“The conquest of the Bride” is the title of 12th chapter from “Heart from Heart of the World” by Hans Urs von Balthasar. H. U. von Balthasar, a Swiss theologian, was called “perhaps the most cultured man of our century” by pope Benedict 16 and one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. His writings, over 1,000 books and articles, were based upon theological studies of the Scriptures and the works of the church fathers. I am enjoying reading some of his books during the last year or so, and found this excerpt on CERC.
Read the whole chapter here or download it from my “I share” files (in the sidebar). Here are few fragments, an oracle of God to His church-Bride. It’s dogmatic and transcendental substance coexists with the lyrical, but meaningful finesse of revelation, reaching to the depths of God’s heart and revealing His anguish and desires.
You will be a sign of contradiction among the peoples, and no one will even as much as whisper your name, O my Church, without shuddering.
Over you men will have to part their ways, for many will love you and squander everything for you, but very many will hate you, and these will swear an oath not to rest until they have exterminated you from the land of men. And you will be despised like no man or thing, except myself, has ever been despised on earth. They will stand in line for the privilege of spitting in your face, of wiping off on your garments the mud from their shoes.
Your administrators stingily dole out through well-run pipe-systems and institutions the precious liquid of my grace. The bark of the tree which once blossomed in the wild has now turned to cork. You have become such an established household that even the catastrophic storms of the times, and persecution rattling at your gates and windows, can hardly awaken you from sleep, and a slap in your face can elicit from you but an embarrassed smile. Disgrace covers the length of you, all the more poignantly as you try to deny it, pretending nothing is amiss.
It is with you, my Body, that I am forever fighting the great, apocalyptic battle.
The inglorious weakness with which, in this century of collapse, you stand before the world unable to transform it: this weakness is already a part of the mystery of my own inglorious weakness, for when was I ever strong enough to renew the face of this exterior world?
Bind yourself to me so irrevocably that I will be able to descend to hell with you; and then I will bind you to myself so irrevocably that, with me, you will be able to ascend to very heaven.
And so, in spite of everything, you will be my sign among the nations. To them you will remain a very implausible thing, so much so that they will daily prophesy your death. And you will indeed die after a fashion. But see: we live, you and I, for I have died once, and whoever eats of my death will live eternally and I will awaken him on the Last Day — – and each day is the last.