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Overcoming the dualism between the Church and the world requires a decisive engagement: the yeast must disappear into the dough in order to become bread, but this bread must in turn be consecrated to God. With his characteristic theological depth and historical breadth, von Balthasar discusses the development of secular institutes-groups of lay people who live the life of the counsels, poverty, chastity, and obedience, in the world-as a response to the problems of our time. In the process, he sketches the outlines of a theology of states of life in the Church, presents a fascinating account of the development of vows and the religious life in the history of the Church, and compares the new secular institutes with other lay movements in today's Church. This book, which is a collection of essays von Balthasar wrote over a period of forty years, makes apparent like no other the historical and theological significance of secular institutes, and their fruitful potential.