karl Rahner, SJ - 1904-1984
German Jesuit


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