published books

preorder my new book

We are two weeks before my book ships. I believe so strongly in this book and its impact for the scholarly and spiritual study of Adrienne von Speyr and Hans Urs von Balthasar. If you haven't preordered, please do so. You will be supporting me certainly (a good thing, I hope), but also supporting your further growth in deepening your faith in what our Lord has revealed to us in Jesus Christ.

His love endures.

Please preorder Heaven Opens: The Trinitarian Mysticism of Adrienne von Speyr.

new translation of adrienne's commentary on Mark

Transient

You need to read this commentary on the Gospel of Mark. Last fall, Ignatius Press released the translation of Adrienne von Speyr's commentary on Mark. For any theological study of her, this book is central to Adrienne's earlier thought and should belong to any Adrienne essential reading list, which must also include her commentary on John, Handmaid of the Lord, and Confession.

Mark: Meditations for a Community, translated by Michelle K. Borras, is special because of its time and method. When founding her secular institute, the Johannesgemeinshaft, Adrienne composed a series of foundational meditations on the Gospel of Mark to give the new community a a contemplative bedrock. Whereas Balthasar wrote the community's rule with his book Our Task: A Report and a Plan, Adrienne's meditations on Mark were to be the formal spiritual opening of the gate to the community's new life and mission. One of the members present at this gate opening was Frau Cornelia Capol who will tell you that this book is her favorite of all Adrienne's books.

The method of composition is special in that the vast majority of Adrienne works were dictated to Balthasar who later edited them (some more than others) into publishable books. We should remember that he founded the Johannesverlag for publishing these works. So unlike her other books, Mark was dictated to the community and these notes of the community (including Balthasar's initial notes as he tells us in the "Forward" of the book) became the text we now have before us. It appears too that Adrienne was involved in some of the initial editing of these notes. This information should give you an idea of these meditations' importance and also give you insight on how to read the commentary.

Let us think about that insight. Balthasar explained in the "Forward" that the "meditations are addressed to young people who have made a decision for the state of the evangelical counsels in a worldly profession, for a secular institute that was coming into being." In these meditates Adrienne will be using the Gospel of Mark to prepare the community for living in the world following the way of Jesus through the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. While of course Adrienne is not intent on composing an academic commentary, her interpretation of the text is all within the dogma of the Catholic Church and comes from her own contemplation. It is also not a full commentary on the Gospel. The passion narratives of Mark were not offered because we are told the initial meditations were given during Eastertide. If you are familiar with Mark this could be read as a major oversight of a proper spiritual commentary, but like all of Adrienne's writings the passion of Christ is never absent. The loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the foundation for one's mission to be in the world through the evangelical counsels.

As I come back to this book now in English having read it in German, I am reminded of how the book gives you continually new openings toward new paths of contemplation. Like a lot of Adrienne's writings, this is a hard book to read quickly. So many doors open as you walk down the hallway of the book. I hope you will read the book and get distracted into deep contemplation.

You can find it at Ignatius Press paperback and ebook and at any other major online book seller.

As a closing, here is a picture I took of Lac-de-Neuchatel from the town of Estavayer-le-Lac where these meditations were given and where the founding of the Johannesgemeinshaft began.

View of Lac-de-Neuchatel from Estavayer-le-Lac

View of Lac-de-Neuchatel from Estavayer-le-Lac

my book Heaven Opens to be published next year

Adrienne von Speyr 1936 focused.jpg

Deo gratias. My book Heaven Opens: The Trinitarian Mysticism of Adrienne von Speyr will be published by Fortress Press and will be available early 2014. Yes, this is a little bit of a long wait, but it will be well worth it. This book will be the first significant book in English on Adrienne von Speyr.

Please stay tuned here for all of the details for how you can get the book to learn more about Adrienne von Speyr's theology of the Trinity.

In the book, you will find a comprehensive presentation of Adrienne von Speyr's mystical visions of the Trinity placed in constructive dialogue with the tradition of Catholic trinitarian theology. The goal of the book seeks to help develop this tradition, to aid your understanding of Adrienne, and more importantly, to guide you in your encounter with the Trinity--the beginning and the end of all love.

