Saturday, October 27, 2007

Heart of the World - What It Means to Believe

Prisons of finitude! Like every other being, man is born in many prisons. Soul, body, thought, intuition, endeavor: everything about him has a limit, is itself tangible limitation; everything is a This and a That, different from other things and shunned by them. From the grilled windows 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 its closest neighbor! And even if they love each other and wave to one another from island to island, even if they attempt to exchange solitudes and pretend they have unity, how much more painfully does disappointment then fall upon them when they touch the invisible bars - the cold glass pane against which they hurl themselves like captive birds. No one can tear down his own dungeon; no one knows who inhabits the next cell . . . Beings are alien to one another, even if they do stand beautifully by one another and complement one another . . . Variegation pays the price of a bitter separation. The mere fact of existing as an individual constitutes renunciation.

- Hans Urs von Balthasar

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