Advent

Fr. Alfred Delp...Advent not over yet!

[originally published December 13, 2015]

For our Advent meditation today, here are some excerpts from Fr. Delp's "Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent, Preached in Munich, December 14, 1941:"

"Standing in the presence of the Last Things [Death, Judgement, Heaven, Hell], in the presence of the Ultimate...results in-a peculiar knowledge of ourselves...
Someone facing the Ultimate will not be apathetic, not just accept everything simply because it is, and because it does not change, and because it goes on and on, and because it is happening everywhere...
In the presence of God, the Absolute Ultimate, nothing counts but that which is real. Man can pass the test of the last days only without pathos, without cramps, without lies, without masks. This requires an honesty of being that has measured itself against the Ultimate...
Alexander, Caesar Augustus, Napoleon...were not content with the laurel wreath of greatness, but wanted to take the diadem of the Messiah [Delp and others like him, could not publicly mention Hitler or the Nazi regime...but would cleverly allude to their present reality in the hopes of avoiding a legal cause against them-Delp would consult others on these matters before giving his homilies]...
...one must contradict false claims when they are set forth or intimated, and false promotions when they are offered...
'Who are You?'...One day, when we stand in the presence of the Absolute, this question will cut through our existence like a lightning bolt and manifest what is real and what was masquerade...
'In your midst stands One Whom you do not know.' He is, however, in our words and in the beating of our hearts and the hammering of our pulses and in everything. What you do not comprehend, and yet what should be so real and merciful, is that He is standing there, through it all, in your midst. That should be our confession. It is not a protest, not a proclamation, but our very being..."

Fr. Delp concludes this Gaudete homily on a joyful note: Christ is with us always!

More on Father Alfred Delp.....

[Originally published December 11, 2015.]

I gave a brief introduction to Fr. Alfred Delp and the book Advent of the Heart in [a previous post]. Advent was a topic that concerned Fr. Delp throughout his life (1907-1945). It became a metaphor for his own experience "waiting" for the end of the terrifying Nazi regime. In his case, Christmas became his own martyrdom, when he encountered, not a porcelain baby in a creche, but Christ Himself as the Second Person of the Beatific Vision. Almost in anticipation of this extraordinary journey, his preaching and writings on the subject were gripping theological genius...and very appropriate for our own times. It is ironic that the United States of America, rolling into Germany in 1945 with her tanks of salvation, would one day need so desperately this martyr's words of warning and instruction.

The book divides into the 4 weeks of Advent, with appropriate selections of Fr. Delp's writings. It is a wonderful way to celebrate the Season of Advent, but not at all for the faint-hearted. If you take these writings to heart, they will challenge and change you in the most fundamental, deep ways. So....consider yourself warned. As it states in the introduction to Saint Louis de Montfort's The Secret of Mary, these words will exact a responsibility from you:

"...beware, then, of remaining inactive...it would turn into a poison and be your condemnation."

To proceed, I'd like to offer a few brief excerpts from the various introductions to Advent of the Heart, which I feel are essential to the understanding of Fr. Delp:

"Delp wrote the 1944 meditations in Tegel Prison, usually while his hands were in handcuffs. These meditations were smuggled out of the prison as seret messages...

This book presents Advent sermons from Father Delp's parish work in Munich, alongside the powerful messages from his prison Advent experience of 1944...

Their roughness evokes a powerful sense of immediacy rooted in the suffering and danger of the times."

Fr. Delp was originally arrested for suspicion of having knowledge of the attempt on Hitler's life which took place on July 20, 1944.....

"Although all charges related to the assassination attempt were dropped, the irreconcilable opposition of Christianity to Nazism became the focus of the proceedings...Delp was convicted of high treason and sentenced to death by hanging."

Dear Father Alfred Delp, pray for us!

Advent of the Heart, Writings of Fr. Alfred Delp, Martyr under Hitler

I'm very busy for the next few weeks, so I will re-publish some posts from last advent, dealing with the amazing writings of Fr. Alfred Delp....here goes....

[The following was originally posted on November 29, 2015.]

alfred delp.jpg

There is an INCREDIBLE book by Ignatius Press, compilations of Fr. Alfred Delp, martyr under the Nazis, entitled Advent of the Heart: Seasonal Sermons & Prison Writings, 1941-1944. It takes us week by week through Advent....and believe me, with this book, you will not be the same person when you arrive at the creche on Christmas Day. I will be posting some quotes from this book throughout Advent. No better time than today to begin. Here are excerpts from Fr. Delp's "Homily for the First Sunday of Advent Preached in Munich, November 28, 1943" (remember the words you are about to read, this man was killed for).....

