The president-elect spoke of the difficulties the country will be facing in the months ahead as we continue to battle the pandemic. And he concluded by quotes Alfred Delp, S.J., who wrote about Advent:
Advent is a time for rousing. Humanity is shaken to the very depths, so that we may wake up to the truth of ourselves….
This kind of awakening that literally shocks a person’s whole being is part and parcel of the Advent idea. A deep emotional experience like this is necessary to kindle the inner light which confirms the blessing and the promise of the Lord…. Life only begins when the whole framework is shaken…. It is precisely in the shock of rousing while he is still deep in the helpless, semi-conscious state…, that persons finds the golden thread which binds earth to heaven and give the benighted soul some inkling of the fullness it is capable of realizing and is called upon to realize.
Who is Alfred Delp? Some answers:
Alfred Delp was a German member of the Society of Jesus, who was executed for his resistance to the Nazi regime.
Alfred Delp was born in Mannheim, Germany, to a Catholic mother and a Protestant father. Although baptized Catholic, he was raised and confirmed a Lutheran. At the age of 14 he left the Lutheran church and received the sacraments of First Eucharist and Confirmation as a Catholic. In his later life Delp was a fervent promoter of better relations between the churches.
Delp joined the Jesuits in 1926. In the next 10 years he continued his studies and worked with German youth, made more difficult after 1933 with the interference of the Nazi regime. Delp was ordained in 1937.
Unable for political reasons to continue his studies, Delp worked on the editorial staff of the Jesuit publication Stimmen der Zeit (Voice of the Times), until it was suppressed in 1941. He then was assigned as rector of St. Georg Church in Munich. Delp secretly used his position to help Jews escape to Switzerland.
Concerned with the future of Germany, Delp joined the Kreisau Circle, a group that worked to design a new social order. He was arrested with other members of the circle after the attempted assassination of Hitler in 1944. After suffering brutal treatment and torture, Delp was brought to trial. While he knew nothing of the attempted assassination, the Gestapo decided to hang him for high treason.
Delp was offered his freedom if he would renounce the Jesuits. He refused and was hanged February 2, 1945. His body was cremated and his ashes spread on an unknown field.
While his physical remains disappeared, Alfred Delp left behind letters smuggled out of prison. They reveal a man of courage who told the prison chaplain accompanying him to his death, “In half an hour, I’ll know more than you do.”
A few years ago, Rev. Robert McTeigue, S.J. wrote about Delp, and indicated he has much to say about our own times:
Each age and place has its own gloom. The darkness we can now see and taste and feel can paralyze us—if we let it. Father Alfred Delp, a young Jesuit engulfed in brutal darkness, blazed brightly and thundered eloquently from a Nazi dungeon, because he spent his substance opening his heart to the nearness of God. Let’s ask for his intercession, that we might like him bring light and music to shine amidst the shadows and whispers of the fallen world we have both inherited and made.
Alfred Delp, pray for us!