The Meaning of the World Is Love: Selected Texts from Hans Urs von Balthasar with Commentary

The Meaning of the World Is Love: Selected Texts from Hans Urs von Balthasar with Commentary

by Richard Clements
The Meaning of the World Is Love: Selected Texts from Hans Urs von Balthasar with Commentary

The Meaning of the World Is Love: Selected Texts from Hans Urs von Balthasar with Commentary

by Richard Clements


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Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905–1988), a prolific Catholic theologian from Switzerland, has been called a "new Father of the Church". His work—shaped not only by traditional theology and philosophy, but by literature, art, and music—made an impact on both Saint John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Aidan Nichols, O.P., describes Balthasar's fifteen-volume masterwork, the Trilogy, as "perhaps the high-point of twentieth-century Catholic theology".

Yet for all Balthasar's brilliance, the core of his theology is extraordinarily simple: love—for God is love. Love lies at the center of life, indeed, at the center of being itself. For Balthasar, the answers to all of man's big, existential questions revolve around love.

The Meaning of the World Is Love, compiled by psychologist Richard Clements, brings Balthasar's meditations to a wider audience, using brief excerpts from the theologian to walk readers through the landscape of divine love, which is our home. The path of love is the path of self-gift—as well as of truth, goodness, and beauty—and it is the only way to genuine fulfillment. Balthasar, as Clements shows, can point us to the very heart of reality: God, who gives himself to us without reserve.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781621643517
Publisher: Ignatius Press
Publication date: 06/27/2022
Pages: 265
Sales rank: 816,713
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Rick Clements writes and speaks about the Catholic faith, personal growth, parenting, and all things cultural (books, movies, music, art, etc.). He is the author of two books: The Book of Love: Brief Meditations and The Meaning of the World Is Love. Rick has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Purdue University and a certificate in lay ecclesial ministry from the Catholic Diocese of Gary, and he has taught psychology at several universities, including Ball State University, Valparaiso University, and Indiana University Northwest. When he's not busy writing or giving presentations, Rick enjoys traveling, reading, music, and cooking. You can find his website at

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Theology of Love 11

Part I The Eternal Circulation of Love 19

1 Reality, Which Is Love 21

2 A Closed Circuit of Endlessly Flowing Love 23

3 Blood Circulating in the Body of the Cosmic Christ 31

Part II The Selfless Gift of Self, Given and Received 41

4 The Gift of Self 43

a Hingabe 43

b Love Is Life that Pours Itself Forth 52

5 Given and Received 59

a The Two Movements of Love 59

b That Person Loves Who Opens Himself Up 65

c Otherness Is Good 70

6 Selflessness 75

a Being for Oneself vs. Being for Others 75

b Ekstasis 79

c Kenosis 84

d Love Is Tested through Sacrifice 94

e Fluid in the Flowing Spirit 98

f Communio Sanctorum 106

Part III Some Types of Love 121

7 Give Me Your Heart: Loving God 123

8 The Sacrament of Christ: Loving Our Neighbor 131

9 Bodily Things Communicated Spiritually, Spiritual Things Communicated Bodily: Sexual Love 140

10 Imago Trinitatis: Filial Love 148

11 Self-Love as Self-Giving 158

Part IV The Rewards of Love 161

12 The Only True Happiness 165

13 The Meaning of the World Is Love 174

14 Nothing Is as Free as Love 185

Part V The Source of Beauty, Goodness, and Truth 195

15 Love's Full Reality Is Inconceivably Beautiful 199

16 The Goodness of Being: Being Gives Itself 208

17 Love Is Truth 222

Part VI The Grand School of Love 243

18 Open Heart or Closed Heart? 245

19 Knowing Love by Doing Love 252

20 The Perfect Feat of Daring 256

Bibliography 259

What People are Saying About This

Margaret Turek

"We are indebted to Richard Clements for providing this entry point into Balthasar's profound theology of love. A virtual treasure trove of theological and spiritual insights is found here, from which all may draw enrichment for both meditation and study."

David L. Schindler

"Love not only moves the world but gives it its form—and thereby gives shape to all cultural institutions. Balthasar teaches this with unmatched depth and breadth. Clements performs for us the profound service of gathering and integrating an abundance of the great theologian's texts. An extraordinarily rich and helpful book!"

Aidan Nichols

"Romantics swoon at the mention of love, but the Christian mystics know its price. Balthasar searched out the Trinitarian source of such costing love, traced its distributaries in Christian living, and ended by finding in it another name for the mystery of being itself. Richard Cements' commentary deftly guides us, with great discretion, to read Balthasar's work in a way that joins up the parts and lets us gain a view of the whole."

Robert Spitzer

"A lucid, compelling answer to the seminal question 'Why is there something rather than nothing' through the lens of Balthasar's theology of love. We are compelled to ask why an Absolute would create mere finite shadows of itself. The evident answer is that the Absolute is perfect self-giving love. This book is an excellent practical entryway into Christian philosophical theology."

Larry Chapp

"An absolute breath of fresh air and a bracing reminder of the true genius of Balthasar as both a theologian and a master of the spiritual life. The topics are varied and yet deeply united, since Clements deftly arranges them in order to draw out Balthasar's deep Trinitarian underpinnings. And the commentaries by Clements are insightful and often illuminating in surprising ways. This work is a delight to read and will lift your soul to God."

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