In the 1960s, 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.
Preface by Henri Cardinal de Lubac
Postscript and foreword by Jacques Servais, S.J.
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."
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?