FEAST OF FAITH
Approaches to a Theology of the Liturgy
By Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Translated by Graham Harrison
Published by Ignatius Press
On the Theological Basis
Of Prayer and Liturgy
The End of Religion?
1. A Contemporary Dispute
A few years ago those interested in the debate about Christianity could
have followed a characteristically confusing dispute which appeared in the
SUEDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG. The Dominican Father Anselm Hertz published an
article entitled "Have We Come to the End of All Religion?", in which he
presented a totally irresponsible picture of the course of history, albeit
one that has gained wide currency. In former times, so he maintained,
religion had been the public and private bond linking society and the
individual to God or the gods; it was manifest in pious conduct and in cultic
behavior. No doubt as a rhetorical ploy, he illustrates his argument (with
references to Augustine) by citing the prayer made by both sides in war for
victory or preservation. (Thus the reader is encouraged to associate the
issue of prayer with that of war.) His supposedly logical conclusion with
regard to the phenomenon of war is evidently meant to be of general
application: "The metaphysical, transcendental reference of all causes has
been dismantled; and if the cause can no longer be interpreted
metaphysically, a metaphysical view of the effects becomes superfluous
too." This general proposition is then reapplied to the concrete case,
yielding the characteristic aside: "Prayer for victory or preservation in
battle has become meaningless, even if now and then armies and weapons
continue to be blessed."
According to Fr. Hertz's scheme of history, private piety was able to
keep going for a long time after the demise of public religion. God was no
longer responsible "for the events of war as a whole but only for the fate of
his faithful ones." It is thus an easy matter to describe this phase of
religious history as schizophrenia and go on to make the reader aware that
the time for private piety, too, has run out. At this point he goes
beyond the topic of war which up to now provided the argument: a God who
"was primarily seen as a God of the weather, of protection and blessing" has
disappeared, and this means that a God of transcendence, standing over
against immanence, belongs "to the magical and mythical substrata of human
religiosity" which has been "nowadays largely overcome". Now the new form
of religion heaves in sight, the third phase of this view of history, in
which modern man is ensconced, finally, above all the errors and false starts
of the past: now the criterion of religion is no longer "in what forms man's
attachment to God is expressed, but whether man is ready and able to
transcend himself". No doubt all men may aspire to this readiness, this
capacity, especially as what it implies is left totally vague.
However, while the good Dominican was endeavoring to console the reader
for the loss of a personal God (albeit by too obvious a sleight-of-hand in the
matter of prayer in time of war), the political theorist Lobkowicz was
pulling the veil from his somewhat confused arguments. Not mincing matters,
he simply asked what this "self-transcendence" meant: "What good is it for
Hertz to urge us to transcend ourselves? A propos, it is noticeably those
who think they are too superior to talk simply and concretely of God who are
in the habit of talking about 'transcendence'. . . . Suppose I had achieved
this transcendence and come face to face with the 'ultimate ground of being'
which 'is manifest everywhere in the world, wherever man is searching for the
abiding meaning of his existence'. What then? Do I respectfully salute this
'ground of being' and simply return to the hardness of my daily life?--or
does this encounter become a fundamental experience causing me to see
everything differently and revolutionizing my behavior?" With refreshing
clarity Lobkowicz has expressed the fact that "every theology which no longer
facilitates petitionary prayer, and hence thanksgiving, is a fraud."
This drama, in which theology keeps talking although God who can speak
and listen has long ago submerged together with the myths, is fascinating in
the way it seems to spread, presenting itself quietly, piously, without the
least trumpeting of heresy, as the most natural thing in the world. It is
impossible to read without deep sadness the "prayer", expressive of this
approach, with which G. Hasenhuettl concludes his "Introduction to the
Doctrine of God"--a prayer which no longer addresses anyone, desperately
trying to convince itself that man still has access to meaning and love and
that the experience of this is "God" for man. Let us read a little of it to
see what "transcendence" means in this kind of theology--a somber dialogue
with the void, trying to keep up its courage and calling itself "prayer":
It was easy to pray when in simplicity of heart I
could still kneel down and know that there was a God in
heaven to see me. I could lay my anxieties and joys
before him and know that he heard me, even if I could not
always experience that he did.
