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new translation of adrienne's commentary on Mark

Transient

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.

You can find it at Ignatius Press paperback and ebook and at any other major online book seller.

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.

View of Lac-de-Neuchatel from Estavayer-le-Lac

View of Lac-de-Neuchatel from Estavayer-le-Lac

my book Heaven Opens to be published next year

Adrienne von Speyr 1936 focused.jpg

Deo gratias. My book Heaven Opens: The Trinitarian Mysticism of Adrienne von Speyr will be published by Fortress Press and will be available early 2014. Yes, this is a little bit of a long wait, but it will be well worth it. This book will be the first significant book in English on Adrienne von Speyr.

Please stay tuned here for all of the details for how you can get the book to learn more about Adrienne von Speyr's theology of the Trinity.

In the book, you will find a comprehensive presentation of Adrienne von Speyr's mystical visions of the Trinity placed in constructive dialogue with the tradition of Catholic trinitarian theology. The goal of the book seeks to help develop this tradition, to aid your understanding of Adrienne, and more importantly, to guide you in your encounter with the Trinity--the beginning and the end of all love.

My thanks to Fortress Press for accepting the book manuscript and working with me to promote this important book that will help in their mission to make Adrienne von Speyr known.

Thank you for all your support through reading the vonspeyr.net journal, commenting on my posts, and corresponding with me. You've made this book into something better than it ever could have been. Thank you.

In the meantime, let's read some more Adrienne.

"Our Father. Your Fatherhood did not stop when You created us; it remains our lifelong companion; it is not subject to randomness but is steady like nothing else. You were, are, and will remain: the Father, and we have the privilege of calling You that in simplicity and love. But at the same time, we include all the requests that a child, in whatever situation he finds himself, can bring before his father. We stammer, full of care, afraid that You might not understand; and we speak out, calmly, confidently, knowing that You are always ready to receive us, that You have time for all our concerns; and we cry with our last ounce of strength, and what we want is so enormous that even that cry falls short of it. You remain the same, O Father.

"We want to have Your name always on our lips, but it is often smothered by everything that is not You, that is probably just us, us children of ingratitude and unreason. But You know how we are, You are in us, even when we refuse to recognize it. Your greatness, Your unity, fill what we like so much to explain with many words, although we do not have a clear view of it: our inmost being. And this inmost being, our ultimate I-hood, is what is united eternally with You through our voice, for it needs neither to seek nor to find. Despite all sin, it remains intact; despite all external doubts, it does not waver. In all certainty it is tentative and questioning, perhaps still foreign to us, because it consists almost too much of only what is most intimate, ultimately of what comes from You and goes to You, knowing just one word: Our Father.

"Being Father, you give everything, and we receive everything. You do ask for an account, but there is never a final calculation: goes on into your Love."

(Adrienne von Speyr, Lumina and New Lumina, p. 108-109)

the jesuits still love adrienne

A while back, I wrote about how more and more Jesuits are reading Adrienne. They are also writing about her too. Fr. John O'Brien, S.J., has some good introductory words about Adrienne for his blog's readers.

I particularly like this insight:

"Adrienne’s mystical insights all have an Ignatian bent, and are strongly centered on the desire to give oneself radically to follow Christ. ... But it is the humble figure of Mary that grounds Adrienne’s writing in the day-to-day world of the here and now."

Yes, truly Mary helps us live radically in her son and thereby also helping us articulate that living in Christ in the world here and now.

adrienne for today

Today is the forty-fifth anniversary of the death of Adrienne von Speyr. In remembrance of her, I've written a piece that has appeared in two of my favorite blogs. The first is Land of Compassion (english) and the second is Terre de Compassion (french).

I hope you will take some time today to think of the great gift given to us in Adrienne.

Maybe you could pray this novena or this prayer below.

Prayer for Constancy

Lord our God, give your children ready perseverance in loving you. You know all too well what we are like: moved by your goodness when it comes to us unexpectedly, dismayed by your severity when it reveals itself to us with its demands.

