Filtering by Category: Handmaid of the Lord

freedom to love

We have been given the freedom to love.

On September 29, 2012, I gave a moving presentation on freedom in relation to suffering, love, and the writings of Adrienne von Speyr on Mary.

The word that begins the presentation is from a volunteer at Heart’s Home, Marian W., “I wanted the freedom to love.”

Freedom as a gift from God is the critcal word of the presentation, but then I use it in relation to Adrienne von Speyr’s understanding of Mary as the perfectly free woman to help us understand that freedom enables love.

Here’s the presentation. I hope it helps you to love freely.

why you should read Handmaid of the Lord for the month of may

May is Mary’s Month.
Why is May Mary’s month? Read Gerald Manley Hopkins’ poem The May Magnificat: “Her feasts follow reason / Dated due to season.”  The implications of all of this is that your month of May is really Mary’s month.  Don’t sneak away from her and sheepishly forget it’s her month.  You wouldn’t forget to call your mother on Mother’s Day, right?  Then, don’t forget to let May be Mary’s Month.

Many are the ways of letting this month be Mary’s.  I leave you to find those, but one thing I do recommend—read Handmaid of the Lord by Adrienne von Speyr (preview it here or buy it here).  Not only is it Adrienne’s finest one-volume work but it summarizes the whole of Adrienne’s thought and mission.  So one motivation for reading it would be to learn the meaning of Adrienne, but more importantly for this month, reading it would help you learn the meaning of Mary.

Here are the first sentences.  Tell me what you think in the comments section below:

“As a sheaf of grain is tied together in the middle and spreads out at either end, so Mary’s life is bound together by her assent” (7).

Mary’s assent to the Lord binds the whole of her life such that “From this assent her life receives its meaning and form and unfolds toward past and future” (ibid.). Mary’s meaning and form burst outward from her assent.  

“This single, all-encompassing act accompanies her at every moment of her existence, illuminates every turning point of her life, bestows upon every situation its own particular meaning and in all situations gives May herself the grace of renewed understanding.  Her assent gives full meaning to every breath, every movement, every prayer of the Mother of God” (ibid.)  
Everything that we understand Mary to be, do, and say finds her assent at its source.  But, the assent must be understood as one of freedom, “This is the nature of an assent: it binds the one who gives it, yet it allows him complete freedom in shaping its expression” (ibid.).  Her assent binds her to the Lord, yet it frees her to express herself dramatically much like the sheaf is bound by the cord around its middle but the sheaf bursts freely outward from the binding cord.

Do pick up and read Handmaid of the Lord and tell me what you think.


what is your favorite adrienne von speyr book?

As a growing number of works by Adrienne von Speyr are being translated, a richer picture of her thought is being painted in the English-speaking world.  No matter how many books of Adrienne von Speyr you have read, what book of hers is your favorite?

Please post it in the comments section below.

For those of you wondering about me, my favorite is Handmaid of the Lord.  You can see my other favorite von Speyr books here.

What is your favorite Adrienne von Speyr book?


Please forgive the delays on  I have recently moved to a new position as an assistant professor of Roman Catholic Systematic Theology at St. John's University in Queens, NY.  Development of this site will resume in earnest.

In celebration of the feast of the Birth of Mary (Sept. 8), please accept this quotation from Adrienne von Speyr's Handmaid of the Lord:

Geburt der Jungfrau by Francisco de Zurbaran"All forms of Christian fruitfulness--physical as well as spiritual, virginal as well as marital--are patterned on Mary.  They are all included in her as the perfected woman, in such a way that her perfections go out from her like rays and strike all the faithful regardless of age, gender or state of life, to develop in them in the most diverse ways.  For every individual and for every united group of people, a particular path from the Mother to them and from them to the Mother is visibly indicated.  A readiness for surrender on the part of the person is always assumed in this, but in such a way that it is included in the overflowing grace of the Mother, who has already surrendered herself.  It is she who possesses the fullness of fruitfulness, and we take part in it through a bashful wish, an attempt, a beginning at devotion and surrender.  Her fruitfulness and ours are related similarly to grace and merit: grace does not work without our cooperation, but this is itself an operation of grace and is included in its greater, sustaining sphere.  Therefore, we must see in her the mediatrix of self-surrender..." (von Speyr, Handmaid, p. 170).