One Light Is Enough
He loved ice cream. In fact, two weeks before he died, he invited his friends down to the corner store for a treat. He wrote many books, and many other people wrote commentaries on his writings. Serious readers found that any one of his German sentences filled most of the page. In order to grasp what he was saying, one had to hold one's head on both sides, start at the beginning of the sentence and trudge through many complicated words to get to the end of the sentence.
Still, Karl Rahner stated that his little book on prayer was just as important to him as all his other scholarly works.
In this book(1), Fr. Rahner talks about getting in touch with that shy little voice in the depths of one's heart. He tells the reader that we are to pray everyday and to make everyday life a prayer. If we return to prayer, again and again, we will never be completely overcome by what everyday life brings.
We are to pray our happiness, our joys, our friendships. We are to pray our sadness, our disappointments, our frustrated plans, our moods, our tears, as well as our bodily aches and pains. This means that somehow we are to touch and experience God in these events that come upon all of us.
On his 80th birthday, Fr. Rahner, with a friend, made a mini pilgrimage to the former experiences of his life, including Schloss Trazberg, where he had been put under house arrest after the Nazis had closed the Innsbruck Faculty of Theology, in 1939. In a mining town near there, he and his friend visited a parish church where dozens of votive candles were burning in front of an image of Mary. As they approached this setting, Fr. Rahner took a coin from his purse and lit a candle. His friend began to do the same. Fr. Rahner beckoned the other to refrain from lighting another candle. "One light is enough," he said.(2)
There is a sense that life really does not ask big accomplishments from any one of us. Just faithfully showing up each day, with all our well-meant needs and desires, is indeed lighting a candle. Truly, this one light is enough.
1. Karl Rahner, S.J., On Prayer, Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1993. 2. Ibid., "The Light of a Life," Leo J. O'Donovan, S.J., p.5.Sister Mary Jo Loebig, O.C.D.