Sr. Mc Bride Section

Mary, Mother of God Section 


            BIBLIOGRAPHY [172]

            Works of Hans Urs von Balthasar

________. Theo-Drama: Theological Dramatic Theory. Vol. 3. Dramatis Personae: The Person in Christ. Translated by Graham Harrison. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Originally published as Theodramatik: Zweiter Band. Teil 2. Die Personam des Spiels: Die Personen in Christus (Einsiedeln: Johannes Verlag, 1978).

________. Two Sisters in the Spirit: Therese of Lisieux and Elizabeth of the Trinity. Therese of Lisieux translated by Donald Nichols and Anne Elizabeth Englund. Elizabeth of the Trinity translated by Dennis Martin. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Originally published as Schwestern im geist: Therese von Lisieux und Elisabeth von Dijon (Johannes Verlag, 1970).

________.  Explorations in Theology II: Spouse of the Word. Essays translated by A. V. Littledale with Alexander Dru; Edward T. Oakes; John Saward; Brien Mc Neil; Erasmo S. Leiva-Merikaris. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991. Originally published as Sponsa Verbi (Skizzen zur Theologie II), (Einsiedeln: Johannes Verlag, 1961). Several parts previously published in English in Church and World. Translated by A. V. Littledale with Alexander Dru. New York: Herder and Herder, 1967.

________. Explorations in Theology I: The Word Made Flesh. Translated by A. V. Littledale with Alexander Dru. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1989. Originally published as Verbum Caro (Skizzen zun Theologie), (Einsiedeln: Johannes Verlag, 1960). Previously published in English as Word and Revela­tion: Essays in Theology 1. Translated by A. V. Littledale with Alexander Dru. New York: Herder and Herder, 1964. Word and Redemption: Essays in Theology 2. Translated by A. V. Littledale with Alexander Dru. New York: Herder and Herder, 1965.

________. "Commentary." In Mary: God's Yes to Man: Pope John Paul II Encyclical Letter, Mother of the Redeemer. Translated by Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988. Originally published in Maria: Gottes Ja zum Menschen (Freiburg im Breisgau: Verlag Herder, 1987).

________. In the Fullness of Faith. Translated by Graham Harrison. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988. Originally published as Katholisch (Einsiedeln, Johannes Verlag, 1975).

________. Mary For Today. Translated by Robert Nowell. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988. Originally published as Maria fur heute (Frieburg im Breisgau: Verlag Herder, 1987).

________. The Office of Peter and the Structure of the Church. Translated by Andree Emery. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986. Originally published as Der antiromische Affekt (Freiburg im Breisgau: Verlag Herder KG, 1974).

________. Prayer. 2nd ed. Translated by Graham Harrison. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986. Originally published as Das Betrachtende Gebet (Einsiedeln: Johannes Verlag, 1955).

________.  A Short Primer for the Unsettled Layman. Translated by Michael Waldstein. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1985. Originally published as Kleine Fibel fur verunsicherte, Laien (Einsiedeln: Johannes Verlag, 1980).

________. The von Balthasar Reader. Translated by Robert J. Daly and Fred Lawrence. Edited by Medard Kehl and Werner Loser. Introduction by Medard Kehl. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1985. Originally published as In der Fulle des Glaubens: Hans Urs von Balthasar-Lesebuch (Freiburg im Breisgau: Verlag Herder, 1980).

________. The Christian State of Life. Translated by Sr. Mary Frances Mc Carthy. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1983. Originally published as Christlicher Stand (Einsiedeln: Johannes Verlag, 1977).

________.  The Glory of the Lord. Vol. 1: Seeing the Form. Translated by Erasmo Leiva-Merikskis. Edited by Joseph Fessio and John Riches. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1983.  Originally published as Herrlichkeit: Eine theologische Asthetik, 1: Schau der Gestalt (Einsiedeln: Johannes Verlag, 1977).

 ________. The Threefold Garland. Translated and prefaced by Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1982. Originally published as Der Dreifache Kranz (Einsiedeln: Johannes Verlag, 1978).

________. Heart of the World. Translated by Erasmo S. Leiva. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1979. Originally published as Das Herz der Welt (Zurich: Peter Schifferli Arch Verlag, 1954).

________. Elucidations. Translated by John Riches. London: S.P.C.K., 1975. Originally published as Klarstellungen: zur Prufung der Geister (Freiburg im Breisgau: Verlag Herder KG, 1971).

________. Love Alone. Translated and edited by Alexander Dru. New York: Herder and Herder, 1969. Originally published as Glaubhaft ist nur Liebe (Einsiedeln: Johannes Verlag, 1963).

________. A Theological Anthropology. Translated by Benziger Verlag, Einsiedeln. New York: Sheed and Ward, 1967. Also published as Man in History: A Theological Study. London: Sheed and Ward Ltd., 1968; Sydney: Sheed and Ward Pty Ltd., 1968. Originally published as Das Ganze Im Fragment (Einsiedeln, Benzigar Verlag, 1963).

________. Therese of Lisieux. Translated by Donald Nicholl. New York: Sheed and Ward, 1954.

            Secondary Literature

Roten, Johann G. "Hans Urs von Balthasar's anthropology in light of his marian thinking." Communio: International Catholic Review 2 (1993): 306-333.

Strukelj, Anton. "Man and woman under God: The dignity of the human being according to Hans Urs von Balthasar." Communio: International Catholic Review 2 (1993): 377-388.

O'Donnell, John. Hans Urs von Balthasar. Outstanding Christian Thinkers Series, ed. Brian Davies. Collegeville: Liturgical Press; A Michael Grazier Book, 1992.

Sicari, Antonio. "Mary, Peter and John: Figures of the Church." Communio: International Catholic Review 2 (1992): 189-207.

