Selections from "Lumina | New Lumina" | Adrienne von Speyr | IgnatiusInsight.comSelections 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 is love.

Love has no beginning, since before it became concrete, it was already present in the attitude of readiness.

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 a center.

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.

Faith enables 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 the Lord.

We must leave every moment to Providence; then we also know there is no such thing as "the meaningless".

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 His disposal.

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 circle.

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 understand it.

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 beginning.

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 soul?

Joy is not only a public profession. It is above all a state, and the same is true of humility and faith.

It is never the case that God's love has opened up in us; it is always in the act of opening up.

Related Book Excerpts and Articles:

Doctor, Convert, and Mystic: The Life and Work of Adrienne von Speyr |
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 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.

Handmaid of the Lord
John, Volume 1
John, Volume 2
John, Volume 3
John, Volume 4
Letter to the Colossians
Letter to the Ephesians
Light and Images
Mary in the Redemption
My Early Years
Mystery of Death
The Book of All Saints
The Boundless God
The Christian State of Life
The Countenance of the Father
The Cross: Word and Sacrament
The Gates of Eternal Life
The Holy Mass
The Mission of the Prophets
The Passion from Within
They Followed His Call
Three Women and the Lord
Victory of Love
With God and with Men: Prayers
World of Prayer

Books by Hans Urs von Balthasar about Adrienne von Speyr:

First Glance at Adrienne von Speyr

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