Von Balthasar: "Blog On!"

Every now and again people ask the question “Why do Catholics blog?” In particular, why do amateur Catholics (like your blogmeister) blog? After all, on what authority do they take up their pen (umm… keyboard?) and take it upon themselves to be apologists for the Catholic faith? In this interview with Ignatius Insight, Gil Bailie gives a reason from von Balthasar:

At an earlier stage of our present crisis, Hans Urs von Balthasar, pointing to “the confusion of clerics and theologians,” insisted that lay Catholics “have the absolute duty to care for the condition of Catholicity,” adding with emphasis, “by protest if need be.” For a Catholic sensibility, of course, protest is always a last resort, and there are today enough signs of episcopal and clerical revitalization to make even less justified. But the lay Catholic’s obligation—in proportion to his or her respective gifts and competence—to “care for the condition of Catholicity” remains.

As distressing as our current situation can seem, we must keep before us the injunction we receive from the First Letter of Peter, that we must always be prepared to account for the hope we have in Christ (1 Peter 3:15) [see the banner of this blog!]. We must realize how hopeless a Christless world was and is and always will be. Christianity spread through the ancient world precisely because of the hope it gave to a pagan world desperate for it. At the very moment when civil order seemed to be dissolving, Christians—St. Augustine prominent among them—awakened a hope unlike anything the classical world had known. In the 21st century, under similar circumstances, it will fall to Christianity to supply a hope capable of filling the vacuum left by the naïve optimism of the modern era and the hollow nihilism of postmodern one.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Von Balthasar: "Blog On!"

  1. Past Elder

    OMG, it’s the ruddy Magi, Kasper, Melchior and Urs von Balthasar, bearing gifts of tripe, ballocks, and the novus ordo!

    Blog on! Blogeamus igitur!

  2. Schütz

    I take it you read the whole interview, PE? I thought of you all the way through it! Funny how Bailie had a completely different take on these guys to you, though. I wonder how that can be?

    Bailie said: “So, now: the ressourcement theologians: I began reading them like a drowning man looking for a life raft, which is the best possible way to do so. I can’t remember whether I started with von Balthasar or de Lubac, but one led to the other pretty quickly. I might have started with Ratzinger, but—like so many American Catholics—I had regularly been warned away from his masterful theology by the sundry members of the clergy who took every opportunity to steer their flocks away from him.

    To alter slightly Ezekiel’s dictum about the shift from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh, I could say that, having followed a few of the pied pipers of the age, I suddenly discovered that the contact with certain voices of confident clarity—von Balthasar, de Lubac, Girard, Ratzinger and others—transformed my tin ear into a listening and learning one.

    After de Lubac and von Balthasar disabused me of these prejudices, I began to read Ratzinger—at first in small doses, in Communio, for instance—but then more systematically. (I use the word systematically loosely, for I am anything but a systematic reader of theology, or anything else for that matter.)

    All in all these theologians opened the door for me to the great treasure trove of Catholic thought and Catholic fidelity. Hardly a day goes by that I do not read something from at least one of them.

    Ignatius Insight: What attracted you their writings and thought?

    Gil Bailie: That’s easy: their great creativity combined with their aversion for originality, a fantastic and indispensible combination.”

  3. Joshua

    Yes, I too find the ressourcement writers noteworthy and good – though I balance them with a stiff dose of strict Thomism a la Garrigou-Lagrange.

  4. Louise

    In particular, why do amateur Catholics (like your blogmeister) blog? After all, on what authority do they take up their pen (umm… keyboard?) and take it upon themselves to be apologists for the Catholic faith?

    Oh for Heaven’s sake! Why do we think we have the authority to speak of God at all?

  5. Past Elder

    How can that be, you ask. It’s pretty simple, David.

    The door to the “great treasure trove of Catholic thought and Catholic fidelity” is not opened by a movement against which the Catholic Church has had to take actions ranging from placing books on the Index of Forbidden Books to banning from teaching and/or publishing under the label Catholic to repeated papal warnings, up to the last pope before the palace coup when they took over, against the movement itself.

    When I was a Catholic, I read their works in the same way as I read Luther, Calvin or any other figure the Catholic Church has identified as not, er, thinking with the mind of the Church.

    Now it is the mind of the Church.

    Which is why the Church is not the Church. It has left its Gospel for another. Such things do not and cannot happen in the Catholic Church. Let it be anathema then.

  6. Schütz

    The Church is our Mother, PE.

    That means she is a woman.

    It is a woman’s prerogative to change her mind.

    It is the task of us “mere men” to seek the underlying rationality in these “changes”, and to adapt our thinking to hers.

    This should be a familiar scenario to anyone who has ever been married for more than five minutes.

    And I DO hope that you can pick that I am saying this with my tongue firmly in my cheek! :b

  7. Kiran

    Note too (though I – and I can give reasons if challenged though I am perfectly content not to do so – don’t like Balthasar, and do not find him useful), that Amerio’s area of specialization was Campanella, once (if memory serves), condemned, placed on the index, and imprisoned.

  8. matthias

    “In the 21st century, under similar circumstances, it will fall to Christianity to supply a hope capable of filling the vacuum left by the naïve optimism of the modern era and the hollow nihilism of postmodern one”.

    I could not agree more with these comments. I am currently reading a book by John Jefferson Davis. entitled THE VICTORY OF CHRIST’S KINGDOM,which examines the classical post millenialist position,and it encapsulates the same position.Thanks Schutz for including this ,it will give me food for thought over our Labour Day weekend here.

  9. Past Elder

    Amerio’s “area of specialisation” was indeed Campanella, who was indeed imprisoned, more in the sense of house arrest, by the Holy Office — a poet and astrologer, who on his release by Urban VIII became his astrologer (!). He lived out his last days on money from the French king and the patronage of that great exemplar of Christian pastorhood, Cardinal Richelieu.

    However it would be faulty to characterise Amerio as simply a dreary scholar, pardon the redundancy, thinking about what others have thought and done as an “area of specialisation” as if working in a scientific field.

    He too was a peritus at the Council. He considered it to have effectively renounced humani generis, mediator dei and other encyclicals and was relegated to obscurity under JPII as a closet SSPXer.

    So the Brave New Church handles those who oppose it with simply the Church. You will be assimilated.