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Biography of Hans Urs von Balthasar
All Ignatius Press books by Hans Urs von Balthasar
Excerpts from the writings of Hans Urs von Balthasar
Ignatius Insight Articles about Hans Urs von Balthasar
Pope Benedict XVI Praises Hans Urs von Balthasar (Oct. 2005)

NEW (Fall 2010): To the Heart of the Mystery of Redemption

by Hans Urs von Balthasar and Adrienne von Speyr

• Preface by Henri Cardinal de Lubac
• Postscript and foreword by Jacques Servais, S.J.

In the 1960's, Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar gave two conferences in Paris on the subject of redemption. One considered the perspective of Christ the Redeemer. The other gave a view of the redemption from the perspective of Mary and the Church, consenting to the sacrifice of Jesus. These two conferences are what Fr. Jacques Servais, S.J., in his foreword calls "a lantern of the Word", shedding light amidst the advancing turmoil of the postconciliar period.

These conferences were later collected by the eminent theologian Henri Cardinal de Lubac, S.J., in a single volume along with an anthology of meditations on the Passion by the mystic Adrienne von Speyr, and selected by von Balthasar.

In this new edition, prepared for the centenary of the birth of Hans Urs von Balthasar, Fr. Servais, the director of Casa Balthasar in Rome, provides an extensive postscript illuminating the text along with the original preface by de Lubac.

"I had the joy of knowing and associating with this renowned Swiss theologian. I am convinced that his theological reflections preserve their freshness and profound relevance undiminished to this day and that they incite many others to penetrate ever further into the depths of the mystery of the Faith, with such an authoritative guide leading them by the hand." -- Pope Benedict XVI

"This little book is more than a helpful introduction to the soteriology of Hans Urs von Balthasar. It is a profoundly illuminating and inspiring reflection on the mystery of the Redemption meant to prime the Christian faithful, in the first place, to say Yes to a share in Christ's Cross--a grace-enabled collaboration that is always Marian and ecclesial--and secondly, to know how to convey the 'heart" of this mystery to others. A discerning guide to proclaiming the scandal of the Cross today, this book is a valuable resource for priests and catechists." -- Margaret M. Turke, S.T.D., Assoc. Professor of Systematic Theology, St. Patrick's Seminary and University, Menlo Park, California and author of Towards a Theology of God the Father: Hans Urs von Balthasar's Theodramatic Approach

Introduction to the Life and Work of Hans Urs von Balthasar:

Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-88) was a Swiss theologian, considered to be one of the most important Catholic intellectuals and writers of the twentieth century. Incredibly prolific and diverse, he wrote over one hundred books and hundreds of articles.

He studied at universities in Vienna, Berlin, and Zurich and his doctorate was completed in 1928. His dissertation was titled "The History of the Eschatological Problem in Modern German Literature." The following year he entered the Society of Jesus.

Having studied theology and philosophy for several years, Balthasar was attracted to the work of Erich Przywara (d. 1972) and Henri de Lubac (d. 1991). Tired of the prevalent neo-scholasticism of his day, Balthasar was drawn to the spirituality-theology of the Church Fathers. Along with de Lubac, Jean Daniélou, and other Continental theologians, he would work to return to the Scriptures and patristics as primary theological sources.

In 1940 he was offered a teaching position in Rome, but chose to go to Basel and be a chaplain for students. There he met the mystic Adrienne von Speyr (1902-67); she would become a Catholic under his spiritual direction. Her writing became a major source of inspiration for his writing and he insisted that her work could not be separated from his own. Together they founded the Community of St. John, a "secular institute."

In 1950 he left the Jesuits; in 1972 he formed Communio International Catholic Review with Daniélou, de Lubac, and Joseph Ratzinger. From 1961-87 he produced his most important work, a trilogy published in fifteen volumes: The Glory of the Lord, Theo-Drama, and Theo-Logic. After many years of fighting illness and exhaustion, Balthasar died on June 26, 1988, one day before he was to be made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II.

The Holy Father wrote: "All who knew the priest, von Balthasar, are shocked, and grieve over the loss of a great son of the Church, an outstanding man of theology and of the arts, who deserves a special place of honor in contemporary ecclesiastical and cultural life."

In his online bio of Balthasar, Joel Garver writes:
He was said, by Henri de Lubac, to be "perhaps the most cultured man of our time." Karl Rahner described his achievements as "really breathtaking." His works include over a thousand books and articles. At one point he was able to give away his stereo and records since, he said, he had all the works of Mozart memorized anyway. And it is my guess that history may well find him to be one of the most important theologians of the 20th century.

"A Witness of Christ in the Church: Hans Urs von Balthasar," which is a chapter from The Church: Paradox and Mystery, by Henri de Lubac, S.J., is an excellent introduction to Balthasar’s theological work and vision.

Several dozen links to articles about Balthasar’s life and work can be found on this page over at www.ratzingerfanclub.com.

You can read online the Preface and Chapter XII, " The Conquest of the Bride," from Balthasar’s Heart of the World (the first Balthasar book published by Ignatius Press, in 1979).

