Hans Urs von Balthasar - Gottbereites Leben Der Laie und der Rätestand. Nachfolge Christi in der heutigen Welt

Gottbereites Leben The Laity and the Life of the Counsels

The present volume comprises a revised version of Balthasar’s 1948 essay “Der Laie und der Ordensstand” (The Laity and the Religious State) along with a number of shorter texts on the laity and lay consecration. It thus provides a helpful introduction to one of his central concerns: the theology of the consecrated life, particularly in the context of the secular institutes. It is by living out the evangelical counsels at the heart of the world, Balthasar believed, that these institutes embody in paradigmatic form both the mission of the laity and the theologically central lay dimension of the Church as a whole.

About This Book

A Life Held in Readiness for God: On the Meaning of the Consecrated Life Today
1.    “He Called to Himself Those Whom He wanted”
2.    The Christological Foundation
3.    The Life of the Counsels
4.    Distinguishing the Forms of Life


Prefatory Note
1.    The Limitations of Catholic Action
2.    The Lesson of History
3.    The Demands of the Present Day
4.    Concrete Forms
5.    Women and the State of the Counsels
6.    Conclusion


I. The Essence and Significance of Secular Institutes
1.    The Fundamental Idea
2.    The Layman in Today’s Church
3.   The Analogy of the State of the Counsels
4.    Significance for a Theology of the Church
5.    The Layman in the State of the Counsels and the Layman in the Married State

II. On the Theology of the State of the Counsels
1.    The Scope of Today’s Theological Evaluation
2.    The Gospel and the Counsels
a.    Theology of the States of Life
b.    On the Concept of “Counsel”
c.    The Multiplicity of the Counsels
d.    The Individual Counsels
e.    Vows and Office: The Immeasurable Mystery of the Church
3.    The Counsels and Human Thinking
4.    The Situation Today

III.    The Evangelical Counsels in Today’s World?
1.    The Urgency of the Question
2.    Biblical Foundations
3.    A Few Consequences
4.    Secular Institutes

IV.    Lay Movements in the Church
1.    The Situation of the Catholic Lay Movements Today
a.    On the Origins of Lay Movements in the Church
b.    Lay Movements and the Ecclesial “States of Life”
c.    Reasons for the Development of Lay Movements Today
d.    The Specific Mission of the Laity as Mediators Between Church and World
2.    Aspects of the Spirituality of Lay Movements
a.    Many Missions Within the One Faith
b.   Challenges Facing Lay Movements’ Spiritualities
c.    The Movement and the Individual
d.    The Movement and the Church
e.    The Movement and the World
f.   Reciprocal Relationships Among Movements

First Publication References
Other Works on the Same Theme

How is it possible for a finite man, who of himself is unable to posit any infinite acts tending toward God, to enter into the “form of Christ” in order to share in the fruitfulness of his work? The answer to this question has various levels fundamentally, through faith, which renounces its own measure for truth and the judgment of truth and allows that to be true which is true for God; through baptism, in which he makes the gift of his own existence into the event of the death and Resurrection of Jesus and becomes a function of this event through God’s act (Rom 6:3ff); through sharing in the Eucharist, whereby he hands himself over in body and soul to the Lord, as a “member” of his Body, which is fruitful in its being distributed (1 Cor 6:13-20; 10:16ff; 11:26; 12:12ff).

But, contrasting to some extent to this general answer, there is a second answer, which consists in the “life of the counsels,” through which the act of self-expropriation in faith and of handing oneself over to God contains a completeness that cannot be surpassed by man himself. The first essential condition for this is that one can or may posit this act, not at his own disposal, but only on the basis of a particular condition of being disposed of being called, and receiving grace; otherwise this act would contradict itself as soon as it was posited. For it is not seriously possible to have control over the state in which one is totally subject to control by God; all one can do — though consciously, in love, giving one’s consent — is to allow oneself to be brought into this state. This insight forms the basis of the entire design of the Ignatian Exercises. It is demonstrated through Mary’s existence, with which the life of the New Covenant begins. Mary is made the mother of the Son in his Incarnation, and the grace bestowed on her makes her capable of uttering a boundless fiat to God, which is her fully activated faith (Lk 1:45; 11:2,8). This faith is offered, however, not in passive resignation, but with the active willingness of the “handmaid” for the action of the Holy Spirit, for something that she would never have been able to achieve by herself.

From the Introduction