Dr. Adrian Walker, Ph.D.

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The Life and Legacy of Adrienne von Speyr

with Dr. Adrian Walker, Ph.D.

Adrienne von Speyr

To download individual episodes from this series, scroll below

HM-1 “A Handmaid of the Lord”: the Life and Legacy of Adrienne von Speyr with Dr. Adrian Walker

HM-1 “A Handmaid of the Lord”: the Life and Legacy of Adrienne von Speyr with Dr. Adrian Walker from Discerning Hearts on Vimeo.

 

Episode 1 –  “Introduction – A Meeting With von Balthasar” –  “A Handmaid of the Lord”:  The life and legacy of Adrienne von Speyr with Dr. Adrian Walker, Ph.D.

Adrian-Walker

With Dr. Adrian Walker, we begin our conversation on the life and legacy of Adrienne von Speyr.  To lay the groundwork for our discussion, we begin by exploring the influence of  one of the most significant figures in Adrienne’s life:  Hans-Urs-von-BlathasarHans Urs von Balthasar.  Balthasar (12 August 1905 – 26 June 1988) was a Swiss theologian and Catholic priest who was to be created a cardinal of the Catholic Church by St. John Paul II but died before the ceremony. He is considered one of the most important Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century.

 

adrienne_von_speyr1Adrienne von Speyr was a Swiss convert, mystic, wife, medical doctor and author of over 60 books on spirituality and theology. She’s inspired countless souls around the world to deepen their mission of prayer and compassion. She entered the Catholic Church under the direction of the great theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar. In the years that would follow, they would co-found the secular institute, the Community of St. John.

 

Adrian Walker is an editor of the journal Communio, an International Catholic Review, who received his doctorate in philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Dr. Walker has served as a translator for the English edition of Pope Benedict XVI’s, ” Jesus of Nazareth”, as well as numerous other theological works, including those of Hans Urs von Balthasar and Adrienne von Speyr.

Our series recorded at “Casa Balthasar“,  a house of discernment for men located in Rome, Italy. The Casa,  was founded in 1990 by a group of friends and is directed by Rev. Jacques Servais, S.J.; Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) has been closely associated with the Casa Balthasar from the very beginning as its Cardinal Protector.casa-balthasar-300x224

 

 

 Many of Adrienne von Speyr’s books can found through Ignatius Press

 

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

HM-2 “A Handmaid of the Lord”: the Life and Legacy of Adrienne von Speyr with Dr. Adrian Walker

HM-2 “A Handmaid of the Lord”: the Life and Legacy of Adrienne von Speyr with Dr. Adrian Walker from Discerning Hearts on Vimeo.

Adrian-WalkerEpisode 2 – “A Brief Overview of Adrienne’s Life” – “A Handmaid of the Lord”: The life and legacy of Adrienne von Speyr with Dr. Adrian Walker, Ph.D.

With Dr. Adrian Walker, we discuss various aspects of Adrienne’s life.  What was her childhood like?  What were the relationship dynamics within her family?  We discuss her marriages and professional career.  Dr. Walker delves into her conversion to the Catholic faith and her mystical experiences.

…indifference impregnated with Johannine theology. The theory of mysticism which Adrienne formulated culminates in the one statement: Mysticism is a particular mission, a particular service to the Church which can only be properly carried out in a continual and complete movement away from oneself, in self-forgetfulness (she loved the word éffacement) and virginal readiness for the Word of God. Personal states as such are of no interest and ought not to be reflected upon, all psychologizing introspection becomes without fail a deviation from the main concern—God’s Word—and therefore a distortion of one’s mission. This basic law is also, according to Adrienne, the principal guideline for spiritual directors.