"There is nothing more blessed in life than true waiting."

"Man is truly human only when he transcends himself."

"We should discover life and its fundamental order."

"This should be our first Advent light: to understand everything, all that happens to us and all that threatens us, from the perspective of life's character of waiting."

"God enters only His own rooms, where someone is always keeping watch for Him."

"Other values of secondary importance impose themselves, making life inauthentic and bringing it under an alien law and an alien paradigm."

 

Image courtesy amazon.com

It is Advent! And....December is the Month of the Divine Infancy

As of this past Sunday, in both the old and new calendars, the Season of Advent has commenced!  Wishes to all for a holy and blessed Advent which draws you closer to the Christ Child!  (Please see prayer on Home page.)  Lent is a time when we practice sacrifices of self-denial.  Perhaps during Advent, our sacrifices may be ones of charity-almsgiving and good works.  We may consider volunteer work, cleaning out the old clothes in our closets and giving them to the poor, visiting a homebound neighbor down the block, etc.  Admittedly, Christmastime is often a time of stress and feeling like we have too much to do.  But if the very celebration of the Birth of Christ prevents us from exercising charity...then something is wrong.  We all need to downscale.  Also...spiritual reading, the rosary and learning Christmas hymns....children should learn the words to our beautiful hymns and they will likely remember them for a lifetime!

As for the liturgical calendar of December, it is unique in several ways.  Aside from the great feast of Christmas, we also have the Marian feasts of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe, along with the feast of the Holy Family.  We have the Sundays of Advent when we light the pink and purple candles and the Ember Days of Advent, when we beseech God's mercy and blessings for the coming season of winter.  We have several feasts of the time of Our Lord and the time of the Old Testament....5 Doctors of the Church and December 13th, devoted to 2 saints invoked for blindness!  Here's our sampling....

12/3-Saint Francis Xavier, Priest-patron of missions

12/4-Saint John Damascene, Priest, Doctor/Saint Peter Chrysologus, Bishop, Doctor/Saint Barbara, Virgin, Martyr-invoked against lightning

12/6-Saint Nicholas, Bishop-patron of children, bakers, pawnbrokers, mariners & Russia

12/7-Saint Ambrose, Bishop, Doctor-patron of candlemakers/Vigil of the Immaculate Conception-trad meat at one meal

12/8-Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patroness of the United States of America-Holy Day of Obligation

12/9-Saint Juan Diego, Seer of Our Lady of Guadalupe

12/11-Gaudete Sunday, 3rd Sunday of Advent-a day to remember the joy of our coming Savior!

12/12-Our Lady of Guadalupe, Empress of the Americas

12/13-Saint Lucy, Virgin, Martyr-patron of the blind/Saint Odilia, Virgin-invoked against blindness (non-standard)

12/14-Ember Wednesday in Advent-trad meat at one meal/Saint John of the Cross, Priest, Doctor

12/16-Ember Friday in Advent/Saints Ananias, Azarius & Misael, Companions of Patriarch Daniel (non-standard)

12/17-Ember Saturday in Advent-trad meat at one meal/Saint Lazarus, Friend of Our Lord, Brother of Saints Martha & Mary-raised from the dead by Christ (non-standard)

12/20-Saints Abraham, Isaac & Jacob, Patriarchs (non-standard)

12/21-Saint Thomas the Apostle, Martyr-Apostle of India, baptized the Magi/Saint Peter Canisius, Priest, Doctor

12/24-Saints Adam & Eve (non-standard)/Vigil of Christmas-trad meat at one meal

12/25-The Birth of Our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ, Christmas

12/26-Saint Stephen, First Martyr-patron of stonemasons, due to the fact that he was stoned to death

12/27-Saint John the Evangelist, Apostle-Writer of Holy Scripture, patron of theologians & Asia Minor

12/28-Holy Innocents, Martyrs under King Herod the Great, re-builder of the Holy Temple

12/29-Saint David the King, Patriarch (non-standard)

12/30-The Holy Family

(this blog provides both old & new feasts)

