The last volume in this theological series, these works present a rare opportunity to experience Balthasar's synthetic and comprehensive treatment of major themes in theology without having to make one's way through more extensive works which cover a much wider scope. Each volume focuses on a specific aspect of theology or spirituality and presents it with all the richness which comes from his immense erudition, but in a style that is directed and intelligible since few of these essays were intended for scholarly audiences. They give an excellent overview of the writings and thought of one of the outstanding theologians of this century.
In this final volume, Balthasar focuses on the purpose of man as created by God. He begins with these words: “Man is ‘created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by means of this to save [his] soul.’ Constant repetition has made this line from the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises seem like a trite platitude. What could we possibly say about these words that has not already been said before? Of course, scarcely anyone still remembers, or is even willing to acknowledge, this Ignatian insight, though Ignatius himself understood it as the ‘principle and foundation’ of all human and Christian truth, or at least as a summary of the ABC’s for people wanting an introduction to Christianity. A bird’s eye view of the history of Christian theology reveals an astonishing truth: The seemingly banal gateway to the Spiritual Exercises turns out to be anything but traditional, at least if it is the great tradition of European thinking that we have in mind.”
Divided into two parts, PRAISE, REVERENCE, AND SERVICE and BEFORE GOD’S FACE-IN GOD’S HEART, some of the many topics Balthasar covers in this volume include:The Serenity of the Surrendered Self, On the Christian’s Capacity to See, Health between Science and Wisdom, The Person, Sexuality, and Death, The Dignity of Women, Mary and the Holy Spirit, The Eternal Child, How God Forgives, Introspection and Self-transcendence, God among Us, Peace in Theology, The “Beatitudes” and Human Rights, Finding God in All Things, and more.