Roten, Johann G. "Memory and Mission: A Theological Reflection on Mary in the Paschal Mysteries." Marian Studies 42 (1991): 73-132.

Schindler, David L., ed. Hans Urs von Balthasar: His Life and Work. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991.

Von Speyr, Adrienne. The Birth of the Church. Translated by David Kipp. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991.  Originally published as Geburt der Kirche Betrachtungen uber Kapitel 18-21 des Johannes-Evangeliums (Einsiedeln: Johannes Verlag, 1949).

Saward, John. The Mysteries of March: Hans Urs von Balthasar on the Incarnation and Easter. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1990.

Riches, John, ed. The Analogy of Beauty: essays for Hans Urs von Balthasar at eighty. Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark Ltd., 1986.

Von Speyr, Adrienne. The Handmaid of the Lord. Translated by E. A. Nelson. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1985. Originally published as Magd des Herrn (Einsiedeln: Johannes Verlag, 1948).

Heft, James L. "Marian Themes in the Writings of Hans Urs von Balthasar." Marian Studies 31 (1980): 40-65.


[1] Mary's bridal relationship to God involves the three Persons of the Trinity.  Von Balthasar's understanding of Mary's Trinitarian bridal relationship will be developed in Chapter Two.

[2] Hans Urs von Balthasar, Explorations in Theology II: Spouse of the Word, essay: Who is the Church?, trans. A. V. Littledale with Alexander Dru (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991), p. 161.

     [3] Ibid.:  "The axis of this ecclesial community consciousness is the redemptive love of Christ, which he imparts without diminution or compromise to his bride.  To know the real spirit of this consciousness, we have only to recall the evangelical counsels by which Christ prepares - for those who desire it - the way to the mystery of the Cross" (p. 31).

[4] Ibid., p. 191.

[5] Ibid., 186.

[6] Hans Urs von Balthasar, Theo-Drama, vol. 3: Dramatis Personae: Persons in Christ, trans. Graham Harrison (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992), p. 333.

[7] Hans Urs von Balthasar, Das Katholische an der Kirche ( = Kolner Beitrage 10; Cologne: Wienand, 1972) pp. 10-11 quoted in The von Balthasar Reader, trans. Robert J. Daly and Fred Law­rence, ed. Medard Kehl and Werner Loser with an Introduction by Medard Kehl (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1985), p. 214.

[8] Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Threefold Garland, trans. Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1982), p. 32.

[9] For a mystical penetration of the mystery of the open wound in Christ's side, that is complementary to the theology of von Balthasar, see Adrienne von Speyr, The Birth of the Church, trans. David Kipp (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991) pp. 138-144.  Von Balthasar acknowledges that much of his theology has been enriched and nuanced by the mystical insights of Adrienne von Speyr with whom he associated in close collaboration for twenty seven years in their common mission of service to the Church of our times.  For von Balthasar's appraisal of Adrienne's life, mission and work, see Hans Urs von Balthasar, First Glance at Adrienne von Speyr, trans. Antje Lawry and Sergia Englund (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1981).

[10] Von Balthasar, Theo-Drama, vol. 3: "Her cooperation, the work of her who serves both as a woman and as a creature, is not forgotten: it is integrated into his.  Both redemption and preredemption spring from the same Cross but in such a way that she who is preredeemed is used in the Church's coming to be" (p. 351).

[11] Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord, vol. 1: Seeing the Form, trans. Erasmo Leiva-Merikskis; ed. Joseph Fessio and John Riches (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1983), p. 343.

[12] Ibid., p. 362.

[13] Von Balthasar, Das Katholische an der Kirche quoted in The Von Balthasar Reader: "In this fundamental act in the room at Nazareth, in this alone the church of Christ is founded as Catholic.  Its catholicity is the unconditional character of the Ecce Ancilla ("behold the handmaid") whose offer of infinite accommodation is the creaturely counterpart to the infinite­ly self-bestowing love of God" (p. 214).

[14] Ibid., p. 165.

[15] Von Balthasar, Explorations in Theology II: Spouse of the Word, p. 157.

[16] Ibid., p. 20.

[17] Ibid., p. 15.

[18] Ibid., p. 16.

[19] Ibid., p. 20.

[20] Hans Urs von Balthasar, Prayer, trans. Graham Harrison (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), pp. 93-94.

[21] For von Balthasar's discussion of the Church as person see von Balthasar, Explorations in Theology II: Spouse of the Word, pp. 143-144.

[22] Ibid., p.144.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid., p. 19.

[25] Ibid.: "These three [faith, hope, and charity] are personal spiritual dispositions that impart an essential 'life', of God, but one that is conscious, though for the time being still veiled, and disclosed in its full 'consciousness' only in the world beyond.  'Life', when predicated of God, in St. John and Scripture generally, means nothing 'biological'.  It is used to express the whole intimacy and intensity of the divine thinking, feeling, and willing" (pp. 145-146).

[26] Ibid., p. 146.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid., p. 147.  Von Balthasar clarifies the issue further: "At this point, we must mark precisely the distinction between creation in nature and supernature on the one hand and between generation in nature and supernature on the other.  Natural generation presupposes the sexual partnership, but the female partner, the Church, that is to originate from Christ is not yet in existence.  It must first of all come into being by generation through the Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension.  There is eros when the love that generates can presuppose the natural prepresence of the one loved (in its difference as in its similarity of nature); agape, on the other hand, creates out of complete selflessness that which is to be loved.  But the Son's creation of the Church is not the same thing as the Father's creation of the world, for it presupposes the latter and fulfills it in grace.  It is, therefore, on the level of 'nature' analogous to eros between the sexes, but on the level of 'supernature' [it is] analogous to the Father's act of creation, since grace can never develop out of nature.  On the level of nature, the subject humanity is presupposed, as the individual humanity of the separate persons no less than as the collective reality and unity of all the individuals descended from Adam and Eve.  Into this natural unity is poured the seed of the dead and risen Word of God.  But the analogy with nature seems preserved through Christ's relationship to Mary, in which the purely natural unity raised to a real feminine partnership in Mary's Fiat, comprising all the inchoate acts of assent and faith of the old Zion as well as Peter representing the Church and of the other apostles and disciples, represents the true matrix of the Church to be brought forth.  If we bear this in mind, it becomes almost palpably evident how Mary (and, conjoined with her, the entire supernatural reality of faith in the world around Christ) is both the prerequisite and womb of the coming Church as well as being herself the Church generated, since Mary's preredemption and the faith of the Old Covenant also refer back to the generative redemptive act of Christ.  The Church as the female partner is both produced and presupposed in the generative act of Christ.  Otherwise, this would not be both divine and human" (pp.190-191).