"Light the Candles Wherever You Can, You Who Have Them"

On the previous post, First Sunday of Advent, we read a few of Fr. Delp's quotes from his writings of that day-here are a few more from his First Sunday homilies and prison writings that speak so much to our present times, on the precipice of chaos (this is why there is now such a person as the "Catholic Prepper"):

"Perhaps what we modern people need most is to be genuinely shaken, so that where life is grounded, we would feel its stability; and where life is unstable and uncertain, immoral and unprincipled, we would know that, also, and endure it. Perhaps that is the ultimate answer to the question of why God has sent us into this time...It is because we have stood here on the earth with a totally false and inauthentic sense of security...

...[Delp moves into the past tense here, as he contemplates the crumbling world around him] man stood on this earth in a false pathos and a false security, under a deep delusion in which he really believed he could single-handedly fetch stars from heaven; could enkindle eternal lights in the world and avert all danger from himself; that he could banish the night, and intercept and interrupt the internal quaking of the cosmos, and maneuver and manipulate the whole thing into the conditions standing before us now. That is the first Advent message: before the end, the world will be set quaking...

...now it is time for each individual to use every opportunity to guide life into this order now-and to do it with the same 'unshakeability' with which the Lord will come...

...the basic condition of life always has an Advent dimension: boundaries, and hunger, and thirst, and lack of fulfillment, and promise, and movement toward one another. That means, however, that we basically remain without shelter, under way, and open until the final encounter, with all the humble blessedness and painful pleasure of this openness...

Hunger and thirst, and desert journeying, and the survival teamwork of mountaineers on a rope-these are the truth of our human condition...

In the same way that lies have gone out from people's hearts, penetrating throughout the world and destroying it, so should-and so will-the truth begin its healing service within our hearts. Light the candles wherever you can, you who have them."

As much as I see the internet as part of the artificial, inauthentic life modern man has created, it IS, nevertheless, a light. We each must find the light God has given us to save souls at this very late hour.

4th Sunday of Advent with Fr. Alfred Delp....

Excerpts from "Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Preached in Munich, December 21, 1941:"

"Advent has already called man three times. It called through the shaking; it called to authenticity; and it called to confession of faith. And now Advent calls a fourth time. Without this fourth call, the other three are not possible. They are just pathos; they are talk; they are gestures and rhetoric; but they are not genuine and do not stem from the final reality within us. The fourth Advent call signifies a fundamental attitude of man. It is an old term, a forgotten word, and a forgotten value: FEAR OF GOD...

I do not mean being afraid of God. There is no greater parody and no greater caricature of the meaning of religion than wanting to build a religion upon fear...

Man must learn again-really, personally, practically, and daily-to reckon with God as the ultimate category of reality, as the decisive judgment of all that exists...

...'under the high priests Annas and Caiaphas,' and that tells us that, not only was there no hope from worldly power, the holy place was also sold out...

In such times one must be motivated, not from willfulness, or personal whim, or personal programs, but really from the very heart and center of reality after having subjected oneself to God the Lord and wrestled with His Word...

Anxiety, that unworthy, inner subversion of mankind, fades away...

In His presence, the other voices fall silent...

...the person who has seen God, is so totally different, so totally other-because our God is totally Other, with a fullness and order different from what the world sees at first glance. Further, someone who observes the otherness of the believer will be changed by it...

...he is master of the situation and of all things, because of being truly in contact with the center of reality..."

In this homily, Fr. Delp discusses a "fear" or a holy awe of God which necessitates at ultimate intimacy with Him, an intimacy which changes us. The Gradual of this traditional Mass declares:

"The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth." (Psalm 145)

This union with God is not merely our goal or end, it is to be experienced right now in the present moment. The door we must pass through is the door of contrition in the sacrament of Penance, which leads us to Holy Communion, where we become one in mind and heart with Christ. May we, this Christmas, receive Him with a deeper spirit of yielding than ever before, becoming "so totally other," that we will shine with His light for all to see!

Expectation / Ember Friday / Meditation....

Today is the little-known traditional feast of the Expectation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is the celebration of Our Lady's pregnancy with Our Lord Jesus, a very pro-life day! May we keep the unborn in our prayers today.

O Blessed Mary, The Tabernacle of Tabernacles, Pray for Us!

