|Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar|
|Priest of Chur|
|See||San Nicola in Carcere|
|Appointed||2 February 1956|
|Other posts||Cardinal-Deacon of San Nicola in Carcere|
|Ordination||26 July 1939
by Michael von Faulhaber
|Created Cardinal||28 June 1988|
12 August 1905|
|Died||26 June 1988
Hans Urs von Balthasar (12 August 1905 – 26 June 1988) was a Swiss theologian and priest (incardinated into Roman Catholic Diocese of Chur) who was to be created a cardinal of the Catholic Church but died before the ceremony. He is considered one of the most important theologians of the 20th century.
Life and significance 
Born in Lucerne, Switzerland on 12 August 1905, he attended Stella Matutina (Jesuit school) in Feldkirch, Austria. He studied in Vienna, Berlin and Zurich, gaining a doctorate in German literature. He joined the Jesuits in 1929, and was ordained in 1936. He worked in Basel as a student chaplain. In 1950 he left the Jesuit order, feeling that God had called him to found a Secular Institute, a lay form of consecrated life that sought to work for the sanctification of the world especially from within. In 1950, the Jesuits did not see running the secular institute as compatible with belonging to the Society of Jesus. So, von Balthasar had to choose between remaining a Jesuit and dropping the institute or keeping the institute and leaving the Jesuits. He joined the diocese of Chur as a Roman Catholic, diocesan priest. From the low point of being banned from teaching, his reputation eventually rose to the extent that John Paul II asked him to be a cardinal in 1988. However he died in his home in Basel on 26 June 1988, two days before the ceremony. Balthasar was interred in the Hofkirche cemetery in Lucern.
Along with Karl Rahner and Bernard Lonergan, Balthasar sought to offer an intellectual, faithful response to Western modernism, which has brought the world to no longer being well-disposed towards Christianity. While Rahner offered a progressive, accommodating position on modernity and Lonergan worked out a philosophy of history that sought to critically appropriate modernity, Balthasar resisted the reductionism and human focus of modernity, wanting Christianity to challenge modern sensibilities.
Balthasar is very eclectic in his approach, sources, and interests and remains difficult to categorize. An example of his eclecticism was his long study and conversation with the influential Reformed Swiss theologian, Karl Barth, of whose work he wrote the first Catholic analysis and response. Although Balthasar's major points of analysis on Karl Barth's work have been disputed, his The Theology of Karl Barth: Exposition and Interpretation (1951) remains a classic work for its sensitivity and insight; Karl Barth himself agreed with its analysis of his own theological enterprise, calling it the best book on his own theology.
Writings and thought 
Balthasar's first major work, the three volume Apokalypse der deutschen Seele (1937-1939) (Apocalypse of the German Soul) was an expansion of his dissertation and a study in German literature, theology and philosophy. Published in Germany and Austria during the Third Reich, some have argued that the work contains anti-Semitism.
In Balthasar's book Mysterium Paschale he explores the meaning of Holy Saturday, where Jesus Christ dies and descends to the dead, to be resurrected by God the Father and His own power. Balthasar extrapolates from it the idea that God can endure and conquer godlessness, abandonment, and death.
Balthasar is well known for his 16 volume systematics (Trilogy) which is divided into three parts: The Glory of the Lord, the first 7-volume work on 'theological aesthetics' (a theology based upon contemplation of the good, the beautiful, and the true). One of the often quoted passages from the entire Trilogy comes from the First Volume (Seeing the Form) of The Glory of the Lord:
Before the beautiful—no, not really before but within the beautiful—the whole person quivers. He not only 'finds' the beautiful moving; rather, he experiences himself as being moved and possessed by it.
In Theo-Drama: Theological Dramatic Theory—the following 5-volume work on 'theodramatics'—the action of God and the human response, especially in the events of Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday are examined. Balthasar's soteriology, christology, and eschatology, are here developed. The final group of volumes are titled: Theo-Logic. These three volumes describing the relation of the nature of Jesus Christ (christology) to reality itself (ontology, or the study of being). He completes the third part of his trilogy with a brief Epilogue.
A distinctive thought in Balthasar's work is that our first experience after birth is the face of love of our mothers, where the I encounters for the first time the Thou, and the Thou smiles in a relationship of love and sustenance.