[29] Von Balthasar, A Short Primer For Unsettled Laymen, p. 92.

[30] Von Balthasar, The Threefold Garland: "The Crucified utters a word whereby he entrusts Mary to the Disciple as his mother and the Disciple to Mary as her son, and this word in a way constitutes the Church's foundation document, flowing out of the midst of suffering which gives birth to the Church as such.  Mary, who is the Immaculata Ecclesia (Eph 5:27), the heavenly Church who is perfected in advance, is infused into the form of the earthly, organized Church, and to this latter there are entrusted the care and protection of the purity and sanctity of the original - the ideal - Church" (p. 103).

[31] Ibid., p. 158.

[32] Ibid., pp. 27-29.

[33] Ibid., p. 34.

[34] Ibid., p. 18.

[35] Ibid., p. 157.

[36] Ibid.: "Considered in terms of Church law, it is true that the representative of the "office" has the masculine function of the one who gives, and the "laity" the feminine one of receiving; but it does not follow that the clergy are "more", the laity "less", the Church.  The reverse is, in fact, the case" (p. 158).

[37] Ibid., p. 154.

[38] Ibid., p. 126.

[39] Ibid., p. 120.

[40] Ibid.: "[The] instrumental character of the apostolic life, whose humiliations are designed for the exaltation of the community, and suffering for its consolation (1 Cor 1:6-7), is not a mere functioning of a law of the ministry, in virtual independence; it is simply the 'law' of Jesus Christ himself applied to those sent" (p. 121).

[41] Ibid., p. 155.

[42] Ibid.: "This form of Christ has its source in the, so to speak, material, feminine principle of the surrender of faith, 'leaving all things', and in the formal, male principle of grace giving itself and imprinting itself on the believer, in whom it is a participation, in Jesus Christ, in the life of the Trinity" (p. 106-107).

[43] Ibid.: "The non-Christian world may indeed judge her [the Church] by what is institutional in her, and even her own sinful element may, for the sake of convenience and as a means of escape, cling to these institutional elements.  But this does not mean that the Church in her true nature, the holy Church, has to interpret herself in this way.  On the contrary: she will understand the unchangeable 'bone structure' given in her foundation, in the light of the function of the living organism, whose life and activity are guaranteed by this very structure.  We cannot say of any living thing that there is a 'tension in unity' between the bone structure and the flesh: still less can we say so of the supernatural image of Christ, the Church, in whom everything, however conditioned by her situation in the world, is to be understood as the crystalization of the love of Christ" (p. 34).

[44] Ibid., p. 157-158.

[45] Ibid., p. 147.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Hans Urs von Balthasar, A Theological Anthropology, trans. Benziger Verlag, Einsiedeln (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1967): "[The Church] comes from the rib of the new Adam; only as his body, but his body as bridal partner, is she his bride.  A 'partner', which he needs, both as man and as God, inasmuch as God, in creating a world, commits himself to it.  'Bridal', as the other self into which he pours his fulness" (p. 311).

[48] Von Balthasar, Explorations in Theology II: Spouse of the Word, pp. 147-148.

[49] Ibid., p. 149.

[50] Ibid., p. 149.

[51] Ibid., pp. 150-151.

[52] Ibid., p. 151.

[53] Ibid.: "The mystery is love, is marriage, in a depth and height of meaning that goes beyond the flesh, without denying it; for the mystery of the flesh is itself a great mystery, particularly in relation to Christ and the Church" (p. 20).

[54] Ibid., p. 183.

[55] Ibid., p. 21.

[56] Ibid.: "The self-outpouring in death and Resurrection of God's incarnate Word into the Church is truly the pouring forth of the Trinitarian life externally.  The virginal man Christ is wholly...the generative organ (instrumentum conjunctum) of the eternally generating Godhead and the central organ in that it belongs to him alone to make himself (in the Eucharist) a seed and, at the same time - beyond any analogy with the way in which man and the Creator cooperate - to pour out his Spirit into what is produced, through his joint spiration with God the Father" (p. 190).

[57] Ibid., pp. 152-153.

[58] Ibid., p. 152.

[59] Ibid., p. 153.

[60] Von Balthasar, Explorations in Theology I: The Word Made Flesh, trans. A. V. Littledale with Alexander Dru (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1989), p. 201.

     [61] Ibid. See pp. 162-163 for von Balthasar's discussion of Mary's bridal relation to the Trinity: "What is brought about here is not a repetition of the sex relationship but its protypal relation between God and man; and God, known and received in this intimate fashion, can only be the God in three Persons" (p. 162).

[62] Ibid., pp. 162-163.

[63] For von Balthasar's discussion of the development of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception see von Balthasar, Theo-Drama, vol. 3, pp. 296-297;319-323. 

[64] Ibid., p. 297.

