Theological Aesthetics I: Hans Urs von Balthasar and “Seeing the Form”


“Beauty is the last thing which the thinking intellect dares to approach, since only it dances as an uncontained splendor around the double constellation of the true and the good and their inseparable relation to one another… We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name … can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love.”[1] – Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics

“The witness borne by Being becomes untrustworthy for  the person who can no longer read the language of beauty.”[2] – Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics

“Before the beautiful—no, not really before but within the beautiful—the whole person quivers. He not only ‘finds’ the beautiful moving; rather, he experiences himself as being moved and possessed by it.”[3] – Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics


Beauty: A Gentle Introduction

Beauty – visible form of the good, friends with its companion the true – may be the most accessible path to truth in what has otherwise been dubbed our “post-truth” society.[4]  C.S. Lewis scholar Louis Markos connects the twin fates of truth and beauty in contemporary culture, although showing that they in fact diverge:

“More and more in our modern and postmodern culture these two concepts (beauty and truth) have been separated both from each other and from their individual connection to a divine source of Beauty and Truth: a separation that is perhaps most evident in the twin realms of education and the arts. Even as our public schools move further and further away from their connection to a universal moral code, the world of art embraces an aesthetic that privileges ugliness over beauty, nihilism over form, and radical self-expression over the pursuit of higher truth.”[5]

Markos buttresses the contemporary penchant for the ugly over the beautiful by relating Eric Metaxas’ review of the film Shrek (in which a choice is made to remain unseemly ogres rather than fairytale Prince and Princess) in which Metaxas asks “are beauty and nobility and innocence such medieval concepts that fairy tales themselves cannot portray them positively?”[6]


Hans Urs von Balthasar, one of the premiere Catholic theologians of the 20th century and pioneering force for aesthetics in faith, also claims the stakes are high:

“We no longer dare to believe in beauty and we make of it a mere appearance in order the more easily to dispose of it. Our situation today shows that beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness, and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking them along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance. We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past – whether he admits it or not – can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love.”[7]

The allure of the good suffers along with beauty.  Just as Milton’s Satan held interest for some, Balthasar admits

“Why not investigate Satan’s depths? In a world that no longer has enough confidence in itself to affirm the beautiful, the proofs of truth have lost their cogency. … the logic of these answers is itself a mechanism which no longer captivates anyone. The very conclusions are no longer conclusive. And if this is how the transcendentals fare because one of them has been banished, what will happen with Being itself? Thomas [Aquinas] described Being as a “sure light” for that which exists. Will this light not necessarily die out where the very language of light has been forgotten and the mystery of Being is no longer allowed to express itself? … The witness borne by Being becomes untrustworthy for the person who can no longer read the language of beauty.”[8]



Balthasar: An Historical Introduction


Hans urs Von Balthasar (1905 – 1988), Swiss-born and considered one of the most important  theologians of the 20th century, is a pivotal figure in the development of Christian aesthetics (both theological and philosophical aesthetics). Balthasar headed a movement in theological circles which attempted to come to grips with the mindset of modernity, not so much by countering argument with argument in a logical duel, but by recovering a more aesthetic tradition of Christianity from its earliest practice.  Balthasar drew on Church Fathers such as Irenaeus (140 – 202 A.D.), Origen of Alexandria (184 –  253), Gregory of Nyssa (335-395, Asia Minor), Pseudo-Dionysius (late 5th to early 6th century A.D.), ), Maximus the Confessor (580 – 682, of Constantinople), Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 – 1153), and  Bonaventure (1221 – 1274) among others, in an attempt to get behind the Aristotelian-oriented argumentation of the Medieval Scholastics, and Thomas Aquinas in particular.  The experience of faith needs to be understood in aesthetic and mystical rather than logical and propositional terms, and ancient and medieval church Fathers provided the resources to recover that experience.  Inspired by studies of Origen and other Church Fathers by fellow Jesuit scholars Jean Danielou, Gaston Fessard and Henri de Lubac, Balthasar left the Jesuits in 1950 to form the Community of St. John, dedicated to a more direct engagement with culture. Balthasar’s scholarship and theology were similar to that of the nouvelle theologie of Danielou and Lubac, who otherwise preferred to refer to their efforts with the ressourcement, as they sought merely an expansion of theological resources (by drawing already existing ones) rather than charting any new direction of their own. In fact, the phrase nouvelle theologie served as an accusation against the group, resulting in Lubac in particular coming under intense scrutiny and suffering a ban on his writings for ten years beginning in 1946.  Lubac’s friend and renowned scholar Etienne Gilson wrote in defense his approach, stating that