Balthasar also wrote of the lives of saints and church fathers. Saints appear as an example of the lived Christian life throughout his writings. Instead of merely systematic analysis of theology, Balthasar described his theology as a "kneeling theology" deeply connected to contemplative prayer and as a "sitting theology" intensely connected to faith seeking understanding guided by the heart and mind of the Catholic Church.
As a Latin Rite Catholic priest and member of a religious order, Balthasar was very concerned that he address spiritual and practical issues. He insisted that his theology never be divorced from the mystical experiences of his long-time friend and convert, the physician Adrienne von Speyr.
Balthasar published varied works spanning many decades, fields of study (e.g., literature and literary analysis, lives of the saints, and the Church Fathers), and languages. His most controversial theological assertions were that Christ deposited his divine knowledge with the Father before the incarnation (kenotic doctrine), the possibility that all people may be saved, that Christ literally was "made sin", and the idea that Christ experienced in Sheol after his death on the cross a state of abandonment from the Father worse than hell.
At Balthasar's funeral, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later to become Pope Benedict XVI) said, speaking of Balthasar's work in general, "What the pope intended to express by this mark of distinction [elevation to the cardinalate], and of honor, remains valid, no longer only private individuals but the Church itself, in its official responsibility, tells us that he is right in what he teaches of the faith."
Balthasar has expressed some sympathy with a "hope" for salvation for non-Christians, and even believes that it is possible that all human beings will be saved (but warns against asserting it). Universal salvation, if it happens, would be the result of Christ's "utter abandonment".
Support for Medjugorje 
Along with the French theologian René Laurentin, it is claimed that Balthasar supported the reported Marian apparitions in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, which are currently being studied by an international Vatican Commission. In an interview with the Jesuit author Fr. Robert Faricy, Balthasar stated: "Medjugorje's theology rings true. I am convinced of its truth. And everything about Medjugorje is authentic in a Catholic sense. What is happening there is so evident, so convincing." Balthasar was critical of Bishop Pavao Zanic's opposition to the apparitions and visionaries of Medjugorje, linking the former bishop of Mostar's actions to the atheist government of Yugoslavia. In a personal letter in 1985, Balthasar wrote discouragingly of steps that Zanic was taking against Medjugorje: "Priests removed, the children forbidden to come to the church, the ban on preaching etc., etc. Zanic is out to destroy (annihiler) the whole thing. He gives the impression of one working with the atheistic government. People should be informed about all this...The work of the commission set up by Zanic is scandalous."
Balthasar has an enduring legacy as one of the most important Catholic theologians of the 20th century. Most, but not all, of his major writings have been translated into English, and the journal he co-founded with Henri de Lubac, Walter Kasper, and Joseph Ratzinger (afterwards Pope Benedict XVI), Communio, currently appears in twelve languages. In delivering his eulogy, Ratzinger, quoting de Lubac, called Balthasar, "perhaps the most cultured man of our time," a tribute to Balthasar's immense erudition.
- The God Question and Modern Man, New York: Seabury Press, 1967 (original title: Die Gottesfrage des heutigen Menschen, 1956)
- Origen: Spirit and Fire, An Anthology of His Writings, edited by Hans Urs von Balthasar, Catholic University of America Press, 1984
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
- The Scandal of the Incarnation: Irenaeus Against the Heresies
- A Short Primer for Unsettled Laymen
- Test Everything: Hold Fast to What Is Good
- The Theology of Henri De Lubac
- A Theology of History
- The 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
- Oakes (2004) pp.269ff
- Leaving the Society meant that Balthasar was without a position, a pastorate, a place to live, or an income. Because he had left the Jesuit order, the Catholic Congregation for Seminaries and Universities had banned him from teaching. But he eventually found an ecclesiastical home under a sympathetic bishop and was able to live by a gruelling schedule of lecture tours. "Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988)" Radical Faith The Society of the Sacred Mission, accessed 1 February 2009
- On 29 May 1988 Pope John Paul II announced his intention to nominate von Balthasar as cardinal at the next consistory, held 28 June 1988; see Salvador Miranda, "Consistories for the creation of Cardinals: 20th Century (1903-2005)," accessed 9 May 2013. One is not a cardinal until the Pope formally announces the new cardinal in a consistory with the existing members of the college of cardinals; see Code of Canon Law (1983), canon 351.
