a trinitarian anthropology by schumacher

Available this November from Catholic University of America Press will be a new book project from Michele Schumacher, a professor at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Her book, A Trinitarian Anthropology: Adrienne von Speyr and Hans Urs von Balthasar in Dialogue with Thomas Aquinas will have much to contribute to von Speyr and Balthasar studies. I've always enjoyed her work like Women in Christ: Toward a New Feminism and I know you will too when you are able to read this important new book.

In the meantime, you can read my book. Wink, wink.

Congratulations to Michele for this magisterial work!

maison de adrienne

Recently I visited the Adrienne von Speyr House (Maison de Adrienne) in Paris, France. It is one of the homes of the ecclesial movement Points-Coeur or in the English Heart's Home. Founded over twenty years ago by Fr. Thierry de Roucy, they desire to be the presence of Mary at the foot of the Cross.

They have several houses throughout the world serving the poorest of the poor in such countries as Chile, Thailand, Ukraine, Brazil, and India, but also they are in richer countries where the poverty of loneliness is extreme like in Japan, United States, Italy, and France.

Having taken on the name of Adrienne, this house in Paris serves as a spiritual home for a community of young professional women who after university are often left without a community of friends in faith. They gather for sharing in the riches of the culture of compassion through prayer and fellowship.

Immersed in heaven, living in the world, and lead by the motherly prayer of Sr. Isabel, who is a Servant of God's Presence, they gave living water to this thirsty American in Paris with their Cercle Adrienne-von-Speyr.

They read Adrienne. They pray Adrienne. They are Adrienne.

the name adrienne

In my professional writing I often I will refer to Adrienne von Speyr as ‘von Speyr.’ Even though she took the surnames of her first (Dürr) and second (von Kaegi) husbands, she was published under her maiden name. While it is also common to use her name Adrienne, I choose to use the more common, English academic practice of using her surname.

On pronoucing her last name “Speyr,” one can say “spair”, “spire”, or “schpair” depending on which language one is speaking, be it English, German, or Swiss, respectively. I tend to use the Swiss style "schpair".

In my personal or informal writings, I refer to her as Adrienne. The Community of St. John chose to use first names with the personal pronoun du.

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.

more good words about my book

"Hans Urs von Balthasar is increasingly acknowledged as one of the greatest theologians of the Christian tradition. Unquestionably, he was master of Western civilization as few have ever been and brought all into the key of Christ. His spiritual mentor in this vast undertaking was Adrienne von Speyr, whose work von Balthasar held to be more important than his own. Karl Rahner famously observed that the Christian of the twenty-first century would be a mystic-or not be at all. Adrienne von Speyr models this for us: she was gifted with a 'cataract of mystical graces.' Matthew Lewis Sutton's deep penetration into her mystical gifts offers an excellent introduction to her unique vision and also helps hit the 'reveal codes' button for von Balthasar's theology." - Raymond Gawronski (Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology, Berkeley, CA)

"This book has the potential to do for Adrienne von Speyr's theology what Father Edward Oakes's Pattern of Redemption did for Hans Urs von Balthasar's in the mid-1990s, in this case by accessibly introducing Adrienne to a generation of students and scholars. Focusing on the center of her thought-the opening of heaven through Christ's obedience so that we can share even now in the relationships that characterize the life of the divine Trinity, in light of her own experience of mystical penetration into the Father's sending of the Son and Spirit-Matthew Lewis Sutton ably presents Adrienne's teaching on the full panoply of theological topics. The convergence of her theology with von Balthasar's is striking." - Matthew Levering (Mundelein Seminary)

"Matthew Lewis Sutton's thorough, unpretentious, and lucid introduction to the person and work of Adrienne von Speyr is now the standard guide in English. Indeed, I suspect it will remain the standard for many years to come. If you're looking for an excellent introduction to Adrienne von Speyr, look no further." - Rodney Howsare (DeSales University)

"Matthew Lewis Sutton's explication of Adrienne von Speyr's insight into Christian spirituality untangles the style of the mystical writer, giving the reader access into the deep vision of this contemporary woman, which is too often dismissed as simplistic due to her uncomplicated language by some and as impenetrable due to her circular manner of her writing by others. Sutton's work uncovers wealth within subtlety and gives access to a truly inspired writer for sincere seekers of God's presence in the world. It is a must-read for those who have approached von Speyr but found her difficult to follow." - Justin M. Matro (Saint Vincent Seminary)

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

thanksgiving after confessing at the end of the year

Lord, we thank you for the gift of confession, for having taken away all our sins by your death.