[65] Ibid.: "The first thing to be said about man, understood as the epitome of creation, is that he is most definitely not God, but he exists 'in the image and likeness of God', in a twofold tension: first, he shares an identical nature with all other individuals but exists in this nature as a unique conscious subject; second, he experiences the complementarity of man and woman; both are created by God, but the woman is made from the man" (p. 340). In the theology of von Balthasar "the whole purpose of the redemption of the race of the First Adam by the Second Adam is to liberate mankind from all 'futility' (Rom 8:20) and to bring about that ultimate relationship between man and woman that is dimly anticipated in the paradise legend and set forth as a final destination in the 'marriage of the Lamb' in the Book of Revelation".

     "The man-woman relationship is thus shown to be an ultimate one" (pp. 289-290).  For a more extensive discussion of the manwoman polarity see Hans Urs von Balthasar, Theo-Drama, vol. 2: Dramatis Personae: Man in God, trans. Graham Harrison (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990), pp. 365-382.

[66] Ibid.: "What, however, if this entire created order becomes the foundation for the order of the Incarnation and redemption that fulfills it?  What if, in Christ (and him crucified), we are brought face to face (somatikos: Col 2:9) with the authentic image (eikon) of God's nature and Christ recapitulates in himself the unity of creation (Eph 1:10)?  What we see, initially, is a tremendous concentration from both sides, from God's side and from the world.  From the world's point of view, the man Jesus becomes an icon of the Trinity: in himself, through the Spirit, he represents the Father.  From God's point of view, however, he is the icon of the world, representing all human nature's conscious subjects on the basis of the real substitution he undertakes on their behalf.  This raises the following question: Jesus, as the Son of God and in his divine mission, has the whole of mankind in view (and has thus burst through the limitations of a 'chosen people'); this being so, must not his human, concentrated form find an echo in a similarly human, concentrated form?  Insofar as he is an individual conscious subject, he would thus find a fitting social environment; insofar as he is a man, he would find the 'helpmate', the 'bride' and the 'glory' he can recognize as 'flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone'.  However, all this takes place at a level that enfolds but essentially transcends the proportions of creation because, since he is God's Son, his complement and partner can only come forth from his own substance" (p. 341).

[67] Ibid., p. 284.

[68] Ibid. For von Balthasar's discussion of the man as primary and woman as secondary, as well as of equal stature, see pp. 284-287.

[69] Ibid., p. 285.

[70] Ibid., p. 293.  Von Balthasar notes that Peter Damian also calls Mary "the source of the living Source, the origin of the Beginning" (Sermo 45; PL 144, 740ff.) quoted, no. 8, p. 291.

[71] Von Balthasar, Explorations in Theology II: Spouse of the Word: "Mary's abiding physical virginity is the bodily aspect of the abiding inner virginity, which means the exclusiveness of her spiritual faith" (p. 163).

[72] Ibid.: "Both Mary and the Church are fruitful precisely because they are virginal.  The exclusive character of love, which virginity involves, is in each the condition for bearing the fruit of God" (p. 164).

[73] Ibid.: "Mary's faith, as the fruitful womb of the Word, is privileged on two accounts.  In respect of its origin, it is a faith proceeded from her 'immaculate conception'; in respect of its end, it is a faith destined to bear the fruit that is not only Christ's body but also himself as Head" (p. 161).

[74] Von Balthasar, Theo-Drama, vol. 3, p. 300.

[75] Von Balthasar, Explorations in Theology II: Spouse of the Word: "One cannot divide this response into two parts: one spiritual, her active acceptance of faith; the other bodily, her passive utilization as womb for God becoming man.  It is for this reason that she participated in the formation of the hypostatic union in her own manner, a purely womanly one of surrender" (p. 163).

[76] Ibid., p. 162. 

[77] Von Balthasar, Theo-Drama, vol. 3, p. 327.

[78]      [78] Ibid., p. 325. One summary of their teaching is as follows: "Human beings were created by God as sexual beings, as man and woman, only because of his foreknowledge of the Fall.  They were put in paradise, which means that sexuality was initially suspended: they were clothed in the light of paradise, which could be lost.  Sin . . . created the vestimentum macularum and opened the well springs of concupiscence.  Redeemed by Christ, Christians are given back their paradisal garment, which can still be lost until death supervenes.  Thus we see that virginity is the really Christian form of life.  The final redemption of the whole man, when he is resurrected to paradise, puts an end to sexual desire" (E. Beck, "Ephrams Hymnen uber das Paradies" in Stud. Anselm. 26 [1951], p. 167) quoted p. 327.  For the observations of philosophers on this issue of man's original state, see von Balthasar, Theo-Drama, vol. 2, pp. 374-377; for the observations of the Church Fathers, see pp. 377-382.

[79] For an extensive discussion of the paradisal state of man and woman, see Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Christian State of Life, trans. Sister Mary Frances Mc Carthy (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1983), pp. 83-129.

[80] Von Balthasar, Theo-Drama, vol. 3, p. 327; see Adversus Haereses, 4, 33, 4 and 4, 33, 11.

[81] Ibid., p. 296.

[82] Von Balthasar, Explorations in Theology II: Spouse of the Word: "The glorification of virginity by the Fathers, which they apply both to the Church's virginity and to those vowed to it and of each individual member of the Church, even the married, is directed, fundamentally, to a Marian virginity, itself primarily the expression of a personal attitude to the God coming to meet them nuptially" (pp. 163-164).

[83] Ibid.: "The Church, at her core, remains unspotted and a pure bride" (p. 179).  See also von Balthasar,A Short Primer For Unsettled Laymen: "The relationship of mother and child and that of man and woman are such deep mysteries and approaches to the divine mystery in the reality of creation that for someone who does not integrate them into redemption, the Incarnation cannot be complete.  If one posits Joseph as the father of Jesus, then Jesus is necessarily brought down to the level of a mere 'prophet'.  If the virginal motherhood is acknowledged but its theological significance for Mary contested (as in the case of Karl Barth), then Jesus remains an isolated meteorite which dropped from heaven, and his relation to the Church cannot possibly be seen in terms that are as concrete and realistic as Paul describes them (Eph 5).  The Church remains an association of individ­ual believers (as in Kierkegaard); she does not truly become the Bride of Christ" (p. 88).