By this time, Adrienne had been interpreting books of Holy Scripture for about a decade: after the Johannine writings, some of Paul, the Catholic Epistles, the Apocalypse, books or parts of books from the Old Testament. In later years one could give her at random any text of Scripture with the request that she interpret it immediately; she would close her eyes for a few seconds, and then in her quiet, objective tone of voice she would begin to speak in sentences that were almost ready for publishing. She usually dictated in the afternoon after she had returned from her two-o’clock office hours and had had a cup of tea. She seldom dictated for more than half an hour per day. During vacations, she would occasionally dictate for two or three hours, but this was rare. More will be said later about one exception, regarding the commentary on the Apocalypse.

Balthasar, Hans Urs von (2012-08-21). First Glance at Adrienne von Speyr (Kindle Locations 345-356). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.

 

adrienne_von_speyr1Adrienne von Speyr was a Swiss convert, mystic, wife, medical doctor and author of over 60 books on spirituality and theology. She’s inspired countless souls around the world to deepen their mission of prayer and compassion. She entered the Catholic Church under the direction of the great theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar. In the years that would follow, they would co-found the secular institute, the Community of St. John.

 

Adrian Walker is an editor of the journal Communio, an International Catholic Review, who received his doctorate in philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Dr. Walker has served as a translator for the English edition of Pope Benedict XVI’s, ” Jesus of Nazareth”, as well as numerous other theological works, including those of Hans Urs von Balthasar and Adrienne von Speyr.

Our series recorded at “Casa Balthasar“, a house of discernment for men located in Rome, Italy. The Casa, was founded in 1990 by a group of friends and is directed by Rev. Jacques Servais, S.J.; Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) has been closely associated with the Casa Balthasar from the very beginning as its Cardinal Protector.

 Many of Adrienne von Speyr’s books can found through Ignatius Press

 

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

HM-3 “A Handmaid of the Lord”: the Life and Legacy of Adrienne von Speyr with Dr. Adrian Walker

HM-3 “A Handmaid of the Lord”: the Life and Legacy of Adrienne von Speyr with Dr. Adrian Walker from Discerning Hearts on Vimeo.

Adrian-WalkerEpisode 3 – “A Handmaid of the Lord – The Assent” – “A Handmaid of the Lord”: The life and legacy of Adrienne von Speyr with Dr. Adrian Walker, Ph.D.

With Dr. Adrian Walker, we reflect on various aspects of Adrienne’s insight on the Mother of God as described in her book “A Handmaid of the Lord.” In part one of our conversation on the work, Dr. Walker reflects on the meaning of “The Assent.”   We also explore  “The Finding in the Temple” and “The Renunciation”  as events described by Adrienne in the book that helps deepen our appreciation and understanding of the mystery of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

As a sheaf of grain is tied together in the middle and spreads out at either end, so Mary’s life is bound together by her assent. From this assent her life receives its meaning and form and unfolds toward past and future. This single, all-encompassing act accompanies her at every moment of her existence, illuminates every turning point of her life, bestows upon every situation its own particular meaning and in all situations gives Mary herself the grace of renewed understanding. Her assent gives full meaning to every breath, every movement, every prayer of the Mother of God. This is the nature of an assent: it binds the one who gives it, yet it allows him complete freedom in shaping its expression. He fills his assent with his personality, giving it its weight and unique coloring. But he himself is also molded, liberated and fulfilled by his assent. All freedom develops through surrender and through renunciation of liberty. And from this freedom within commitment there arises every sort of fruitfulness.

von Speyr, Adrienne (2012-03-09). Handmaid of the Lord (Kindle Locations 26-33). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.

adrienne_von_speyr1Adrienne von Speyr was a Swiss convert, mystic, wife, medical doctor and author of over 60 books on spirituality and theology. She’s inspired countless souls around the world to deepen their mission of prayer and compassion. She entered the Catholic Church under the direction of the great theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar. In the years that would follow, they would co-found the secular institute, the Community of St. John.

Adrian Walker is an editor of the journal Communio, an International Catholic Review, who received his doctorate in philosophy from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Dr. Walker has served as a translator for the English edition of Pope Benedict XVI’s, ” Jesus of Nazareth,” as well as numerous other theological works, including those of Hans Urs von Balthasar and Adrienne von Speyr.

