From the Fall, 1989 Communio: The Life and Work of Hans Urs von Balthasar.

Peter Henrici, S.J. Hans Urs von Balthasar: A Sketch of His Life (pdf, 1989).

From the text:

The third circle of friends, the widest in scope, came to him through the journal Communio. Year after year he organized the small meeting of the various editions in Basel. Year after year it was he who was the undisputed central reference-point of the larger international meeting. He made stimulating suggestions about each of the themes proposed, pointed out difficulties, and was able to name suitable authors – whether living or from the past. Only the friends themselves know of the trouble he took to build up and hold together this “fellowship” (communio!) of the twelve editorial teams from very different cultural backgrounds. Only they too can tell of the countless conversations on the fringe of the meetings.

It was after his return from the 1988 international editorial meeting in Madrid, which was preceded by a symposium on his theology, that news reached Balthasar of his appointment as a cardinal. Though tired and ill again, he this time accepted, out of obedience to the Pope, what to him was an embarrassing honor. He also undertook the journey to Rome to be measured for his cardinal’s robes (which, as previously with his theologian’s soutane, he would have left in Rome). But he knew in his heart that Heaven had other plans. “Those above,” he wrote to a friend, “seem to have a different plan.” Death came gently upon him. He more than once had to see those closest to him suffer an agony lasting months – “a death with the drop counter.” But he himself was allowed to pass away in a moment and while he was still fully active. It happened as he was preparing to celebrate morning Mass . . . .

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