4th in the "Unsettling Advent" series: Nazi resistor Alfred Delp saw in Advent a call for radical awakening
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
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."
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."
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 to the opportunity of warding off, by the greater power of
the converted heart, the shifting desert that will pounce upon us and
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..."