Our series recorded at “Casa Balthasar,” a house of discernment for men located in Rome, Italy. The Casa was founded in 1990 by a group of friends and is directed by Rev. Jacques Servais, S.J.; Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) has been closely associated with the Casa Balthasar from the very beginning as its Cardinal Protector.

 Many of Adrienne von Speyr’s books can found through Ignatius Press

 

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

HM-4 “A Handmaid of the Lord”: the Life and Legacy of Adrienne von Speyr with Dr. Adrian Walker

HM-4 “A Handmaid of the Lord”: the Life and Legacy of Adrienne von Speyr with Dr. Adrian Walker from Discerning Hearts on Vimeo.

Adrian-WalkerEpisode 4 – “A Handmaid of the Lord – Mary/Joseph, Mary/John” – “A Handmaid of the Lord”: The life and legacy of Adrienne von Speyr with Dr. Adrian Walker, Ph.D.

With Dr. Adrian Walker, we reflect on various aspects of Adrienne’s insight on the Mother of God as described in her book “A Handmaid of the Lord”. In part two of our conversation on the work, Dr. Walker reflects on the meaning of the “Mary and Joseph”and “Mary and Joseph” relationships.  We explore Adrienne’s meditations and how she presents vocation and the “religious state” through the lens of Mary.

Mary and Joseph’s life together was wholly bound to the earthly way of life—the form human existence has had ever since man was driven out of Paradise. Their life was mutual service in housekeeping, breadwinning and everything involved in the toilsome and harsh scraping out of a life. But even this common labor had its focus in the divine Child, who threw open everything earthly and drew it into the eddy of his mission. Out of this breaking open there arose much later the new form of community between Mary and John, in which everything previous is translated into the supernatural and the spiritual. Now the whole fruitfulness of the community lies in the spirit; the fruit is therefore no longer visible and measurable. The material element certainly continues to exist in some way even in this community, but so secondarily that it is now only a prerequisite of the new community, not an essential component. Thus John, in his care for the Mother, is not to be regarded as Joseph’s successor. Mary has, of course, remained the same; she walks a straight path along which her assent develops. But community with John does not mean for her the continuation of the same task. The first time her assent had been used to fulfill a call to marriage; the second time it is shaped to the fulfillment of a call to the “religious life”.

Joseph and John, as well, are bound to Mary in different ways. In her assent Mary was led by the angel immediately to the Lord, without the intervention of her husband’s consent. Joseph, who is warned by the angel that he should not divorce Mary because she has conceived of the Holy Spirit, is bound directly to the human person, Mary, in order to become through this bond a servant of the incarnate Lord. John, however, is first claimed by the Lord for himself and only then brought together with Mary and given over to her. If Joseph attains to God and to holiness only through Mary, God draws John immediately into his friendship and binds him as the Lord’s friend to the Mother of the Lord. The man, the male, possesses autonomy in the natural realm and is opened to God primarily by the Christian woman in marriage. In this lies the woman’s reciprocating gift to her spouse, who has initiated her into the mystery of the natural community. Conversely, the Son gives his Mother to the priest, John, whom the Son already possesses as a saint, and Mary now submits to the priestly mission of the Apostle. In the family Mary was the focal point since she carried the Child in her womb. Joseph could not be the focal point; he could only serve, even when, as foster father, he commanded. But in John the word of the Lord lives on; as a priest he bears the office, gives shape to the solid, supernatural framework into which the Mother is now incorporated, with her living fruitfulness of grace. Once she had brought the Son physically into the world. Now the Son dies and disappears, but he lives on in the Spirit and in the office of John, whom he makes a bearer of the developing Church. And because the Mother is entrusted to the Apostle John, the certainty exists that the official Church remains fruitful and that the Mother’s fruitfulness is not exhausted in earthly temporality. Her life knows no limited time period of fruitfulness; her fruitfulness has no end; rather, it returns in the end to her mission, which no longer has the form of the Child she bore but of John, who is himself the fruit of the Lord’s redemption and represents, by virtue of his office, the love and continuing life of the Son in his work, the Church. Once the Lord had chosen his Mother, but he had to adapt himself to the earthly framework of the family and Joseph’s authority. Now Mary must adapt herself to the new framework of the Church, embodied in John. John does not go into Mary’s house but takes the Mother with him to his own home. She will have to adjust herself to the law that rules there. The woman forms the worldly home of the family; in the “cloister”, however, she conceals her personality under the veil, in order to let herself be formed by the objective Rule.

