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Freedom from Fanaticism: Karl Rahner on the Nature of Christian Maturity

"Any number of things in our lives are borne along and done without being scrutinized. There is no avoiding this, and this is why we are never mature persons in every respect and in all the things that concern our lives, but rather in large measure we are persons who are manipulated by our biological constitution and by our society...


"Maturity is, first of all, the courage and the resolve to make decisions and to take responsibility for them even if they cannot be legitimized any longer by universal and universally accepted norms.

"The readiness to criticize oneself is also a part of maturity. Through self-criticism people become aware that they have to reckon in themselves with an inadequate level of information, with errors, with prejudices, with the frightful tyranny of public opinion, with elements of egoism which act as though they were something entirely natural, so that one can only too readily take a course of action and claim something as a morally justified simply because it is useful for one or convenient. Part of the true nature of maturity .... consists of what is commonly known in the religious sphere as wisdom, illumination, a grace-given moral instinct, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, things which for their part presume an openness of spirit, freedom from fanaticism, a willingness to learn, a mastery of one’s own aggressiveness, and patience.


"The Crucifixion" (2015) Autumn de Forest

"The mature person is the person who examines things with equanimity, who is docile to instruction, the person who also appreciates the importance of judgments on the part of experts and other legitimate authorities. A part of maturity is the courage to carry through an honestly made decision which cannot be put off indefinitely, even if it remains open to internal and external criticism...


"Reality has a much more complex structure than we are able to recognize at first glance. The patience to sustain limited truces of this kind and to wait calmly for a peace consisting of positive insight is often part of the maturity of faith required of educated Christians today...


"Maturity means courage for greater freedom and this freedom means greater responsibility. Courage is anything but mere whim and subjective capriciousness. Maturity in its authentic form makes human beings lonely in a certain sense. They have to make their decisions by themselves, without being told in advance what to do. When they are entrusted with their own problems in this way, they are not really left alone but are made to stand before God with the dictates of their own conscience, which is theirs alone and no on else’s. They have to pray, to seek divine light and guidance. They must have the courage to make use of this mature responsibility of their own and they must not whine that the world and the Church have left them alone.


"Maturity is the burden of responsibility, the sublime task in the Christian’s process of growth and a part of the unshackling of freedom to attain its full nature which the grace of God bestows."




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