When you did this, you showed us how total nakedness before the Father, how standing ready before him, doing his will, remaining where he has placed us all belong to the essence of true confession.

And now, as we come to the end of this year, we are conscious of having often done wrong. We have neglected so many things that, in keeping with your will, we ought to have attacked with gusto. We have not paid enough attention to your voice, we have not truly lived for you alone.

For we should have sought you in all things, we should have relished the year's joys as coming from you, we ought to have taken on ourselves its sufferings as willed or permitted by you, we ought to have followed every path you opened to us.

And yet there is no need to look back dolefully on this year, for like every year it was a year of your grace. A year in which you helped us, ceaselessly encouraged us, and showered us with joys and an endless number of good gifts.

And if we have not discovered you in all things and have failed so often to meet your expectations, today your grace permits us to have the refuse cleared away from us. You cleanse, you mend, you make all things new in us and together with us. And you do all this by the power of your Cross.

You suffered this Cross on Good Friday, and, in spite of our denial, you made so many feasts of redemption come after it on the strength of your Resurrection. And the absolution you give us is a perfect one: you give us the gift of a new purity, in union with the Father in your common Holy Spirit, in the eternal purity of the Trinity.

And so we do not have to keep building on an imperfect and unstable basis but have the grace of a new beginning on the foundation of your own perfection, which you communicate to us. We have the grace to join in your work of construction, to walk, to hope, to labor at your side.

This is how confession shines into our daily life, this is the effect of absolution. It irradiates and causes that joy which sprang first from your Cross and throughout all the days of the past year was enough to show us plainly your task.

Therefore, we thai you for having done everything for us exactly as we needed, we thank the Father, who let you become man for our sake, we thank the Holy Spirit, whose constant effort has been to realize your mission in our existence. Amen.

  • Adrienne von Speyr, With God and With Men: Prayers,

good words about my book

"In this significant monograph, Matthew Lewis Sutton brings expositional clarity and conceptual rigour to the extensive textual legacy of Adrienne von Speyr. It is a real accomplishment that this is achieved without any unnecessary sacrifice of the vibrancy and immediacy of her Trinitarian mystical theology. But perhaps the greatest achievement of this volume is to demonstrate that von Speyr's contemplative work is worthy of attention and study, not simply as an adjunct of the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar, but in its own impressive right."

— Paul T. Nimmo University of Aberdeen

Please preorder Heaven Opens.

preorder heaven opens

Now available for preorder: my new book Heaven Opens: The Trinitarian Mysticism of Adrienne von Speyr.

Adrienne von Speyr was one of the most important mystical theologians of the last century, heralded by figures like John Paul II and T.S. Eliot. However, her work has been eclipsed in many ways by her personal connection to Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar. Heaven Opens provides one of the first comprehensive accounts of von Speyr's theology.

My book argues that the eternal, immanent relations of the Triune God ground the mystical theological vision of von Speyr. Rooted in this vision of divine love, von Speyr's work is an account of the opening of heaven, a revelation of the Trinity's interior life turned outward to the world, that links intimately to the sacraments, prayer, the church, and the ethical life of obedience. In von Speyr's mystical theology, God as Triune journeys to us in order to brings us into the inner life of the Trinity. Here, von Speyr's work is for the first time given an independent hearing, expositing its content, features, and connections, and assessing its contribution to contemporary Catholic theology.

Please preorder Heaven Opens.

God's glory illuminated her and her lamp was the lamb

Lord of omnipotence and lord of impotence, you reveal both at once in your holiness: your omnipotence, which can overcome and direct each one of us, and your impotence, which has to wait upon the love and surrender of each one of us.

Whenever someone is ready to take the way that you yourself are and that you prepare for him, you place at his disposition your entire holiness as the light in which he can walk.

Without this light that you provide, there would be no portal for him to find and no way before him. Without your light, none of those who believe in you would attain even a slight degree of holiness.

For our holiness is the meeting of your light with the faith in us-- the faith we have always received from your light in the first place. And you allow us to reflect its beams together with you.