My thanks to Fortress Press for accepting the book manuscript and working with me to promote this important book that will help in their mission to make Adrienne von Speyr known.

Thank you for all your support through reading the vonspeyr.net journal, commenting on my posts, and corresponding with me. You've made this book into something better than it ever could have been. Thank you.

In the meantime, let's read some more Adrienne.

"Our Father. Your Fatherhood did not stop when You created us; it remains our lifelong companion; it is not subject to randomness but is steady like nothing else. You were, are, and will remain: the Father, and we have the privilege of calling You that in simplicity and love. But at the same time, we include all the requests that a child, in whatever situation he finds himself, can bring before his father. We stammer, full of care, afraid that You might not understand; and we speak out, calmly, confidently, knowing that You are always ready to receive us, that You have time for all our concerns; and we cry with our last ounce of strength, and what we want is so enormous that even that cry falls short of it. You remain the same, O Father.

"We want to have Your name always on our lips, but it is often smothered by everything that is not You, that is probably just us, us children of ingratitude and unreason. But You know how we are, You are in us, even when we refuse to recognize it. Your greatness, Your unity, fill what we like so much to explain with many words, although we do not have a clear view of it: our inmost being. And this inmost being, our ultimate I-hood, is what is united eternally with You through our voice, for it needs neither to seek nor to find. Despite all sin, it remains intact; despite all external doubts, it does not waver. In all certainty it is tentative and questioning, perhaps still foreign to us, because it consists almost too much of only what is most intimate, ultimately of what comes from You and goes to You, knowing just one word: Our Father.

"Being Father, you give everything, and we receive everything. You do ask for an account, but there is never a final calculation: goes on into your Love."

(Adrienne von Speyr, Lumina and New Lumina, p. 108-109)

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.

book review: to the heart of the mystery of redemption

A new Hans Urs von Balthsar book is out that includes a few selections from Adrienne von Speyr (emphasis on a few).

To the Heart of the Mystery of Redemption (THMR), which you can find here, is actually a book of four authors in one. The shortest contribution comes from von Speyr.

To see von Speyr in print is always good (let us remember the Speyrian phrase “always more”). This book is actually a sketch of von Balthasar’s soteriology with a long essay from Jacques Servais, S.J., a scholar of von Balthasar and von Speyr as well as the director of the Casa Balthasar.

Henri de LubacHenri de Lubac, teacher and friend to von Balthasar compiled the original collection, which were two conferences von Balthasar gave to priests in Paris. After these conferences there are seven one-page selections from von Speyr, mostly from Objectiv Mystik and Passion nach Matthaeus. It is fascinating that de Lubac would have included von Speyr in this collection. In the introduction, he says that “there is no better initiation into this mystery than the experience received from the mystics, who are no more lacking to the present generation than to earlier ones” and this why von Speyr’s selections were added because “They will introduce the reader into that participation in the mystery of the redemption” (p. 12). I have always wondered about de Lubac’s understanding of von Speyr. Now we know more.

Fr. Servais was responsible for releasing the book again in French and included with it his essay on Balthasar’s soteriology from 2005. The book has now come to us in English by the translating work of Anne Englund Nash. This book has actually been touched by many hands.

Immer mehr (always more) Adrienne is good. Yet, this book gives us very, very little. True, these are words not yet read by English-only readers of von Speyr. But, after the bold release of Book of All Saints (Nachlassbaende vol. 1), this is disappointing to von Speyr readers.

Let me be clear. The book is not a disappointment. Von Balthasar is at his most highly associative in these conferences. You see his mind at work as he leads you through multiple sources in order to provide you with an elevated ground to consider the whole landscape of soteriology in the modern age. Even though you will need some background in von Balthasar to work through his thoughts here, he is always worth reading.

