Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Karl Rahner

German Jesuit and Theologian

"The theological problem today is the art of drawing religion out of a man, not pumping it into him. The art is to help men become what they really are."

"We are called upon to love in faith – to nurse our firm belief in the stars of sweet reasonableness that continue to shine behind the darkness of events which seem to us our and grim beyond our understanding."

"The concept “God” is not a grasp of God by which a person masters the mystery, but it is letting oneself be grasped by the mystery which is present and yet ever distant."

"In the last analysis we remain persons who must flee from ourselves and from the dark mystery of our threatening guilt in order to find our true selves in God. Whoever has understood the importance of this flight, this critical distancing of ourselves from ourselves, whoever has understood this knows that it comes about only by allowing oneself to be loved by an infinite and all-forgiving love, which is called God, and by believing, hoping and loving in this love."

"The conscience is not automatically infallible; it can easily make mistakes, and it is very difficult to distinguish its voice - the real voice of conscience - from the voice of precipitation, passion, convenience or self-will, or of moral primitiveness."

"Only one thing can give unity in the Church on the human level: the love which allows another to be different even when it does not understand him."

"Shall I say: Creator, Sustainer, Pardoner, Near One, Distant One, Incomprehensible One, God both of flowers and stars, God of the gentle wind and of terrible battles, Wisdom, Power, Loyalty and Truthfulness, Eternity and Infinity, you the All-Merciful, you the Just One, you Love itself?"

"Those who insist that mystical experience is not specifically different from the ordinary life of grace (as such) are certainly right."

"How often I have found that we grow to maturity not by doing what we like, but by doing what we should. How true it is that not every 'should' is a compulsion, and not every 'like' is a high morality and true freedom."

"In the midst of our lives, of our freedom and our struggles, we have to make a radical, absolute decision. And we never know when lightening will strike us out of the blue. It may be when we least expect to be asked whether we have the absolute faith and trust to say yes."

"Childhood is not a state which only applies to the first phase of our lives in the biological sense. Rather it is a basic condition which is always appropriate to a life that is lived aright."

"In the torment of the insufficiency of everything attainable we eventually learn that here, in this life, all symphonies remain unfinished."