Today I am part of a social order in which the
relation of lord to servant has finally been abolished,
and this means that I can no longer feel that God is Lord
and I am his unworthy servant. It would be meaningless
now to fall down in worship with eyes full of tears of
joy or sorrow. It is hard now to address God as "Thou",
for the only "Thou" I know is the human "Thou", in all
its ambivalence. I am a partner to my fellow men in
society, but God is not my partner. . . .
So I know, here and now, stripped of all illusions,
that I am affirmed, that there is meaning in the
absurdity of life, a meaning which brings happiness. I
am affirmed every time I give love, when I collaborate in
the making of the society of the future, for all its
provisional character. So, even today, I can cry out
like the psalmist thousands of years ago and say: Yes,
he is; I am affirmed; God is! And if you want to
dispense with the word "God", well and good, but keep its
place open, for the reality if signifies will come to
you, will force you to decide, and in love it will be
revealed to you and you will find yourself crying out:
"Yes, do you see? God is when men love one another!"
It often happens nowadays that we can no longer call
upon God because he is not the powerful Lord; similarly
we cannot live in hope of paradisal future since it is
only a creation of man's imagination. But we can thank
and pray, knowing, in all our brokenness, that today
itself gives us hope for the future; we live today
believing in new possibilities; today we can love, we
will love, for it is only today that we can experience
God, it is only today that he is near to us.
2. Where does the Bible stand?
We do not know what human experiences, sufferings and crises lie behind
words such as these; we must respect them: it is not our business to judge.
On the other hand, we are obliged to state firmly that this is not Christian
theology. For the prime characteristic of Christian faith is that it is
faith in God. Furthermore, that this God is someone who speaks, someone to
whom man can speak. The Christian God is characterized by revelation, that
is, by the words and deeds in which he addresses man, and the goal of
revelation is man's response in word and deed, which thus expands revelation
into a dialogue between Creator and creature which guides man toward union
with God. So prayer is not something on the periphery of the Christian
concept of God; it is a fundamental trait. The whole Bible is dialogue: on
the one side, revelation, God's words and deeds, and on the other side, man's
response in accepting the word of God and allowing himself to be led by God.
To delete prayer and dialogue, genuine two-way dialogue, is to delete the
We must insist, however, that the Bible in no way needs to be "rescued"
from a mythical world view which supposedly encapsulates it; it does not need
to be "helped" on the way towards its fuller development. The reverse is
the case: Greek philosophy had come to the conclusion that it was impossible
to pray to God, since the Eternal One, by being eternal, cannot enter into
time relations. This led to such an utter separation of philosophy and
religion, of reason and piety, that it heralded the end of ancient religion.
Later indeed it did try to rescue the old religions by acknowledging in them
a demythologized meaning, in the way many theologians today try to
demythologize dogma and sacrament. We can see in this endeavor the last
traces of nostalgia for the lost world of the religions--the attempt to save
what has been lost, even if its original meaning can no longer be
entertained. This romantic reaction may have been able to slow down the
decline of the gods, but it could not stop it. It simply lacked truth.
In this process, which involved all the questions raised in the current
debate, the Christian faith took up a unique position. With regard to the
concept of God, it held to the enlightened view of the philosophers: the
gods are illusory; they do not exist. What Christians call "God" is what the
philosophers call "being", "ground" or (also) "God". They are not afraid to
say that it is this God of the philosophers who is their God too. What is
unique about their position is that they attribute to the God of the
philosophers the fundamental trait of the gods of the old religions, namely,
the relationship with men, albeit now in an absolute form insofar as they
call God the Creator. This paradoxical conjunction constitutes the Christian
synthesis, its outstanding novelty; it is the source of the basic difficulty
and vulnerability of the Christian position in the history of religions:
only "The Absolute" can be God, but this very Absolute has the attribute of
being "relative", relationship, Creator and Revealer, or as later tradition
would put it, "Person", someone who addresses the creature and to whom the
creature can turn. This synthesis also distinguishes the Christian faith
from the "mythical" religions like those of Asia and connects it with Judaism
and Islam, although Christianity exhibits a unique and distinct form in its
belief in the Trinity. Ultimately all questions come back to the enormous
tension created by THIS synthesis; the modern situation has not really
introduced anything radically new. In the end, of course, whether this
synthesis can be affirmed depends, not on philosophical considerations, but on
whether one has been given the degree of spiritual tension which corresponds
to the tensions of the Christian idea of God.
