WAKE UP, PEOPLE!
Nazi resistor Alfred Delp saw in Advent a call for radical awakening
WAKE UP, O SLEEPER. Father Alfred Delp was condemned as a traitor for his resistance to the regime of Adolf Hitler and hanged in a Nazi prison in 1945. The Jesuit priest wrote a piece now titled "The Shaking Reality of Advent" (in Watch for the Light) shortly before his death. To one who was going through such fire, Advent was no serene welcoming. It was a radical shaking to awake out of a self-sabotaging, illusory sleep. At the same time, Delp points out that awakened ones should not now act anxiously or rashly. Instead, live and act in anticipation of the next Advent and the surpassing value and new order it brings. Here are a few excerpts:
TIME TO GO TO WORK. "If we want to transform life again, if Advent is truly to come again -- the Advent of home and of hearts, the Advent of the people and the nations, a coming of the Lord in all this -- then the great Advent question for us is whether we come out of these convulsions with this determination: yes, arise! It is time to awaken from sleep. It is time for the waking up to begin somewhere. It is time to put things back where God the Lord put them. It is time for each of us to go to work, with the same unshakable sureness that the Lord will come, to set our life in God's order wherever we can. Where God's word is heard, he will not cheat our life of the message; where our life rebels before our own eyes he will reprimand it."
THOSE WHO LOOK TO THE LORD. "The world today needs people who have been shaken by ultimate calamities and emerged from them with the knowledge and awareness that those who look to the Lord will still be preserved by him, even if they are hounded from the earth."
A TIME FOR RENUNCIATION. "Advent is a time when we ought to be shaken and brought to a realization of ourselves. The necessary condition for the fulfillment of Advent is the renunciation of presumptuous attitudes and alluring dreams in which and by means of which we always build ourselves imaginary worlds. In this way we force reality to take us to itself by force -- by force, in much pain and suffering."
A TIME OF PROMISE. "At the same time, there is much more that belongs to Advent. Advent is blessed with God's promises, which constitute the hidden happiness of this time. These promises kindle the inner light in our hearts. Being shattered, being awakened -- only with these is life made capable of Advent. In the bitterness of awakening...the golden threads that pass between heaven and earth in these times reach us."
WE HAVE RECEIVED A MESSAGE. Delp describes three promises we receive in Advent: (1) the angels annunciation, "speaking their message of blessing into the midst of anguish, scattering their seed of blessing that will one day spring up amid the night, call us to hope... Advent is a time of inner security because it has received a message." Delp challenges each of us to be such an angel of annunciation wherever possible.
DO WE HAVE A READY HEART? The second promise of Advent is (2) the blessed woman: "Advent's holiest consolation is that the angel's annunciation met with a ready heart. The Word became flesh in a motherly heart and grew out far beyond itself into the world of God-humanity." Delp compares Mary's readiness and bearing of a great truth, a great liberation, to our own lives: "We must remember today with courage that Mary foreshadows the light in our midst. Deeper down in our being, our days and our destinies, too, bear the blessing and mystery of God. The blessed woman waits, and we must wait too until her hour has come."
WE HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY. The third promise of Advent is found in the voice and message of John the Baptist: "These John the Baptist characters...cry for blessing and salvation. They summon us to our last chance, while already they feel the ground quaking and the rafters creaking and see the firmest of mountains tottering inwardly... They summon us us to the opportunity of warding off, by the greater power of the converted heart, the shifting desert that will pounce upon us and bury us."
JUST BEYOND THE HORIZON. "Space is still filled with the noise of destruction and annihilation, the shouts of self-assurance and arrogance, the weeping of despair and helplessness. But just beyond the horizon the eternal realities stand silent in their age-old longing. There shines on us the first mild light of the radiant fulfillment to come... It is all far off still, and only just announced and foretold. But it is happening..."
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