“One fabricates a Thomism for the use of the schools, a sort of flat rationalism that fits every kind of deism … The only salvation, by contrast, lies in going back to Thomas himself, back behind John of St. Thomas, even behind Cajetan, whose famous commentary is a successful “corruptorium Sanctae Thomas” … Thomas has been castrated by it.”[9]

urs lubac

Further, after reading Lubac’s Surnaturel (1946), Gilson continued

“You are a theologian of great stature but likewise a humanist in the great tradition of humanist theologians. Humanist theologians do not love the scholastics, and they are almost always hated by the scholastics. Why? In part, it seems to me, because the latter understand only univocal propositions and those that seem to be univocal. The former [humanists]m by contrast, are more interested in the truth that the proposition attempts to formulate and that always partly escapes it… I see salvation only in a Thomasian philosophy, as you understand it, together with Augustine and Bonaventure and the great Fathers of the East.”[10]


The Jesuit order at the time was “dominated by a small group of progressives whose only Church Fathers had the names Marx, Freud and especially Nietzsche,”[11] for which Lubac, Balthasar saw a more proper antidote of experiential rather than propositional faith.  While Lubac defended the French philosopher Teilhard de Chardin (1881 – 1955, who adapted Henri Bergson’s notion of elan vital and creative evolution to ground evolutionary theory in a spiritual, humanist telos other than Darwin’s natural selection), Balthasar set off on his 15 volume theology series, The Glory of the Lord (7 volumes), Theo-Drama (5 volumes) and Theo-Logic (3 volumes), published from 1961 – 1985.  The works of the ressourcement group helped lead the Catholic church’s grappling with modernity, the focus of the Second Vatican Council (1962 – 1965), though arguably its leading exponent, Balthasar, was not invited to the council. Instead, one of the key theologians was Karl Rahner (1904 – 1984), whose emphasis on Ancient sources, similar to Balthasar’s, molded the Council’s response to modernity. A comparison of Rahner and Balthasar is instructive to Balthasar’s particular relevance today, in an environment that can be roughly characterized as post-modern.

Modernity had led the Catholic church to re-assess the extent to which it adhered to the fruits of neo-scholastic defenses (rigorous conceptual analysis and dialectical reasoning, in the spirit of Aquinas[12]), such as the literality of Scripture in the face of science.  Rahner led the church to consider how man’s spiritual nature can be preserved, in the spirit of Kant one might say.  The nature of grace is the issue which clarifies the Council’s response to modernity, as well as the difference between Rahner and Balthasar. Neoscholastic understanding of grace at the time of the Council saw grace as extrinsic to human nature, such that own can achieve the fundamental level of humanity without God’s assistance; grace instead supplies a supernatural component to man.  This “extrincism” was criticized by Balthasar’s Philosophy Professor at Munich, Erich Przywara. Instead, building on Maurice Blondel’s argument that the human spirit intrinsically requires grace[13] in 1893 gave way to two different remedies, one taken by Rahner, the other by Przywara and Balthasar. The way taken by Rahner follows the path taken by German Idealist (Romantic) Philosophers such as Kant, Fichte and Hegel, i.e. a unity supplied to reality subjectively, by the mind.  By connecting metaphysical arguments in Aquinas to German Idealists, Rahner tied together the natural and the spiritual; specifically, his brand of transcendental Thomism (holding that in any perception of meaning there is a (“latent,” transcendental and thus, to Rahner anyway, who was otherwise notably difficult to understand, Kantian) experience of God). At this point it is economical to simply quote my source on Rahner to explain:

“Thus, Rahner conceived and developed a transcendental anthropology; human beings are “spirits in the world.” As such, human and divine realities meet in the subjective reality of the human spirit .. God becomes present to human experience as the transcendental horizon which makes possible all human knowing and willing. Thus God is always present in human experience “not as object [but] in the self-realization of the human spirit.””[14]


