Wednesday, July 23
Mary in the Redemption by Adrienne von Speyr:
Mary from the Perspective of a Twentieth-Century Mystic -- Part I
The Church throughout her history has kept up both a great mystical tradition and a great theological tradition. These two traditions constantly interweave, and their combination as what is called “mystical theology” has produced such great saints as Dionysius, author of the original Mystical Theology, Catherine of Siena, and Teresa of Avila. The twentieth century likewise produced a wealth of mystical theology: indeed, some would say that its final pope (and the first of the twenty-first century) is himself a mystical theologian. Among the giants of twentieth-century mystical theology was Adrienne von Speyr, a friend of Hans Urs von Balthasar (who was also her transcriber) who received the stigmata among visions of the Passion of Christ and other scenes from Scripture (indeed, many of her chapters are described as occurring “while in ecstasy”). She has previously discussed Mary in a book entitled Handmaid of the Lord, and now another work of hers on Mary, Mary in the Redemption, is available in English from Ignatius Press.
The theological reflections of Mary in the Redemption, as Balthasar states in the introduction, “probe the ultimate profundities of Mariology” (7). The book is arranged into short chapters that flow into one another, but it centers around questions involving Mary’s role in the redemptive act of Christ, especially her “pre-redemption” by Christ and her “co-redemption” along with her Son. In this review, I will investigate these and other main arguments of von Speyr, in order to ultimately come to a better appreciation of what she is attempting to accomplish with Mary in the Redemption.