3. Arguments against prayer
Consequently, in our efforts to work out the theological and
anthropological basis of prayer, it is not a question of proving the validity
of Christian prayer by the standards of some neutral reasonableness. It is a
case of uncovering the inner logic of faith itself, with its own distinct
reasonableness. Our first step, however, must be to ask briefly what are the
substantial reasons which seem to militate against prayer's reasonableness.
I observe three kinds, occurring naturally in countless variations and
a. Firstly there is the general rejection of a metaphysical way of
approach, corresponding to the main thrust of contemporary thought. Karl
Jaspers has clothed this rejection in a religious form in his philosophy; his
explicit aim is to continue religion without metaphysics, or rather to see
the farewell to metaphysics as a better way of legitimizing faith and
spirituality. From what we have said so far it should be clear that the
results of this approach are in fact very different from what is envisaged by
the Bible and the faith of the Church. For Christian faith it is essential
that it is addressing the God who really exists, the Creator of all things
and the ground of all being, and that this God has spoken to us. To reject
metaphysics is to reject creation and hence the Christian concept of God
itself. Conversely, now as always, it is the belief in creation which is the
strongest rational foundation for the Christian idea of God and its
metaphysical implications, as is very clear from J. Monod's consistent line of
b. Even if metaphysical questions are not rejected in principle, there
is a second objection to a God of revelation. This was already formulated in
the philosophy of the ancients, but it has acquired far greater force in the
modern scientific and technological world. It can be put like this: a
rationally constructed world is determined by rationally perceived causality.
To such a scheme the notion of personal intervention is both mythical and
repugnant. But if this approach is adopted, it must be followed
consistently, for what applies to God applies equally to man. If there is
only ONE kind of causality, man too as a person is excluded and reduced to an
element in mechanical causality, in the realm of necessity; freedom too, in
this case, is a mythical idea. In this sense it can be said that the
personalities of God and of man cannot be separated. If personality is not a
possibility, i.e., not present, with the "ground" of reality, it is not
possible at all. Either freedom is a possibility inherent in the ground of
reality, or it does not exist. Thus the issue of prayer is intimately linked
with those of freedom and personality: the question of prayer decides
whether the world is to be conceived as pure "chance and necessity" or
whether freedom and love are constitutive elements of it.
c. Finally, there is a real theological objection to a God who operates
"ad extra" in creation and revelation. Aristotle was the first to put it in
its most pointed form; it has always been behind the scenes in Christian
theology, and to this day it has probably not been fully dealt with.
According to this objection, eternity by its very nature cannot enter into
relationship with time, and similarly time cannot affect eternity. Eternity
implies immutability, the concentrated fullness of being, removed from the
vicissitudes of time. Time is essentially changeable and changing. If it
were to initiate anything new in eternity, eternity would have become time.
And if eternity were to get involved with the changing stream of time, it
would forfeit its nature as eternity. Here we cannot go into the question of
whether the concept of eternity employed in these undoubtedly logical trains
of thought is adequate. So far, the debate on that particular issue has not
come up with any convincing results; it needs to be continued. It will be
essential to probe more deeply into the concept of "relation" if progress is
to be made at this point; furthermore, instead of the negative "timelessness"
of eternity, we need to work out a concept of the creativity which eternity
exercises with regard to time.