[84] Von Balthasar, Theo Drama, vol. 3: "Right up to the end of the patristic period - at least in Western theology - there is not a single passage where Mary is described as the 'Bride of Christ', (although she can appear as 'God's Bride' or 'the Holy Spirit's Bride' or 'Joseph's Bride'" (p. 301).

[85] Ibid.: "The result of this coordination of 'type' (Mary as Virgin Mother) and 'antitype' (the Church as Virgin Mother, both Mother and Bride of Christ) is that, while Mary cooperates directly in the appearance of the Redeemer by giving her consent to the Incarnation, her cooperation in the work of her Son and mediated by the Church is only indirect and remote" (p. 301).

[86] Ibid., p. 309.  See also Hans Urs von Balthasar, Elucidations, trans. the Publishers (London: S.P.C.K., 1975): "The Song of Songs stands alone in the Old Testament: an ideal which nowhere is realized in the history of salvation and which must wait before it can become the inner kernel of all thought about the history of salvation: when for once in all historical seriousness there would be found a sinless bride to correspond to the idyllic Shulamite" (p.68).

[87] Von Balthasar, Explorations in Theology II: Spouse of the Word, p. 153.

[88] Von Balthasar, Theo-Drama, vol. 3, p. 306.

[89] Ibid., p. 309.

[90] Ibid., p. 310.  "This relationship of sexual complementarity within the God/creature differential is irreducible, and, as we began by showing, the dyad of the feminine principle is similarly irreducible.  The latter is not something entailed by the Fall, insofar as the woman's relation to the man is different from her relation to the child; in germ it is prior to the Fall, christological, in that the woman is essentially equal . . . to the man but personally unlike him . . .; she comes from him and is oriented to him" (p.338).

[91] Ibid., p. 324. 

[92] Ibid., p. 319.

[93] Ibid., p. 333.

[94] Ibid., p. 325.

[95] Ibid.: "As her Son's 'companion' and 'bride', she must be able to share his sufferings in a way appropriate to her, and what fits her most for this task is her utter purity, which means that she is profoundly exposed and vulnerable. . . . Sin brings about isolation and thwarts effective solidarity . . . whereas innocence makes it possible to be open to suffering with others and to be ready, in love, to embrace such suffering" (p. 324).

[96] Ibid., p. 338.

[97] Von Balthasar, Explorations in Theology II: Spouse of the Word, pp. 165-166.

[98] Ibid.: "Mary, in giving birth spiritually and physically to the Son, becomes the universal Mother of all believers, for the Church as body is born of Christ and is herself Christ" (p. 165).  See also Hans Urs von Balthasar, Commentary on Mary: God's Yes to Man: Encyclical letter, Mother of the Redeemer by John Paul II, Commentary trans. Lothar Krauth (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1887): "Mary's abundantly effective faith, especially under the Cross, is, by her dying Son, made part of his actions in bringing forth the Church.  This justifies the title 'Mother of the Church', bestowed on Mary by Pope Paul VI" (p. 172).

[99] For von Balthasar's discussion of Rev 12 in relation to Israel, Mary, and the Church, see von Balthasar, Theo- Drama, vol. 3, pp. 334-339.  For von Balthasar's more popularly written account of Rev 12, see Hans Urs von Balthasar, Mary For Today, trans. Robert Nowell (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987).

[100] Von Balthasar, Theo-Drama, vol. 3: "It is unthinkable that a Christian writer at the end of the first century, using the image of Zion in labor and giving birth to the person of the Messiah, should not have in mind the physical Mother of Jesus particularly if he was close to the compiler of the Fourth Gospel" (pp. 334-335).  In support of his exegesis, von Balthasar refers to A. Feuillet, "Le Messie et sa mere, d'apres le chap. XII de l'Apoca­lypse" in Rev. Bibl. 66 (1959), 80.  See also A. Feuillet, Jesus and His Mother, trans. Leonard Maluf (Still River, Ma.: St. Bede's Publications, 1984), pp. 17-33.

[101] Ibid., p. 338.

[102] Ibid., p. 334-335.

[103] Ibid.: "Mary heightens and surpasses the fruitfulness of the first "Mother of the living", and to that extent she is the typos of the Church" (p. 338).

[104] Von Balthasar, Pneuma und Institution ( = Skizzen zur Theologie III), Einsiedeln: Johannes-Verlag, pp. 141-143 quoted in The von Balthasar Reader: Mary "is taken with him especially to the Cross in order to share in his God-forsakenness, for as the Father abandons the Son, so the Son abandons his mother and thrusts upon her, the church, another 'son' (Jn 19:25-27)." p. 219.

[105] Von Balthasar, Theo-Drama, vol. 3, p. 334.

[106] Von Balthasar, A Theological Anthropology: "The flesh sacrificed on the cross is the seed of new life throughout all the ages of the feminine Church and through her of the whole historical cosmos" (p. 310).

[107] Von Balthasar, Explorations in Theology: II: Spouse of the Word: "It is the infinite disponibility of her attitude of faith ("Be it done unto me according to thy word") that makes her the ideal (moral) and real (physical) womb of the Church.  Her own person, in its faith, love, and hope, has become so supple in the hand of the Creator that he can extend her beyond the limits of a private consciousness to a Church consciousness, to what the older theology since Origen and Ambrose is accustomed to call anima ecclesiastica" (p. 166).

[108] Von Balthasar, Prayer: "[Mary-Church] does not speculate: she worships and obeys, opens her womb to the Spirit, and until the end of the world she will be giving birth to the Son, his members, his brothers" (p. 195).

[109] Von Balthasar, Elucidations, p. 69.

