e-adrienne - digital editions of adrienne's works

As you may not have realized, the digitial revolution has officially begun. The clear sign—Adrienne von Speyr’s books are now available on the Kindle. The texts available are Book of All Saints, Confession, The Boundless God, To the Heart of the Mystery of the Redemption, and The Christian State of Life. You can also find these e-books at Ignatius Press too. You will also find that Ignatius offers an audio book of Three Women and the Lord

NB: I receive no sponsorship from Amazon, Ignatius Press, or any other publisher of Adrienne von Speyr’s books. I intend to keep it that way. Mind you, no publisher has asked. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Happy e-reading your e-adrienne.

"service as compassionate confession" - audio presentation on adrienne von speyr

I, Confess.jpg

Alfred Hitchcock’s “I, Confess”On October 23, 2010 and February 19, 2011, I presented (my best yet) orientation to Adrienne von Speyr and her theology of Confession. I was speaking to Heart’s Home international volunteers (more about them here). You may remember, I gave a presentation to them last summer on Adrienne’s understanding of finitude and infinitude

Here’s the audio from my presentation: The Mission of Service as Compassionate Confession.

Von Speyr’s theology of Confession from her book Confession places the sacrament within the divine relations of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I have never met a more profound, accessible, important theology of confession anywhere else.

I begin my discussion with this central quotation:

“There is no mission that is not determined decisively by one’s confessional attitude” (Confession, p. 208)

As you follow my discussion of the confessional attitude and how it relates to mission, you will also need these quotations below from Adrienne’s book Confession (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1985).

1. “In all events which are not inevitable and in whose course freedom and inclination can intervene, a person usually searches for a solution or a way out and often for a reason or cause as well. … Only when this success fails to materialize according to his wish does he look for the causes behind the failure, and it is in this search that he first encounters the question concerning the state of his own life. … Yet it is precisely when he justifies himself and concludes that he is innocent that his deeper discomfort—the feeling of a hidden guilt—begins” (11).

2. “Ultimately, only the Creator of the human soul will be able to treat it so that it becomes the soul he needs. Only he can heal it, and he does this in ways that only he knows and discloses and prescribes for healing. … the decisive way of God—confession—is based on obedience: more specifically, on the obedience to God” (15).

3. “If a person … comprehends himself as standing before God, and if he knows that he, like Adam, was created by God and redeemed by Christ and that Christ opens for him the way to the Father and the doors of heaven, then … he will expect confession with a kind of necessity” (16).

4. “As long as a person is not confessing, he feels free to speak or keep silent about whatever he wishes. What he then hates in confession is not the humbling experience of revealing himself, and not the fact that he is a sinner—he already knows that somehow—but the necessity of capitulating before and within total confession, the fact that the freedom of selection has been withdrawn and that the only choice remaining is to reveal everything or nothing. He is sick as a whole person and must be healed as such, and not eclectically. That is the first humbling experience. The second is that he is only one of many and has to accept the same conditions as do the others … [he experiences] the elimination of all external differentiation … merely one penitent in the line of other sinners. The peculiarities of my particular ‘case’, which made it seem so interesting to me and which I would so gladly have explained to the listener, do not matter at all any more” (18).

5. “Whoever would learn how to confess must first look at the life of the Son of God” (20).

6. “God stands before God in the attitude that is fitting for God. Analogously, we can designate this as the attitude of confession, since it is the attitude in which God shows himself as he is. … When the Son institutes confession at Easter, he does so to bring this divine attitude closer to human beings, to mediate to them part of the trinitarian life” (21).

7. “One can say that the Lord lives on earth before the Father in the same condition in which the perfect penitent should live before his own confessor, before the Church and before God: in complete openness, concealing nothing, always ready in every moment to expect the intervention of the Holy Spirit, drawing security from the Father and his Spirit instead of from within himself. The Son lives in perpetual contact with the Father, and the expression of this contact is his word, ‘Not my will, but thy will be done’” (23).

8. “Anyone who has recognized, in confession and in the prayer belonging to it, the possibility not only of ridding himself of his own sins through the grace of the Lord but also of helping others at the same time will suddenly realize that there is a place where confession and mission encounter and permeate one another to the point of coincidence” (206).

9. “There is no mission that is not determined decisively by one’s confessional attitude” (208). 

I hope that you enjoy this discussion. Please leave your comments below.

NB: If you want to read more, chapter eleven of Confession, which is on the confession of the saints, can be found here.

recent journal article on speyr's theology of confession

Geist und LebenIn the current issue of Geist und Leben (#83 Mai/Juni 2010), Karsten Erdmann has an article on von Speyr’s theology of confession called “Heimweh nach Gott. Adrienne von Speyrs Theologie der Beichte [Homesick for God: Adrienne von Speyr’s Theology of Confession]” Geist und Leben 83 (2010).

