Books by Hans Urs von Balthasar


To the Heart of the Mystery of Redemption
Ignatius Press (October 2010)

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.


Romano Guardini: Reform from the Source
Ignatius Press (February 2010)

Romano Guardini (1885-1968) was one of the greatest Catholic minds of the twentieth century. He helped shape Catholic theology between the two world wars and after, as well as the thinking of many non-Catholics of the period. His influence contributed to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and it continues to be felt through Pope Benedict, who, as a theologian, a cardinal and now as Pope, has drawn extensively on Guardini for inspiration. Indeed, Guardini was a major theological mentor of Benedict XVI, influencing the Pope from his understanding of Jesus to his writings on the sacred Liturgy, from his view of faith to his perspective on the modern world.

Romano Guardini: Reform from the Source, written by another great theological mind, Hans urs von Balthasar, presents a kind of “roadmap” to Guardini’s thought. As an introduction to Guardini, von Balthasar’s study is intended to challenge readers to take up Guardini’s own writings and to find in him the wisdom that has inspired so many others. Many of Guardini’s influential works are still in print today, works that cover a wide range of important spiritual, theological and moral issues.

“Romano Guardini was one of the most important interpreters of the modern Catholic experience, someone we need to engage again and again. This winsome precis by Hans Urs von Balthasar provides an ideal place to begin.”

— R.R. Reno, Featured Editor, First Things; Professor of Theology, Creighton


Engagement With God: The Drama of Christian Discipleship
Ignatius Press (May 2008)

The brilliant theologian and philosopher Hans Urs von Balthasar writes about God’s involvement with man and man’s involvement with God in the Old and the New Testaments. He shows how that interaction of the divine with the human reveals the meaning of true freedom that man is always hungering for but often strives after in wrong and dangerous ways. He shows that God’s free revelation of himself in Christ is an invitation to enter into the realm of absolute and divine freedom, in which alone human freedom can be fully realized.

From the true Christian there radiates the kind of freedom that is constantly being sought after by the non-Christian. In modern times, the freedom of man is a theme that preoccupies everyone. Atheistic philosophies are wholly taken up with this preoccupation. The Enlightenment was concerned with the freeing of reason from the “fetters of faith”. Marx wrote about freeing man economically, and Freud wrote of freeing man from the bondage of a past as yet unmastered.

As opposed to those whose search for freedom urges them onward into a barren void, the Christian stands as the messenger of freedom accomplished and a freedom attainable by all. A true freedom of the sons and daughters of God.

“Just as Love Alone Is Credible captures the essence of the seven-volume The Glory of the Lord, so does Engagement with God explain his five-volume Theo-Drama. But here he does more: by setting his account of the drama of Christian discipleship against the anti-Christian ideologies of the 1960s he brings his theology to bear on the highest cost of discipleship—martyrdom—by seeing the martyr as the mirror of God’s own involvement in the human race through his own martyred Son. One can hardly read a more sober, and yet exhilarating, account of what it means to live committed to God’s own commitment to the world.” —Edward T. Oakes, S. J. Author, Pattern of Redemption: The Theology of Hans Urs Von Balthasar

Love Alone Is Credible
Ignatius Press (June 2005)

In Hans Urs von Balthasar’s masterwork, The Glory of the Lord, 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 this newly translated book, 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.

Based in the theological aesthetic form, Love Alone is Credible brings a fresh perspective on an oft-explored subject. A deeply insightful and profound theological meditation that serves to both deepen and inform the faith of the believer.

The Laity in the Life of the Counsels: The Church's Mission in the World
Ignatius Press (January 2004)

Overcoming the dualism between the Church and the world requires a decisive engagement: the yeast must disappear into the dough in order to become bread, but this bread must in turn be consecrated to God. With his characteristic theological depth and historical breadth, von Balthasar discusses the development of secular institutes-groups of lay people who live the life of the counsels, poverty, chastity, and obedience, in the world-as a response to the problems of our time. In the process, he sketches the outlines of a theology of states of life in the Church, presents a fascinating account of the development of vows and the religious life in the history of the Church, and compares the new secular institutes with other lay movements in today's Church. This book, which is a collection of essays von Balthasar wrote over a period of forty years, makes apparent like no other the historical and theological significance of secular institutes, and their fruitful potential.
Cosmic Liturgy: The Universe According to Maximus the Confessor
Ignatius Press (May 2003)

Maximus the Confessor, saint and martyr, is the theologian of synthesis: of Rome and Byzantium, of Eastern and Western theology, of antiquity and the Middle Ages, reexcavating the great treasures of Christian tradition, which at that time had been buried by imperial and ecclesial censure.

