Hans Urs von Balthasar

Swiss Catholic theologian

Hans Urs von Balthasar (12 August 190526 June 1988) was a Swiss theologian and Catholic priest who was to be created a cardinal of the Catholic Church but died before the ceremony. He is considered one of the most important Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century.

Love alone is credible; nothing else can be believed, and nothing else ought to be believed.



Love Alone Is Credible (1963)

Translated by D. C. Schindler, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004, ISBN 978-0-89870-881-3 (on Google Books)
  • Love alone is credible; nothing else can be believed, and nothing else ought to be believed. This is the achievement, the “work” of faith: to recognize this absolute prius, which nothing else can surpass; to believe that there is such a thing as love, absolute love, and that there is nothing higher or greater than it; to believe against all the evidence of experience (“credere contra fidem” like “sperare contra spem”), against every “rational” concept of God, which thinks of him in terms of impassibility or, at best, totally pure goodness, but not in terms of this inconceivable and senseless act of love.
  • The exalted moment of love is always full of promise: it is not closed in on itself, but open; we see its natural fruitfulness revealed in the child, even if its spiritual fruitfulness remains hidden.
  • The inner reality of love can be recognized only by love.
  • Only by presupposing God's prior and inconceivable forgiveness can the limitations of human good will be transcended, and only thus can the danger of human pride be avoided.

First Glance at Adrienne von Speyr (1968)

Translated by Antje Lawry & Sergia Englund, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986, ISBN 978-0-89870-003-9 (on Google Books)
  • Christ's Passion, viewed from within, is of a diversity that the biblical texts and images leave hidden; but numerous mystics through the centuries have been allowed to experience a great deal of it in ever-varying aspects—if only by drops, as it were, compared with the Son of God.
  • Adrienne von Speyr has brought mysticism back from the clandestine existence into which, increasingly misunderstood, indeed scorned, it had been exiled and silenced by official theology and proclamation and has returned it to the center of salvation history.
  • What deserves to be called mysticism—not in the vague sense of the history and philosophy of religion, but rather in the Catholic-ecclesial sense—occurs when God's Word is heard, not only with exegetical and theological understanding, but with the whole heart, the whole being, when one is steadfast before the self-disclosure of the heart of God despite fire and night.
  • Charisms are not distributed at random but are dispensed by God to supply what is needful and lacking in his Church at each historical moment. If they are from God, they usually do not flow with the latest fashionable trend but much more likely contain an antidote and remedy for the perils of the time.

Our Task: A Report and a Plan (1984)

Translated by John Saward, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1994, ISBN 978-0-89870-515-7 (on Google Books)
  • In Maximus all the streams of the Greek patristic tradition flow together in synthesis. At the same time, with real originality, there is much from within that tradition that he takes to a higher level. But the course of this saint's life impressed me even more than his teaching. Once again, like Athanasius, one man was able to defend orthodox Christology against a whole empire. A Byzantine joins forces with Pope St. Martin I in Rome and finally suffers martyrdom for the true faith. This is the summit of that unity of doctrine and life which marks the whole patristic age; speculation and mysticism of the greatest subtlety are wedded to a soberly and consciously grasped martyrdom. In St. Maximus we can see in the Catholica what Kierkegaard found within the individual.
  • The Mystical Body of Christ does not rest on abstract principles but on concrete persons who have missions, or on missions which are personal.
  • There were many mystical phenomena in Adrienne's life—stigmata, transferences, the radiating of light, levitation, speaking with tongues, and other things of that kind, but they all occurred in a totally unemphatic way. They were mere accompaniments to show forth the heart of the matter: what was to be passed on to the Church, invisibly through prayer and strenuous penance, visibly through the dictated works. The criterion of her mysticism's authenticity lies primarily, if not exclusively, in the quality of what she did and what she had and has to say.
  • In his Gospel, St. John, through long and deep contemplation, acknowledges Jesus to be the Logos of God. In his epistles he points entirely away from himself toward Christ. Finally, in the Apocalypse, in the vision of the Lamb of God, Old and New Testaments are united, and the whole drama of salvation is summed up.
  • God deserves more love than the world gives him. Men, too, need more love than they receive from the world. Our community wants to take her place where these two needs meet.
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