When we live through happy or hard days, we think of you, seeing what comes from you; but in the monotony of every day we grow lukewarm, we forget you, we keep you far from our thoughts and from our action, as if we needed you only on the eventful days, as if we wanted to have you at our disposal

We beg you, change this, let us turn back while there is time, act decisively, tear out our tepidity, replace it with fire or cold or with both at once, only, allow your Spirit to blow in us.

Destroy everything that is not yours, And let us think no thought whose center is not you, so that by this destruction we are compelled to a livelier love.

We do not demand of this love that it be painful or delightful, only that it be yours, forevermore.

Lord, give us the grace to offer you again and again what you have given us. Only in this way will we unprofitable servants not remain fruitless.

Bless your love in us, so that it may yield the fruits that you desire. Amen.

May Adrienne pray for us

new article on balthasar and speyr

A journal article of mine is now available online through the theology journal New Blackfriars. My article called “Hans Urs von Balthasar and Adrienne von Speyr’s Ecclesial Relationship” explores the double mission charism of their relationship.

Since I analyze this complex relationship theologically through Paul’s theology of charism, I think I’m able to find a more appropriate way to see the mutual influence of these two. In the article, I analyze a couple alternative assessments of this relationship in order to highlight my understanding of it. I appreciate all of the attempts to see von Balthasar on his own apart from von Speyr’s influence. I have learned a lot from these attempts. And yet, in my reading of these two, I find so much more interpretive power by considering them both mutually influencing each other. For me, it is hard to see von Balthasar’s method as articulated in his important article “Theology and Sanctity” without seeing it lived out in his ecclesial cooperation with von Speyr. What is missing in this article is a more exhaustive comparative textual analysis of these two figures. My article only attempts to give a theo-logical interpretive for their ecclesial relationship. I hope you will see this article brings us one step closer to seeing the great gift God has given to the Church through von Balthasar and von Speyr.

Here’s the abstract:

Many systematic theologians acknowledge the relationship between Hans Urs von Balthasar, the significant twentieth-century Catholic theologian, and Adrienne von Speyr, the Swiss physician and Catholic mystic. There is, however, difficulty understanding the actual character and purpose of this relationship. I argue in this paper that Paul’s theology of charism, particularly dealing with double mission charisms, will help us understand correctly the ecclesial relationship between von Balthasar and von Speyr. After an overview of von Balthasar’s statements regarding the relationship and the three main interpretations of it, I offer my own interpretation of this relationship by using Paul’s theology of charism. The ramifications will be a reinterpretation of central aspects of von Balthasar’s theology including but not limited to his theology of Holy Saturday, Trinitarian theology, and theology of the communion of saints.

The print edition of the article may take some time to become available. The editors informed me that it may be in a print issue next year. But with the availability of online early editions, I chose to spread the love now. As with most academic journals, you will need to access the online edition through your academic library in order to read the full article. My thanks to the editors of the New Blackfriars for such a quick turn around on this article.

Please let me know what you think of the article. Enjoy.

iconographer of adrienne von speyr

The Catholic Iconographer, Fr. William McNichols, S.J., sent me the most beautiful hand-painted icon of Adrienne von Speyr. I hope you will visit his website www.fatherbill.org and consider purchasing one his glorious icons.

Here’s what I have learned about Adrienne von Speyr by praying with this icon.

* wisdom and light obtain a special maturity of radiance in Adrienne’s later years
* true joy comes from surrendering all out of compassion
* prayer includes others even when praying in solitude
* do not let go of the mission - there you will find your identity

More will come. This window into heaven has much to teach me. I hope you’ll visit the beautiful icons written by Fr. McNichols at www.fatherbill.org.

Thank you, Iconographer of Adrienne, for this generous gift. May God bless you and your work.

our faith is not our own

Adrienne von Speyr has a quite profound understanding of faith that overcomes the usually traps. For Adrienne, our faith is not our own, but is God’s own vision of himself shared with humanity.