Von Balthasar was an authority on the Church Fathers—Irenaeus, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Evagrius Ponticus, Augustine, and above all, Maximus the Confessor. This masterpiece on Maximus broke new ground at that time. Subsequent editions included new material from decades of research. This is the first English translation of the latest edition of this acclaimed work.

This book presents a powerful, attractive, religiously compelling portrait of the thought of a major Christian theologian who might, for this book, have remained only an obscure name in the handbooks of patrology. It is based on an intelligent and careful reading of Maximus’s own writings. Here the history of theology has become itself a way of theological reflection.

“The spirituality of Maximus is pithily summarized in what is probably the most profound scholarly book ever written about Maximus, Cosmic Liturgy, by Hans Urs von Balthasar.” —Jeroslav Pelikan, Author, Maximus Confessor: Selected Writings

The Christian State of Life
Ignatius Press (April 2002)

One of von Balthasar's masterworks, this book is a profound meditation on the Christian's call to choose a state of life according to God's will.
Mysterium Paschale: The Mystery of Easter
Ignatius Press (October 2000)

This is an account, at once rigorously theological and warmly devotional, of the death and resurrection of Christ, and their significance for the Christian life. Von Balthasar offers sharp insights into some current controversies—for example, the 'bodiliness' of the Resurrection—and spiritual inspiration for the year round. This scholarly reflection of the climax of the Christian year is an established classic of contemporary Catholic theology.

"Mysterium Paschale is the most profound contemporary theology of the Cross in the Catholic tradition."
—John McDade, S.J.

"One of the most important works in Hans Urs von Balthasar's large oeuvre ..."
—Journal of Religion

"One of von Balthasar's most revealing works: the major themes of his theology are knit together in a concentrated meditation on the triduum mortis—an astonishing achievement of theological and imaginative attention."
—John Riches

Related

Credo: Meditations on the Apostles' Creed
Ignatius Press (August 2000)

In the twelve months before his sudden death, Hans Urs von Balthasar had been writing a series of reflections on the twelve articles of the Apostles' Creed. These texts, which are undoubtedly among the last things he wrote, take on the character of a legacy, a spiritual testament. For they amount in their extraordinary compactness and depth to a little "summa" of his theology. What he had set out in detail in numerous book over five decades, he summarizes here in contemplative plainness and simplicity.

All the characteristics that make von Balthasar's work so distinctive and valuable are to be found here: breadth of vision, loveliness of style, and an intuitive-contemporary passion that allows him to "pray intellectually and think 'cordially'."

In his warm and extensive introduction to the book, Medard Kehl speaks of von Balthasar's "unclouded, almost childlike joy in the richness and beauty of the Mystery" of the threefold God, which "is evidenced in his interpretation of the creed."

The Christian and Anxiety
Ignatius Press (March 2000)

From Luther to Kierkegaard, from Heidegger to Sartre, the theme of anguish has dominated both philosophy and spiritual theology. In our "societies of depression" where individuals confront their own loneliness, this theme has recently regained its intensity.

In these dense and luminous pages, he is not content merely to show how much this feeling is profoundly inscribed in the heart and the word of God—from the Psalms to the Gospels—but he enters into intimate dialogue with contemporary thought and in particular its existentialist expression. For Balthasar, the Christian faith does not offer a ready made response, but is simultaneously a journey through the torment of the cross and the liberation from fear by the gift of grace. In the wake of a Bernanos, or a Péguy, Balthasar emphasizes how much confidence in God leads to a hope which is inexhaustible.

