Heart of the World – Conference 4 – Meditations on the Paschal Mystery with Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor

Join Dr. Anthony Lilles and Kris McGregor as they offer a type of “online retreat” based on the spiritual work Heart of the World written by Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar.

In fourth “conference” talk, Dr. Lilles reflects upon “Love – A Wilderness”

Here is the excerpt that is read in the conference:

We fall down and adore you. In the end, only you remain, O Heart at the Center! We are not. Whatever is good in us is you. What we ourselves are is negligible. We pass by before you and aspire to be nothing more than mirrors and windows for our brothers. Our setting before you is your rising over us: our merging into you and your entry into us. For still does our decline before you bear the figure of your own decline, and still does our guilty distance from you belong not to ourselves, since you have made it into a distance of your own, Sin has the form of redemption.

And so in the end you remain alone, all in all. You are one with yourself, and without losing yourself you pour yourself out into the many. By remaining in the multiplicity of the members, you bring them all home into the unity of the Body. your self-emptying, even unto uttermost weakness and the renouncing of love, is your deed of uttermost strength and immutable love , and when you are weakest and they all trample you like a worm, it is then you are the Hero and have trampled the serpent. For what is emptiness? What fullness?  Which of them is real privation?  When you are empty and thirst for fullness, the we, the Church, are your fulfillment. But you are always the fullness and we are the void, always, even when you are fatigued and spent with exhaustion, even then do we all receive from your fullness grace upon grace. Your Church is but a vessel, she is only your organ. You are the leaping fountain. And even if out of us also there springs up a stream into life everlasting, this is a draft which you gave, for only from you do streams of living water flow. And when you go through the world poor and gray, cloaked in the garments of the lowly and the disinherited, concealing yourself behind sinners and tax-collectors, and we absent-mindedly perform on you the eight works of mercy, even then you alone are the giver who has made love possible for us from both within and without.

You alone remain. You are all in all. Even if your love desires us in order to delight in twoness and in order to celebrate with us the mystery of begetting and conceiving, nevertheless it is always YOUR love in both instances, your love which both gives and is given, at once seed and womb, and, again, the child begotten is none other than you. If love needs two feet in order to walk, still the walker is but one person, and that one is you. And if love needs two lovers, a lover and a beloved, still the love is only one, and that one is you.

Everything hearkens back to your throbbing Heart. Time and the seasons still hammer away and create, and your Heart drives the world and all its happenings forward with great painful blows. It is the unrest of the clock, and your Heart is restless until it rests in me. Your Heart is restless until we rest in you, once time and eternity have become interfused. But: Be at peace! I have overcome the world. The torment of sin has already been submerged in the stillness of love. The experience of what the world is has made love darker, more fiery, more ardent. The shallower abyss of rebellion has been swallowed up in unfathomable mercy, and throbbing majestically reigns serene the Heart of God.

Hans Urs von Balthasar, Heart of the World (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1979), 217-219.

Divine Mercy Chaplet Discerning Hearts PodcastHere is the link to the Divine Mercy Prayer that Dr. Lilles mentions in the conference.

Though having the “Heart of the World” mentioned in this “retreat” is not necessary, we would encourage you at some to purchase this outstanding spiritual classic.


You find the book here

From the book description:

A great Catholic theologian speaks from the heart about the Heart of Christ, in a profound and lyrical meditation on Our Lord’s love for his Bride the Church.

Avid readers of Hans Urs von Balthasar often describe Heart of the World as a “surprise”. The “pure serenity of a volcano under snow” readers usually find in Balthasar, as translator Erasmo Leiva puts it, gives way to “the poet-theologian” who dares to “bare his own heart”. The sult is what can only be described as lyrical, even  intimate spiritual reflections.

“Heart of the World”, the  translator continues,  “deserves a place next to
the Imitation of Christ. Especially in the passages  where Christ speaks to  the  soul,  Father  von Balthasar shows  himself a worthy successor of
Thomas a Kempis. Both works combine an intense personal piety with
a precise awareness of the believer’s position as child and servant of Christ’s Church…. For Balthasar, as for Kempis and all genuine Chris­ tians, the saint is first and foremost the one who renders constant thanks for having been loved.”

Heart of the World is a profound and theologically rich reflection on the
Heart of God.




Anthony Lilles, S.T.D. is the St. Patrick’s Seminary & University in Menlo Park, CA.  He has served the Church and assisted in the formation of clergy since 1994, and now previously served in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as Academic Dean of St. John’s Seminary, associate professor of theology and Academic Advisor of Juan Diego House. The son of a California farmer, married with young adult children, he holds a BA in theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville with both the ecclesiastical licentiate and doctorate in spiritual theology from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome (the Angelicum). He was a founding faculty member of Saint John Vianney Seminary in Denver where he also served as academic dean, department chair, director of liturgy and coordinator of spiritual formation for the permanent deacon program. He has recently published Hidden Mountain Secret Garden, Omaha: Discerning Hearts (2012)


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