Master Class on "Thinking on One's Knees: Von Balthasar and Nasr on Theology and Sanctity"

May 2, 2014
Gavin House
1220 E 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Raymond GawronskiMaryland Province


Fr. Raymond Gawronski, S.J. (Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, Berkeley)


Open to all graduate and undergraduate students (including non-University of Chicago students). Copies of the readings will be provided. Registration is required as space is limited. Please contact Mark Franzen with any questions.

Hans Urs von Balthasar’s distinction between “sitting” and “kneeling” theologies has become paradigmatic. He also thought the split between thinking  (dogmatic) and praying (mystical/spiritual) theologies has been the worst tragedy to befall Christianity in its long history. In his Gifford Lectures of 1980-81, Persian born scholar and “perennialist” Seyyed Hossein Nasr surveyed the sweep of Western intellectual history, tracing the separation of sacred/initiatory knowledge from abstract conceptualization. While both identify a historic break, von Balthasar’s account differs profoundly in being radically Christocentric, centering on the Logos that is Jesus Christ.

In this three-hour seminar session, participants will discuss von Balthasar’s programmatic essay “Theology and Sanctity” (Explorations in Theology I, pp. 181-209) and then attempt a dialogue with Nasr’s “Knowledge and Its Desacralization” (Knowledge and the Sacred, ch. 1), with an eye toward healing what many see has been a catastrophic rupture.

Native New Yorker Fr. Raymond Gawronski (1950-2016) was a Jesuit of the Maryland Province. Student of the work of Hans Urs von Balthasar, he authored Word and Silence: Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Spiritual Encounter Between East and West.  He wrote extensively on dogmatic and mystical theology, spirituality, American culture, and Polish and Slavic topics.  He was a lecturer at Georgetown University, professor of theology at Marquette University, professor and spiritual director at the St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver, and a Visiting Scholar at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, California. He spent the last two years of his life serving as a spiritual director and professor at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park.