In the place of a unity between created and Creator, Przywara and Balthasar instead ponder the difference between the two. That the two are separate results in our (created, until differently informed!) perceiving God in creation, and comprehending our finite being in contrast to God’s infinite being. Balthasar here cites Pseudo-Dionysius as having argued the same, citing that material objects are symbols which help us (who are thus “at a distance” from God) to move closer to understanding ultimate reality, God. As Garcia-Rivera summarizes:

“Our very finitude becomes the means to contemplate the infinite only to realize the infinite breaking through any form, any concept, any symbol our finitude provides… The “difference” between Creator and creature sets up a dynamic analogy dear to the human spirit. Our “dissimilar similarity” of creature to Creator allows the human spirit to participate in the knowledge and the love of God but only by having every concept, form, or symbol irrupted in the very act of knowing and loving God.”[15]

The Incarnation, God become flesh in the person of Christ, is the most intense and rich of such symbolic experiences.

How does this position Balthasar to more effectively handle what is commonly known as the “postmodern” situation than Rahner?  Rahner’s approach, that of finding mystical experience within the experience of the ordinary through a unity achieved owing to our positioning on a plane or perspective of transcendence, is too easily debunked by Modernity.  Hegel did not last long in the Academy, analytical thinkers pounced all too easily (and eagerly) on his philosophical form of Romanticism. But instead of incorporating “the form” (transcendent) into ourselves, Balthasar points us to the act of “Beholding the Form,” express our love and worship for it.  The Form is an “other,” requiring “not only a “surrounding world” [us, at a distance] but ultimately being as a whole: in this need it is … a “contracted” representation of the “absolute””[16] Balthasar explains. Even more explicitly, the beholder of the form is taken out of themselves and lifted towards God in the beholding, while “the form of the beautiful is the glory of God (kabod, doxa) whose splendor seizes and enraptures.”[17] It is in this ability to perceive that which is other than ourselves that (Garcia-Rivera argues) provides a particularly effective means of navigating the postmodern world.


It is perhaps helpful at this point to explain the context of Garcia-Rivera’s Community of the Beautiful, before completing its case for Balthasar as an effective antidote to the postmodern. Garcia-Rivera begins his book by discussing the differences between the small Latin portion of his church worshipping upstairs at the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Allentown Pennsylvania and the English-speaking fellowship worshipping downstairs. The differences were made explicit when the former decorated a small Christmas tree with tinsel and colored lights aplenty (and then some), evoking the hushed judgments of “gaudy” by the downstairs group, who had a sparingly but beautifully decorated tree in all white. The differences parallel the more significant differences between historic Latin religion at the time of the Conquistadors and that of their European conquerors. While native Latin American religion sought for a unity in the cosmos, European Christian arrived preaching the need for redemption. They had both grasped some correct aspect of the true religion, but were otherwise at loggerheads as to how to reconcile them. It is with this seeming incommensurability of perspectives that Garcia-Rivera claims Balthasar’s aesthetic approach to theology can be most helpful. Just as Balthasar has reconciled the difference and distance between Creator and the created, so can his approach be applied to the distance between such disparate traditions, the crux of the postmodern problem, the apparent incommensurability of meaning, and the lack of an overarching metanarrative (like Garcia-Rivera, I will decline to enter any explicit manner of defining the notion of the “postmodern” as it may require the writing of an entire book, or more). But, within each tradition (members of each tradition are at a distance from at least other traditions), it is possible to “behold the form” that enlivens even alien perspectives, and so find an overall mutual respect and appreciation that which each tradition has perhaps only partially grasped (not to say that no tradition can be more correct than another, but we are getting ahead of Garcia-Rivera’s argument a little bit here). At this point, it will be helpful to take up Balthasar more directly.