Still … (how to say this gently) … the English-speaking world needs more substantive von Speyr than this book. What about offering these: Subjective Mystik, Objective Mystik, Markus, and the very important Apokalypse (her commentary on the Book of Revelation)? When the English theological world reads these, Speyrian theology will really blossom.

Yes, read THMR if you are interested in de Lubac, von Balthasar, or Servais. You should know, it is not required reading for those interested in von Speyr. Instead, pick up John, Confession, Handmaid of the Lord, or Book of All Saints. Better yet, read her auf Deutsch. Sie werden nicht enttäuscht sein.

Here is a brief exerpt from von Speyr’s commentary on Matthew 5:39 in Bergpredigt:

“On the Cross the Lord does not show merely that he allows his grace to flow visibly over all … but he also shows that he can make use of all they have accomplished for him. And thus that he does not suffer his Passion simply for sins, but that he is in a mysterious compassion with all believers. … He assumes all the trials of their faith, of their suffering, and of their availability and opens wide to them the grace that flows from the Cross” (THMR, p. 78).

Immer mehr, please.

von speyr in spanish

For those of you interested in reading Adrienne von Speyr in Spanish, I am happy to tell you about a new publishing house called Ediciones San Juan.Ediciones San Juan  

Their purpose is mainly to publish von Speyr's works in Spanish.  The translators know well her theology and mysticism so they are able to provide good faithful translations.

At the time of this post, these editions are available:

  • Ancilla Domini
  • El cantar de los cantares
  • Elías
  • La confesión
  • La creación
  • La misión de los profetas
  • La Palabra se hace carne: Meditaciones sobre el Evangelio de Juan, 1-5
  • La santa misa
  • María en la redencion 
  • Palabras de la cruz y sacramentos

Thanks to Alberto Valero for alerting me to this important work.

new translation - man before god

Man Before God by Adrienne von SpeyrThanks to the translation of David Schindler Jr. and Nicholas J. Healy, we have a new translation of Adrienne von Speyr's short work the way of sanctification, Der Mensch vor Gott.  The book, Man Before God, published by Ignatius Press provides a one-volume summary of her theological anthropology, i.e. how she views the human person in light of his encounter with God.  

Readers of Hans Urs von Balthasar will see in her book similar themes from his work Heart of the World.  If I allow myself any time to reflect upon my existence as a man before God, I begin to know deeply my finitude, my limitations, and my nothingness.  Yet, since God has become man, I am now able to find within my finitude a way toward the infinite.  I stand before God as a finite man longing for the infinite, but Jesus Christ, who has taken on my position of finitude, stands before God as the perfect man who is perfectly infinite.  

If you read this book, you must know that her title has a double meaning: it means Man (as in a human person) before God, but it also means The Man (Jesus Christ as the perfect man [Der Mensch]) before God. 

lumina and new lumina

Lumina and New LuminaA new translation is available of the small but valuable work, Lumina und Neue Lumina.  Published by Ignatius Press, this book, Lumina and New Lumina, which is a collection of aphorisms, really contemplative 'insights', should be graciously welcome in the English-speaking world.

"To get or to understand people always means: to look at them from God's angle, from the point of view communicated through Him.  It is not a science but a pure grace."

"Christian hope is a vessel in which faith lives; love carries it."

"Only when you are familiar with silence have you learned to speak; what you have to say can ripen only in silence."

new italian publication

The italian journal, Humanitas, has published a concentrated issue on Adrienne von Speyr as a mystic of the twentieth century.  Edited by Giacomo Coccolini, you will find these important articles: Humanitas, Adrienne von Speyr issue

Coccolini, G., "Introduzione" 

Martinelli, P., "Adrienne von Speyr e la mistica cristiana"

Servais, J., "Una mistica imperniata sulla Rivelazione giovannea. Adrienne von Speyr" 

Ouellet, M., "Adrienne von Speyr e il Sabato Santo della teologia" 

Krenski, Th., "Stefano o Gezabele? «Mistica oggettiva» di Adrienne von Speyr" 

Sincere thanks to Dr. Alberto Fanton for alerting me.