“The gift the triune God gives to man in the grace of faith may indeed have a similarity to the reciprocal vision of the three Persons in God and to the incarnate Son’s vision of the Father, but it is the sort of seeing that befalls man in his pilgrim state; it is a relationship that God establishes on his own terms and gives to man, and at the same time allows the believer to give in return.” Adrienne von Speyr, Light and Images, pg. 39

Faith is our entrance into the triune vision of God as God sees his triune self. In this participatory realm of vision, room is created for response. We could call this response assent or even works, but all faith is within the sovereignty of God’s grace. So the assent or work is already within the realm of saving faith, which is already within the realm of God’s own vision of himself.

To see as God sees himself … this is faith and this faith is not our own.

e-adrienne - digital editions of adrienne's works

As you may not have realized, the digitial revolution has officially begun. The clear sign—Adrienne von Speyr’s books are now available on the Kindle. The texts available are Book of All Saints, Confession, The Boundless God, To the Heart of the Mystery of the Redemption, and The Christian State of Life. You can also find these e-books at Ignatius Press too. You will also find that Ignatius offers an audio book of Three Women and the Lord

NB: I receive no sponsorship from Amazon, Ignatius Press, or any other publisher of Adrienne von Speyr’s books. I intend to keep it that way. Mind you, no publisher has asked. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Happy e-reading your e-adrienne.

i submitted my book manuscript today

I submitted my book manuscript today. It is a comprehensive interpretation of Adrienne von Speyr’s vision of the Trinity. I focused instensely on the one critical thing in Adrienne’s thought. This one critical thing, her trinitarian mysticism, must be at the center of receiving what is true, good, and beautiful about her writings.

I will let you know the progress of the book manuscript as it advances through the publishing stages. You will know first when the book is available. Like you, I hope it will be published soon, but so many factors and the hard work of good people go into the process. It can take some time. Still, I will be waiting in hope.

And as I wait, please look for more frequent postings here at the best place on the web to learn about Adrienne von Speyr.

where can you write a dissertation on adrienne?

If you would like to do a dissertation on Adrienne von Speyr, I wanted to let you know that Dr. Philip Zeigler at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland is very interested in advising research on Adrienne von Speyr. A scholar of twentieth-century Reformed theologians, Dr. Zeigler is well versed in Karl Rahner and Hans Urs von Balthasar from his studies at the University of Toronto. He is also helping the University of Aberdeen library collect von Speyr’s complete works.

Scotland … a beautiful place for Adrienne von Speyr research.

Thanks to Ms. Lois Miles for this information.

adrienne von speyr on the meaning of suffering

Recently, I spoke with the new international volunteers working with Heart’s Home to prepare them for their compassionate service to those who are suffering.

My thesis for the presentation is this:

“Things have meaning only to the extent that they lead to God, come from him and can be placed at his service” (Adrienne von Speyr, Mystery of Death, p. 47).

Two parts make up this presentation on Adrienne von Speyr and the meaning of suffering. The first part below is an overview of Adrienne’s life and thought especially as it relates the meaning of personhood and how suffering fits within her understanding of being a person in relation to God and others. Here is part one:

I hope you enjoyed that one. We go deeper yet.

The second part of the presentation below is a discussion of the chapter “Death as God’s Action” from Adrienne’s book The Mystery of Death. Here is part two:

I hope you enjoyed that one too.

For those interested in a tangent about how I’ve come to these insights about Adrienne on the meaning of suffering, please continue to read on.

I’ve been working on several major research projects on the meaning of suffering through the academic conference Making Sense of Suffering with the scholar community Inter-Disciplinary.Net. I presented at their Prague conference last year on Balthasar and the Meaning of Suffering. A version of the presentation is in the conference proceedings eBook Making Sense of Suffering: Theory, Practice, and Representation. I will be presenting at their next conference on Adrienne and the Meaning of Suffering, which I will post here when it becomes available. Additionally, if you are really interested in the postmodern debate on the meaning of suffering, I have recently co-edited a book on it, which is will be available in a few months.

Thank you for being such loyal readers of this website. I’m grateful for your comments and emails. Blessings to you all.

book review: to the heart of the mystery of redemption

A new Hans Urs von Balthsar book is out that includes a few selections from Adrienne von Speyr (emphasis on a few).

