Just some timelessly timely passages from Balthasar's Heart of the World, presented
mostly without comment, although rearranged and strung together in such a way that they reveal a story, or perhaps even the story:
Prisons of finitude! Like every other being, man is born of many prisons. Soul, body, thought, intuition, endeavor; everything about him has a limit, is itself tangible limitation...
From the grilled window of the senses each person looks out to the alien things which he will never be. Even if his spirit could fly through the spaces of the world like a bird, he himself will never be this space, and the furrow which he traces in the air vanishes immediately and leaves no lasting impression.
How far it is from one being to his closest neighbor! No one can tear down his own dungeon; no one knows who inhabits the next cell.
The mere fact of existing as an individual constitutes renunciation. The limpid mirror has been shattered, the infinite image has been shattered over the face of the world, the world has become a heap of fragments.
They were dead, so thoroughly dead that they thought they were alive.... So much the prey of sin that they had no idea what sin was. So rejected that they took themselves to be among the elect. So doomed to the abyss and the flames that they mistook the abyss for God and the flames for love.
The world was hermetically closed, closed the cycle of human life, ascending from the womb and bent on returning to the womb. Closed, too, the society of men, self-sufficient and self-satisfied.... Closed his religion, and reduced to a circle of observations and rites, prayer-formulas and sacrifices.... Closed and well-armored was the world against God from all sides.
Man wants to soar up, but the Word wants to descend. Thus will the two meet half-way, in the middle, in the place of the Mediator. But they will cross like swords cross; their wills are opposed to one another.
He beamed into the gloom, but the darkness turned away.... God came into the world, but a bristling barrier of spears and shields was his welcome.
It was a menacing void, a chasm fitted with teeth. The light came into the darkness, but the darkness had no eye for the light: it had only jaws.
And now that God's Word saw that his descent could entail nothing but his own death and ruination -- that his light must sink down into the gloom -- he accepted the battle and the declaration of war.
And he devised the unfathomable ruse: he would plunge, like Jonas, into the monster's belly and thus penetrate to death's innermost lair; he would experience the farthest dungeon of sin's mania and drink the cup down to the dregs; he would offer his brow to man's incalculable craze for power and violence; in his own futile mission, he would demonstrate the futility of the world....
Suddenly all of them standing around the gallows know it: he is gone.... There is nothing more but nothingness itself. The world is dead. Love is dead. God is dead. Everything that was, was a dream dreamt by no one. The present is all past. The future is nothing. The hand has disappeared from the clock's face....
Chaos. Beyond heaven and hell. Shapeless nothingness behind the bounds of creation.
But look: What is this light glimmer that wavers and begins to take form in the endless void? It has neither content nor contour. A nameless thing, more solitary than God, it emerges out of pure emptiness. It is no one. It is anterior to everything. Is it the beginning?
A wellspring in the chaos. It leaps out of pure nothingness, it leaps out of itself.... It is a beginning without parallel, as if Life were arising from Death.
Just as the first creation arose anew out of sheer nothingness, so, too, this second world -- still unborn, still caught up in its first rising -- will have its sole origin in this wound, which is never to close again.
No one is witness to the birth of a world.
All of your past is like a dream which one can no longer recall precisely, and the entire old world hangs within the new space like a picture in its frame.
And so you stare into the void. For in fact: the grave is empty, you are yourself empty.... You stare ahead of you, and behind your back stands your Life! It calls to you, you turn around and cannot recognize it.
Here the old man is replaced by the new. Here the world dies and another world rises. Here the two eons intersect. Here every ending becomes a beginning...
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. Empty yourself out into me so completely that I can fill you with myself.
In a thunderclap I am the new creation. I am given back to myself....
And today is your Last Day (your youngest day), the newest, most childlike of days. No other day will ever be as young for you as this today, when Eternal Life has called you by name.
This Now when our two names shall have met is my birthday in eternity, and no time shall ever cease this Now. Here is where the starting point has been set. Here is creation and a new beginning.... The rigid envelope which enclosed me from the outside and preserved my emptiness now shatters to fragments...
For at last everything we can comprehend lies pitifully beneath us. And our spirit does not desire to to contain, but to be contained in you...