Love Alone Is Credible is a distillation in many ways of von Balthasar’s masterwork, The Glory of the Lord, in which the great theologian used the term "theological aesthetic" to describe what he believed to the most accurate method of interpreting the concept of divine love, as opposed to approaches founded on historical or scientific grounds. In Love Alone Is Credible, von Balthasar delves deeper into this exploration of what love means, what makes the divine love of God, and how we must become lovers of God in the footsteps of saints like Francis de Sales, John of the Cross and Therese of Lisieux.

An excellent examination of Balthasar's thinking is Hans Urs von Balthasar: His Life and Work, edited by David L.Schindler. This collection of essays, gathered under the auspices of Communio editors, represents the most wide-ranging study of the life and work of Balthasar. The twenty contributors include highly respected theologians, philosophers and bishops from around the world such as Henri Cardinal de Lubac, S.J., Walter Kasper, Louis Dupre, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, and Pope John Paul II.

Ignatius Press has been the predominant publisher of Hans Urs von Balthasar’s writings in English, having published over sixty of his books.

A complete listing of Balthasar’s books published by Ignatius Press:

Bernanos: An Ecclessial Existence
The Christian and Anxiety
Christian Meditation
The Christian State of Life
Cosmic Liturgy: The Universe According to Maximus the Confessor
Credo: Meditations on the Apostles' Creed
Dare We Hope "That All Men Be Saved"?
Does Jesus Know Us?
Engagement with God
First Glance at Adrienne Von Speyr
The Grain of Wheat: Aphorisms
Heart of the World
In the Fullness of Faith: On the Centrality of the Distinctively Catholic
The Laity in the Life of the Counsels: The Church's Mission in the World
Light of the Word: Brief Reflections on the Sunday Readings
Love Alone is Credible
Mary for Today
Mary, The Church at the Source (with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger)
The Moment of Christian Witness
My Work
Mysterium Paschale: The Mystery of Easter
New Elucidations
The Office of Peter And the Structure of the Church
Our Task
Paul Struggles with His Congregation: The Pastoral Message of the Letters to the Corinthians
Presence and Thought: An Essay on the Religious Philosophy of Gregory of Nyssa
Principles of Christian Morality
Razing the Bastions: On the Church in this Age
Romano Guardini: Reform From the Source
Scandal of the Incarnation: Irenaeus Against the Heresies
Short Primer for Unsettled Laymen
Test Everything: Hold Fast to What Is Good
Theology of Henri De Lubac
Theology of History
Theology of Karl Barth
The Threefold Garland
To the Heart of the Mystery of Redemption
Tragedy Under Grace: Reinhold Schneider on the Experience of the West
Truth Is Symphonic: Aspects of Christian Pluralism
Two Sisters in the Spirit: Thérèse of Lisieux and Elizabeth of the Trinity
Unless You Become Like This Child
You Crown the Year With Your Goodness: Sermons Throughout the Liturgical Year
You Have Words of Eternal Life: Scripture Meditations

Explorations in Theology

Explorations in Theology: Word Made Flesh, vol 1
Explorations in Theology: Spouse of the Word, vol 2
Explorations in Theology: Creator Spirit, vol 3
Explorations in Theology: Spirit and Institution, vol 4

The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics

Volume I: Seeing the Form
Volume II: Clerical Styles
Volume III: Lay Styles
Volume IV: The Realm of Metaphysics in Antiquity
Volume V: The Realm of Metaphysics in the Modern Age
Volume VI: Theology: The Old Covenant
Volume VII: Theology: The New Covenant


Volume I: The Truth of the World
Volume II: Truth of God
Volume III: The Spirit of the Truth


Volume I: Prolegomena
Volume II: Dramatis Personae
Volume III: Dramatis Personae
Volume IV: The Action
Volume V: The Last Act


Excerpts from the writings of Hans Urs von Balthasar:

• Introduction | From Adrienne von Speyr's The Book of All Saints
• The Conquest of the Bride | From Heart of the World
• Jesus Is Catholic | From In The Fullness of Faith: On the Centrality of the Distinctively Catholic
A Résumé of My Thought | From Hans Urs von Balthasar: His Life and Work
Church Authority and the Petrine Element | From In The Fullness of Faith: On the Centrality of the Distinctively Catholic
The Cross–For Us | From A Short Primer For Unsettled Laymen
A Theology of Anxiety? | The Introduction to The Christian and Anxiety
"Conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary" | From Credo: Meditations on the Apostles' Creed

Ignatius Insight Articles about Hans Urs von Balthasar:

• Discerning What Is Christian | The Foreword to Hans Urs von Balthasar's Engagement with God | Margaret M. Turek
• Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Tarot | Stratford Caldecott
Love Alone is Believable: Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Apologetics | Fr. John R. Cihak
Balthasar and Anxiety: Methodological and Phenomenological Considerations | Fr. John R. Cihak
Reading von Balthasar Together: An Interview with Adam Janke | Carl E. Olson


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