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Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises and the Modern Self

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Chapter Summary

For Karl Rahner, the prominent German Jesuit, Ignatius of Loyola's "immediate experience of God" in the Spiritual Exercises marks the beginning of the modern era in the church. In an article titled "Ignatius of Loyola Speaks to a Modern Jesuit", Rahner uses Ignatius's first person voice to present what is allegedly Ignatius's theology but is obviously Rahner's own interpretation of this theology. Rahner argues that Ignatius, together "with Luther and Calvin, is one of the great figures at the beginning of Christian modernity". Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises are modern because they enhance, to use radical and non-Rahnerian language, a potential priesthood of all believers, and because they offer to everyone an "immediate encounter of the individual with God". The history of Loyola's Spiritual Exercises is a history of both the emergence of a new sense of modern individual subjecthood and of the anxiety this novelty brought with it.

Keywords: Christian modernity; German Jesuit; Ignatius of Loyola; Spiritual Exercises



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