Elucidations
Ignatius Press (August 1998)

The object of these 'elucidations' by the renowned theologian Balthasar is to offer a concise and summary treatment of a few essential questions concerning the substance of the Christian life, experience, and faith, which today are in dispute or-as is true of many-are disappearing into oblivion. Each chapter stands on its own. Together they bear witness to an underlying comprehensive vision; they are a few rays which all radiate from the same center. Among the some twenty-five chapters/topics Balthasar covers are "The Personal God", "The Marian Principle", "Authority and Tradition", "Unmodern Prayer", "The Pope Today", and much more.
Tragedy Under Grace: Reinhold Schneider on the Experience of the West
Ignatius Press; Rev Sub edition (March 1997)

In Tragedy Under Grace, Hans Urs von Balthasar presents a magisterial portrait of one of the most fascinating figures of the European Catholic renaissance, the historian and man of letters, Reinhold Schneider, whose response to the spiritual collapse of the West led him to Christ and to an interpretation of history in the light of the cross. Balthasar's painstaking reconstruction of Schneider's spiritual and intellectual itinerary, which traces the author's discovery of the presence of grace in the tragic conflicts of history, will be valuable for those desiring to understand the historical experience of the West, the relationship between faith and culture, or the role of the Catholic layman in the world. Anyone looking for a profound - and costly - response to the cultural crisis of our own day will also find in this book a source of understanding and inspiration.
Bernanos: An Ecclesial Existence (Communio Books.)
Ignatius Press; 4th edition (April 1996)

This book is a double-treat: it combines the genius of the towering theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar and his ability to make his subject come alive before the reader, along with the focus of that genius on someone with the spiritual depth and creative stature of Georges Bernanos, considered by many to be the greatest Catholic creative writer of the twentieth century. The goal of this book is to simply convey what Bernanos wanted to say as the devout Christian that he was. Bernanos was a deeply prayerful, practicing sacramental Catholic whose profound love for the Church made everything he created or wrote an "ecclesial existence that has been given form: existence derived not merely from an abstract, individual faith but from the faith of the Church." With judicious quoting of the primary source and careful juxtaposing of texts and commentary, Balthasar provides a unique forum from which Bernanos can speak to the reader in a way that he can be clearly heard and genuinely understood.
Presence and Thought: Essay on the Religious Philosophy of Gregory of Nyssa
Ignatius Press (April 1995)

Von Balthasar presents one of the few serious studies available on the thought of one of the most important, and yet most neglected Fathers of the Church, Gregory of Nyssa. He was the most profound Greek philosopher of the Christian era, a mystic and an incomparable poet whom St. Maximus designated as the "Universal Doctor" and the Second Council of Nicaea declared him "Father of Fathers."

Less prolific than Origen, less cultivated than Gregory Nazianzen, less practical than Basil, Gregory of Nyssa nonetheless outstrips them all in the profundity of his thought, for he knew better than anyone how to transpose ideas inwardly from the spiritual heritage of ancient Greece into a Christian mode.

The Grain of Wheat: Aphorisms
Ignatius Press (February 1995)

This volume is unique among the works of the great theologian and spiritual writer von Balthasar for it is a collection of short, personal and very readable reflections and aphorisms that are the fruit of his prayer and study over the course of his life on the central themes of the Christian spiritual life. Balthasar's style-intimate, lucid, precise and yet poetic, along with the intensity of his contemplative vision-invites every reader to meditate deeply on the fullness and dynamism of Christian truths in all their splendor.

In addition to his own meditations, Balthasar also includes quotes and thoughts from some 30 saints and spiritual writers including Augustine, Francis de Sales, John of the Cross, Elizabeth of the Trinity, Teresa of Avila, Fenelon, Therese of Lisieux and more.

These rich, thought-provoking gems provide wonderful meditations for laity by one of the masters of the spiritual life.

"Every careful reader of Hans Urs von Balthasar will discover that the precious alchemy of his thought results from the deeply fruitful marriage he achieves between keen intelligence and ardent piety, which is the very heart of the Christian intellectual endeavor. Balthasar proves to be one of the scant few thoroughly reliable teachers and pathfinders in the thicket of late-twentieth-century life because he himself exemplifies the truth of his own aphorism that only the one whose eyes can encompass much may be said to have an integrated vision."