To the Heart of the Mystery of Redemption (THMR), which you can find here, is actually a book of four authors in one. The shortest contribution comes from von Speyr.

To see von Speyr in print is always good (let us remember the Speyrian phrase “always more”). This book is actually a sketch of von Balthasar’s soteriology with a long essay from Jacques Servais, S.J., a scholar of von Balthasar and von Speyr as well as the director of the Casa Balthasar.

Henri de LubacHenri de Lubac, teacher and friend to von Balthasar compiled the original collection, which were two conferences von Balthasar gave to priests in Paris. After these conferences there are seven one-page selections from von Speyr, mostly from Objectiv Mystik and Passion nach Matthaeus. It is fascinating that de Lubac would have included von Speyr in this collection. In the introduction, he says that “there is no better initiation into this mystery than the experience received from the mystics, who are no more lacking to the present generation than to earlier ones” and this why von Speyr’s selections were added because “They will introduce the reader into that participation in the mystery of the redemption” (p. 12). I have always wondered about de Lubac’s understanding of von Speyr. Now we know more.

Fr. Servais was responsible for releasing the book again in French and included with it his essay on Balthasar’s soteriology from 2005. The book has now come to us in English by the translating work of Anne Englund Nash. This book has actually been touched by many hands.

Immer mehr (always more) Adrienne is good. Yet, this book gives us very, very little. True, these are words not yet read by English-only readers of von Speyr. But, after the bold release of Book of All Saints (Nachlassbaende vol. 1), this is disappointing to von Speyr readers.

Let me be clear. The book is not a disappointment. Von Balthasar is at his most highly associative in these conferences. You see his mind at work as he leads you through multiple sources in order to provide you with an elevated ground to consider the whole landscape of soteriology in the modern age. Even though you will need some background in von Balthasar to work through his thoughts here, he is always worth reading.

Still … (how to say this gently) … the English-speaking world needs more substantive von Speyr than this book. What about offering these: Subjective Mystik, Objective Mystik, Markus, and the very important Apokalypse (her commentary on the Book of Revelation)? When the English theological world reads these, Speyrian theology will really blossom.

Yes, read THMR if you are interested in de Lubac, von Balthasar, or Servais. You should know, it is not required reading for those interested in von Speyr. Instead, pick up John, Confession, Handmaid of the Lord, or Book of All Saints. Better yet, read her auf Deutsch. Sie werden nicht enttäuscht sein.

Here is a brief exerpt from von Speyr’s commentary on Matthew 5:39 in Bergpredigt:

“On the Cross the Lord does not show merely that he allows his grace to flow visibly over all … but he also shows that he can make use of all they have accomplished for him. And thus that he does not suffer his Passion simply for sins, but that he is in a mysterious compassion with all believers. … He assumes all the trials of their faith, of their suffering, and of their availability and opens wide to them the grace that flows from the Cross” (THMR, p. 78).

Immer mehr, please.

why the jesuits love adrienne

Here’s how I see it. When you read Adrienne von Speyr, you will be lead sooner or later to Ignatius of Loyola. When you read Ignatius and you are looking for living this contemplative action today, you might be lead sooner or later to Adrienne.

The blessings of this website is that you contact me. And many of you are Jesuit, either spiritually or actually.

Rev. Raymond Gawronski, S.J.

I love this because a Jesuit, Rev. Raymond Gawronski, S.J., introduced me to Adrienne. He was my dissertation director while I was at Marquette University and is now the director of spiritual formation at the St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver, CO. You might recongize him from this DVD series on the Spiritual Exercises.

What I am seeing (anecdotally) is that Jesuit scholastics are introducing each other to Adrienne. And here’s the important point, she is helping them to be more Ignatian!

In her writings, we learn contemplative action grounded in scripture and raised high by the theology of prayer and the saints. May she continue to guide the Jesuits into ever deeper contemplation and action.

