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Selections from Lumina | New Lumina | Adrienne von Speyr
Editor's note: In his preface to this
collection of brief meditations by Adrienne von Speyr, the Swiss theologian Fr.
Hans Urs von Balthasar explained that von Speyr "spent her nights almost
entirely in prayer and her afternoons quietly embroidering or (as she began to
go blind) knitting. During such hours she would from time to time pull out a
notebook and write down one of the thoughts that a reader will find in what
follows; she then stuck the pages in a desk drawer where they were discovered
after her death. In their artless concision, they offer distillations of the
essence of her thinking, praying, and being."
The following is excerpted from Part 1 of Lumina.
Love of self is love
that measures itself; love of neighbor is love that gives itself away. The only
thing you can say about love of God is: it leaves behind scorched earth.
Anyone who knows the
fullness of the light should not live in the twilight for the sake of thrift.
There are things that
the understanding cannot grasp: they are too big for it, because their measure
Love has no beginning,
since before it became concrete, it was already present in the attitude of
When we make our own
calculations, we need so many numbers and factors that any mistake is possible.
The Lord's calculation boils down to love.
Ultimate audacity: to
want to love a person--to say nothing of one's neighbor!--as God loves him.
Christian love means
two things at once: to recognize the Lord in one's neighbor and to recognize
one's neighbor in the Lord.
The first step in
learning to love others is the attempt to understand them.
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.
To love a friend in
the right way can mean: to be able to prefer others to him in the Lord.
When someone dies,
people often think: "If only he could still speak." The real opinion
of the living is something people are only rarely curious to find out.
Faith is a force, one
so powerful that it cannot tolerate anything next it. How weak in faith we are:
we are constantly letting things outside of God take up space in us!
There is just as
little center in what one has experienced as there is in virtually any living
thing. It is a grace of God that, in the end, even life itself remains without
Being and being
Christian are an absolute unity for the believer. Trying to separate or even to
delineate the two would be to give up living.
Christian hope to be more than mere expectation and to become at every moment
an immediate embodiment of love.
Only faith can keep
what hope promises.
Christian hope is a
vessel in which faith lives; love carries it.
For someone who
believes in God's love, there is nothing too paradoxical to be believed.
When the Lord
communicates a truth to us, its truthfulness obviously lies not just in the
means He uses to communicate it, but also in Him. In the same way, then, a truth
that a believer draws on faith to communicate must be true both in him and in
We must leave every
moment to Providence; then we also know there is no such thing as "the
We can never fully
abstract from our good works, because, no matter how small and imperfect they
are, they come from God even before they are performed; we must thank Him for
them and, once they are done, return them completely to Him and place them at
Let us make a rosary
of our life, placing every incident in it, and offering up our daily cares with
a quick Ave Maria.
There is only one
thing I need to live: love. Lord, take only love, so that I will not always
give You only what I have left over and so that I may finally stop living: may You live.
Certain divisions are
necessary in order to reveal the unity of the whole: but this is not a matter
of breaking atoms out of a molecule formed by their convergence.
Right love is steady
in its indivisibility. It so indivisible, in fact, that in the end there is no
longer any clearly discernible boundary-marker between love given and love
received. Even more: this unity also includes humility. This humility is not
dispersed, and it alone enables love to become what it already was in the
beginning: a gift of the Lord having a definite form.
Enlarging the circle
does not mean merely drawing as many distant points around it as possible, but
rather drawing all these points, where they may lie, into the communion of the
Unless you have some
sense of God's mercy, you cannot possibly say anything about man's sufferings.
Our faith is meant to
be strong enough to understand everything: even hatred and unbelief. Then we
will love the haters and the unbelievers and ask God to do His work.
There is nothing more
at rest than love, because it is security itself; and yet it never stands
still, because the need for communication is inherent in it , and expansiveness
is part of its being. In this sense , love is restless.
The people whom we
most respect are perhaps the very ones who are most in need of love.
Love can mean: making
room in yourself for the understanding your loved one has, even when you do not
The suffocation of the
message in the incomprehension of others.
The more mysterious
God is to you, the closer He is to you.
We often kneel, not in
order to petition or to express an inner attitude, but only in order to
announce that we have arrived. But where have we arrived? Merely at the place
from which God wants to push us farther along. The destination always becomes a
point of departure; the fact that we have arrived means at most the beginning
of a new journey.
Love has so infinitely
many possibilities. How amazing, then, it is for us to know that all of them
are embraced in this one word.
Whoever wants to love
is better knowing nothing than too much.
Once a scientific
question is settled, it remains interesting and alive only if it draws
attention to new questions; every conclusion is meant as a transition to a new
Only when you are
familiar with silence have you learned to speak; what you have to say can ripen
only in silence.
In Christ silence
often has a more long-lasting effect than speech.
It is not just the art
of giving that one is supposed to possess, but also the art of being able to
receive and accept.
God has created the
sex act as a sort of symbol of the deep meaning hidden in every authentic gift:
its fruitfulness demonstrates itself only with time.
There is already so
much grace in a Christian body. Can you imagine how much grace there is in a
Joy is not only a
public profession. It is above all a state, and the same is true of humility
It is never the case
that God's love has opened up
in us; it is always in the act of opening up.
Related IgnatiusInsight.com Book Excerpts and Articles:
Doctor, Convert, and Mystic: The Life
and Work of Adrienne von Speyr | IgnatiusInsight.com
Death, Where Is Thy Sting? | Adrienne von Speyr.
From The Mystery of Death
Creation | Adrienne von Speyr
The Confession of the Saints | Adrienne von Speyr
Perceiving God's Will | Adrienne von Speyr
Introduction to Adrienne von Speyr's The Book of All Saints | Hans Urs von Balthasar
Adrienne von Speyr was a 20th century Swiss convert, mystic, wife, doctor
and author of numerous books on spirituality. She entered the Church under
the direction of Hans Urs von Balthasar. Read about her life and work on her IgnatiusInsight.com author page.
Ignatius Press has been translating and publishing many of the works
of Adrienne von Speyr since the early 1980s. Here is a listing of her
books currently available from Ignatius Press.
of the Lord
to the Colossians
to the Ephesians
in the Redemption
Book of All Saints
Christian State of Life
Countenance of the Father
Cross: Word and Sacrament
Gates of Eternal Life
Mission of the Prophets
Passion from Within
Followed His Call
Women and the Lord
God and with Men: Prayers
Books by Hans Urs von Balthasar about Adrienne von Speyr:
Glance at Adrienne von Speyr
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