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Adrienne von Speyr: THE BOUNDLESS GOD and CONFESSION
THE BOUNDLESS GOD
Adrienne von Speyr (1902-1967) was a Swiss physician who converted to the Catholic Church in 1940. During the next 27 years, the famous 20th century theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar, was Adrienne's confessor and spiritual director. He observed her interior life carefully and was convinced that she was gifted with a special mission in the life of the Church: to revitalise personal, as well as communal faith and prayer.
Prior to her conversion, and afterwards, Adrienne worked in close collaboration with von Balthasar in founding the Secular Institute of the Community of St John.
On another level, Adrienne, the mystic, claimed she had received intimate portraits of men and women in conversation with God and was favoured with many visions of individual saints throughout her life, both as a Protestant and after she was received into the Catholic Church.
It is not clear from the Introduction to this translation of The Boundless God from the original German whether Adrienne's visions and mystical life have been investigated and received the approbation of the Church. However, the content and tone of the book are clearly orthodox.
Hans Urs von Balthasar described Adrienne's Confession as 'one of her most central works.' Here she discusses the moral and practical aspects of the sacrament of Penance in great depth.
Some of the many areas covered include conversion, scruples, contrition, spiritual direction, laxity, frequency of confession, the confessions of members of religious orders and lay people - even the confessions of canonised saints!
This is one of the most complete spiritual treatises on the sacrament ever written.
Both of von Speyr's books would be useful additions to Catholic theological libraries, although her writing in Confession is the more accessible to non-specialist readers.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 23 No 2 (March 2010), p. 18
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