Hans Urs von Balthasar: Biography and Online Writings
(scroll down for a list of online writings) Hans Urs von Balthasar was born Lucerne, Switzerland in 1905. He was undoubtedly one of the most important and prolific Catholic intellectuals of the twentieth century, writing over one hundred books and a thousand articles.
As a young man, von Balthasar studied in Vienna and Berlin and in 1929, a year after completing his doctorate at Zurich, entered the Society of Jesus.
Dissatisfied with the prevalent neo-scholasticism of his day, Balthasar was drawn to the rich theology of the Church Fathers. Along with Henri de Lubac, Jean Daniélou, and other Continental theologians of the ressourcement movement, he labored to bring theology and spirituality back to the Scriptures and Fathers as primary and direct theological sources.
After moving to Basel in1940 to assume the responsibility of a university chaplain, he met Adrienne von Speyr (1902-67) who became a Catholic under his spiritual direction. Her writing became a major source of inspiration for his writing and he insisted that her work could not be separated from his own. Together they founded the Community of St. John, a "secular institute." In light of his important role in this community, he left the Jesuits in 1950.
Though he did not serve as a peritus (theological advisor to the bishops) during the Second Vatican Council, the influence of his writings can be seen in the conciliar docutments. In 1972 he formed Communio: International Catholic Review with Daniélou, de Lubac, and Joseph Ratzinger. From 1961-87 he produced his most important work, a trilogy published in fifteen volumes: The Glory of the Lord, Theo-Drama, and Theo-Logic. After years of illness, Balthasar died on June 26, 1988, one day before he was to be made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II.