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

 

IP#42 Fr Joseph Fessio S.J. – Adrienne von Speyr’s Book of All Saints on Inside the Pages

 Adrienne von Speyr (1902 – 1967) was a Swiss medical doctor, convert to Catholicism, a mystic, wife and author of over 60 books on spirituality and theology. She collaborated closely with Hans Urs Von Balthasar, her confessor for 27 years, and together co-founded the Community of Saint John. Her numerous writings, published by Ignatius Press, are being recognized by leading theologians as a major contribution to the mystical and spiritual writings of the Church.

 

The Book of All Saints page

FOREWORD

A convert from Protestantism, Adrienne von Speyr entered the Catholic Church on the Feast of All Saints, 1940. During the next twenty-seven years, Hans Urs von Balthasar, as Adrienne’s confessor and spiritual director, carefully observed her interior life and was convinced that she was gifted with a special mission in the life of the Church—to revitalize personal, as well as communal, faith and prayer.

Working in close collaboration with von Balthasar, Adrienne received these intimate portraits of men and women, both inside and outside the Church, in conversation with God. Through a unique charism, she was able to put herself in the place of various individuals to see and describe their prayer, their whole attitude before God. Not all of her subjects are saints in the strict sense of the word, but all struggled, with varying degrees of success to place their lives at the disposal of their Creator.

“The Book of All Saints is a wonderful gift to the Church because it shows how the saints pray and because it invites us—by contagion, as it were—to pray ourselves.”  – Vivian Dudro

 

The Annunciation – Our Blessed Mother’s Assent to the Will of God – “I am the Handmaid of the Lord”

“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 the beginning of “The Handmaid of the Lord” by the great 20th century wife, mother, physician and mystic Adrienne von Spyer.  It has become my absolute favorite book on the Blessed Virgin Mary.  It has transformed my understanding and deepened my love and appreciation for Mary, the Mother of God…Our Blessed Mother.

Mary’s assent to the Lord binds the whole of her life such that “From this assent her life receives its meaning and form and unfolds toward past and future”.  This assent, the great “Yes” to the will of God is the moment.

“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 May herself the grace of renewed understanding.  Her assent gives full meaning to every breath, every movement, every prayer of the Mother of God

Everything that we understand Mary to be, do, and say finds her assent at its source.  But, the assent must be understood as one of freedom, “This is the nature of an assent: it binds the one who gives it, yet it allows him complete freedom in shaping its expression”.  Her assent binds her to the Lord, yet it frees her to express herself dramatically much like the sheaf is bound by the cord around its middle but the sheaf bursts freely outward from the binding cord.

“Mary’s meeting with the angel is like the summation of her entire preceding life of contemplation. It is the first thing we learn about her.  We do not know who she is, we do not know her past.  But when we learn that she saw the angel, the whole composition of her soul becomes visible.  The angel which appears is the fulfillment of her prayer – not in the sense that she had prayed for the appearance or prepared herself for it, but rather in the sense that she has held herself in readiness for a mission still unknown to her.  She has lived in an attitude of prayer, and in virtue of this life she is capable in the crucial moment of seeing and obeying the angel who comes to her.  Both vision and obedience flow from the same source in her; from the openness toward the mission which God may give her, when and in whatever way he likes.  Her obedience is the prototype of every future instance of Christian obedience, which draws its whole meaning from the life of prayer and the perception of God’s will.” [Adrienne von Speyr: Handmaid of the Lord. From the Chapter, “Mary and the Angel“, pg. 27]

Take a look at an excerpt from “Handmaid of the Lord”  you can purchase it from Ignatius Press as a book or you may like to download the mp3 reading.  Check it out….