new translation of adrienne's commentary on Mark
You need to read this commentary on the Gospel of Mark. Last fall, Ignatius Press released the translation of Adrienne von Speyr's commentary on Mark. For any theological study of her, this book is central to Adrienne's earlier thought and should belong to any Adrienne essential reading list, which must also include her commentary on John, Handmaid of the Lord, and Confession.
Mark: Meditations for a Community, translated by Michelle K. Borras, is special because of its time and method. When founding her secular institute, the Johannesgemeinshaft, Adrienne composed a series of foundational meditations on the Gospel of Mark to give the new community a a contemplative bedrock. Whereas Balthasar wrote the community's rule with his book Our Task: A Report and a Plan, Adrienne's meditations on Mark were to be the formal spiritual opening of the gate to the community's new life and mission. One of the members present at this gate opening was Frau Cornelia Capol who will tell you that this book is her favorite of all Adrienne's books.
The method of composition is special in that the vast majority of Adrienne works were dictated to Balthasar who later edited them (some more than others) into publishable books. We should remember that he founded the Johannesverlag for publishing these works. So unlike her other books, Mark was dictated to the community and these notes of the community (including Balthasar's initial notes as he tells us in the "Forward" of the book) became the text we now have before us. It appears too that Adrienne was involved in some of the initial editing of these notes. This information should give you an idea of these meditations' importance and also give you insight on how to read the commentary.
Let us think about that insight. Balthasar explained in the "Forward" that the "meditations are addressed to young people who have made a decision for the state of the evangelical counsels in a worldly profession, for a secular institute that was coming into being." In these meditates Adrienne will be using the Gospel of Mark to prepare the community for living in the world following the way of Jesus through the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. While of course Adrienne is not intent on composing an academic commentary, her interpretation of the text is all within the dogma of the Catholic Church and comes from her own contemplation. It is also not a full commentary on the Gospel. The passion narratives of Mark were not offered because we are told the initial meditations were given during Eastertide. If you are familiar with Mark this could be read as a major oversight of a proper spiritual commentary, but like all of Adrienne's writings the passion of Christ is never absent. The loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the foundation for one's mission to be in the world through the evangelical counsels.
As I come back to this book now in English having read it in German, I am reminded of how the book gives you continually new openings toward new paths of contemplation. Like a lot of Adrienne's writings, this is a hard book to read quickly. So many doors open as you walk down the hallway of the book. I hope you will read the book and get distracted into deep contemplation.
As a closing, here is a picture I took of Lac-de-Neuchatel from the town of Estavayer-le-Lac where these meditations were given and where the founding of the Johannesgemeinshaft began.