death

death and adrienne

I was thinking about death lately because I recently taught a graduate Eschatology course and came to this Woody Allen quotation: “It's not that I'm afraid to die it’s just that I don't want to be there when it happens” (Without Feathers, p. 99)

I was also thinking about several people who have died in my life recently and came to this quotation from Adrienne: “Death is God’s invention that finally prevents the sinner from resisting His grace” (Lumina, p. 59)

Yes, in theology, irresistible grace in its Calvinist version and efficient grace in its Catholic version have been isolated to a few select theological niches. Yet, here Adrienne reminds us that death, as an allowed intervention by God to his irresistible, efficient grace, confronts us to his potent, unavoidable presence. It is like the unavoidable presence of a parent extending his arm to his child and says, “Hold my hand.” What child will not accept that invitation? Why do we not see death as the Father extending his arm and saying to the new dead one, “Hold my hand.” Certainly, in death there will be no other hand to hold.

Yes, Woody Allen is right that one should not fear death because as Adrienne says,

“To fear death means to shift it completely into the temporal and to forget the power of the sacraments that ferry us over to the other side, that prepare and purify us. To know death, by contrast, means to know that God remains the eternal giver and that out of a kind of yearning He already uses the moment we pass over to manifest His presence more clearly” (Lumina, p. 60).

adrienne von speyr on the meaning of suffering

Recently, I spoke with the new international volunteers working with Heart’s Home to prepare them for their compassionate service to those who are suffering.

My thesis for the presentation is this:

“Things have meaning only to the extent that they lead to God, come from him and can be placed at his service” (Adrienne von Speyr, Mystery of Death, p. 47).

Two parts make up this presentation on Adrienne von Speyr and the meaning of suffering. The first part below is an overview of Adrienne’s life and thought especially as it relates the meaning of personhood and how suffering fits within her understanding of being a person in relation to God and others. Here is part one:

I hope you enjoyed that one. We go deeper yet.

The second part of the presentation below is a discussion of the chapter “Death as God’s Action” from Adrienne’s book The Mystery of Death. Here is part two:

I hope you enjoyed that one too.

For those interested in a tangent about how I’ve come to these insights about Adrienne on the meaning of suffering, please continue to read on.

I’ve been working on several major research projects on the meaning of suffering through the academic conference Making Sense of Suffering with the scholar community Inter-Disciplinary.Net. I presented at their Prague conference last year on Balthasar and the Meaning of Suffering. A version of the presentation is in the conference proceedings eBook Making Sense of Suffering: Theory, Practice, and Representation. I will be presenting at their next conference on Adrienne and the Meaning of Suffering, which I will post here when it becomes available. Additionally, if you are really interested in the postmodern debate on the meaning of suffering, I have recently co-edited a book on it, which is will be available in a few months.

Thank you for being such loyal readers of this website. I’m grateful for your comments and emails. Blessings to you all.

where is adrienne von speyr buried?

Adrienne von Speyr, who died in September 17, 1967, was buried three days later on her sixty-fifth birthday in Basel, Switzerland next to her husband, Werner Kaegi.  Here's a map of the Basel cemetery Friedhof am Hörnli, which is also the same cemetery where Karl Barth was buried.


View Friedhof am Hönli in a larger map

Here is the location of her tombstone in the cemetery.


View Tombstone of Adrienne von Speyr in a larger map

When you visit, you will see her unique tombstone, which symbolically represents the circumincession of the Trinity.  It was carved by Albert Schilling, who also carved the altar in the Basel Allerheiligen church.

Tombstone of Adrienne Kaegi - von Speyr (1902-1967)

"I believe as best I can; I hope as best I can; I love, finally, as best I can. But the Son's love--and in it the love of the triune God--is infinite, accompanying the dying through death and leading them to their place in eternal life" (Adrienne von Speyr, The Mystery of Death, 114).