Category Archives: Spiritual Life

Adrienne von Speyr

A women not really known in the US is the Mystic and Theologian, Physician, Writer: Adrienne von Speyr (20 September 1902 – 17 September 1967); she is known in theological circles as being a close associate to the Swiss theologian and priest, Hans Urs von Balthasar.

On this date, the feast of Saint Hildegard von Bingen, von Speyr died. Some will say that Speyr’s devotion to Hildegard provided her with a fitting intercessor at the Throne of Grace at this key time in her mission. Both shared a similar vocation.

Among the interesting things about Adrienne’s theological work is her 4 volume commentary on the Gospel of St John which she claimed St John dictated to her. Likewise, her volume, Book of All Saints, is quite interesting. A book I have not read but that is recommended to me is Matthew Sutton’s Heaven Opens: The Trinitarian Mysticism of Adrienne von Speyr.

Balthasar once wrote of his friend,

“In fact, on one occasion very soon after her conversion, she was driving home from her office, she suddenly saw a great light in front of her car (a pedestrian also jumped aside in fear, and Adrienne stopped) and heard a voice close by which gave the key to all that was to follow: Tu vivras au ciel et sur la terre  (You shall live in heaven and on earth).”

Hans Urs von Balthasar, First Glance At Adrienne von Speyr

What is interesting about Balthasar’s comment is a similar experience Saint Benedict had shortly before he died where, according to Saint Gregory the Great Benedict saw the whole world in a ray of light. Saints beget saints.

Discern differences

To begin to discern differences in one’s life a person must be attentive to what lies within, to what brings and supports peace and tranquility [stability of heart] or what produces and reinforces confusing, destructive behavior. This attentiveness means concretely taking time to listen to one’s inner life.

It presumes a discipline of being in or creating a quiet environment in which a person can begin to recognize what is happening internally. It presupposes that while any discernment process might necessarily include dialogue with others, it must include, above all, a dialogue with oneself-in relationship with God.

Silence and solitude can provide this conversation. Such attentive listening can lead to less illusions and self-delusions (signs of the devil according to St. Anthony of the Desert). It can also lead to greater knowledge of one’s true self, a self more grounded in truth, more capable of living in reality.

Edward Sellner, Finding the Monk Within

Listening with the ear of the heart – Lectio Divina

I am firm believer, based on experience AND the witness of Tradition of the Church, and that of Benedict XVI, that Lectio Divina is the prime method of my daily spiritual renewal. It is the daily re-birth of my life in Jesus Christ. My hope is that I can be faithful to the practice. Here is a fine thought on value of Lectio:

The monastic art of the reading (lectio) which is really a kind of listening (“with the ear of the heart”, cf. Rule of Benedict) to what the Word of God is saying to us in the Scriptures. They were also given time and space to immerse themselves in the practice of this art and to share their experience with one another and some of the monks. And all, of course, took place within the daily round of prayer and work which make up the life of the monastery ( or, in the home and workplace, among friends).

Jesus Prayer concerns

Abba Macarius the Great said, “Concentrate in this name of our Lord Jesus Christ with a contrite heart, the words welling up from your lips and drawing you to them. And do not depict Him with an image in your mind but concentrate on calling to Him: ‘Our Lord Jesus, have mercy on me.’ Do these things in peace and you will see the peace of His Divinity within you; He will run off the darkness of the passions that dwell within you and He will purify the inner person [2 Cor 4:16, Eph 3:16] just as Adam was pure in paradise. This is the blessed Name that John the Evangelist pronounced: ‘Light if the world and unending sweetness, the food of life and the true food'” (Jn 6:48, 6:55, 8:12)

From The Virtues of Abba Macarius the Great

In ALL things be grateful to the Lord

Reflection from St. Basil the Great: “When you sit down to eat, pray. When you eat bread, do so thanking him for being so generous to you. If you drink wine, remember him who has given it to you for your enjoyment and as a relief in illness. When you get dressed, thank him for his kindness in supplying you with clothing. When you look at the sky and the beauty of the stars, throw yourself at God’s feet and adore him who in his wisdom has arranged things in this way. In the same way, when the sun goes down and when it rises, when you are asleep or awake, give thanks to God, who created and arranged all things for your benefit, to have you know, love and praise their Creator.”

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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