von Speyr, Adrienne (2012-03-09). Handmaid of the Lord (Kindle Locations 1706-1730). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.

For more episodes in this series visit Dr. Adrian Walker’s Discerning Hearts page

adrienne_von_speyr1Adrienne von Speyr was a Swiss convert, mystic, wife, medical doctor and author of over 60 books on spirituality and theology. She’s inspired countless souls around the world to deepen their mission of prayer and compassion. She entered the Catholic Church under the direction of the great theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar. In the years that would follow, they would co-found the secular institute, the Community of St. John.

Adrian Walker is an editor of the journal Communio, an International Catholic Review, who received his doctorate in philosophy from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Dr. Walker has served as a translator for the English edition of Pope Benedict XVI’s, ” Jesus of Nazareth,” as well as numerous other theological works, including those of Hans Urs von Balthasar and Adrienne von Speyr.

Our series recorded at “Casa Balthasar,” a house of discernment for men located in Rome, Italy. The Casa was founded in 1990 by a group of friends and is directed by Rev. Jacques Servais, S.J.; Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) has been closely associated with the Casa Balthasar from the very beginning as its Cardinal Protector.

 Many of Adrienne von Speyr’s books can found through Ignatius Press

 

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

HM-5 “Confession” – A Handmaid of the Lord: the Life and Legacy of Adrienne von Speyr with Dr. Adrian Walker

HM-5 “A Handmaid of the Lord”: the Life and Legacy of Adrienne von Speyr with Dr. Adrian Walker from Discerning Hearts on Vimeo.

AdrianEpisode 5 – “Confession” – A Handmaid of the Lord: The life and legacy of Adrienne von Speyr with Dr. Adrian Walker, Ph.D.

With Dr. Adrian Walker, we reflect on various aspects of Adrienne’s insight of the nature of confession as described in her book of the same name.

An excerpt from “Confession” Chapter 1: Introduction – The Search for Confession

If a person—in however primitive a fashion—comprehends himself as standing before God, and if he knows that he, like Adam, was created by God and redeemed by Christ and that Christ opens for him the way to the Father and the doors of heaven, then between the two poles of his existence, birth and death, where he unconditionally feels himself to be a sinner, he will expect confession with a kind of necessity. He will expect that God offers him the possibility to return again and again to a center which God himself points out and makes accessible. Every person understands in some fashion that “things can’t go on as they are.” From this angle of vision he encounters the question of how things might go on, and  perhaps of how things ought to go on considered from God’s perspective. How has God pictured his life, not only as a whole but at this moment? Does God have any particular expectation which he could and should fulfill in a particular way suggested by God himself? He feels perhaps that if he can rely only on his own freedom, or only on other human beings who live in the same kind of freedom as he, he cannot do justice to God’s expectation. He senses that to talk something out according to his own or someone else’s formula and to burden someone else with the problem is not enough if he wants to find his way back to that most profound correctness, the straight line connecting his birth and death. Everything he may accomplish outside confession in the way of self-expression and discussion may indeed offer momentary relief; but even the most simple person will see that this moment of relief remains merely one moment among others in life and that it is necessary to comprehend all these moments as a unity.