—Dr. Erasmo Leiva, From the Foreword

The Moment of Christian Witness
Ignatius Press (November 1994)

Balthasar puts his finger on the precise origin of all those elements in modern Christianity which see the real Jesus Christ as unknowable, the Gospels as merely the confused reflections of later Christians, and Christian tradition as a perpetuation of the mythology.
Our Task: A Report and a Plan (Communio Books)
Ignatius Press (November 1994)

This book describes the common task which Balthasar and Adrienne von Speyr undertook, the founding of a secular institute: The Community of St. John. He also describes their common theological work and explains the theology and role of secular institutes.
A Theology of History
Ignatius Press (April 1994)

Man has always wrestled with the problem of finding meaning in history. It is not surprising that, as a Christian, von Balthasar finds the meaning of history in Christ, its Center and Lord. What may surprise--as it will surely stimulate--is the theological mastery with which von Balthasar traces the effects of Christ's lordship upon the daily life of the Christian.

In this book we have one of the indispensable sources for understanding Balthasar's Catholic Christocentrism. Here we find elaboration of the striking statement that Jesus Christ is "the Idea made concrete, personal, historical: universale concretum et personale"--which, put otherwise, means that Christ is the universally valid in the here and now. Characteristic of Balthasar, the book inspires as much spiritually as it informs theologically.

Light of the Word: Brief Reflections on the Sunday Readings
Ignatius Press (September 1993)

It is not only the Catholics who attend Sunday Mass, but also the priests who preach at Mass who feel overwhelmed by the three scripture readings in which for the most part only the first from the Old Testament and the third from the Gospel have any interconnection, while the second from the apostolic letters stands by itself. This book seeks to present the common theses that connect all three of the readings for Sundays and feasts of the Lord in the three year cycle of readings.

The reflections here are meant to be theological and spiritual suggestions that the one who is preaching can develop further and from which he can select individual perspectives. Rather than seeking immediately concrete applications, Fr. von Balthasar attempts to elucidate the content which is immediately present in the passages.

Organized by each Sunday and feast day of the liturgical year for years A, B, & C, these reflections are meant to be theological and spiritual suggestions that the one who is preaching can develop further and from which he can select individual perspectives.

Razing the Bastions: On the Church in This Age
Communio Books (April 1993)

Written in the 1950s, this book defines and anticipates, in a prophetic way, the role of the laity in the Church, and the intimate relationship between the Church and the world. These two themes were recognized by the Second Vatican Council especially in the two constitutions "On the Church" and "The Church in the Modern World."

Von Balthasar's "bastions" are barriers erected over the centuries which separated the laity from the clergy and the Church from the world. He pleads for a Church that interprets "the signs of the age," grasps them and answers them, allowing herself to be awakened by the Holy Spirit and by the age "from the bed of historical sleep for the dead of today." The new function of the Church is to be the "yeast of the world"--she must understand herself as the "instrument of the mediation of salvation to the world." Stressing that the hour of the laity is sounding in the Church, von Balthasar makes it clear that the "true program of the Church for today is: the most powerful radiance into the world through the most immediate imitation of Christ."

My Work: In Retrospect
Ignatius Press (April 1993)

Hans Urs von Balthasar made detailed statements about his work on five occasions, mostly on the birthdays that marked the end of a decade of his life: as a young author in his "desire to lift out of the jumble of history the four or five figures which represent for me the constellation of my idea and my mission;" as publisher and writer, "out of concern for the reader" and in order to equip this reader with a guide to his own books. Then, in the midst of the transformations connected with the Council, he wrote an "Account" for himself and his readers, about what had been done, and what was still required.

Finally, in a kind of pause, as one already looking toward the close of his life, he gave once again an account of what had been achieved and what could no longer be achieved, in a clear shift of emphasis away from his "authorship" in favor of the pastoral work in the communities which he had founded. This present volume is a helpful guide to his many-sided work.

