Hans Urs von Balthasar - Homo creatus est - Skizzen zur Theologie V
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Homo creatus est. Skizzen zur Theologie V Man is Created. Explorations in Theology V

The 31 essays gathered in this fifth volume of Balthasar’s Explorations in Theology are all devoted to unfolding a radically theocentric anthropology inspired by the “principle and foundation” of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola: “Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God and in so doing save his soul.” The true shape of the human being, Balthasar argues, is disclosed primarily “from above”; it stand forth most clearly in the light of God’s unfathomably gracious descent to, and search for, man. Far from neglecting our embeddedness in the world and nature or denying the importance of human experience and desire, Balthasar shows that these goods, like everything created, do not exhaust their meaning in themselves. Rather, they reveal their own deepest truth only when illuminated by the rays of the Trinitarian love radiating in Christ’s self-emptying unto death on the Cross.

The Christian faith confronts us with an extremely demanding image of man. It is this uncomfortable ideal that is the real target of today’s intense assault on the Church’s creed. But Christianity takes man seriously. Indeed, it accords him a place in the most original source of being—not as a wave destined to subside into an anonymously flowing stream, but as a son springing forth moment by moment from the primordial fountain, the source of self-giving love whose eternal tradition is to hand itself over. Man becomes a child of the Father, he enters into direct communion with the Son, who is always springing forth from the Origin in an eternal now. Christianity also takes man seriously enough to invite him to receive his life every second as the last will and testament of the dying Son, who handed over not only himself, but also his very Spirit: tradidit Spiritum. This begetting and this dying are one life that can never fade into the past. Together they constitute the most intensively actual, most vital event imaginable: primordial tradition. Theologically speaking, this primordial tradition brings the reception of creative life and the empowerment for its creative transmission into an absolute (and absolutely miraculous) unity. In receiving ourselves from the primordial source, we receive the power to be a source in communion with him—the power to give ourselves, which is also the power to be and create living tradition in our turn.

From “Tradition”