Through Shadows and Images...

A Blog by Tom Gourlay

Tag: Mother

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.

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

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