"Von Balthasar's theological universe includes the entire Christian culture of saints and scholars, artists and poets, theologians and philosophers, Church fathers and heretics. It grew so vast that every decade he had to draw a road map of the work accomplished in his titanic enterprise. To the reader venturing into the thicket of the hundreds of books, articles, and editions in which he realized his project of overcoming the modern gap between nature and grace, these guides have become indispensable. This collection presents them all in one volume." — Louis Dupre, Yale University

"In providing the author's own guide to his vast corpus, My Work becomes indispensable for anyone who would understand the constellation of von Balthasar's ideas and mission." — David L. Schindler, Professor of Theology John Paul II Institute

Two Sisters in the Spirit: Therese of Lisieux and Elizabeth of the Trinity
Ignatius Press (November 1992)

Balthasar's unique volume on Thérèse of Lisieux and Elizabeth of the Trinity presents a theological biography of each of these holy Carmelite sisters which gives profound insights into their spirituality, showing that their differences actually complement one another. Balthasar probes the depths of the contemplative mission of each of these young Carmelites who both died in their twenties, and gave powerful witness to the critical importance of contemplation as a means to holiness. Each woman is clearly shown as a daughter of her Carmelite heritage with her own emphasis: Thérèse's discovery of the "little way of love" and Elizabeth's focus on the indwelling of God in the soul.

"This book is an important event for every serious student of the spiritual life. Everyone interested in the contemplative dimension of the Christian life needs to drink deeply of the wisdom from these pages."

- Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.

The Theology of Karl Barth: Exposition and Interpretation
Ignatius Press; 3rd edition (October 1992)

Written in 1951 (with a second edition in 1961), this book takes its place within an impressive array of attempts to wrestle with Karl Barth's theology from a Catholic point of view. The book adopts the twofold strategy of presenting an exposition of "the whole of Barth's thought," while doing so for the purpose of a confessional dialogue among theologians. Not to be construed as an "Introduction to the Theology of Karl Barth, Balthasar's effort is to provide a Catholic response which, though not "official", nonetheless seeks to express a common direction and movement within Catholicism.

The Theology of Karl Barth shows how a rethinking of basic issues in fundamental theology—concerning the relation of nature and grace, philosophy and theology, the "analogy of being" and the "analogy of faith"—might lead to a rapprochement between the two great rivers of Christianity, without compromising the center of gravity of either. In the process the book makes a major contribution to renewed understanding of Christianity in a secularized modern world. Co-published with Communio Books.

"This reflection by one of the century's great Catholic theologians on the theology of one of the century's great Protestant theologians is an example of ecumenical dialogue at its best. One finds here a sympathetic and at the same time faithfully Catholic discussion of the major issues surrounding Barth's christocentricity. The appearance of an unabridged English translation of this book could hardly be more timely for the current religious situation in North America."

— David L. Schindler, Gagnon Professor of Fundamental Theology, John Paul II Institute

"No one should think he can quickly dispose of questions posed here offhandedly. It was precisely because writers were in the habit during the time of the Reformation of theologizing with a hammer that the split in the Church became irreparable. And to work at overcoming this split means much effort. Only the patient need apply."

— Hans Urs von Balthasar

Paul Struggles With His Congregation: The Pastoral Message of the Letters of the Corinthians
Ignatius Press (March 1992)

Commenting on the pastoral questions taken up by Saint Paul in his letters to the Corinthians, Hans Urs von Balthasar offers a meditative interpretation of Paul's writings and difficulties with the Christians at Corinth. He discusses the different roles of pastors and believers, and we see how the problems are resolved through Paul's advice, example and prayerful patience.

"The questions people ask God and the Church change; God's answer in Christ is sufficient for all time. Even though the Church, as well as the individual priest, always has to make this answer understandable anew, its essence does not change. Paul's dramatic confrontation with the congregation of Corinth provides both: his words and actions do complete justice to the situation and yet they are timeless. Therefore his pastoral directives to this difficult congregation are still a guideline for everyone holding a pastoral office. The eye-to-eye confrontation with Corinth is so intense and so rich, that it includes virtually everything of importance. Paul emphasized that everything he says is spoken in love and because of love, but he must get rid of 'the old leaven' so that the Christian feast can be celebrated with joy. Joy has an amazing preeminence in all of Paul's letters."

— Hans Urs von Balthasar.

Unless You Become Like This Child
Ignatius Press (October 1991)

In one of the last books written before his death, the great theologian von Balthasar provides a moving and profound meditation on the theme of spiritual childhood. Somewhat startlingly, von Balthasar puts forth his conviction that the central mystery of Christianity is our transformation from world-wise, self-sufficient "adults" into abiding children of the Father of Jesus by the grace of their Spirit. All else in the Gospel—the Lord's Incarnation, his hidden and public lives with their silences, miracles and preaching, his Passion, Cross and Resurrection: all else has been for this.

