[This post should be read in conjunction with my discussion of the introduction by Cdl. Schönborn to the Ignatius Press edition of Razing the Bastions.]
Balthasar 1.0’s Razin-in-the-Son apophatic ecclesiology–which is a propaedeutic for Catholicism’s death by a thousand ecumaniacal cuts–has been under discussion here of late, so I decided to post some passages from his 1952 Razing the Bastions (pp. 55-65) which I thought were striking. To express the matter in an ungainly yet evocative way, as these excerpts (and those previously cited) show, Balthasar was to the Scholastics what Gaudium et spes was to the Syllabus Errorum. And while I know that it would reflect better on me to post a measured essay, it’s so much easier to fisk these passages. What else are blogs for, right?
So, without further ado…
We are far from wishing to give this terrible event of Christian guilt [i.e. the Reformation] something like the stamp of necessary and indeed happy event [Then again, keep reading…] in the history of ideas [!]; nevertheless, in the power of redemptive grace, God can make use of what is for us unforgivable sin to further his mysterious purposes. When finally the dreadful words crepuit medius [“burst open”; cf. Acts 1:16-19] could be uttered over a guilty Christendom [Christendom is the betrayer of Christ? I see…], long eaten away at by the illness of the Great Schism, then it was necessary to take up the following words too: et diffusa sunt omnia viscera ejus [cf. Acts 1:19–though, significantly, Balthasar does not choose to cite 1:20, in which the apostate’s place is taken, and any authority he (or his guts) once had, is passed onto another].
Something of the innermost bowels of the Church had been torn out of the Church by the Reformers [Or, to hew closely to the actual narrative concerning Judas, might it be the case that a significant portion of Catholics went off and hanged themselves by the noose of heresy and schism? And that any such eviscerated bowels were left to rot in Haceldama? Is such a field not a fitting place to set up an image of the Church as a “field hospital”, along the lines of a Catholicism-Without-Borders?], something of her heart continued to beat outside her heart [!]*, in a transposition for which we have no metaphor [Only, um, well…]. Not only are all the validly baptized outside the Catholic Church her children in truth, belonging to her by right and whom she misses bitterly because her breasts yearn for them and the pain of the milk that is not sucked torments her; there is much more than this: profound mysteries, things that often only her saints knew, were stolen from her by … [Luther] and borne off by night from her treasure chamber. Now her goods lie on the open street, for that which calls itself “Church” outside her has no inner room, knows no mystery, is pulled to pieces in the lecture halls…. In this way the love of the Church has been removed out of her [!]*, tragically and utterly irremediably [!], often still recognizable in the pieces of her lying about in front of her doors. …
The collapse of the internal unity and the razing of the external bastions have thus not remained without consequences for the Church’s consciousness: not only an essential principle about the unity of salvation and Church […?], but also an existential self-knowledge in the depths of the Church as subject has changed. … [The] Church as a whole … senses … [that] the felix culpa of the wounds inflicted has created an indissoluble solidarity with the separated brethren [Huh? 1 John 2:19-20, 2 John 9], and through them with the world [Ummm… Galatians 6:14, Colossians 2:20, 1 John 2:15-16]. Now this awareness begins to move with the freshness of springtime [Derp.] among the responsible laity [i.e. Serious Catholics].
Through the mediation of those who have left, a new form of osmosis between the Church and world is beginning, like a breath, drawing in and out [by how many lungs?]. … [The Church’s] inner realm … has now been “externalized” … [and] this external realm is now understood to be the world of all the brethren in Christ [with Christ yet not in communion with His Vicar?]….
[But is] not such an ideal construction in itself an ideology, indeed the expression of a hidden defeatism on the level of reality, and is not this … [a sign] of the delicate, perhaps already utopian situation of the Church in our world? … Are we not therefore engaging in an armchair universalism? Not in the least. [God loves a good ipse dixit. Take it from me.] The deepening of Christian consciousness in the modern era can be demonstrably traced to the earliest Christian sources [But only by we lucky ones in the present moment? #CatholicWhigs] …. With equal clarity one could demonstrate with equal clarity why what is now being disclosed remained hidden for so long….
Now that the outer shells [scales?] are falling away, they can be called by their worldly names. Once again, the Church is at the beginning. [How conveeeeeenient that weeeeee are alive when thaaaaaaat happens, no?] … This is beginning to be understood by the Church as a whole, now that she is … moving toward a situation of diaspora once again. …
[M]ust not something of Christ’s [suffering and defeated] mystery be repeated in her too? [Why, yes, Sehr Geehrter Herr Doktor Balthasar. It’s called Lent and the daily liturgical sacrifice of the Holy Mass!] Many truths, once possessed only by the Church, have somehow been scattered abroad, becoming humanity’s common property–human rights, for example. [Significantly left unstated here, though that in fact seems to be Balthasar’s benign intent, is the reverse process of “osmosis”: many truths, once dominant only in the world, have somehow infiltrated the Church, becoming common assumptions among Catholics–religious liberty, ministerial and social egalitarianism, or the ecumenism of (mere) encounter, for example. As I always like to say, doors open both ways.]
And again, one can ask whether this fragment-littered field [Hints of the Church qua “field hospital”?]–does not form a kind of transition, a bridge… [a light] no longer central, and indeed clouded, darkened, falsified [But seriously, did someone say “defeatism”?]; nevertheless, still light that would not exist if the central light were not there; a light on its knees, light that already is almost prostrate on the ground [cough-defeatism-cough!]….
Let me just pause here to note the immediate thought I had when I read about a central light, or trunk, of Christian truth:
As I recently noted, this branch crap has simply got to go.