_____________________________________________________

Ignatius taught Adrienne this prayer:

CORPUS CHRISTI, adoro te tribus sub tuis formis,
Sub forma divina, simili deo patri,
Sub forma hominis, sacrificii et crucis,
Sub forma hostiae rotundæ, sine principio et fine.

Ubi es, est amor sempiternus,
Omni tanges quæ creavit pater,
Omnia quæ passus est filius,
Omni quæ vivificat spiritus.

Amorem tui cum gratia mihi dones, 
ac dives sum satis 
nec quidquam ultra posco.
Amen.

(from With God and With Men: Prayers, trans. Adrian Walker [San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995], p. 50)

My translation:

BODY OF CHRIST, I adore you under your three forms,
under the form of God, equal to God the Father,
under the form of man, of sacrifice and of the Cross,
under the form of the round Host, without beginning or end.

Wherever you are, is love eternal,
all things that the Father created, 
all that the Son suffered,
all that the Spirit vivifies.

Give me your love with grace,
then I am rich enough
and wish for nothing further. 
Amen.

how to read the book of all saints

Last year, the publication of the Book of All Saints in English caused quite a lot of excitement. I received many emails from people asking for more information about this fascinating, bewildering book. Here is a collection of advice that I have given over the past year on how to read Adrienne von Speyr’s Book of All Saints.
  • Resist the tendency to read this as a reference book on your favorite saints. Often you will look them up to confirm or deny Adrienne’s views of your favorite saints’ spirituality. This book, however, is about prayer. Or better it teaches you how to pray like all the saints. When (not if) you read the whole book, you will discover you have learned a lot about deep, contemplative prayer. Rather than learning a lot about a lot of saints, you will find that above all you have learned to pray deeply and intimately. In many ways, I think we are incapable of proving or disproving Adrienne’s judgments of a particular saint’s prayer. What we read are her teachings about the communion of saints as a deep, multi-layered communion of prayer.

 

  • The Book of All Saints is the first book of Adrienne’s posthumous works. When Adrienne dictated these prayer portraits, it was not meant to be a collected volume. These are spiritual sketches of saints composed over a long period of time. Von Balthasar only chose to collect and publish them after Adrienne’s death at least as far as I can tell. Because of this, the vignettes on a saint’s prayer are sometimes loosely related to each other and therefore are somewhat episodic.

 

  • While Adrienne strives for objectivity in her mysticism so as to disappear in God’s will, she is nonetheless still a subjective interpreter. These are not definitive portraits of a saint’s prayer life. By God’s grace she was invited in as a guest to observe the saint in prayer. She participates imperfectly in God’s vision of the saint in prayer. She articulates imperfectly the status and character of the saint in prayer. I am amazed, stunned, enthralled, repelled, and always drawn in deeper by these prayer portraits. Above all, because of this book, I have learned much about prayer.

 

  • My last advise: once you’ve read it, read it again. New and substantial insights will emerge. I think this could be a classic of twentieth-century Catholic spirituality. 
As always, I am humbled by the good conversations we have. I look forward to more. Please leave a comment or find my email on my about page. Keep reading Adrienne and let others know what you think. I’ve been struck, how about you?

"our finitude encounters the trinity's infinitude" - audio presentation on adrienne von speyr

Me at Heart's Home.png

On June 17, 2010, I presented an hour and a half long orientation on Adrienne von Speyr to the new volunteers for Heart’s Home, a religious movement I wrote about earlier. I thought I would share the digital audio version of the presentation. 

The presentation is divided into three parts. The first third of the talk (00’-22’) gives an interpretive key to Adrienne’s thought. In the second third (22’-41’), I present an biographical overview to her life. In the last third (41’-1:08’), we read and discuss a few quotations from Adrienne’s book, The Boundless God, which I give to you below. In closing (1:08’-1:25’), we have question and answer.  

I am presenting to the six new volunteers for Heart’s Home for their orientation program before they are sent to their destination for 14-18 months. Oh, and you’ll also hear me laughing at my own jokes. If I don’t, who will? There is much imperfection here, but you may find this worth listening to if you would like to learn more about who Adrienne was and how to begin to understand her.