After giving us the numerous weighty tomes comprising the theological trilogy, von Balthasar, as a kind of last will and testament, proclaims to a self-important and dreadfully earnest generation of contemporaries that only that person is lastingly wise, thoroughly fulfilled, who allows God's mercy to give him second birth and surround him for good with maternal care. The profound and technical knower of the Fathers of the Church and all Western philosophy and theology reveals himself gladly in the end as a humble disciple of ... the Little Flower, Thérèse of the Child Jesus!

Readers will be particularly interested in von Balthasar's analysis of the role the Mother of Jesus plays in the Christian's progress toward full spiritual childhood, as well as in the analogy he develops between the insights of early-childhood psychology and the life of Christian childlikeness, which is paradoxically the highest maturity possible to man.

The Theology of Henri De Lubac: An Overview
Communio Books (October 1991)

Hans Urs von Balthasar prepared this overview of the theology and spirituality of Henri de Lubac, whom he calls friend and master, on the occasion of the latters's eightieth birthday. Beginning with personal reflections drawn from the then unpublished pages of "memoirs" which de Lubac placed in his hands, von Balthasar offers a review of all the major works of de Lubac.

Von Balthasar illustrates here the wonderful synthetic power for which he is justly known: bringing the range as well as the organic unity of de Lubac's work clearly into view. The main themes of that work remain as important now as when de Lubac first took them up--perhaps even more important. And there is no one better able to discuss these themes than von Balthasar, a master of theology in his own right and de Lubac's great friend for over fifty years. Co-published with Communio Books.

"Von Balthasar provides us with an astonishing summary of the massive theological output of Henri de Lubac. Perhaps it would not be an exaggeration to say that here we have one theological giant synthesizing the ecclesiocentric thought of another giant. The book offers a double benefit, for in it we get a glimpse of two great contemporary theologians—de Lubac and von Balthasar."

— Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J., Editor, Homiletic and Pastoral Review

Epilogue
Ignatius Press (June 30, 1991)

The great trilogy of theology by Hans Urs von Balthasar includes The Glory of the Lord, Theo-Drama, and Theo-Logic. His Epilogue, a single volume, is the closing of his masterwork, giving final details and overview to the prior volumes in the trilogy.
You Have Words of Eternal Life: Scripture Meditations
Ignatius Press (April 1991)

"These beautiful meditations of Fr. von Balthasar are a wonderful testament to his spirit—a spirit of great love of the Lord and his Church, and a spirit of the deepest wisdom and discernment for our times. Turn wherever you like in these pages and I believe you will find the spiritual nourishment which our souls need so much today. People cry out for the authentic food which can only come from inspired and prayerful pondering on the living message of Jesus. In You Have Words of Eternal Life there is such good food in plenty."

— Sister Briege McKenna, O.S.C., Author, Miracles Do Happen

"An outstanding example of Biblical theology that is both useful for the laity and faithful to the Church. It shows that something rich and true lies between scripture scholarship and systematic theology."

— Professor Scott Hahn, University of Steubenville

"These New Testament meditations are vintage von Balthasar, but more readily, more easily grasped by non-theologians. He brings to his scriptural commentary a fresh depth of insight that most biblical technicians simply do not have."

— Fr. Thomas Dubay, Author, Fire Within

Scandal of the Incarnation: Irenaeus Against the Heresies
Ignatius Press (January 1990)

Saint Irenaeus was the first great Christian theologian. Born in Asia Minor in about 130 A.D., he became Bishop of Lyons and died as a martyr early in the third century. His main work, Adversus Haereses (Against the Heresies), is as relevant today as it was eighteen hundred years ago. It is a critique of Gnosticism, the 'anti-body' heresy, which, far from dying out, continues to flourish as the main threat to the Christian faith in our own day. With serenity and good humor, Irenaeus unfolds the unity of God's purpose in creation and redemption, in Old and New Testaments. The flesh and blood which Gnosticism so despised has been assumed by God in the womb of the Virgin Mary, and glorified in the Resurrection and the Eucharist.

