Death and dying are inseparably linked with life. They are self-evident and at the same time cannot be grasped by reason alone - they are ordinary, and yet so incredible. In these meditations, the acclaimed theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar investigates this great mystery. He asks about the contradiction, inherent in all men, of wishing to achieve something "imperishable in transitoriness" and gives an answer culled from the Scriptures and from the Church Fathers.
In looking at this contradiction that appears to be irreconcilable from a purely human perspective, Balthasar tries to find something in the human existence that the Christian solution can take up, for if there was nothing, one would not see how Christianity could connect to our existence at all. This starting-point becomes fully visible and effective only when the Christian interpretation itself becomes evident, otherwise it remains open to dangerous misinterpretations.
The emphasis lies in the word "mystery". The reader must meditate on these profound ideas which are demanding both in language and contents - then the reading will inspire him with insights and prospects that will, while not resolving the paradox "that everything earthly is inscribed on the sand of transitoriness", will anchor it in the Christian faith, which claims that man is eternal and that God himself became man in the person of Jesus Christ to help us attain to that eternal life.
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.