If you know of other recent articles, I would be glad to announce them.

a speyrian interpretation of the prodigal son as the prodigal Word

The gospel reading on the Fourth Sunday of Lent is the story of the prodigal son (Lk 15:1-3,11-32). My friend, Deacon Paul Anel, who is the Art Director of Heart’s Home USA in Brooklyn chose to use a Speyrian interpretation of the passage for his sermon last Sunday.  Here we see von Speyr’s principle at work—everything in Scripture must be brought into the trinitarian relations. 

By permission, I present the sermon here for you:The prodigal Word kneeling at the feet of the Father

“‘A man had two sons…’ We heard that story so many times that we know it by heart. Yet each time we hear it again, we cannot help identifying with this man. I am the prodigal son, the son who strayed away from his Father’s love and home. I wasted my time and life for things that could not make me happy. This parable is the story of my life, my journey, it is the story of my sins and conversions.

Conversion, we believe, is our responsibility. That’s what Lent and penance is about, isn’t it? Sin is something that pertains to us, whereas everything good in us pertains to God: patience, tenderness, courage and, above all, charity. He has taken everything from us. Everything but sin. Sin still belongs to us. It is our thing, our responsibility. Sin is what God cannot take away from us. It belongs to us, and therefore, conversion too. It is our work, our lifelong effort. Maybe our pride.

“‘A man had two sons…’ I would like to suggest that we read that Parable differently. ‘A man had two sons…’ God the Father lived in perfect communion with the Word and the Holy Spirit. Everything that belonged to him belonged to them: his divinity, his perfect knowledge, his love. One day though, the Word decided to set off to a country far away. Taking his heritage, that is, his divine nature, he left his Father’s home and came down into the world. The Word was made flesh and he dwelt among us. There he was, walking among us. Wasting his divine heritage during thirty years in the silence of Nazareth. Then sitting in the house of the sinners, eating with tax collectors and prostitutes. Giving away everything he possessed: his time, his words, his strength. Giving away everything, up to his flesh and blood. Up to his garments. Until he found himself starving on the cross, starving for love, for forgiveness. Far from his Father, no longer deserving to be called his Son, abandoned by him and by us.

“Sin does not belong to us. Not anymore. If there is one thing that Jesus took away from us, it is sin, precisely. Not that he committed sin. It did much more than that: ‘He was made sin’, says St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians. He was made sin. That is, he experienced the agony, the exile, the consequences of sin to an extent never quite experienced by any human being. He endured the agony of sin and the loneliness of hell in a way we cannot even imagine.

Love One Another by Georges Rouault, 1923“Lent is not about our conversion, not primarily. It is about Christ’s conversion. It is about Christ confessing on the Cross the sin of the world, our sin, my sin. It is about the Father embracing Jesus-Christ on Easter morning, absolving him from the burden of Sin. Covering him with the mantle of victory. Putting at his finger the nuptial ring… For Jesus did not come back alone to his Father’s home. He married our humanity, saving us from our prostitutions to lifeless idols. Making us the Church, his pure and sinless bride.

“During the next three weeks before Easter, let us ask the Father - not for our conversion - but that we may keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ with faith and gratitude. That each confession may be a participation in his own Great Confession on the Cross. That each confession may fill us with the certitude of the Absolution, that was given once and for all on Easter morning. That each Eucharist may give us the joy to celebrate with him, in his Father’s house, the gift of Salvation.”

—Thank you for this, Deacon Anel.


are there dissertations on von speyr?

Yes, as far as I have been able to find, there are a few dissertations (one of which is my own). They are:

Berg, Blaise R. "Christian Marrige according to Adrienne von Speyr," S.T.D. diss., Lateran Pontifical University, John Paul II Institute of Studies on Marriage and Family, Rome, 2003.

Matro, Justin. “Christian Suffering in the Spiritual Writings of Adrienne von Speyr.” S.T.D. diss., Gregorian Pontifical University, Rome, 1999.

Miles, L. M. "Obedience of a Corpse: The Key to the Holy Saturday Writings of Adrienne von Speyr." Ph.D. diss., University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK, 2013.

Schiettecatte, J. “Disponibilité aimante: L’attitude d’amour johannique chez Adrienne von Speyr à la lumière de l’exégèse contemporaine.” S.T.D. diss., Teresianum Pontifical University, Rome, 1998.

Schmidt, William. “The Sacrament of Confession as Sequela Christi in the Writings of Adrienne von Speyr.” S.T.D. diss., Lateran Pontifical University, John Paul II Institute of Studies on Marriage and Family, Rome, 1999.

Sutton, Matthew. "The Gate of Heaven Opens to the Trinity: The Trinitarian Mysticism of Adrienne von Speyr." Ph.D. diss., Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI, 2007.

Others in process. I look forward to promoting more dissertations on von Speyr's vast theological and mystical work.