It is also Ember Friday in Advent. May we today, and also tomorrow, Ember Saturday, offer greater prayers and sacrifices in anticipation of the True Christmas Gift, One which stands in contradiction to the materialism of this age....so much to sacrifice for....so many outrages in the common celebration of Christmas-so much to appease the Heart of Our Lord, lest it all be taken away, and indeed it very well may be....and soon! How much more can we expect Him to tolerate? From today's Introit:

"Thou art near, O Lord, and all Thy ways are truth: I have known from the beginning concerning Thy testimonies, and Thou art for ever. Blessed are the undefiled in the way: who walk in the law of the Lord."

Onto the continuation of our Advent meditations from the writings of Fr. Alfred Delp....He wrote the following words in Tegel Prison, Berlin, only two months before his martyrdom:

"Advent is a time of being deeply shaken, so that man will wake up to himself. The prerequisite for a fulfilled Advent is a renunciation of the arrogant gestures and tempting dreams with which, and in which, man is always deceiving himself. Thus he compels reality to use violence to bring him around, violence and much distress and suffering...

It is precisely in the severity of this awakening, in the helplessness of coming to consciousness, in the wretchedness of experiencing our limitations that the golden threads running between Heaven and earth during this season reach us...

Blessed is the era that can honestly claim that it is not a desert wilderness. Woe, however, to the era in which the voices calling in the wilderness have fallen silent...devastation will soon take over so horrendously on all sides that the scriptural reference to a desert wilderness will spontaneously occur to us all...

Such John the Baptist figures, forged by the lightning of mission and vocation, should never be lacking from life, not for a moment...

They have the great consolation that one can know only after having stepped beyond the deepest and most extreme limits of existence [keep in mind, these very words, Delp wrote while in a cold Nazi cell, struggling to write with his hands bound, after being brought before obscene, screaming judges flanked by enormous banners of swastikas, then beaten and tortured and now awaiting this mockery of a court's final decision-he knew the 'extreme limits' of which he spoke]...

They call man to face his last chance, because they already feel the ground trembling and the timbers creaking; and they see the steadfast mountains deeply quaking and even the stars of Heaven dangling insecurely...

Let us not shun and suppress the earnest words of the calling voices, or those who are our executioners today may be our accusers once again tomorrow, because we silenced the truth...

Advent is the time of the promise, not yet the fulfillment...

From out there, the first sounds are ringing out like shepherds' flutes and a boys' choir singing. They do not yet form a song or melody-it is all still too far off and only the first announcement and intimation. Still, it is happening. This is today..."

These last writings of this great priest and martyr are some of the most moving in the book-enough to meditate on for the rest of our lives [could YOU be one of those "calling voices?"]...one week till Christmas...and a few more excerpts to come....

Gaudete Sunday with Fr. Alfred Delp....

For our Advent meditation today, here are some excerpts from Fr. Delp's "Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent, Preached in Munich, December 14, 1941:"

"Standing in the presence of the Last Things [Death, Judgement, Heaven, Hell], in the presence of the Ultimate...results in-a peculiar knowledge of ourselves...

Someone facing the Ultimate will not be apathetic, not just accept everything simply because it is, and because it does not change, and because it goes on and on, and because it is happening everywhere...

In the presence of God, the Absolute Ultimate, nothing counts but that which is real. Man can pass the test of the last days only without pathos, without cramps, without lies, without masks. This requires an honesty of being that has measured itself against the Ultimate...

Alexander, Caesar Augustus, Napoleon...were not content with the laurel wreath of greatness, but wanted to take the diadem of the Messiah [Delp and others like him, could not publicly mention Hitler or the Nazi regime by name, but would cleverly allude to their present reality in the hopes of avoiding a legal cause against them-Delp would consult others on these matters before giving his homilies]...

...one must contradict false claims when they are set forth or intimated, and false promotions when they are offered...

'Who are You?'...One day, when we stand in the presence of the Absolute, this question will cut through our existence like a lightning bolt and manifest what is real and what was masquerade...

'In your midst stands One Whom you do not know.' He is, however, in our words and in the beating of our hearts and the hammering of our pulses and in everything. What you do not comprehend, and yet what should be so real and merciful, is that He is standing there, through it all, in your midst. That should be our confession. It is not a protest, not a proclamation, but our very being..."

Fr. Delp concludes this Gaudete homily on a joyful note: Christ is with us always!