- Oakes (2004) pp.262, 133
- Oakes (2004) p.2
- Colón-Emeric, Edgardo Antonio (31 May 2005). "Symphonic Truth: Von Balthasar and Christian Humanism". The Christian Century 122 (11): 30–. Retrieved 2 February 2009.[dead link]
- The influence is reflected in some of Schwager's titles, i.e.: Jesus in the Drama of Salvation. Toward a Biblical Doctrine of Redemption (German: Jesus im Heilsdrama. Entwurf einer biblischen Erlösungslehre), New York: Crossroad 1999, and: Banished from Eden: Original Sin and Evolutionary Theory in the Drama of Salvation (Duits: Erbsünde und Heilsdrama: Im Kontext von Evolution, Gentechnik und Apokalyptik), Londen: Gracewing 2006.
- Paul Silas Peterson, "Anti-Modernism and Anti-Semitism in Hans Urs von Balthasar's Apokalypse der deutschen Seele", in: Die neue Zeitschrift für systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie, 52:3 (2010), 302-318.
- Oakes (2004) p.270
- Oakes (2004) p.236
- Oakes (2004) p.265
- Dietlind Langner, Marco A. Sorace, Peter Zimmerling (2008) Gottesfreundschaft: christliche Mystik im Zeitgespräch p.259 quotation:
Hans Urs von Balthasar selbst hat die Begegnung mit Adrienne von Speyr und ihrer „experimentellen Dogmatik"6 als das Movens seiner Theologie bezeichnet: „Das meiste, was ich schrieb, ist eine Übersetzung dessen, was auf unmittelbarere, weniger technische' Weise in dem gewaltigen Werk Adriennes von Speyr niedergelegt wurde.
- Hans Urs von Balthasar, ed. (1988). "Was dürfen wir hoffen; and, Kleiner Diskurs über die Hölle." (Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved?). Ignatius Press. ISBN 0-89870-207-0.[page needed]
- Casta Meretrix: The Church as Harlot
- Allen, John L. Jr. (November 28, 2003). "The Word From Rome". National Catholic Reporter 3 (15).
- Oakes (2004) p.261 quotation: "Balthasar does not deny the possibility of salvation outside the boundaries of explicit Christianity - in fact he is probably more emphatic than Rahner in maintaining the legitimacy of Christian hope for universal salvation."
- Morwenna Ludlow Universal salvation: eschatology in the thought of Gregory of Nyssa p5 2000 - 304 页 "Von Balthasar hopes for universal salvation and warns against asserting it outright (e.g. Mysterium Paschale, 177–8, 262–6; Dare We Hope . . ., 148–57, 236–54)
- Alyssa Lyra Pitstick Light in darkness: Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Catholic 2007 p264 "Balthasar's theology of Christ's descent toward a doctrine of universal salvation,whether certain or as a hope. As Balthasar sees it, universal salvation (if actual) will be the result of the utter abandonment the Son undergoes."
- Klimek "Von Balthasar: Medjugorje 'a theater of holiness'"
- Michael O'Carroll "Medjugorje: Facts, Documents, Theology" 1989 p55
- Michael O'Carroll "Medjugorje: Facts, Documents, Theology" 1989 p56
- Volumes 4 and 5 of The Glory of the Lord span all of Western philosophy, literature, and theology. Balthasar translated many authors, from Peguy to Ignatius of Loyla and Augustine to Calderon de la Barca and Claudel's "Satin Slipper". He was an incredible musician, with a particular affinity for Mozart.
- Edward T. Oakes, SJ, and David Moss, ed. (2004). The Cambridge Companion to Hans Urs von Balthasar. Cambridge University Press. pp. 2, 236, 261–2, 265, 269, 270ff. ISBN 0-521-89147-7.
- IgnatiusInsight.com Hans Urs von Balthasar Author's Page: bio, books published by Ignatius Press, excerpts, and articles about von Balthasar
- Hans Urs von Balthasar profile and books on Goodreads
- Hans Urs von Balthasar - Internet Archive
- Works by or about Hans Urs von Balthasar in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- The Casa Balthasar in Rome, Italy
- Quotations from Hans Urs von Balthasar
- Hans Urs von Balthasar Stiftung
- The Lubac-Balthasar-Speyr Association
- Johannes Verlag (publishing house founded by Hans Urs von Balthasar)
- The Inflated Reputation of Hans Urs von Balthasar, by Regis Scanlon O.F.M. Cap.
- Karen Kilby on Balthasar 1and 2
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