Hans Urs von Balthasar - Zu seinem Werk

Zu seinem Werk My Work: In Retrospect

In her foreword to the present volume, Cornelia Capol writes that “Hans Urs von Balthasar made detailed statements about his work on five occasions, mostly on the birthdays that marked the end of a decade of his life: as a young author, in his desire ‘to lift out of the jumble of history the four or five figures who, taken together, represent for me the constellation of my idea and my mission’; as publisher and writer, ‘out of concern for the reader’ and in order to equip this reader with a guide to the quickly spreading thicket of books written and published by him. Then, in the midst of the transformations and new beginnings connected with the Council, he wrote In Retrospect for himself and for all his readers, inside and outside the Church, about what had been given and what had been done and what was still required and planned. Finally, in a kind of pause, as one already looking toward the close of his life, he gave once again an account of what had been achieved and what could no longer be achieved, in a clear shift of emphasis away from his ‘authorship’ in favor of pastoral work in the communities he had founded. A few weeks before his death, he attempted once more a ‘glimpse through my thinking,’ a simple and clear text that is only a few pages long. In the meantime, he had also been able to complete his Trilogy. This present volume is a helpful guide to his many-layered work.”

I   An Introduction:
Hans Urs von Balthasar: 1945
II   A Short Guide to My Books: 1955
III   In Retrospect: 1965
1. The Salient Point
2. Rays from the Center
3. A Church of Disciples
4. The Glory of the Lord
5. A Word of Thanks
IV   Another Ten Years: 1975
V   Retrospective: 1988

I have thus tried to construct a philosophy and a theology starting from an analogy, not of an abstract Being, but of Being as it is encountered concretely in its attributes (not categorical, but transcendental). And as the transcendentals run through all Being, they must be interior to each other: that which is truly true is also truly good and beautiful and one. A being appears, it has an epiphany: in that it is beautiful and makes us marvel. In appearing it gives itself, it delivers itself to us: it is good. And in giving itself up, it speaks itself, it unveils itself: it is true (in itself, but in the other to which it reveals itself).

From “Retrospective: 1988”