There is a further aspect, which brings us directly to the Christian
answer. I would like to put forward this thesis: a non-trinitarian
monotheism can hardly meet Aristotle's objection. In the end it will simply
have to leave eternity and time as isolated opposites. But if they cannot
communicate with one another, that is, if there cannot be a reciprocal
influence between time and eternity, then eternity (if there is an eternity)
can be of no significance to men. For it has no power in the world, no
influence on human life. It is this feeling which caused the monotheism
underlying ancient religion to die out in favor of the idea of the "Deus
otiosus". There is such a God, people thought, but he is separated from man
by an unbridgeable chasm. Since has has no power with regard to man, he
cannot matter to him either. This feeling is fundamental to the separation
of philosophy and religion which we observed in ancient times. Thus in a
rational world, where faith is reduced to rational monotheism, the notion of
God simply fades away: it becomes irrelevant. The Enlightenment dissolved
the Christian mystery and left it with an ephemeral monotheism. Deism is not
a new creation of the Enlightenment: it is merely the return of the "Deus
Otiosus" of the mythical religions. It either invokes the old gods or
heralds the total rejection of the notion of God, or at least the rejection
of a praying religion, and the transition to a religiously tinged
"self-transcendence". This, it seems to me, is the deepest cause of the
crisis in theology which we have observed in men like Hertz and Hasenhuettl.
Initially what happens is that people become uncertain about the
christological and trinitarian mystery; its relationship to exegesis is felt
to be problematical; it is regarded as a Hellenistic scheme projected into
the universe of linear time, a necessary element of its age but now no longer
intelligible. But the retreat to a rationally presentable monotheism is
always merely the first step. Next comes the abandonment of the relational
categories of creation and revelation. Thus this God himself fades into the
concept of "transcendence". The possibility of prayer being "heard"
dwindles, and faith becomes "self-transcendence".
4. Life with a religious flavor but without a God who hears
Before turning to the positive side we must investigate a little more
closely what kind of religion is still possible under the presupposition of a
God who cannot "relate". In accord with those who follow Jaspers, we have
termed such a possibility the religion of "self-transcendence". History,
however, allows us to be more precise. In fact we can speak of two major
a. Aristotle ascribes significance to the prayer which fails to reach
God in that it "fosters what is best in us". At bottom this is identical
with what modern theologians mean by "self-transcendence". Karl Barth would
see it as that "religion" which is the very opposite of faith. It is strange
indeed: whereas two decades ago, in the enthusiasm for Bonhoeffer, people
pleaded for a religionless faith, now everything is reversed: everything now
tends toward the preservation of religion and a religious flavor to life,
even though its original content, faith, is represented as untenable. This
pseudo-religiosity cannot be expected to last, however, all the more since
its content is too unstable, following every wind of change because it is not
oriented to truth, being merely a matter of "relation", addressing a
something which does not reciprocate that relation. It is trying to be a
"relatio pura" which no longer contains anything that can be objectified.
But in reality this "pure relation" is spurious: relation without
reciprocity has no meaning.
b. By contrast, the path of the Asiatic religions seems logically
consistent and religiously profound: they start from the ultimate identity
of the "I", which is in reality not an "I", with the divine ground of the
world. Here prayer is the discovery of this identity, in which, behind the
surface illusion, I find my own, serene identity with the ground of all
being and thus am liberated from the false identity of the individualized
"I". Prayer is letting myself be absorbed into what I really am; it is the
gradual disappearance of what, to the separate "I", seems to be the real
world. It is liberation in that one bids farewell to the empirical,
experienced world with its chaos of illusion and enters the pure nothingness
which is truly divine.
There can be no doubt that this is a path of impressive proportions;
moreover, it appeals strongly to man's painful experience, which causes him
to wish to abandon what seems to be the illusory surface of being. Only a
radical abandonment of being, in favor of nothingness, seems to offer hope of
real freedom. It is no accident, therefore, that the way of Asia presents
itself as the way of salvation wherever the content of faith is relegated to
the level of an untenable piece of Western metaphysics or mythology yet
where there is still a deep spiritual and religious will. I believe that as
far as religion is concerned, the present age will have to decide ultimately
between the Asiatic religious world view and the Christian faith. I have no
doubt that both sides have a great deal to learn from each other. The issue
may be which of the two can rescue more of the other's authentic content.
But in spite of this possibility of mutual exchange, no one will dispute the
fact that the two ways are different. In a nutshell one could say that the
goal of Asiatic contemplation is the escape from personality, whereas
biblical prayer is essentially a relation between persons and hence
ultimately the affirmation of the person.