In the midst of the city, you have set up the sign of your Son's Cross as the sign of the highest holiness. And when you let your people walk the way of holiness, you give them, in the mode and manner that pleases you, this Cross for the journey, so that they may accept it, bear it, and bring it back to you, the almighty God, in your Son's company.

You allow your Son, accompanied by your saints, to give back the Cross he bore, but you also receive it jointly with the Son, so that he may see that you, Father, recognize in every one of your servants the countenance and the work of your Son.

You have given these servants the gift of holiness that you Son won for them on the Cross. In order that he may learn in perfect love for you that you have accepted his perfect offer, you allow the imprint of the Cross to be seen in the sacrifice your saints only attempt to after you.

All of us who have received from John the message of the perfect city want to serve you with renewed love, with renewed faith and renewed hope. We all want to use all our failing strength to help in the realization of your Son's work, so that his glorification of you, Father, may be manifested also in us and in all who are entrusted to us in your whole Church. Amen.

  • Adrienne von Speyr, With God and With Men: Prayers, pgs. 61-63

to surrender what we do not possess

Lord, so often I have given you what I possessed in abundance; let me now offer you everything that I do not have, that has always been denied me, that I have sought half-suspecting it was unattainable: peace, rest, shelter.

And if I know now that all this belongs to you, that it remains in your safekeeping and is your possession, I will no longer clamor for it. The constant, vain running of my restlessness no longer troubles me: rest is in you, you have taken possession of it, even from me; you can dispense it again without loss; in you is shelter-- who else would have it?-- you can deal out this gift.

Be praised: what we seek is found in you, and what we fancied we were giving you generously was in you from the beginning. And yet we thank you that in spite of this you accept it from us as well.

Lord, do not just take what we do not have: keep it.

Planting is the Lord's alone, to us he might leave the gathering of a few ears of his sprouting seed; that which was already his is what we bring before him.

A living fire does not cease to burn until all is consumed and reduced to ash; no one regards the ash; strewn lifeless on the ground, it cannot fructify, hidden as it is, but it can be trampled completely into the earth, serving a task of which it knows nothing.

Lord, burn us to ash, and scatter us according to your will. If I should ever say again what I will, do not grant that prayer: believe, even against every appearance, that from now on I am yours alone and know no other will than yours. Amen.

  • Adrienne von Speyr, With God and With Men: Prayers, 57-58

in your passion

Lord, in your Passion your glory disappears more and more; as the Son of man, you become pure man, so infinitely like us in your misery and nakedness.

And if we contemplate these things-- whenever you grant us to behold them in truth-- we remain before them as if out of time, and what we experience is terrifying in its duration, but even more terrifying because of its content. All that we are enters this state of being only man, which is solitude, yes, abandonment.

You suffered for us immersed so deeply in the night that we no longer even know that there is a Resurrection.

Lord, the burden of our sins on your shoulders is becoming unbearable to us. Design the way, give it the form you wish, the form of a cross, if need be. Amen.

  • Adrienne von Speyr, With God and With Men: Prayers, pg. 56

prayer for usability

Father, let our whole life become a prayer that rises up to you like fire and sweeps along in its flame everything evil and impure, all that belongs to us and to others, so that you may fill it up with your Spirit and may make it good enough to become yours and to be used by you.

Do not leave the evil in us either, Lord, but turn it back; open us to your action, even when it is painful; allow our conversion, allow it in your own name. Amen.

  • Adrienne von Speyr, With God and With Men: Prayers, 55

prayer for liberation from oneself

Lord, set me free and take me to yourself. You have shown me the chains that hold me back from my way, and if they still exist to hinder me, it is for no other reason than that in my heart of hearts I am not yet willing to detach myself from them.

How often I moan and groan and regret having so little freedom, whereas all I really mean are the obligations that daily life and my profession entail; but these obligations do not really block my path, they do not affect its essential course, at most its outer form; if anything, they are perhaps just little tests.

What weighs so heavily does not come from outside; it lives and takes shape in my own self-- I mean everything to which I am attached, which I am not disposed to renounce, which serves me as a crutch and a convenience, everything to which I believe I have a right.

Take, Lord--I am trying to ask you for this sincerely-- everything that in my eyes is part of my rightful spiritual property, but that paralyzes my love for you, that makes your love for my neighbor stop flowing and freeze solid.