[110] Von Balthasar, Theo-Drama, vol. 3, pp. 335-336.

[111] Von Balthasar, A Theological Anthropology: "[Mary] remains to the end of the world, . . . mater dolorosissima, as is revealed not only by the vision in the Apocalypse, but also by the reflection on her union (founded in the 'overshadowing' and never sensed) with the Holy Spirit which groans in suffering hearts.  She stands, both as an individual person (Mary) and as a creaturely 'total person' (ecclesia), under the cross.  She is 'under' the cross because she is together with all sinners, in anonymous solidarity with them, and, thus, she is not in the least in competition with the unique crucified one.  But she is truly under 'the cross' (and not under sin), because only in the figure and the experience of the cross was sin transformed, and continues to be transformed, into pure love" (p. 74).

[112] Von Balthasar, Mary For Today: "It remains an impenetrable mystery how this temporal precipitous distress of a mother [Mary's suffering under the Cross] shares in and is involved in the eternal praise of her transfiguration.  Her heart remains as open as that of her son, who is continually offering his heart's blood in the eucharistic meal: 'My blood is drink indeed, and he who does not drink it has no life in him.'  One should not place far from that of her son the mother's heart pierced by the sword, the heart that offers itself to all the poor as one yet poorer, even if its openness is only to be understood as pointing to the eternal openness of his heart to the Father. 'I am the door', he says; she only says: 'I am the handmaid, do whatever he tells you'" (pp. 72-73).

[113] Von Balthasar, Commentary on Mary: God's Yes to Man: Encyclical letter, Mother of the Redeemer: "Mary's timeless creative and generative cooperation in the baptismal birth and Christian development of each Christian . . . effects a personal relationship between each person's faith and Mary's motherhood.  For this motherhood is by no means exclusively spiritual. . . . Mary's motherhood is immensely real, tangible, a matter of factual experience . . . . we are close to her in a very real, even physical relationship" (p. 173).

[114] Hans Urs von Balthasar, Therese of Lisieux, trans. Donald Nicholl (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1954), pp. 15-17 quoted in The von Balthasar Reader: "In the mission which all individuals receive lies the essential foundation of the form of holiness given to them and demanded of them.  For them, the carrying out of this mission is identical with the holiness adequate to and attainable by them.  Hence, holiness is essentially something social and thus saved from the caprice of the individual.  God has an idea of each Christian and assigns them their places within the ecclesiastical membership.  There is no danger that this idea, which is unique and personal and embodies the holiness thought out for each individual, might be either not sublime or not broad enough for anyone.  It participates in the divine infinity, and is so sublime that it has never been perfectly attained by anyone except Mary.  To realize this idea which rests in God, to transpose into living this individual law which is an utterly supernatural law freely projected by God, is the highest goal of the Christian" (p. 377).

[115] Hans Urs von Balthasar, Love Alone, trans. and ed. Alexander Dru (New York: Herder and Herder, 1969): "It is certainly true that God's revelation implants the answer of faith in the creature addressed in love - in such a way that it really is man who answers with his whole nature, with all his natural ability to love.  But he can only do so through grace, i.e., because he was granted the power to make an adequately loving response to the love of God.  He can only answer under the 'protective mantle' of the fiat spoken archetypally for him and all men by the bride and mother, Maria-ecclesia" (pp. 64-65).

[116] Von Balthasar, Explorations in Theology II: Spouse of the Word: Mary's fruitfulness in faith "which was previously predicated of the Church as prototype of the fruitfulness of the members, when, from being born, passively in baptism, they actively bring forth the life of Christ, in themselves and in the Church - this paradigmatic fruitfulness is, in Mary, so far surpassed, raised to such potency, that she not only does what the Church does - bring forth Christ - but also does it archetypally, in that she lets the Head of the Church take flesh in her, him whom the Church will, in turn, deliver from out of herself" (pp. 161-162).

[117] Von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord, vol. 1: Seeing the Form, pp. 340-341.  See also von Balthasar, Mary For Today: "No one, whether he wants to or not, fails to find room under her cloak.  For when her son has by his suffering chosen all people to be his brothers and sisters, she can be none other than the mother of all these.  And since first of all she was his physical and spiritual mother and he never grows out of being her son, the word she puts in with him for her children cannot be in vain" (p. 73).  See also von Balthasar, Explorations in Theology II: Spouse of the Word: "German mysticism . . . brings out the idea of the essential fecundity and apostolic character of love (even-and especially - of silent contemplative love), and so attains to a far deeper comprehension of Mary's role as mediatrix of grace.  She is seen as spreading her protective cloak over the whole of Christendom, and making some part of her stainlessness flow out over the bride, the Church" (p. 177). 

[118] Von Balthasar, Glory of the Lord, vol. 1: Seeing the Form, p.342.  Von Balthasar explains this further: "The physical substratum of spiritual solidarity in the Church (which derives not only from the Eucharist, but also from the physical unity of Mother and Child) reenforces a trait which we noted earlier in the Old Testament: the experience which one member has can be considered by others as belonging to them.  In Moses, the whole people was in the cloud.  In Samson, Gideon, and Samuel the whole people was tested and confirmed in its faith.  In Job and in the servant of Yahweh, the whole people recognizes its own suffering through faith.  It seems to each that somehow, in the best part of himself, he himself is Job, or the 'ebed (servant), or the singer of this or that psalm, expressing his own experience of faith.  Ever since Mary laid the foundation for the Church, the solidarity of experience has become much tighter" (Ibid.).

[119] Von Balthasar, The Threefold Garland: "It is in Mary that we can best grasp what the Communion of Saints is for us men. . . . Mary-the-Church keeps no grace for herself; she receives grace in order to transmit it.  This is what a mother does.  We are the children of Mary's fruitfulness, and her fruitfulness has been given her that she might receive and fulfill the fruitfulness of her Spouse" (p. 137).