Balthasar: Glory of the Lord and Seeing the Form


Beauty is found “at the intersection of two moments which Thomas [Aquinas] calls species and lumen (“form” and “splendor”) Balthasar declares.[18]  Form is comprehended by “beholding,” while splendor is understood by “being enraptured.”  Perception and beholding of the form (which Balthasar combines in the term Wahrnehmen, “to take to be true”) is the activity of aesthetics described by Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason. In between perception and beholding, however, Balthasar places the recognition and response to splendor, an enrapturing that takes place: “no one can really behold who has not already been enraptured, and no one can be enraptured who has not already perceived.”[19]  Balthasar likens this to the relation between grace and faith, with faith apprehending the form of God’s revelation while grace is a “transportation [enrapturing] of the believer up into God’s world.”[20]

Beauty and aesthetics are thus at the foundation of theology. Content and form merely vary by degree in their expression of an inner glory, which ultimately is the glory and splendor of God.  “The content, or interior form, is already of itself divine glory in its worldly manifestation,” which then, by virtue of its glory, “shapes the external form and style” though the style is a matter of creative human freedom.[21]  Aesthetics thus is crucial to the theological enterprise; a theology without the manifestation of the glory of God has not found its form, does not cause rapture, and remains ineffective, in fact empty.  Theologians, or artists, must encapsulate the glory of God, though they may do so in a creative manner according to their own particular style.

While the “Glory of the Lord” underwrites all significant theology, diversity and individual style nevertheless results. This is due to the fact that “the form (Gloria Dei), in giving itself, always remains a mystery. It can never be fully comprehended.”[22] Balthasar in fact chronicles the styles of twelve figures (theologians and others) throughout history who have expressed such divine glory (and expressed regrets that his efforts were so Eurocentric).  Ancients such as the theologians Irenaeus, Augustine, Dionysius, Anselm and Bonaventure, and otherwise religious and laity Dante, John of the Cross, Pascal, Hamann, Solov’ev Hopkins and Peguy (no theologians appear after Aquinas, however, after whom Balthasar states “there is no longer such a direct radiance”[23]).  Finally, in addition to the achievement of certain particular styles by different theologians and artists, there exists no effective and complete theology which does not transmit this Gloria Dei. It is “only beautiful theology, that is only theology which, grasped by the glory of God, is able to transmit its rays [and] has the chance of making any impact in human history by conviction and transformation.”[24]

While Balthasar makes a great deal of use of Ancient theologians, as a philosopher he follows suit by making his case amongst the Ancient philosophers.  The ontological distinction between essence and being provides the starting point. That man both is but also could not be (he is contingent), and also that he is finite, grants him but a limited sense of being. Heidegger among other existentialists, in their call for authenticity in light of this fact, acknowledge man’s limited nature. But for the theistic Balthasar, this explains only half of man’s situation: “He exists as a limited being in a limited world, but his reason is open to the unlimited, to all of Being.”[25]  Aquinas recognizes this tension within man, between the finite and infinite, and terms this fissure the real distinction. It is a watershed issue by which philosophers can be distinguished: either the (infinite) world of Being is ultimately the real and the contingent and finite world does not really exist (Plato. Parmenides and even Buddhism or Plotinus[26]), or the finite world is all that truly exists, a world of flux and becoming, and the transcendental world is but an illusion (Heraclitus, toss in Nietzsche et. al. while we’re at it).

Before Christianity, philosophy could not resolve this fissure in being. Ultimate Being (God) either remains aloof from this world (in which case one wonders why it even exists), or God becomes immanent in the world, both alternatives of which amount to nothing more than pantheism. Instead, the Christian philosophical response holds that the world of becoming is merely a contingent aspect, a free choice, of (permanent) Being (and hence a proof of the existence of God consistent with Aquinas’ five ways). It is still a mystery – the greatest of mysteries – to Balthasar as to why God created this finite world (including man). The answer would seem to lie somehow the I-Thou relation between man and God.

Balthasar broached the relation between man and God with his own particular presentation of the I-Thou relation. Man’s comprehension of God is as a baby staring at the smile on his loving mother’s face: the baby finds the beauty of the smile, which communicates the good of the mother’s love, amounting to a revelation of the truth of her Being.  To wax more philosophical, man has a sense of reason that allows him to understand the revelation of God. Just as Paul suggests to the Greeks that “God created man so that he might seek the divine and aspire to it” (similar to a passage from Plato in Phaedo XXXV),[27] the revelation of God to man and man’s reception becomes the central phenomena in understanding the spectrum from being to Being. Where the Greeks spoke of that which came after physics, meta-physics, Balthasar speaks of meta-being, that which goes beyond and encompasses the finite world we can observe; the actual term Balthasar employs is meta-anthropology.  Instead of man being simply a part of the cosmos, the full extent of which is to be sought through philosophy or metaphysics, in fact man himself is seen as transcending, thus giving meaning, to the cosmos (and by virtue of the fissure between finite and infinite inherent in him); this meaning inherent to the cosmos is revealed by man’s dialogue with ultimate Being.

