Through Shadows and Images...

A Blog by Tom Gourlay

Tag: Hans Urs von Balthasar

More on the Mother’s Smile

Some time ago I had occasion to post what I think is just the most beautiful photo of my wife and little daughter Anastasia. It was accompanied by a quote from von Balthasar’s little nugget of a book, Love Alone is Credible.

This time, a snap of my little man Augustine – again accompanied by some words from von Balthasar, this time from an essay contained within volume 3 of his Explorations in Theology book.

‘The little child awakens to self-consciousness through being addressed by the love of his mother’

– Hans Urs von Balthasar, “Movement Toward God,” in Explorations in Theology, vol. 3, Creator Spirit (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993), 15-55.

Hans Urs von Balthasar: A Primer

A very brief introduction to a thinker who has been particularly formative in my own thinking, Hans Urs von Balthasar.

Born on 12 August 1905 in Lucerne, Switzerland, to an incredibly gifted family of considerable wealth, Hans Urs von Balthasar is a luminary in the history of twentieth-century Catholic theology, and “widely regarded as the greatest Catholic theologian of the century.”[1] He was educated firstly by Benedictine monks at the abbey school at Engelberg in central Switzerland, but prior to completing his secondary education, he was moved by his parents to the Stella Matutina College run by the Jesuits in Feldkirch, Austria….

Continue reading

Sanctity and the Intellectual Life

“Sanctity should provide the inner form of the intellectual life, in a way that affects both the methods and the content of the modern academic curriculum”David L. Schindler

I have thought for a long time that our Catholic/Christian educational institutions should be radically different from their secular counterparts. If the belief that God created everything ex nihilo, out of nothing, and that all things live and move and have their being in the person of Jesus Christ, that ‘all things were created through him and for him’ [Col 1:16]; if this is actually true, then this should radically impact on how we understand reality as such, and then how we conduct research, teach and learn.

The words quoted above, which come from David L. Schindler, articulate for me a project which I hope to give life to through this blog, which will be something of a companion to the work I am currently doing at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family, Melbourne. My intention is to use this blog to test some of the thinking which may, in fact, find its way into the thesis I am currently writing. As such, the reflections which form the bulk of this blog find their inspiration primarily in the work of the American philosopher and theologian David L. Schindler. As well as Schindler however, I mention also such thinkers as Christopher Dawson, Fr Luigi Giussani, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Stratford Caldecott, and John Milbank as well as the great saints of education, Mary MacKillop, Don Bosco, Marcellin Champagnat, Jean-Baptiste de la Salle, and John Henry Newman. These and others have been a tremendous source of inspiration in my thinking in this area and will feature from time to time in what I post. It would be remiss of me not to mention two other tremendous figures who have influenced my thinking in this regard – Karol Wojtyla/John Paul II, and Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI.

As I progress in my own study, I hope to share with you through this blog much of my thinking – I would value any input you might have along the way.

Balthasar on the mother’s smile

“After a mother has smiled at her child for many days and weeks, she finally receives her child’s smile in response. She has awakened love in the heart of her child, and as the child awakens to love, it also awakens to knowledge: the initially empty-sense impressions gather meaningfully around the core of the Thou. Knowledge (with its whole complex of intuition and concept) comes into play, because the play of love has already begun beforehand, initiated by the mother, the transcendent. God interprets himself to man as love in the same way: he radiates love, which kindles the light of love in the heart of man, and it is precisely this light that allows man to perceive this, the absolute Love: “For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:6).”

– Hans Urs von Balthasar, Love Alone Is Credible, chapter 5, “Love Must Be Perceived.”

Mother's Smile

My daughter Anastasia and her beautiful mother, my wife Elizabeth

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén