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‘A man of deep, abiding faith’

Beauty, Goodness, Truth – An introduction to the Life and Work of Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988) was the title of the two talks delivered by Dermot Mansfield SJ to parishioners West of the Shannon in the diocese of Elphin. Dermot had given two similar inputs, but on the life of St John Henry Newman, back in May, during the first lockdown caused by the Covid-19 restrictions.

The second talk (see above) was streamed on Tuesday 24 November 2020 Dermot struck a chord when he spoke to parishioners about his sense of ‘feeling a bit down’ as the heightened Covid-19 restrictions were kicking in.

But he went on to offer more valuable insights into Hans Urs von Balthasar to those who signed up to watch his video recordings and join in on the conversation regarding the life, witness, and extraordinary output of the twentieth-century Swiss priest and theologian, whose cause for canonisation is now with the Vatican.

The two events were organised by the Pastoral and Faith Development Services of the Elphin diocese and “over both evenings more than fifty adults of enquiring mind came into conversation with Dermot,” according to its Director Justin Harkin, who said he would highly recommend the videos to all who have heard the name ‘von Balthasar’ and would welcome a helpful point of entry to his life, writings, and theological vision. (Watch the video above.)

Justin Harkin said that over the course of both evenings, participants “were treated to a wonderful illumination of von Balthasar’s prolific output, generously mediated through Dermot’s vast knowledge of matters spiritual and historical.”

He thanked Dermot for the ‘beautiful’ insight he gave into Hans Urs von Balthasar, showing him to be “a man of deep, abiding and simple faith, who remained keen, through dialogue, writing and translating other writers, to help the Church counteract prevailing challenges of his time, many of which continue to present.”

Throughout his talk, Dermot quoted small nuggets from the works of von Balthasar: “Man is the creature with a mystery in his heart that is bigger than himself,” for example, from his book Prayer. Also, “Love alone is credible.”

Justin Harkin said that all the parishioners appreciated the insights Dermot offered regarding von Balthasar’s vast range of theological and spiritual writings, These were grouped, for ease of communication, around the three Platonic transcendentals, namely  ‘the Beautiful’, ‘the Good’  and ‘the True’, which became increasingly important to von Balthasar.

“Collectively we remain very grateful to both Dermot and Hans Urs von Balthasar for raising our hearts and minds to God,” he concluded.