II. The Structure and Content of Christian Prayer
In Part Two our task is to develop the positive basis of Christian
prayer. As we have already said, it is not enough to approach it with
external proofs; we must attempt, at least in outline, to reveal its
1. The formal structure of Christian prayer
a. The basic reason why man can speak with God arises from the fact
that God himself is speech, word. His nature is to speak, to hear, to reply,
as we see particularly in Johannine theology, where Son and Spirit are
described in terms of pure "hearing"; they speak in response to what they
have first heard. Only because there is already speech, "Logos", in God can
there be speech, "Logis", to God. Philosophically we could put it like this:
the Logos in God is the onto-logical foundation for prayer. The Prologue of
John's Gospel speaks of this connection in its very first sentences: "In the
beginning was the Word, and the Word was in communication with God" (1:1)--as
a more precise translation of the Greek "pros" suggests, rather than the
usual "with God". It expresses the act of turning to God, of relationship.
Since there is relationship within God himself, there can also be a
participation in this relationship. Thus we can relate to God in a way which
does not contradict his nature.
b. In God, we have said, there is speech and the intercourse of
partners in dialogue. Man could speak with God if he himself were drawn to
share in this internal speech. And this is what the Incarnation of the Logos
means: he who is speech, Logos, in God and to God, participates in human
speech. This has a reciprocal effect, involving man in God's own internal
speech. Or we could say that man is able to participate in the dialogue
within God himself because God has first shared in human speech and has thus
brought the two into communication with one another. The Incarnation of the
Logos brings eternity into time and time into eternity. It is not that God
IS time, but that he HAS time. As a result of the Incarnation, human
speech has become a component in divine speech; it has been taken up,
unconfusedly and inseparably, into that speech which is God's inner nature.
c. Through the Spirit of Christ, who is the Spirit of God, we can share
in the human nature of Jesus Christ; and in sharing in his dialogue with God,
we can share in the dialogue which God IS. This is prayer, which becomes a
real exchange between God and man.
d. The locus of this identification with Christ, facilitated by the
Spirit, which necessarily implies that those involved are also identified
with one another in Christ, is what we call "Church". We could in fact
define "Church" as the realm of man's discovery of his identity through the
identification with Christ which is its source.
2. The content of Christian prayer
A fundamental word in the mouth of "the Son" is "Abba". It is no
accident that we find this word characterizing the figure of Jesus in the New
Testament. It expresses his whole being, and all that he says to God in
prayer is ultimately only an explication of his being (and hence an
explication of this one word); the Our Father is this same "Abba" transposed
into the plural for the benefit of those who are his.
Let us try to ascertain the content, the inner intentionality, of this
basic act of prayer (which is the Son's act of being, as Son, and which thus
is rooted in the ultimate ontological depths of reality). First we can say
that it is an act of consent. Its basic tenor is affirmatory. Essentially
it means this: I can affirm the world, being, myself, because I can affirm
the ground of my being, for this ground is good. It is good to BE. Josef
Pieper has interpreted the nature of the "feast", the festival (in general
terms) as affirmation of the world: whenever I am able to say Yes, I can
celebrate a feast; whenever I am able to say Yes, I am (to that extent) free,
liberated. Christian prayer holds the key to making the whole world a
celebration, a feast, namely, affirmation. Asiatic contemplation is not
affirmation but liberation through the renunciation of being. The marxist
approach, too, is not affirmation but outrage, opposition to being because it
is bad and so must be changed. Prayer is an act of being; it is
affirmation, albeit not affirmation of myself as I am and of the world as it
is, but affirmation of the ground of being and hence a purifying of myself
and of the world from this ground upward. All purification (every "via
negationis") is only possible on the rocklike basis of affirmation, of
consent: Jesus Christ is Yes (cf. 2 Cor 1:19f). Conversely, in the
purification which issues from this fundamental Yes we discover the active
power of prayer, which (a) yields a deep security in the affirmation of
being, as a foil to the hectic world of self-made man, yet which (b) is by no
means a flight from the world but rather entrusts people with the task of
purifying the world and empowers them to carry it out.
The next step is this: we can only say Abba together with Christ; only
in fellowship with him can we recognize the world's ground in a way which
invites our Yes. Apart from the Son, the Father remains ambivalent and
strange; it is Jesus who turns the scales of the Old Testament and makes its
message clear. "Patrocentrism", i.e., the Abba, presupposes the
christological character of prayer. It is the Son who guides us along
the path of purification which leads to the door of the Yes. So Christian
prayer depends on our continually looking to Christ, talking with him, being
silent with him, listening to him, doing and suffering with him.