Balthasar explains how the I-Thou relation answers the questions at the foundation of philosophy:

“In that encounter, the horizon of all unlimited being opens itself for him, revealing four things to him: (1) that he is one in love with the mother, even in being other than his mother, therefore all Being is one; (2) that that love is good, therefore all Being is good; (3) that that love is true, therefore all Being is true; and (4) that that love evokes joy, therefore that all Being is beautiful.”[28]

Thus, the problems of classical metaphysics reduce simply to Balthasar’s meta-anthropology.  In this formulation, the child directly apprehends the mother. In philosophical terms, man-as-child perceives the essence of the mother (Being) through its communication, its manner of manifestation. It is in discerning or intuiting essence, as it subsists in the concrete, that we perceive the communications of Being. Scola helpfully summarizes Balthasar’s thought here:

“The more deeply I delve into the transcendental in the individual essences in which Being reveals itself, the more deeply do they reveal Being to me. The essence is a fragment in which Being subsists; it will never be able to deplete Being, but in this essence Being reveals itself and its transcendentals.”[29]

Balthasar thus diverges from Kant, who claimed that by abstracting from transcendentals, we come to understand being (Being), as Balthasar claims that Being reveals itself as one “delves into” the transcendentals, where Being (in partiality, it is not “depleted” even in essences) communicates itself.[30] The role of transcendentals play a pivotal role in Balthasar’s route towards our comprehending Being, as the transcendentals, as attributes of Being, surpass limits of all essences, and reveal Being.  The dialog that results, of Being (God) with man, is reasonable to assume, as man himself is so dependent on dialog with his fellow man, or in short, as man is logocentric. On the other hand, while God Himself has a perfect unity about him (in his Oneness, Goodness, Truth and Beauty), it is yet a mystery how finite and contingent man may claim a similar unity, Balthasar notes; we cannot achieve or even breach this unity (alternatively, “close the break between essence and existence”[31]) by our own sense of reason or effort, but are left to ponder the meaning and harmony of our incomplete partaking (a “polarity” as Balthasar calls it)  of ultimate, unified Being.  The ultimate concrete universal, providing a bridge and communication, is (of course) Christ.

While philosophical aesthetics from at least Kant onwards moves from beauty being a matter of form to incorporating increasing amounts of matter, Balthasar grounds the theology of aesthetics firmly in form.   The language which conveys beauty is conducted in terms which acknowledge the mystery of form (Gestalt; or figure, Gebilde); even formosus (beautiful) derives from forma (shape), and speciuosus (comely) from species (likeness), Balthasar reminds us. Beauty is then located intrinsically within form, as the “great radiance from within,” splendor, is an outpouring from that which is contained in the form or figure.

Our ascension from being to Being, by manner of dialog and partaking (we do not become God, obviously) follows a threefold path, according Balthasar, that begins with aesthetics.  It is, as we have seen, in our comprehension of the splendor of God that we first learn of Him, of Being.  “Today’s positivist/atheist man, who has made himself blind not only to theology but even philosophy, should, once placed before the phenomenon of Christ (the splendor of the glorious and sublime God), once again learn to see,” Balthasar states.[32]


The second stage consists in Theo-drama, our response once we aesthetically perceive the form of Being, of the “Glory of the Lord.” The question of our response to God’s acting in the world constitutes the stage of Dramatics. Infinite freedom acts, “God will freely desire to plunge himself into the drama and become protagonist … in a theodrama which reopens to man’s freedom space in which to follow him.”[33] In Christ’s action, a permanent actuality as response is given to the drama, a revelation “for men of every age of the unfathomable mystery of the Triune God and of the events which await us when the figure of this passing world will come to an end.”[34]

The final stage, the Theologic, is where God reveals the fulness of truths previously revealed but not fully comprehended. At the level of transcendentals from within contingent being, polarities (“of object and subject”) are “delineated’ on the planes of truth as liberty, truth as mature, truth as mystery and truth as participation. Ultimate unity between the finite and infinite can only be revealed, explained, with Christ, The Truth of God. Following the German Romantics perhaps, there is a certain element of play, an ascension (analogic) from image to archetype, and a descending (cata-logic) from archetype to image. Christ is central to this, as He may descend, without contradiction, into and as “the image that is the creation, purify it and make it enter into the communion of divine life.”[35]

[1] Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics: Volume I: Seeing the Form (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1982), 18.