Let us assume you are my friend, and I say to you, “I can’t go on like this.” We discuss the situation together; perhaps we discover where I got off the track, and perhaps we even refer to my childhood. What we find will help me to make a new start. In every discussion of this sort, however, the individual is viewed as an isolated person, and it does not become clear that he lives in a community both of saints and sinners. Only God knows the laws both of the community of saints and of the community of sinners. In confession I am, of course, this individual sinner, but I am simultaneously a part of humanity, one of its fallen members. Thus conceptual factors are completely different in confession than in analysis. They are both personal and social; indeed, they comprise a totality that draws into focus the world as a whole, its relationship to God, and the first and last things, even if this larger context only falls into our field of vision momentarily and is experienced only indirectly. And since the situation is different, so also are the means of healing. The truth of God is involved, not the truth of the human being, nor the truth of his soul, his existence or the structure of his deeper being, but decisively the truth of God. None of the human techniques takes this divine truth seriously; at most they save it for the hour of death, and they do not help a man to become the kind of person he will need to be in that hour.

As long as aid for the human being is offered by other human beings and is mobile within the human sphere, it can operate only with human means. Everything approaching a person from external sources can be considered only as accidental and external and be supplied with a positive or negative label; the unity between interior and exterior, however, cannot be effected. The psychological session can offer me only “modes of behavior” applicable to the present, which themselves can and must change under altered conditions. Confession, on the other hand, brings a person face to face with his divine destiny and places him directly within it—within that which is final and ultimate.

As long as a person is not confessing, he feels free to speak or keep silent about whatever he wishes. What he then hates in confession is not the humbling experience of revealing himself, and not the fact that he is a sinner—he already knows that somehow—but the necessity of capitulating before and within total confession, the fact that the freedom of selection has been withdrawn and that the only choice remaining is to reveal everything or nothing. He is sick as a whole person and must be healed as such, and not eclectically. That is the first humbling experience. The second is that he is only one of many and has to accept the same conditions as do the others, even external conditions such as having to appear at the confessional at an appointed hour: a kind of marked condition, the elimination of all external differentiation—the factory owner and the watchman, the lady and her cook, all on equal footing. Precisely when one confesses that which is most intimate, one no longer has a choice or selection, is put on a level with all other sinners and is merely one penitent in the line of other sinners. The peculiarities of my particular “case”, which made it seem so interesting to me and which I would so gladly have explained to the listener, do not matter at all any more. Confession [Beichten] is above all precisely that: a confession [Bekenntnis] not only of my sins but also a confession to God and to God’s precepts and institutions, indeed to his Church with her own weakness and her myriad ambiguous, even disturbing, aspects.

The act of “speaking” with someone about my life does not oblige me further. Afterward, I can experience a certain feeling of gratitude or of awkwardness toward the person who has listened to me, but I remain the free person who can detach himself again. Confession is not an individual act in the same sense; nothing in it can be isolated. The act of confession expressly involves the whole person, his whole life, his whole world-view, his whole relationship to God.

 

 

adrienne_von_speyr1Adrienne von Speyr was a Swiss convert, mystic, wife, medical doctor and author of over 60 books on spirituality and theology. She’s inspired countless souls around the world to deepen their mission of prayer and compassion. She entered the Catholic Church under the direction of the great theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar. In the years that would follow, they would co-found the secular institute, the Community of St. John.

 

For more episodes in this series visit Dr. Adrian Walker’s Discerning Hearts page

Adrian Walker is an editor of the journal Communio, an International Catholic Review, who received his doctorate in philosophy at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Dr. Walker has served as a translator for the English edition of Pope Benedict XVI’s, ” Jesus of Nazareth”, as well as numerous other theological works, including those of Hans Urs von Balthasar and Adrienne von Speyr.

Our series recorded at “Casa Balthasar“, a house of discernment for men located in Rome, Italy. The Casa, was founded in 1990 by a group of friends and is directed by Rev. Jacques Servais, S.J.; Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) has been closely associated with the Casa Balthasar from the very beginning as its Cardinal Protector.

Many of Adrienne von Speyr’s books can found through Ignatius Press

 

 

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.