alfred delp

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!

"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!

More on Fr. Alfred Delp.....

I gave a brief introduction to Fr. Alfred Delp and the book Advent of the Heart in the post on the First Sunday of Advent. 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."

I would really like to copy the entire book for you right here..it is rife from beginning to end with essential thoughts for our times. Since I can't do that, it is my hope that you buy the book, read it and continue reading it for the rest of your life, as I intend to do. It is difficult to choose only a few "best" quotes, but I will try to choose those that I feel speak particularly to our own times and are relevant to the theme of this blog. In the coming weeks, I will provide these excerpts, so stay tuned and let's share a journey of spiritual growth this Advent!

Dear Father Alfred Delp, pray for us!