Let us go a step further. We cannot reach Christ through historical
reconstruction. It may be helpful, but it is not sufficient and, on its own,
becomes mere necrophilia. We encounter him as a living Person only in the
foretaste of his presence which is called "Church". At this point we begin
to see how it may be possible to purify and accept the inheritance of Asia.
The latter is correct in refusing to see individual identity as an
encapsulated "I" over against a similarly encapsulated "Thou" of God,
ignoring the existence of other "I"s which are themselves related
individually and separately to this divine Thou. Here we see the limitation
of the kind of personalism which was developed between the Wars by Ebner,
Buber, Rosenzweig, E. Brunner, Steinbuechel and others. Here God is
portrayed in a way which conflicts with his nature as the ground of all
being. Partnership between God and man is conceived in I-Thou terms in a way
which deprives God of his infinity and excludes each individual "I" from the
unity of being. By comparison with God, man's identity is not simply in
himself but outside himself, which is why he can only attain it by
"transcendence". The Christian believer discovers his true identity in him
who, as "the firstborn of all creation", holds all things together (Col
1:15ff.), with the result that we can say that our life is hidden with him
in God (Col 3:3). Through identification with Christ I discover my own
entirely personal identity.
The Church as a whole presents the model of this kind of "identity".
The Church is so identified with Christ that she can be called his "body".
But this bodily unity is to be understood against the biblical concept of man
and wife: they are to become two in one flesh (Gen 2:24; Eph 5:30f.; cf. 1
Cor 6:16f.). It is a unity through the unifying power of love, which does
not destroy the two-ness of I and Thou but welds it into a profound oneness.
In finding my own identity by being identified with Christ, I am made one
with him; my true self is restored to me, I know that I am accepted, and this
enables me to give myself back to him. On this basis the theology of the
Middle Ages proposed that the aim of prayer (and the movement of being in
which it consists) was that, through it, man should become an "anima
ecclesiastica"--a personal embodiment of the Church. This is both identity
and purification, it is a surrendering of oneself and a being drawn into the
innermost nature of what we mean by "Church". In this process the language
of our Mother becomes ours; we learn to speak it along with her, so that,
gradually, her words on our lips become our words. We are given an
anticipatory share in the Church's perennial dialogue of love with him who
desired to be one flesh with her, and this gift is transformed into the gift
of speech. And it is in the gift of speech, and not until then, that I am
really restored to my true self; only thus am I given back to God, handed
over by him to all my fellow men; only thus am I free.
At this point everything becomes very practical: How can I learn to
pray? By praying in fellowship. Prayer is always a praying WITH someone.
No one can pray to God an an isolated individual and in his own strength.
Isolation and the loss of a basic sense of fellowship in prayer constitute a
major reason for the lack of prayer. I learn to pray by praying with others,
with my mother for instance, by following her words, which are gradually
filled out with meaning for me as I speak, live and suffer in fellowship with
her. Naturally I must be always asking what these words mean. Naturally,
too, I must continually "cash" these words into the small change of daily
life. And having done so, I must try to repossess them in exchange for my
small coin, little by little, as I draw nearer the fullness of the mystery
and become more capable of speaking of it. And that is precisely why it is
impossible to start a conversation with Christ alone, cutting out the Church:
a christological form of prayer which excludes the Church also excludes the
Spirit and the human being himself. I need to feel my way into these words
in everything I do, in prayer, life, suffering, in my thoughts. And this
very process transforms me. But I must not try to dispense with the example
of the words, for they are alive, a growing organism, words which are lived
and prayed by countless people.
Of course, this applies to all the various modes of prayer: repetition,
silence, speech, singing and so on. All the dimensions of the human psyche
are involved; we must never make the rational understanding the only
criterion. How could reason grow and develop if it regarded its own
premature limitations as normative!