[2] Ibid., 19.

[3] Ibid. I am not sure of the exact page number, though the following claims its existence in Vol. 1 Seeing the Form: Edward T. Oakes, S.J.; David Moss, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Hans Urs von Balthasar (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 270.


[5] Louis Markos, Restoring Beauty (Colorado Springs: Biblica Press, 2010), 1.

[6] Ibid., 8.

[7] Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics: Volume I: Seeing the Form, 18.

[8] Ibid., 19.

[9] Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Theology of Henri de Lubac (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991),13.

[10] Ibid., 14.

[11] Ibid., 19.

[12] Scholasticism is considered to date from 1100 until the 1700s; Neo-scholasticism from the mid nineteenth century. Neo-scholastics reacted against the modernity in philosophy represented by figures such as Descartes, Kant and Hegel, and in theology against the idea that revelation continued since the death of the last apostle up through the present day, that dogma could change at the behest of the church leadership, and higher criticism of scripture texts.  Neo-scholastics thus employed methods similar in spirit at any rate to the philosophical reaction to Kant and Hegel, that of logical analysis of the early twentieth century. Moves towards increasing use of Aquinas, Neo-scholasticism, and away from modernist thought included Pope Leo IX’s various letters from the 1850s to 180870s, as well as Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical “Aeterni Patras of 1879.

[13] Maurice Blondel, Action: Essay on a Critique of Life and a Science of Practice, translation of Blondel, L’Action (Presses Universitaires de France, 1950 <1893>), (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984).

[14] Alejandro Garcia-Rivera, The Community of the Beautiful: A Theological Aesthetics (Collegeville, Minn.: The Liturgical Press, 1999), 78. The text cites Karl Rahner, Spirit in the World, trans. William Dych (New York: Herder and Herder, 1968) and von Balthasar, The von Balthasar Reader, (New York: Crossroad, 1997),18-19, respectively.

[15] Ibid., 82. Italics mine.

[16] Balthasar, The Realm of Metaphysics in Antiquity, op.cit. 29. Cited in Garcia-Rivera, Community of the Beautiful, 89.

[17] Angelo Scola, Hans Urs von Balthasar: A Theological Style (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 2. Cited in Garcia Rivera, Community of the Beautiful, 89.

[18] Scola, Hans Urs von Balthasar, 10.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Angelo Scola, Hans Urs von Balthasar: A Theological Style (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 3.

[22] Ibid., 5.

[23] Hans Urs von Balthasar, My Work: In Retrospect (San Francisco, 1993), 82.

[24]  Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics, vol. II: Studies in Theological Style: Clerical Styles, trans. Andrew Louth, Francis McDonagh, and Brian McNeil, ed. John Riches (Sanfrancisco and New York, 1984),13-14.

[25] Balthasar, My Work, 112.

[26] “To some extent, it is also the solution of Plotinus” Scola notes in Balthasar, 21,, then citing Balthasar: “The truth is only attained in ecstasy where one touches the One, which is at the same time All and Nothing (relative to all the rest that only seems to exist)” Balthasar, My Work, p.112.

[27] Scola, Balthasar, 223.

[28] Balthasar, My Work, 114.

[29] Scola, Balthasar, 27.

[30] Though this may seem a minor technicality, Scola notes that this divergence from Kant was one significant way in which Balthasar differed from his fellow theologian Rahner, who held that one moves toward being with a minimal effort at analyzing transcendentals in contingent beings.

[31] Scola, Balthasar, 29.

[32] Hans Urs von Balthasar, Theologik, vol. I (Einsiedeln, 1985) XX. (quoted on Scola, 37).

[33] Scola, Balthasar, 41.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Balthasar, My Work, 118.

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