Overcoming the dualism between the Church and the world requires a decisive engagement: the yeast must disappear into the dough in order to become bread, but this bread must in turn be consecrated to God. With his characteristic theological depth and historical breadth, von Balthasar discusses the development of secular institutes-groups of lay people who live the life of the counsels, poverty, chastity, and obedience, in the world-as a response to the problems of our time. In the process, he sketches the outlines of a theology of states of life in the Church, presents a fascinating account of the development of vows and the religious life in the history of the Church, and compares the new secular institutes with other lay movements in today's Church. This book, which is a collection of essays von Balthasar wrote over a period of forty years, makes apparent like no other the historical and theological significance of secular institutes, and their fruitful potential.
Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905–1988) was a Swiss theologian widely regarded as one of the greatest theologians and spiritual writers of modern times. Named a cardinal by Pope John Paul II, he died shortly before being formally inducted into the College of Cardinals. He wrote over one hundred books, including Prayer, Heart of the World, Mary for Today, Love Alone Is Credible, Mysterium Paschale and his major multi-volume theological works: The Glory of the Lord, Theo-Drama and Theo-Logic.