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Friday, May 13, 2011

Karl Rahner and the Innsbruck mosaic

I'm at the end of Karl Rahner and Ignatian Spirituality by Philip Endean SJ and there's an intriguing bit about a mosaic in Innsbruck. I managed to find a photo of the mosaic (see bottom of post) but first, here's what Fr. Endean wrote about it (pp. 259-60) ......


In the chapel of the house in Innsbruck where Rahner lived during his most productive years, a visitor is confronted by a large wall mosaic. At the centre stands Christ, dressed in priestly vestments and carrying the cross, with his heart openly displayed. On the right is Thomas Aquinas, holding the Summa theologiae; on the left we find Ignatius, with his Constitutions leaning against his cloak.

Rahner was not the sort of theologian who took works of art as a starting-point, but this mosaic can nevertheless stand as an illustration of Rahner's approach to Christianity. Rahner's writings on the Sacred Heart depend relatively little on the idea of reparation so strongly emphasized in the mainstream devotional tradition. For Rahner, the term 'heart' points, rather, to a metaphysical truth about human identity, about being a 'spirit in world'. Our access to our own 'hearts', our self-presence, comes only in and through our interactions, through our presence to others. When devotion to Christ centres on the symbol of his heart, this reminds us that Christ's revelation occurs only in and through his relationships with us. The Jesus we read of in the gospel must become the cosmic Christ who incorporates us. Thus Christian tradition remains permanently to be continued.

Thomas Aquinas and Ignatius have their place in the picture, because both developed articulations of Christianity particularly respectful of this fundamental principle. If the word of God is proclaimed in terms of Thomas's austere scholasticism or of Ignatius's terse requests 'to reflect and draw profit', then the event is completed only when the hearer responds, participating in the mystery in ways that we cannot predict in advance .....


Here below is a detail from the photo of the mosaic (click to enlarge), kindly provided by Joe Koczera SJ at The City and the World. You can visit his post which incorporates his photo here.


Blogger pendean said...

Thanks for highlighting a piece of writing that means a lot to me; I wrote most of my book in the Jesuitenkolleg. And thanks too for the headsup on where the picture can be found. I was working in the years before digital cameras, and no serious photo of the mosaic existed. I'll get in touch with Joe.

2:26 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Fr. Endean,

Thanks for the comment. I liked your book very much :)

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Victor said...

Crystal, That is a very interesting and lovely photo of a mosaic but I know nothing much about these two Saints and their book and/or the two angels. If only I knew the artist but no, so I can't ever hope to pick his or her brain and ask so I must stick to what my Jesus Cell might be able to tell me about "IT"

My Jesus seems to point to Thomas on His left saying this good man is asking me if "IT" is ok to follow every thing in this book called Summa theologiae.

Jesus is certainly not trying to ignore the man on His right, Thomas Aquinas, who appears to be saying Lord Jesus, "IT" is You that I want to follow and not this book and as You can see, My Constitutions is leaning against my cloak and I will certainly pick "IT" UP and follow "IT" instead, if You want me to do so Lord?

I hear ya! If only some of your imaginary friends from your hotel of fools would help then we could solved this riddle with no problem. Right Victor? :)

All kidding aside crystal, we can think what we like while imagining that God will agree with this and that and with all respect due, we can never hope to understand God in this life time and as far as I'm concerned, whatever Jesus has in store for me in the next life is all right so I don't need to worry about "IT" if you know what I mean?


it's 'radical rupture', not 'radical rapture'

3:51 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Victor :)

9:54 PM  

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