“If Christ were born a thousand times in Bethlehem, but not in you, you would remain lost forever…The Cross on Golgotha cannot redeem you from evil if it is not raised up also in you.”
Angelus Silesius was a German mystic of the Counter-Reformation. He was born and baptized Johannes Scheffler in 1624 in the province of Silesia. In 1653, he converted to Catholicism from Lutheranism and spent the rest of his life avidly trying to reconvert the people of Silesia. Today, however, he is known primarily for his mystical poetry, which was cast primarily in the form of 'Alexandrines', which are simple rhymed couplets. Of course, they lose much in translation, and many seem quite naïve, but the depth of feeling cannot be denied, and many more can be seen to approach haiku and other short, mystical poetry from around the world.
Father Hans Urs von Balthasar (+ 1988), a Swiss Catholic theologian, wrote:
God, who condescends graciously to his creature, does not want to lay hold of him and fulfill him in an external manner, but rather in the most intimate way possible. Historical revelation in the Son aims at a transformative subjective appropriation; its goal is the revelation of the Holy Spirit of freedom and adoption within the human spirit. The Church Fathers already insisted that all objective redemption would be useless if it were not relived subjectively as a dying and rising with Christ in the Holy Spirit; this truth echoes over and over throughout the Middle Ages … and the Baroque period.
“If Christ were born a thousand times in Bethlehem, but not in you, you would remain lost forever…The Cross on Golgotha cannot redeem you from evil if it is not raised up also in you.”(Angelus Silesius: Cherubinischer Wandersmann, 1:61; cf. 5:160; 2:81; 5:325). As found in Balthasar, Love Alone is Credible, p. 42.