Let me disappear in the flow of your love to all men, so that it can pour itself out unhindered. Amen.

  • Adrienne von Speyr, With God and With Men: Prayers, 54-55

prayer for those who have turned away

We can understand death and sickness and even poverty, Lord; but how can anyone turn away from you after having known your grace? That is an unfathomable mystery to us.

After all, it would be quite easy for you to make the signs of your grace so obvious that no one could have any more doubts about them or to bring back those who are leaving with a gentle call: and you do not do it, in your wisdom, you do not do it.

Lord, allow us just the same to beg you with our whole soul that our cry might pierce through the lukewarmness of those who are drawing back; let our members suffer for them, accept every sacrifice for them, only, we implore you, enable them to return, make it easy for them, and in exchange let us pay the price that you deem just. We will try to give you what you take, but grant them anew your faith, your grace.

And at the same time we know that we ourselves take our faith too lightly and are given over and over again to promises that seem hard when it comes time to keep them.

Lord, grant us all your mercy and strengthen our weakness. Amen.

  • Adrienne von Speyr, With God and With Men: Prayers, 52-53

prayer for constancy

Lord our God, give your children ready perseverance in loving you. You know all too well what we are like: moved by your goodness when it comes to us unexpectedly, dismayed by your severity when it reveals itself to us with its demands.

When we live through happy or hard days, we think of you, seeing what comes from you; but in the monotony of every day we grow lukewarm, we forget you, we keep you far from our thoughts and from our action, as if we needed you only on the eventful days, as if we wanted to have you at our disposal.

We beg you, change this, let us turn back while there is time, act decisively, tear out our tepidity, replace it with fire or cold or with both at once, only, allow your Spirit to blow in us.

Destroy everything that is not yours, and let us think no thought whose center is not you, so that by this destruction we are compelled to a livelier love.

We do not demand of this love that it be painful or delightful, only that it be yours, forevermore.

Lord, give us the grace to offer you again and again what you have given us. Only in this way will we unprofitable servants not remain fruitless.

Bless your love in us, so that it may yield the fruits that you desire. Amen.

  • Adrienne von Speyr, With God and With Men: Prayers, 51-52

suscipe commentary - 8 of 8

Suscipe of Saint Ignatius

"Then I am rich enough."

Rich and enabled to serve you, for your love contains everything needed by one who believes and hopes. Thanks to this love I am as rich as you yourself in your return to the Father after the accomplishment of your mission. As rich as the Father when he welcomed you back, as rich as the Spirit when he reunited you two, because your triune love is so infinite that there is room in it for everything and is enriching only as a creature can be filled to overflowing with goods when it lives by the love and grace of God. For faith can wish for nothing with greater longing than to take part in eternal love, and love can eternally love only itself in its triune fulfillment.

  • Adrienne von Speyr, With God and With Men: Prayers, 49

suscipe commentary - 7 of 8

Suscipe of Saint Ignatius

"Give me only your love and your grace"

Your love was always the love of the triune God, in which you allowed us to participate and which we have idly spurned by sinning. Give me this love now on the condition that I deem it the highest good and do not prove myself unworthy of it time and again. I need it more urgently than the air I breathe; therefore, let it be such an urgent imperative for me that it becomes a spur prodding me to serve you better. Let it be offered to you along with everything else; let me treasure it as you yourself love the Father whom you obey.

  • Adrienne von Speyr, With God and With Men: Prayers, 49

suscipe commentary - 6 of 8

Suscipe of Saint Ignatius

"I commit it to you for your entire disposition"

Let it be so completely entrusted to you that you can utilize it without regard for the giver, like anything you please, which you are free to use or not; I pray you, consider it your property, just as I, alas, considered it my property as long as it was in my hands. I would like to leave it in your hands without counting the cost and without ulterior motives and from now on see in all reality, in things and days and nights, northing but your property, which is yours to do with as you please and which by that very fact alone acquires new meaning.

  • Adrienne von Speyr, With God and With Man: Prayers, 48

suscipe commentary - 5 of 8

Suscipe of Saint Ignatius

"to you I return it all"

Not by scorning it and casting it away, for I would like to offer it to you just as I received it, as little damaged as possible, with no other meaning and value than those you intended when you gave it to me. I would also like to offer it to you in as living a way as I received it from you.

  • Adrienne von Speyr, With God and With Men: Prayers, 48