[120] Ibid.: "The Crucified utters a word whereby he entrusts Mary to the Disciple as his mother and the Disciple to Mary as her Son, and this word in a way constitutes the Church's foundation document, flowing out of the midst of suffering which gives birth to the Church as such" (p. 103).

[121] Von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord, vol. 1: Seeing the Form: "In an ecclesial sense, therefore, it is hardly surprising that, in Mary, believers possess experiences which they have not enjoyed personally, but which have been communicated to them by grace.  If this applies to all the baptized, then especially so to those who, in imitation of the Mother of the Lord, have placed their lives as vessels exclusively at the disposal of the Word of God.  Mary's experience of God has her virginity as its foundation - her exclusive bodily and spiritual readiness for God" (p.341).

[122] Ibid., pp. 362-364.

[123] ­Hans Urs von Balthasar, In the Fullness of Faith, trans. Graham Harrison (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1988), p. 83.

[124] Ibid., p. 81.

[125] Ibid., p. 80.

[126] Von Balthasar, Das Katholische an der Kirche quoted in The von Balthasar Reader: "Where is she now, this 'bride without spot or wrinkle' (Eph 5:27), this 'pure virgin' who is supposed to be betrothed to Christ (2 Cor 11:2), if the universal Catholic consent that must be expected of her is not real somewhere, and not merely ideally and approximately (like all our consents) or eschatologically (so that the church would only become truly Catholic in eternity)?  Where would it emerge, the Catholica, if it were not created in its innermost reality from the first moment of the New Covenant, as the child's mother who has to be virginal in flesh and spirit to enable her to be the incarnate catholic agreement with the unconditioned thrust of the divine Word into flesh?" (p. 215).

[127] Von Balthasar, In the Fullness of Faith: "The inner dimensions of this 'allowing' reflect the magis-principle: 'always more'.  If God increases his demands, if the path becomes steeper and harder (until it reaches the foot of the cross), the original Yes expands.  Right from the start it had this elasticity" (p. 81).

[128] Von Balthasar, Das Katholische an der Kirche quoted in The von Balthasar Reader, pp. 213-214.

[129] Von Balthasar, In the Fullness of Faith, p. 83.

[130] Von Balthasar, Das Katholische an der Kirche quoted in The von Balthasar Reader: "Today there is a silly argument going on over the primacy of orthodoxy or orthopraxis.  What stands at the beginning, what decides?  Let us say calmly, neither of the two.  Neither doxy nor praxis, neither a mere holding-to-be-true nor a bounding forward into action.  At the beginning is God's Word that will become flesh: God's is the praxis, mine is the letting God's will be done in me, the agreement, the consent down to my fingernails.  That of course is deed, but deed as answer to God's doing, and of course faith, but not in a proposition but in God's personal action in me.  And if this consent of the unconscious were not free, totally free, it would not be an act of human consent.  But where would the human being get so free a consent without spot or wrinkle, without the slightest unconscious reservation?  Where, if not as gift from the hand of God" (p. 214)?

[131] Ibid.: "Whoever posits the church's beginning later, say, with the calling of the Twelve or the bestowal of authority on Peter, has already missed what is essential; such a person will only be able to reach an empiracle-sociological reality which cannot be distinguished qualitatively from the synagogue.  Even the 'infallibility' of office then dangles exposed in the air because it cannot be given root in any other way than in the fallibility of the human being bearing it."

[132] Von Balthasar, In the Fullness of Faith, p. 80.

[133] Von Balthasar, The Office of Peter and the Structure of the Church, trans. Andree Emery (San Francisco: Ignatius Press), p. 136.  For a study of von Balthasar's "Christologial Constellation", see pp. 136-145.

[134] Antonio Sicari, "Mary, Peter and John: Figures of the Church," Communio (Summer 1992): p. 190; see entire article for a study of von Balthasar's scientific ecclesiology based on a reflection on ecclesial persons, pp. 189-207.

[135] Von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord, vol 1: Seeing the Form, p. 343.

[136] Von Balthasar, The Office of Peter: "All men are related in a human constellation.  One sole human being would be a contradiction in terms, inconceivable even in the abstract, because to be human means to be with others.  The God-man Jesus Christ is no exception: as God as well as man he exists only in his relation to the Father in the unity of the divine Holy Spirit".

"Because of this, Jesus' relation to others cannot be limited solely to his human nature: he stands as an indivisible whole within a constellation of his fellow men.  This constellation is an inner determinant; it has relevance for his divine humanity.  It is essential, not accidental, to his being and acting.  He cannot be detached from his constitutive human group, though this fact in no way infringes upon his sovereign position" (p. 136).

[137] Von Balthasar, The Office of Peter, p. 145.

[138] Von Balthasar, The Christian State of Life: "The community of the disciples with Jesus had to represent in nuce all the essential relation­ships and struc­tures of the later Church" (p. 290).

[139] Von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord. vol. 1: Seeing the Form, pp. 352-354.

[140] Ibid., pp. 354-355.  See also von Balthasar, Explorations in Theology I: The Word Made Flesh: "It was only when Francis and Dominic took their place beside Benedict that there came into full view the mysterious force of founder-personalities, a force dimly perceived as issuing from the very core of revelation.  This force was due to a special quality bestowed on them and inseparable from their personalities as supernaturally moulded; it enabled them to impart a special stamp, something far deeper than a mere psychological imprint, on a spiritual 'family', and so, perhaps for the first time, to exhibit what we now call a 'special spirituality'.  It is a gift of the highest order. . . . the free distribution, by the Head of the Church, of his gifts and charismata. . . . Consequently the chief ground of the special characteristics of a spirituality . . . is the mission from above. . . . The real significance of any particular mode of spirituality is in fact that its source and authentication is in heaven" (pp. 217-218).

