Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
October 7th, 2014 by Joel Watts

Hans Urs von Balthasar on the #Rosary and Life of Mary

Quadtych with scenes from the life of Christ a...

Quadtych with scenes from the life of Christ and Mary – Resurrection of Christ and Nativity. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mary’s life must be regarded as the prototype of what the ars Dei can fashion from a human material which puts up no resistance to him. It is feminine life which, in any case more than masculine life, awaits being shaped by the man, the bridegroom, Christ, and God. It is a virginal life which desires no other formative principle but God and the fruit which God gives it to bear, to give birth to, to nourish and to rear. It is at the same time a maternal and a bridal life whose power of surrender reaches from the physical to the highest spiritual level. In all this it is simply a life that lets God dispose of it as he will. From that life Christ chiselled the form he needed: unsparingly he took it, used it and squandered it to the limit, and then, with the greatest consideration, he honoured it and glorified it. The situations of this life are inimitable, unforgettable, both unique and universally valid, universally significant. The three cycles of the Rosary offer these situations to the anamnesis of the Church and of Christians, in strictest unity of form with the life of Christ. And, in fact, Mary’s life possesses no detached form of its own; it is the most intimate possible accompaniment of the Christ-form; it stands in the shadow and in the light of Christ’s form alone. But Mary’s form is not simply outshone by the form of Christ; rather, precisely because Christ exploits Mary, precisely because she bears the Cross with him, her form is inundated in a light radiating from him.1

That, my friends, should be enough to anger just about every one of you.

  1. Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics I: Seeing the Form (trans. Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis; San Francisco; New York: Ignatius Press; Crossroads Publications, 2009), 548.
Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

6 Responses to “Hans Urs von Balthasar on the #Rosary and Life of Mary”
  1. Know More Than I Should says

    Mysticism rather than Christianity?

    • Christianity without Mysticism isn’t much.

      • Know More Than I Should says

        Mysticism without Christianity isn’t particularly Christian.

          • Know More Than I Should says

            Here’s were I had a problem with the cited text:

            Mysticism may be loosely defined as communion with the indefinable. Then 19-year-old RCAF pilot John Gillespie Magee, Jr. profoundly described the phenomenon in his epic poem “High Flight” where, at the end he writes, “Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.” Astrophysicists have described similar experiences examining the seemingly endless cosmos. Whether that means the universe was crafted by a Creator is obviously debatable.

            Mysticism might also be defined as the cultivation of spiritual awareness. Perhaps, even more succulency, mysticism involves a capacity to both get beyond one’s self and to find a new reality. This is akin to a child growing from being self-centered to developing sufficient maturity to love someone else as much as they love themselves.

            More narrowly defined, Christian mysticism is related to those transitional experiences surrounding a particular Bronze Age Middle Eastern tribal deity and/or his constituent parts. Since Mary is not numbered among the elements of this deity, and since Christianity is presumably founded on a persona intertwined with this deity, then – while it may induce mystical outcomes – Mary veneration cannot be considered to fall under the rubric of Christian mysticism.

            More than likely, Mary was elevated to fill the void created when Asherah – aka the wife of God – was written out of the Bible. Put another way, Mary was inserted into the Christianity for the same reason female characters were written into cop shows on television – to attract a female audience to a show that might otherwise only appeal to males of a particular demographic.

  2. Hegesippus says

    “More than likely, Mary was elevated to fill the void created when Asherah – aka the wife of God – was written out of the Bible. Put another way, Mary was inserted into the Christianity for the same reason female characters were written into cop shows on television – to attract a female audience to a show that might otherwise only appeal to males of a particular demographic.”

    Drivel. Back-filling to suit an agenda.

    A partisan argument with a slight hole of over half a millennium of a gap in it.

    If followers of Christ cannot venerate the vessel that carried Him and donated her human DNA to Him, well, we have a significant problem.

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