In this book, quotations from Saint Irenaeus have been arranged thematically in order to show the unity of his Christian view of the world. The texts have been selected and are introduced by the late Hans Urs von Balthasar, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest Catholic theologians of this century. They are translated by John Saward. "Everything in Irenaeus is bathed in a warm and radiant joy, a wise and majestic gentleness. His words of struggle are hard as iron and crystal clear, ... so penetrating that they cannot fail to enlighten the unbiased observer."

— Hans Urs von Balthasar

Christian Meditation
Ignatius Press (September 1989)

While von Balthasar's classic Prayer is unparalleled in its development of the Trinitarian, Christological, Mariological and ecclesiological dimensions of prayer, Christian Meditation is a short, readable and eminently practical guide to that form of prayer which God's revelation in Jesus Christ has made indispensable: meditation on the word of God revealing the inner depths of God to man and--since it comes from God made man--the inner depths of man to himself.

In a treatment that is both fresh and profound, Balthasar describes the central elements of all Christian meditation, provides a guide for making the meditation and then points the way to the union that prayer achieves in the footsteps of Mary, within the Church and in and for the world.

"Consequently, Christian meditation is entirely trinitarian and at the same time entirely human. In order to find God, no one need reject being human personally or socially, but in order to find God all must see the world and themselves in the Holy Spirit as they are in God's sight."

Test Everything: Hold Fast to What Is Good
Ignatius Press (March 1989)

Von Balthasar speaks from the heart in an interview giving his views on some of the most controversial topics of the day: the Jews, the anti-Roman attitude, sexuality, liberation, theology and others. Known for his vast theological works and wide-ranging intellect, von Balthasar continues to show his ability to address critical issues facing today's Church in a clear, concise and readable manner.
Dare We Hope
Ignatius Press (November 1988)

The Church's teaching on Hell has been generally neglected by theologians, with the notable exception of Fr. von Balthasar. However, what he has said has stirred controversy both in Europe and in the United States. Here he responds in a clear and concise way, grounding his reflections clearly in Scripture. Revelation gives us neither the assurance that all will be saved, nor the certitude that any are condemned. What it does require of us is the "hope that all men be saved" rooted in a love of Christ that reaches even into the depths of Hell.
In the Fullness of Faith: On the Centrality of the Distinctively Catholic
Ignatius Press (November 1988)

Virtually every aspect of Catholicism which is controversial within the Church or a stumbling block to non-Catholic Christians is treated in this book. Rather than avoiding what is most glaringly un-modern or what is most criticized by non-Catholics, Balthasar reviews these elements one by one, and shows how they are rooted in the central Christian mysteries and the commonly accepted tradition. What is specifically Catholic is not defended polemically, but described in such a way that others can see, even from their own point of view, the inner consistency with the mystery affirmed by all. Here is a form of thought which is truly ecumenical precisely because it is fully Catholic.

"We are not only interested in those aspects of the mystery of the Roman Catholic Church which set her apart from the other Christian communities, but also to show how often they are central beliefs by describing what is specifically Catholic in such a way that the partner in dialogue can see, even from his own standpoint, the inner consistency." — Hans Urs von Balthasar

Mary for Today
Ignatius Press (May 1988)

The acclaimed theologian von Balthasar gathers from the Sacred Scriptures and the richest tradition of the Church the elements of a portrait which shows Mary's place and her relevance for today.
Truth Is Symphonic: Aspects of Christian Pluralism
Ignatius Press (June 1987)

Von Balthasar shows the tension between the necessary unity in Christianity and the diversity that should and must exist. Today when most people talk about pluralism and really mean dissent and rebellion, von Balthasar shows how genuine variety is both possible and desirable within Catholic unity.
Office of Peter and the Structure of the Church
Ignatius Press (October 1986)

In this theological masterpiece on the ministry of the Pope (the Petrine Office) and the nature of the Church, the great Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar examines what he calls the anti-Roman attitude-a widespread hostility toward the Papacy. Unfortunately, this attitude exists even within the Catholic Church. How should we understand this? More importantly, how should we overcome it?