[141] Ibid., p. 355.

[142] Von Balthasar, Glory of the Lord, vol. 1: Seeing the Form, p. 358.

[143] Ibid., p. 142-143.

[144] Von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord, vol 1: Seeing the Form, p. 342.

[145] Von Balthasar, Office in the Church: "In none of the Gospels do the Marian and Petrine spheres touch directly (although Mary and Peter were certainly together in Cana and again in the community waiting for the Spirit).  But John is intimately linked with both of them and understands this bond as something laid upon him. . . .It is John who actually has the mediating role that prevents the Church from falling into two separate parts" (p. 224).  

[146] John Saward, "Mary and Peter in the Christological Constellation: Balthasar's Ecclesiology" in The Analogy of Beauty: The Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar, ed. John Riches (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark Ltd., 1986) p. 131; see entire essay for another study of von Balthasar's Christological Constellation, pp. 105-133.

[147] Von Balthasar, The Office of Peter, pp. 223-225.

[148] Von Balthasar, The Office of Peter: "The Marian fiat, unequalled in its perfection, is the all-inclusive, protective and directive form of all ecclesial life.   It is the interior form of communio, insofar as this is an unlimited mutual acceptance, far more than a human 'getting along together' or fraternization.  The space and time limitations of the human condition remain external to this (ideally) unlimited receptivity" (p. 208).

[149] Ibid.

[150] The remarks in this section, when referring to Peter and the Petrine principle of office, are meant to include all who have received the official ordained apostolic charism within the Church.

[151] Ibid., pp. 206-207.

[152] Ibid., (no. 67).  See also von Balthasar, Explorations in Theology II: Spouse of the Word, p. 165.

[153] Von Balthasar, The Office of Peter: "Admittedly it is difficult to understand how the Marian all-embracing universality, which is emphatically not 'official' but, like everything in the Church (including the official side), consents, 'lets be', 'sets free', can yet exercise a formative influence on the official, Petrine universality, which has the task of 'holding together' and 'administering' and thus cannot 'let be' in the same sense" (p. 206).

[154] Von Balthasar, Explorations in Theology II: Spouse of the Word: "The Marian spirit of unity with the Lord, in her virginal body and in obedience, is also the Petrine spirit of an unreflective ecclesial obedience for the sake of the Lord and his nuptial mystery, obedience even to the Cross.  It is a spirit of surrender without thought of self, which in both cases - the Mater Dolorosa and the crucified Peter - reaches the point of complete acceptance" (p. 24).

[155] Ibid., p. 179-181.

[156] Ibid., p. 182.  Von Balthasar offers the following explanation: "Mankind gains participation in [the divine] through Christ and the sphere that is his (en Christo) and that he has prepared as Redeemer, namely, the Church.  Insofar as this sphere is his own, he is her consciousness; and insofar as she makes to him the response of a woman and a bride, she has her supreme, normative subjectivity in Mary.  Finally, insofar as the one grace streams through her, this grace makes all spirits, in all their personal varieties of missions and spiritual ways, converge in a single consciousness, opening in Mary to Christ, and through Christ to the Holy Spirit of the three-personal God, who in the beginning overshadowed Mary and, since Easter and Pentecost, dwells in the Church" (pp. 179-180).

[157] Ibid., p. 156.

[158] Von Balthasar, The Office of Peter, pp. 206-207.

[159] Hans Urs von Balthasar, Neue Klarstellungen ( = Kriterien 49 ), 1979 pp. 123-124 quoted in The von Balthasar Reader "Christ does what the man on his own level can in no way do: he releases the church from himself as his fullness, as his body, finally as his bride" (p. 234).

[160] Von Balthasar, Explorations in Theology II: Spouse of the Word, p. 160: "The Church's faith is the womb that can bring to birth, to assist which the Church's functions were formed. . . .  The functions belong to the Church bearing and giving birth; her womb is where they are preserved; there they were received and from there are imparted" (p.159).

[161] Von Balthasar, The Office of Peter: "[The Marian] fiat opens up the boundaries of earthly time 'in advance' (in 'anticipatory redemption' in the case of the 'Immaculate Conception') so that what is earthly and temporal - whether Mary, her Son or the Church - should not place any fundamental obstacle to God's indwelling but should be infiniti capax" (p. 207).

[162] Von Balthasar, Explorations in Theology II: Spouse of the Word, p. 183.

[163] Ibid.: "The bride is 'prepared' and 'presented', (parastesai, 2 Cor 11:2; Eph 5:27) by the bridegroom to himself in such a way that the bride is solely 'for' the bridegroom (Kecharitomene, Lk 1:28), is offered to him as a sacrifice, is exclusively at his disposal, as we know from the use of the same word parastesai at the presentation in the Temple (Lk 2:22; Rom 6:13f; 12:1; Col 1:22, 28)" (pp. 63-64).

[164] Von Balthasar, Love Alone, p. 88.

[165] Von Balthasar, Explorations in Theology I; Spouse of the Word, p. 36.

[166] Von Balthasar, Love Alone, pp. 88-89.

[167] Ibid., p. 88.

[168] Von Balthasar, Explorations in Theology I: Spouse of the Word, p. 36.

[169] Von Balthasar, Two Sisters in the Spirit, trans. Donald Nichols and Anne Elizabeth Englund (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992), pp. 194-197.

[170] Hans Urs von Balthasar, Heart of the World, trans. Erasmo S. Leiva (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1979), pp. 217, 219.

[171] For a similar and more expanded appraisal of the role of woman in the Church, see A. Feuillet, Jesus and His Mother, pp. 191-254.

[172] Each of the two bibliographical sections is arranged in chronological order.


This Version: 7th October 2002

Copyright ©; Sr. Thomas Mary McBride, O.P. 2002


Sr. Mc Bride Section

Mary, Mother of God Section