3. Answers to prayer
Christian prayer is addressed to a God who hears and answers. But in
what way? What can the witness of the New Testament and the tradition of
faith tell us?
a. First let us examine what is meant to answers to prayer. Luke
transmits one of the Lord's words which puts it very precisely: "If you
then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much
more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?" (Lk
11:13) What we are to ask of God is the gift of the pneuma, his Spirit. God
gives himself. We are to ask no less than this. We find the same thing put
in different terms in Jesus' farewell discourses in John. Here the gift of
God promised unconditionally to those who ask is joy, that "full" joy which
is the expression and the presence of a love which has become "full" (Jn
16:24). The reality is the same in each case. Prayer, because of the
transformation of being which it involves, means growing more and more into
identity with the pneuma of Jesus, the Spirit of God (becoming an "anima
ecclesiastica"); borne along by the very breath of his love, we have a joy
which cannot be taken from us.
b. But how are we to conceive of God answering prayer? Put in the
briefest possible form, we can say something like this: in Jesus, god
participates in time. Through this participation he operates in time in the
form of love. His love purifies men; through purification (and not
otherwise) men are identified and united with him. Or we could say this: as
a result of God's participation in time in Jesus, love becomes the causality
operating in the world to transform it; in any place, at any time, it can
exercise its influence. As a cause, love does not vitiate the world's
mechanical causality but uses and adopts it. Love is the power which God
exercises in the world. To pray is to put oneself on the side of this
love-causality, this causality of freedom, in opposition to the power of
necessity. As Christians, as those who pray, this is our very highest
Footnotes to Chapter 1
 Published as N. Lobkowicz and A. Hertz, AM ENDE ALLER RELIGION?
EIN STREITGESPRAECH (Zurich 1976).
 Ibid., 21.
 Ibid., 26.
 Ibid., 27. Characteristic is the following: "Not only has God
many names; there is also a wealth of possibilities of communication with
him. Perhaps this is something we have yet to learn if we are to realize
that, in spite of the decline of the traditional religions, we are nearer to
God than we think."
 Ibid., 34.
 Ibid., 17. It must be mentioned here that, at the conclusion of
the debate, Hertz seems to make large concessions to Lobkowicz, most
noticeably when he says: "I do believe that this God whom Jesus proclaimed,
who bears good will to all men, can be our partner in prayer when we speak to
him of our joys, sorrows and anxieties. This is no mythical God but the God
who reveals himself in Jesus Christ. . . ." However, this does not square
with the overall impression he gives, where the received Christian faith is
completely absorbed into the general history of religion, causing Lobkowicz
rightly to comment on Hertz's initial explanations: "In the same breath you
speak of the Christian faith in God, the Greek oracles and the Etruscan
divination practice of inspecting entrails" (61). Even in the conciliatory
conclusion, however, the personal God disappears into the mist--and
throughout the discussion he had never achieved the status of a God who
acts--when Hertz says: "Is it not enough to believe that in and through
Jesus Christ the 'Kingdom of God' has come to us and that we men are called
to collaborate in bringing about this kingdom of peace and love? God wills
the salvation of all men, and in his kindness he will bring to a happy
conclusion the good he has begun in us" (84). In plain language this means
that it is up to us to work for a better future; God is allotted a modest
place in it insofar as he will eventually take a hand too.
 G. Hasenhuettl, EINFUEHRUNG IN DIE GOTTESLEHRE (Darmstadt 1980),
242f. For a systematic presentation of the underlying rationale, cf. G.
Hasenhuettl, KRITISCHE DOGMATIK (Graz 1979). A central axiom of the
GOTTESLEHRE: "God is a predicate of man, says something about man in the
area of relational communication" (132). For a detailed analysis of
Hasenhuettl's position, cf. F. Courth, "Nur ein anderer Weg der Dogmatik? Zu
G. Hasenhuettls kritischer Dogmatik" in TThZ 89 (1980): 293-317. Cf. also
the reviews of P. Huenermann, in Theol. Revue 76 (1980): 212-25 (with a
response from Hasenhuettl, 409f.); W. Beinert in Theol. prakt. Quartalschr.
128 (1980): 304; W. Loeser, in Theol. Phil. 55 (1980): 616f.
 Thus it is one of Hertz's false alternatives (op. cit. 26f.) when
he gives the impression that one must either maintain an unbridgeable gulf
between transcendence and immanence or consign both of them to a philosophy
of "transcendence". In fact, as we can see clearly in the case of Jaspers,
"transcendence" thus becomes totally inaccessible, whereas an understanding
of God which includes creation and revelation involves the reciprocal
relationship and union of "immanence" and "transcendence".
