Balthasar's Phenomenology Of Human Holiness

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In the introduction to Two Sisters in the Spirit, Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote: “the Church has received the promise of objective sanctity… that her divine mission is guaranteed until the end of time. But this in no way eliminates the obligatory vocation to subjective and personal sanctity, which is indeed the ultimate reason for her whole institutional and objective side.” This paper will delve into how Balthasar and Victoria Harrison, the author of “Personal Identity and Integration: Von Balthasar’s Phenomenology of Human Holiness,” explain the phenomenon of human sanctity. According to these two authors, there are several key aspects to human holiness which are: mission, personhood, and form of sanctity. This essay will briefly explore …show more content…
The word person comes from “the Greek word ‘prosopon’… which originally meant ‘mask’, and then… [it later] came to have the additional meaning of ‘role.’” A Christian’s mission, according to Balthasar, is supposed to die to their self-absorbed personalities so that they can fulfill their role, which is to reveal God to humanity. The death of a person’s personality allows for the removal of opposition to God (e.g. pride). By cleansing a personality of these disorders, an individual is thereby able to attain personhood, which is “when one’s own ‘truth’ is identical with God’s ‘truth’.” The hallmark of personhood is humility “because it signals that the person has become so conformed to Christ… that God’s will can be revealed in the person.” The personal integration of God’s will into a person’s life allows that individual to become self-conscious. Through self-conscious reflection and contemplative prayer, a person can become aware of their finite nature, as well as the existence of an infinite being (i.e. God). The acknowledgement of God’s existence opens up the possibility of human wholeness or integration, which is when a person (who is both spirit and nature) actively enters into a right relationship with …show more content…
Customary holiness, according to Balthasar, is not a spectacular form of sanctity, but rather customary saints exemplify the humble Christian virtues in their daily lives. The representative path to sanctity, on the other hand, “singles out… [certain] individual[s] for the good of the Church… as… model[s] of sanctity.” Representative saints possess an attractive quality that inspires people to want to delve more deeply into what it means to be holy. Despite these saints being the favourites of the faithful, representative saints are hard to imitate. They present the Church with new ways of conforming to Christ, which is plainly seen in the unique manner that they lived out the gospel in their lives. Both types of saints, however, are animated by the Holy Spirit who prompts them to live in a way which is orthodox, and that leads them to orthopraxis. Holiness, even for the saints, is not something that people achieve at the end of their life. Rather, sanctity for the saints, and for us too, is only realized through living in conformity to the mission that God has in mind for us during our lifetime. By phenomenologically manifesting their holiness, the saints become apologetic witnesses of the Christian

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