If this were the key to the present situation of the Church then she would stand closer to the Lord in the active event of redemption than ever before [Once again: how conveeeeenient for usssssss! This unwitting hubris is a jarring melange of chiliasm, Montanism, and Hegelianism: in other words, vintage Hans Urs von Balthsasar 1.0.] It would also be true then that her apparent organic weakness, her decline, her division [!] belong in reality to the mystery of a supernatural weakening corresponding, in its own time, to an exalted fruitfulness. [This kind of caveat is a central device in propping up the V2 agenda. Any apparent decline that stemmed from the V2 reform is itself somehow (“mysteriously”) proof of the reforms’ deeper, higher, more authentic fruitfulness and wisdom.] … [E]ven if it is true, as Yves Congar demonstrates [Source, please? I assume he means this: Chrétiens désunis: Principes d’un ‘oecuménisme’ catholique, (Paris: Cerf, 1937), translated as Divided Christendom: a Catholic Study of the Problem of Reunion, trans. M.A. Bousfield (London: Bles, 1939).], that this real loss, though not indicating that the Church has been robbed of any essential Catholic truth [“The teaching of the Church…is clear, and I am a son of the Church“], does still mean that she has been robbed of a vital integrity [Uhhhmmm?] (because the Church must naturally answer one-sided positions with counter-positions)….
As a conceptual ballast (if not antidote), let me close with a few passages from Pius XII’s Mystici Corporis Christi:
51. Holiness begins from Christ; and Christ is its cause. For no act conducive to salvation can be performed unless it proceeds from Him as from its supernatural source. … Our Savior is continually pouring out His gifts of counsel, fortitude, fear and piety, especially on the leading members of His Body, so that the whole Body may grow ever more and more in holiness and integrity of life. When the Sacraments of the Church are administered by external rite, it is He who produces their effect in souls. [Here Pius XII cites ST III, q. 64, a. 3, the gist of which is this: “Christ produces the inward sacramental effect, both as God and as man, but not in the same way. For, as God, He works in the sacraments by authority: but, as man, His operation conduces to the inward sacramental effects meritoriously and efficiently, but instrumentally. For it has been stated (48, 1,6; 49, 1) that Christ’s Passion which belongs to Him in respect of His human nature, is the cause of justification, both meritoriously and efficiently, not as the principal cause thereof, or by His own authority, but as an instrument, in so far as His humanity is the instrument of His Godhead, as stated above (13, 2,3; 19, 1)”. External rite refers to the objective, visible actions of a sacrament. I’m (now) researching this technical term, but let it be noted that a mere external rite, lacking internal accord with what the Church truly intends by that rite, is insufficient, and heresy (cf. the link above, §488, R.1, on the heresy of Luther; cf. also the 2001 clarification on Mormon baptisms).] He nourishes the redeemed with His own flesh and blood and thus calms the turbulent passions of the soul; He gives increase of grace and prepares future glory for souls and bodies. All these treasures of His divine goodness He is said to bestow on the members of His Mystical Body [not Bodies], not merely because He, as the Eucharistic Victim on earth and the glorified Victim in heaven, through His wounds and His prayers pleads our cause before the Eternal Father, but because He selects, He determines, He distributes every single grace to every single person “according to the measure of the giving of Christ.” Hence it follows that from our Divine Redeemer as from a fountainhead “the whole body, being compacted and fitly joined together, by what every joint supplieth according to the operation in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, into the edifying of itself in charity.”
52. These truths which We have expounded, Venerable Brethren, briefly and succinctly tracing the manner in which Christ our Lord wills that His abundant graces should flow from His fulness into the Church, in order that she should resemble Him as closely as possible, help not a little to explain the third reason why the social Body of the Church should be honored by the name of Christ – namely, that our Savior Himself sustains in a divine manner the society which He founded.
53. As Bellarmine notes with acumen and accuracy, this appellation of the Body of Christ is not to be explained solely by the fact that Christ must be called the Head of His Mystical Body, but also by the fact that He so sustains the Church, and so in a certain sense lives in the Church, that she is, as it were, another Christ. … Indeed, if we are to believe Gregory of Nyssa, the Church is often called simply “Christ” by the Apostle; and you are familiar Venerable Brethren, with that phrase of Augustine: “Christ preaches Christ.”
54. Nevertheless this most noble title of the Church must not be so understood as if that ineffable bond by which the Son of God assumed a definite human nature belongs to the universal Church; but it consists in [sic!] this, that our Savior shares prerogatives peculiarly His own with the Church in such a way that she may portray, in her whole life, both exterior and interior, a most faithful image of Christ. For in virtue of the juridical mission by which our Divine Redeemer sent His Apostles into the world, as He had been sent by the Father,  it is He who through the Church baptizes, teaches, rules, looses, binds, offers, sacrifices.
55. But in virtue of that higher, interior, and wholly sublime communication, with which We dealt when We described the manner in which the Head influences the members, Christ our Lord wills the Church to live His own supernatural life, and by His divine power permeates His whole Body and nourishes and sustains each of the members according to the place which they occupy in the body, in the same way as the vine nourishes and makes fruitful the branches which are joined to it.
Enough for now. Even a manic fool like myself needs sleep now and then.
* “Therefore the Heart of Jesus Christ, hypostatically united to the divine Person of the Word, certainly beat with love and with the other [‘historical’] emotions– but these, joined to a human will full of divine charity and to the infinite love itself which the Son shares with the Father and the Holy Spirit, were in such complete unity and agreement that never among these three loves was there any contradiction … or disharmony.”
— Pope Pius XII, Haurietas aquas §41