 In connection with these remarks on the ancient world's notion of
God, cf. my own VOLK UND HAUS GOTTES IN AUGUSTINS LEHRE VON DER
(Munich 1954); also in brief my INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIANITY (London 1969,
New York 1979), 94-104.
 J. Monod, ZUFALL UND NOTWENDIGKEIT. PHILOSOPHISCHE FRAGEN
MODERNEN BIOLOGIE (Munich 1971). In its consistent thought this book seems
to me to be one of the most important works contributing to a deeper dialogue
between science and theology. It carefully presents the current state of
scientific knowledge and conscientiously uncovers the philosophical
presuppositions and, in doing so, gets beyond the usual blurring of issues.
Cf. the foolish and wrongheaded approach of A. Dumas and O. H. Pesch on
"creation", in J. Feiner and L. Vischer, NEUES GLAUBENSBUCH (Freiburg 1973),
430-39. Here they say that "concepts like selection and mutation are
intellectually more honest than that of creation" (433). "Creation is thus
an unreal concept" (435). "Creation refers to man's vocation" (435).
Corresponding to this reinterpretation of the concept of creation, the
teaching on faith lacks any element of belief in creation; the pages referred
to come from the chapter on "History and Cosmos", included in the area of
ethics (part 4, Faith and the World). From a historical point of view this
deletion of faith in creation is gnostic, strictly speaking; cf. J.
Ratzinger, KONSEQUENZEN DES SCHOEPFUNGSGLAUBENS (Salzburg 1980). Cf.
the thorough treatment of the doctrine of creation in J. Auer, DIE
WELT--GOTTES SCHOEPFUNG (Regensburg 1975).
 For a presentation of the problem (albeit not very convincing when
it comes to a solution), cf. M. Maas, UNVERAENDERLICHKEIT GOTTES (Paderborn
1974). There are important clues toward a new approach in H. U. von
Balthasar, THEOLOGIE DER GESCHICHE (new ed. Einsiedeln 1959); id., DAS
IM FRAGMENT (Einsiedeln 1963); valuable remarks on a correct understanding of
eternity in E. Brunner, DOGMATIK I (Zurich 1953), 282-88. Cf. the book
referred to in note 16 below.
 Cf. the section in this book "On the Theological Basis of Church
Music", note 29.
 As Hasenhuettl expressly says; cf. the passages mentioned by
Courth, op. cit. (note 9 above), 299f.
 In a publication of this kind I need not given an exhaustive list
of available literature on the philosophy and theology of prayer. As an
example there is the penetrating book by H. Schaller, DAS BITTGEBET. EINE
THEOLOGISCHE SKIZZE (Einsiedeln 1979).
 Cf. H. U. von Balthasar, THEOLOGIE DER GESCHICHTE, 31-39.
 J. Pieper, ZUSTIMMUNG ZUR WELT. EINE THEORIE DES FESTES (Munich
 Thus we can oppose Harnack's well-known verdict in DAS WESEN DES
CHRISTENTUMS that "the Father alone, not the Son, belongs to the gospel which
Jesus preached". Harnack is blind to the indirect Christology of Jesus'
words, deeds and prayers.
 Cf. on identity and identification, J. Ratzinger and K. Lehmann,
MIT DER KIRCHE LEBEN (Freiburg 1977).
 Cf. the sections "On the Theological Basis of Church Music" and
"One the Structure of the Liturgical Celebration" in this volume.
 Cf. J. Ratzinger, DOGMA UND VERKUENDIGUNG (Munich 1973), 119-32;
H. Schaller, op. cit. (note 16 above), 167-90.
(C)1986 Ignatius Press, All Rights Reserved, Used with permission
To order a copy, send $8.95 + $2.00 P/H to Ignatius Press, 15 Oakland
Avenue, Harrison, NY 10528 or contact Ignatius Press in the CRNET
Courtesy of Catholic Resource Network, 1-703-791-4336
Provided by Catholic Information Network BBS (CIN), San Diego, 619-287-5828