Hans Urs von Balthasar answers these questions by providing a balanced discusstion of the Papcy's place in the Church. He shows how the Office of Peter is an essential aspect of the ongoing life and mission of Christ's Church. On the one hand, the Papacy is not "above" the Church, the author insists, nor is the mystery of the Church reducible to the Papacy. On the other hand, writes von Balthasar, the Petrine ministry of the Pope is a crucial element among other indispensable, constitutive principles, which include what von Balthasar calls the Johannine and Pauline dimensions, and above all else on the Marian aspect of the Church.

Related

Principles of Christian Morality
Heinz Schurmann, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Hans Urs von Balthasar
Ignatius Press (June 1986)

A collection of essays by three giants of twentieth-cenutry theology: Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Heinz Schurmann. Balthasar's and Schurmann's essays were written for the International Theological Commission. Schurmann examines how the New Testament's teaching provides enduring moral norms for Christian conduct. Balthasar presents nine basic principles of the Christian moral life. Ratzinger, who originally wrote this essay as a series of articles for L'Osservatore Romano, addresses the relationship between faith and morality, and the place of the Church's teaching authority with regard to moral issues.
New Elucidations
Ignatius Press (May 1986)

Balthasar provides illumination on the burning issues of our day. He brings his scholarship to bear on some of the major topics of our time: Women Priests, Humanae Vitae, the Laity, and the “Flight into Community”, and much more.
Prayer
Ignatius Press (May 1986)

This is perhaps the best and most comprehensive book on prayer ever written. From the persons of the Trinity through the Incarnation to the Church and the very structure of the human person, this book is a powerful synthesis of what prayer is and how to pray. The testament of a great theologian on something which is most personal and interior, contemplative prayer.
Short Primer for Unsettled Laymen
Ignatius Press (September 1985)

Von Balthasar addresses the critical issues facing today's Catholic layman in a clear and readable manner. Speaking plainly on those ideas and questions which have unsettled many of the Catholic faithful, he brings much needed clarity into the contemporary confusion.
Does Jesus Know Us? Do We Know Him?
Ignatius Press (August 1983)

Von Balthasar sets forth and explains the Scriptural evidence for our ability to know the Lord and for His knowledge of us.
Convergences: To the Source of Christian Mystery
Ignatius Press (August 1983)

In an age of theological fragmentation, Hans Urs von Balthasar urges a reintegration of theology. The increasing specialization and compartmentalization to which theology has been subjected leads to confusion and disunity.

Convergences: To the Source of Christian Mystery begins by showing the unity between Christian thought (theology) and Christian living (spirituality). Then Balthasar turns to the specializations and divisions of theology, and shows how the unity of dogma governs and directs the specializations. Next, he examines "the dreadful multiplicity of churches and its pseudo-justfication through the alleged variety of theologies" in the New Testament". Finally, Balthasar has the reader focus on himself, challenging him to consider where "the integrated simplicity of his own existence might lie".

Balthasar argues against an imprudent simplification of theology which seeks to return to the “simplicity” of ancient Christian thought by throwing away allegedly useless accretions. “It is thought,” says Balthasar in the Foreword, “that liberating unity is achieved by ridding oneself of superfluous amassed goods.” One cannot remain true to theology, argues Balthasar, by throwing parts of the tradition overboard in an attempt to find a lost, longed-for theological unity. A prior experience of the unity of theology is required to make sound judgments about what is useless and what is helpful.

Threefold Garland
Ignatius Press (June 1982)

The great theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar, presents beautiful and profound reflections on the mysteries of the Rosary. Beautiful and profound reflections on the mysteries of the Rosary. The book is poetic and inspirational, but built on a solid theological foundation that shows the depths of meaning in this prayer.
First Glance at Adrienne Von Speyr
Ignatius Press (May 1981)

A personal introduction to Adrienne von Speyr, a contemporary Swiss convert, mystic, wife, medical doctor, author and co-foundress of a secular institute. Fr. von Balthasar, her spiritual director for 27 years, includes an appraisal of her contributions to theology and spirituality, a complete bibliography, her prayers, and passages from her more than sixty books. ZA
Heart of the World
Ignatius Press (June 1980)

A great Catholic theologian speaks from the heart about the Heart of Christ, in a profound and lyrical meditation on Our Lord's love for his Bride the Church. ZA