trinity

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)

our faith is not our own

Adrienne von Speyr has a quite profound understanding of faith that overcomes the usually traps. For Adrienne, our faith is not our own, but is God’s own vision of himself shared with humanity.

“The gift the triune God gives to man in the grace of faith may indeed have a similarity to the reciprocal vision of the three Persons in God and to the incarnate Son’s vision of the Father, but it is the sort of seeing that befalls man in his pilgrim state; it is a relationship that God establishes on his own terms and gives to man, and at the same time allows the believer to give in return.” Adrienne von Speyr, Light and Images, pg. 39

Faith is our entrance into the triune vision of God as God sees his triune self. In this participatory realm of vision, room is created for response. We could call this response assent or even works, but all faith is within the sovereignty of God’s grace. So the assent or work is already within the realm of saving faith, which is already within the realm of God’s own vision of himself.

To see as God sees himself … this is faith and this faith is not our own.

a compelling trinitarian theology

Happily my article “A Compelling Trinitarian Theology: Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Theology of the Trinitarian Inversion and Reversion” has just been published by the International Journal of Systematic Theology. If your institution gives you access to the journal’s articles, you can find it here.

The abstract of the article:

In trinitarian theology, the problematic place of the Holy Spirit in the taxonomy of the immanent Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) does not seem to correspond to what is revealed in the economy (Father, Holy Spirit and Son). Because of this pneumatological problem, some theologians have abandoned the traditional trinitarian taxonomy. This approach, however, does not provide a finally convincing answer that is consistent with both the biblical witness and the theological tradition. In this article, I argue that Hans Urs von Balthasar’s theology of the trinitarian inversion and reversion does provide a convincing answer to the trinitarian taxonomy problem. After supporting my thesis by first referencing the traditional trinitarian taxonomy offered in Augustine’s de Trinitate and then examining the possibility of abandoning the taxonomy given by Jürgen Moltmann and Leonardo Boff, I will offer von Balthasar’s solution as the most compelling trinitarian taxonomy, especially in light of the ecumenical dialogue between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.

This was first posted at my other website doctorsutton.net.

"our finitude encounters the trinity's infinitude" - audio presentation on adrienne von speyr

Me at Heart's Home.png

On June 17, 2010, I presented an hour and a half long orientation on Adrienne von Speyr to the new volunteers for Heart’s Home, a religious movement I wrote about earlier. I thought I would share the digital audio version of the presentation. 

The presentation is divided into three parts. The first third of the talk (00’-22’) gives an interpretive key to Adrienne’s thought. In the second third (22’-41’), I present an biographical overview to her life. In the last third (41’-1:08’), we read and discuss a few quotations from Adrienne’s book, The Boundless God, which I give to you below. In closing (1:08’-1:25’), we have question and answer.  

I am presenting to the six new volunteers for Heart’s Home for their orientation program before they are sent to their destination for 14-18 months. Oh, and you’ll also hear me laughing at my own jokes. If I don’t, who will? There is much imperfection here, but you may find this worth listening to if you would like to learn more about who Adrienne was and how to begin to understand her.

TheBrainIcon.png

Quotations from The Boundless God referenced during the presentation:

1. “When God creates the world he makes a beginning right in the middle of his eternity, a beginning that inaugurates the realm of number and numeration; day and night are already separated, and so times are placed in rhythmic succession.  … The realm of number and of finitude does not close in on itself; it remains the arena of infinite, that is, eternal life.  And when we are told that the Father is in communion with the Son and with the Spirit from eternity, we also experience that he is a God of love who begets the Son as his image and likeness, who pours out the Spirit, and who lets them both participate in the same eternity and infinity while receiving from them this very same eternity and infinity. Love thus knows no bounds; it proceeds from and to the eternal God.” (21)

2. “Because man sins and becomes unworthy of God’s love, God creates a punishment while at the same time also creating—as a new testimony of love—time which alone can be identified as the experience of finitude in the actual sense: he creates death. Through death, God puts an end to the creature who has chosen sin so that the condition of being in sin does not continue without bounds.” (22)

3. “the Son has taken upon himself the end that is death and has died for all men … Because the Son dies for and with him, he will be entrusted in death completely to the grace of God. Therefore, he already knows in life that the finitude of his existence corresponds to a grace from God that has been granted to all men and not just to him. The experience of his finitude, however, affords him knowledge of God’s infinity: his knowledge of the end of earthly life is a recognition of eternal life.  He can thus regard death, not only as punishment, but equally as the Father’s grace. The Son has taken death’s purely punitive character upon himself and thereby released the character of grace for his brothers, whereby he unveils and fulfills the purpose of finitude.” (22-23)

4. “His descent into the underworld is part of this sign: he does not just pass fleetingly through these areas unknown to us; he stays there for three days. He therefore takes the entire accumulation of his strength into the sacrifice that led to his death, beyond death and into the underworld.  … the world that he brought with him is his heavenly world, the world of the Father and of the Spirit, a world that infinitely surpasses our own. As humans, we are inclined to regard each act that the Son performs as finite, yet with each act he opens up infinity. Each time he does something as man, he does something divine. In everything he is and does, he grants us glimpses into the boundlessness of heaven. “ (24)

5. “Confession grants us just such a view of infinity. When we go to confession, we pass through a kind of death and, by acknowledging our sin, reach the end of it—the end that God has instituted through death. We repentantly confess and reach a boundary, an endpoint given us by the Son. The absolution we receive comes from beyond the here and now and is comparable to going to heaven. Sin is  shown its end in accordance with God’s punitive judgment, but a new life is also shown its beginning. Man experiences through this that God is exercising his love anew. He has been granted death and confession so that he can grant new space to the infinite love of the triune God.” (24-25)

6. “for the individual is always invited by the Son to satisfy the demands of the Father with the strength of the Holy Spirit, in the unity of the Son who lives on in the communion of saints, and with the definitive wherewithal of the Mother’s Yes.” (150)

My thanks to Sr. Regine for the invitation to present on Adrienne von Speyr.  Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

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.