Integration: matter assumed a spiritualised human body. It must consequently abandon its autonomy and hence its most sublime manifestations: storm, fire, sea….

Once in a human body, matter becomes wholly “invisible”. And yet, its beauty is here unsurpassable, by the grace of the descending form.

It was God’s boldest plan to predestine individual spirits as matter for the highest kind of molding. Here too, by becoming a member of the Mystical Body, the spirit in a true sense gives up its highest natural manifestations:

It must in some sense decline in order to enter into unity. But at the same time, through grace, it gains an unsuspected supernatural beauty.

Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Grain of Wheat




Isangelos: “equal to the angels” – a magic word for the early Christians. They envied the angels their ability to¬† live continually in the light of full consciousness and not let a single drop of grace go to waste.

Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Grain of Wheat

I Must Decrease

Almost everything in the usual guidelines for spiritual progress is based on the unspoken principle: I must grow.

When religion is not founded on security anxiety, the impulse towards “higher culture”, “spiritual refinement,” and so on, often plays the decisive role.

We can live our whole life without ever realising the meaning of: I must decrease. Not decrease exteriorly and grow interiorly; not decrease through mortification in order to increase in virtue according to the spiritual man; not decrease in “appearance” in order to grow in “essence”; but quite simply: he must grow, I must decrease.

Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Grain of Wheat