So penned Fr. Alfred Delp in the last Advent of his earthly life, from a Nazi prison. Over On the Square at First Things, William Doino Jr. has a beautiful meditation on the prison writings of Fr. Delp.
Here are a few excerpts, but do take the time to read the whole article!
“Human life, he continues, “always has an Advent dimension,” namely, “lack of fulfillment, and promise, and movement….Therefore there is no interim finality, and the attempt to create final conclusions is an old temptation of mankind. Hunger and thirst, and desert journeying, and the survival teamwork of mountaineers on a rope—these are the truth of our human condition.”
After citing the Gospel of John—“the truth will make you free”—Delp uncovers its meaning:
Truth is the essential theme of life. Everything else is only expression, result, application, consequence, testing, and practice. May God help us to wake up to ourselves and in doing so, to move from ourselves toward Him.
Every temptation to live according to other conditions is a deception. Our participation in this existential lie is really the sin for which we today—as individuals, as a generation, and as a continent—are so horribly doing penance. The way to salvation will be found only in an existential conversion and return to the truth.
Recognition of our powerlessness is part of the process of conversion. But true conversion, says Delp, is not a limp or tepid act; it is a profound transformation, a “trembling” and “quaking”—where Christ impinges upon our world, shattering it, demanding from us a radical yes or no:..”
Finally, insists Fr. Delp, we should always be joyful in anticipation of the glory that awaits us; we should persevere in this life, knowing that our faith in Christ is the indestructible fact that gives it meaning.
Even as he awaited his execution with hands shackled, Fr. Delp scribbled his last Advent mediations on scraps of paper. They are striking affirmations of his faith, which bore fruit in his suffering:
We should not avoid the burdens God gives us. They lead us into the blessing of God. To those who remain faithful to the ascetic and hard life, the interior springs of reality will be unsealed, and the world is not silent as we might have thought. The silver threads of God’s mysteries within everything that is real begin sparkling and singing. The burden is blessed, because it has been recognized and carried as a burden from God.
God becomes man. Man does not become God. The human order remains and continues to be our duty, but it is consecrated. And man has become something more, something mightier. Let us trust life because this night must lead to light. Let us trust life because we do not have to live it alone. God lives it with us.
Do read Meditations for The End of Advent. You won’t be sorry!