TheBrainIcon.png

Quotations from The Boundless God referenced during the presentation:

1. “When God creates the world he makes a beginning right in the middle of his eternity, a beginning that inaugurates the realm of number and numeration; day and night are already separated, and so times are placed in rhythmic succession.  … The realm of number and of finitude does not close in on itself; it remains the arena of infinite, that is, eternal life.  And when we are told that the Father is in communion with the Son and with the Spirit from eternity, we also experience that he is a God of love who begets the Son as his image and likeness, who pours out the Spirit, and who lets them both participate in the same eternity and infinity while receiving from them this very same eternity and infinity. Love thus knows no bounds; it proceeds from and to the eternal God.” (21)

2. “Because man sins and becomes unworthy of God’s love, God creates a punishment while at the same time also creating—as a new testimony of love—time which alone can be identified as the experience of finitude in the actual sense: he creates death. Through death, God puts an end to the creature who has chosen sin so that the condition of being in sin does not continue without bounds.” (22)

3. “the Son has taken upon himself the end that is death and has died for all men … Because the Son dies for and with him, he will be entrusted in death completely to the grace of God. Therefore, he already knows in life that the finitude of his existence corresponds to a grace from God that has been granted to all men and not just to him. The experience of his finitude, however, affords him knowledge of God’s infinity: his knowledge of the end of earthly life is a recognition of eternal life.  He can thus regard death, not only as punishment, but equally as the Father’s grace. The Son has taken death’s purely punitive character upon himself and thereby released the character of grace for his brothers, whereby he unveils and fulfills the purpose of finitude.” (22-23)

4. “His descent into the underworld is part of this sign: he does not just pass fleetingly through these areas unknown to us; he stays there for three days. He therefore takes the entire accumulation of his strength into the sacrifice that led to his death, beyond death and into the underworld.  … the world that he brought with him is his heavenly world, the world of the Father and of the Spirit, a world that infinitely surpasses our own. As humans, we are inclined to regard each act that the Son performs as finite, yet with each act he opens up infinity. Each time he does something as man, he does something divine. In everything he is and does, he grants us glimpses into the boundlessness of heaven. “ (24)

5. “Confession grants us just such a view of infinity. When we go to confession, we pass through a kind of death and, by acknowledging our sin, reach the end of it—the end that God has instituted through death. We repentantly confess and reach a boundary, an endpoint given us by the Son. The absolution we receive comes from beyond the here and now and is comparable to going to heaven. Sin is  shown its end in accordance with God’s punitive judgment, but a new life is also shown its beginning. Man experiences through this that God is exercising his love anew. He has been granted death and confession so that he can grant new space to the infinite love of the triune God.” (24-25)

6. “for the individual is always invited by the Son to satisfy the demands of the Father with the strength of the Holy Spirit, in the unity of the Son who lives on in the communion of saints, and with the definitive wherewithal of the Mother’s Yes.” (150)

My thanks to Sr. Regine for the invitation to present on Adrienne von Speyr.  Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

balthasar clerihew

Kim Fabricius and Ben Myers of the theological blog Faith and Theology have been composing clerihews (four-line biographical poem) of modern theologians here and here.  I thought you would like to read their clerihew of Hans Urs von Balthasar:

Hans Urs von Balthasar
Really raised the bar,
From descensus, to drama, to logic – higher and higher –
With a leg-up from Adrienne von Speyr.

See you can rhyme Speyr.

I’ve thought about revising my tagline for vonspeyr.net.  Perhaps it should be: “devoted to getting higher and higher with a leg-up from Adrienne von Speyr.”

recent journal article on speyr's theology of confession

Geist und LebenIn the current issue of Geist und Leben (#83 Mai/Juni 2010), Karsten Erdmann has an article on von Speyr’s theology of confession called “Heimweh nach Gott. Adrienne von Speyrs Theologie der Beichte [Homesick for God: Adrienne von Speyr’s Theology of Confession]” Geist und Leben 83 (2010).

If you know of other recent articles, I would be glad to announce them.

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.